They're not gamist. They're just people flying by the seat of their pants. They didn't think 2 years in that their ship layouts would be a trap that they couldn't even design their way out of.
Flyinb the seat of their pants sounds like an accurate description. The system developed over time. One could positively claim it grew organically, but mostly was that it growed chaotically.
Also, I think for to be truely gamist, their PvE content is not designed well. It lack the ability to provide decent challenges for the experienced player, and I'd think a gamist design would focus a lot on that. Having a balanced gameplay in the sense that they have a model of what a player character can handle and provide scenarios that explore the range of stuff players can handle (you don't always provide challenges at the limit, to account for player experience, skill and preference. But you also don't always provide weak-sauce challenges that don't demand anything from an experienced/skilled player).
Comparing TOR and STO: The TOR designers say they have internal benchmarks for classes to determine how they are balanced. Maybe the STO designer say the same, but I don't believe them. The level of power is all over the place in STO. In TOR, the classes and builds seem much closer in performance to each other (but not gameplay), and you can even see how the mission/combat design adapts to the player's levelling curve. Stronger enemies become more common, the enemy groups become larger. And you see how your character can still deal with it, and how much harder or easier it is - and how much bigger an enemy group can get before you will be overwhelmed. In STO - the encounter design doesn't adapt, unless a mission was deliberately designed that way. The extra powers players have become more and more as you grow, but the NPCs don't improve in kind. And it's really hard to draw too much aggro if you know what you're doing with your build in a typical mission.
If there is an internal power benchmark for STO, it's either broken or the benchmark allows a too large margin of error.
Cryptic seeks to build an infinitely repeatable experience while story-telling is a limited concept. In essence you make more money recycling the same concepts than actually investing in trying to tell a story that you know will eventually be consumed and finished by your players (two FE series per year anyone). That's all there is to it in my opinion. Cryptic has always been about the form and appearance rather than the content and substance, it's what they do best and City of Heroes stands out as their best work, while STO is to-date their worst, in my opinion at least.
Interesting discussion here... much more thought provoking than certain feedback threads.
It seems to me that Cryptic is still experimenting with stylistic presentation of the gameplay and storytelling for this game. You can see it in variations on the number of VO's and cutscenes, how puzzles are presented, etc. Some of it is probably based on the "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" factor. Some of it is a desire to switch up the gameplay mechanics to keep the game fresh and appeal to the broadest set of players.
Some missions are more gameplay heavy than others, where story takes a backseat to combat, grinding, and loot drops.
"Second Wave" and "Boldly They Rode" were the most story-driven missions in the "2800" series and even they had elements where gameplay interrupted story. In Second Wave, the whole running errands thing was unnecessary for the story... all it did was to set up the interactive dialog in the Borg conference which ultimately proved unnecessary. It just set up the situation for DS9. In "Boldly They Rode", you're essentially forced to fight the Jem'Hadar twice so that the mission can have both ground and space combat... not to advance the story. And I think the isolinear chip puzzle was unnecessary. But otherwise, these did very well at presenting a story (for an MMO).
'Of Bajor' should have been a story-oriented mission, but wound up getting mired in gameplay mechanics where the activity was only loosely tied together with a story thread. The other two episodes barely advanced the overall story, but despite being more gameplay oriented did have their own internal story thread.
(Note I am referring to a story-based view and I'm not really bashing these missions... I enjoyed all of these missions to one degree or another.)
I would say that getting the Foundry right is a good way to break the mold... or at least bending it a little. Once the toolset improves, more people will be able to develop more fluid story-driven missions. (I'll forget about the shoot-em-ups for the sake of this discussion). Cryptic is probably always going to have this odd mix of MMO gameplay and contrived story threads simply because of the need to engage players who aren't all that interested in story. But if they can give us the occasional great "story-mission" and also provide the Foundry authors with the right tools there will be other ways to scratch that itch. Cryptic is good at providing a rich backdrop for gameplay.
Cryptic seeks to build an infinitely repeatable experience while story-telling is a limited concept. In essence you make more money recycling the same concepts than actually investing in trying to tell a story that you know will eventually be consumed and finished by your players (two FE series per year anyone). That's all there is to it in my opinion.
Definitely a strong factor. They still need elements of story to create even a passing resemblance to Star Trek and to string together gameplay in an interesting way, though.
The thread as a whole makes one think.
I am going to put out my thoughts and I hope they hold as much weight as the above.
This is some of the things that stand out to me about STO, I will use TOR and CO as my counter, soley because its the latest major MMO, and another Cryptic product.
In CO, and STO, the game is HEAVY on instancing. Overly so, when ever I move around in sector space, i still feel like I'm in a"box." CO, isn't as bad as far as the city goes but it too has a slight feel of being in the "box." Conversely, TOR has HUGE zones, that have you move through out them, and they don't feel the same "box", I think but do not know if it has to do with the fact that most space maps, in STO feel the same, which, well they should. Maybe some variations? Eve does it well I think with the multiple colors etc.
In CO and TOR the story is more based around you, and what you are. As an example I have 2 Consular in TOR, one is a sage, one is a shadow, due to being able to make decisions in the game, the story is MUCH different. In STO no matter what, the story is the same, no matter your class, or spec. it is the same and you have little "lasting" influence.
