With Season 5 released, the development team is now starting work on the Dominion Featured Episode series for February. They are still early in development, but we should have some early art and sneak peeks available in early January to share
What did you just say.....
My God, STO is a complete joke now a days...I'm so happy that I neve got a LT.
Yeah, I gotta say, blue, or even purple XI gear isn't really desirable at cap. I'm swimming in it. I have more purple XI tetryon pistols than you can shake a gekli at, with no end in sight. Getting yet another purple XI tetryon weapon (I rarely get anything else) isn't 'cool' or 'unique' or the grand daddy goal of 'desirable'.
The components to buy the limited edition items- like the scarfs- those are okay. I wish that my tribbles would actually eat the bloody christmas food, but so far they seem uninterested in turning into holiday tribbles.
But what I think would really work is to take the simple fact of what you already know: People who play MMOs really like unique or hard to get or cool stuff that does things in new ways. Be it the Jem'Hadar bug, the Borg Prosthetics, or the high end STF rewards- people want that sort of thing.
For a 'Christmas Grab Bag' box, my sincere suggestion is simply that yes, by all means have some sort of high end unique rare prize (but balance it- the jem'hadar bug seriously unbalances PVP as it is), but also have more available to the common/unlucky player uniques. Have unique guns, melee weapons, or non-consumable devices. Things that would still show up randomly, but would be a unique and actually acquirable (for people without perfect luck or millions of dollars) unique item that shows those people participated in those events.
I'm not expecting or even desiring that the game turn into TF2 or anything, but some degree of acquirability of limited availability uniques would be really nice.
Ultimately, the Bug is valued for two or three major reasons.
1. It's unique/a status symbol of those who were lucky/wealthy enough to get one.
2. It's statistically better than other ships.
3. It's an iconic ship that some people have always wanted to fly.
Now, no disrespect to the category threes- I myself am one of them, but I really don't believe that they make up the majority of the data set. Most people, ultimately, want the Bug for reasom number 1. A slightly lesser amount of people want the Bug for reason 2- or try to tell themselves they don't, but that they need it to compete with those who get it who do.
But the totality of it is simply that the bug is a cool and limited availability thing that is highly visible- and as ships are generally of considerably more value or 'cooler' to most trek fans I've met (and myself), there's a massive drive to get them. Yeah, I know it's easier to build a gun than a ship, but seriously: Would it kill you to make more of these?
Or rather, not more of the hyper rare impossible to get without thousands of dollars unless you have insane luck ships- and instead a more commonly available or *gasp* even purchasable with holiday crafting gear ship/ships that won't leave people... out in the cold, I guess is the phrase.
The biggest and worse disappointment I had after opening some fifteen red boxes (and spending all my dilithium and EC on the bloody things) wasn't specifically that I hadn't gotten the Bug- although that was certainly *a* disappointment. Rather, it was that I hadn't gotten *anything* I perceived as being of any value.
Yeah, okay, a scarf will serve as a status symbol on ground maps. I guess.
But I don't *play* STO for ground *anything*. I play to fly around in star trek ships. So if there's some sort of ship reward thing? I'll go for that.
But I'm not opening blue boxes in glee going "Oh boy oh boy oh boy, I hope I get my fifthtieth purple XI tetryon weapon today!" (But I did get my fiftieth purple XI tetryon weapon)
I'm going "Maybe I'll get the stuff to get a scarf, but who cares?" and just going through the motions.
Seriously. Even if it's just a costume or a hull color type or whatever, when you do something like this, do it either as a purchasable with resources, or a participation prize.
Or more preferably, *do both*.
So like, have a participation prize for everyone who participated in Q's winter wonderland in 2011- like say a holiday themed ship skin, with christmassy lights and maybe an emote that plays christmas music or something. Have something similar for ground- it doesn't have to be a scarf, but maybe a christmas hat.
Then do a purchasable with holiday crafting resources 'better' version, sort of like the federation/academy scarf versus the normal scarf.
It can be another skin- but in all honesty, it should be a ship. Not a 'better', but a 'unique that does unique things' ship, in the vein of the Jem'Hadar bug.
My specific suggestion for that would be to keep things that aren't IP acceptable, traditionally, to limited ultra rare releases like the bug. If you decide to do a Kazon raider next year (god, but that's an ugly son of a ship), by all means keep that sort limited. But there's plenty of IP relevant ships that would be of limited availability anyways.
