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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
The complaints of the developers about a lack of constructive feedback from the pvp community and the response from said community that all their constructive feedback is being ignored leads me to conclude that Cryptic and the players don't have the same idea of what constructive feedback actually is.

The naive idea is probably that constructive feedback is something like this:
  1. Identify a problem
  2. Explain the problem
  3. (If possible) Explain the causes for the problem
  4. (If possible) Propose a solution to the problem / Explain what you expect from a fix
Maybe this is a description of necessary properties of constructive feedback (or maybe not), but this is most certainly not a sufficient condition for constructive feedback.

(Extreme) Example of feedback that adheres to this standard and is not regarded as constructive by Cryptic:
  1. Patches get released to the live server without proper testing.
  2. Feedback that is given on tribble regarding new patches does not prevent bugs from finding their way to the live server.
  3. The developers ignore feedback about obvious bugs and have done so repeatedly despite being told about this problem.
  4. Replace the current developers with better ones.

I think a major part of the problem is that Cryptic usually does not disclose what their goals and intentions are.

We simply do not know whether mechanical bugs are of any real importance to Cryptic. Abilties that have wrong values may be catastrophic in PVP, but maybe Cryptic simply doesn't care enough about things like FAW ignoring [Acc] modifiers to fix it in a matter of weeks and thus ignoring this issue is just a logical consequence of their internal priorities and not a failure to listen to what the PVPers perceive as constructive feedback. We simply don't know.

We don't know which solutions can be implemented by Cryptic. Historically, it seems that balance request are rarely adressed with more than a change to the cooldown of ability XYZ. So maybe proposing any solutions that go beyond cooldown or magnitude changes are impossible and thus not constructive? We simply don't know.


This lack of stated goals and intentions could also become a major problem for Gozer if he seeks constructive feedback (although maybe he will eventually put up a post that states these things). From what I have heard, he is only in control of the "outside of pvp", i.e. queue system, maps, game modes etc, but he has no control over the systems team and therefore does not have the power to address concerns about ability/ship balance beyond telling the systems team about it and hoping that they find a minute to squeeze his issues in. So maybe it is inherently not constructive to tell Gozer about bugged abilities and balance issue in general?


There is also one thing to keep in mind that is fairly specific to PVP-related feedback. Much of the PVE feedback is along the lines of "Wouldn't it be cool if Cryptic added XYZ so that we can do ABC?". Nobody expects Cryptic to add newly proposed systems / missions / content within a matter of days or weeks.
PVP feedback on the other hand is usually given on much more urgent issues. It's not about "Wouldn't a game mode XYZ be totally cool?" but usually about "You released another bugged ability! Please fix it asap! The game is almost unplayable.". Here it is important to know what the expected response time to pvp-critical bugs and balance issues is. Is it realistic to expect Cryptic to fix obvious bugs of one build in the next one that goes live? Is it even realistic to expect Cryptic to acknowledge reported bugs (and maybe even provide an approximate timeframe (days/weeks/months) for a fix)?


I feel that correctly communicating expectations and goals is at the core of encouraging constructive feedback. Just think about tribble testing of new seasons for a second. The tribble test weekend usually is perceived like this:
lots of peple spend lots of hours on tribble -> people find lots of bugs -> cryptic pushes the build live without any changes
But I think it is fairly obvious that these tribble weekends are not intended to find bugs so that can be fixed before going live. They are meant to test whether the server crashes under heavy load. And once you keep that in mind, the testing usually goes like this:
lots of people spend lots of hours on tribble -> the server does not crash -> cryptic pushes the build live, knowing that it is stable enough to have a chance to survive the load on the live server
And once you know about these expectations and goals, there is no reason to get particularly upset. The test weekend did what it was supposed to do: it ensured the stability of the build. And as an added bonus, it lead to many bug reports that may or may not be addressed in the distant future.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
05-11-2012, 03:18 AM
I wonder sometimes if proposing solutions is actually deemed constructive. I mean, tons of people submit solutions for sector space travel from the bridge - fact remains that reworking the system to do that is unfeasible, no matter how smart the posters people it is. So maybe suggesting something like an alternative mechanic for Reverse Shield Polarity is useless. What Cryptic needs to know is why Reverse Shield Polarity is problematic and how you recognize this in game.

