Star Trek Online Discussion Thread (now free to play!)

Discussion in 'Trek Gaming' started by daedalus5, Sep 3, 2011.

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  1. intrinsical

    intrinsical Commodore Commodore

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    I go by my past experience with companies I've worked for. The only times I have ever seen two or more senior staff members leaving at the same time is either due to:

    A) An unhappy work environment finally forces a senior staff to resign, and other staff follows in support.

    B) A senior staff has plans to start his own company and poaches other staff members to join his new company.

    C) Staff is being fired, let go or forced to resign due to serious misconduct such as industrial espionage or sexual harrassment.

    Now I have no idea what is happening at Cryptic, but I heard Heretic is joining another game company so that reduces the possibility of (B) being the cause, leaving (A) or (C) as more plausible reasons. Either way, its never good news when multiple senior staff members leaves a team, especially when Gozer was just given a big assignment to revamp PvP a month ago.
     
  2. Briquettes

    Briquettes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^Or it could just be coincidence that two experienced developers got more lucrative job offers at around the same time. That isn't to say you're wrong, just that we have no way of knowing. Until that changes, I'm not going to worry and just enjoy playing the game.
     
  3. Ruaidhri

    Ruaidhri Commodore Commodore

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    Considering that there are so many complaints from players about the lack of end-game content and bad PvP and so forth, maybe some fresh blood is just what STO needs on the creative side.
     
  4. Haggis and tatties

    Haggis and tatties Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes at STO, but i hope we are going to see a new broom sweep clean, which in my view would be the best thing that can happen to STO, some fresh blood hopefully to replace the stagnation that the game and Cryptic seem to have been in for some time now.
     
  5. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    Very true. Based on the negative momentum this game's had since the start of the Great Content Drought, an infusion of fresh blood and new ideas/opinions/priorities is probably a good thing...
     
  6. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But last time we got a bunch of new ideas and concepts it was all about the worst stuff that people complain about about now: Lockboxes, time gated content, lobi store...
     
  7. intrinsical

    intrinsical Commodore Commodore

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    This is probably going to turn out to be a very long post. Before I can discuss about STO's problems, I need to share a little about how MMO companies are usually organized internally and how Cryptic's teams are organized differently.

    Just like in Starfleet is organized into the Tactical , Science and Engineering branch, a typical MMO company is usually comprised of three major teams, Development Team, Live Team and Operations Team.

    1) Operations Team - Heavy in database admins, network admins, GMs and community managers. This team is in charge of the day to day operation of the game, including interacting with the community in the forums as well as handling issue reports, identifying bugs and forwarding relevant reports to the correct teams, handling scheduled and emergency maintenance, pushing patches to test and live servers, etc...

    This team is operated by the publisher (NWE) and not by the game development company (Cryptic). They do not come up with new game content, they are mostly just involved with PR and marketing for the game.

    2) Live Team - Heavy in graphics artists, 3D modellers, map designers, quest designers and a small handful of lower grade programmers. The Live Team is in charge of realizing the MMO world. The team does this on continual basis throughout the year, keeping the game fresh by constantly introducing new places, new stories, new NPCs, new challenges and rewards. This team is sometimes also known as the Content Team.

    3) Development Team - Heavy in systems architects, software engineers, senior programmers, database architects. This highly technically oriented team is in charge of creating brand new systems for the game. (Eg, PvP Leaderboard, duty officer system, Foundry editor, Foundry database, Quest system, shared bank system)

    Now, Cryptic is slightly different because it is involved with the operation of three to four MMOs (City of Heroes/Villains, Champions Online, Star Trek Online and Neverwinter Online) all running the same Cryptic-proprietary MMO engine. While City of Heroes is no longer a Cryptic operated MMO, the game is still running in Cryptic's MMO engine so I suspect Cryptic is still being licensed to maintain the engine that runs City of Heroes/Villains.

    As a result, the teams are organized somewhat differently for Star Trek Online:

    1) Core Engine Development Team - This Development Team
    comprises of Cryptic's best architects and software engineers and systems designers. This team is not in charge of Star Trek Online. Instead, they are in charge of making changes and upgrades to Cryptic's proprietary engine that run the four MMOs. This was the team that designed the Cryptic MMO engine, including the database design, instancing system, game-world system, player inventory system, shared bank system, core accolade system, core crafting system, core foundry engine, etc...

