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STO my visions from start to eternity


GROUP: Members


Report this Aug. 05 2005, 6:37 am

After reading the FAQ the boards and the idears of the STO development, I want to submit some of my idears. I considder myself a experienced MMO gamer, and I have allways come to face that none of them are quite perfect. There is allways something missing or wrong, which ofcause is a shame. Not that I have all the answers, and I certainly dont have the means to create a MMORPG myself, but what I do know is that I have a way to improve upon idears that others allready made. So here goes...

All though I dont expect the devs to read this, even less to follow upon it, maybe I can get the majority of the fans to agree, which ofcause would make a difference in the long run.

Well. first of all.

The creation of toon should by all means be expanded beyound starfleet. Why? Becaus thats what makes the variaty of gameplay. There is nothing more dull than, fighting mission based mobs all the way up to captain or what ever you wanna be. And furthermore mission based gameplay as the sole advancement possibillity makes it incredibly static. (exept the Guild Wars instanced system)
You have to ask yourself, what does a MMO Role player want first of all? Variaty, a dynamic evolving universe, that cant be predicted. If the devs put in NPC's everywhere, which you have to report to or kill, we all know the end result. Camping, quest walkthroughs, Grindings, LFG'ers that want to complete a specific quest, which they allready know how is going to end.
So whats the point? No room for exploration. Exept finding this little god forsaken planet, no one still hasent set their feet on, probably becaus there is nothing to find there anyway.

So with the variaty of player charecters that involve all of the dominant species we know from the franchise, we can assure a dynamic gameplay from the begining to eternity. So how should advancement be like? Well I will admit a certain amount of static missions have to be implemented, atleast in the beginning. But wouldent it be more challenging with a system, where you gain skills items and experience through player interactions? Whether its pvp combat, performing duties, diplomacy, trading agreements, or good old theft.

You get opposing fleets. Humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Ferengi, Bajorans, Cardassians, Romulans, Suliban. (I agree on the Borg thing. There is not much room for advancement and skilling in the collective).
All those species have different ways to do things, different agendas and whats most interesting, different technology. If you make a Human toon, and then after few months you make a Ferengi toon, the gameplay will be completely changed, its like playing a different game. You wont bother with protocols, Starfleet regulations, or diplomatics, only gold pressed platinum counts.

I allready realise that this entry, is getting a bit confusing if I want to get to the point, and draw a usefull picture of gameplay from, so what I will do now is trying to take it from day 1, as were I allready playing the game, and draw the events to come.

Lets say I choose to be a human male. After the toon creation, I find myself on Earth. I have a living quater in some city, and I start to look arround in my house. There is a communication devise on the wall. There is a devise on my desk that looks a bit like a tricorder but its not.. (lets just call it a Datapad) A closer look at it, shows me that this device functions as my character display. It shows my skills/lvl's (0), my rank (civilian) and other usefull information regarding who I am, what I have on me ect. ect. you get the picture... It allso shows that I have access to public transportation, and a map showing me where they are located, and where they go.

Well the first thing that comes to my mind after getting the hang of the basic interactions with my surroundings, is that Im not Starfleet. Im a simple plain human civilian. So naturally I want to look up starfleet HQ to enter the academy. Thats easy to find on my datapad. But I come to realise that its not as easy to get in the academy. When I speak to the information NPC in the hall, he tells me I have to apply for the academy, and it can take time to be accepted. There are a lot of people theese days who want to apply for the academy, and there is simply not room for all of them at the same time. BUT there are means to slip through the waiting list, if you have some experience. Having served on a fraigther could do the trick, or if you are a promising mechanic, or bio-engeneer, or maybe a security officer in the mall??? (hm the last is a bit far out maybe)
If you are Ferengi, paying under the table works aswell. So. Doing nothing will make you have to wait some time in order to get your turn. (that will solve the issue with everyone getting in the academy at the same time, and limit the camping of the first missions ect). So I might as well take a look at this city Im in, and se whats there. There surelly is someone looking for employees, and they dont have to be NPC's all of them. If you are an crafter of some sort, you will maybe need a pilot to transport your goods. Depending what you aim for in the game, you can be anything you want. Starfleet is just one option. ofcause thats the main attraction, but you might as well try some other things, that can provide you with skills, items, experience, you cant get in starfleet. (you know the starfleet way isent everyonce way, so what if you wanna be human but like to fight for the marquee? --Like I said - Variaty--)
But lets go back to my story. When I get accepted to the academy, I get a message in my Datapad, and a direct transportation to the Starfleet HQ. I enter the hall, and meet the other applyers that were accepted at the same time. With them I begin my training. A class room is provided for the basic information about protocols, equipment use, the hiracy, how and when you can advance ranks, and what ever is nessecary for me to begin as a cardet. All that information is stored in my Datapad. After the first breefing we are being traind in basic firearms, engeneering, medicine, sciense, shuttle flight, Star Chart reading, security measures, ect. There I gain my first starfleet Lvl's, which is only one of many lvl options... ( If I had choosen, to be a freelance pilot before getting into the academy, my flight skills had allready been several lvl's over the other cardets, which ofcause give me an advantage in finalizing my time at the academy) However, the starfleet lvl's are slightly different comprehended by the supperior officers, so I have to adjust my former flight skills into starfleet flight skills, in order to graduate. It turns out to be a minor adjustment, substracting an certain ammount of flight lessons in the academy. Time is saved aftar all, and I have that nice little andorian Rifle, which I obtained as a gift from my last visit to my vendor on Andor, along with some flightpaths to good ressources, and a special "shuttle evasic maneuver" skill to avoid vulcan border defence turrets. (who knows when that might come handy?)

