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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.

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Poxus - January 13, 2010

I’d add something about the game play…but i am stuck at ANOTHER 16 hours to download as the original disconnected me in the middle of the night. It doesn’t even pick back up where the download stopped…it just starts all over again….not making me happy.

Lonewind - January 13, 2010

I tried it for about 20 minutes.

I think I would have more fun buying a few Star Trek actions figures and ships and going “PEW! PEW!” while playing on the floor.

A big disappointment for me. I would love to see 4-6 players on the same bridge in co-op play of some kind.

Dismantled - January 13, 2010

My computer and science skills have gone up just trying to get the client to work.

Poxus - January 13, 2010

Forget it. There are things that will get to me if I try a game to see if it is worth plying. Being able to code a download (yes the have their own) to Resume a previous download is one of them and they do not have it.

So no play for me. Besides….I have this free trial of LOTRO to go back to playing to see if I might return to that since my system has been upgraded.

Keen
Keen - January 13, 2010

From a gameplay perspective you’re not missing too much aside from nice space combat. From a Star Trek perspective you’re missing out on some geek-out moments. Other than that, I’d say it’s not worth the enormous trouble if you can’t get the download to work.

Nollind Whachell - January 13, 2010

“I think I would have more fun buying a few Star Trek actions figures and ships and going “PEW! PEW!” while playing on the floor.”

Reminds me of this Star Trek board game I played years ago. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Phandy - January 13, 2010

Pretty disappointed. Nice space combat? It felt like I was playing stuck in molasses. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game paced so slowly.

PeZzy - January 13, 2010

How about some Global Agenda?

What will make or break my interest in STO will be the PvP. I don’t care about the other standard MMO elements – just give me good Star Trek PvP.

Russell Gusto - January 13, 2010

Yeah this review is pretty spot on and I’ve been playing in CB for a few weeks. It really is this feeling of how the hell this game is going to develop? It’s almost like you are watching them build the game, hard to explain really.

So far, for me at least, I’m still having a blast…despite it’s flaws that Keen has pointed out. Really going to depend how the game develops…has a lot of potential imo.

Rackham - January 13, 2010

I haven’t had the chance to check out the Open Beta yet, but I think I’m going to wait it out for the release of the game.

I’ve got an Open Beta key, but don’t want to risk ruining my STO initial experience with download troubles and Open beta server cram troubles. I’m going to wait until they’ve got more then just the few Beta servers they have running to check this game out.

Like a couple of bloggers out there, the Star Trek IP is at least a strong enough lure for me to at least buy the game and try it out for a couple of months.

The turning point for me will be that 45-day content patch they had promised will happen after launch.

Mahlah - January 13, 2010

I’ve been in closed beta for a long time, and frankly, the game just isn’t very good. For a Star Trek fan like you Keen, (I am only a little bit of a fan myself, don’t dislike it by any means, but I haven’t seen anywhere closed to all the episodes, or anything like that), I am sure there is definitely quite a bit of that inital awesome I am finally IN Star Trek feeling. I just caution you that when it wears off, you’ve got a mediocre, highly instanced, space-in-a-box MMO waiting for you on the other end that you should chuck out the nearest window if it had any other intellectual property behind it.

Gustavef - January 13, 2010

Sounds sort of like what I expected. I still think that Crytic’s instancing model is a step in the right direction to “single server” MMOs. Personally I think it is a perception thing. Take away frequent “hard zoning” (aka load screen) and hide the “instance number” and I think it would work fine.

Curious George - January 13, 2010

To me this game falls far short of the potential the Star Trek IP has. The majority of the blame for me rests with Cryptics reliance on instancing. I am a huge fan of Eves open singular universe and there is no reason STO couldn’t have done the same. Hell they could have built it using Stackless Python. The instancing coupled with the linearity of the missions are another huge problem as this really is not an open world MMO.

Even the space combat is losing its shine as it is becoming repetitive. While I do like the open mission system you can get nubs that enter a system and then sit there leaving you to deal with harder enemies.

I think they made a mistake allowing Cryptic to use the ST IP. They needed someone with more experience and a better vision to be able to produce a game that would live up to expectations.

