Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Hey guys,

It's been a while since we started talking about the Duty Officers, Assignments, Department Heads and First Officer systems in earnest, and now that we're deep in the middle of development of the system, we thought it would be a good time to do a round-up of where it all stands now.

Duty Officers
Players will be able to collect a roster of "duty officers" (Doffs) to either slot into the active roster of your crew complement or send them on assignments - some on board your ship, some off - in return for rewards.

Duty officers will include both active-duty Starfleet personnel and some few civilians. Most duty officers will be able to both be slotted into your active roster or to be sent on assignment, meaning you will have to judge carefully the pros and cons of each allocation.

Duty officers that can be assigned to your crew's active roster will have a special passive ability based on the officer's specialization. For example, a tractor beam engineer specialist might provide a chance to proc an additional effect whenever you use a tractor beam. It is possible to stack different duty officers of the same type, though there are some stack limits. For example, it is possible to fill your entire active roster with Science branch duty officers, though you might only be able to put a maximum of three Warp Theorists in your active roster at any one time.

In addition to specialization, duty officers are also distinguished by species (which sometimes have associated traits), quality (usually expressed as rank), rarity (loosely tied to quality) and gender.


Assignments
Assignments represent both on-board and off-board appointments of personnel (usually) and commodities (sometimes). All assignments take differing amounts of time before they are completed; the time can range from as little as a few minutes to as long as a week - rewards scale, but shorter completion times are weighted more heavily, since they require more player management time.

Assignments may have requirements (e.g., these two slots on the assignment may only be filled by engineers) and may also have modifiers (e.g., this slot gives you a better chance of success if it is filled by an Andorian or a duty officer with the Trader trait).

Which assignments are available will change every few hours, and may also be gated by your captain's rank, what sector you are in, and other achievements.

Inputs may also include commodities such as medical supplies or provisions.

Rewards almost always will include skill points and bridge officer points and energy units. Depending on the assignment, other rewards may also be available including DXP, merits/honor, badges/marks, energy units, commodities, items, additional assignments and new duty officers.


Department Heads and First Officers
Subsequent to the duty roster system goes live we will be rolling out the next component of the system: department heads and your First Officer.

Bridge officers will be able to "eat" duty officers of their branch to learn those duty officer's passive abilities. (Fictionally, think of it as the duty officers are joining that bridge officer's staff.) With the appropriate expenditures of Merit/Honor and for bridge officers with adequate training, a player can appoint a bridge officer to head up one of six departments - Tactical, Security, Science, Medical, Engineering, Operations. Once heading up a department, those "eaten" duty officer skills will become active.

From department heads, a bridge officer can be promoted to a First Officer once you acquire special "trainer" duty officers. The skill imparted to a First Officer, however, will be an active, clickable skill that you can slot on your power bar and use in space.

Integral to the introduction of department heads and your First Officer we will be revisiting the entire crew user interface in an effort to streamline and integrate it, all with an eye to allowing us to build even more deeply upon that to provide even more functionality and depth to your crew.


What About After This?
Once we have the duty officer system integrated into the existing bridge officer system and the forthcoming department heads and first officers, the next step will be to tackle end game issues, including making fleets more relevant and creating fleet assignments and both cooperative and competitive gameplay at a fleet vs. fleet scale.


Q&A
Q: What are the differences between playing these systems at a casual pace versus a hard core pace?
A: We've tried to deliberately set it up to be able to work both for a casual player and as a player who is more invested in the system. I would expect a more casual player to focus more on longer-duration assignments and less micro-managing of the active roster, while a more invested player could easily spend a majority of their time managing their crew assignments and rosters. Ideally, the rewards should be comparable to the time investment of the player.

Q: What kinds of rewards will assignments offer?
A: Other than the numerics listed above, we are experimenting with allowing assignments to make it possible to gather anomolies, craft items and access special duty officers and assignments.

Q: What will the benefit of this system be at end game?
A: We're all very much aware that the end game needs some real love, and improving the end game is something that is going to be a major push following the current batch of work in progress. The duty officer and assignment system will, in fact, offer some rewards and optimization and collection benefits at end game when these systems are launched; that being said, they are also currently envisioned to act more as a major foundation for this to-come push for end game gameplay than as a complete solution at the time they launch. I know it's frustrating to wait, and we have had to make some very difficult choices as to what to do in what order, but we want you all to know we are aware of many of the areas where the game needs to improve and are trying to get to all of it as soon as we can with the level of quality you all deserve.

