Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5,015
# 41
09-20-2012, 10:48 PM
On the game design point, I think the spectrum goes something like this:


Gozer
--->David Jaffe (Twisted Metal)
--->Most of Perfect World
--->Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario)
--->Richard Garriott (Ultima Online)
--->Most of Cryptic
---> David Jones (Grand Theft Auto)
--->Will Wright (The Sims)
--->Richard Bartlett (MUDS)
--->Me
--->Warren Spector (Deus Ex/Epic Mickey)
--->Katsura Hashino (Alan Wake)
--->Mikael Kasurinen (Catherine)
---> The new "Star Trek" game set between the 2009 film and "Star Trek Into Darkness"
--->Kirksplat
---> Ken Levine (BioShock)
--->Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil)
--->Ron Fish, Nick Arunde (Batman: Arkham Asylum)
---> David Cage (Heavy Rain)
--->Most of Bioware
--->Jennifer Hepler

The spectrum going from pure game to sandbox to social sim to narrative sim to interactive narrative to "Hey! I want to see all the cutscenes! I'm not into gaming!"
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5,015
# 42
09-20-2012, 11:00 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by centersolace View Post
Suddenly I'm having flashbacks to the 2800. Awesome set pieces (Bajor, DS9, Facility 4028), Amazing Moments (The space-walk, blasting your way out of DS9), but it had some really dull moments (Of Bajor, hunting crap for Farek), and some really weird plot devices (DS9 had to be taken over again? Karu'kan managed to get all of his minions to rebel against the Founders? How?). I'm fairly certain a "Director" of sorts would cure things like that.
Glad I'm not alone on this.

In theatre (European anyway), this is what would be called "dramaturgy," which I just realized is the better analogy.

With new works or very classical works, there's a person whose job is research and massaging scripts in transition from the playwright to the director. Someone who does research that illuminates the script, things that may not be obvious but may pertain to questions the actors and director and costume/set designers might have.

For example... "Is there a kind of body language, dress, or stance that 19th century coal miners should use?" That won't be in a script, typically. And the director is worried about drama, maximizing blocking, movement, voice work. It's something where playwrights do SOME research and directors do SOME research but a good dramaturgue does a good bit and figures out how to "fix" issues with the writing or directing, without getting in the way of either.

Their job is not to modify the script but they may trim it judiciously, balancing production needs with script needs. They may also add things as needed but rarely if the playwright is living unless they have permission. The Royal Shakespeare Company uses some real pros for this. They've actually staged productions where they merged two Shakespeare speeches or added lines but their dramaturgues are so "authentic" that many Shakespeare experts don't notice when watching. This allows them, say, to splice two scenes together for time or explain something that isn't clear. Or maybe just make sure all the extras at the bar have authentic (mostly inaudible) dialogue.

Some playwrights have one as an assistant and some directors have one as an assistant.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 452
# 43
09-21-2012, 12:04 AM
What I don't like about the story missions is: There is too much flying and running around. In that time, I'd rather read some dialogues (popup windows) to make the flight time more entertaining. Or, if you could actually command your ship out of the bridge, you could go to your ready room and play a minigame or whatever until you have arrived.

For example one patrol mission is the Seedea system patrol which I always skip even if it pops up every time I pass the system. Why would I want to wait MINUTES for a freighter to catch up after I have defeated all enemies already at a certain point?

Another mission I usually skip is the one where your in-system-warp (full impulse) doesn't work. I know, there are story-specific reasons behind it, butt it's just too time-cunsuming. I work 100% and I want to enjoy my free time by doing something while I'm playing a game, not just by watching a ship limping kilometer for kilometer to it's destination 50 or even 100 km away (Briar Patch for example, I know it's been revised, butt it's still taking too long).

I prefer playing Foundry user generated ****ent. It's a lot more entertaining and it comes from people who KNOW players do NOT want to run around for minutes. So, those stories are usually pretty straight forward, yet have enuff entertaining dialogues to actually READ them. I never read the Cryptic mission texts after having read the first three mainstream missions. I thought ... even one of the worse TV episodes has more spirit in those dialogues and mission scripts. And there is no "red thread" as the Germans would say.

The featured episodes ... yeah, I play some of them. They ARE better than mainstream missions, agreed. Butt there are other things I absloutely do NOT like about them again: Too much running around (Coliseum, played it once, and BANNED it from the list ... not because of the story - which was good - but for this endless running and cutscenes) for no reason, unskippable cutscenes (you know, I do watch them, butt not a hundred times), unskippable puzzles (again, doing a puzzle for the first time is entertaining, butt once you've played the mission once, there should be a skip button for the sake of time) and much more of that sort.