In the end I get the feeling this is like Star Wars Galaxies in that at some point in the future we will have to hope someone does it better the second time around.

Jason - January 13, 2010

WTH Gustavef, just how exactly do you seriously expect the City of Heroes/Age of Conan/Guildwars instancing to EVER work in a MMO? Have you tried playing these games and not had your immersion broken? Asking your guildmates or friends hey .. i’m in Sol system where are you? They reply, “I’m in Sol system, i can’t see you”, you reply, Oh i’m in Sol system #1581, they’re in #1728, your other buddy is in #1023… then having to pray you can manage to group and get into the same instance without being locked out due to it being full (or glitching like AoC), or finding out it’ll only handle a handfull of people anyway so it’s not even possible to have your entire guild ‘fleet’ engaging another fleet in a fight without everyone randomly split off..

Really, just do it right like every other quality MMO that’s managed to get 50-300 players on the same screen and same area, with tens of thousands active on the same server if not more.

Crypic really dropped the ball here, and so many others by recycling their city of heroes assets and platform to get a half finished game out the door.

Elipsa - January 13, 2010

got to say i like all the options and ship options. you can take pieces of all the ships and make any ship type you like or your own (as you unlock teh base ones) so you dont have to really be stuck with just “there” ships. Witch can be a good or bad thing but its nice to have options atleast. Custmizing your crew and outfits is fun to but is another “questinable” feature in my opnion but really. with all the things i cant say I dislike having the ability.

But when it comes down to it the only thing that makes me like the game is ship combat and flight. Everything else really sucks. They compleatly messed up on ground combat. its to bad

CunningB - January 14, 2010

Ok only having played a while and to draw the inevitable comparison I just cant get into STO when I have EvE :/

I love the whole Star-trek geekiness and the space combat is fun but the whole “universe” is just too chopped up, it dosnt FEEL like a universe its a section of small rooms with you hopping between, and yes i know EvE’s really the same with jumpgates and whatnot but they’ve got the sense of scale that just isn’t apparent here.

Finally im normally a gameply > than graphics guy but I have to comment here as well, compared to EvE the visuals are more than a little disapointing 🙁

I think STO will be good fun as a toy that you can dip in and out but not sure its going to be worth the sub in the end *sigh*

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Cove - January 14, 2010

Didn’t really like the ground combat, I kept rolling sideways unexpectedly and getting stuck behind something that I would then need to roll or jump to get out from all while being under heavy fire and the clustered phaser sounds where annoying as hell. (volume down, then down again)

I will say that after after I found an enemy sector that needed to be cleared, I had a lot of fun. I was able to stay in the same instance and just kill enemy ships with other players in a sort of group co-op. I was also able to take a repeatable quest to clear 3 sectors which I could complete, cash in and repeat without leaving the sector. Which meant I could wave goodbye to the load screen and still make fairly quick progress which was noticeable as I was getting more and more of the dropped items from “group” kills.

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Cove - January 14, 2010

Forgot to mention: The space travel and combat feels like a less polished version of a game I played some years back called Rift Space. One thing that really shit me about the space travel in STO was not being able to go “upside down.” I really wish it was possible to loop vertically or roll the ship sideways to get a tighter turn. It kills me every time I hit that invisible barrier that stops me from flying directly up.

OstateJay - January 14, 2010

This review actually has me hesitantly optimistic. I was a HUGE fan of POTBS, and I’m a major Star Trek Fanboy. Problem is, from what I’ve read of PVP, which is what made POTBS so much fun for me, has me a little worried. Thanks for another useful review!

Amarsir - January 14, 2010

Now I’m a fan of instances and think they’re often not used enough. This makes me curious to experience an environment where they’re overdone.

Lag however, is a game play intrusion that I can’t simply justify.

Fenlock - January 14, 2010

Im the sort of person that played bridge commander for several years, adding in modded ships then just playing quick battle over and over. A lot of people would get bored quickly of that, because ultimately it was the same thing over and over but i enjoyed it. I love the look of the star trek weapons and sounds, and i enjoy watching and seeing these ships we have grown up with doing battle. STO is much the same for me. The ground combat is tacked on and shallow, and it doesn’t feel like your a ship in space. But when you get in to the space combat encounters, i really enjoy them.

