Breaking Immersion, STO edition

repriseMore so than most other MMORPGs, a good chunk of STO’s playerbase plays the game because it’s Star Trek, and immersion in game’s theme and setting is vitally important to these players. Star Trek is a very fleshed out universe as defined by multiple TV shows, movies, novels and other media, and for the most part the game has done well in staying in-theme. But there are also a variety of factors that continually work to break this immersion, which no doubt frustrates players… but can also be unintentionally funny.

So what breaks immersion in STO? Well, I have some personal peeves. Here’s my Top 10 8 List of Breaking Immersion on STO.

8. Wrong Universe — Okay, let’s start with one that I am personally guilty of: Using and abusing the Tailor to create characters from other shows/books/movies/universes. I’ve posted about my Futurama Boffs; I’ve personally seen Captain America, the Thing, Supergirl, Flash, Starlord, Groot (I have one of those myself!), several Iron Men, Deadpools and Hulks. There was an exceptionally well-done Sheldon Cooper, a couple of Yodas and Doctor Who’s, Stormtroopers, many many Night Elves and at least one attempt at a Boba Fett.

Running into these wrong universe characters can be jarring for Trekkies, but it’s actually quite an artistic expression of creativity! At least I try to show restraint by only doing this with my Boffs, not my actual toons.

Quote:

Klingon: “We meet again, Captain! Defend yourself!”

Captain: “That’s Captain America to you. Avengers, Assemble!”

7. Holy Genocide, Batman! — How many enemy ships have we each personally sunk? Not sure? Check out the accolades you’ve accumulated: there’s one for 200 ships destroyed for each species, and another for 1000 individuals for each species. There are 20 species for ship accolades, and 24 species for individuals. So let’s do a little simple math: assuming a conservative estimate average of 250 crew per vessel, this means at full accolades, we would’ve killed 200x20x250+1000×24 = 1,024,000 enemies! A million and change, man! And that’s not counting anything we kill after we get the accolades. And we wear the accolades around like badges of honor. That sort of behavior might be appropriate for the KDF (although that kind of body count should make Kahless the Unforgettable… Forgettable), but for our peacenik Feddies? Yikes.

Then think about how many player characters are out there, and each of them had killed over a million enemies each.

Quote:

Starfleet tribunal: “We have tallied the total casualties. Your fleet of 400 Admirals have killed over 400 million people this year. Congratulations, you have managed to wipe out one civilization.”

PC: “Do I get an accolade?”

6. Party Balls — It never fails: go to any crowded hubs like ESD, DS9, Drozana station… someone is bound to pop a party ball and forces everyone present, PC and NPC alike, to break into dance. Sure sometimes it’s funny, but imagine the plight of the poor RP squad who’s trying to get into some serious Trekkie philosophical discussion.

Me? Oh I got my party nullifiers long ago. When a party ball pops, I’m often the only one NOT DANCING, standing there shaking my head in disapproval. It’s a workaround, but I also have to BUY nullifiers and use up an inventory slot for them. I don’t see why party balls are even a thing; why even let players have them? Just look at the recent exploit that allows people to make party balls permanent: one instance of ESD is filled with those damn things. When you give people the tools to troll, they will troll their asses off.

Yes, this is more than just the damned party balls. This includes things like balloon blowers, non-melting snowballs and the like. I still remember the clown who was blowing balloons on Vulcan when people were respectfully standing around Spock’s memorial.

Quote:

PC: “Boogie, ambassadors! Boogie like it’s 1975, or Stardate -10254.25!”

5. Death is Just the Beginning — STO is an MMORPG, of course death won’t keep us down! The game can’t simply just tell the player “Sorry, your character is dead. Mission failed.” in an ongoing story arc. But what about the single standalone missions? The STFs for instance? Why do we continuously respawn like we’re made of Tribble parts? Didn’t that escort flying on my wing just suffer a warp core breach and explode like a turd blossom? How is it doing a strafing run 5 km away now?

Quote:

PC: “Captain’s log: the Borg incursion has been repelled. The USS Exitprize was destroyed three times and will require minor repairs to sickbay.”

4. Enemy Ship! — Next time when you park yourself around ESD or in orbit around Q’onos, take a look around and notice how many weird alien ships there are.

