Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
I hope this is the right place to post this. So here it comes. This is a concept which I was thinking about due to the fact that while STO feels really enjoyable it still lacks a lot of the MMO factor.

Disclaimer: please note that all examples I will provide are just that: examples. They are meant to give you a general idea of how the concept might work but nothing more. And I don't want to claim that this is a very original idea but I think it could be great for the game nonetheless.

The concept:

You will experience the star trek universe first as a Starfleet Academy student then progress to a bridge officer position and work your way through the hierarchy to captain rank when you get your first ship (from then on the progression is the same as the one we have now). This progression path would be optional and could be even changed on the fly to the "normal" kind of progression. Furthermore, player Boffs could replace NPC Boffs to make their captain's ship more effective and to provide a more multiplayer-oriented gameplay even in missions generally played alone.

The story:

At the Academy you will familiarize yourself with most of the game mechanics in your lessons (scanning, ground combat, space combat, bridge officer duties etc.) and then you will be required to go aboard a ship as part of an emergency operation (almost like in the new Star Trek film). On that mission you will be put on a ship with other players and you will operate as Boffs on that ship (see below what that means).

After you complete that quest you will be promoted and you will be assigned to an NPC ship. Also from now on you can go and serve on player controlled ships as bridge officer. If there is no player controlled ships that would take you on you can also go aboard your NPC federation ship and complete missions there.

The Boff missions will focus on you taking tasks from your NPC captain – missions that are related to your profession (eg.: if you are an engineering officer it might involve reparing something on the ship and investigating why that system was damaged) or the ship (patrol missions) and missions that are special and heroic.

New game mechanics:

Player Boff system – (What I have in mind is very similar to the Puzzle Pirates game in which crew members play minigames to operate player controlled ships)
  • every captain can replace his or her own NPC Boffs with Player Boffs
  • Player Boffs do not replace special abilities of the NPC Boffs allowing captains to customize their ship the way they want and still gain bonuses from player Boffs.
  • (captains can hire Boffs from anywhere in the galaxy, likewise players can board a ship from anywhere around the universe, with the help of a Looking for Ship/Boff interface).
  • While the ship is sailing or is in combat Boffs play minigames appropriate to their professions. Depending on how well they play the minigame, the ship will recieve small or big bonuses or none at all.
  • Also the skills of the player Boffs will add a small percentage to the captain's skill. E.g.: if a player Boff has trained ranks in Starship Operations Training, some percentage of that bonus will be added to the Captain's respective skill bonus.

Bridge officer minigames
  • every bridge officer profession (science, tactical and engineering) plus the helmsman has a particular minigame that will have an effect on the ship they are operating on.
  • The better the players are at the minigame, the better bonuses the ship will get.
  • The captain will be in charge of rerouting powers to xy part of the shield, the weapons and the special abilities (like he is now), however the helmsman (if there is one on board) will take over the control of the ship's movement .
  • The varoius minigames provide bonuses appropriate to the system they are part of.
  • E.g.: successful completion of a science Boff minigame objective could provide additional random „disable xy system” attacks, improve deflector, emitter or sensor effectiveness
  • engineering Boff minigame could provide a small amount of additional power to all systems or a medium amount to one particular system
  • tactical minigame could provide additional dmg or critical chance and helmsman minigame could add bonus speed or flight turn rate to the ship.

The benefits for the players:

Captains will have an advantage in combat if they hire player boffs that are really good in their profession minigames since NPC boffs have no bonuses other than their special abilities. Hiring good player boffs will make missions easier and shorter and so speeds up the captain's progression.
Player Boffs will earn experience playing the minigames plus for anything the captain of their ship receives experience (e.g. completing missions, defeating enemies). It would also incentivise player interaction.

The benefits for the game:

The reason why I came up with this system (and mind you I don't claim this to be an original idea of mine. I think I read about people suggesting a similar feature in STO somewhere) is that while the game is mostly enjoyable, it still does not feel very MMO-ish. I miss the player interaction from other games. I think the game would greatly benefit from a system that puts players into the same boat both figuratively and literally You only have to take a look at Puzzle Pirates (and I know its not a game that is comparable to STO but it's game mechanic would definitely fit this game) and you see how fun it can be to operate a ship as a joint effort and it also really provides an opportunity for random people to get together and socialize a bit while the ship is heading to the mission destination.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
02-07-2011, 07:08 PM
Players who want to solo or don't hire these BoFF's are at a disadvantage. Dislike.

