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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Recently, throughout several MMO communities, there has been some debate over the fact that many MMO's are removing some of the traditional MMO mechanics that have stood since MMO's began. This week for instance, Larry Everett from Massively posted this article that sparked a lot of debate. For those that don't have time to read the article, I'll summarize it for you:

Bioware has recently announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic's bank will be the Player Ship's cargo hold. This, on top of previous announcements about crafting from the ship and PvP queues, has Larry feeling like there won't be enough of a reason to go to social zones. He notes that several other MMO's have begun to add features that remove reasons for going to social zones. Larry feels like the MMO genre is losing too much of the social aspect, one of it's core mechanics.

Now, this debate definitely has some meaning in STO as well. Most of the ideas floating around for increased ship interior functionality are things that may very well take away several of the reasons players have for visiting social zones. Ideas like crafting from the ship, adding a ship's cargo hold that acts as a bank, and adding a wardrobe that acts as a tailor to the Captain's Quarters have been around for a long time, and have gained considerable player support. STO has had PvP queues since launch (PvP queues are one of several things that have acted as a catalyst in this continuing debate in other games).

Now of course, there are two sides to the issue, so I will present their cases here:

Against the removal of core mechanics (this side mostly consists of those that have been playing MMO's for years, and like the genre as it stands)
  • The MMO genre has done just fine since the beginning and it's core mechanics are essential for the genre to stay strong.
  • MMO developers should concentrate on the needs of core mmo players, instead of adding features to lure new players to the genre (mostly from singleplayer games). Many feel like MMO devlopers are adding too many singleplayer features, and are forgetting to put innovation and effort into making good group content.
  • Some that fit into this group don't like the fact some MMO's have progression paths that allow players to play all the way through the game with singleplayer content alone.

For replacing certain core mechanics with singleplayer options (this side consists mostly of newcomers to the genre, fans of singleplayer games, and some that have played MMO's from the start and never liked certain aspects of the genre).
  • Developers should add features (particularly singleplayer features) that attract new players to the genre.
  • The genre needs to lose some of it's core mechanics, particularly those that make the genre less appealing to singleplayer fans. They feel like some of these mechanics have made the genre stagnant, as far too many developers try unsuccesfly to copy WoW. In doing so, these developers copy too many of WoW's bad features, and not enough of it's good features. They feel like developers should forget about copying WoW's features, and stagnant core MMO mechanics along with it, and should concentrate on innovative new features to bring all new players into the genre.
  • A small percentage of players on this side of the debate simply don't like the genre's social aspects and want to be able to play the game with minimal interaction with other players. They feel like there should be an option to play the game without interacting with anybody (they may want to play with other players in PvP, but they don't want to interact with/talk to them)

How a compromise could be struck between the groups in STO
Personally, I feel like certain features from Social Zones should be accesible from the ship. Ship Interiors need more functionality, and most of the best ideas to increase interior functionality involve adding things like banks, crafting, and clothing changes. Now, as to how to strike a balance to make sure social zones don't become ghost towns, I offer two suggestions:
  • Keep features like the Exchange and Ship tailors in Social Zones.
  • Add innovative new features to social zones in order to keep players coming there. The devs are already on the right track with Dabo. More new minigames need to be added to more social zones. These will always insure that at least a few players will be in social zones playing the minigames. Additionally, another innovative feaure that the devs are already working on are the Open PvP duelling rings that will be on Andoria, Vulcan, Qo'nos and Rura Penthe. These will insure a steady influx of players in those social zones.

Let me know what you think and where you stand in the debate. I welcome your feedback.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
03-03-2011, 08:11 PM
See...how about this...

Why don't MMOs just not care about "following the formula" and let the designers create a game that is appealing to players? In this case, make a game that emulates Star Trek, not a Star Trek game that emulates WoW...
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
03-03-2011, 08:16 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by nixboox View Post
See...how about this...

Why don't MMOs just not care about "following the formula" and let the designers create a game that is appealing to players? In this case, make a game that emulates Star Trek, not a Star Trek game that emulates WoW...
That's kind of the way I feel. Developers should concentrate on making a good game, not a good MMO.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
03-03-2011, 08:18 PM
So called 'social zones' have been a complete joke in MMOs for a long time now. Only a teensy-tiny minority segment of MMO players around the planet actually visit 'social zones' for the purpose of 'socializing' with random fellow players. Players are not in their characters, they are in the chat channels, where their avatars are entirely irrelavent.

Larry Everett, like everyone else at Massively, is a clueless twit.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
03-03-2011, 08:25 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquatic
So called 'social zones' have been a complete joke in MMOs for a long time now. Only a teensy-tiny minority segment of MMO players around the planet actually visit 'social zones' for the purpose of 'socializing' with random fellow players. Players are not in their characters, they are in the chat channels, where their avatars are entirely irrelavent.

Larry Everett, like everyone else at Massively, is a clueless twit.
I agree with your points about social zones. People just go their and do their business. I rarely ever see any local chat, and not much more in zone chat while on ESD. If people aren't using it to socialize anyway, why not add some of its features to ship interiors.

I don't agree about Larry being a twit. I've watched him the last several weeks on The Republic, which is a SW:TOR webshow. He's actually quite knowledgeable, he just didn't explain his side very well in the article. He presented a far better case on the show this week. He does have some good points, but it does feel like he's stuck in the past when it comes to MMOs and can't move forwards into the genre's future.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
03-03-2011, 08:26 PM
I can appreciate the concerns on this; it would be kind of weird to wander around an ESD with nothing but that same old mangy gang of three Caitians strolling the halls. But if nobody is there to miss the crowds, are they really missed at all? For me the only real "social zone" in every game I've played is the Fleet (Guild, Org, whatever) chat channel, and wherever it is my mates are meeting up for a raid or private PvP challenge hour.