I am sure that asking for people to get replaced won't ever count as constructive feedback.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
05-11-2012, 04:39 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mancom
(Extreme) Example of feedback that adheres to this standard and is not regarded as constructive by Cryptic:[/color]
  1. Patches get released to the live server without proper testing.
  2. Feedback that is given on tribble regarding new patches does not prevent bugs from finding their way to the live server.
  3. The developers ignore feedback about obvious bugs and have done so repeatedly despite being told about this problem.
  4. Replace the current developers with better ones.
The argument I think you're referencing goes more like this:
  • Balance changes that are obviously wrong (to any PvPer at least) are making their way to live, new items that unbalance the game are constantly added.
  • Most feedback is systematically ignored, either out of hubris (SA on sci Odyssey, 75% sci resits actually making it in when everyone knew it was a bad value), or out of needing to push tribble updates to live ASAP because they are attached to C-store stuff.
  • You can't understand balance without an understanding of high level PvP. The devs refuse to learn the prerequisites to doing their jobs properly.
  • Employees who refuse to do their job properly are a liability for Cryptic. They should be made to learn the prerequisites to their job. If they refuse, then obviously they should be let go or reassigned and replaced with people who will.

Not quite as extreme, but still apparently still too uncomfortable for Cryptic to acknowledge. The root of the problem has always been that the devs either don't believe or don't care about the link between understanding how to play the game at a competitive level and understanding balance.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
05-11-2012, 05:19 AM
I dont doubt that the development team listens to us. I think we go back and forth quite a bit actually on alot of things. The ambiguity of the responses we get sometimes are interpreted in many different ways by alot of players which leads to alot of speculation and a snowball effect leads down the hill back to "Your not listenting to us" So I agree with the OP. We need to foster an environment for better communication on both sides. I appreciate Gozer for taking the reigns on PvP Just on the fact alone that he is stepping to the plate. Its a dirty job at this juncture and somebodies got to do it. I love the game, and no doubt I would play PvP alot more and invest more into it if the balance and content issues were addressed.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
05-11-2012, 05:35 AM
Another thing to keep in mind is that powers aren't built with PvP specifically in mind. The community here is, frankly, quite fond of announcing things to be 'broken'; when even casual inspection from a dev would reveal it to be working exactly as intended.

Not only that, but 'isn't fun' isn't really something that can be easily assessed and measured. After all, so long as it's only the PvPers saying it, the number of complaints are relatively few.

We need to be clearer about exactly why something doesn't work well in PvP; and present it in a way that doesn't sound like mere personal preference. For example, saying that we don't enter PvP arenas to fight NPCs (a sentiment I agree with) probably isn't helpful feedback; since it doesn't indicate anything is actually wrong, just that the people complaining about it aren't fond of it.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
05-11-2012, 05:35 AM
I think constructive feedback is what we've been saying all along (how we feel things should work, proposals, hard numbers, etc) minus all of the snark, sarcasm, and rudeness.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
05-11-2012, 05:45 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manx View Post
The community here is, frankly, quite fond of announcing things to be 'broken'; when even casual inspection from a dev would reveal it to be working exactly as intended.
This is very true. Many players tend to call every ability they don't like "broken". I usually attempt to refrain from that and reserve "broken" only for things that are mechanically bugged (like the 90% MACO shield).
A more consistent use of language (well, only if we can agree on a "default meaning") could help to make feedback clearer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manx View Post
'isn't fun' isn't really something that can be easily assessed and measured.
Also very true. But recently we have heard that Cryptic isn't so much interested in hard numbers and rather wants to hear "how things feel". Constructive feedback about how something feels seems to be really hard. How can we phrase "it makes me want to quit this previously great game and put needles into voodoo puppets of the devs" in a way that is perceived as constructive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manx View Post
We need to be clearer about exactly why something doesn't work well in PvP; and present it in a way that doesn't sound like mere personal preference.
I think Cryptic needs to help us with that by laying out a framework within which we can provide such "objective" feedback. If we think that NPCs are a problem and we want to improve our feedback by something more than just stating our feelings, what kind of data, logs, videos, polls, ... is actually helpful for Cryptic to understand the issue and get an impression of its importance?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
05-11-2012, 06:03 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mancom

