web analytics


(No title does this one justice)

Two of these in a row is extremely unsettling.  I promise that the next entry won’t have anything to do with Jack Emmert, CO, STO, or F2P, so hang in there.

Jack is talking about whether or not Star Trek Online is going F2P.  I’m not buying the whole “We’re just not sure yet!” or “Oh gee it might or might not”.  Bologna! The second they’re capable of doing it, it will be done.  Companies don’t brainstorm about this stuff in an interview with the public.

This quote is hilarious though:

“We’re not sold one way or the other with Star Trek yet. If people want Star Trek to go free-to-play then get in and play Champions and help make it a great success, because that would send a strong message.

If we did Turbine’s level of success that would certainly merit the discussion!”

That’s just too much, even for Jack.  Since I deprived you of a witty title, have a video instead.

Cryptic Must Hate Success

I think Cryptic hates success.

This is a fine example of what NOT to do with your Cash Shop and what NOT to do with your newly released licensed IP MMO.

Know what insults me more than the nickel and diming?  Not the fact that Ferengi are only 1/3 the cost of Klingons.  Nope.  It’s that the female Ferengi are…*wince* wearing CLOTHES!    That’s a crime I tell you.

STO PvE and PvP Impressions

I’ve been able to play the game for several more days now and explore a good amount into the PvE and PvP gameplay.  My Federation Captain is now up to level 7 and I’ve been able to max out several of the sections under the skill trees.  These have unlocked an ability or two but for the most part have left me feeling the same as I did before maxing them.   Graev and I have done the majority of our leveling and PvE in a duo but brought in our friend as a third last night to do some of the quests.  We noticed that adding a third person drastically increased the difficulty of a mission that we had attempted the previous day.  This leads us to believe that missions scale in difficulty — a nice feature.

Several of the missions we have done have been bugged.  The Orion sector exploration quest has been especially bugged in that it does not give credit for completing various systems.  Sometimes you’ll go through the entire map, finish it, get a message that you completed it, but then have it uncompleted in your log.   When the missions can take 30 minutes just for one objective out of 6 it gets aggravating to have to redo it.

Both Graev and I really enjoy the PvE.  We’ve agreed that it’s enjoyable simply because it’s Star Trek.  If this were anything else we would probably have uninstalled already.  Why?  It’s really repetitive.  Whether you’re going to explore anomalies, nebulas, kill klingons, or scouting something it’s all the same.  You warp in, pew pew a few ships, scan something, warp out.  The objectives may read differently, but 90% of the content I’ve done has all mushed together in my head as nothing more than really fun ship combat.

The other 10% of content that hasn’t been forgettable is a particular story arch we’ve been working on.  The “Undine” aka Species 8472 (from Voyager) have been up to no good.  Weaving the Klingons into the story and a couple big battles and ground missions and the story is enough to make it memorable.  When the identity of the Undine was revealed we both went “Woah!” and suddenly we were interested in what was going on because we already had a prior knowledge of this race being extremely dangerous and bad news.  Without such appreciation, perhaps this mission would have been like all the rest.

At level 6 the ability to make a Klingon character unlocked.  I made a Klingon female that would give Lursa and Betor a run for their money, heh heh.  Exploring Qo’nos amounted to exploring a couple rooms in a building. :(  I was really hoping for a lot more out of the infamous Klingon Home World.  My character is awesome though.  She’s leveling very quickly and I’ve already been able to participate in many PvP battles.  My Bird of Prey is very maneuverable and with a little skill left over from my PotBS days I’ve been able to stay behind my enemy and take advantage of the forward disrupters + torps.

PvP in general though is a let down.  While I may enjoy the ship combat mechanics of the fights (as I do in PvE), the execution is off.  Klingon content really is just clicking a button on the hud to choose a game mode and queue.  Once your queue pops you warp in and participate.  Klingon Sector Space is a cleverly disguised version of the exact same screen that pops up when you want to queue.  It’s just a bunch of sectors you can fly to in order to queue instead of just clicking them on the menu.  Once you’re inside these battles (aka arenas or battlegrounds) it’s fairly sloppy and rushed..  Maybe it’s too many ships at once or ships do not live long enough, but a few people focus firing can destroy anyone in a matter of seconds.  Everything is chaotic and feels thrown together without the cohesiveness and strategy you would come to expect from such a capable combat system.

Now that I have experienced it for myself, I have something I want to say to some people:  Shame on you for lying or speaking out of ignorance about this not being Monster Play.  Klingons are almost identical in every way to Lord of the Rings Online’s Monster Play.  In both Klingon and Monster play you get a character who can advance in skills, participate in PvE and a very limited form of PvE, and essentially exist for no other purpose than to PvP against the fleshed out and complete “Federation” or “Free Peoples”.   Assuming it was the intention all along to make them nothing more than Monster play, it’s not a bad implementation.  It does work in this sense.  PvP gameplay being horrible is the biggest problem facing Klingon Play.  A failure to live up to potential though is another story but one we can set aside.

One thought sticks out more than any other in STO:  How long can I continue playing when it feels so repetitive and rushed?  I’d like to see the missions vary a great deal more.  Perhaps they change later on; I half expect this.  They still feel too repetitive right now.  There’s also a lot more that can be done with PvP to make it feel less thrown together like polishing up the objectives and looking into the mechanics of PvP ship combat against players.   Long-term appeal is going to be very questionable.