Another example is "Frozen": Once again, no skippable cutscenes. And, you would have to play it three times just to get an accolade worth 10 points. I could go on with "Second Wave" (cutscene horror) or "Operation Gamma" and "The Vault" (too much flying around, cutscenes, AND bugged or bad idea puzzles, and no chance to swap out shuttle and ship easily) etc. etc.

All in all, the Foundry should become the most important source of new ****ent overall. I have also voted for the next thing to do is improve the Foundry even more. Unfortunately, that choice got the least votes in the poll ... I am disappointed about that fact. People really don't care about intelligent ****ent anymore (because they apparently know it's not being delivered anyway), they care more about getting through the levels quickly enuff and grind for the highest achievable gear.

A Romulan faction might help STO as well, so that would have been my second vote ... however, more story missions would definately help even more. And thinning out the leveling. One level per mission ... with that few missions overall, you're leveling too quickly and not really having fun anymore seeing you have actually been promoted ... again? It's been only a few hours when I hit Lt. Commander, and now Commander? Sirius-ly?

So yeah, more story, please. Butt if you do it, with more pop up dialogues, less running around, skippable cutscenes and something nice to make it worth being replayed a lot. For example one story mission I replay often is "The New Link". THAT is a good one.

~ Meowz
"Everything about the Jham'Hadar is lethal!" - Eris
Original Join Date: January 30th, 2010
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 772
# 44
09-21-2012, 12:17 AM
I USE to play the story missions. After I hit level cap halfway through the Romulan arc (Much to my surprise..) I continued to play through the storyline just for the sake of seeing it to the end. Some of it was a grind and moan, but when I came across the Featured Episodes, i was surprised. Mostly because I only started after Season 5, so I did not get to see these release one week at a time.

This also lead to my great confusion once I got to the end of the Undine arc and everyone is like "OMG, it's the Iconcians." And I am sitting scream at the screen "NO WAY!!! Really? I could have told you that back Brea system..."

And, as others have noted, the first few missions are... lame. They do not explain what happened between the end of Nemesis unitl now. There are many players who go through to VA no knowing that this is a different universe from the JJ Abrhams film . We have little explanation on why we are at war besides "Klingon-bad, We-good." Which, to anyone who has watched any of the prime-verse after ST:VI, it doesn't make much sense. Our cold war was over after The Khitomer Accords. And during the Dominion war, we were allies. So a bit more IN-GAME INTERACTIVE explanation would be nice. As well as a better tutorial.

But otherwise, after i was done... that was it. There was no reason to play through the missions again unless you want some specific character bound loot. I was excited for season 6, getting to see the Tholians and their piece of the Iconian puzzle.. only to have this war zone that offers a confusing and barely passable story. There is only enough plot to tell you what to shoot next.

However, I have to appirciate that this is an MMO and that if the story is going to change the galaxy, it has to change for EVERYBODY. If this was a single person game, than a game changing event could be added easily. But to have that change unevenly fro everyone in an MMO is not thesible. It could be done.. but not likely.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,449
# 45
09-21-2012, 02:37 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by tebsu View Post
Here is what i experienced in the most storyline missions.

Space:

1. not enough enemies (fights sometimes take not more than a minute)
2. huge distances you have to fly (sometimes) just to get to a group of 5 BoP?s for example (see 1.)
3. its not really spectacular. In the series of star trek, when there was a borg cube, the first thing they normally do is try to hide/run away but in sto,.. well.. a cube pops up, you kill it, you continue. Its not that i am scared of facing any enemy. (missing atmosphere)
4. There is no alternative in killing/disabling an enemy.
5. Space is too small and makes not much fun.
6. Storyline sometimes makes no sense. I am a hardcore star trek fan and i dont like if its deviating too much from what i know.
7. too much species i dont know or have ever seen in any star trek episode

Games that made this part better: Freelancer, Star trek bridge commander, star trek Dominion Wars

there would be more points here but those are the one?s i remember.


Ground:

1. The maps usually all look the same (not in that last FE). I think its a limitation of the engine or something but they are mostly boring, ships looks like churches from the inside (too big).
2. No alternative to complete objects (in almost all missions, i think in the last FE, they gave some options but dont remember).
3. see space point 2.
4. too much species i dont know or have ever seen in any star trek episode

Games that made this part better: Star trek elite force 1/2,Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Fallen
This pretty much rounds it up for me. I have played the story with my main char ut found myself rushing/skipping through it at the end; I actuall yonly played one borg mission for the reward the rest didn't interest me although I looked forward to the "real" enemies all the time.

