One of the big changes that was pushed out with Season 10.5 is the concept of Armadas, allowing up to 13 Fleets to become affiliated (One alpha, three betas, nine gammas). This allows everyone to have access to projects to all the affiliated fleets, a win-win situation for both individual members who are often stymied by the lack of open projects in a mature fleet, and smaller/newer fleets who have difficulty completing their projects.
For anyone who doesn’t know, a STO Fleet is the equivalent of a Guild in other MMOs. As I pointed out before, the multiplayer aspect of MMOs is one of the things that attracted me in the first place; even though I ragequit Rift (because of the game, not the players), I still have fond memories of the Guild friends we made there, and I wish I could log on there again to say hi (my toons seem to have been deleted since, despite the Devs stating they don’t delete toons. Not sure what’s going on there). We did raids together, we did PvEs together, and we learned stuff from each other. It really felt like a proper group of friends, although my hardware limitations prevented me from chatting with them via Teamspeak or some other equivalent.
Fast forward to Star Trek Online. I’m sure we all have the same experience here: wet behind the ears and bewildered, we step on to ESD for the very first time looking lost, then WHAM, you get hit by a bunch of random Fleet invites. Once in a while, you get lucky and someone actually messages you before sending an invite. Not knowing any better, you accept the invitation, and now you’re part of a Fleet.
Fungi and I both joined this fleet, which shall go nameless here; subsequently our KDF toons also joined up with their KDF fleet. Now to be completely fair, it was the fleet founder who invited me, and he was (still is) a great guy; he was always open to talks and receptive to requests. A couple of the fleet officers also made an effort to run weekly fleet events, getting together to do STFs or “training/practice runs” for new members. For a while there it felt like the old Rift Guild that I missed. Times were good.
Then little things started happening. The two active officers stopped making an effort, or maybe got burnt out and stopped logging on. The remaining officers claimed they’re doing a lot of work, though we never figured out exactly what they were doing. Fleet projects were extremely far and few between — there was generally only one or two projects going at any given time, and we went for months without having anything to contribute to (Fungi made more Fleet credits with a different fleet in 2-3 weeks after jumping ship, than the entire six months in this one). A couple of times we asked one of the officers to put up more projects, and were flat out told NO. Worse yet, the fleet holdings were badly provisioned; several times I tried to purchase Fleet grade items and got essentially an “out-of-stock” message. The final straw was after the Fleet Founder personally promoted us, the other officers demoted us back the very next day; this actually happened twice, at which point we decided to quit.
Today almost all of my toons are in a different group of Fleets (run by the same people, on both the Fed and KDF sides). These are all larger fleets with more active members; projects get filled up quickly so it’s a bit of a crapshoot, but they’re pretty good with always having several projects active. However there hasn’t been many “Fleet Events”. Occasionally someone will ask for interest in doing a fleet STF, but these tend to be spontaneous and in terms of player reliability they are no different than a random PUG team (although as fleetmates they won’t yell at you if you’re clueless). The founder(s) and senior officers are nice people, so I don’t have a problem being a member of this group of Fleets, but sometimes I wish they feel more like a community or a group of friends, rather than just a convenient place to get and spend credits.
At this point, most of my toons have gotten the essential fleet grade items they need, so earning fleet credits and having access to high-level holdings are less of a priority. I am starting to ponder whether I should seriously look at finding a fleet that I can hang out and play with, and get back a bit of the “M” in MMO that I lost when I quit Rift. I have even heard of RP fleets, which sounds like something I might be interested in, although I have no clue how that actually works. Admittedly one major consideration that’s been holding me back is the fact that most of my toons have worked up to higher ranks within their respective fleets, and I’m somewhat reluctant to start from the bottom again. Quite a conundrum!