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Star Trek Online: Preview, Part Three

StraddenStradden Managing EditorMember CommonPosts: 6,696

In the final part of his Star Trek Online preview, Dana Massey discusses key gameplay elements including the game's UI, Itemization and PvP.

Today marks the final part in my three part preview of Star Trek Online. Today, I'll cover the user Interface, items, grouping and PvP. You can read part one of the preview, here while part two can be found here.

User Interface

User Interface design has to be the most thankless job in gaming. If ever a game company sees someone like me writing about them, that means they've got some work to do. When done right, no one notices. When they're not, everyone has an opinion.

That's not to say that the UI in STO is horrible, it's not, but it's not exactly stellar either and I am certain that Cryptic is aware of it and has put a lot of effort into it. With each build I've seen changes, good and bad, go in and I am absolutely certain that will continue up to and throughout launch. So I preface all of this with: it will all change.

Read Preview, Part Three.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

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Comments

  • godseek3rgodseek3r Member Posts: 76

    First, and thanks.

    Playing - Champions Online
    Unsure Of - Darkfall, Star Trek Online
    Waiting For - Star Wars: The Old Republic, All Points Bulletin
    Played - Age Of Conan, Everquest II, Mabinogi, Tabula Rasa, Star Wars Galaxies, World Of Warcraft

  • ManarixManarix Member UncommonPosts: 98

    Thank you for the review.

    It underlines that this can be a great game in the future but needs more time to get ready.

     

    Currently playing browser games. Waiting for Albion Online, Citadel of Sorcery and Camelot Unchained.
    Played: almost all MMO pre 2007

  • EttirxaEttirxa Member Posts: 93

    the more I hear about this game the worse it sounds. Rushed, shallow and unrewarding gaming experience....

    no thanx

  • Does this game use bind on pickup?

     

    Also, didn't see any info yet on crafting.  Any info you can provide?

     

    Thanks

  • BentistoBentisto Member Posts: 21

    It still looks promising, given time...

  • SanguinelustSanguinelust Member UncommonPosts: 812

    Looks interesting. I hope it doesn't bomb.

  • RobsolfRobsolf Member RarePosts: 4,597

    The interface as described reminds me of CO, which isn't a good thing.  Some option to "take all" loot in one click should be on every non pvp full loot game out there today.

    This is friggin' Star Trek!  Why can't you beam the stuff aboard??? 

  • gingus418gingus418 Member Posts: 128

     I'm torn here. While I love the premise of the game, I don't like how instanced the game is turning out to be.... knowing me though I'll be picking it up anyway, just to see what all the fuss is about. 

    image

  • Dana,

    How familiar are you with Champions online and how did the equipment/ability system in STO seem similar to Champions?

    I tried out a Champions for a couple of weekends to see what the buzz was about.  Some of my annoyances at the game came from how Equipement was handled and how the Power/Ability system worked.

    Here were some of the mechcanical problems I had with Champions:

    1) What each power did beyond Damage dealt and Endurance consumed.  Reading some of the optional stat blocks I felt like I needed a dictionary for every special status effect.  This was at it's worst when trying to determine how a given stat affected a power. 

    2) Finding proper synergies, you mentioned this with your "bonus to disruptors"-station and your "bonus to phasers"-bridge officer.

    3) The "Click to pickup, click to take or take all"  The only advantage I can see to this system is not losing drops due to full inventories.  Although with Champions getting value from clearing out your inventory required a trip to the Auction House, Storage Bank, or Skill store to sell, store, or recycle widgets into resources.

    4) How bad is the "Flotsam to Useful" ratio?  I found in playing Champions that I received a lot of items that were of limited use and the usable items lasted me quite a while before I found something "similar, but better".  I realize the game developers know that the more you reward players the happier they are, but at some point there's going to be a backlash to the endless stream of junk that keeps getting rewarded.  Admittiedly, consumables are different since you always need more.

    That does remind me: Who thought that it would be a good idea to have a "cooldown" on consumable items in Champions?  It made no sense when I had two different types of stim packs that I could only use one every 30 seconds. 

    It may not be entirely fair to compare STO to Champions, but between what you've described in your article and the video floating around the net seems to indicate they're very similar.  I was hoping the sci-fi theme made the system work a little better than the Tech/Magic superhero one or at least getting away from the Heroes Games-ish stat/power system of Champions.

    My thing is this: There is a problem in the design if you spend half your gaming time figuring out what the lot does, if it will actually help with what you're trying to do in-game, and if not disposing it in the most beneficial way.  It got so bad in Champions I was posting items in the Auction house for just above what selling it to an NPC, just to see if it would move.  (Answer: it's a very slow process)

    I'm not just ripping on Cryptic though, it seems "inventory management" has become a lost art in RPGs and MMORPGs.  I loved playing Mass Effect on the PC, but the inventory system was terrible if you had large numbers of items.