I hear there are some nice story missions later, ive seen beta posters talking about *** SPOILER *** genesis ark related missions, and fighting along side kirk in the 1701, and the doorway to tomorrow.. stuff like that but i haven’t seen them yet. Closed beta up until now has been very difficult because they have been trying to get the leveling curve right and there were points where it was taking 12-15 hours plus to get to level 10 (new ship). The beta’s in typical cryptic style as well have been very limited, lasting for a few hours at a time and in the middle of the night if your from Europe.

So i haven’t seen that far in to the game. I can tell you that ****spoiler!**** DS9’s in game, and you can visit it at level 1 and walk around it, but you wont be seeing anyone familiar like quark or sisco etc. Just bland npcs. The wormhole is there for show as well, but doesn’t do anything.

I think they have a nice starting platform, i really do. If only they would spend another YEAR doing closed beta tests and adding and building up content the game we would get at launch would feel so much more rounded and structured. Instead your going to get something in Feb most people are going to get fed up with and slag Crytic off and leave.. and that will damage the game as well.

Renko - January 14, 2010

“I want to see if I can visit DS9…”

Yes you can but not until the Cardassian sector is unlocked again.

Jason - January 14, 2010

OstateJay, if you really loved PoTBS, i do think you will love STO, especially if you also loved the gameplay of City of Heros (minus the superhero powers). STO when you get down to it is those games which the Star Trek theme applied.

Olrick - January 14, 2010

OK, I’ll do Mass Effect 2 and come back to STO after. I watched a veryyyyyy loooooong video of STO, and those elevators rides reminded me of something….

Snafzg - January 14, 2010

I tried giving it a shot last night. I got through the first part of the tutorial that rewarded me with 300 skill points but I was rubber-banding like crazy. I was just learning how to pilot my ship when the game booted me, hehe.

Open betas ftw!

I haven’t really played enough to share impressions. I should be good by the weekend.

Poxus - January 14, 2010

The whole instancing thing in a IP this big is what gets me. Yes I know using instances gives the company on limited resources more flexibility in game design…..but like others have stated you lose the immersion factor.

Dont think MMO’s can go without instancing? I take you back to EQ. Sure you Zoned into areas but so did everyone else. You zoned into a Dungeon but so did everyone else.

From reading about how areas like the Sol System are instanced so not everyone is coming together is sad, as you lose what could amass to epic battles and sieges that are capable from the gamers that are now coming into the genre. Just look at some of the feats they guilds and groups do today in the current MMO market that think outside of the box.

Want an example? Think if STO had “Zones” where say a major Space Port such as DS9 was in that everyone could zone into at the same time. Now imagine a group of Klingon players that get a mass battle group together in another “Zone” in preperation for an assault on DS9 and the other players that are not expecting such an assault on a heavily fortified location.

Sounds like some of the episodes we have all watched doesn’t it?

Epiny - January 14, 2010

I think instancing can be used in a positive way. I didn’t mind it in CoH or EQ2 (yes people SOE did it too). In EQ2 the xp zones had different versions but the cities only had 1 version.

I think the problem is developers are just instancing everything, or nothing. They aren’t picking and choosing where to instance and where not to.

With WoWs new dungeon finder I think that is a step in the direction of 1 big server everyone plays on. I think this is a good idea, but very hard to pull off while keeping the community in tack.

Most MMOs are massive anymore. We may as well just drop the acroynm because it causes more confusion than anything. They are persistent worlds.

Epiny - January 14, 2010

edit… GAH

Last paragraph first sentence

Most MMOs ^aren’t^ massive anymore.

adam - January 14, 2010

I posted my thoughts on Syncaine’s blog as well. My thoughts are VERY similar to yours, Keen.

