Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
This is something I considered even back when they ran CoH, although I found that game to be more content rich even if the settings were more generic.

Now, come next March or so, we will have had a year of map renovations, social map additions, hourly events, DOff system, shooter mode, skill tree revamps, gimmick devices developed for missions, etc. with no new storyline missions or PvP.

I think it's colored our feedback quite a bit as well, as I suggested personality systems, Darren-Kitlor pushed the Explore the System System, Thomas the Cat pushed minigames, etc.

The content team develops a lot of this stuff. It's not a trivial amount of resources that go into this stuff. And it means a lack of focus on new PvP scenarios and story missions-- which, for a lot of us, the game simply isn't perceived as "moving forward" without.

Compare this to a ******** or a Guild Wars or a DDO. Those games seem to progress story constantly and build PvP scenarios off of story.

If Cryptic made sandbox games, a systems over story approach might make sense. But they don't. And I think story is a huge part of Star Trek. We don't watch for the Heisenberg Compensators or the Starfleet procedures or the Klingon culture. We watch for the STORY, by and large.

Sure, STO was lacking in some systems when it launched, quite severely. But many games get around issues like this by keeping systems as a rare backburner overhaul and by focusing on the storyline.

STO's storyline feels almost completely stalled and without many solid turning points.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
11-18-2011, 11:34 AM
I don't know, Star Trek itself was very sandboxed. With the exception of DS9 you could almost lift any random episode from any series and you'd never know the difference (there are a few exceptions).

Cryptic builds their stories like comic books, a testiment to their CoH roots. The individual levels are designed to be picked up at any point and be enjoyable without having to know the details of the overall arc. Even Champs is set up so that you can enjoy the game without really knowing the overarcing story.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
11-18-2011, 11:43 AM
The problem lies in how Cryptic does business.

Their team is too independent and their goal is too singular. There is little to none consideration given when creating systems, gimmicks and maps for them to be used for purposes beyond their immediate function. This leads to new story and mission elements having to wait in line until the Art team have time available to create new maps and assets for them to use. The backlog seems to just continue from there.

There is no reason why maps should be created, seemingly without a company design template in mind. If Cryptic decided to introduce a series of design specifications for map design, then we would see a lot of progress in content creation, because maps would then be suitable for other teams to pick up and use straight away, rather than not being able to use them because they were never designed with the following applications in mind:

- For the predetermined core purpose (a FE map)
- For Foundry Use (map with and without assets, modular in design)
- For PVP use (created with players exploiting the environment in mind, so its readily applicable for pvp release)
- For persistent zone use (no reason why Kestral has to sit on her hands waiting for maps or gimicks to be created when the Story team could be adding tens of missions a month in these maps using the better-than-foundry-beta inhouse tools - like Gozer's remastered missions).

Cryptic is too invested in 'instanced, once off content'. Because of this, the only options they leave open to themselves are the creation of new gimmicks and systems to drive forward what is certainly better mission play - but what use is any of it, when its only developed with one purpose in mind?

Startrek was always more about story. Recylcing of gimmicks and systems created was commonplace and worked well (for the most part). The story was the important thing, not making sure you created a new weapon systems to defeat your enemy of the week, every week.

The EP should rally the team to ensure that everything created can be multipurposed for other projects (as it does not seem to be the case imo). I'd like to see more emphasis on more intense usage of existing assets, rather than having (what seems like) half the team sitting on their hands waiting for the gimmicks and art department to make something new and allow them to start working.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
11-18-2011, 11:53 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Commadore_Bob
I don't know, Star Trek itself was very sandboxed. With the exception of DS9 you could almost lift any random episode from any series and you'd never know the difference (there are a few exceptions).

Cryptic builds their stories like comic books, a testiment to their CoH roots. The individual levels are designed to be picked up at any point and be enjoyable without having to know the details of the overall arc. Even Champs is set up so that you can enjoy the game without really knowing the overarcing story.
While I see that, I think the hook for any given episode or film was the story ESPECIALLY because of the modular nature of episodes.

Because you could skip a story and there were few running subplots, every episode's watchability hinged on the story of that episode.

