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News & Features Discussion  » Star Trek Online: Preview, Part Two

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  Stradden

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

 
OP  12/28/09 8:26:30 AM#1

In part two of a three part preview of Star Trek Online, Dana Massey discusses key gameplay elements including the game's Skill System, Character Progression and Bridge Officers.

In part one of my three part hands-on preview I covered missions, combat and a host of core features in Star Trek Online. However, I also made one mistake, and I'd like to get that corrected up front. It turns out that contrary to my complaints there is in fact auto-attack in Star Trek Online, which should definitely reduce the strain on people's digits and make the game much easier to control. To activate auto-fire of key skills, such as the primary weapon attack on away missions or phasers in space, one simply holds control and clicks the button. So, I offer mea culpa to Cryptic and all those who read part one.

With that out of the way, let's dive into part two of this preview. Today, I'll cover the skill system, character progression, ship customization and bridge officers, grouping/social systems, PvP and items.

Read Preview, Part Two.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

  pompey606

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/06/06
Posts: 420

RIP my characters on anarchy, i want to play you but i just cant.. RIP-----

12/28/09 8:56:29 AM#2

I hate reading this, for the simple fact that you are making me want to play a Star Trek game. In all Seriousness this is a great insight into STO. Thanks again

  Lukekini

Novice Member

Joined: 3/05/04
Posts: 76

YES!

12/28/09 8:58:45 AM#3

So I do not mind the level progression to be somewhat slow. I am sure it is slow for so many because it is still so new and no tested and tested again methods of leveling up the fastest.

Also it seemed to have peaked me interest that PvP is currently the best way to progress through levels. Not sure if this is the best idea since this could be exploited with shared kills all day long.. among other things, but having yet to play the game that could not be the case... still PvP should be a strong point in STO.

Possibly the PvP "Neutral Zone" has bonus EXP in that area. Which would be great more so than leveling by playing matches every 15 minutes on a 5v5 level arena BS or whatever :-p (Ya I hate Arenas being too important)

I heard we new crew members as we progress as well. Then you can merge them so that could help with the male/female ratio. I Just hope I dont end up with the USS Sausage Fest or some sort with all males.

During regular gameplay in space, how many other player characters have you seen on your screen at one time? Game sounds great except I worry that the MMO aspect is not there.

Also, the items you are finding. How do they look? Are they all set stats, or do we have prefix/subfix type names with different qualities(i.e. random loot).

- ya I'm here

  sawyerwolf

Novice Member

Joined: 12/20/06
Posts: 2

12/28/09 10:47:03 AM#4

I think I can handle the slower progression as I work and won't have alot of time to play.  Cryptic will be getting alot of monies from me so I can see max level.  The more I read the more I want to play STO.  Can't wait to get into open beta.

  TonySabre

Novice Member

Joined: 4/06/08
Posts: 18

12/28/09 10:57:46 AM#5
Originally posted by sawyerwolf

I think I can handle the slower progression as I work and won't have alot of time to play.  Cryptic will be getting alot of monies from me so I can see max level.  The more I read the more I want to play STO.  Can't wait to get into open beta.

 

Me too.  At this point I'm just ready to try it out myself.

  Pantheos

Novice Member

Joined: 6/13/09
Posts: 56

12/28/09 12:29:34 PM#6

I'm actually thrilled that progression is not fast paced. One thing I missed from the days of yore (ala EQ1) is that going up took time, it took effort, and there wasn't this insane rush to level just to get to where the 'fun' is ala WoW (Raiding/pvp). This slower progression to me is a GREAT thing, it means I'll be enjoying the game a long time, each alt means something more than it does on other grind fest games.

 

I like this a lot. So far I am really glad I've picked up a pre-order of the collectors edition :) Can't wait for open beta so I can play through the various types of characters to get a feel for each to make a final decision on what my federation 'main' will be, even if I primarily am going to play Klingon.

  Liltawen

Novice Member

Joined: 10/25/08
Posts: 245

12/28/09 12:30:57 PM#7
Originally posted by TonySabre
Originally posted by sawyerwolf

I think I can handle the slower progression as I work and won't have alot of time to play.  Cryptic will be getting alot of monies from me so I can see max level.  The more I read the more I want to play STO.  Can't wait to get into open beta.

 

Me too.  At this point I'm just ready to try it out myself.

 

Yeah, it'll be nice to cool things down and get away from the rush to get to level 80/end game. I wonder tho what happens when everyone is a lvl 10 Admiral? Can one get a demotion  to captain like Kirk kept doing in the movies?

  Pantheos

Novice Member

Joined: 6/13/09
Posts: 56

12/28/09 12:36:38 PM#8

The rank of 'Admiral' is going to change after launch as they work out a new rank system for it so it makes more sense for high ranking people to be out there and not three hundred admirals making up a fleet. That's the rumor anyways.