Star Trek Online Impressions

Now that I’ve had the chance to play some Star Star Trek Online I would like to share my thoughts.  Let me begin with a nice list of the Pros and Cons and then I’ll go in to discussing my thoughts on what I have played and seen thus far.

Pros

  • Skill System – Lots of skills and customization, lots of points to allocate, a feeling of progression.
  • Ship Combat – Like PotBS, it works.  The addition of the z-axis is good.  Feels tactical and like Star Trek.
  • Galaxy Map – Have to comment that the Galaxy map looks nice. (Hit M, go to Galaxy Map in the top left).
  • Star Trek Feel – Although it lacks in many areas, STO does have a sense of Star Trek.
  • Space Graphics – They look very nice.  I don’t think we could expect much better.


Cons

  • Performance – Like CO, it’s sluggish.  To get those nice graphics you have to crank the settings.  Cranking makes systems cry.
  • Ground Graphics and Animations – Need work.  Animations are really bad.
  • Ground Combat – Like PotBS, it’s severely lacking.  Ground missions feel like clusterflucks of annoying phaser sounds (Actually gave me a headache).
  • Sector Space – To quote Graev, “It’s like they tried to represent the entire galaxy in one little room.  It’s that feeling you get when they turn the lights on in a Disney Land Ride.”
  • Instancing – Entering Sol System #1345 (yes, there were literally 1300+ instances of the same instance) puts it in perspective.  The game is chopped into a bazillion instances. (Yet it still lags!) Instancing destroys a lot of the potential fun and actually hinders the design.
  • Server Side lag – It’s Beta, but it’s unplayable.  The three of us playing together logged out because of it.
  • No Ferengi – Whoever removed them, may you die slowly in a plasma fire.


It needs to be said: The game is not as bad as Champions Online.  However, I credit that entirely to the fact that this is a Star Trek game.  Yes, I am blinded by the intellectual property in use and that will create a bias that I am unable to recover from.  This allows me to discuss my thoughts on the game from the perspective of a Star Trek fanboy while at the same time critiquing the MMO elements.

The Star Trek feel is there which, as I said, makes up for a lot.  Knowing that the Trill have a symbiont, that the Ferengi have Rules of Acquisition, knowing everything about the little clips at the bottom of the load screen, etc., fill it all in like a botox injection.  Yet, there are parts of the game that it can’t make up for like the instancing.  Everything is instanced from your bridge to every mile of space to the Admirals office.  Feels like every time I press the F key I’m zoning into another instance.  I can appreciate that the instancing allows for dramatics and the telling of a story.  I will say that the tutorial/introduction benefits from the use of instancing.  However, the gameplay suffers.

Leaving the space station at Earth instanced me to Sol System #1345.  Before I could go anywhere I had to warp to Sector Space, which instanced me to Sector Space #418.  Flying around in Sector Space, which is like cramming the whole galaxy into a little pseudo 3d plane/room, makes you instance off before doing anything else.  The Sector Space area is the game’s answer to space exploration, or lack thereof.  You won’t be flying around space and encountering NPC ships.  You’ll encounter them within the instances/missions that you warp to from Sector Space.  The theme here should be apparent. The instancing, to this degree, does destroy some of my enjoyment.

Ship Combat and actually doing the content itself is fun.  I really like fighting in my ship, especially in a group.  Doing missions to destroy ships has a tactical feel to it.  There is more to combat than pressing 1-2-3, especially with the addition of minor sim elements.  I like allocating power reserves to different things, reinforcing my shields, using Bridge Officer abilities, and piloting my ship as I would if I were a Starship Captain.

I have a lot of the game that I still want and need to see.  I want to see if I can visit DS9 and do other activities to really immerse myself in Star Trek.   Right now the game is teetering on the edge of losing that initial burst of “omg it’s Star Trek” where it will promptly fall flat on its face with a resounding “okay, what now?”.   If the game can manage to continue spoon feeding me with the stuff that I love then I will continue to play.  Once that wears off it will only be a matter of time before I remember that it is a Cryptic game.

STO can develop into a good game (how’s that for a bassackwards way of saying the game has potential).  I don’t hate it like I did/do Champions Online and that really is saying a lot.  Cryptic’s choice to implement several things they way they have is questionable and it’s unmistakable how they’ve cut and paste then reboxed a lot of their “Cryptic model” or whatever they call it.  If they can see past their own flawed design elements and pursue the strengths that an IP like Star Trek affords them then they can do well.

Stay tuned for more of my STO thoughts as I explore see more of the game.

Boldly going where no Keen has gone before…

… at a whopping 240kb/s! I’m downloading Star Trek Online’s open beta client right now and it’s going to take about six more hours. I snagged a key during the Massively.com giveaway instead of pre-ordering the game.

Graev and I will both be playing tonight if this download finishes. We plan to play from a Ferengi perspective, even if the Ferengi remain out of the Open beta (they were apparently in Closed Beta). We plan to roleplay it up big time.

Remember the 218th Rules of Acquisition: Always know what you’re buying.

We’ll let you know our first impressions of the game tonight and follow it up with more detailed analyses tomorrow.