State of the Union (September 2017)

Being waylaid for a couple of weeks doesn’t mean I haven’t been following news on STO. In fact, when you’re stuck in bed for the better part of two weeks, reading up on news online is pretty much the only reliable entertainment you get!

A few things were announced in the last couple of weeks… some of which are controversial and some are frankly troubling.

Couple of months ago Cryptic announced the upcoming content, including the upcoming TNG 30th Anniversary as well as what looks to be a Dominion-focused Season 14 next year. It got people excited and stuff, which is definitely what the game…. ANY game needs. One of the reveals that generated the excitement was this:

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The fully rendered Enterprise-D interior was showcased in the recent Featured Episode “Beyond the Nexus”, and it’s a thing of beauty. I know I was looking forward to this! The Galaxy Bridge/Interior pack was finally released yesterday, with this lovely little blurb:

This bridge will be available in the C-store for 2000 Zen. We can’t wait for you to get the chance to walk the halls of these famous ships, Captains. We’ll see you in game.

Holy crap Batman. 2000 Zen for a bridge??? Does Cryptic not realize how often people go to their bridges, and how useful they actually are? They want 2000 Zen for Space Barbie that I can’t even show off properly. As amazing as the work is, this is not a worthwhile purchase… and most people seem to agree with my assessment.

Listen, just because you put a lot of work and effort into this, doesn’t mean you can charge whatever you like and think it’ll sell; that’s not how market pricing works. Market pricing is driven by consumer demand, which is in turn based on perceived value. Production costs do not enter the equation from a consumer’s perspective. Seriously Cryptic, get with the program here.

Lots of players have made comparison to previous TV show bridges offered in the C-Store, where you have the TOS and Defiant Bridges that come in bundles that include additional outfits, shuttles, weapons, and sometimes even unique Doffs. The Voyager bridge, another misstep in Cryptic’s marketing efforts, came in an expensive bundle that included 3 Intrepid-class variant ships, but the three ships themselves justify the cost. Not so with this TNG/Galaxy Bridge. This thing comes with…. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. Zero-San. Negatory.

So yeah, as much as I think this interior is done beautifully, it’s not worth the coin.

And if that wasn’t enough to rile up all the natives, Cryptic released more information on the new upcoming Colony Fleet Holding. What’s the problem? Take a look at this video put together by a diligent player Startrekker:

Transript:


So, this holding looks great. Some of the items are certainly going to be useful. However, cryptic made a change to one of the core project commodities that will make this holding very hard for most fleets in this game to complete.

In previous holdings, there were provision items you could buy from the replicator with fleet credits. With this holding, they’ve changed it so you have to do things around the map to earn them. While this seems like a great idea to try and encourage people to do a bit of social stuff with their fleet, it comes at a time when most fleets have died out, and overall multiplayer activity is pretty low. At this point, many of us know quite a few people that only log in when new missions are released. A fleet holding that will need hours of work daily from several people and take upwards of a year to build is not the type of content that engages people in the game, it’s the type of content that pushes people out.

Looking back at what I just said, what do I mean by work? Well, y’all are gonna love this. Currently, the only ways to obtain these provisions is through an hourly minigame, yeah, those things (omega, dil mining, and radiation scanning minigames) that we all know and find repetitive very fast. Oh, and to make matters worse, there’s a separate provision for each of the three tracks on the holding. You’ll need to run around the map to get to them, which could easily take you a few minutes with how large this place is. You can earn up to 250 provisions for each section every hour from these.

Now, the other source is the colony invasion. This has 30 waves, can support up to 20 players, and takes upwards of 40 minutes. In order to even run these, your fleet has to run a provisioning project that will allow for a few runs. This provisioning project needs some dilithium, fleet credits, and expertise.

Fully completing this colony invasion is reportedly giving 600 of each of the provisions.

I’ll also note that build up the holding also generates the ability for it to automatically farm some provisions, reducing the amount needed.

At this point, I’ve mentioned there’s an hourly repetitive project. I’ve mentioned a colony invasion event that supports up to 20 people getting 600 provisions per provision type every 40 mintues, and that’s only if they have the provisions to run the invasion. And I’ve mentioned that it automatically farms some for us, so what’s the issue?

Well, you see, when you start getting into the higher tiers of this, you need a lot of provisions. T3 upgrades need 80k provisions for that track. T4 needs around 250,000, and T5 needs half a million. The actual colony t5 upgrade needs around 350k of each provision.

But those are the upgrades, what about the daily projects?

Well, I don’t have anything from T2 or T3, but here’s the Tiers 1 & 4 daily XP data, and a T5 provisioning one.