Or, since I said I'd give you something specific: Concepts.
As you very well know, there's a lot of concept art that Trek puts out before coming to the final version- but there's plenty of designs that people *really* liked, but didn't really fit the direction the IP was going. With a limited availability event (but still acquirable by the playerbase as opposed to the ultra rare stuff), you have an opportunity to introduce this without it dominating everything.
So take, say, one for each category of ships on either side. Or even don't limit them by sides.
So three choices- escort/cruiser/sci vessel.
So like, this for a cruiser. It's appeared on screen before, but never in very much detail. It's a unique ship that's part of Star Trek's past, but isn't necessarily IP relevant, and isn't something that would normally be used.
But as a purchasable participation prize? it's perfect.
Obviously there's lots of other designs like this out there that you could use, *and should*.
People who post on this forum are a tiny minority of players.
That is absolutely right, but there are some things to consider. National polls typically ask the opinion of about 1000 Americans and are usually accurate to less than 5%. One out of every 300 000 Americans is certainly a minority, but it is a very representative minority. The data is massaged of course, but produces accurate results.
In a true SRS, you want to make the process as random as possible. Clearly, people who post in the forums self-select and are more likely to be passionate about the game. However, without additional evidence, you have to assume that forum posters are a SRS as they are a subset of the population.
If Cryptic is concerned that the forums might not be a representative sample, they need to expand their sampling, but until they do, it is the closest thing to a SRS they have.
From the feedback in the forums, the vast majority of the opinions regarding these red box lottery tickets seems negative and unless they actually go out and collect more randomized evidence, they cannot just assume that the overwhelmingly negative feedback is not representative.
When it comes to the Featured Episode series, I'm not sure what Dan might have said before I joined the team, but other than work on the Bajor social map, which appears in the series but is not just for the series, there was not much of anything existing for the Dominion series when I took over in September. Parts of Episode 1 were under construction, but it certainly wasn't anywhere near ready for release. And none of the developers were actively working on the series at the time either
Well, this pretty much confirms a suspicion I've had for a while... Putting on my 20/20 Hindsight Glass, dstahl really wasn't the great EP players (including myself) think. Sure, he spent time flashing up the forums and generating excitement with the glitz and glitter of his Engineer Reports, but to what end? Months and months of those ERs and I don't think much was completed. KDF Faction? Regular Featured Episodes?
Hello? Hello? >echo, echo...<
...I suppose from a Bean Counter point of view, he's a huge success. He said whatever the players wanted to hear to keep them subscribed and generating cash working on the F2P conversion where they won't "need" our subscriptions.
Why? Because they'll lure in the suckers with The Lottery...
Originally Posted by sdangelo
...we are committed to doing future random delivery items that include ultra-rare prizes. It's not an "if" but a "how".
And not just the suckers either... 40% of players ponied up at least a little C-Store cash and 8-9% gave even more.
That means half the PAYING population of STO paid ADDITIONAL money into the Cryptic Coffers this last week.
Think about that... F2P hasn't actually started yet. That money came from "Gold" Members. And I'd guess that included Lifers, that otherwise would not be providing any (further) income for this month.
As other players have said... This really WAS a success from the Business Point of View. Players paid money. Fume and fuss in the forums or zone chat? The company really doesn't care how happy we are or are not... S'long as we keep spending money.
The days of Account Wide unlocks are gone. I know the Devs said they (at the time) had no plans to make ships single-character, ORLY?1? Ultra Rare Bug Ship anyone? Clearly, that's a boat that's already sailed. We'll get a bit of a mix, at first, I'm sure, but more and more items will be shifted to single-purchase and/or grab-bag lotto-style. I mean, why only charge the customer once for what they want, when they're clearly just as willing to pay multiple times?
And that Lotto Income is separate from the fact they've tied the whole friggin' game into their Dilithium Econ and Grind of Doom that's fully-geared towards making the game so bad that players don't actually want to play it, but not so bad they want to quit, rather they'll pay for CPs to get the Dil to get what the in-game items they want.
It's sad, but that's where this game is going/has gone.
And In the immortal words of an Admiral in a galaxy far, far away... "It's a trap!"