I remember when I first started playing STO, seeing a bunch of Romulan ships around ESD or Q’onos was weird, but hey, that’s the current political situation on STO, so that’s palatable. There’s an occasional Dominion, Cardassian or Ferengi lockbox ship, but they’re so rare it’s more of a curiosity. More importantly, they’re recognizable. Nowadays, with the plethora of lockbox ships and event ships, ESD is barely recognizable as a Starfleet hub. The Delta Quadrant ships are particularly prolific, unfamiliar and mostly fugly. While I used to linger in orbit and admire beautiful Trek ships, now I mostly getthellouttathere as soon as I can.

Quote: 

Admiral Quinn: “A Krenim, Kobali and Vaadwaur ship all fly into Club 47, and I said, wait….”

3. What’s in a Name? — Hardly unique to STO, but trolls have a tendency to come up with silly names for their characters. But while it’s true that a fantasy game wizard may somehow acquire the nickname “Cooties”, it’s quite another to imagine Starfleet okaying ship names like “USS BigLargeMcHuge”, “USS Testicular Fortitude” or “USS ooooLOLoooo”.

Fortunately, you are free to roll your eyes and simply not look at these people and their ships.

Quote: 

Tactical Officer: “Sir, the USS Armpit Hair has lost all shields. Structural integrity compromised. They are requesting emergency assistance.”

Captain: “Target their warp core and fire.”

2. They’re Frigging Ginormous! — No! I don’t mean the bust size of female toons. I am talking about the ridiculously huge starship interiors.

Granted, there’s really very little to do on the interior maps, so it’s easy to overlook this problem (by NOT going there). But given it’s a staple of Star Trek for a lot of the action to take place inside a ship, especially the bridge, I bet more people will spend more time there if they’re built properly.

I think the T6 Pathfinder is first STO ship to come with an accurate rendition of the Voyager interior, and is in fact one of the main selling features of that boat. People evidently love it, too! So why can’t we have better interiors for all ships? Some of the default bridges are so massive they remind me of the Cancun resort we went to, the engineering rooms look like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and all the corridors are comparable to the Euro Tunnel. Come on Cryptic, this needs to be fixed.

Quote:

Comm Officer: “Captain, we’re being hailed.”

Captain: “What? I can’t hear you from all the way over there. You will have to yodel louder.”

1. Everyone’s a Super Star — We all know the Player Character is special, but somehow we all had a meteoric rise through the ranks from cadet to Admiral, all within the span of… a year??!!

Before Delta Rising, the highest level was 50, and corresponding ranks were Vice Admiral (Fed) and General (KDF). Now it’s level 60, ranks of Fleet Admiral (Fed) and Dahar Master (KDF). The game is literally overrun with Admirals, and it’s particularly glaring when you interact with canon characters from the shows (e.g. Nog, Paris, Kim) and they’re all just captains after decades of service. Even Tuvok, who’s implied to have had an illustrious career after returning from the Delta Quadrant, is just a Rear Admiral which means we all outrank him.

Until Cryptic retroactively fixes their ranking system, I’m going to assume we all somehow know the right people in Starfleet command. Or we all know how to grease the wheels with lotsa gold-pressed latinum.

Quote: 

Harry Kim: “Sir, I can’t understand how you just graduated last year and here you are, 20 levels higher than me after I’ve been in Starfleet for 37 years.”

PC: “Captain Kim, you suck. The ENTIRE class of Last Year are now Fleet Admirals.”

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16 thoughts on “Breaking Immersion, STO edition

  1. Ha… Spot on. This is a pretty good summary of my thoughts on STO too. Did you read my mind again? 😉

    So far I’ve made one crossover toon, my Fed science guy whom I named Arthur Dent, from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy universe. But so far that’s it. Arthur’s backstory, in a nutshell, is that he arrived in the Trek universe due to a mishap with his ship’s improbability drive (long story there).

    I was briefly toying with the idea of naming my Fed eng alt toon Buck Rogers (and he’s in the 25th century too, so it kinda works!), but I ultimately decided against it and ended up just making him a regular Starfleet guy (Dean Hawkins, aka “Chicken Hawk” – long story behind that nickname, which he got when he was at Starfleet Academy).

