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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
What this is, and what this is not:
-The purpose of this thread is to help Cryptic identify what, exactly, about Ground PVP ought to be fixed, why it should be changed, and how that might be accomplished.
-This is not a thread for requesting additional content, except insofar as added content would help to fix problems with existing content.
-This is not a thread for figuring out how to entice people to PVP who are not already interested in PVP.
-This is not a thread for people who don't like ground to rant about how ground is bad because it isn't space.



Before I begin, a word of caution and encouragement: Ground PVP in STO is pretty damn good. It's general balance and structure promote exciting, fun, dynamic play. Ground PVP does not require an fundamental overhaul or a rebuild, only an adjustment. It is awesome that Cryptic is looking into making Ground PVP even better, but you won't get there by "fixing" what isn't broken. In fact, there is some fear among my fleet that, because of the attempt to make Ground better, we might end up with a system that is actually worse.

1: Bugs with Straightforward Fixes

A: Fix Grenades so that using a Grenade burns Ambush.

Right now the Fire Team kit is overwhelmingly favored by every tac in the game that has any idea what they're doing. This is for one main reason: the Fireteam Tac hits twice as hard as any other tac in the game.
How can this be? Simple: the plasma grenade on the Fire Team kit does not burn Ambush. In fact, with a good Tactical Initiative running, you can buff up, throw a grenade, wait, throw a second grenade, and then fire a secondary shot, and each of the three attacks will benefit from Ambush. Given the description of the Ambush power, and the way Ambush works with all other attacks (including, noteably, the Lunge on Operative), it is obvious that it should. Doing so would not make Fire Team an ineffective kit. Indeed, FIre Team was the favored kit of many of the best tacs in the game before the ability to perform a double-ambush with the grenade was discovered.
Grenades from other sources do not burn Ambush, either. One noteworthy example is the secondary fire of the Klingon Honor Guard weapon, which also does not burn Ambush.

-Concerns:
Without the multiple ambush power of the bugged Fire Team kit, Tactical officers lack the killing power to effectively drop a tanking sci or engineer who is aware of their attack, or not already under fire by other attackers. Fixing this may well alter the delicate balance of the game too much, and make tactical officers inferior between combatants of equal skill. In the absence of careful balance work to rebalance tacs against the other classes, it might be unfortunately necessary to leave this bug in the game for now.


B: Fix the Biochemist so that it does what it says it does.
As of the last testing, the Biochemist duty officer does nothing. It does NOT attach a -10 damage resistance debuff to most science kit debuffs. Yes, I know that it displays this effect on the tooltip flyover of the powers, once a Biochemist is equipped. However, the effect does not apply to the target when the power is cast.

-Concerns:
Physicists already possess an extremely strong and rapidly deployable ranged (30m) alpha strike, actually stronger than that of a superbuffed tactical officer. And Borg Medical Analyzer provides scis with the survivability to remain under fire long enough to deal large damage, plus the capacity to drop enemy shields by roughly 80% with Tachyon Harmonic. Given a 60 second -10 damage reduction debuff (from a purple biochemist), they will be able to apply this debuff perpetually against enemies. If this debuff is only applied a single time, it makes the officer valuable, but does not greatly shift the balance: -10 is a worthy, but ultimately small debuff.

On the other hand, if the debuff can be stacked multiple times, Physicists will be able to deliver six ticks of this in the opening engagement, and build up to about 15 over time, if time was available. That, plus the existing debuff from Tricorder Scan, would be not just significant, but ridiculous. Borg Medical Analyzers would be able to inflict 4 ticks in the opening engagement, and build up to about 8 over time. Slightly less ridiculous, but still deeply overpowering. Under no circumstances should this debuff be allowed to have multiple ticks stacked on top of one another.



2: Design Decisions with Unintended Consequences

A: Perfect Cloak Must Die
Any Stealth value over 600 is completely invisible. No amount of stealthsight can perceive it, even if multiple science officers stack tricorder scans on a tactical officer using Target Optics. This would not be a problem, under most circumstances: stealth values over 600 are unattainable with any single power. However, stealth values stack linearly. The consequence of this is that perfect stealth is actually fairly trivial to attain. Any combination of two of the following achieves perfect stealth:
Ambush, Omega Shroud, Portable Shroud Generator, Operative Cloak.
Making matters worse, the target ring of the grenade from Fire Team is also made invisible by this power, meaning that a tactical officer running Fire Team can run in, completely undetectable, and oneshot someone who WILL DIE if they are standing still. With Tactical Initiative running, and proper timings, he can cloak up again immediately afterwards and run away, completely impervious to return fire. Unless there is a set of mines out protecting the approach, the only defense against this is for the entire team to break and scatter away from their positions, in hopes of making the plasma grenade miss (the pulsewave secondary is generally survivable, on its own).
This is not limited to Tactical Officers, as anyone with a Portable Shroud Generator and two pieces of the Omega set can also achieve perfect stealth.
Potential Solutions:
-Hard-cap Stealth at some value between 500 and 600, so that stacked stealthsight can detect it.
-Remove the Stealth boost from Ambush (and hope that the high price of the Portable Shroud Generator keeps that from being used instead).
-Make Stealth Values not stackable, or stack according to a diminishing returns curve with a practical upper limit that is between 500 and 600.
-Adjust the way perception and stealth works, to make 'perfect stealth' no longer exist, no matter your stealth value.