The NPC stuff is fine, and good. Moving it beyond that gets completely away from any likely achievable framework that can actually be programmed and implemented.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
02-07-2011, 07:19 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Savnoka
Players who want to solo or don't hire these BoFF's are at a disadvantage. Dislike.

The NPC stuff is fine, and good. Moving it beyond that gets completely away from any likely achievable framework that can actually be programmed and implemented.
Players like you are the reason some don't bother posting creative ..or new ideas for the game.

To go through all that thinking and working to have some know it all tear it down in a few sentences..

this isnt a "Put This in the game ..or im leaving Q.Q " thread

I believe its a very cool ..and definably possible idea..
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
02-08-2011, 07:26 AM
Thanks for the answers.

I kind of understand why someone might say this system puts solo players at a disadvantage but it is just a matter of viewpoint. Actually with this system nothing would change for the solo player regarding the questing experience (in PvP though, solo players would be at a slight disadvantage but since PvP is usually played in teams it can be countered by good teamwork). Why I suggested this concept is because I think it would be better for the game as a whole if STO offered a more team oriented gameplay while also keeping the original gameplay intact if someone wishes to follow that path.

Every (or nearly every) MMO gives some bonuses to players that team up, it's a natural incentive that is usually required - and usually no one says that this incentive puts solo players at a disadvantage because that is not the point of the whole thing. How much bonus you can get out of this system is of course up for debate. It should be substantial to be an incentive but shouldn't be unbalancing.

That's my take on it anyway.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
02-08-2011, 09:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remus117 View Post
Players like you are the reason some don't bother posting creative ..or new ideas for the game.

To go through all that thinking and working to have some know it all tear it down in a few sentences..

this isnt a "Put This in the game ..or im leaving Q.Q " thread

I believe its a very cool ..and definably possible idea..
I am not, and never have been of the opinion, that if someone posts something on a public forum they don't want feedback. There are many hundreds of creative posts each day. Anyone who puts a lot of effort into what they are saying is fully capable of defending it.

The main reason that "creative posts" get ignored by the devs is people like you, who say "cool idea bro" without poiinting out any shortfalls that make it untenable for implementation so that the idea can be improved. I gave him a very simple reason why I disliked it without tearing down his entire posting to show all the other things I think make it unworkable.

But since you think it's "definitely possible" I will show you exactly what "tearing down an idea actually entails.

Let's start with the story:

The story:

At the Academy you will familiarize yourself with most of the game mechanics in your lessons (scanning, ground combat, space combat, bridge officer duties etc.) and then you will be required to go aboard a ship as part of an emergency operation (almost like in the new Star Trek film). On that mission you will be put on a ship with other players and you will operate as Boffs on that ship (see below what that means).


Issues:

1) An entire curricula and art requirements for this Starfleet Academy that basically only serves to replicate existing content. This is done in a method by which players are further isolated from actual game play for even a longer time than during the tutorial. I understand the OP said it was optional...but given that, we now have a large and dev-expensive start area that can be completely ignored.

Additionally, a framework for having new players acting as Bridge officers mainly requires some KIND of linkage between the minigame the PCBOff is running and the ship he is ostensibly on. That requires multiple people to be able to apply modifiers to a single game object which is not located on the same map they are.

Yeah, that won't require recoding a lot of the game engine.

Now, how to fix this? That's ... requireing a lot. Removing the whole "PC Boff working for a PC" would be a huge start , since it at least removes data-handling technical issues. The best way , of course, would be to actually scrap the entire tutorial entirely, and spend a season implementing this all the way out to commander rank, and then having an entirely alternative way of achieving command of your own ship. But that would waste all the work we have already in game for those ranks.

In order for this to be viable, it has to have some attraction that the old way didn't. It also has to teach you how to play the game in an extended manner and not lose the already existing missions.



The Boff missions will focus on you taking tasks from your NPC captain – missions that are related to your profession (eg.: if you are an engineering officer it might involve reparing something on the ship and investigating why that system was damaged) or the ship (patrol missions) and missions that are special and heroic.


So now we have to basically stop developing meaningful content for the rest of the playerbase to develop content for the Boff line. Again, the ideas are very good -- but simply unlikely to be implemented. Basically your job is to play minigames and go on missions .. which must either be procedurally generated (whee, scan five objects) or require a great deal of effort to implement. Keep in mind these must be PROFESSION specific. So 3 trees of missions.

As awesome as it sounds, that's not going to happen. We already have content issues with both end-game high end content and KDF content. If they play to add playable Romulans, they'd have to seriously expand their workforce to produce something worthwhile. And I don't want to be like old school exploring used to be, since that would defeat the whole purpose of the concept.