    Re the silly floating disco balls, I just bought the nullifier for all my toons and ignore it. And I’m so glad that Cryptic at least gave us the option of buying that nullifier so it’s not quite as annoying. There are times when I’m just not in a dancing mood, and I don’t want it foisted upon me.

    And yes, it was HIGHLY disrespectful for those trolls to be blowing balloons and setting off party balls at Leonard Nimoy’s memorial on Vulcan. I really wish Cryptic would’ve kicked them out and banned them for doing that and all their other, more severe trolling, because that was in very poor taste and totally inappropriate and unacceptable. But I guess Cryptic doesn’t really care enough to deal with the trolls, or they’d do something about it.

    Re STO’s ridiculous rank system, personally I think players’ Starfleet ranks should be made independent of whatever level they are, so that you don’t have the current ridiculous situation with ubiquitous fleet admirals who beam down alone (!) to do battle with the Borg on Defera, for example. How better to implement them? I don’t know, maybe have Starfleet ranks unlockable from certain achievements or whatever? I don’t really have an answer right now, but the current system is just silly and not very believable or realistic at all and I think we need something better.

    And I think the Starfleet rank should’ve been maxed out at captain, as that’s more realistic and believable than having fleet admirals (same rank as Admiral Quinn and probably Admiral Janeway too at this point) literally everywhere in the game. Or at least if they did give us admiral rank, then at least give us the ability to actually do admiral-type stuff, and promote our boffs to captain and put them in command of our other ships we’re not using, so we can go out as a fleet and coordinate their movements, strategies, and tactics. That’s something that a lot of people have been talking about and wanting for a long time now. But I’m not counting on Cryptic actually doing something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never played STO, but it sounds dangerously addictive! I’ve already probably spent the equivalent of 2 hamster lifetimes on my World of Warcrack addiction… Although after just reading the futurama post you made too I’m kind of thinking I have to try it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a little addictive, but I think it’s less so than most other MMORPGs… especially if you’re not a Trekkie to begin with. I know a lot of STO players only play casually and do just fine… and it’s FREEEEEEE. XD

      If you ever decide to try STO, look me up in-game!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, it’s definitely addictive, especially for us Trekkers/Trekkies. Another thing about it is that it’s probably the only Star Trek game currently out there that’s worth playing. I like how players can make their own missions (known as foundry missions). And the fact that they brought in so many of the original Trek actors to do the voiceovers lends it an air of credibility, making it arguably the closest thing we currently have to a real Trek TV series, which is something I’d love to see happen again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Closest thing to a real Trek TV series…. except for everything I talked about in this post! XD

        Honestly, the parts I like most about STO is (A) the Space Barbie/character customization and (B) the pretty pretty space pictures. The pew-pewing that so many people like actually gets boring after a while. :p

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  3. Reblogged this on Conversations with the Lootcritter and commented:
    Heidy’s insightful look at what breaks immersion in STO – worth a read 😉 Certainly capped all my pain points. #4 reminds me of the first few days after the launch of LoR, with Scimi’s orbiting ESD, allied yet carrying a banned Thaleron weapon capable of destroying all life on Earth. #2 goes without saying (OMG Sir, we have more room in our cooridoors than our cargo bays!).

    #1 I agree with when you’re trying to explain your ‘role’ in the game, but the intent was that we are just one of ‘a very few’ fleet admirals. The fact that there are thousands more, many of whom dress inappropriately for their rank, is merely for color and to confuse our enemies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha… I know, Heidy. 🙂 I get that, and I’m not a fan of all the weird crossover stuff people do in the game either. And the pew-pew-fest does get boring and repetitive. But I figure, hey, if that’s how some people choose to enjoy the game, who am I to criticize them for it?

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    1. Oh I’m not criticizing at all. Just pointing out there are other stuff to enjoy in the game even if you don’t do the pew-pew, which usually helps out casual players who might worry about picking up another addictive game.

      I mean, I know I toss around suspicious-looking STO abbreviations in my posts, but I want to clarify they are always, always real in-game things. ESD is a space station, not 25th Century ACID. >.>

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed, and on that note I think there should be a glossary of STO abbreviations so that newbies won’t be totally lost as to what they mean (like I was when I started playing).