3: Map Design, Accidental Spawn Camping, and Running The Halls

Everything is going right. You and your team are moving as a unit, sharing powers, focusing fire. One enemy falls, then another. One of your teammates is taken down, but by now it's too late, as a third enemy goes down. The others start to flee, and you pursue. One of them respawns and rejoins the fight, but you take it in stride and defeat another of them, maintaining your 4v2 superiority, and continue pushing. Your fallen comrade returns just as another two of them show up, but the two you have been chasing are at the end of their survivability, and in the 5v4, you crush them, and keep pushing. You kill another, and another, and - Holy ******n, your team has been spawn camping for the last six kills.

We have all done this, and we have all been on the receiving end. Few of us meant to do it.

Nobody likes to get spawn camped. Most people don't even like to spawncamp, themselves. It's considered a low blow, and in most games, it takes an active decision to go out there and be a jackass for a person to spawncamp their opponents. It's difficult to do and takes a certain level of skill and planning, because you have to fight your way there and any death sends you all the way back to your spawn. In STO, the opposite is true. If you are winning, it takes an active decision and careful observation to stop and pull back before spawncamping begins. It's difficult, too: enemies spawning in will be attacking you, and if you let go of your momentum for just a second, it can easily turn into them rolling you back, rather than the other way around.

Ghost Ship is particularly bad for this. There is literally only ONE room in the ENTIRE MAP that does not have direct line of sight on the spawn-in points. Literally any sustained push in any direction WILL end on a spawn as enemies are spawning in. Fights tend to cluster around spawn points and move from one spawn to the next.

Shanty Town isn't quite as bad, but in a few ways it's worse. A successful push can position your team in two overwatch areas overlooking the enemy spawn, secure from the worst of the enemy's turrets, with great lines of sight back to your medic, clear lines of retreat if you need to regroup, and firm control over all the Virus Upload locations. The spawncamping itself isn't as pronounced as it is on Ghost Ship - players are 30-40 meters from the spawn, there is some amount of cover, players spawning in have turret support. However, it's particularly bad because of how sustainable it is. There are no easy ways to break line of sight and get away, for a player being camped on Shanty, and the attacker has better cover and lines of sight than the defender spawning in, which means that even if your whole team spawns in with all their powers off of cooldown, the attackers still have the advantage.

This is to say nothing of deliberate spawn camping. A team with an engineer or two can set up a super bunker right on the enemy spawn. Mines at the spawn-in, defensive generators to make the campers harder to dislodge, turrets, mortars... to say nothing of the team just staying there and killing people the old-fashioned way.

Randomized spawn positions help against spawncamping, and, if you have an enemy team that's willing to let you regroup after beating you once, then the problem is more or less solved. And indeed, the issue of spawncamping is much less severe on Deserted Facility and Assimilated Cruiser than it is on Ghost Ship and Shanty Town.

However, randomized spawn positions just give rise to another kind of problem, known to me as "Running The Halls" or simply as Rolling. Here's how it goes: You drop a couple members of the enemy team. Now you have a 5v3: easy. You chase them, drop a couple more. Enemies spawn in at random positions on the map. Wherever the concentration of enemies is the largest, you go with your full team, and wipe them out. In this manner, you play one 5v5, and then you play 5v3, 5v2, and 5v1 for the rest of the game, because no matter what the enemy does, no matter where they spawn, you can always come in and drop a one or two of them before they can form up again.




[part 2 in next post]
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
05-07-2012, 08:37 AM
Potential Solutions:
-Remove Ghost Ship from the map rotation until a lasting solution can be implemented. (Retain it for private matches, of course.)
-Spawn defeated players in in a safe zone - technically part of the map, but unreachable from the combat portion of the map. One safe zone for red team, one for blue team. Provide two transporter pads in each safe zone, with no limit to how many people can use them at once. Each of the transporter pads beams you in to a specific position on the combat portion of the map, corresponding with one of the old spawn positions. Thus, a defeated team can arrange to spawn in all together at a specified spawn point and try again, rather than being forced to either beam in to a spawncamping situation or scatter the team.
-Allow defeated players to select from a list of available spawn points, with a view of whether enemies are present or not at that spawn location. Remove spawn points from the available list if a certain number of enemies are within a certain radius of the spawn location, to avoid players being able to spawn in on top of their enemies.


