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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
I've been pretty harsh on the forums to date, and some of this has been knee jerk, so, I'm going to revisit the issues I'm seeing, and post my observations on them.

First is a caveat: I've taken a Fed - Joined Trill - Sci to Captain, and that's it. I started a Lib Borg Tac but was unable to continue with that, so I don't have a complete view of everything in the game at present.

The Mission String

The Mission String initially sounded like a really neat idea to me. There are a few serious issues though. Because of how we're leveling, players tend to outstrip mission rewards pretty quickly, everything has to be done in a specific lock step sequence, so if anything goes wrong with a mission's scripting, the player is effectively prohibited from advancing through the game, and there's not much else they can do aside from dig around for patrols or wait for a GM to help them.

Finally, and this is a pet peeve, but (aside from (maybe) the Romulan series) the Featured Episodes really shouldn't be in the string at all.

I still think the new string system is a good idea, but it could use a little improvement. First, multiple strands really need to be open at one time. When playing I had Researcher Rescue bug out, and if not for exploiting the scripting, I would have been left stuck at that point, I've heard of people having Stranded in Space spaz out, leaving them excluded from any game content at all, and Night of the Comet still has the invulnerable bar patron bug, which now becomes a showstopper for any game progression.)

So, what works is that this does open up the story arcs in the game pretty well, and actually allows for more coherent story arcs going forward, because episodes can now be written with absolute certainty that the player has experienced the previous episode in the arc, even if it cannot track what their actions were.

I honestly think the game would be better suited in the long term, if the fronts were opened up, so players could advance the fronts they chose to, when they chose to. Fronts should carry a warning on the page saying it's intended for this level range, but they should open up much earlier than that for players, should they want a greater challenge.

I also think the Featured Episodes, and possibly some of the existing fronts, should be broken down into separate smaller arcs, more in line with the featured episodes. For instance splitting the Cardassian front into Mirror Universe and New Link arcs.

Having mission threads open up other mission threads isn't a bad system, but this probably needs to be a branching system, so the player has more choice in what story they want to pursue as they progress. The level scaling seems to support this.

The one thing I really worry about with the current system is, it looks like a player might be able to progress purely on episodes, and end up finishing off the non STF content before they break Captain (once the Tribble XP boost is gone.)

Dilithium

Okay, when I first stuck my head in the game and looked at this I wanted to vomit. We've all seen the numbers where you needed to grind for two months to get a T5 ship, once you'd gotten promoted to RA. And we've all seen, or even posted, messages about how there isn't enough Dilithium for someone to equip themselves.

Now, having dealt with the system for a 30 levels I can say it's not honestly that bad, with caveats. The Devs have flat out stated that the Dilithium Costs are flat out wrong, and suggested we continue grinding on Tribble, the second caveat is, I've never been one to spend emblems, marks, or Badges unless I had something specific in mind, but, my brief foray into looking at the dilithium shops reinforced my aversion to them.

The best thing about the Dilithium system is that it does converge a lot of different systems into a single coherent currency, it aims to do that, and it does it pretty effectively. What doesn't work is, there aren't enough ways to get it, the costs are (currently) too high (by about 10 times), across the board, and too many things (seem to) require it. (and yes, that is a lot of conditionals.)

The biggest flaw seems to be the rarity, adding a small amount of ore to each episode, enough that a player who simply wanted to advance through the ranks could save it and either have enough at each rank up to progress to their next ship. The second rarity issue is the cluster missions which used to be the source for badges, marks, and emblems. Conflating all of these into dilithium sources is fine, but the execution is a bit... strange.

The cluster missions, at present, give you refined dilithium, not ore, and are all dailies (on 20h cooldowns). Finally, only the clusters in your current level range give you dilithium. As a side effect this means players who hit RA1 and need to grind dilithium to get their T5 ship can't, because their only source of cluster dilithium is burred in B'Tran behind a gate that is tied to episode progression, and I've seen reports from plenty of players who are at RA1 and still working through the Klingon, or Romulan fronts.

Giving refined dilithium seems to offset the anti-grinding measure of the refining limit, something that probably shouldn't happen. Making the missions dailies may make sense, but we need that to either be some kind of global dailiy which can be used on any cluster to dispense dilithium, or the clusters should all give equal rewards, scaling to the player's current level, including a chunk of ore (not refined dilithium), and on the old 30m cooldown. (As a quick aside, aid the planet missions should probably dispense a small quantity of dilithium on completion to offset the expense (apparently the item rewards are disabled, at present.))

The centerpiece of the Dilithium issue seems to actually be tying ships to the dilithium system. Under the old system it was quite viable to buy alternate ships and test out alternate builds, but, with ships requring weeks of dilithium grinding, vs. the amount of time it takes a player to advance in rank, this simply isn't viable at present. Reverting ships to an EC purchase (at their current costs), and providing the player with an EC stipend at each promotion, even if it isn't enough to purchase the next ship outright, would probably go a long way towards alleviating the feelings of betrayal that are being expressed across the boards. Alternately, cutting the dilithium cost of the ships to 10% of what it is now, might also be a good idea, it will put ships within grindable ranges, without this idea that a player would have to grind for months to get a ship. (Though, as I mentioned above, all dilithium costs seem to be about ten times what they should, the 90% discount we receive for ships seems to reinforce that).