New game mechanics:

Player Boff system (snipped due to size)


This was the part I didn't really like. And here is why.

First : " Player Boffs do not replace special abilities of the NPC Boffs allowing captains to customize their ship the way they want and still gain bonuses from player Boffs."

So, player one in a fleet has 3 fleet mates act as PC Boffs. He gets the skills a normal Boff in that slot would provide PLUS the bonus provided by the PC Boffs.

Player two has no one to be his player boffs. He is now already at a disadvantage against player one.

You say every MMO gives bonuses to the team up, and so does STO ALREADY if you have two ships working together against one. But in the above, unless the guy without fleetmates can get someone to help him, he is seriously disadvantaged ...or the bonuses or so minor they might as well not even be added on, so what's the point?

But let's expand:

You said * Also the skills of the player Boffs will add a small percentage to the captain's skill. E.g.: if a player Boff has trained ranks in Starship Operations Training, some percentage of that bonus will be added to the Captain's respective skill bonus"

So, if I have my fleet, and three are three fleet captains each with 3 player Boffs, faced with a 3 man PUG who can't get anyone to be their BoFF, you think this is fair? Fleetsy McLotsoFriends now has a Warp Core Training stat of 90 and +30 to all power levels, while Newbie O'Kindashy is just screwed.

Technically (as in the coding) , it's also extremely unlikely to work. The only mechanic for a player to affect another player is through the same map. In order for your idea to work, there has to be a duration effect applied to the player, who is on another map by definition than the PC BoFFs, and this duration effect has to vary depending on the output of a minigame....

Even thinking about how to code that gives me a headache.



Bridge officer minigames
* every bridge officer profession (science, tactical and engineering) plus the helmsman has a particular minigame that will have an effect on the ship they are operating on.
* The better the players are at the minigame, the better bonuses the ship will get.
* The captain will be in charge of rerouting powers to xy part of the shield, the weapons and the special abilities (like he is now), however the helmsman (if there is one on board) will take over the control of the ship's movement .
* The varoius minigames provide bonuses appropriate to the system they are part of.
* E.g.: successful completion of a science Boff minigame objective could provide additional random „disable xy system” attacks, improve deflector, emitter or sensor effectiveness
* engineering Boff minigame could provide a small amount of additional power to all systems or a medium amount to one particular system
* tactical minigame could provide additional dmg or critical chance and helmsman minigame could add bonus speed or flight turn rate to the ship.


This part I like and should be doable, as long as the effect is

1) run from the Bridge or Ship interor and then appiied to the captain as a duration effect and
2) made available to everyone, and in a way where your players who don't HAVE strong social networks aren't skill dominated by those who are.

As to the last part.



The benefits for the game:

The reason why I came up with this system (and mind you I don't claim this to be an original idea of mine. I think I read about people suggesting a similar feature in STO somewhere) is that while the game is mostly enjoyable, it still does not feel very MMO-ish. I miss the player interaction from other games. I think the game would greatly benefit from a system that puts players into the same boat both figuratively and literally You only have to take a look at Puzzle Pirates (and I know its not a game that is comparable to STO but it's game mechanic would definitely fit this game) and you see how fun it can be to operate a ship as a joint effort and it also really provides an opportunity for random people to get together and socialize a bit while the ship is heading to the mission destination.


This is one of those opinion things.

The problem with random people is that PUG's are PUG's. Very few PUG's ever turn into anything. Making random people work together works in very tightly defined goal oriented games such as WoW and such because the game was designed from the beginning with such a concept in mind.

STO was really designed for a strong PvE experience, with elements to bring players together in limited context if they wanted to. The fact that you can have a large part of the playerbase who go from Ensign to VA 1 without completing anymore than a handful of missions REQUIRING other players should illustrate that. Trying to remedy this with addons to force additional player interaction will do what it does in other games, allow those who already interact to become stronger.

Don't get me wrong, the Puzzle Pirate / Pirates of the Carribean concept of having players support a captain seems natural, But that presumes that most players don't want to be a captain, and that captaincy is something that should be "earned". In a game where the Admiral just gives it to you, that's hard to sell. Trying to build up a frame work to earn it is a very ORIGINAL idea that I haven't seen before in any detail, but there is the golden rule of dev to consider

It has to be able to be done without costing more than it is like to make in money.

No matter how "cool" ideas are, if they can't hit that threshold, they won't get attention.