Me, personally? I'm in that 40%. I bought $62.50 worth of CPs (just cuz I always buy the large amount). I spent about a third of it on Winter Packages, opening 15 and gifted away the others. I'll use the rest of those CP for STO and/or CO through the next month or two... But ultimately, I'm their perfect customer: I may not plunk down hundreds, but then I'm less likely to rage-quit and spread evil tales to my friends. I'm content to play what they provide, in this case my hampster wheel is the DOff System, and they end up reaping more than $15/mo from me.
When it comes to the Featured Episode series, I'm not sure what Dan might have said before I joined the team, but other than work on the Bajor social map, which appears in the series but is not just for the series, there was not much of anything existing for the Dominion series when I took over in September. Parts of Episode 1 were under construction, but it certainly wasn't anywhere near ready for release. And none of the developers were actively working on the series at the time either.
I made the decision that rather than start work on the series in early October and try to get it out in December, that with the free-to-play date in January, that it was better to target the series for the larger audience, and instead use the two months that we had to get as many fixes as we could into the game. We managed to fix many hundreds of bugs, which has really helped. We may not have gotten to your pet peeve bug yet, but we're still working on them.
Last week, we kicked off the actual development for the series and got the team members working on a schedule that should get the episodes done by the end of January. It takes about 2 months with full focus by the team to get a series put together.
I've been working hard to make the development team's progress pretty transparent. I don't come in posting constantly, but everything that is being worked on gets talked about in the Dev Blogs or shows up on the test servers within a relatively short time after it goes into real development. I try not to post when something is merely on the schedule, since that is very much subject to change.
In any case, I'm sorry that anyone had the impression that the series was further along that it is. I certainly didn't try to give that impression at any time since I took over the EP job.
When it comes to the Red Holiday Gift / Winter Package, we are fully aware that some people are not happy with how this first attempt at a random delivery with an ultra-rare prize came out. We are putting a lot of effort into analyzing what is and is not working well, and how you all feel about it. It's clear that we did not get everything right with this attempt, and we're going to do our best to learn from it.
That said, we are committed to doing future random delivery items that include ultra-rare prizes. It's not an "if" but a "how".
The goal with the current one was to make the Blue Present prize (which includes Holiday Collectibles and a Blue or Purple piece of gear) a very desirable prize for people who want to spend their 400 point stipend or otherwise spend a few dollars getting some fun stuff... and maybe get something cooler. Then we made some middle-tier prizes that are fun things to have, mostly for those people who buy a few for the holiday event to get something fun, like a Horta pet. And finally, we have the rare prizes, which were meant to be something cool and amazing for people to stumble upon. But it was inevitable that some small number of people would try single-mindedly for the rare prize.
So far, the numbers show that this is pretty much how it is playing out. Around 40% of players who logged into STO at all in the past 5 days bought at least one Winter Package. Of the people who bought at least one, around 8% of those bought more than a casual number, and less than 1% really made a go for the starship.
The starships definitely are spread out across all levels of buyers, and the overwhelming feedback we're getting is that people really like the Winter Package and how it was put together. It's also clear that there are sub-groups who don't like it for various reasons. We're going to learn both from what people liked and didn't like before we try this again.
In any case, you should not expect anything to be changed with the odds on the starship prize in this current offering. To do so would be unfair to the people who invested in getting the starship.
Overall, I'm sorry that I'm not posting as much as you would like, or even as much as I would like. The hours are long already (I am nearly 15 hours into my work day today), so finding time to post is hard. Please do work through our new community manager when you feel something needs attention. He's making sure your concerns, issues, and reports make it to the team. I'm definitely lurking on the forums, and 'll try to post when I can.
Star Trek Online
First off, let me say that a frank an honest post like this one is greatly appreciated. Even if I disagree with you, I'm far more likely to respond calmly if I feel the other person is being honest. I'll take post like this over most of the Dev Diaries. Even if I don't agree with you on everything, it helps keep us from assigning motives which may or may not be true.
I'm still generally opposed to grab bags (both in STO and in Champs) but I've come to realize that it's not a battle I'm going to win. But when Champs was doing the service grab bag, I could dismiss it as a necessary evil. After all, it's not like they're forcing me to buy them. However, with the Winter grab bag (and the Cursed grab bag in champs) that changed because now if I want the awesome item, I have to gamble on the grab bag. This moves it from a necessary evil to unacceptable trend. You say that you're data suggests people are in favor of grab bags, you shouldn't need exclusivity to get people to purchase grab bags.