The stories basically don't have much to do with Star Trek, they don't have ANY impact whatsoever on anything and are very repetative. I had more fun in the early seasons to just do the exploration missions and imagine a story as I went on. I could play some kind of open-world Trek game for months straight, I don't need a actual progressing story - but when I want a story arc I play a game like "A final Unity" which has a well written, logical and fun story and more Trek-worthy gameplay
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-> -> -> STO players unite and say NO to ARC <- <- <-
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Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5,015
# 46
09-21-2012, 04:00 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kyeto13 View Post
And, as others have noted, the first few missions are... lame. They do not explain what happened between the end of Nemesis unitl now. There are many players who go through to VA no knowing that this is a different universe from the JJ Abrhams film . We have little explanation on why we are at war besides "Klingon-bad, We-good." Which, to anyone who has watched any of the prime-verse after ST:VI, it doesn't make much sense. Our cold war was over after The Khitomer Accords. And during the Dominion war, we were allies. So a bit more IN-GAME INTERACTIVE explanation would be nice. As well as a better tutorial.
See... This has been part of my cry for a new tutorial. I think the tutorial we have is actually one of the better done missions in the game, technically, but I'd push to shuffle it off somewhere else.

Because, frankly, you'd have to go to the website to really have it hammered home that this is 2409. You'd have to go to the website or the wiki or spend days playing a console clicking daily to know what happened to anyone aside from Spock, Torres, Paris, Thomas Riker, and Naomi Wildman. You'd have to play Klingon-side for anything of substance about Worf or Martok.

There is zero initiation into the setting, either Star Trek and its context or history for new players or 2409 as a distinct brand for old players, and the initiation you do get is a weird status update by the disembodied ghost of Spock who shouldn't know any of this.

My best two changes for the initiation I can think of are:

1) You start off as a Captain who gets hit with a memory wipe weapon. The tutorial is you being guided to figure out how to run your ship. At the end, you get a memory flash showing you the history of the Federation and you get busted down, provisionally, to Lt. They still need you to command a ship (there's a shortage of good captains and the war claims dozens daily on each front) but they can't trust you with a security clearance. Every 10 levels, you get a flash of a lost memory, filling in your knowledge of events. Could even become a plot point in some missions. People who recognize you that you've never met or sporadic bursts of memory.

2) You get an opening cinematic of your character at the Guardian of Forever. (And this gets used as an excuse to get a better Guardian voice.) Your character has Fleet Admiral pips and uniform and approaches the Guardian, set to a dramatic score. The Guardian announces it can show you your own history and plays a cinematic of your faction's history. Which for the Feds, covers WWIII through 2409 (for the sake of people only passingly familiar with Star Trek). Each generation is represented IN CONTEXT and IN SEQUENCE by people wearing the uniforms even if characters are not shown.

Your character replies that they know all of this and that they simply have one question for the Guardian: Were all the prices paid worth it? And the Guardian replies that it can show your Captain their own history. Your Captain agrees and the tutorial begins.

Every front that you complete, in place of the promotion ceremony, it cuts back to your character as a Fleet Admiral standing at the Guardian. The Guardian summarizes, indicating that each of the mission fronts were separated by months or years and you get glimpses of things like your crew meeting around a table, a concert at Earth Spacedock, and mounting turmoil such as Hakeev talking to his unseen masters, Shon aboard the Belfast, or a Bajoran pilgrim talking to the Prophets, who tell her that a hand that remains closed is no longer a hand.
Rihannsu
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 606
# 47
09-21-2012, 04:29 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertcrayven View Post
First of all, let me just provide this disclaimer - this is not an attempt at social commentary, a bash against Cryptic, or a sneaky attempt at a backhanded statement about the perceived quality (or lack thereof) of the content of story missions. It's simply an attempt to investigate the veracity of a perception I've begun to have regarding the current makeup of the STO playerbase.

I have had the good fortune to find myself employed at a business that permits me to play STO while I am at work, which actually allows me a far more substantial amount of time ingame than I otherwise would have. Because my job is in the evenings (primarily) I am able to interact with people across the globe in multiple timezones, particularly a great number of U.S. players.

One common theme I've noticed, almost across the board, is a huge lack of knowledge among a great portion of the current playerbase concerning the Cryptic-made storyline missions, how they tie into the game, and why they're important. I've run into more Vice Admirals than I care to even think about who have made it to endgame without ever touching a story mission, propelled there by DOFF assignments and the various PvE / PvP events. Interestingly, when I have mentioned the existence of these missions, as well as the community authored content and the dailies, I've been met with general disinterest or an inquiry as to how to get through them as fast as possible.

So I'm putting the question out there to you guys - are we now in an era of STO where the majority of the playerbase does not care about story? Is our leading demographic now primarily composed of button-mashing pew-pew'ers who'd rather blow stuff up than seek immersion in the Star Trek universe? Is it possible that Dan Stahl's concerns that continued investment in story might not be worthwhile anymore actually have a foundation in reality?