    Right now, this team is heavily focused on adding new core systems required to support Neverwinter Online and converting the c-points system to use ZEN. They are likely putting on hold any requests for changes from the STO and Champions Online team.

    2) STO Development and Live Team - Instead of having a separate Development Team and Live Team, Cryptic has chosen to merge both teams into one for Star Trek Online. So this team in charge of game systems specific to STO, such as the Fleet Action system, Duty Officer System, STFs and the upcoming Fleet Base system. On top of that, this team also has to come up with new missions, ships, player races, challenges for the live game. As a result of the decision to merge the STO dev and live team, there are several important consequences.

    For instance, the STO team CANNOT modify the Cryptic MMO engine - that is the responsibility of the core engine development team. The STO team can only take the Cryptic MMO and add STO-specific enhancements. An excellent example is PvP. The Cryptic MMO engine had very little support for PvP, which meant the STO team could do very little PvP-wise without the support of the core engine devs.

    Not only that, because this is a combined dev and live team, the team is actually taking on the workload that was traditionally given to two teams. And I seriously suspect even with the recent hiring of new staff, the STO team still does not have enough people to handle the workload of two teams. This forces the STO team to pick and choose what it should work on - new features such as Fleet Bases for Season 6 or new ships and new content for STO.

    From what I have observed, the team has opted for a 80-20 split. 80% of the team's time is spent working on new game systems for Season 6 and during the remaining 20% spare time, they try to add a new quest or a new ship as and when they can.
     
  8. intrinsical

    intrinsical Commodore Commodore

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    I seriously suspect that lockboxes, lobi store, dilithium mining, the Utopia Planatia map, the friday-the-thirteenth mission, Atrox carrier, Armitage Heavy Escort Carrier, Feresans all came out from that 20% time that the STO team had.

    However, the basic problem still remains - the team's hands are still tied even after Season 6 is launched as they will have to worry about Season 7 which is scheduled for end of the year. Very likely, this 80-20 split will continue for the rest of the year.

    All this means that when Season 6 is released in July, we will see a huge injection of game content that the team has spent 80% of their time working on. But after that, we will go back to getting a tiny trickle of content from August till Season 7. Worse still, replacing Heretic and Gozer won't cause a new "creative spurt" because the new devs will be working under the same constraints that Heretic and Gozer had.
     
  9. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    Was thinking more attitude shift than content. As in Gozer liked the way the STFs worked (and the drop rate), and told us to suck it when questioned. The next guy might look at that and realize how dumb it is, and modify it...
     
  10. JRS

    JRS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The fact that they have not even released an exact date when the Season 6 will come out does still worry me a bit.
    Another example that things are not (yet) alright at Cryptic.

    You mentioned City of Heroes in your earlier post..it makes me sometimes wish that the people who run that game would also run STO(They do not seem to have trouble of making meaningful and even fresh content to that game, even though the game is years old already..)
    Nothing against the STO devs personally, though..just been getting lots of bad vibes from the players in the past few months,
    while reading the forums.

    Season 6/7 really are the breaking points when it comes to the future of STO.
    These two really need to succeed..and succeed well.
    Season 8 should be used to improve the KDF side and to fix the multiple bugs that still exist in the game, IMHO.
    Do not get my wrong, I still love the game..and I think its a good game.
    I still lock in and play, almost daily:cool:

    True and the new people also need to get used to the game mechanics..and to lots of other stuff,
    before they can get to work on whatever they will be doing.
    I doubt we will see the updated PvP anytime soon,
    unless Gozer managed to do something significant to it before he said that he would be leaving.
     
  11. intrinsical

    intrinsical Commodore Commodore

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    Software Development Rule #1: Whatever schedules you have planned is only valid on the day you planned the schedule. Quite simply, there is no way to foresee complications that can occur when you try to add new stuff to an already huge software system.

    I know City of Heroes and Champs Online already have a similar Superbase system. Modifying the Suberbase system to create Fleet base is a natural low hanging fruit that the STO team can bring to STO. To convert superbase to fleetbase in 6 months is a challenging but not impossible schedule IF the team did not try to be too fanciful and pack too many new features into the fleetbase system. Anyway, its Software Engineering 101 to categorize each new feature as absolutely required, good to have or nice to have. If the project is behind schedule, the good to haves and nice to haves can be cut from the schedule.

    My guess is, the fleetbase system is nearly complete but requires a few devs from the core engine team to help with the finishing touches.