 

Knowing Cryptic I expect there will be a LOT of content and suchlike added after launch. They're pretty good at keeping the game organically evolving, even if sometimes Emmert doesn't really understand what he should be doing, the content itself is usually good.

  plaxidia

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/24/03
Posts: 171

12/28/09 12:45:09 PM#9

Very nice reads on these articles.. :)  I was actually leaning toward not playing when I saw there would be no PC ship crews but I may give it a shot after all.. Its hard for a semi hard core Trek fan not to and it seems that the game should be entertaining.. :)  As for the slow leveling.. I am compleatly OK with that.. I am so sick of hearing "End Game Content" I could puke. I want a game with some longevity and some investment now.. Hopefully this will attract more like minded people on that front.

  MMO_Doubter

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/28/09
Posts: 5133

12/28/09 1:00:43 PM#10

INCOMING POSITIVE COMMENTS:

 

I like the gradual point rewards, rather than a big boost at ranking up. It ecourages playing 'just a little longer' to get that mini-ding. If someone wants a big rank up reward, they can just save their skill points until ranking up (assuming skill points can be saved and don't have to be spent immediately). I know, that in WoW, I would often delay making talent point allocations while in the field, as I preferred to to give the matter reasonable consideration. Often times, I would have 2 or 3 talent points to spend when I next decided to upgrade my character.

As for special abilities - well this is a sci-fi game. I wouldn't really want to see a lot of 'magic spells' given to crew members.

"" Voice acting isn't an RPG element....it's just a production value." - grumpymel2

  MMO_Doubter

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/28/09
Posts: 5133

12/28/09 1:06:50 PM#11
Originally posted by plaxidia

Very nice reads on these articles.. :)  I was actually leaning toward not playing when I saw there would be no PC ship crews but I may give it a shot after all.. Its hard for a semi hard core Trek fan not to and it seems that the game should be entertaining.. :)

I was talking with a WoW buddy recently who said he was considering trying it out.

It should be no secret to any of the regulars here that I have a lot of misgivings about this game, but I am considering trying it.

  As for the slow leveling.. I am compleatly OK with that.. I am so sick of hearing "End Game Content" I could puke. I want a game with some longevity and some investment now.. Hopefully this will attract more like minded people on that front.

As long as there is a good variety in gameplay options at lower levels, I am fine with a slower leveling pace.

I hope there is some system in place to allow players of varying ranks to play together. A 'slow' leveling system tends to divide hardcore and casual players more than usual. This is one of the more serious issues with MMORPGs in general - being split from friends who level at different rates.

"" Voice acting isn't an RPG element....it's just a production value." - grumpymel2

  Lanthir

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/21/04
Posts: 220

12/28/09 1:12:00 PM#12

rather nice read.  I like how they are doing the lvls.  With you getting points as you go along  instead of havign to wait to lvl  it should give a constant lvl of accomplishment instead of havign to wait for a ding to see an improvement in your character.  Also the fact you do not have to see trainers is nice.  Rather thought it was odd that after swinging a sword hundreds of times till you lvl  then havign to see a trainer who would say yes you have swung this sword hundreds of times so now you know how to swing it.  :)  Remembering the days in EQ when it came out and people were more interested in enjoying the game as they went instead of wanting to rush to max lvl to raid I am hoping this game brings this back

 

Lookign froward to hearing about pvp and klingons

Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!

  Dana

Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

12/28/09 1:30:14 PM#13
Originally posted by Lanthir

Lookign froward to hearing about pvp and klingons

 

This is one thing I cannot help much with. Part three has some limited PvP impressions, but my article (which was supposed to be one part originally) was already too long and that would have required an article onto itself... So we made it one. Jon will be following up with a more complete PvP and Klingon preview shortly after part three. Dec 31 is my last day (nothing bad, just a new opportunity... a post on that should appear this week), or I'd have made this a four parter.

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  Centhan

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/17/04
Posts: 485

12/28/09 2:37:18 PM#14

Thanks for the information.  It was a good read and gave me a bit more insight as to how the game functions.  I just have one comment relating to your following quote:

"The experience curve for players is one of the hardest things for a company to tune and likely one of the major focuses of Star Trek Online's Beta, so I hesitate to go into too much detail on it as I am sure plenty will change between today and February 2nd, 2010."

Why, why, why do developers wait until the last month to tweak stuff like this?  I don't pretend to know the ins and out of game design, but it seems like the MMOs coming out in the recent past years always wait until the last darn minute to work on this and other major gameplay factors.  I mean it's been in development for how long, and a month before release they decide "hey, maybe we should look at this experience thing"?  Didn't they learn anything from their Champions Online disaster?

To be honest, because of this an other things that i have read, alarm bells are already ringing in my mind because I see signs of another product released way to friggin early.