There's also the idea that Trek's decline came as audiences favored serialized subplots, which Trek creators struggled to deliver, even as everything from Battlestar Galactica to sitcoms has focused on longform storytelling. I think you can trace that model back to shows like Dynasty but it took over genre entertainment with Twin Peaks and the X-Files, which balanced modular stories with large scale plots. Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned it into a standard and every genre show or game since has lived or died on how compelling its longform plots were.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
11-18-2011, 12:00 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by nynik


Cryptic is too invested in 'instanced, once off content'. Because of this, the only options they leave open to themselves are the creation of new gimmicks and systems to drive forward what is certainly better mission play - but what use is any of it, when its only developed with one purpose in mind?.
I can agree very strongly with this and it's one area where I think a thorough remodeling and intelligent reworking of ship interiors as repeatable mission maps would provide more bang for Cryptic's buck than virtually anything else they could do.

I think far too much time gets eaten up in map development when a few really, really solid ship interior maps, with a focus on functional hook-ups, alternate lighting, and NPC behaviors, would allow for massive PvE and PvP content generation.

Trek shows didn't build a new set every episode. They focused on a small number of versatile quality sets, a few mattes, a few stock city environments (there's, like, one desert city reused in all the Berman era shows) and then relied on that.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
11-18-2011, 12:06 PM
Thinkingg about it, I have a feeling you are right. Many of the additions to the game have been rather haphazard, thrown-together 'Hey this is a great idea!' and then very little (not 'nothing', just 'very little') done with them subsequently.

A good example are the STFs. They were introduces shortly after launch, and at the time it was said by the devs that they would be introducing a new STF weekly. (Most of us thought that was a bit too ambitious, and... as it turns out we were right. Which is why I doubt they're going to get weekly FEs going.)

Another is minigames. Dabo came in, but nothing more came of it, nothing more was done with it. Same with the scanning minigame, somethingg that could be applied to other things in the game, but wasn't.

I don't have to go into the Foundry, I trust....

Featured Episodes, there seems to have been great energy and enjoyment in releasing them at first; the first ones were released in short order. Then we kind of waited a bit until the Romulan one came out, and then... well, yeah. It's said that the next one will be coming out after F2P launch. (We can hope it''s *shortly* after F2P launch.) And they say that there'll be weekly ones after. (C.f. what happened with weekly STFs.)

The old Diplomacy system. Thrown in, pretty cool, I remember grinding for it... but what more was done with it? Did the Klinks get something similar?

And now there's the DOff system, and a lot of ideas surrounding it. I've not messed much with the DOff minigame, but I hear it's a lot of fun, or at least addictive. (I should hope so; it's adapted from Zynga's playbook, though without the insulting paygates surrounding it. Kudos to Cryptic for resisting making the DOff system into Farmville for STO!) But... will more come from it? There is talk about integrating it with the ideas for the Department Head system and the XO system, but... those aren't even coded yet.

The Space skillset is being revamped. I have concerns that the ground revamp is going to be put on the back burner. I *already* have concerns since the ground revamp isn[t going to go live until after F2P launch!

I can give a few more examples, and I'm sure others will. But it boils down to this: I think Crytpic wanted to add new and interesting things to the game and kind of flailed around. Some of these are interesting systems and are worth pursuing; but it's like there's a lack of focus, no real clear design plan or goals when these systems are introduced. Now, I KNOW that STO has design docs and goals and plans, but the past two years seem a little muddied and aimless.

I would like to see some of these developed more. Some of this is going to be rather subjective; I couldn't care less about Dabo or poker, for example. But what could help STO best right now is to see what is in the game now that needs improving, not yet adding until all the bugs and half-finished systems and such are brought up to snuff.

I think Cryptic's guys have some great ideas; but throwing everything into the stew doesn't always make for a better stew!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
11-18-2011, 12:18 PM
Here's another one: shuttles.

What do you do with them aside from run one mission?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
11-18-2011, 12:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by V-Mink
I *already* have concerns since the ground revamp isn[t going to go live until after F2P launch!
To a sort of counterpoint to this arguement, after the FPS release, really what good are ground skills. As a science player I have to run in RPG mode to make good use of non healing skills, and I barely notice any real difference with heavy slotted skills and unslotted.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
11-18-2011, 12:30 PM
The root cause of all our STO troubles is that to us STO is STAR TREK Online, and to Cryptic STO is yet-another set of modules on top of their platform which is their raison d'etre.

This leaves me with the hope that eventually Cryptic would dedicate more resources towards developing story-based content for their actual games than more technology and in-game systems.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
11-18-2011, 01:27 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blitzy
To a sort of counterpoint to this arguement, after the FPS release, really what good are ground skills. As a science player I have to run in RPG mode to make good use of non healing skills, and I barely notice any real difference with heavy slotted skills and unslotted.
I think this is true. I'm not decrying all feature/systems overhauls... Just saying that Cryptic's primary focus always seems to be on them.
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