        And what’s ACID (is it a game?)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is Jay West, btw. I went ahead and officially joined this website, and now it’s showing me as “sjkendrella” (part of my email address). I’m new to WordPress so I don’t know why that is.

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  5. Well ACID /can/ be a game, although I would advise against it since that stuff is bad for you. And psychedelic. And potentially addictive. And illegal I think.

    You know, ACID. LSD. Not… ESD.

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    1. Ha… Ah, OK. Gotcha. 😉

      Tho it does make me wonder sometimes if people were high as a kite when they came up with some of their names for their characters and ships.

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    1. I agree with most of this and I wish developers would show restraint on some of these points.

      Instead of blowing up, your ship could simply drift, spark, and sputter until a friendly ally revives you with a space version of resuscitate teammate (with a boarding party animation) or with a respawn option that shows you warp out and warp back in good as new (maybe with an option to change ships on respawn).

      A lot of what gets added as fun, well… It strikes me as brogrammery. More like TNG Recut than TNG. Perhaps even a bit like Justin Roiland of Rick and Morty and Adventure Time except I think Justin has a post-ironic edge to his sputtering comedy. That and he gets balanced out on Rick and Morty by Dan Harmon, who brings in some dry wit; actually both of them have manic sides to their comedy that the other one tapers down with a sober side, as if to say, “You’ve had your fun. Now I’m going to show the sobering horror of the joke you just made.” Or maybe MMO comedy is a bit Seth McFarlane-y, when I think McFarlane’s best comedy is when he has someone telling him “no”, which is why I think American Dad is probably his best show. And like McFarlane’s comedy, the comedy in STO becomes unfunny very quickly, sometimes becomes funny again in its unfunniness, and then quickly overstays its welcome. After all, it’s only in anti-comedy that you have no surprises. Real comedy is built on surprises and there is simply no surprise to the disco balls. The poppers are marginally better because the results vary but I’ve wondered at times if the problem with the party balls isn’t that it’s a single gag that seriously overwears its welcome.

      Warcraft’s Piccolo of the Flaming Fire gains something in being less ubiquitous. First of all, it’s a drop in a dungeon few people run. Second, it lasts for 30 seconds, is limited to 5 yards, has no accompanying visual aside from people dancing, and can’t be used again for 5 minutes. You can use a number of toys in WoW but then you’re using a VARIETY of toys. WoW also has default dances by race/species so rather than seeing all the Vulcans doing the a club dance, the equivalent would probably be if each species had its own default dance set. Somehow that seems better to me. It’s at least not the same visual gag every time if it varies by crowd.

      On that subject, one of my big immersion breakers is the animations. They don’t feel mo-capped. They feel puppeteered. Which is a shame since mo-capped libraries of animations can be bought these days. Many newer games also seem to opt for collision animations. That doesn’t necessarily mean collision DAMAGE which was a fail in early STO. But it might mean ships that scrape things slow down and spew sparks. Or that people who point themselves at a wall and run will fall down on their butt. Or that ramming into an NPC will make you fall down while they give you a dirty look and dust themselves off.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now that’s an interesting idea that I like; if your ship is severely damaged enough that it’s disabled but not SO severely damaged that it explodes, it’d be nice to have teammates be able to fix your ship up and get you back in the action.

        It should also be done more realistically so that if your ship is disabled and vulnerable, and STILL taking damage, it could still explode and you’d die anyway. But at least then you’d have a chance to be revived by teammates, which is better than no chance at all.

        Another thing that I think needs to be changed in the ship animations is when ships do explode, they strangely come to a complete stop before exploding, which doesn’t make any sense. It should at least keep going along that same vector as it explodes. Lots of little changes that are needed in STO to improve immersion and realism.

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  6. You are pretty much on point about ship respawns; Fungi and I previously discussed this and came to the same conclusion. If a “defeated” ship is left adrift until repaired by a teammate, it’s not only more realistic, but also encourages cooperation as well as a more balanced approach to gameplay (i.e. healers and tanks would be more relevant, rather than the very one-sided focus on damage-dealers/DPS).

    I would also love it if we had animations that are interactive with the environment and each other. It always feels weird that no one is interacting with anyone else in a social hub, and everyone is just either in deep thought or staring vacuously into the middle distance. Even something as simple as heads turning towards the person you are currently looking at would be a huge improvement!

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