Heretic, we do love you for the DOff system and the improvements you've made to the system and especially for listening to our feedback.
The User Interface for Duty Officers is bad. I know you tried to group these things logically but this is the most complicated system currently in STO. The fact that the spreadsheet exists (and a whole DOff maintenance mechanism has sprung up around it and its development of its own terminology) means the UI leaves so, so, so much to be desired.
I work with big systems in real life, any time you have people ditching your system and doing spreadsheets or Access databases on the side, you've gotten the requirements way wrong. I know you tried though.
The current UI doesn't need to be fixed - it needs to be scrapped and redone. Mind I am NOT looking for explanations of these things from experienced players. Here's what's wrong from a non-expert player perspective:
It Doesn't Tell Me How To Play: You have the overview tab with a bunch of complicated looking buttons and there's a bunch of tabs and buttons and such. This is cramming information in the user's face. Start by telling the player what to do and why they should play. Direct the users to pick up Duty Officers or what to do with the packs that randomly drop at them as they level. How do I get information about Commendations and how do they help me?
What Are All Of These Assignments and Variations?: The assignments windows are all jumbled. Why are there so many different assignments in so many different places? I know you were going for leveraging the ship interiors but the implementation isn't clear at all. There's shipboard tab, current sector tab, department head, and now ship interior locations...and for some chains the assignment location is different...not to mention you won't even see it on "cooldown" nor do you know what the cooldowns are! This is CRAZY. Please unify this - a simple comm console won't fix all that.
It Doesn't Point Me To The Good Stuff: Currently I have to go to the spreadsheet or randomly happen on a chain to even FIND it, and god help me find the others in the chain, where they are, what the cooldowns are, or what the rewards are (too much masking). Also there are numerous missions that seem to be designed to allow people who have already finished cxp to continue doffing...but those same missions eat things needed for chains. Point me to the good stuff so I can make an informed decision about my assignments and clearly distinguish between these types of assignments.
Looking for CXP in All The Wrong Places: We have to criss-cross the whole galaxy looking for assignments, depending on other players reporting what's available where. This doesn't make sense in the 21st century and much less the 25th. Please put the locations with the chains so people can advance these things without having to listen to DOFFJOBS or be paged out at 12am.
Show Me a Path: The system should do a better job of helping me find assignments if I'm interested in "grinding" a particular set of cxp, randomly wandering about and hoping for something that I want. You have started this with the Department Heads but this needs to be more clear. I want to grind up for that "Agent" title. Show me all the places where I can run espionage missions, no interpreting the Sanskrit on the spreadsheet please.
MIsnomers and Gotchas: The Request Duty Officers tab doesn't tell me how to get new DOffs, nor tell me how to upgrade them. It shows me all the C-Store options and lets me see incoming DOffs - I didn't even know this window worked like this for months! Request Duty Officers should mean just that - let me request them here and have to swing by SFA or a Starbase to pick them up. Also the Shipboard screen doesn't REALLY show you the assignments your Department Heads have, nor what's available in the interior. I don't get the thinking here.
What Do These People Do?: It's not at all intuitive that DOffs improve the performance of your ship and ground, nor is it clear that different qualities of DOffs help your ship/ground in better ways. All it says is Active Space/Active Ground. What does that mean? Why do some DOffs have things they can proc and others are blank? What does it mean when I put someone on "Active" duty? Is this how my BOffs "eat" DOffs? And the other tabs like Brig and Passengers and Cargo Bay - this is just confusing. The cargo isn't organized by anything nor does it explain where this stuff is.
I Won't Improve If I Don't Know Better: It's great that you put the DOff muncher in SFA but it's not explained anywhere that you can do that if you weren't reading the release notes for the DOff changes. It's also note explained that Blues and Purples are valuable and more useful than White DOffs. This is a missed opportunity to have people buy into the system.
This is just a start. Overall it feels this system is very (over)complicated from the outside looking in. Don't get me wrong, the system is on point, but this doesn't tell me how to play or how to scoop up assignments. I need guidance if I want the good stuff and if I don't invest the time to follow the channel and spreadsheet obsessively, I'm permanently stuck in second gear. That means I do more than I need to or I give up on it. Hopefully you have access to someone to help you with usability testing?