Q: Wait, did you say the department head and first officer parts of the system will not come out at the same time as the duty officer component?
A: Unfortunately, it looks like this is going to be how it is going to happen. We have the tech, we have the data - but the more we have looked at the system and how it is entangled with the existing way bridge officers works, the more it has become clear we need to do a complete revamp in order to fully integrate bridge officers, duty officers, department heads and your first officer. We tried really hard to avoid delaying the department head and first officer portions of the system, but we have decided we simply cannot roll it out with the level of quality that it needs without more work.

Q: Will duty officers have their own name? Can I change it?
A: All duty officers will be named, but every duty officer of the same exact type will have the same name. For example, out of the ten thousand or so duty officers, every Green quality Bajoran female Projectile Weapons specialist Tactical officer will have the same name. Due to practical database issues, you will not be able to change or customize it. Right now, we're looking at storing tens of thousands of duty officers. To allow players to customize the names of all their duty officers would multiply the data storage requirements by well over an order of magnitude, something we're just not able to do right now. Could this change sometime in the future? It's certainly not inconceivable.

Q: What kinds of bonuses will slotting duty officers into your active roster provide?
A: Passives and procs - no active abilities that you have to click. Some of these will be non-combat, most will be in combat. Most will be for space, although we are exploring having some affect ground operations as well.

Q: What is the actual state of development for all of this?
A: The current state is what I would call "true alpha", meaning it is functional but neither pretty (lacks appropriate UI still) nor polished (needs lots of iteration and usability work). Moreover, there is still vast amounts of data to create including literally thousands of duty officers and assignments. (Some of this can be procedurely generated, but a lot of it has to be hand-crafted.) The basic foundations are in really good shape, however, and it is incredibly exciting to start to see all the places we can take this basic engine and all the other parts of the game we can assimilate. I mean, assist.

Q: What about...?
A: Awesome idea. You should totally post that here. I don't have time to comment on every idea, and some things we can't do for any number of different practical reasons which I may or may not be able to explain in detail, but there have already been a number of really great ideas I've seen and I'm very certain we've only scratched the surface of what can be done with these systems.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
04-13-2011, 03:36 PM
I love this. I love you.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
04-13-2011, 03:47 PM
This whole system sounds amazing and is REALLY close to how I envisioned it way back when it was first brought up. What really excites me will be when we can send these suckers out to gather anomoly resources I think that would be an awesome way for people to harvest resources.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
04-13-2011, 03:50 PM
Nice. Love it.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
04-13-2011, 03:53 PM
Heretic, I'd like a duty office that looks like your avatar. That is all.


Can you hook a brutha up? :p
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
04-13-2011, 03:56 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta_Otaku View Post
This whole system sounds amazing and is REALLY close to how I envisioned it way back when it was first brought up. What really excites me will be when we can send these suckers out to gather anomoly resources I think that would be an awesome way for people to harvest resources.
...and get in trouble and need to be rescued...lol!

But really, I'm looking forward to the new system. Sounds great!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
04-13-2011, 03:58 PM
Sounds extremely interesting,. looking forward to seeing the changes.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
04-13-2011, 04:02 PM
Ok, um. Yeah. This sounds like everything I was hoping for. Plus the outline for department heads and first officers does as well.

For the first time in 7 years I actually feel like Cryptic has met my fullest expectations.

I-I don't really know what to do now. The world must be ending in 2012 after all if this has finally come to pass.

Great job guys. Can you allow us to design some random Aliens for you? Please? I'd love to see my main become a DOFF
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
04-13-2011, 04:03 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain.Hunter View Post
...and get in trouble and need to be rescued...lol!
That's not a bad idea -- let there be a small but non-zero chance that such missions can go wrong, requiring us to intervene.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
04-13-2011, 04:05 PM
Awesome post. Thanks for the update. The morebi learn the more excited I am for this sort of thing.

What occurs to me is a hope that we don't end up with a 'must have' setup, such as where people see effluent saurians as the holy grail of Boffs. Just my two cents.
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