I don’t see myself buying Star Trek Online either. It doesn’t seem like a bad game. Rather the opposite. It seems well-made and of sufficient quality, but the whole experience so far rings hollow. It doesn’t FEEL like Star Trek to me at all. What is this shit with “sector space”? Why do planets bump me off and look like large balloons floating in a dark room? Why can’t I get close to them? As Tobold mentioned, I feel like I’m on rails, being directed, scripted events being thrown at me in this ingratiating, pandering way. I strongly dislike the heavily instanced nature of Cryptic’s MMOG engine. I abhorred it in CO, and I abhor it in STO.

I can get on board (hah) with the unreality of every player getting their own ship, given the infeasibility of the alternative, but to me a Star Trek game needs to be more than “good.” It needs to be great. It needs to be revolutionary and ground-breaking. I wanted Cryptic to approach this as sacred ground, and create a game that would suck you into its world on the merits of the experience you could have. Honestly, Star Trek needs to be a sandbox game. It needs elements of EVE mixed with elements of Love, WURM, Darkfall and Infinity (http://www.infinity-universe.com/Infinity/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=33). I recognize that would require more time, more money, more work. So be it. This is Star Trek. We want to explore an effectively infinite, procedural galaxy, land on planets, contact new species. We want to be able to fly into space for literal days and go places WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE. For shit’s sake, it’s at the beginning of every episode of TOS and TNG. Star Trek Online is not that, no, so far, STO is very much more Warcraft or LOTRO than EVE or Darkfall.

It’s a shame, too. If there’s one IP that lends itself to “sandbox,” it’s Star Trek. It’s amazing that Cryptic went in exactly the opposite direction. I think giving Cryptic the rights to Trek was the first mistake.

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iLkRehp - January 14, 2010

Typical Cryptic, downhill after the character creator. Does anyone think instancing every area is a GOOD idea? Even without the bugs/lags Cryptic just has an overall MMO design theory that dopesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. pass. . .

We Fly Spitfires - January 14, 2010

The Star Trek setting really appeals to me but the negative reviews that I’ve read combined with the slow slow slow downloader are really putting me off. I’m considering cancelling my pre-order completely 🙁

Vianar - January 14, 2010

Ok , I’ll give my first impressions. Well , Keen has alot of things right. However , as far as instancing gos , In a game like this , I think its well needed. However , I do think its way over done. Half as many instances and doubling the ship count per instance would be better. I mean , seriously , how many ST episodes did you see 20 plus ships flying around randomly. Most episodes it was maybe 3 or 4 ships through a whole hour. Having larger scale battles that are in the books that refer or are designed around battles in the books would be great. Having the ability to group with your friends and always be put into the same instance would be as well.

Ground combat is tolerable but simple and its very hard to actually push yourself to die. The away missions should be very hard to accomplish and so should ship combat. The last 6 years has produced the easiest MMO’s in history of the genre , it is a shame that the masses would rather have easier gameplay than harder. Nothing I can do about that , masses rule us out , and profits come from the masses , us hard core people are just screwed for like eternity.

Far as the slow pace of the game , I’m actually enjoying the slow paced combat , I would rather it be slow and more strategic than fast and more ( see how fast I can press my buttons ) type game. I feel all recent MMO’s suffer from the ADD developers and player base. Space combat is fine at the pace that it is.

STO is the first MMO in a while that I’ve played and thought to myself , even if its unpolished , there is a lot that can be accomplished to make it better and the player base seems to want the same things so maybe it has a better chance of developing into something fantastic instead of garbage like the rest of cryptics game. After all perpetual entertainment’s coding work laid the ground work for this game , so its not ALL 100 percent cryptic. Lets hope there are limitations to how much Cryptic can royally screw it over.

Qpon - January 14, 2010

I have no vested interest in the Star Trek franchise, if anything I am turned off by it, and it sounds like the only things you liked was some of the space combat and the Star Trek feel … didn’t take me long to declare, “won’t be playing it”.

adam - January 14, 2010

“Does anyone think instancing every area is a GOOD idea? Even without the bugs/lags Cryptic just has an overall MMO design theory that dopesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.”

No, it’s awful. It’s the reason I couldn’t play Guild Wars more than a few days. It’s why I quit CO after a month. It obliterates all sense of world, immersion and atmosphere. It’s like trying to watch a stage version of a movie like Avatar. It makes it fake. Graev’s Disneyland ride analogy was perfect. WAR’s channeled, funneled zones are the same way. It may have to do with having been weaned on UO and AC and having hit WoW in its prime.