In CO the game play style, or more specifically class has an effect on the way it plays out. IN CO my pure healer kills much slower than my blade, but she is much harder to kill. In STO being a healer, is almost secondary in normal game play, I do heal, but not as often. Oddly in STO, Heals, don't crit. *(note I've not played ground in ages, this could have changed.)*
In STO the group size means you get more mobs, nothing else changes, the contacts still address the singular player, not the group, they have no way of "sensing" the size of group. by Comparison, TOR, does and "how" the dialog is "ran" is different for each player/class. STO nothing changes. CO is the same as STO.
Considering that CO varies from STO in several ways, but is on the same engine, it makes me wonder, if the STO team, has "problems" with vision, or, looking ahead. All things considered, there is quite valid reasons for some issues due to the turmoil the company went through but those reasons are in the past. They can recover and initiate plans if they desire to. Currently it seems they lack that desire.
I personally want them to get on a singular vision and run with it. I'd love to see them start pushing out a KDF mission a month, or hell every 2. Fill in the current level path gaps then start expanding the level range. You don't have to push out 10 at once, just do one, the follow that one, with another.
Over all I'd say yeah they need to change some. First, and foremost, get on a singular vision, get each and every developer to get with that vision and start moving toward it. If its a major clean up of the bugs, so be it. if its more KDF content, very well. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as 1 it is clear that it is a group thing from the entire dev team and 2 it has some visible effect on the game, and the players.
... seeking out new life and new civilizations. Boldly going where no one had gone before. It's part of Picard's defense of humanity when on trial with Q in the very first episode.
Ah yes, the the very first episode... where the Enterprise has been sent by Starfleet back to Deneb IV to negotiate a joint use agreement for Farpoint Stations and to snoop (for most of us, and to spy in explaining it to Data) around as to why the station was built.
Not even four minutes into the first episode, we've been told that the Enterprise is on a covert mission - spying, a human behavior that Data has not been programmed with...
...when presented with a new life form "Q", Torres does what any trained Starfleet officer would do - he goes for his phaser. Oopsie. But wait, the phaser was - SET TO STUN! Of course, not knowing what effect the stun setting would have on this new life form... a definitely hostile act.
...which given what Picard knows of human history - tada, baddabing!
Less than ten minute in, the primary suggestion is to fight "Q" or because he may be too powerful to run away...
...where Picard tells the crew their options are to go to MAXIMUM to outrun them or to tuck tale. Wait? So the options are to run away or run away? (Yes, TNG got better as the series went on...)
...just shy of 14 minutes, and we're transferring command to the battle bridge!
Needless to say, the saucer separates at warp speed - you know, the saucer without warp nacelles...um... (Yes, TNG got better as the series went on...)
Just before 40 minutes, we have Riker "manually" reconnecting the Enterprise...while standing there and watching others do it.. (Yes, TNG got better as the series went on...)
Okay, too much of this could end up a simple critique of how bad that first episode was... let's stick to the point.
At 45 minutes, Worf's ready to blast a hole in the viewer...
At 54 minutes, Data once again points out a human flaw - prejudice...
Aha, 58 minutes into the 1 hour and 27 minute two part series premiere... we're finally exploring! Er, the basement of Farpoint Station.
At 1:03, encountering another life form - time for shields and phasers!
At 1:08, Picard orders an illegal kidnapping...
1:12, once again - this episode is referenced as a puzzle.
1:21, once again - this episode is a puzzle.
1:26, Picard says, "Let's see what's out there..."
By the way, Picard never said what you said he did...
So let's take a look at this episode compared to what the intro says:
"Space... the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before."
Explore strange new worlds? Nope.
Seek out new life and civilizations? Nope.
Boldly go where no one has gone before? Nope.
They finally get around to that in Episode 4, mind you...
...like I said, people tend to overestimate how much of Star Trek was about those nifty opening monologues.
This causes them a conflict with STO...that simply should not exist.
One thing that has struck me throughout this discussion, is how little effort it appears people are willing to put into it themselves.
Do people no longer bring any of themselves? Do they just expect everything to be handed to them? Have they lost their imagination?
It's as if some people are participating in STO like it is a book and some like it is a movie.
Consider the cliche discussion about books being better than movies. In the book, we tend to invest part of ourselves - we picture, imagine, etc - things a certain way based on the information provided to us. This can often lead to a movie being "wrong", because it did not portray events, scenes, etc to way we had imagined it.
STO leaves you room to personalize your adventures. It's like a book.
It seems as if some people want the movie, if you follow what I'm saying...
Also, much like many such "Redesign Star Trek Online as I want it to be" - this is basically a redesign STO as I want it to be.
There was another one of them recently, the Academy tutorial one with the redesign of most game systems...
There is a certain hubris involved in many of these kind of threads. They're basically "They did it wrong, I know better, this is how it should be." The best part is that because of the very nature of individuals experiencing individual experiences - we can have countless people all saying they did it wrong while presenting a multitude of ways that it should have been.
STO may not be "your" vision of Star Trek. It may not be "his" vision of Star Trek. It may not be "her" vision of Star Trek. That's life. Some people like cake. Some people like pie. Some people like cake and pie.