Aside from just seeing other people running around ESD, and occasionally spotting a fleet mate, I don't really find much "social" going on there. Zone chat is nothing but a continual spam / flame fest, with the occasional disoriented noob trying to get an honest question or two in edgewise. People I see there most of the time are either parked at the Bank, Exchange, Tailor or Ship Chooser either twiddling with their toons or in /afk comas. Everyone is just doing their own thing in the same place, really; and there is very little actual social interaction that most people would want to engage in.

This can be a lonely game if you rely on the game mechanics itself for contact with others. Fleet Actions and "open instance" teams are notorious for having five or ten players inside for long periods of time who never even say hello on zone chat, then go their separate ways as soon as the instance ends. In my view all the real social interaction comes from getting into a good Fleet and getting to know actual people; then doing things together. And that can happen anywhere. And for what it's worth (fleet cap notwithstanding), the game actually has a really nice set of social tools to promote fleet interactions.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
03-03-2011, 08:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heezdedjim
I can appreciate the concerns on this; it would be kind of weird to wander around an ESD with nothing but that same old mangy gang of three Caitians strolling the halls. But if nobody is there to hear the silence, is it really lonely? For me the only real "social zone" in every game I've played is the Fleet (Guild, Org, whatever) chat channel, and wherever it is my mates are meeting up for a raid or private PvP challenge hour.

Aside from just seeing other people running around ESD, and occasionally spotting a fleet mate, I don't really find much "social" going on there. Zone chat is nothing but a continual spam / flame fest, with the occasional disoriented noob trying to get an honest question or two in edgewise. People I see there most of the time are either parked at the Bank, Exchange, Tailoer or Ship Chooser either twiddling with their toons or in /afk comas. Everyone is just doing their own thing in the same place, really; and there is very little actual social interaction that most people would want to engage in.

This can be a lonely game if you rely on the game mechanics itself for contact with others. Fleet Actions and "open instance" teams are notorious for having five or ten players inside for long periods of time who never even say hello on zone chat, then go their separate ways as soon as the instance ends. In my view all the real social interaction comes from getting into a good Fleet and getting to know actual people; then doing things together. And that can happen anywhere. And for what it's worth (fleet cap notwithstanding), the game actually has a really nice set of social tools to promote fleet interactions.
I agree on all points.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
03-03-2011, 08:32 PM
I have to say that I would be very sorry to see crafting added to our ship interiors. Memory Alpha stands as an utterly unique location in the game. It's beautifully designed and it brings together players from across the galaxy for a single purpose. While there, players connect with one another in order to trade or exchange data samples and items. If you need something, a missing data sample for your current crafting project, you can often find someone willing to help you out. The instant crafting is added to our interiors, Memory Alpha will be rendered obsolete.

Honestly, the ramifications of Memory Alpha's potential obsolescence have me concerned about alterations to each of the game mechanics noted here. Social zones are important to the game, and there's a lot of fun to be had in them. People do socialize in social zones, and new players are opening themselves up to other players there all the time. If functions are to be removed from them, new functions must be devised to take their place.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
03-03-2011, 08:36 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by dixonium View Post
I have to say that I would be very sorry to see crafting added to our ship interiors. Memory Alpha stands as an utterly unique location in the game. It's beautifully designed and it brings together players from across the galaxy for a single purpose. While there, players connect with one another in order to trade or exchange data samples and items. If you need something, a missing data sample for your current crafting project, you can often find someone willing to help you out. The instant crafting is added to our interiors, Memory Alpha will rendered obsolete.

Honestly, the ramifications of Memory Alpha's potential obsolescence have me concerned about alterations to each of the game mechanics noted here. Social zones are important to the game, and there's a lot of fun to be had in them. People do socialize in social zones, and new players are opening themselves up to other players there all the time. If functions are to be removed from them, new functions must be devised to take their place.
You have a point. Memory Alpha would be hit the worst. The team really needs to get innovataive IMO. They need to come up with something else to add the Memory Alpha in order to keep some people crafting there, even if Crafting is added to interiors. I'll be racking my brain trying to come up with an idea from now on.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
03-03-2011, 08:41 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by shikamaru317 View Post
You have a point. Memory Alpha would be hit the worst. The team really needs to get innovataive IMO. They need to come up with something else to add the Memory Alpha in order to keep some people crafting there, even if Crafting is added to interiors. I'll be racking my brain trying to come up with an idea from now on.
Remember that chick back in "central storage?" You probably haven't seen her since you did the "egg head" mission that led you to fetch some anomalies from her and get a schematic about 48 levels ago. Just give her a purpose in life by making her the friendly neighborhood "Sample and Trace Exchange Vendor." Got 200 Alien Artifacts, but what you really need is just 10 Mineral Samples? No problem; go see what's her name, give her 20 of whatever you don't need, and she gives you back 10 of whatever you want in return. Same with traces: turn those 20 useless Metreon traces rotting in your back into 10 Antithorons and a whole new set of Mk XI purple DHCs is yours! I guarantee she would be everyone's new best friend overnight, and as long as people were heading to MA to see her, they'd probably hang around and just get their crafting done as well.
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