  • T1: 3600 provisions
  • T4: 13,000
  • T5 Provisioning: 26,000

Ok, so those numbers are pretty high. Which is part of the issue. Now I want to look at what it’d take for a fleet to fill that Tier 5 provisioning project using everything available. I also want to look at what that Tier 5 upgrade would take.

For this I’ve done a bit of tinkering on excel, it’s a mess, but lets get to what we need to see.

Assuming that people do a single colony invasion queue and set of each minigame once an hour, each person can get 850 provisions. A max of 20 people can be on the map at a time, so that’s a max of 17,000 per hour generated for the fleet. Now, if we focus as hard as we can on this, in around 100 minutes we can do 2 sets of the minigames, and 2 sets of the colony invasion, generating 34,000 provisions between all 20 people.

I know most fleets don’t have 20 people active anymore, but I’m just using that to show how bad this new system is with the optimal amount of people.

I’m even going to be generous enough for both of these calculations to factor in 1 set of the daily automated thing that will take 4.7k off what is needed.

So, with all of that out of the way, we need around 1 hour per person for the daily tier 5 provisioning project, or 20 hours total between everyone.

And with the Tier 5 colony upgrade, you only need 16 hours 40 minutes per person, or 333 hours, 20 minutes of work between 20 people for just that one upgrade.

And there we have it. Arguably the largest piece of content from season 14.

I’ve gotten some hate for not exactly saying nice things about cryptic, but come on. This is a game, and here we have a holding that is going to simply be impossible for all but a few fleets out there, and is going to require us to spend hours and hours a day doing work for a holding we won’t even be able to finish for several months, grinding at max speed.

This system even being a thing brings into question if they’re even looking into metrics, and honestly, makes them look incompetent. Which is really a shame, because there are some people there that do amazing work, and all of that great work is hidden behind a system that is very unfriendly to players.

I’ve talked to several other fleet leaders, from some of the largest fleets out there, and the consensus is that this is going to be a struggle for even the largest fleets in the game. Small and medium size fleets have absolutely no chance.

I think the solution here is to get rid of this new system, there’s just not enough activity in the game to warrant it, nor will there likely be ever again. Replace it with what we’ve had with the other holdings, give us a single provision that can be bought with fleet credits via the replicator, and tone the provision requirements down to similar levels as the other holdings.


YIKES. So this thing requires a LOT of players dedicating a LOT of time to gather the necessary resources/provisions. And it’s not just donating resources like the existing fleet holdings; this is demanding players to run team ground maps on a regular basis, and this also requires everyone to play the boring and repetitive mini-games again, and again, and again, and again. Like the commentator said, even for the largest, most active fleets out there this will take a long time to complete, while the rest of the medium and small fleets essentially have no chance in hell.

This is hardly the first time Cryptic has come up with questionable systems, but I think this one is too massive to ignore. They chose to introduce something like this when the STO player base is eroding, which seems to me indicate they are quite a bit out of touch with the playerbase… on what we want and don’t want. Is Cryptic banking hard on Star Trek Discovery to pull in old and new players alike? Because that’s the only reasoning I can think of. If that’s true, I’d say it’s a risky proposition at best. I mean, I’m less of a pessimist about Discovery than a lot of Trek fans, but this show is going to be on CBS All Access (Crave TV in Canada) — these are Pay Channels, boyo, and not necessarily very popular ones at that. The venue for the show is sub-optimal in terms of exposure; I’m skeptical of the show’s success on this alone.

The bigger implication here is that Cryptic put out a big piece of endgame content that is ultimately going to be beyond the reach of most, if not all players. Hell, it’s not even like the whales can just throw money at it and get it! This is going to frustrate a LOT of people, and people will just stop playing. If Cryptic doesn’t do something about it and fix it, this Colony Fleet Holding could kill the game. I see this as the single biggest misstep in STO yet. Seriously, THIS NEEDS TO BE FIXED BEFORE IT GOES LIVE IN TWO WEEKS.

Guess we’ll see what the future holds, but as of right now, STO is not in a good place.

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6 thoughts on “State of the Union (September 2017)

  1. Wow. You’re right. This could well be the last straw that makes people leave STO en masse, or at least ignore that whole new fleet colony holding entirely.

    I mean, you know how tiny my fleet is; there are only a few of us left and we’re not on that often anymore so there’s no way in hell we’d be able to get that built up. That’s just ridiculous. It doesn’t look like large fleets will fare much better either.