  OddjobXL

Novice Member

Joined: 9/05/08
Posts: 103

12/28/09 2:45:30 PM#15

Dana, this is one article you did a fine job with.  In fact, I can imagine myself thinking the same things about bridge crew and have even suggested the idea of crew-based stories in one or two forums as well.    As I understand it, existing missions use your bridge crew as mouthpeices to advance the story so why not bring stories to the player based on who the character is.  As you suggested, using race or class but perhaps even individual skills.  Say there's a chance to get a mission based on Diplomacy but only if you have an NPC with Diplomacy skill.

Building out from that could really propel the game in interesting, personalized, directions.  But ones that could be used by many players who have characters with the same traits. However each collection of traits, leading to specialized adventures, would flesh out that character so much more in your imagination.

I thought it was very astute you pointed out that you didn't miss the overly detailed approach to NPCs as in Dragon Age.  Frankly, it would have been impractical in the first place.  And though I very much loved DA and the NPCs in it, I agree that they do kind of suck the oxygen out of the room.  There's little space to imagine them in any way other than they are.  STO's bridge officers sound like they do give a player that imaginative space he needs to take a little narrative ownership of the characters.

Always notice what you notice.

  User Deleted
12/28/09 2:49:56 PM#16

Thanks Dana, it's nice to get information from someone who is actually playing from an unbiased perspective. It fixes what little doubts i had about the game.

  Lanthir

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/21/04
Posts: 220

12/28/09 2:52:04 PM#17
Originally posted by Dana
Originally posted by Lanthir

Lookign froward to hearing about pvp and klingons

 

This is one thing I cannot help much with. Part three has some limited PvP impressions, but my article (which was supposed to be one part originally) was already too long and that would have required an article onto itself... So we made it one. Jon will be following up with a more complete PvP and Klingon preview shortly after part three. Dec 31 is my last day (nothing bad, just a new opportunity... a post on that should appear this week), or I'd have made this a four parter.


 

ah that is our lost.  Wish you well with your future

Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!

  Hathi

Novice Member

Joined: 4/25/07
Posts: 236

We have nothing to fear but fear itself - and Chuck Norris.

12/28/09 3:07:53 PM#18

 We will miss you Dana.

Sounds like needs a training room like CoH or Champs to test skills

Finally - Best site for Chuck Norris
http://www.chucknorrisfacts.com/

  keithian

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/20/06
Posts: 2960

12/28/09 3:16:51 PM#19
Originally posted by Centhan

Thanks for the information.  It was a good read and gave me a bit more insight as to how the game functions.  I just have one comment relating to your following quote:

"The experience curve for players is one of the hardest things for a company to tune and likely one of the major focuses of Star Trek Online's Beta, so I hesitate to go into too much detail on it as I am sure plenty will change between today and February 2nd, 2010."

Why, why, why do developers wait until the last month to tweak stuff like this?  I don't pretend to know the ins and out of game design, but it seems like the MMOs coming out in the recent past years always wait until the last darn minute to work on this and other major gameplay factors.  I mean it's been in development for how long, and a month before release they decide "hey, maybe we should look at this experience thing"?  Didn't they learn anything from their Champions Online disaster?

To be honest, because of this an other things that i have read, alarm bells are already ringing in my mind because I see signs of another product released way to friggin early.


 

I totally agree with you and was thinking the exact same thing. I figured maybe there is something about this process I just don't understand, but when I see a couple of games released with good UI, descriptions of abilities, etc...I wonder why this needs to still be fixed in the last month. I am still on the fence about getting this either as a preorder to try beta or even at launch. I get a sense from a couple of previews that between this arcticle, another article I read, and the ground combat...that maybe it is being released a few months premature. I am still waiting to hear what makes this an awesome PVE MMO as oppossed to a single player PVE game for those that don't want to focus on PVP. Even when I feel like playing solo, I like seeing others around, doing emotes at them, and sometimes what they are doing helps me complete something. Knowing me, I will probably try the beta anyway lol.

There Is Always Hope!

  wootin

Novice Member

Joined: 10/04/08
Posts: 260

12/28/09 3:42:07 PM#20
Originally posted by Pantheos

I'm actually thrilled that progression is not fast paced. One thing I missed from the days of yore (ala EQ1) is that going up took time, it took effort, and there wasn't this insane rush to level just to get to where the 'fun' is ala WoW (Raiding/pvp). This slower progression to me is a GREAT thing, it means I'll be enjoying the game a long time, each alt means something more than it does on other grind fest games.

 

Indeed. Playing the game at level 1 should be fun enough to keep you playing. Instead, many MMOs have just given up on making their game fun and instead focused on getting you to chase an illusory carrot to keep you playing. 

Good to hear Cryptic has that part right. Now if they get rid of microtransactions or make a server for ppl who don't want them, I'll be a much happier camper.

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