For me on a personal level all of season 7 was nothing but a grind, a grind that was built to replace a previous grind, and each rep system was just adding more grind too it in what i feel was a very lazy way. Don't get me wrong, i'm the only on of my group of friends that still plays Cryptic games and that's because i like what they could be, but i find that instead of getting regular content worth putting money into (races, ships, costumes, bundles) we get thins like lock boxes and grinding.
I shouldn't have to buy my way into prominence with the Omega fleet, there should be missions in there, doff assignments, diplomatic meetings with Enemies of the borg, and rescue missions like defera on a smaller scale, not simply going to the store and buying my way to the top. I feel that adding a single mission to each tier to unlock the next would be a nice step in making it less of a grind, something other than Kill X y amount of times and dump for rep and repeat.
Just shifting rewards and adding more currencies to grind for with out adding enough new content to compensate is a bad move, and one that is killing Champions online. I really don't want to see this game head in that direction, but the early signs are there and frankly it wouldn't be hard to alleviate the grind yet i don't really see any steps being taken to do so.
The grind is way to long in this game. Especially for the rewards you get. Take the Reputation system for instance. They cost a lot. You have to grind several mission each day in order to get anywhere. And at the end you have to pay very exspensive Dilithium to get anything. Either lower the price. Or don't make us use dilithium to purchase stuff we already paid for with the grind!
And the biggest joke was those compensation crates for the old Omega system. I mean really. You update the game and take away our old system for payment. Now when I finally get to tier 5 everything costs more. And the compensation was not nearly enough for what I lost on my old grind. I had enough for several Borg weapons and officers. The compensation was a flat out insult to our inteligence. They could have left the old reward system in place and let us keep our rewards until they were used up.
Instead they don't tell me they are taking my old grind usless and stealing my rewards.
This is paramount to THEFT IMO.
Theft of our trust and confidence in fairness.
Fairness that is gone from the insulting compensation they gave us!
And even worse is the grind for fleets. Most fleets will never reach tier 5.
And I can tell you from experience if the rewards are as poor as the Omega rewards then again we are taking way to much time to get something that is an insult to most of us. The price us just to high!!
ALso they keep moving the fleet marks around not knowing what they need to do to get people to play the fleet missions.
Look at the real problem. That is not the fleet marks. The grind for fleets is too long. Cut everything by at least 1/3 and it will still be to exspensive.
AND WHY DO WE HAVE TO SPEND DILITHIUM FOR ALMOST EVERYTHING IN THE GAME?
But that can be easily fixed. Have the rep system in Romulus with NPC interact with you as you do your daily rep system etc. The embassy would be a good place.
When adding more rep sytems.. have them at the given locations.
I think the OMEGA could be on DS9.
But that is not the main issue for me. For me is the lack of variety, if the would add some more STF,... like Romulan STF. Add a monthly new "offical" mission or even every second week.. it wouldn't feel such a grind. There would be more variety.
I also feel that you do this featured episodes until you hit level 50 . but then its like the end of that. And suddenly its all about grinding.
.. I have a few things I could add/comment on here .. but I need to think about it first.
Ultimately.. what you said makes perfect sense.. and its a good start.
I have to say, that yes, the game has bugs, and yes, it does feel "a little grindy", but only sometimes. It only feels like i'm grinding because i want the best items (don't we all!) When i'm in PvE or PvP it feels much more like fun. I think many do forget that the game is supposed to be Free2Play orientated. If it we didn't have to grind to get special items/bonuses, then there are only two other choices:
1)The special items/bonuses are much more easier to obtain. So everybody gets the best stuff. You enjoy it for a couple of days, and then what? Nothing else to get. This will drive people AWAY from the game rather than towards it.
2) Everything goes into the ZEN store/C-Store, which no longer makes the game Free2Play. This would make the spenders very happy, and the less fortunate souls more miserable.
I have played numerous games by well known companies, like EA, Sony etc, and i have to say, i think this is one of the least buggy games which is out there.
STO to me has so much "playability". I've been playing STO for many months now, and i still haven't utilised all the functions that players have! I like that. I like that there is still much more to explore in the game.
Yes, so a few ships have black patches, and the Klingon transporter chief at the shipyard seems to be on controlled substances (hardly ever sends you to the correct destination at Qo'nos), but so what?
I would love STO to upload some pictures of the offices involved in the game as well as the staff just to show everyone the scale of the division which runs STO. I cannot begin to imagine what a huge operation it must be, just to bring us the great game that we have today.
For me, I can only offer massive compliments and appreciation to the STO staff for their serious dedication into the game.
What everyone else should do is stop being "armchair critics" and enjoy the game. If you think you can do better, than please do, I would love to see what you can produce!
Well done to all the staff involved with STO, keep up the good work!
Hiding the grind in an MMO is always tricky. You want people to partake in these same actions over and over, and you put these long-term rewards in for doing so, but you don't want them to feel that they are only (or mostly) doing these things for those long-term rewards.
