I'm going to disagree with some of the later posters. I think exploration/Genesis is pure genius.
Every MMO is full of meh grinding. That's what they do. It's all the same, every time, eventually. Unless you go for PvP in a big way, in which case there's Eve Online, or are a major Star Wars roleplayer, in which case there's SWG (Starsider), every MMO ends up with meh repetitive grindygrind.
And all those awesome landscapes? Most folks see them once and never look back. There are entire regions in many MMOs that are ghost towns because everyone's outlevelled them. Nobody goes back and thinks "Woah, this place is so nice I'll sit around and stare at it again just like I did for those two weeks I had to grind here."
Genesis takes many disparate graphical elements and fuses them into distinct entities. While not every combination is breathtaking, nor should they be or this whole game would look far too silly, some are. There are times I'll just look around at stuff and have my mind blown. Then, ten minutes later or so, I'm gone and on to something new.
Repetitiveness isn't just about mission types. It can also be an aesthetic thing. Doing the same missions, against the same villains, in the same warehouses over and over in City of Heroes was a million times more dull and with less variation than what we have in Exploration here. Hell, try doing anything in SWG that doesn't involve lots of pointless grinding in the same place, against the same mobs, for hours on end (or in LoTRO for that matter).
Any sane person, at least of the casual gamer variety, who knows there are other MMOs out there and has actually played them has to jump up and scream "Thank you Cryptic!" for Genesis and Exploration missions. I just hope they keep adding more variety into the system. Most of us are going to be spending most of our time in there - if not now, certainly once we've burned through all the scripted content.
And unlike other PvE elements, nothing you put into Genesis is ever obsolete. The more you add to it the better everything works. It's exponentially more than the sum of its parts.
Im actually a little confused about the Genesis stuff, what exactly is it? Where would I find it?
Well, Cryptic is getting a reputation for making the same MMO over and over again. They're using a five year old engine to do it. The toolkit appears to be almost exactly the same as CoH/CoV.
Like I said... Cryptic builds empty sets, not interactive, persistent game worlds.
He speaks the truth. I thought after 5 or 6 years and inheriting something has huge as the Star Trek name, that Cryptic would design something new from the ground up having learned from their experiences in MMO past and the success of other MMOs. But alas, they just re-packaged CoH and their same old design.
Genesis is in basic a great attempt to make missions non repetitive.
In STO all i see is some, maybe 5 different missions.. Only difference between them is different patterns on walls, scenery etc.. Layouts seem to vary a bit too but thwy are still all pretty same. Missions that had some time in development instead of computer calculating them has certain difference that makes me like more those old style repeatable missions.
I really enjoy the friendliness of the episode/mission system for casuals like myself. If real life pops up and we're in the middle of a patrol, in most MMOs you have to hearth/transport/city jump back to your logoff in/secret lair/etc. In STO... once you do that mission bit of an episode, it's done. That way, you can "interrupt" an episode when real life DOES occur, and come back whenever you like and jump right back into the episode with the next mission. VERY smart, very effiencient, and very casual friendly, and I wubs it.
Genesis is the engine they use to generate worlds and systems in the game. In particular you'll see the variety of stuff it can do best represented in Exploration missions. I believe it was supposed to randomly create star systems, planets, complexes along with missions live, in the game, but now it's a tool the developers use to quickly cook up the missions you stumble across when exploring.
There's not as much variety as I'd like yet but there's more than enough to show me what this sucker can do. Everything from sandstorms to alien beaches with lava waterfalls to windy tundras and all kinds of strange alien plant life and rock formations, weather and even day/night conditions. Ambient lighting. View distance. Hilly and flat or both together. Coastlines and swamps. All the different parts juggled together so that you do get a sense you're exploring a new world even if it's just "another" run around and scan assignment.
Not everyone will appreciate what this probably took to create and what, perhaps more importantly, it can be used for as it's expanded but I do. The fact this works so well is what put me over the line.
Star Trek is about exploration first and foremost. If Cryptic stays on the ball they've got a lock on the kind of players who enjoy exploration by using, and expanding, Genesis/Exploration. They almost lost me when I learned there wouldn't be multiplayer ships but between NPC crews and Exploration I'm a lifer now.
I find it hard to believe that anyone who has even played a high quality MMO would think Star Trek Online's version is any good. Many of the missions are beam down, find a bunch of items scattered on the map, be it plants, ship debris or cocoons, click on them and beam back up. That's it, there's zero challenge to it and the map is completely sterile except for the objects being sought. Many of the space stations or bases in different maps have the exact same layout and appearance only one station has Klingons and another has Gorns. Grind is part of any MMO but there's grind done well and there's grind that has zero challenge.
I've played a lot of Guild Wars, a non-subscription MMO that's been going for almost five years now and it blows Star Trek away in terms of creativity, variety, polish, story and graphics. Out of literally hundreds of missions, no two look alike and there's creative repeatability. Plus the graphics are absolutely beautiful yet require far less resources than Star Trek Online. Star Trek Online is a resource hog but it still looks worse than a five year old MMO. Compare the jerky character animation and movement and horrible camera work in STO to the fluid motion in Guild Wars. The difference is a mile wide. One can only dream what Star Trek Online would have been in the hands of another developer like Blizzard or ArenaNet (founded by former Blizzard employees by the way).