I posted this idea in another thread over in the shipyards, but that particular thread is a gargantuan morass of people fighting and complaining, and decent feedback is mostly ignored or attacked -- so I figured I'd post it here to get a more widespread audience and widespread feedback. If any of the Developers should happen to read it, more's the better.
Fair warning, this idea originated from a discussion about Cruisers' lack of usefulness in endgame PvE and occasionally in PvP; however, I think you should read on and hear me out before you decide to close the thread -- and I'd prefer it if instead of any kind of personal attack or straight dismissal, if I could get some constructive criticism instead.
Well, everyone knows that in PvE, Escorts don't really need Cruisers; and most everybody knows that the opposite doesn't really hold true -- Cruisers need the DPS of Escorts to win. Science also tends to end up in the category of unnecessary, if they don't fly an Escort or have a really killer build.
Moreover, endgame PvE is so little about teamwork that it's almost comical. It requires team timing and individual DPS, mostly; no cross-healing, no non-self buffing, etc., which is a real shame in my eyes.
So I propose a slight change to a system that already exists in the game, but currently holds little purpose -- Crew. Specifically, Current Crew Levels. The changes are thus:
1) Change the current Crew Level damages so that they have more effect; but make it happen less often; or conversely, make it happen more often and reduce the effect -- or both, by implementing extra crew loss on Critical hits.
2) Tie current crew percentage as a modifier to ability cooldowns through an inverse relationship -- as an example, 100% of crew gives normal cooldowns, and 0% adds 5 seconds, or something like that (this would need some testing to find optimal numbers). This both makes Current Crew Levels useful, and makes gameplay somewhat more realistic, as fewer people functioning onboard a starship causes slower reaction times. (Conversely, this could have a much less significant cooldown increase, but also effect weapon cooldown times)
3) Give Science Team an additional bonus buff to crew heal rate.
These three things shouldn't horribly ruin anyone's builds, nor their fun -- but they do reward real team play, and as a bonus they improve sustained DPS for ships that don't take a lot of hits, making some of the off classes (IE Non-tactical) more useful in endgame.
Well, I know similar ideas have been proposed before, at least in giving crew damage a larger impact.
The thing is, escorts have a lot fewer crew than a cruiser does so the effect of this would tend to hurt escorts more than anyone else. It would reduce the availability of buffs and powers that contribute to escorts' burst damage. And it would add another complication to balancing powers, even those powers that don't really need balancing at present.
No, I don't think I'm in favor of a cooldown penalty, even though I don't fly escorts usually. I'd rather see crew strength providing a positive benefit that diminishes with crew damage than to see crew damage that imposes any penalty beyond what it already does to hull and subsystem repair.
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I've found that my crew being entirely dead does not have a significant effect on me; honestly, I usually ignore the crew indicator entirely.
Yes, it would hit tactical escorts harder. To whit, that's all I fly -- in fact, I fly primarily BoPs, and they would get hit the hardest. However, I really get the feeling when I'm playing that Escorts are the be-all-end-all ship for everything but well-teamed PvP.
Yes, they should remain the primary damage and DPS dealers; but this would at least give other ships more necessity.
Also, it should be noted that every ship in the game can carry Science Team 1; it just messes with the dual Tactical Team combo that people love so much.