    And $20 just for a ship bridge is just ridiculous too. Had it come with a nice new ship, OK, I could see it. But not by itself, unless they lower the price considerably. I could see *maybe* $10 (at most) for that standalone bridge. But no more than that.

    But what really upsets me about this new fleet colony holding is that they took away some of the elite fleet weapons that we had already grinded for and earned, and moved them to the new fleet holding.
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. That’s just wrong. It seems to me that they did that just to try to force us to grind up the new tier 5 holding. Not cool. It’s just totally unethical, I feel, and I know I’m not alone in that; many people I’ve spoken to about this are especially livid about it. Sadly, this could be the beginning of the end of STO, if they keep this up. The players will only tolerate so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By the way, I know you haven’t been on STO much (or at all) lately, so I thought I’d let you know that I’ve pulled my toons from your Fleet. Like you said, no one is around much anymore and it’s a real pain in the ass to get someone to open up the fleet provisions every time I want to buy something. That just doesn’t work, sorry.

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  2. I think this is naturally what happens when all passion is gone and the developers only care about the Asset to Profit ratio. I don’t see how a develop who truly cared about the game would allow the game to have so many issues. If the Asset to Profit ratio is that important to the Dev team, then allow players to vote with their wallets regarding things they want to see in the game. Heck, go start a GoFundMe titled: “The great STO bug fix.” If they hit the donation goal, they spend that money on bug fixing and QoL changes.

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    1. Ohmygosh, please don’t give them that idea. That’s like what Youtube is doing: pay us money if you want to skip the ads. Guess what? I’ve stopped watching Youtube because of the ads. If they did this with STO, it’s Goodbye-STO for me.

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  3. They’ve made some odd choices this year. I get that they’re they’re putting work in on an expansion, but some of the decisions have been baffling and there’s been some god tier levels of phoning it in and cash grabbing.

    This fleet holding, the balance pass, brokeass Tzenkethi BZ, new stf UI, competitive rep and the 2k galaxy interior are up there. I’m not sure why they didn’t wait until this next season drops and bundle the interior with a T6 Galaxy ship, like a copy-pasta Andromeda but with the new Miracle Worker seat instead of Command. Throw in some random stupid stuff like an outfit, doffs, etc and charge 3k for it or something. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore.

    Also, the queues. They’ve basically ignored this issue forever and just keep piling new ones on. It feels like it’s finally reached a critical mass of suckiness, but they refuse to even acknowledge it. Instead there seems to be an antagonism towards the players over them, which I don’t get. If people prefer the older, faster queues in which their skill, gear and builds make a marked difference, well, hint hint.

    I’ve loathed just about every single STF release post DR. Timers on everything. Endlessly spawning trash mobs with hyper inflated hp. Easily broken interacts on everything. Unbalanced reward payouts. Unskippable cutscenes that interupt you in the middle of action. PUG unfriendly mechanics. Stupid fail conditions and optionals that are near impossible to do. And at least 1 of the new 3 per rep are always broken on release or so poorly optimized it’s impossible to play anyway.

    Once I have the marks to finish a rep, I’m done. I find the least objectionable one and run it to death then never touch it again. They are awful and don’t improve any with repetition. But I’ll still queue up for Khitomer Vortex or other older, pre-DR stuff for fun. I’d still be playing Undine Infiltration Elite if they hadn’t completely broken it. They might be kinda boring, but at least they aren’t actively annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually like Khitomer Vortex and Undine Infiltration. Back in the day we used to run those pretty regularly, remember? I don’t think those are boring. Some of the old queues were really good; I especially miss Starbase defense when we used to have those 20-man queues filled.

      I get whey they did the Re-balancing… it just wasn’t done very well. But yeah, things like the Tzenkethi BZ and new Queue UI are inexcusable. The former is plain broken, the latter is kinda broken and very difficult to use. Why Cryptic won’t fix these I will never know, because it’s just silly. All that work put into the Tzenkethi BZ has gone to waste now, because they won’t fix their broken code… but the Queue UI is a much bigger issue. It’s partially to blame for queues not popping, and that’s a huge problem when queues make up the bulk of your endgame content.

      The Competitive Rep and the Competitive Queues… well, they were predictably DOA. People ran those when they first arrived, but once everyone got their Reps filled up the queues are left to rot and die. So much for Cryptic’s efforts to revitalized PvP, although in this case troll players are partly to blame for souring those queues. That being said, that problem was predicted and reported, it’s just that nothing much was done about it so here we are.

      Still, we’re facing down this ridiculous Fleet Holding in another week – potentially one of the biggest design screwups in STO yet.

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