Year 3 of playing STO. Much reading of forum posts, and much following of threads..
Perhapes it should be called TAC in ESCORTS with MACROS online..
I gave up bothering with PvP for the most part when I realized the old (now fixed, assuming there isn't another one) shield exploit went unfixed for over a year untill the lads at STOked actually showed a DEV live in front of a studio audience not only that the bug existed but how to reproduce the exploit.
I am so sure that there are other yet undiscovered exploits, that I avoid ship PvP like the plague. Its not worth the frustration to know that I AM for all practical purpouses being cheated against.
Add in the changes to ship PvP that happened with F2P and it pretty much nailed it down for me.
Let me toss in a couple other goodies for the complaint mix here.
realism vs playability....
Realism..in the real world of here and now a single naval aviation attack bomber with a stand off launch capability can sink a super carrier if its shots go home. Scary.. you bet!
And an utter nightmare to the US Navy which operates the worlds only super carriers.
Even more scary if you happen to be one of the 1 to 2 thousand crew aboard one of these behemoths. That assuming someone doesn't just chuck a nuke your way...
In real world combat games player manage the battle group defences (Larry Bond's Harpoon..) and try to prevent the attack from happening in the first place.
In starship combat in our fictional universe we base what we see on a television series and some movies. Space battles there are "dramatic" and quite frankly there is a limited amount of screen time to have the battle..get the bang and boom done to get back to the drama and story.
This does not work very well in a computer game format. If you want proof, go play STO *grin* against other players.
PvP in this game is no longer approchable by joe or jane anybody. It gotten so messed around that we now have space and ground PvP clinics to teach players HOW to do it. This is not a good thing, its really not.
Escorts types are now dominating the game due to what is frankly very BAD game design, and a one time balance between ship types that no longer exists. (apparently changed with free to play)
Can something be done about this. Oh HELL yes! A little disipline on the part of the the DEV's to put the brakes on feature creep would go a very very long way. I will examine possibilities, but first a little of what has gone before.
History of Star Trek starship combat in computer games:
I played the Starfleet Academy, and Klingon Academy games..combat was strait forward.. Manage your vector of approch to generate hits (and cause your opponent to miss. Try to work on specific shield facings to knock them down, and keep getting shots into your opponents hull untill they surrendered, fled, or blew up. Against a knowledgeable player in PvP battles could go on for quite some time. here was a certain amount of ships energy management that was needed. Manuver was in a full 3D space
and players did tend to run into each others and AI operated ships quite often. Combat in the Academy series of games was evolved from the ship combat of Interplays earlier Startrek 25th anniversery game and its follow ons.
A few years later Interplay, the maker of the above games somehow managed to talk the folks down at ADB into licencing thier Starfleet Battles board game system for conversion into a real time starship combat computer game series known as Starfleet Command. The SFC series is by many still considered the best Trek starship combat games ever produced.
For the record, in my opinion, even though SFC, SFC-II, SFC-OP were NOT canon trek combat they had, and still have THE best starship combat of any computer game ever done. Play was on a flat plane (it was done just to make things easier..) but players had to manage thier ships energy, and subsystems, and manuver was vitally important. There were strong raciel elements to the games various factions ships. For example, Klingon ships while not as tough as thier Federation counterparts, were noticably more manuverable which gave them an edge in combat.
All of the games various factions had advantages, and disadvantages. Some were ship design advantages, other specific types of weapons. The one main things with the game though was ships were fixed and players could not modify thier star ships. You could aquire other ships during play, or even better versions of your current ship. Generally bigger ships had an advantage in that bigger ment you could take more damage, and mount more weapons and systems.
A small "escort" type ship had nearly as much firepower as a cruiser but were much much much more fragile. Players had to play smart, they had to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the ships, and tactics were real and based apon how players manuvered thier ships and used thier ships systems. Skill was the players skill, not special abilities of the players character of officers.
Later followed Starfleet Command-III, which was a fusion of some of the core concepts of the SFC-I, II, and OP games with next-gen ships and the ability of players to modify thier starships. SFC-III had issues with overall balance, and massive cheating in multiplayer that unfortunatly was never adequetly addressed. Interplay unfortunatly ceased to exist for all practical purpouses shortly afterwards.
A few other trek based starship combat games appeared later on, Startrek Bridge Commander being possibly the most note worthy with the ability to use actuall voice command to perform certain ship functions. BC is still played by many today due to its moddibility. There have been a few others of note such as Startrek Legacy. RTS trek games I am not considering here.