CJ - January 14, 2010

The buggy quests and disconnects don’t bother me. It’s like Cryptic saying “Yo Dawg! I heard you like instances, so we put instances in yo instances so you can go to instances on your way to instances.” That crap is unnecessary. They should have about 40 servers and just do away with the instancing, Poxus hit the nail on the head. This ain’t Star Trek.

adam - January 14, 2010

“However , as far as instancing gos , In a game like this , I think its well needed. However , I do think its way over done. Half as many instances and doubling the ship count per instance would be better. I mean , seriously , how many ST episodes did you see 20 plus ships flying around randomly. Most episodes it was maybe 3 or 4 ships through a whole hour.”

Here’s how you address this: make the galaxy larger and open. That’s why you don’t see 20 ships flying around together in Star Trek. Because you’re in friggin space. You’re not in a bunch of little identical rooms on a list.

Literally, that’s what Star Trek Online is. You’re in a space room by earth, then you go to another room where all the smaller space rooms are given to you on a list, and so you pick one off the list and you go there, and once there you sometimes go into another room where instead of a ship you’re a person, then you go back to the space room, and then to the list room and do it all over again. There’s no exploration. There’s no sense of mystery and wonder. It’s a bunch of space chatrooms on a menu with graphics and mildly entertaining combat. This would be fine for an MMOG with a 1 year gestation and an unknown IP. This is not fine for Star Trek. Underwhelming is a severe understatement.

Maybe it opens up at later levels. I don’t know. So far, not good.

Chris - January 14, 2010

What would be cool is if guilds were the ships and each member had a part to play as part of a crew. Guild leader could be the captian or something like that. Does STO have guilds? I’m just shooting from the hip here.

Mahlah - January 14, 2010

@Chris

Yeah, STO has “Fleets” not guilds.

That being said, that is a type of gameplay that many people asked for but Cryptic said that it is too hard to make “fun” for all people involved. Frankly, I’d love to see someone make that game anyway, and it wouldn’t even really need to be an MMO hypothetically, it could just be a co-op multiplayer game.

As it stands, the “everyone is a captain” idea shafts anyone who ever wanted to play a role in the Star Trek universe that ISN’T captain, but I do suppose that most people enjoy being the hero. I prefer smaller roles.

Deigh - January 14, 2010

“It was never like that in the episodes” is not a reason for instancing – after all how many times did Frodo and co run across another party on their way to Mount Doom on the ring quest? 😉

That said, I kind of like how CO and STO do their instancing; one area designed for x number of people, instanced 100 times is better than the same area with 100x the people in it. Though I made the same argument for EQ2s instancing over WoW’s overcrowding and we all know who was the winner at the end of the day there 😛 But personally for me, I don’t see how multiple instances are somehow less immersive than queues to kill the quest boss, both require significant suspension of disbelief to arrive at that Fellowship/TNG Episode feeling.

The only way to get back the immersive feeling would be to get away from the current progression model of having everyone on the same path, linear quest based advancement. I’m wondering if STO’s genesis system might help with that, and the exploration factor though I havent read any beta impressions of it yet so I’m guessing it’s not a launch feature?

Oh, and didn’t I read somewhere that Ferengi were eventually going to be introduced as a separate faction down the line with their own mercantile based advancement path? Or was that just speculation.

Alex Taldren - January 14, 2010

@Mahlah: I’m with you, and was one of the people pushing for player-manned crews instead of this “everyone is a Captain” bullshit they made. However, one thing to point out is that you don’t have to be the Captain to be the hero. Plenty of crew members (helmsman, engineers, doctors, security) have been “heroes.” So, I don’t buy the “you have to be the Captain to be the hero,” concept.

In the end, the only thing STO has going for it is the space combat, which we can’t even really credit to Cryptic since they just stole what had been designed by Taldren when they made the Starfleet Command series.

Russell Gusto - January 14, 2010

Man I’ve been pretty supportive of Cryptic and STO but this last play session I got a headache also Keen. I’m not sure if it’s the ground combat or ship but logged out.