Just to be clear, I think 90% of the talk about the game becoming an endless grind comes out of the astronomical ship prices, because that's the element of this system everyone is forced to deal with. The devs have said they're going to be revising the costs pretty dramatically in the next couple weeks, so, from where I'm standing the Dilithium economy is definitely a work in progress, but it is one thing that Cryptic needs to get right, or this game will become a ghost town.

There are a few things that have come out of the dilithium system that I do really like, first off, the idea that I could go back and grind early clusters for the accolades and actually get something worthwhile from doing it, (though at present, they don't pay out), retraining bridge officer skills (also currently broken) (Fixed as of 10/13) have been moved over to EC while promotions have been applied to Bridge Officer Skill points, meaning they should remain somewhat relevant even at cap (though, again, I'm not sure this system is working as intended).

So, in short, Dilithium needs a lot of work before it's ready for prime time, and let's hope they have the opportunity to do it, because if they don't this one will kill the game.

Someone suggested that players would be receiving a stipend of 800 dilithium per month. While that number is stupidly low, a stipend of 800 - 4000 per character, per day might be a very solid way to provide gold players with a persistent reward for being subscribed, that goes beyond leveling material.

Update (10/13): Okay, so Dilithium costs have been revised down massively by the last patch, and ship tokens have been reinstated. While the costs still seem a bit high, particularly in regard to consoles, they're now in a range that a player could conceivably purchase them.

The second major fix in regards to Dilithium is the restoration of the cluster missions. They now work... mostly, like they do on Holodeck, with one major change: to gain dilithium, the player needs to take an additional daily mission, which provides dilithium ore for completing a cluster mission. I'll admit, this is a somewhat elegant solution, though, I'm still of the opinion that clusters should provide a small amount of dilithium every time they're run (480-500 ore), but it reopens the level advancement via cluster grinding, if making it somewhat less attractive.

The Duty Officer missions now offer a small amount (5 ore) of dilithium, every time you complete, well, any DOff mission. This number seems a bit too low, at least given current prices, though it does have a cumulative effect, that effect is still fairly negligible. I'm not sure if 25, or 50 would be a better number, and 5 may be fine if the costs are reduced again, I'll be keeping an eye on this and see what I find.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
10-10-2011, 05:29 PM
Crafting

There are two issues with crafting at the moment, and both are actually tied to the test, not the final product. First, all the even numbered mark items vanished. We've been told that this is in error, and will be rectified (someday). Second, because of the XP boost we're reciving, we're powering through levels faster than we can accumulate crafting bits, meaning you basically need two characters to craft anything useful.

I'm going to dig around and make a rough suggestion however, rather than using this long lists of items structure we've had, I'd suggest we replace that with the ability to build custom items using crafting bits. Aside from a handful of unique items (the Aegis set, the Delta Flyer, the heavy satellite turret, and the Horta), there isn't really anything to recommend crafting, and a lot of players view it as a pointless grindfest with no real payoff (except the Aegis set).

A crafting system based on either being able to craft schematics (as we do now), and then building custom items from those schematics, controlling rarity, mark, and modifiers, and modifying the cost accordingly could go a long way towards making the feature appealing to players, and make it more of a crafting, and less of an exchange system.

Related to crafting, merchants no longer carry any even marked gear as well, I'm unsure if this is intentional or not, however.

I would recommend, that for the duration of this test, the anomaly drop rate should probably be doubled so we can test the crafting system a little more comprehensively.

Update (10/13): I've since been informed that there actually is an event that increases Crafting bit drop rates massively, additionally two changes have made crafting resources a bit easier to come by, the first is a change to the cluster mechanics, and the second are duty officer missions to obtain crafting bits. Both of these have been affected by the 10/13 patch. I'll keep an eye on this, and confirm it later, but for not it looks like crafting should be viable even on this progression rate.

Duty Officers

The duty officer system has been hyped for so long any response at this point would be kinda underwhelming. The system we're presented with seems functional enough, and is pretty entertaining in its own right, but doesn't seem to interface with the game, well, really at all, beyond minor skill bumps, specific ability modifications, and the occasional item reward.

The biggest problem seems to be a lack of transparency, it's not immediately clear to me why I keep getting missions to produce better cannons when I'm flying a T4 science ship that can't even mount them, nor is it clear why duty officers disappear at random. Did they die on their missions, will a mission consume the bridge officers sent on it? Who knows? Why doesn't the ability to beam in a second phaser turret do anything? (Because DOff ground modifiers don't affect Bridge Officers on the ground.) Where do you get contraband and Prisoners? (I'm told prisoners come from Military or espionage missions on a crit success, I've no idea on contraband.)