  • RunianStarRunianStar Member UncommonPosts: 27

    Thanks again for the article, Dana. 

    I almost spit out my lunch after laughing so hard when you said  "Just give me the damn widgets already!"  As was mentioned before, that was one of my major issues with Champions Online.  The inventory, loot, and skill system was just too messy, too complicated, and too much thrown at a player at one time. 

     

    I would really rather STO have fewer items that mean more and have good (and understandable) differences given between the items.  You are right, based on CO's beta experience, Cryptic is good at improving small items in a short amount of time, I just hope they are quick enough to improve most of these issues before STO's launch.  Many gamers (including me to be honest) have short attention spans and low tolerances for things that are unnecessarily difficult or filled with bugs.

    I appreciate you mentioning the group side of things and always appreciate your articles (I really do).  Just a quick word though... you mentioned twice in these previews about things you didn't really spend a lot of time with because of your personal play style (reading the lore within the game and grouping).  I can definitely understand that, but you are also the eyes and ears for us (who are not in beta) so covering as many aspects of a game (as possible) is often really important for those who may value certain aspects more.  So again we do appreciate when you take the time to do so.

    As for STO... sounds like the game could use at least another two months in development.  But alas, I'm trying hard to support your efforts Cryptic... please give us a really good product at launch.  We're desperate for a different type of mmo out here.   

    image
  • PhryPhry Member LegendaryPosts: 11,004

    The various reviews have been very informative imo, sometimes its a bit hard to filter out real information on things, vs opinion. At the moment, it seems like one of those games thats almost there... kind of..  for me at the moment i would have to say, this isnt quite the game im looking for.... but.. it might turn into it later.. maybe im just crossing my fingers and hoping on this one.. but.. you know.. playing a romulan in a 3 way fight could be fun.. but the game doesnt allow for that .. yet.. who knows.. maybe later on it will, the thing about romulans is.. you never know for sure whose side their on

  • mmoHeadachemmoHeadache Member Posts: 6

     Great article.  

     

    I for one am ready to get my feet wet with STO.  Most of the issues outlined are simple fixes.  Unlike other games with completely wrecked combat, insanely boring repetitive pve, and cookie cutter factions, these issue can be fixed.   It sounds like the actual combat is pretty fun.   I'm looking forward to your pvp review.

    Can't wait for open beta!!

  • RobsolfRobsolf Member RarePosts: 4,597
    Originally posted by RunianStar


    Thanks again for the article, Dana. 
    I almost spit out my lunch after laughing so hard when you said  "Just give me the damn widgets already!"  As was mentioned before, that was one of my major issues with Champions Online.  The inventory, loot, and skill system was just too messy, too complicated, and too much thrown at a player at one time. 

     




    Wow... didn't realize so many people found CO's "stuff" system as annoying as I did.  It's strange that they moved from CoX's autoloot system(completely appropriate in the superhero genre) to the ever clunky "f" system in their "CoH 2.0" game.  Again I stress my earlier point; in Star Trek they beam stuff to the cargo hold all the time.  Why do you have to approach, "f", click, etc...?  Because they just wanted to copy/paste code from CO?  It may seem a silly concern, but looting really is a significant portion of gameplay.  It slows things down, and I can't see any reason to do this in a game genre where quicklooting can be explained.

    I'll definitely be waiting for a trial on this one.

  • PhryPhry Member LegendaryPosts: 11,004
    Originally posted by Robsolf

    Originally posted by RunianStar


    Thanks again for the article, Dana. 
    I almost spit out my lunch after laughing so hard when you said  "Just give me the damn widgets already!"  As was mentioned before, that was one of my major issues with Champions Online.  The inventory, loot, and skill system was just too messy, too complicated, and too much thrown at a player at one time. 

     




    Wow... didn't realize so many people found CO's "stuff" system as annoying as I did.  It's strange that they moved from CoX's autoloot system(completely appropriate in the superhero genre) to the ever clunky "f" system in their "CoH 2.0" game.  Again I stress my earlier point; in Star Trek they beam stuff to the cargo hold all the time.  Why do you have to approach, "f", click, etc...?  Because they just wanted to copy/paste code from CO?  It may seem a silly concern, but looting really is a significant portion of gameplay.  It slows things down, and I can't see any reason to do this in a game genre where quicklooting can be explained.

    I'll definitely be waiting for a trial on this one.



     

    Your post reminded me of another of my questions.. but.. why do starships drop loot items ? 

    i know that might seem like an odd question, but is it really necessary to have to loot stuff in space, i can sort of imagine on the ground games that plot items or whatever might be loot drops, it all seems a bit like the old.. why did this wolf i just killed drop a laser rifle kind of thing.. 