I have always believed that STO was a game built on community faith. Faith when the game launched with less development time than it needed. Faith that things were getting better. Faith when we went through delays in content, fixes and that ever elusive [inset favorite starship class here] that's on the drawing board but never quite made it on to the schedule. In the last couple months, I've watched that faith dwindle to the point where staunch defenders are now some of you're primary critics. This didn't happen over night, but through a long series of compromises, and ship exclusivity in grab bags is a big one. Eventually, nothing is left.
I don't say all of this beacuse I want to see STO or Cryptic fail, but because I want it to succeed. STO is still salvageable. STO can still be great. I on the whole am looking forward to F2P and all the new players it will bring, but I want to tell people about how great the game is, not all the shady ways they try to separate you from you're money.
A player who still has a sliver of faith.
I work two jobs to keep the family going in the economy so I can appreciate your effort.
You should take some time to recharge. You need it.
I thank you for your response and the fact that you are keeping a watchful eye on us all.
I have to admit the holiday boxes were entertaining at first, but it quickly became apparent that the super rare prize was a little to rare for it to be entertaining any longer.
If I could offer some suggestions:
The holiday currency is just added currency. I was under the impression that this was a bad thing.
Also getting another unique item, that good C store customers already have, seems pointless and frustrating. Sure you can sell them, or give them away, but they still seem kinda pointless to good existing C store customers.
I liked the ability to get a new costume pieces, like the scarf. Might I suggest that you have someone include MORE of these in the bags? Like new combadges, boots, capes, hooded robes. Maybe make a set and include one item in each bag, (maybe some new ship costume pieces or cosmetic effects alteration), like a Alternate universe shield that is the exact equivalent as the current in game ones, except they make your nacelles glow purple, maybe rare quality tos style blue phasers, (one in each bag) . ect. ect. and include those instead of other currently in game standard rare items that anyone can already easily obtain via the exchange for a few energy credits .
I think those might be better received and won't offer any C store advantages game wise.
The thing is, you need to make the loosers feel like winners even if they don't get the really ultra rare things.
They still get something NEW and really nifty too.
In this way, grab bags will be even more sought after.
I would also suggest that while offering a Dominion Jem'hadar attack ship with one layout, you also offer another nifty new Fed or Klingon ship faction alternative at the same time in the C store, with the exact same stats and layout.
Want ultra rare items like the other faction bugship in those bags, no problem, I can appreciate that, There will still be those that will want the exclusivity of a RARE other faction ship, but that said ship should not be superior in layout or anyway to other obtainable ships by any other in game means,
You might also get people who did not get the rare items to buy the alternatives and thus further increase your profits.
I'm one of the thousands of players that have only gotten Green boxes. So I have had to accept that even though I have many many characters and have run them all through the event many times the droprate for Blue and Red ones are ridiculous. There's nothing in the race itself that affects the chance of getting a better gift as I've walked it jogged it and ran through it and the prizes was always Green. Then hearing that the Red ones turns in to Blue ones. That is just horrifying. What was the reasoning behind that?
Then there is the SCARFS. What's up with those? I barter for them with other items I've earned (basically paying for them) and they say GIFT BOX, but yet they are Bound on Pickup. How can they be a Gift Box? I haven't give them to anyone else, not even an other of my characters. I paid for it with items I've earned.
Please someone explain the gift part of those?
As for trying this Gift Bag thing out and trying to get it right... Hello talk to your colleagues at Champions Online. They have done it more then once and know how it works and should be done. They way you have done it is a huge FAIL. Sure it is OK to put in rare items as rewards but ultra rare doesn't mean anything in the game ever since you put a lot of the pre-order items and litetime subscriber items in the C-Store that also were supposed to be ultra rare and even UNIQUE.
This is the correct order of things:
Unique < Ultra Rare < Very Rare < Rare < Uncommon < Common
Ultra Rare < Very Rare < Unique < Rare < Uncommon < Common
Sure some might be upset if you changed the drop rate of the red boxes. But you have upset a lot of players ever since you released the half done game and changed the above unique items in to buy-able objects. So I see no reason to take that in to account now.
Also keeping the TRR-rifle unique and not the rest is a slap in the face of everyone that didn't get the game from that particular store. Treat them the same as all the rest of us and put it in to the store, yesterday, and I don't care if some Dev thinks it never should get there.