So I've been playing the F2P beta for a week and have found myself with a bunch of feedback that I want to share. Some is good, some is bad, some is TBD. I'll get right down to it:
Story Mission Progression: Huge win here. I love what you have done with story progression and not opening up the next mission until you have played the previous one. This give you a clear path through the story of the game. My only criticism would be the lack of attention given to patrol and DSE missions. While I understand these missions are the most grindy of all the missions in STO, I do believe they have some purpose, they are relatively quick and help lengthen the game a tad. While I don't think it is necessary to add them to the story progression, I'd like to see some attention added to them on the Events page for "what to do next". My only negative is the story loot tables. I'm sitting at Cmd 1 doing a klingon mission that gives out Mk II gear. Revisiting these with something scalable is a must.
Events: Another huge win. These things are fun, and bring a lot of players together doing the same thing at the same time. I'd like to see this expanded with multiple events happening at once and maybe even incorporate some mission replays or bonus rewards for doing a cluster.
Level progression: Personally, I think the level/rank progression is a little fast. One week of casual play (not playing every day, and only for a couple hours at a time) and I'm already half way through the rank progression. While I agree a little speed up was needed, after a week I think I should probably be maybe half-way through Lt. Cmd. I'm not saying slow it back down to where it was, but slow it down a little bit. How bad is it going to be when at this pace I'm just getting through the romulan story arc and hit level cap with all the DS9, cardassian, and borg stuff to go.
Ships: This one I haven't fully decided if I like or dislike the way you've gone with this. To get the Cmd ship, I did something for an hour and had enough dilithium ore to get the ship. That's not bad, and If I'm getting dilithium through the entire rank getting ships shouldn't be an issue. However, I do not yet know what the other ranks have in store for this. However, in each rank, I used to grind exploration missions to outfit my ship and crew properly. I'll get into this more when I discuss the economy.
Economy: This one I'm a little TBD with. My first reactions are that the ore/refined conversion limit is going to be stifling and too low at later levels. Also the amount of dilithium that I am able to earn right now seems too low in order to out fit my ships with gear at later levels. Now my feelings on this are both good and bad. On one hand I don't think everyone should be able to get the best gear as easy as we have in the past. However, on the other hand, it is what we've been able to do for the last 20 months. I have two VA feds, and for both of them I would grind explore missions in each level to 1) Max diplomacy, and 2) earn enough marks to gear my ship and crew.
C-Store: Come on Man!!! We were told that nothing in the c-store would be getting a price increase, in fact most of the changes would be price decreases. Now we see the c-store and almost everything has gone up, with a few price decreases. Most of the ships have gone up more than the stipend golds will be getting. So now most new ships we'll have to pay more for than we would have under the subscription model. This is bad form. I hope either 1) prices go back to where they were or 2) the monthly stipend is raised to account for the increases.
For many existing players some of these things are going to be a hard pills to swallow, especially if we choose to level up new toons as it is a completely new feel to the game, and we were promised before we saw this that the game would not change for gold players. I'm sorry but these are all big changes. The game is not going to be the same for those of us gold subscribers. Some of these changes like I said are good. Some of them not so good. I think overall it will be positive for new players. Old players who come back won't like some of the changes but I hope the good out weigh the bad. Gold subscribers are getting the short end of it. We are the ones who have supported this game for the last 20 months and will continue to support monthly. While some benefits to us may yet to be seen, we are still paying and should be seeing benefits now exclusive to us, and not "in the future" (new content) which everyone will be able to see at that point.
I have to say I pretty much completely agree with everything you said.
The good things that I think should stay the same:
1) Mission Progression
This is amazing; it adds structure to an otherwise unorganized game, making the path you can take to level up clear and precise. With a nice order that makes sense. I enjoyed this time leveling up much more than my 1st and 2nd times because of this alone. It was clear, easy and simple.
2) All-In-One (somewhat) Currency
I can't tell you how happy it makes me to have just a couple currencies to have to deal with. It was so annoying dealing with all the different marks and badges... It got very confusing at times.
3) Events/Doff System
Both of these add a whole new layer to the game. These two will make me play the game much more in the future. Especially the Doffs, it's very enjoyable managing those. It's so satisfying to go to sleep, wake up, eat breakfast, hop on STO and spam the "Collect Rewards" button in the morning. I also greatly enjoy the new Mirror Universe event, I think it's a great addition to the game.
The problems I feel that need to be adressed are:
1) The Road to Max Level
I've played 1-2 hours or so a day since Tribble re-launched, and my Fed is Captain 4... this is extremely fast. I'm already half war to max level, that's a bit sad. I think that, like the OP said, we need to slow down slightly.
In my own humble opinion, the EXP for each quest should be decreased for Feds, and mix in the patrols (increasing their exp slightly) into the episode progression. That will lengthen the gameplay by adding in these grind/light story missions into the progression.
2) Having to Grind for Ships
This to me, was by worst experience on the Tribble server. It was SO annoying to try to make it through the game with a t2 Escort -- getting 1 hit by a Heavy Plasma Torpedo from a Mogai is not enjoyable. While some might say "You should have just grinded for the Dilithium!', why should I have to? Isn't a game supposed support ALL kinds of gameplay? I'm not a grinding type, I really can't stand it. Earning ONE free ship every level is not bad at all, especially since at the higher levels (VA, in specific) you have a tendency to switch ships often, so it's not like I don't have enough grinding already.
Simple, give back free ship tokens. Later we'll have to grind a lot if we want to get everything, low levels should not be a grind fest (or even a light grind). As this will turn off some people who want to play a non-grindy game. Optional grind at max levels is enough, and people can always grind Dilithium for rare lower level equips, if they're the slow progressing maximizing type. There's no need to force this upon us lower players, it makes you (Cryptic) no money and it could potentially lose some paying customers whilst also ticking off your loyal playerbase.
3) Cryptic Points UGGHHHHHH!!!
YOU SRS BRO? 20$ for a ship? ONE SHIP? D:!!! My Stipend is 400, I'll have to chill out for 5 months and get nothing to buy my MVAE, which is quite a while. The increase is too much, I can understand increasing prices slightly... but making it so costy also LOSES some customers. A lot of kids can talk their parents into paying one small 5-10$ charge or maybe even two, but getting above that is a lot more difficult. Not to mention adults, even though they may have the money, realize the logic behind what a waste it truly is. Having cheap prices makes it so people aren't afraid to throw in 10$ every here and there. As opposed to 20$ which although it may sound arbitrary, is in it's entirety far too much for one single ship that you MAY or MAY NOT used.
Solution: Revert prices to what they were previously. I know that I'm comfortable spending a couple bucks here and there on this, but I'm not going to be chucking out 20$ every single time a new ship comes out. What will I do when my MVAE gets outdated? Even IF I bought it with real life money, because of that soul fact that I spent 25$ on it, I would NEVER EVER, EVER NEVER EVER NEVER buy another ship with Cryptic points. That's just too much for me (and others, I know that much for a fact), I'm sorry.
On a side note, slightly selfish I know, but if the prices stay the same, the Stipend is SLIGHTLY too small T.T, should be increased to like 500 or 600. I bought my LTS too late so, would be nice to get my money's worth out of it ;/.
These are all just my opinions, I'm by no means perfect nor do I represent the whole community. I recognize that Cryptic is a business so, some of these changes may sound like they are negative for a business... Ticking off your customer base, whilst making it so that some of them stop being customers, loses business even though you're making more from each purchase, you're losing in the amounts of purchases AS WELL as making EVERYONE angry.
Rule of Acquisition 57: Good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them.