  • MMO_DoubterMMO_Doubter Member Posts: 5,056
    Originally posted by Phry 
     
    Your post reminded me of another of my questions.. but.. why do starships drop loot items ? 

    It's because it's an MMO standard. WoW in a Trek skin.

    Why is there an Auction House? Ranged Healing? Same answer.

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

  • RobsolfRobsolf Member RarePosts: 4,597
    Originally posted by Phry

    Originally posted by Robsolf

    Originally posted by RunianStar


    Thanks again for the article, Dana. 
    I almost spit out my lunch after laughing so hard when you said  "Just give me the damn widgets already!"  As was mentioned before, that was one of my major issues with Champions Online.  The inventory, loot, and skill system was just too messy, too complicated, and too much thrown at a player at one time. 

     




    Wow... didn't realize so many people found CO's "stuff" system as annoying as I did.  It's strange that they moved from CoX's autoloot system(completely appropriate in the superhero genre) to the ever clunky "f" system in their "CoH 2.0" game.  Again I stress my earlier point; in Star Trek they beam stuff to the cargo hold all the time.  Why do you have to approach, "f", click, etc...?  Because they just wanted to copy/paste code from CO?  It may seem a silly concern, but looting really is a significant portion of gameplay.  It slows things down, and I can't see any reason to do this in a game genre where quicklooting can be explained.

    I'll definitely be waiting for a trial on this one.



     

    Your post reminded me of another of my questions.. but.. why do starships drop loot items ? 

    i know that might seem like an odd question, but is it really necessary to have to loot stuff in space, i can sort of imagine on the ground games that plot items or whatever might be loot drops, it all seems a bit like the old.. why did this wolf i just killed drop a laser rifle kind of thing.. 



    LOL!!!  Yeah, LotRO pulls that nonsense now and then... how that Black Bear happened to be carrying a 2 handed poleaxe and 86 copper is anybody's guess!  Teenage Mutant Ninja Bear? :P

    In space, if they're ship components, I can buy that.  Eve does it and it makes sense; they're just the bits that blew off the ship intact.  On the ground though, it'll be another MMO faux pas should a klingon drop a phaser battery and some "federation credits" or something...

  • RobsolfRobsolf Member RarePosts: 4,597
    Originally posted by MMO_Doubter

    Originally posted by Phry 
     
    Your post reminded me of another of my questions.. but.. why do starships drop loot items ? 

    It's because it's an MMO standard. WoW in a Trek skin.

    Why is there an Auction House? Ranged Healing? Same answer.

     

    I was always under the impression that the Federation Military was pretty much socialistic.  I don't recall anyone ever having to pay anything for anything, and they have food synthesizers and whatnot.  Seems to me, since you have a military owned vessel, that you'd have to use some form of reputation as currency rather than... space bucks, to buy mods and new ships.

  • MMO_DoubterMMO_Doubter Member Posts: 5,056
    Originally posted by Robsolf
     
    I was always under the impression that the Federation Military was pretty much socialistic.  I don't recall anyone ever having to pay anything for anything, and they have food synthesizers and whatnot.  Seems to me, since you have a military owned vessel, that you'd have to use some form of reputation as currency rather than... space bucks, to buy mods and new ships.

    Indeed. I could see Federation captains' rep being used to get faster repairs and better crew. The idea of them owning their ships and paying cash for mods is purely ridiculous.

    It's just another way in which Cryptic dumps all over the IP.

    They have designed the game to appeal to MMO players in general, not Trek fans. Which is why it's clearly IP bait & switch.

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

  • LanthirLanthir Member UncommonPosts: 222
    Originally posted by Phry

    Originally posted by Robsolf

    Originally posted by RunianStar


    Thanks again for the article, Dana. 
    I almost spit out my lunch after laughing so hard when you said  "Just give me the damn widgets already!"  As was mentioned before, that was one of my major issues with Champions Online.  The inventory, loot, and skill system was just too messy, too complicated, and too much thrown at a player at one time. 

     




    Wow... didn't realize so many people found CO's "stuff" system as annoying as I did.  It's strange that they moved from CoX's autoloot system(completely appropriate in the superhero genre) to the ever clunky "f" system in their "CoH 2.0" game.  Again I stress my earlier point; in Star Trek they beam stuff to the cargo hold all the time.  Why do you have to approach, "f", click, etc...?  Because they just wanted to copy/paste code from CO?  It may seem a silly concern, but looting really is a significant portion of gameplay.  It slows things down, and I can't see any reason to do this in a game genre where quicklooting can be explained.

    I'll definitely be waiting for a trial on this one.