Now we have STO ship combat...which obviously I don't think very highly of. It's button mash city in space combat, with ships doing the wizards in space thing. Personally a great idea but In my not so humble opinion poorly executed because of the following. If you have an pheriperal device that you can program a macro on (I can think of several that are used by flight simmers which would be ideal!) then you can generate a phenominal advantage for ones self in space combat by setting up a chain of actions ahead of time far faster then someone can point and click or hot key in. It is the ulitimate "Pay to Win" with victory going to the player who can best take advantage of a bad system.
Ship combat code in STO is simply TOO complex, with internal synergies happening that it has caused a constant flow of bugs in the game every time something new is added. I'm not really sure what Cryptic was trying to create but what it is now is a god awefull mess. Of course I don't have access to the actuall code, but the evidence that lays in front of us all says this is a major issue.
The end result is PvP starship combat has become not fun for the vast majority of STO players. Each time there is yet another addition to the weapon types and consoles we end up with more bugs. The complexity of ship combat at end game in PvP combat has resulted in a system that is UNAPROCHABLE! The situation is o god awfull bad that some players, just to have someone to play against in PvP created a PvP clinic to teach players how to do PvP, and more importantly teach them what absolutly positivly does not work in PvP combat.
Honestly, at this point in time, I'm not real certain what the Cryptic deve's can do about it. But I can make a couple very real suggestions.
1. Simplify, simplify, and simplify some more! Less numbers, more action. Make the ships tougher in PvP, even if you need to cheat on the back end to do it. For all practical considerations PvP and PvE are two different game systems that use common parts.
In PvP make shields much stronger, and hulls, or reduce significantly the amount of damage that can be caused across the board so that fights last longer. In canon trek bigger is better.. thats why the starships keep getting bigger. Defiant is a small ship, and much cheaper to build then lets say, a Galaxy. But it is also a ship that must operate out of a base. No long legs.. She goes out, she does something, she comes back. a powerfull but SMALL ship that is incapable of surviving to many hits once its defences are penetrated.
How is this modeled in STO? The answer right now is "not very well". That is a problem.
CCruiser, Battle Cruisers, Carriers, Science ships should be massivly more capable then eescorts. Instead, when it comes to ship combat, the opposit is true. This does not make sense. It is not consistant with trek lore.
2. The pace of Ship to Ship combat needs to be slowed down significantly even in PvE much less PvP. Players should NOT be destroying entire flotilla's of starships in a single mission. Bad guys should be running away and refusing to fight when significantly out matched ('cept maybe the Borg..but thats because they're the Borg). It may be fun from a "gamer" standpoint, but it doesn't feel like trek. ((unless of course your Klingon..in which case bring 'em on!)) Make this feel real! More Trek, less fantasy!
Cryptic... Perhaps THE most single most aptly named game studio ever to exist. Especially when it comes to STO.
Ive said it before in ther threads. All they need to do is remove the bonuses given to ship speed, defenses and offensive stuff when you level.
Last night i starteda new kdf toon... Level 20 my norgh bop turns a bit slow, flies a bit slow and fires very slowly. Ive only got the ensign level boxes trained.
So there i am doing an empire defense mission in a nebula... Having TONS of fun actually flying and fighting for position and firing solutions....
Then i get
Level up. Im 21.
The same norgh in the same instance..without me training a single skill point... Suddenly begun to turn twice as well and fly much faster.
It had been a long time since i was low level.. And suddenly losing the true trek feel of combat and shoved straight into arcade mode almost endgame type flying and mindless shooting dont care about shield facing or nothing mentality mode...
I agree with every word Khemarra, but were not talking about a game thats a reflection of the trek the other games you mentioned are, were talking about a game based on the same 'magic' of instant destruction and resurrection brought to us via Brannon/Braga and JJ Abrams. There's no hiding in space from sensors or weapons, there's no dodging incoming fire, there's no damage that can't instantly be repaired and 'death' has no meaning or consequence. This is fighterjets in space- way to fast and in your face. The trek feeling of skill accomplishment has been replaced by how many abilities you can stack and how fast you can mash your keys. This game is cold like the space you are supposed to be exploring, but without the new FE's (that never come) the new toys just keep breaking that which was never not broken.
Its a very good post and has a lot of truth.
I can only seeing it fail for one reason, factional ego getting in the way.
It would be great if each faction had distinct advantages and disadvantages that stay in thier domain of use.
So far we have not had this as a set feature and egoes have cuased what little that existed to be eroded overtime.
It would be nice to play fed and enjoy thier advantages, to remain KDF and enjoy our advantages and to eventually play Romulan and enjoy thier advantages wihout the game slowly being changed to bolster the egoes of those who feel they are not being represented like they remember seeing in the IP over the years.
The game needs to be a flat representation of all factions and not cater to some just to make easy money thus giving all fans what they want.