The current DOff system is a fun facebook game, but it needs better integration with the main game. The ability to assign DOffs directly to bridge officers, providing permanent enhancements might go a long way towards doing this. Or even just having Bridge officers assigned as department heads, so we can predict what missions are more likely to become accessible.

Update (10/11): There is one big issue with the current DOff system, a bug that eats DOffs, this seems to affect whites regardless of their rarity.

Update (10/13): There's been an update to the duty officer UI, which helps a little with some of the lack of transparency, though a lot of the major issues I pointed to above are still unresolved. Still, it's an improvement.

C-Store

The C-Store has a couple of problems right now, and basically both boil down to a lack of transparency. If the C-Store is being used to examine what players are willing to spend points on, it might be a good idea to explain that the C-Points on tribble are test points, and don't affect the player's normal account balance in any way shape or form, and that they gain additional C-Store points on tribble by buying points for their main account, as opposed to the points being added to both servers.

I've seen (quite reasonable) complaints that people didn't want to spend money on temporary items that they wouldn't be able to keep, without realizing that the points here are part of a separate testing economy.

The second problem is the price changes. Unfortunately, we haven't gotten a lot of information on what is going on with these. The new ship pricing scheme seems to be (400CP*Ship Tier)-400, with the T1s, like the Classic Constitution costing 280. For the T1 and T2 ships this is a significant cost drop, but for 4s and 5s, this is a cost increase.

This could be a testing measure to see if players are willing to spend more money for T5 ships, or it could simply be an attempt to streamline and standardize the ship costs. Without official word from Cryptic though, it's kind of hard to assess exactly what's going on here.

Conclusion

I'm still playing, and I'll continue to report what I find, the changes aren't fatal, and there are some neat things, but there are problems.

Also, there's an 11k character limit on Forum posts... who knew?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
10-10-2011, 06:24 PM
Just to give everyone a little pick at what I have seen when I reached Vice Admiral Lower Half.

I am running an Engineer and have chosen the Assault Cruiser as my ship for this rank.
Now in order for me to upgrade this ship with Blue Quality Items including my Engineer, I would have to collect a total of 1,242,000 Refined Dilithium, Oh yes, It reads
One Million Two Hundred Forty Two Thousand.

I about fell over when I saw the number. I had to do it 4 times in hopes that it was a mistake on my part
( Iím still hoping it is)

This includes Ship Weapons, Engine, Shields, Deflector, and consuls.
Plus My Engineers Weapon (2), Shield, and Armor

Not Kits, because you can buy Blue ones with EC

Now at the games current state, how long do you think it would take me to grind out this much Dilithium?

The items are only Mark 10 Blue.

Maybe if they see this number they would see how off the mark they are.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
10-10-2011, 07:13 PM
The one thing I've seen that is just wrong is the mission string. If one of the missions is bugged in such a way that you can't complete it, you are stuck with no progression. I like having it all laid out, but being forced to go in order is too linear for a game of this type.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
10-10-2011, 07:49 PM
since most vets are looking to level new characters as quickly as possible, my system has been to use an escort to level, so i get the space missions done faster, and respec later if I was levelling an alt for something other than escort.

i can see it continuing this way except ill buy a tier 2 escort at lt cmdr, just to get rid of the miranda and carry that on until RA and possibly VA. Certainly can do the space portion of commander/captain missions, and by then ill have enough dilithium saved to purchase an RA ship, then by the time I get VA, since I am sure to have alot left over since i only purchased one ship, easily onto the VA ship

sound in theory
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
10-10-2011, 08:13 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruis.In View Post
since most vets are looking to level new characters as quickly as possible, my system has been to use an escort to level, so i get the space missions done faster, and respec later if I was levelling an alt for something other than escort.

i can see it continuing this way except ill buy a tier 2 escort at lt cmdr, just to get rid of the miranda and carry that on until RA and possibly VA. Certainly can do the space portion of commander/captain missions, and by then ill have enough dilithium saved to purchase an RA ship, then by the time I get VA, since I am sure to have alot left over since i only purchased one ship, easily onto the VA ship

sound in theory
Yeah, but not in practice. (Having not tried it personally,) I'm told that if you skip a tier, either by buying a C-Store ship (which I almost did with the RI, or suffering through with a lower tier vessel, you can't progress to the next rank past that until you've completed the promotion mission. So, if you skip the T3 ship at commander, you can't be promoted to Captain at all. Again, I haven't tested this personally, but still.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
10-12-2011, 03:16 PM
Updated with a C-Store section, and a comment on the DOff eating bug, which has munched away about 7 doffs in the past couple days, including my C-Store Rare doff (A white benzite councilor).
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
10-14-2011, 02:04 AM
Another update in response to the 10/13 patch. Some issues have been addressed, while others (the mission string and C-Store) are unchanged.
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