    Most MMO devs agree that a new MMO requires a development time of three to four years. City of Heroes had close to five years of development time and as a result was launched as a very well polished game. Cryptic only started working on STO largely from scratch in July 2008 and the game was launched in February 2010. That is HALF the required time and part of the reason why I did not start playing STO from day one despite being a hardcore trekkie and MMO player. STO was born prematurely and even today the lack of polish still shows.

    Don't get me wrong, I think most of the blame lies with Paramount and Atari in forcing STO to launch prematurely. In fact, I think Cryptic has done an amazing job in churning out so much content in just 1.5 years.
     
  12. syberghost

    syberghost Commander Red Shirt

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    Actually, it's not EXACTLY the same engine in City of Heroes vs. their other games. They split the company some time back, with some going to the spinoff Paragon Studios, and the rest beginning the new engine that is used in all the other games. Obviously there would have been a lot of code re-use, but it's a new thing, and Cryptic doesn't maintain the old thing at all; the Cryptic spinoff Paragon Studios does.
     
  13. Briquettes

    Briquettes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I agree, and that's why I cut Cryptic so much slack. Ultimately, STO's failings are the result of CBS giving the license to the Star Trek IP to an unproven developer, then, after they went belly-up, turning to Cryptic and demanding that the game launch on schedule.
     
  14. JRS

    JRS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Ship sale on the C-store:techman:
    I might just get the B'Rel Bop or the Nebula class:)..
     
  15. Bird of Prey

    Bird of Prey Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You just beat me to posting it. :techman: In planning my Artimage build, I still need to get the quad cannons from the Sao Paulo and the Point Defense System from the Thunderchild. I have enough c-points to get the Sao Paulo during this sale, but will need to do some serious grinding to get the remaining couple hundred c-points needed for the Thunderchild.

    In prepping for this, I'm switching out my Galaxy for my Promethius and trying to create a good Escort build using only phasers and photon torps.
     
  16. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You know you can like 1500 or so zen which can be converted into close to 1200 or so C-points if you do the Netflix 1 month trial and if you cancel your account before the free month is up you can do it without spending money.

    And it works through paypal so you don't have to give out credit card info.
     
  17. Xhiandra

    Xhiandra Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Very true. BUT the playerbase's expectations start on release day, regardless of whether it was premature or not.

    A big mistake Cryptic made is in the speed of levelling.
    The average Cryptic MMO is quite fast in levelling, but STO takes it to 11.
    Combine that with the fact that it also takes the "little in terms of endgame content", another Cryptic staple, to 11 as well and you've got bored players.
    You can tell bored players you were rushed, but in the end they're still bored.

    Then agian, maybe I was spoiled. The MMO I played most (and I've sampled many, believe me) had huge flaws, but lack of content certainly wasn't it.
    2 years after release? Endgame was very well fleshed-out and frankly, it took me a year and half to even reach it (would've been a lot faster had I been in the US or Japan, but we're still talking months; not ~20 hours of playtime as in STO).

    Of course, Cryptic probably doesn't have the manpower Squeenix had on the project, but once again, for the player that makes no difference.



    Anyway, there probably are commercial reasons not to release Starbases too early as well.
    Say the rumours are true: new Ships are on the way... that'd hurt the sale of existing Ships (hence the discount) and the Akira-R still has to make more return.
     
  18. JRS

    JRS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The funny thing is that I personally like the fast leveling myself..but I do know that I am in minority on that one.
    These days I basically level up my new toons to lvl 50 before I start making the FEs and so on.
     
  19. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's because you are a veteran.
    The whole point of a leveling experience is to learn the gameplay mechanics step by step which doesn't happen when you are at max the day after you started.

    If the leveling curve becomes less demanding and faster when you run alts that would be ok.
    Let's say you level your first toon and reach max level at some point, from that point on every bit of experience he earns gets added to an account XP pool. That pool would be used to add 20% to the XP of a new toon and could add up with XP boosts from C-Sto... sorry, ZEN Store, or you could use that extra XP to buy special leveling ship variants or kits and other gear.
    It would be similar to but different enough from SWTOR's legacy system and encourage players to run alts and spend on the store.
     
  20. Bird of Prey

    Bird of Prey Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Where is this offer posted and if I do register for the free promo, when would I get the c-points - right away or at the end of the one month? Curious to know if I was to register this weekend, if I would have the c-points to spend on the ship sale. If they offer the c-points as soon as you register, could I cancel the subscription right after?
     
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