I could be incredibly wrong here, but I get the distinct impression that the exploration missions were included because so many fans, from very early on, wanted it. I've been lurking these forums since they opened, and that has always been a big request from the fan base.
However, I think the problem is that either the fans didn't specify their desire well enough, or Cryptic didn't fully understand the request.
The fans said: "We want to explore."
And that's exactly what they got.
However, exploration isn't a correct description of what the fans wanted. They wanted adventures that result from exploration.
I've said this before, but the primary misconception that resulted in exploration missions is that people think that Star Trek is about exploration. It's not. Starfleet is about exploration. There's a subtle, but important distinction between the two. Starfleet is about exploring strange new worlds, etc, etc.
Star Trek, on the other hand, is about adventures in outer space. I'm sure there are billions of routine exploration missions that happen in Starfleet, but we don't watch those on Star Trek, because it is boring. On Star Trek, we see the exploration missions in which things go wrong. We see the adventures. We watch the Enterprise get overtaken by androids, or we watch Picard get stolen by a probe and then have to live his entire life as an alien (great episode by the way). We don't, however, see the 500 anomalies that the Enterprise investigated between those episodes. We don't see the thousand plant samples they take for the scientists to study the molecular structure.
Again Starfleet=Exploration. Star Trek = Adventure. There is a difference, and I think that difference is what's causing many players to feel like something's missing.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't a dig on Cryptic. I love the game, and I actually enjoy the exploration missions. I feel like they brought what people asked for. However, I think the spirit of the request may have been overlooked. Whether it was overlooked by fans or by cryptic or both, I don't know.
I have faith that, over time and updates, we'll see more exploration that results in grand adventures. Until then, I consider the exploration missions just a little added flavor to the game. I personally enjoy them, but I understand why others don't.
Yes, there are actual storylines in the game... the ones that start with Admiral Quin are the real 'episodes' in the game. The Patrol stuff from Sulu and the exploration stuff through the genesis system from Grall are 'side quests'... then theres PvP as well. Actually, this game has quite a lot to do, and its pretty easy to get to it... the only problem with this is game is actually getting in it and staying there.
I'm sitting here with my wife. We've just completed one of the many, many "Patrol the XXXXX Sector" missions. She turns, and asks me: "So, what are we doing?"
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Well, I assume that I'm leveling up for some reason, is there any endgame?
Me: I'm not sure.
Her: Well, it seems that all we're doing is going around exploring and doing diplomatic missions.
Me: Come to think of it, in all the movies and TV shows, that's really all they did. We were just fortunate that the Enterprise et al happened to have very eventful cruises.
Her: So, what's the point?
Me: I'm not really sure.
It's very confusing to hail starfleet and receive the same missions over and over. I get that the developers want the patrol and exploration missions to be repeatable, but for what purpose?
Am I missing the point? Please enlighten me. I've reserved the collector's edition of the game, but if this is all there is (and nothing more), why should I spend that money on STO when there are several other options out there?
I'm having a similar feeling. I have no idea on what there is out there. I only see what presented to me and at the moment and it's a bit dull. I like the game, don't get me wrong, it's just seems they wanted to cover a lot of areas and didn't have time to take a second pass at it.
It feels like a multi player game more so than an MMO. I'm enjoying it in the limited time I have, but for some of the people that spend hours at a time in a game things might seem a bit sparse. Try following more of the scripted missions, some of those are very nice.
I'm pretty sure MMO's are full of "SIDE" quest or "FETCH" quest missions like this.
Agreed, they are. But even then, somehow, they are usually tied into the greater story. Right now, in my log, I have two exploration missions, three patrol missions, two defend XXXXX sector block missions, Starbase 24, the PVP intro quest and "The Kufah'Magh'.
I'm assuming "The Kuvah'Magh' is the "story" quest line that will eventually lead to endgame. All the others are filler and fluff. This is everything I can get at the moment. I've already completed one of the exploration missions and one of the defend missions, along with the defense of Starbase 24.
SUGGESTION: Once a quest is completed for the first time, make the quest accessible from a "Duty" Database, where people can go to request "Duty Assignments" if they feel the need to farm XP, Badges or items.
The question not being answered by the storyline is WHY? I want to be immersed in this story. Why have the Klingons suddenly broken away from Starfleet? Yes, there is a brief explanation in the opening cinematic, but why not drive deeper into the heart of it? Why have the Orion and Gorn joined in with the Klingons? Why is it important that I complete these missions against them? Why are certain sectors under attack from the Klingon Empire? For what reason are these systems desired? Why is it necessary for me to spend my time patrolling them?
Now, the exploration missions: What is the point? Right now, it seems the exploration missions are there to farm gear. Each successful exploration tour awards badges, which can be used to purchase gear that is far better than what most can get at the earlier stages. Beyond this, what is the point?
At the beginning of this game, the storyline is almost non-existent. People will tire of the Patrol and Exploration missions. They will ask for a story. Right now, the game does not deliver in that department.
Cryptic, as with Champions, as with City of Heroes before that do not have a particularly good track record of creative content. You would hope they'd do more with such a famous IP so we'll see what the future brings.
I know many will find this incomprehensible, but you are supposed to enjoy playing the game...
Reaching top level is a consequence of playing...
I never understand people who think content is only an obstacle for the fabled high-end
Enjoy the ride, play it, read the quests, invite friends to do that one mission with you...
Enjoy each bite in your sandwitch, do not put it all in your mouth at once...
I totally agree. However, if you take the first few bites, are you going to continue eating when the taste of the sandwich does not agree with you? You could just send the sandwich back and order a different one (read: play a different game), or you could talk to the Chef and find out why he/she made the sandwich that way, offering advice for the next one.