I think Cryptic needs to help us with that by laying out a framework within which we can provide such "objective" feedback. If we think that NPCs are a problem and we want to improve our feedback by something more than just stating our feelings, what kind of data, logs, videos, polls, ... is actually helpful for Cryptic to understand the issue and get an impression of its importance?
Good question. I remember wishing I'd made a vid of the first time I played alongside an Atrox carrier in an Arena match. The Atrox itself wasn't really a problem (I don't remember seeing it ever launch anything thb), but the Klingons responded by spamming every NPC and pet they had (they had 2 carriers, so that was quite a lot).

At any given time there were at least 4 extra BoPs, and 2 extra battle cruisers; usually more. I tried to just ignore them, until I realised that I couldn't find the opposing players in all that mess. I saw an actual name over a Klingon ship maybe 5 times over the course of the whole match.

Figure a few minutes recording of that would have made a far better point than anything I could possibly say about it.

Still not sure it would have qualified as good feedback though.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
05-11-2012, 06:03 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manx View Post
Another thing to keep in mind is that powers aren't built with PvP specifically in mind. The community here is, frankly, quite fond of announcing things to be 'broken'; when even casual inspection from a dev would reveal it to be working exactly as intended.

Not only that, but 'isn't fun' isn't really something that can be easily assessed and measured. After all, so long as it's only the PvPers saying it, the number of complaints are relatively few.

We need to be clearer about exactly why something doesn't work well in PvP; and present it in a way that doesn't sound like mere personal preference. For example, saying that we don't enter PvP arenas to fight NPCs (a sentiment I agree with) probably isn't helpful feedback; since it doesn't indicate anything is actually wrong, just that the people complaining about it aren't fond of it.
I disagree, I think this type of feedback is perfectly valid, even if it may just be a start.
It may require additional questions and answers.


Why do people not want to fight NPCs / Pets
Because NPCs are dumb. The only reason they win at anything is because they have insane stats. They don't apply strategies or tactics. And PvPers want to fight people that use tactics and strategies, and figure out the right counters. (Not just power counters. Counters to stuff like "enemy has tons of healing" is not just to bring "tons of damage", but it is stuff like "false spikes" to make them waste heals on the wrong target and then use the gap in the healing rotation to kill the real target.

There could even be a way for pets to become feel less like dumb NPCs - the biggest thing here is that pet behavior and actions must be largely player controlled, not automated. The most recent controls added for Carriers are neat, but we actually need more than that - Runabout Tractor Beams shouldn'T fire when the NPC feels like it, but at the exact moment the Carrier Captain picked it to fire. (with the "drawback" that the Runabouts can't spam this power and have to respect tough, shared cooldowns).

It may be difficult for STO to implement I suppose, but theoretically, Carrier Pets should add power slots. These powers are powers that belong to the pet, but are activated by the Carrier.


A problem all this doesn't adress is that pets "spam" the battlefield. There are too many targetable objects around - tabbing or point-and-click breaks down with so many ships, and it's hard to target the one you actually want to target. If Fighters were not modelled by 4 seperate ship entites but by a single entity that just uses the visuals of a wing of fighters, this problem could be adressed. Maybe it could even be adressed if only one of the pets would actually be targetable but all attacks against that pet hit all pets in the same wave.