I feel ya. Its not a play by number design like the FEs. The simple fact that there is not alot of info is, I think, alot of what I love about doffing. The fact that I could stumble upon a mission that is rare and that not everyone knows about is wonderfully delicious. And just because I found it, doesnt mean I have the necessary things to do it. Than I have to hunt down the doffs that I need and maybe they will be cheap because the owners dont know about it. This adds to the mystery and contributes greatly to the in counter culture that is starting to develop. See, if you listen closely enough, the secretes of the galaxy will leak out. For me, doffing is as much about mystery and wander as it is about achieving any speciffic goals. This is one of the things that games like EVE has had over STO. The doff system is helping to introduce that elliment of surprise.
Now, I would like to see some improvements in the exchange search engine.
1. Lt Ferrari has a tutorial which overs this. Not perfect but enough to get pretty much anyone going.
2. A single unified pane, while, an option sounds (to me) like a solution looking for a problem. It's complex because the system is complex and dumbing it down to a single interface wouldn't help all that much... Ymmv.
3. There's already enough handholding and from my perspective the decent assignments are already pretty obvious. Cool down timers would help though.
4. Working as designed, the galaxy is a big place you can't expect to be spoonfed...
5. So it's supposed to guess what you're interested in? Err... Well if you want medical speak to your medical officer etc. Pretty simple.
6. I'd agree here, open up a comm link back to the recruiters back at the academy.
7. All pretty obvious if you've done the DOFF tutorial and read the DOFF descriptions, not sure what your problem is bing honest.
8. The DOFF muncher could have been better explained but are you seriously suggesting you couldn't work out a rare was better than a common (traits aside)?
The above attitudes are part of the problem. I know these things (sort of) but I hear new players saying they don't even DOff because they don't know how. I'm asking him to clean up the UI to bring new people in and help existing players get out of permanent second-gear. The idea that you're celebrating the system being closed to non-advanced people is really sad to be honest.
The assignments especially need more than a comm system to fix the proliferation of them in different places and windows. Your "spoonfed" comment gets it wrong - which is why we have that unintelligible spreadsheet that shouldn't even exist. Even today we did not send space shuttles up randomly looking for stuff to do - it's cost prohibitive and a waste of resources. Starships on the shows went on assignments, you never heard Captain Picard on a Captain's Log entry saying, "I'm bored, I think we'll fly over to Regulus today and see if we can't get into something." It's not being spoonfed, it's not even Star Trek right now.
Perhaps its in your nature to just prolong the problems with the current UI, but I urge you to step outside of your narrow-sighted views and be a part of the solution for others.
The enterprise typical mission was to wander aimlessly untill they stumbled upon something new.
Now the cooldown timers being displayed, yes. This is a great idea.
As far as it not being available for new players? Not true. It really only depends on how much they want to dig. Its true that I want some missions that are complex enough that the weekend warriors and noobs will lost. But there are many resources already developing in the community. I think the OP might be well suiting for contributing to said resources. such as stowiki.org
The DOFF spreadsheet is a solution for a problem the design wasn't intended to solve.
DO Assignments are not supposed to be yet another mindless grind of "go here, do that".
Once you know at any given time exactly what assignments are available on the other side of the galaxy map, assignments cease to be the unexpected windfalls I believe they were intended to be. They are supposed to feel like realistic little events in the day-to-day life of a Starfleet officer, a mix of the expected and the unexpected.
Ironically, it was the addition of colonial assignment chains that made the spreadsheet. Assignment chains are good things, in the sense that they create a story-like feeling of progression.
But then people began to feel like the only way they could complete them was to hop all over the galaxy looking for them. Naturally, people didn't really want to do that... the maps are big and travel can be slow. The spreadsheet added efficiency... once someone found a good colonial assignment, they put it up for everyone to share. Basically an extension of the Doffjobs channel, so you didn't have to repeat yourself fifty million times in chat.
And then the spreadsheet got bigger and more complicated, and became the beast it is today.
Now I think that the mechanics of getting the assignments you're looking for have vastly improved. Once the interior and DH assignment lists are in sync, it will be wonderful.
Now the system works much better for the way I want to play it. I either concentrate on a specific area, or I grab assignments on the fly on my way to do something else. I don't use or want to use the spreadsheet. I can freely ignore the doffjobs channel most of the time. If I find something particularly good, I'll give a shout out. That's just the friendly thing to do.