The OP's ideas are very creative. But creativity should never be a goal until itself. If you can't provide meaningful feedback that says "this is good, this is bad,, I think this is bad but some may disagree" then you aren't helping the OP at all.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
02-09-2011, 12:28 PM
It was a lengthy post to go through but it made me clarify my points so thumbs up

An entire curricula and art requirements for this Starfleet Academy that basically only serves to replicate existing content. This is done in a method by which players are further isolated from actual game play for even a longer time than during the tutorial.

Ok, I will clarify this since I haven't really detailed this part of my post. I thought that the beginning part of the story would really be a short chain of missions like the original tutorial. It would educate you only in the essential mechanics and then move on to the action part of the story. It's still longer than the original tutorial yes, but not something extremely big.

Additionally, a framework for having new players acting as Bridge officers mainly requires some KIND of linkage between the minigame the PCBOff is running and the ship he is ostensibly on. That requires multiple people to be able to apply modifiers to a single game object which is not located on the same map they are.

Again, I didn't specify how I imagined the system so forgive me. I wouldn't want the Boffs to be on a different map than the ship. They would still be on the space map but their characters would be invisible (maybe a simplified model can be hidden in the ship model for each officer – but then again I don't know what Cryptic can do with the engine and how much stress this solution would add to the servers).



We already have content issues with both end-game high end content and KDF content. If they play to add playable Romulans, they'd have to seriously expand their workforce to produce something worthwhile. And I don't want to be like old school exploring used to be, since that would defeat the whole purpose of the concept.

I understand your concern however, I think the most important part of this system is being able to play on other people's ships. Apart from this and the introduction part (Academy tutorial) further content can come later when resources are sufficient for this project.


So, player one in a fleet has 3 fleet mates act as PC Boffs. He gets the skills a normal Boff in that slot would provide PLUS the bonus provided by the PC Boffs.

Player two has no one to be his player boffs. He is now already at a disadvantage against player one.

You say every MMO gives bonuses to the team up, and so does STO ALREADY if you have two ships working together against one. But in the above, unless the guy without fleetmates can get someone to help him, he is seriously disadvantaged ...or the bonuses or so minor they might as well not even be added on, so what's the point?

So again this is a PvP concern and yeah I might have gone overboard with the bonuses but keep in mind that they are just examples of possible bonuses that could be used. It might be sufficient that only the minigames the Boffs play will provide bonuses and not their skills.
Let's see how it would affect ship's performance (again this is just a possible configuartion of the bonuses which is really the developers job to finalize as they see fit from the point of balancing). Let's say there are 2 tactical officers, one engineering and one science officer on a ship and the same on the enemy ship. The ship with player Boffs would get these bonuses: +10% damage/critical chance bonus (6% for higher-rank Boff, 4% for lower rank Boff), +8 to one particular subsystem (engineer), +10% speed/manouverability bonus (helmsman), +10 points to deflector/emitter/sensors (science). I think this is a significant bonus pack but nothing that a good tactic wouldn't overcome.


So, if I have my fleet, and three are three fleet captains each with 3 player Boffs, faced with a 3 man PUG who can't get anyone to be their BoFF, you think this is fair? Fleetsy McLotsoFriends now has a Warp Core Training stat of 90 and +30 to all power levels, while Newbie O'Kindashy is just screwed.

Let's just say that PvP is usually not fair and it is especially true in games where balance is not inherent to the system (e.g.: in STO) but I know it's not your point. You just don't want it to be more unfair than it is already, right? This system will work only if there is every possibility for the players to team up and it's a fairly easy and quick process. While the scenario you describe is unlikely (why would someone not find Boffs at all while his enemy got every position filled-in somehow? And why would someone go to PvP in the first place if he knows he doesn't stand a chance) but it can happen (theoretically). All I can say is that the bonuses should be counterable by good tactics/skills and that people will always want to team up if there is a bonus. If there is a big enough bonus, not finding people to team up with is a non-issue.


Don't get me wrong, the Puzzle Pirate / Pirates of the Carribean concept of having players support a captain seems natural, But that presumes that most players don't want to be a captain, and that captaincy is something that should be "earned". In a game where the Admiral just gives it to you, that's hard to sell.

I think it was the developers initial idea to go this way, They could have chosen the other path and it would have been viable. Just take a look at Puzzle Pirates, it's widely popular (I know it's also free-to-play but if it weren't enjoyable no one would play it) and I can't imagine that every single player wants to be the captain all the time. There are rolepleayers and fans that just love the concept of progressing through the ranks in the way it was meant to be in Starfleet. And I read that the develeopers themselves want this game to be much more multiplayer oriented than it is today so I think the willingness for a new system is there.
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