     

    Your post reminded me of another of my questions.. but.. why do starships drop loot items ? 

    i know that might seem like an odd question, but is it really necessary to have to loot stuff in space, i can sort of imagine on the ground games that plot items or whatever might be loot drops, it all seems a bit like the old.. why did this wolf i just killed drop a laser rifle kind of thing.. 



     

    you destoyed a ship that does not mean there is not wreckage floating about from it you can use

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

  • grandpagamergrandpagamer Member Posts: 2,221
    Originally posted by Phry


    The various reviews have been very informative imo, sometimes its a bit hard to filter out real information on things, vs opinion. At the moment, it seems like one of those games thats almost there... kind of..  for me at the moment i would have to say, this isnt quite the game im looking for.... but.. it might turn into it later.. maybe im just crossing my fingers and hoping on this one.. but.. you know.. playing a romulan in a 3 way fight could be fun.. but the game doesnt allow for that .. yet.. who knows.. maybe later on it will, the thing about romulans is.. you never know for sure whose side their on

    Yes three factions would make for better and more interesting PVP. Romulans would be cool, personally im hoping for Borg.          

  • C04LC04L Member UncommonPosts: 22

    Thanks Dana, I've enjoyed reading your thoughts on STO as it is at the moment.

    I look foreward to playing the game on release and possibly reading your 'review' of it in Feb'

    KKKKKHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNN !!!!!!

  • YamotaYamota Member UncommonPosts: 6,593

    The neutral zone is just a queing system for PvP scenarios? Wow, sounds like another debacle to me.

    What was missing in CO was world PvP or atleast zone PvP but it seems like, again, Cryptic didnt get it and offered only PvP scenarios, even in the neutral zone.

    Lame.

  • NeblessNebless Member RarePosts: 1,456

    A really good warts and all review.  Be nice if more reviews were like this.

    Well I'll keep my fingers crossed I'll get a open beta invite, if not I'll fence sit until the first free trial offer comes around.

    SWG (pre-cu) - AoC (pre-f2p) - PotBS (pre-boarder) - DDO - LotRO (pre-f2p) - STO - GnH (beta tester) - SWToR - Neverwinter

  • Originally posted by Robsolf

    Originally posted by MMO_Doubter

    Originally posted by Phry 
     
    Your post reminded me of another of my questions.. but.. why do starships drop loot items ? 

    It's because it's an MMO standard. WoW in a Trek skin.

    Why is there an Auction House? Ranged Healing? Same answer.

     

    I was always under the impression that the Federation Military was pretty much socialistic.  I don't recall anyone ever having to pay anything for anything, and they have food synthesizers and whatnot.  Seems to me, since you have a military owned vessel, that you'd have to use some form of reputation as currency rather than... space bucks, to buy mods and new ships.

     

    Technically speaking all starfleet officers are paid a salary, although that is of course not necessary in the federation because they do not use currency.  The pay is for other societies, which do use money.  So Trek lore supports the use of money.  

     

    I couldn't quote you the exact reference of this but it was in a star trek official encyclopedia of some sort that I read about 10 years ago.  The fact that other societies use money is supported by the official canon primarily in the television series.  Considering other societies use currency as a medium of exchange, starfleet and other federation entities are required to use money to trade with other civilizations.  It's just the common civilians of the federation that have no need for money (at least for basic goods).  Any luxury you'd want to purchase wouldn't be given to you just because your society doesn't have currency.  It's just basically a form of socialism.

  • grandpagamergrandpagamer Member Posts: 2,221
    Originally posted by zaxxon23

    Originally posted by Robsolf

    Originally posted by MMO_Doubter

    Originally posted by Phry 
     
    Your post reminded me of another of my questions.. but.. why do starships drop loot items ? 

    It's because it's an MMO standard. WoW in a Trek skin.

    Why is there an Auction House? Ranged Healing? Same answer.

     

    I was always under the impression that the Federation Military was pretty much socialistic.  I don't recall anyone ever having to pay anything for anything, and they have food synthesizers and whatnot.  Seems to me, since you have a military owned vessel, that you'd have to use some form of reputation as currency rather than... space bucks, to buy mods and new ships.

     

    Technically speaking all starfleet officers are paid a salary, although that is of course not necessary in the federation because they do not use currency.  The pay is for other societies, which do use money.  So Trek lore supports the use of money.  

     

    I couldn't quote you the exact reference of this but it was in a star trek official encyclopedia of some sort that I read about 10 years ago.  The fact that other societies use money is supported by the official canon primarily in the television series.  Considering other societies use currency as a medium of exchange, starfleet and other federation entities are required to use money to trade with other civilizations.  It's just the common civilians of the federation that have no need for money (at least for basic goods).  Any luxury you'd want to purchase wouldn't be given to you just because your society doesn't have currency.  It's just basically a form of socialism.

    That I did not know. I always assumed they just replicated currency for whatever society  they were dealing with. Good information.

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