Now that Im done with the academy, I can begin my duties in starfleet. I can apply for a gallaxy class starship to begin my carrer on if I want. There are a lot of ships that are looking for new crew members, so I can just take a pick. Some are available at once, and some require more experience than I have now. If  I have no refferences for any ships (like if one of my friends is on a ship I could join), I can get recommended to one, from the academy.

I get transported to the ship and there starts a new world for me. The first thing I see, is a NPC welcomming me on board. He shows me to my quarters, and provides me with a addition to my Datapad. That includes the opreations of the ship replicators, shipsmap, a uniform, and a duty shift section. A short Tutorial quest begins to make me aquainted with the ships enviroment. I meet other Players, that have choosen the same ship. I find out that this ship has currently 817 crew members.

Now comes the time where I have to choose what I want to do. I walk around and meet some of the staff, some are NPC some are not. But there is allways atleast 1 NPC in every section of the ship, who is related to a specific "proffession" By talking to the NPC I get a greeting, and then he asks me if I have choosen my line of work yet. If I say no, he tells me about what his area of work involves. And if I want to try that out, I have to report to the chief of that area.
Well all that is straight forward, and im sure the Devs behind STO allready thought that one up. So lets continue, to the more interesting part of who is NPC when and why. In the beginning all essential parts of the ship are filled up with NPC's. Chief Engeneer, Doctor, Security Officer, Captain and so on. But as the players advance in rank, and get skills, they should take over those designations (when they are online), and minimize the NPC's on the ship to a minimum, so in the end only those INFO bots who teach Newbies how to operate a tricorder, and that kind of stuff are left.

Now to a tricky part that I havent been able to solve satisfactory yet (but that's maybe where you guys come in)

If you are a Star Trek fan you know how importand it is for the Senior Staff to knows eachother well. The idear is to get the Senior Staff to be aquainted with each other, in order to work efficient in team work like we know it from the series. And if you are in one "realm" where your buddies are especially if you have a clan, you want to stay on the same ship.
I allso like the fact that if there is a Chief Engeneer no one on that ship can get the rank, untill he either resigns or moves on to another ship. Such as real life. This is no big problem, because if you are experienced enough to get the rank of Chief Engeneer, on a ship that allready has one, you can just choose to be reasignet to another ship, that happens to need a Chief Engeneer. By that time you simply choose between friends or carrer. The tricky part is that assuming the whole Senior Staff to be online at the same time is unlikely, unless they are heavy players. So what is the sollution? Two systems?

1. A resident Senior Staff ship, with the heavy players, and therfore means. One ship, One Staff.
2. The Senior Staff member picks an open spot on a random non residence ship when he logs on.

Well that is open for discussion (like the rest)

The basic staff is another issue though, sinse there are a lot of low lvl medics engeneers security and so on who have no direct influence on the command structure, they can stay on one ship wothout problems. A newcomer from the Academy, has no access to the bridge or any other essential areas. So the ships enviroment and duty shifts, have to be split into two different categories.

Real Time, and Static Time.

The Senior staff play in a Real Time enviroment. Every thing they do, has an effect to the surroundings. The Captain can take the ship anywhere, the Chief Engeneer can make improvements
to the Warp Engines, the Doctor can eliminate viruses and so on. When a ship comes into fight its basicly only the Senior staff that sees and feels it.