4: Engies Need Some Love

In the current iteration of STO's ground combat, the Engineer suffers from a few critical defects that makes them harder to play relative to other classes, and unfortunately inferior at the highest levels of play.

A: Engineers have minimal stealthsight.
While engineers can protect themselves and their teams against stealthers by placing mines at the entrance points to rooms, they have minimal stealth-sight of their own - all they have to work with is a Support Drone, whose stealthsight is too small to capably protect them. This means a few things:
-On open maps, such as Otha and Shanty Town, engineers have no counter to stealthers.
-Engineers cannot pursue stealthers who attack and run away - they must either drop them instantly, or go back to waiting helplessly for the next attack.
-Engineers cannot help their team stack stealthsight to detect stealthers.

Potential Solutions:
-Add a lasting stealth debuff to engineer debuffs, similar to tactical officers' Fire on My Mark.
-Boost the stealth detection of Support Drones.

B: Engineers are not survivable enough to fight effectively against a serious team with serious tacs.

Tactical Officers can buff up, duck out of cover, take a shot (possibly from Perfect Stealth, as mentioned above), and get back under cover before being focused down, and Science officers running Physicist can duck out of cover, pop off a power, take cover, and repeat, without exposing themselves for more than a second at a time. Medics are useful hiding behind a corner and healing the team. Engineers, however, need a certain amount of time under to make themselves fully useful - generally speaking, to fuze armor and weapon malfunction a target, for tacs or scis to drop, although also for other things, like deploying mines and bombs, or calling down an Orbital Bombardment. If they cannot do this, they can still contribute, but not as much as an equally skilled tac or sci. Unfortunately, as the game stands, tactical officers can throw so much focused damage against a single target at a moment's notice that an engineer cannot sustain it for long enough to be useful, even running a fully tanking setup and supported by a medic.
Potential Solutions:
-Make shields better, either by adding capacity or by adding resistance. Engineers tank with their shields, so improving shields improves engineers.
-Make engineers' shield-boosting powers slightly better, especially on kits specifically dedicated to that purpose, like Equipment Technician.


5: Basic Training

The regular PVE game does not equip players AT ALL for PVP. In fact, it prepares you to do it exactly the wrong way.

A: Shooter Mode

When you make a new character these days, and are about to go into combat, the game tells you to press B to enter shooter mode and fight the borg. Thereafter, the game never even hints at you that there might be a better way.

Conversely, there is not a SINGLE high-level ground PVPer who uses shooter mode. It dimineshes your damage by making you miss, either partially or completely. It reduces your situational awareness. It prevents you from using your big map in pvp, making you rely on your tiny minimap. It makes it harder to focus fire and accurately target a specific enemy. One of the first things I tell anyone when I am walking them through the basics of PVP is, "Do you use Shooter Mode (B)? If so... don't."

B: Aim and Crouch

Aiming increases your damage by 33%. Crouching grants 50% dodge. Given that many of the heals in the game are heals over time, these effects are magnified even more, because the longer you live, the more hit points you regain, and the longer you can continue to live. If you are shooting, you should be aiming. If you are standing still, you should be crouching. If you are moving, you should be sprinting (75% dodge).

C: Consumables

Large Hypos roughly double the durability of a tactical officer or non-tanking science officer, increase it by a fair margin for an engineer, and give a tanking science officer an extra heal. PVP pays pretty well - 10-30k energy credits per match, so it is hardly as though you are going to run out of money using them. Yet match after match one sees people with 0 healing and multiple deaths. Shield Charges and Power Cells are also useful.

D: Equipment


So many people go into PVP with substandard equipment, and get absolutely destroyed, even though it costs less than 200,000 energy credits to get a decent set of entry level PVP gear from the Exchange.

Potential Solutions:
-Put help text in loading screens or death screens for PVP matches. Examples:

"While Shooter Mode (default key: B) is fine for fighting non-player characters, to maximize your chances against other players, you should use RPG mode, which offers more precise control."

"Large Hypos and Large Shield Charges can dramatically increase your survivability, and if an enemy player disables your gun, a Large Power Cell can bring it back online. Buy them at the vendor near the tailor on Earth Spacedock to gain the advantage over your enemies."

"Remember to Aim (X) and Crouch (C), whenever possible."