I’ve been playing STO for a good while now and I’m starting to get that feeling of looking for another mmo…*&$#^^@! you Blizzard!!!! Why did you have to make WoW so &#$#^@! fun.

stompfoot - January 14, 2010

I’m amused when ppl complain about the ‘everyone is a captain’ stuff. Please explain to me how you think the ‘play as crew’ game is going to work. Does the guild/clan own the ship and you can only play on the ship when the entire guild is online? Or one player owns a ship and his 4 friends can only play when he’s playing. What are you going to do when your friends aren’t online? drive around a little shuttle? And what role do you expect to play on this ship? Engineer – spending 2 hours adjusting the warp core power output?. If this was a Starwars MMO or similar environment, where most of the space combat consisted of individual fighters, then I could see guilds owning Star Destroyers and using them like a mobile guild halls (I would kill to see that MMO). But in the the StarTrek world, I think Cryptic have done the right thing. You’d have to be a pretty hardcore Roleplayer if you wanted to play generic red coat No.6 whose only role on the ship is to headbutt the photon torpedo button when the caption says ‘fire’.

krigare - January 14, 2010

I played for a few hours tonight, didn’t have any lag or server issues. I guess these are my first impressions.

First off, as other people have said, way too much instancing.

Space combat is pretty fun, but I think ground combat is just terrible. Most likely because there isn’t much to do at early levels except spam the phaser button. However, even just running around Earth spacedock it felt off. They messed up on the interior scaling big time. I could drive a car through the turbolift doors.

I really dislike the concept of sector space. In addition to there being a load screen every 5 minutes, having a bunch of toy looking ships flying around a “model” galaxy just kills the immersion. It feels like I’m not flying around space in a starship, but moving a token in Risk. The game does look great once you get into a system though.

All that said I think the space combat+IP is enough to warrant my purchase at least for the free month. I don’t want to invest enough time into the beta to get a new ship (I’ve heard 30+ hours) so I’m taking people’s word that the first 10 levels suck (basically first rank I guess) and it gets better after that. I just wish they would have given out different ships at the start depending on what job you chose. I almost ask myself why did I have to chose my job just then. It barely changes the bad ground combat at this level and same with the ship. Creating a new character is going to be the definition of boredom. Oh great another terrible light cruiser! ugh.

Longasc - January 15, 2010

I can’t honestly have played 30 hours already and just got my cruiser some hours ago. You get a new ship at level 11 at rank Lt Commander, and probably at level 21 the next one.

My impressions so far:

1. Ground Combat is a somewhat fun in a group, but the interface, movement, animations feels very clunky. The areas are small and rather boring. The worst part of the game.

2. Too many loading screens. Seriously, why must I load a starbase only to load the office of the admiral right after that?

3. Space combat and the open group feature make this game shine. It is like Star Fleet Command III online. It was also the reason that made me renew my preorder after I cancelled it already. It reminds me more of SFC3 than of PotBS.

4. There is some player skill involved in combat. Player experience pays off, some basic maneuvers and mechanics must be learnt. I.e. how to deal with the fact that the first to warp into a group of Klingons gets all the “love”. Hint: turn around and put all energy into the engines. And turn early, not inside a cloud of Klingons.

5. Still quite buggy and like in CO they start out with fishy lifetime offers and itemshop double dipping on top of the subscription. That there are only 2 char slots is a huge disappointment!

vp - January 15, 2010

http://www.startrekonline.com/exclusive_specials

you have to choose the lifetime subscription if you want to play Borg…

😀

Nollind Whachell - January 15, 2010

“I’m amused when ppl complain about the ‘everyone is a captain’ stuff. Please explain to me how you think the ‘play as crew’ game is going to work.”

Read up on how Allods Online will work with regards to Astral Ship combat and how multiple players will be able to man the ship. That’s how I assumed STO would work. This isn’t so much a question of trying to do something impossible, it’s a question of the developers choosing a design approach that made things easier for them and enjoyable for a certain target market.