I DON'T think that the system should take all of the guesswork and "legwork" out of doffing. I don't think that the element of serendipity should be completely removed.
I think the UI now is a vast improvement over what was released initially. A cooldown timer on some of the static assignments would be great as someone has already suggested. It may look daunting for a new player, but you could say the same for the rest of STO as well. The intention was not to spoon-feed you the assignment chains. They pop in different sectors for a reason. They are random for a reason. Players came up with external spreadsheets to circumvent the 'randomness' of the assignments, but that is the way the system is designed, not because of the UI. It's not that hard once you run a few assignments, imo. I wouldn't say it's a steep learning curve at all.
Documentation in this game is sorely lacking. There was a time when "Where's Sulu" would cause a minor riot in Zone chat.
But there are a couple of problems for documenting the current Doff system: it is incomplete and it is bugged. Documentation would be a wasted effort, right now.
What Are All Of These Assignments and Variations?:
The short answer is "this is not how it is intended to be, so be patient." The long answer as I understand it, is that we will be given 3 distinct places to manage our assignments: Sector, Personal, and DH/Ship. I have some questions that Ship might offer additional non-chain assignments that DH will not have available, but I can not state that with certainty.
I agree that forcing us to check three (and possibly four) different menu systems in every sector and even in some individual system spaces is poor design - Sector and DH should suffice, making Sector the sole domain of chain assignments and DH share-able but unique to the player. I believe that the system has grown beyond the capacity to be reduced to that level of user friendliness, however. It would require a major roll-back and retooling, and that simply isn't the way things tend to go in this game. A patch to fix the previous patch is the more likely scenario.
It Doesn't Point Me To The Good Stuff:
Nor should it. One of the goals of the system is to get you to fly your ship and visit your bridge.
Looking for CXP in All The Wrong Places:
Basically this is the same complaint as the previous one, and the same answer applies.
Show Me a Path:
While I do not like the current system, if I wanted to grind a particular discipline, say Medical, the path to do so is perfectly clear: check Medical DH and Medical Shipboard. If anything, the new system has made that easier.
MIsnomers and Gotchas:
Partially a documentation problem, partially a design problem, partially an economic problem.
Yes, when you click on the request tab, you don't actually have a place to request them, you have a place to buy them. It certainly does not fit within the parameters of a "request." The game is F2P now. Unfortunately, this is the way it will be from now on - and in anticipation of your post in 3 weeks, the drop boxes are going to be a recurring feature, as well.
The placement of Recruiting on SFA does make RP sense however, and it gives SFA another valid reason for existing. So I understand why that choice was made. But just as we are with shipboard assignments, we are being forced to negotiate yet another obstacle to accomplish what should be an effortless goal. The change does not improve game play. Unfortunately, this design choice actually appears to be the template for the future of the doff system.
What Do These People Do?:
Of your complaints, this is the only one I must disagree with completely. The affects of individual traits on assignments and the affects of Active Ground and Active Space are just as intuitive and easily decipherable as console or BO skill buffs.
I Won't Improve If I Don't Know Better:
And we come full circle with the observation that the game has absolutely no in-game documentation. I would point out that anyone who has played the game to level 8 LT (the point at which one is given access to the Doff system) they certainly would be familiar with the color coding of items' rarity.
We are very lucky that we have community driven resources like STOWiki and DoffJobs, and that we have devs who actually get in the chat channels and forums to clear up our most pressing questions.
The fact remains that many of us do not like the answers and do not like the direction the doff system is headed. It is overly complicated - contrived, even.
And while I agree with you on many points, the one thing that I most strenuously disagree with is the mindset that the goal should be to get to the loot.
I believe that the goal should be to enjoy the journey, and this, in my opinion, is where the system needs the most attention.
Some of you seem to be selling this as an extension of exploration. The point is this system takes something very integral to Star Trek, probably the most Trek-like content in the whole game, and a) cuts us out of actively participating aside from "slotting" some DOffs, and b) puts it behind this dizzying interface and c) make players run around for random popups. I don't get how a closed system is good in an MMO and given that we're not competing for resources (except maybe on the Exchange ) this positioning makes no sense.
Hopefully Heretic read this and has some thoughts?