And if so, has this been PWE's plan all along?

I welcome everyone's thoughts.
Not me.

I've played every single one of the story missions and still play foundry missions on a daily basis, though I am a bit occupied by another MMO now, story, to me, has always and will always be a very important aspect of every game I play, whether singleplayer or MMO.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5,015
# 48
09-21-2012, 05:39 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucianazeta View Post
Not me.

I've played every single one of the story missions and still play foundry missions on a daily basis, though I am a bit occupied by another MMO now, story, to me, has always and will always be a very important aspect of every game I play, whether singleplayer or MMO.
Would that game happen to have the initials TSW?
Empire Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,202
# 49
09-21-2012, 06:02 AM
I love many of the story missions but there are several obstacles between me and them:

- I have to get a lot of energy credits to buy the new lockbox and lobi store stuff. I have roughly 700m EC and it's not enough to invest, buy the new ultra rare doffs from the cardie boxes, buy the next box ships, etc. It takes me a lot of my game time.

- Episodes rewards are pretty poor. A blue Mk XI armor worth 5000 credits? I'd like to have time to do that but if I want to get new stuff I can't.

- I like even more playing with the Foundry when I get bored with regular grinding.

- Unfortunately, Fleetmakrs won't come effortlessly.

- One of my characters still needs his omega XII set and I still enjoy many of the STFs.

So if playing story missions was worth it with the game requirements to keep up-to-date characters I'd play them happily. I love many of the Romulan episodes, some of the Borg ones and even undines ones (the cardassian ones aren't that interesting, except the FE), but if I stop doing my current stuff I'll never have competitive characters anymore, and the gods know that competitive chars are required since the new content needs fully geared chars if we ever want to pug it with clueless guys.

Oh and BTW my favourite episode is diplomatic orders. Pretty straightforward with an interesing plot.

Last edited by diogene0; 09-21-2012 at 06:06 AM.
Empire Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,202
# 50
09-21-2012, 07:00 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirksplat View Post
I think in cases like this, you have to imagine a writer who is told: "Hey we built this set and this set, and the player has to go kill these guys, and, wow, isn't the space walk cool? Make a story out of it."

You gotta work with what you got. Which means, invent hair-brained reasons for x, y, and z.
Sometimes it may work, you can get really interesting missions built around something specific you want to see in it. It's really good when the player doesn't notice that you made this mission for this reason.

The major problem with Cryptic is it's always a half-done job. I think Salaminferno didn't get it when he had to answer the question where a player says that 'unfinished' is the studio's motto.

Let's take the example of the 2800 series. I like this one, but it's DS9. Again. I can't count the number of missions using this overused asset. They had the opportunity to create new maps, new stuff, new assets, but instead of that, they used this old one. Half-done job.

The 2800 could have been really better without the necessity of doing it exclusively on DS9. And on top of it there are many gaps; it's stupid to think that a whole armada could just sit in DS9, waiting for the messiah/player to take it over again.

So the main issue is that Crypric often cut costs on what they consider as details, but details are the most important part of a story. You have to explain everything, to justify why it happens, and how. Sometimes, the story won't require much details, and that's precisely where they are good, but when they try to be more ambitious, it fails. Even if the new game concept is nice, it won't be able to fill the huge holes in the storyboard.

Another good example is the new fleet actions. You always see the same maps, and the space ones are just plain blank space with a starbase in it. Details, again, but a part of the burnout comes from the lack of attention to details, and it's something cryptics is exceptionnaly good at.

A good story isn't about filling the missing part with your imagination, it can only work on the wrap up and it has to be good for that, a good story tells you why and how it happened.

So, good Cryptic stories are:
- Stories with a very simple plot. Someone rebelled/a minor facility is having trouble. Kill the rebels/opponents, fix a few replicators, rescue some civilians, end of the story.
- Stories where the player doesn't handle the vast majority of the war. No one expects a single ship to take back such a huge station as DS9 or a borg armada on its own. The player can do something critical in very specific and secondary areas (good example: romulan front).

It looks like they aren't able to handle something more complex - and it's not a criticism. It's just because they would need someone able to say "no" to the dev team when they come up with an idea to add to the story. Some FE episodes looks like to a huge patchwork with random ideas put together.

They would need someone to say that "no you have to do another map because it doesn't make sense to see this place again" or "there's a huge hole in your plot, add more details in your dialogs" or "we need to see that". Of course, episodes wouldn't be as cost-effective as they are and they would need someone independant from the current producers to make sure that everything makes sense, and it's not going to happen, but one can always dream, just because it's never a good idea to give your accountant the final word on a story.

Last edited by diogene0; 09-21-2012 at 07:04 AM.
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