What is "unfun" about PvP

Lack of Choices
If there aren't many valid builds, gameplay is reduced. People like to work up interesting counter tactics. I preach almost every day that everyone has to equip 2 Emergency Power to Shields, for example. That's a good advice, but seriously - it 's a little lame that everyone has to do it. Something everyone has to do should be like "count your ammo" or "watch your cooldowns" or "keep scanning around for weak targets" not "these 2 build choices are mandatory and anything else is a trap".

Another problem can be having a character be limited to a single role. There aren't any real Science Vessel DPS builds, there is no Escort crowd control build. Of course, this is more a less an optional feature - many games can do without such flexibility. But theoretically, Escorts have access to certain powers that may sound perfect for crowd control (Target Subsystem for debuffing, Mine Patterns for crowds).

The biggest problem many people have here is very specific to Startrek, I think: Cruisers are healers in PvP. Any other role they are weak in. Sure, you can try a DPS build, but quite frankly, you're more of an asset if you play a healer and just deliver some side dish in damage. But there are tons of players that want Cruisers to be as dangerous as Escorts. The solution people usually come up with are just making Cruisers uberships that make Escorts irrelevant. A better solution would be to look at existing powers for Engineering BOs and create choices with opportuntiy cost - either you become the healing/tanking Cruiser, or you become the DPS Cruiser. There ar ecost, but they are okay.

Lack of Control
The first Viral Matrix stunned people for extreme time for a computer game. later we still have "Stunlocks" with repeated Photonic Shockwaves and Tri-Cobalts. We also had "softer" losses of control, like scramble sensors that ruined our control over who we targeted.

These powers all have their place, but they must be employed very carefully. No player should just lose control. I believe Redricky said it well in another thread and I am paraphrasing: If a player could just as well take his hands off the keyboard, something went wrong.

There must be active counters to such abilities. They must be available often enough that the counter works. At the same time, the "control loss" power must still remain somewhat effective. That's a finely tuned balance. I thin kthe most improtant thing of such control or stun powers is that using them forces your opponent to do something he wouldn't normally do and basically "interrupts" whatever he's currently doing. But it still allows him to do something meaningful.

Very interesting powers can be about forcing choices - keep doing what you're doing and maybe succeed but take some severe drawback, or cancel it and try something else. Feedback Pulse has all the markings of such a power, but it's specific effects were never well balanced enough.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
05-11-2012, 06:59 AM
I look forward to clarification of these very valid questions. I do agree that broken is perhaps used too broadly, I'm guilty of it too. For me, broken has been used to discribe anything that is so bad it isn't used or so good that it must be used. Just because something appears to be working as intended doesn't mean it is working as it should. Of course, I suppose that doesn't actually mean it is broken either. Maybe we get too caught up on a particularly strong word (like broken, exploit, or obviously). If we don't know their expectations, and ours don't match up, it becomes very difficult to communicate effectively.

For example, and maybe this is or isn't constructive, look at FAWscorts and Spiraling versus Cannon users. Based on my experience, this build typically employs a number of what I would consider broken mechanics chiefly the abuse of artificially restrictive flight angles that create a Cannon Blind Spot. A much more detailed explanation of the mechanics and a potential solution can be found in Mustrum's signature (he has posted several times in this thread). Now to someone like me who admittedly has no technical prowess, it is understandable that 3 dimensional flight is not going to happen. However, given the simplicity of the fix (slight pitch adjustment of only a few degrees) I have a harder time understanding how this has been allowed to go uncorrected. I don't know the technical limitations if there are any. I don't know that the blind spot is unintended. It seems so clear to me that there is something wrong here but I don't seem to have the means to effectively communicate this issue. After all these years there has still been no official response on the matter.

Are these feelings that I'm expressing based on my own subjective observations and experience constructive? How can I make this more constructive so that the discussions have greater potential to be productive?
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