That said there are other games from the past that have already utilize such techniques. For example, a lot of WWII MMO games allow for multiple positions within a single aircraft. So you can have someone flying the bomber, someone manning the bomb sites, and various positions manning the three or four gunnery positions on the bomber. Most of the flight going to your target (5 to 10 min) is fairly calm and uneventful but once engaged in combat, the experience is purely orgasmic and can’t be beat due to the high level of teamwork and collaboration involved (not too mention the adrenaline rush).

Gustavef - January 15, 2010

@Jason and other: I am not saying that the current implementation is good. Just that IMO it is a step in the direction of “single server” MMOs. EVE does this by having such a huge map that for most of the “zones” you rarely have more then a dozen or so people. Sure there is Jita and Rens, and the occasional large fleet battles. But that is the exception.

For a Sandbox MMO you would have to go with EVE’s model. But for a more Theme Park model, I don’t see the difference between an “instance” and a “server.” Except if your friend is on a different server it takes a decent bribe to the game owner to get you both on the same server.

The goal is to make it more transparent and dynamic. Get rid of hard load screens, and do some perception in terms of what/who do you see at any time and “public area instancing” is moot.

Terroni - January 15, 2010

Leaving your mission area in a ship leads to a big blank nothing. Totally lame.

Mat - January 15, 2010

Damnit..I wanted co-op play on the bridge XD

That would be so hilarious on ventrilo! XD

Olrick - January 18, 2010

After two days in the beta, I can’t say I did like it very much. For ground combat, I plead guilty: I spent too much time on Mass Effect last month…

For space, the first five battles were quite fun but after that I found the missions repetitive. I have been told that in a ground MMO they are not very imaginative either, but at least there is a change in scenery.

In space nobody hears you yawn…

Sector space is not a bad way for long distance travel, it’s a change compared with all those stargates.

I’m playing in French, so the mix of languages in the same dialog can be fun at time.

michael, St Mistaken - January 18, 2010

Spent a couple of days in the open beta now. Got my two friends keys, and the three of us sat in a room at for about four hours Saturday evening running around the starter missions in a three player team. The main problem we had was getting past the login server. Not much lag in-game, and occasional mission state/zoning issues.

Ground combat: isn’t as bad as my first impressions lead me to believe. I don’t think it’s awful, it’s just not very interesting to me. The over-scale of all the architecture felt daft – particularly at Spacedock, but also on my own bridge. I can understand the design reasons for doing it (given the game’s collision-detection) but it’s not very good for credible immersion. Why worry so much if it’s all so highly instanced anyway?

Space combat: fun. Reminds me of Star Control III, combined with bits of Netrek (check it on wikipedia, it’s a classic piece of gaming history – plasma torps you can shoot down with phasers, woohoo!).

The Z axis adds to immersion, but I’ve found it frequently annoying. The 60 degree up/down limit made for frequent spiralling to get on a plane with the enemy, since I can only orbit in the primary plane and if I’m “over” them it’s can be difficult to gauge shield facings. Still, it rewards careful control, so I suppose that’s a fair gameplay element in itself.

I feel space combat would benefit substantially from an ecliptic-and-stalks underlay to the main space viewscreen (see: EVE, but also Elite/Homeworld) to aid spatial awareness. I’d like a target overview list too, provided I could turn either of these features off if I preferred to eyeball it.

I wise I could double-click in space to commence a slew-to order, rather than having to hold left/right and the facing until the order was complete.

Sector Space: At least they wrapped something around the autopilot destination list, but I wish it had been better done. It’s not the same as looking out of a window of the Enterprise, and watching the stars stream past. There’s not even a mention of Warp Factor – the speed bar is “calibrated” in lightyears/sec – why did they leave it out?

My most immersion-breaking glitch: appearing on a space or sector map as my Captain avatar. Appearing on a land map as my spaceship. It made a comedy of any attempt to represent the scale of the ships involved when the game engine accidentally reveals my ship as being four foot wide in land scale. Oops.

One good thing about the game: it handles windowed mode, resizing, and faux-full-screen very well. I can run my EVE clients arranged neatly on my left hand screen, while noodling around in STObeta full screen on my right display.

Funny old world. 🙂

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