"Most enemies in PVP use energy weapons. Use armor with high resistance against Energy attacks to boost your survivability."

-Show the loadout of the enemy who killed you, when you die, as in many shooter games.

-Establish a ranked matchmaking system, as in many RTS games, to help match low-skilled players together and high-skilled players, rather than throwing new players up against veterans.


I hope this writeup can help Cryptic to identify how best to improve the already-fun Ground PVP of STO. Any additions, comments, or corrections to what I have written here would be welcome.

Best wishes, and I hope to see you in the queues

-Subu (Federation Emergency Services)
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
The Fed side beam-in point in Assimilated Cruiser is also a bugged re-spawn point, much like the Fed beam-in point in Ghost ship.

I like your idea of the Loading Screens in PvP giving helpful information to pvp'ers.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
05-08-2012, 12:08 PM
I've added some concerns of mine attached to the bug fixes listed in part 1, on realization that, though these are errors, even the very errors are a part of the delicate balance of the game.

Can you explain what you mean by a bugged spawn-in point, Jim? It was my understanding that Assimilated Cruiser had a randomized spawn-in.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
05-08-2012, 04:22 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guriphu
I've added some concerns of mine attached to the bug fixes listed in part 1, on realization that, though these are errors, even the very errors are a part of the delicate balance of the game.

Can you explain what you mean by a bugged spawn-in point, Jim? It was my understanding that Assimilated Cruiser had a randomized spawn-in.
Sometimes it "randomly" respawns you right in the middle of the enemy team five times in a row.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
05-08-2012, 07:46 PM
I can attest to that. You'd die once or twice, spawn in different areas of the ship, but as soon as the enemy team moved towards the hallway in front of your spawn, your entire team starts to spawn there sometimes. Not all of the time, but more often than not.

Quote:
Without the multiple ambush power of the bugged Fire Team kit, Tactical officers lack the killing power to effectively drop a tanking sci or engineer who is aware of their attack, or not already under fire by other attackers. Fixing this may well alter the delicate balance of the game too much, and make tactical officers inferior between combatants of equal skill. In the absence of careful balance work to rebalance tacs against the other classes, it might be unfortunately necessary to leave this bug in the game for now.
My idea is that a single player should not be able to drop someone who's actively defending themselves with resists or heals. It has never worked like this in any PvP setting I've ever been in (aside from the TF2 spy backstab). Being able to oneshot someone, or kill them before they can get back on their feet, rewards bad teamwork, leading to people who don't know what to do when teamwork matters or when their cooldowns are unavailable.

Focused fire from two tacticals should be able to bring a tank down. Focused fire from one should be able to bring anyone else down. That's where I see things, at least.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
05-08-2012, 09:12 PM
Being able to oneshot someone is one thing... being able to beat them is another. Surely you don't mean that you think dps or control characters should not be able to defeat tanks of equal skill in 1v1, do you?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
05-09-2012, 02:50 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Felderburg View Post
Sometimes it "randomly" respawns you right in the middle of the enemy team five times in a row.
Yeah, but that'S random. The problem with "random" is that random doesn't avoid a series of "unfortunate" results. Cryptic needs a randomization that is less random and more designed to give "neat" outcomes.

I remember that Apple had this "problem" as well with their randomization for the iTunes playlist. Some customers complained "I picked random but I heard 3 songs from the same album in a row! That'S not random". Well, it is random, but it's obviously not what people wanted. So they itnroduced a slider that allowed changing the "randomizer so that results like this would become more or less common.
(Or at least that's the story a friend of me once told me. I did actually not find this slider in more recent versions of iTunes. Maye they ditched it?)

I believe in TOR, a similar issue cropped up with Reverse Engineering - the chance to learn a new schematic is random. They are thinking about introducing a kind of "streak breaker" that would ensure that after a certain amount of tries, you are more likely to get a new schematic, reducing the likelihood of particularly bad streaks. (But they are not there yet.)
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
05-09-2012, 04:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guriphu
Being able to oneshot someone is one thing... being able to beat them is another. Surely you don't mean that you think dps or control characters should not be able to defeat tanks of equal skill in 1v1, do you?
I don't like the idea of a DPS killing a tank with such ridiculous burst, but that's why I'm not a developer. I'm too closed minded for stuff like this, but from a casual standpoint it just doesn't seem fair that a healer can't protect themselves from just one high pressure target.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
05-09-2012, 06:18 AM
The main reason ground pvp is fail, is that the classes are too similar in survivability and survival. The engis should be tougher, but deal less damage, the sci should deal less weapon damage and have more effective buffs and debuffs, and the tac should deal more damage and be more fragile.

Add to that that they should be able to pre-buff each other, and you will have better ground PvP.
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