While there is certainly a litany of player-suggested improvements, the following 5 stand out as being no-brainers* in terms of things that would go a long way to improve quality of life for Star Trek Online players. This list doesn’t mean love isn’t required for issues with PvP, bugs, reward imbalances etc, but are what we think are simple improvements that would have immediate benefits for the whole community.
Please forgive this long post.
1.) Duty Officer Visual Identification in lists.
This stands out as being our number one ‘want’. Over the past 6 weeks we’ve been working on a R&D review looking at how it benefits new players, casual players and the hardcore crafters amongst us.
Currently the only way to see if a duty officer is used for R&D is to open up the detailed view or memorize the 22+ names currently out there. In an environment of new abilities, a rebuilt UI with new icons, and time demands on every aspect of the players life, being unable to identify common doffs quickly has resulted on more than one occasion of them being donated. Given the replacement costs (the free R&D holograms don’t count), we suggest the following:
This would be a positive impact not only in fleet donations, but on the exchange as well. Something we see as a potentially simpler solution as opposed to a mechanic where you flag doffs as being ‘unusable’ for donations or assignments.
2.) Cross-faction Teaming
From a role playing perspective we understand why you would not necessarily always team up with a faction you’re currently fighting, although I can point out to numerous instances from TOS to DS9 where it does occur. That mechanic has had a detrimental impact on the KDF from LoR onwards. It’s unfair and impractical especially in an era of our new alliances. It reinforces the ghettoization of the KDF as a second class faction. Your recent annual infographic only proves that assertion.
Some missions would have to remain faction only, and that’s part of the role-playing of the content. But we might also argue that sometimes we might work against our own governments interests to move forward a personal agenda. There are good examples of that to be found throughout science fiction.
We realize this may be harder to change than the CSS of a button. It may be baked into the code at a level that’s near impossible to change. We all get that. But the benefit to everyone moving forward would be of immense value including future content yet to come, and it would expand inclusiveness throughout the game.
3.) Unrefined Dilithium – Expand it’s uses, Expand Mark conversion to it.
This is a two part improvement.
First and foremost – allow for the donation of unrefined dilithium to fleet projects. Given the massive increase in dilithium sinks throughout the game, this provide players with the ability to refine dil for personal use, while helping their fleet-mates in projects. This will not harm your dilithium-gate model, and will encourage more donations.
Second – add a methodology to convert marks and very rare marks in bulk to unrefined dilithium. With the removal of marks conversion bonuses from the dilithium weekends, this mechanic would not upset the dilithium markets nor would it violate the 8K per day mechanic. It would encourage more donations to support your fleets, and it would free the player from what is seemed to be a process grind.
I would even support a tax on these two suggestions, to account for the new ease of use. While I hope you won’t charge anything (hint, hint), a 10% surcharge would easily be worth it for some, and still leave the traditional method for others.
The long term benefit would be a perception that you want us to play the game more than shuffle paperwork, make donations easier and show us that your engaging our concerns in a tactile way.
4.) Add better communication in-game, from you to the player.
This is a big request that we suggest you do in stages. While we appreciate the listings of ‘whats new’ each season, the reality is the majority of your players do not read this information.
For many of us we read everything from twitter and Facebook posts, to blogs, Youtube and forums for every scrap of news. In truth that’s the only way you can be a dedicated player in Star Trek Online. The game is simply that complex.
For a sizable portion of your players however, their only source of news is ESD chat. And that’s the last place you want to have your message disseminated.
Now what we’re NOT suggestion is an expansion of pop-up messaging. Dear God, NO. Nor are we suggesting making the forums accessible in-game. We do suggest this:
“Last time on Star Trek Online” – a one-time pop-up players will see when they log in. The screen would have “email these links to me” option – or – it could automatically send an update to your ingame email. It would be a text only listing of those elements that have changed since they last logged on. Content would be dynamic and date delimited so that only those changes since the last login appear, and could include links to important forum posts for highly detailed responses.
“Quarterly Polls/Questionnaire with Q” – a way of having ingame players respond to polls usually hidden in the forums. Players could OPT OUT of the poll to continue, or they could be induced to participate in questionnaires that would allow you to aggregate responses from your entire community. A free lockbox key or item if you complete this form.
“Alliance Stakeholder Council” – you want feedback on something before you go to Tribble? Engage select players at your discretion and enable them to feel like they’re contributing to the future success of the product from within the game.
In the enterprise software industry, these sorts of stakeholder groups make up advisory boards that help shape the products next releases. I’m not suggesting that this replaces your planning processes, but it could be a viable community enhancement that would work wonders on how the game is perceived.
Update: This already exists, and it has a super secret forum…
5.) Enhance the Exchange
This is a quality of life issue, one that has a direct impact on casual players. The Exchange is the one tool I think every player touches on at one point or another during each visit to star Trek Online. The current category method is dated, haphazardly organized, and a pain to use for casual players.
We realize this above all may be a tough sell to justify resources to enhance. But we believe the changes will improve the quality of life for all players, so much so that it would be a selling point to bring players back and encourage new players to stay.
“Right Click Price Check” – as you acquire items, see the current selling price on the exchange, including multiples of 20 for consumables or 100 for commodities. This is the twenty-something-or-other century. This kind of information should not have to be something you travel 10 light years for.
“Drag & Drop Categorization” – I drop an item in the search window at the exchange, it automatically sets the search criteria, and it only resets when I put in the next item.
“Search by description, or by icons” Need a specific trait? Easy-peasy. Want only Vulcan duty officers? No problem.
Add “Merchandising Selections” – group things together. The biggest would be an R&D section which would have it’s own listing of duty officers by school requirements. Have a marketplace summary showing the current pricing of each resource for sale like a stock market round up. Engage your players more by offering them information in game to encourage more spending.
How would this benefit Cryptic? Coordinate sales offerings with the Zen store through the exchange. Pricing too high for Rubidium? Offer both the Zen and dilithium version of the R&D packs. Merchandising works. We do it in online software sales and online hardware sales. I have yet to see any business NOT benefit from it, and the player base will see an improvement on ease of use.
The goal of this posting is to encourage conversation about the casual players quality of life. I make no assumptions as to it’s difficulty to implement, or the will of those involved to go in a direction like this. But at the end of the day I see these as improving Cryptics bottom line, while improving community involvement and player retention.
*”no-brainer” yes, I know it’s not a real word.