The only ways I can think of to do this are:
1. By making the action so innately enjoyable you do it because you want to do it, and the carrot at the end is just a way to focus your actions. For example, people play FPS games for the FPS action, and not necessarily for the carrot after a million frags. This would be the ideal solution, but it is very, very hard. I mean, even sex or the most delicious foods can get dull after a while if it's always the same few things.
2. By making the more immediate consequences of participating in these repeated actions feel important in some way. Rift (before their expansion) got some of this right with their zone invasions. Unless you fought off and defeated these invasions then gameplay was seriously compromised--NPCs would be dead, mobs would be in the way everywhere, and so on. Of course, this has drawbacks too. Msotly because the participation feels forced even if you want to be doing something else. More moderate ways of doing this are temporary zone bonuses for achieving something.
3. A different psychological approach. An example is an old game: Asheron's Call. They had put the chance for the best loot on so many monsters you found out in the wild, and you also got xp for killing ANYTHING at ANY level, even a lowly lvl 1 rabbit. This basically meant that you were rewarded--and in many cases could get a max reward--for just about anything you did. This is a big psychological boost. It's also sort of like the rat pushing the button to make the pellets come out: with random rewards it causes the rat to push the button far, far more than when the reward rate was known. The downside, of course, is that xp-for-anything is exploitable (bots), and the best loot on random mobs really guts the incentive for participating in harder content.
The easiest way to make an MMO not about grinding is to focus the endgame content on pvp. Which would mean making pvp in this game more worthwhile, and expanding it beyond the handful of queues and the one zone we have now. Ideally with more in terms of rewards and possibly some form of zone-control where territory could be fought over.
If players were spending more time fighting each other, we wouldn't need the time-gated grinds to act as time-sinks and keep people occupied with boring make-work tasks.
There's also ways to structure things so they feel less grindy. It's not fun to do the same missions dozens, scores, or even hundreds of times. It's much more enjoyable to do a series of missions that culminate in a certain reward. The ability to skip missions in STO makes that trickier, but it can still be done by introducing items that are dropped from earlier missions and required for successive missions.
Items can also randomly drop from any encounter (like lockboxes do now) and those items/that "currency" can be saved up to cash in for rewards. That way we can do the content we like and enjoy and still work towards rewards. The system now, with the various marks and currencies, are just ways to railroad players into playing specific content. Which is anti-productive. If someone is forced to play through content they don't enjoy repeatedly in order to earn certain currency items so that they can finally get the reward they need, then obviously that's going to see like much more of a grind to them than if they were allowed to play content they actually enjoy.
Finally, the rep system needs to be changed. I know it's a source of pride for some of the devs, but it's false pride. It's a bad implementation. The whole interface of starting, filling, completing projects just feels stolen from farmville. It could be changed to work more like cxp, with no marks and no rep-xp projects. Instead rep-xp can just be earned automatically for doing appropriate tasks, just like the current commendation system.
The projects to rank up your rep can remain, and add the costs for all the xp projects they would normally have required into the upgrade. But lose the daily xp projects, and it'll be far, FAR less annoying and feel less grindy.
The easiest way to make an MMO not about grinding is to focus the endgame content on pvp.
The problem with that idea is, most people don't PvP. For the vast majority of the playerbase, that solution is effectively "don't have any endgame".
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Hidding grind in any MMO is always hard. But going back to the OP, yes this game feels grindy. To me, it feels grindy because there is only so many things you can do at end game, and none of them are long term projects. By projects, I am not talking about the starbases or other projects like that, I am talking about actually doing something that directly gives something back. Now, short things are fine, but there are too few of them as well, you can play through every mission in the game in a week probably. That all of the story missions, and all of the dailies and PvP sites, and STFs, everything.
In my opinion, this game needs two things. One, it needs a lot of short missions like the exploration missions, but everywhere and more varied and random. These missions should be more than just get five things, or kill five groups of starships. There should be ambush missions, where you're minding your own business and get jumped. There should be patrol missions, where you have to go to multiple systems. There should be trade missions, were you have to pick up some item here, to deliver to someone there. And they should be random. Take any Star Trek episode. Half of them started with the Enterprise on its way to cataloge some nebula, or scan a star, or something, and then stuff happens. These missions should be like that. Starfleet wants you to go here and do this, but when you get there, something happens, you get attacked, or have to rescue someone, or maybe nothing happens and you scan the star and warp away. These missions could all give some marks as rewards as well. If they're in Romulan space, they give Romulan Marks, if the Borg pop up, they give Omega Marks, otherwise, they give some Fleet Marks. Random-ness is the cure for grind, because you never really know what is going to happen, and even if you get something you've done before, its better than knowning exactly what you were going to get.
Thing two, it needs more direct inputs and outputs. You should do things directly to the starbase that improve it and anything you put in, should have a direct and viewable output. Not a progress bar on top of another progress bar. Same with the reputation system. For instance, if we have to keep the marks and dilithium costs, then we should get rid of the progress bars in the omega and romulan reps. If we can afford it, then we should get it. Or going the other way, keep the progress bars but get rid of all other costs, once you have a certain amount of rep, you are awarded the item, or items. I prefer the first personally since it lets you get exactly what you want, and you might not want some of the things in the store.