The static time, is the enviroment where a low lvl crew member gets to make his duties in order to advance his first lvl's. If you are a crew member who has choosen to work in engeneering, you will have basic lvl shifts in that area, with no effect to the ship in any way. You can complete them at anytime you want. That will gain your experience in a slow rate. And thereby learn to operate the ship better, or maybe craft some powerups for weapons, that can be traded with other players, who might need them for battle.
The second lvl of duties, will be random generated urgent tasks. All crew members who work in the same area, get the message at the same time in their datapad, but only one can accept it at a time so its first to the river. The player who accepts the task, has a certain ammount of time to complete the task. This will make him gain experience faster. If a player fails the task he may loose some experience, and another player gets the chance to complete it.
The third lvl of Duties are Real time tasks. They come directly from the Real Time enviroment of the game, Lets say the Real time staff (Senior staff) go in battle, and damage the ship. Then the Chief Engeneer has to fix the problem. He will most likely be unable to do that alone, so he has to call for help from the other crew members in engeneering. (how does a chief engeneer call for duties I am not sure, but  I can emagine an easy way would be, that he gets a report of the damage on his console, and simply presses, >>call staff to all repairs<< When he does that, all engeneering crew members, get a "real time duty" in their Datapad. The duties will be split out to different tasks to all the damage areas on the ship, favouring the best man for the job as the first option to accept the task.

I like this idear wery much, since that is precisely what makes a game dynamic, and unpredictable. The battle between two ships, can in this system, sometimes come down to whether a single crew member seals off the plasma leak or not.

This system can be expanded further. The Senior Staff can at anytime, give orders to any crew member under their command . Those orders will then have effect on the Real Time Enviroment if completed. If you are a nurce, and the doctor needs your assistens to treat a player, the task will allso be noted as a real time event, and will be awarded accordingly. Offcoruce a Senior Staff member can allso give clearance to low lvl players, to do Real Time repairs/upgrades at will at any time. That is up to the Senior Staff to deside, whether they trust the crew or not.
Another interaction between the Real time and the static time enviroments can be, when the ship travles to a planet system. Ground based missions get unlocked. As long the ship is in orbit, the crew can explore the planet to their liking, unless the captain says otherwise.
It allso gets more interesting when the crew naturally adapt, and "learn"from the Real Time tasks they get. An example. When the Enterprise TNG in an episode, was in a battle they had trouble to win, Riker ordered the helmsman to maneuver the ship in a certain way, that only Riker knew how to do. This kind of know how should be in the game to. And on those occasions the crew member given the order, adapts the skill.
Now. It all sounds as if the captain and his Senior staff  can do what ever they want, so what keeps them from being a bastard towards the crew? All orders have to be held within protocols. The Captain cant just throw a crew member in the brig, without reason, the option for that command will simply not be there to be given out. Only if the crew member does something like sabotage, or making endless mistakes in Real Time Duties, he can get a reprimande. If a Captain dosent like a crew member and wants him of the ship, the Senior staff has to vote on that decision. Promotions are allso the Captains to give out, but he cant ignore one specific crew member over others for ever. Some kind of rules have to be made in the system so it feels like player controlled, without being exploited. Orders could actually be made optional for the crew to take. So that its up to the single player whether he does it or not, without beeing punished for not doing it. However if he follows orders, the reward will be very appealing.

On the other hand I can only emagine what the outcome would be, if the Devs of STO gave the players free hands, to experiment on the ship beyound limit. Lets say your ship wisits a race no one else has seen, and they have technology unlike any other. If the crew would be alowed to tamper with that technology and implement it on your ship, it would become unique. Surely, if the word spreads around, everyone soon will hunt for that planet and aquire the same technology, but that's kinda real life to.
What I want to avoid is >>Fly to this planet, speak to that NPC, free those hostages and bring the abducter to that planet. And after you have done that.. 30 other ships, do the same thing.<< Sounds familiar? That's the nutt shell of far most the MMORPG's I have played in my time. The game Devs fell like its their obligation to the players, that everyone can try out the same thing, aquire the same stuff, and defeat the same enemy.

Actually I want to make a poll out of this. Who feels like they want a static storyline, so they can try out the same thing your buddy just did? And who feels like I do, that nothing should be predicted, after you get into the game?[B][/B][B][B]

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