For the starbase and the other holdings this is a bit harder while keeping the basics of the system around. Probably the best way would be to keep the progress bars, that you donate stuff into and then when they reach a certain level, they automatically give you the upgrade. No cooldowns, no wait times, its just done. For instance, you get to tier one starbase, then halfway to tier two, the build annimation starts, and then when you get to tier two, bingo, you have tier two. And at certain intervales in between the major upgrades can come the smaller ones, like mail access and stuff. Then revamp the provisions so that if someone wants a fleet ship, for example, its more like a store, you give something in and you get a fleet ship.
But bottom line, there should not be any you must do this, to then do that, to finally get what you want. I don't mind if you incorpate the missing costs from the intermediate steps into the new costs, I'm not arguing against the costs, I am arguing that if you put something in, it should directly lead to you getting something out.
While that may be true (I'm not an MMO player/gamer) , yet STO made little to no attempt at hiding the grind with the introduction of two Seasons back-to-back that were 95% grind each .
Plus on top of that you got the Reputations and Embassies that translate to "don't like the big grind ? Here are some smaller versions ." .
Having said that I see a vast difference between the Borg and the Romulan Rep grinds .
The Borg one seems tacked on with no connection what so ever to the Borg story line .
And while the same can be said of the Rom Rep , at least the Rom Rep is used as a form of content gate that could be viewed in positive or negative light .
I think they could take this one step further and somehow put a Rep system in place in a way that you don't feel it's there (you don't move sliders to fill a bucket) .
Instead you get quests from quest givers and earn Reputation that way -- and it is the Quest giver who contacts you to congratulate you on your next level of Reputation , and not another slider that now tells you to move it to unlock your new Rep level .
There is also a question of the wisdom of putting in two Seasons of grind back-to-back , for the simple reason that it is much more noticeable then doing a Season of mostly grind and doing a Season of mostly story .
The powers that be insist that it was the right (if painful) decision .
From a business stand point that may be true .
Coming on the tail of The Year of Hell + the timegate fiasco of the Defara Invasion ?
You be the judge .
Ultimately , I think that the New Romulus time gate that was introduced in the Rom Rep was a pretty decent way to hide grind -- as you not only worked on it to get moar stuffs from the shop , but also because you had additional content to unlock .
Think about it , if it was not designed that way , you could have been done with New Romulus in what ... anywhere between one and five days of play session -- and then you'd have been right back at "give us moar content" .
Another effective way to hide the grind would be the inclusion of "distractions" such as a FE or a new PvP map every ... (insert your own timeframe here that seems reasonable to you) .
Cryptic say that they do put in "stuff" between Seasons .
To this I have to ask : is Cryptic putting in the right stuff ?
Cryptic seems to think that every new FE has to be either a showcase of some new Tech , or some other flashy thing .
To this I say : no .
If we keep buying starships that share many of the same basic lines (some likely even share the same basic framework that get's resized reshaped and recolored) -- why can it be that we spend money (aka occupy ourself's) with visual content that is being reused , but we can't (according to Cryptic) occupy ourself's with backgrounds that get tweaked and reused ?
If one Cryptic employee can make "Alpha" in his spare time , imagine what two could do ?
Cryptic needs to understand that we need distractions and that we need predictable distractions .
Predictable keeps the mind at ease .
Unpredictable keeps the thought unsure .
And what we have right now is ppl who are unsure of what Cryptic will/won't do .
And considering Cryptic's track record ... , that's NOT where you want to have your fan base at , 'cause every little misstep on Cryptic's part get's piled on top of that lack of ease/assuradness , and that's just fuel to the flames .
/that's it , I'm done making sense , where is something I can flame ?
I suppose the big problem with the current situation.. is that you not only have to grind, but you also have high costs along with that grind. Translation: you have to grind.. so that you can grind.
In order to 'grind' one of the reputations, you need to grind marks, dilithium, and however-much in EC for the other components. This is creating a system where everything you would do, ultimately has to all go into that 'meta-grind' without leaving.. pocket change.. for the player to enjoy. Furthermore, even after unlocking things via 'The Grind', you still have to grind even more to actually be able to purchase your 'reward'.
Now, I fully understand and support having resource sinks, but what we have are not 'sinks' - they're all-consuming black holes that will devour everything you've got. The requirements to progress seep into every facet of what you do.. which makes it feel more like a job instead of recreation(although the regimented 'daily' timers contribute a lot to that feeling as well).
Ironically, however, I think part of the problem might be that there are not enough interesting things to invest resources into right now. Perhaps once more 'fluff' reputations are implemented and the crafting system gets overhauled, people won't feel like they're forced into playing the game a certain way.
Options.. are a wonderful way to dilute the perception of 'grind' because the player makes a 'choice' to pursue a treadmill.
In the short term, I think two things that would go a long way in helping would be to add reputation gains directly to some missions(as an alternative to credit-sinking) and adding fleet marks to a wider selection of activities(both solo and group so people with different playstyles can contribute to their fleets in their own ways).