This is not an anti-lockbox rant. What started as a philosophical question from Borticus on Twitter – “How do you define the ‘item of value'” – grew into a critique of the current lockbox in a private message from me missing the point entirely.
How do I define ‘items of value’ in a lockbox?
@x3of9 replied to the thread almost immediately with “Would I pay 125 Zen for this?” and it got me thinking. What gives me the most satisfaction (other than getting the 0.4% super-duper-prize-thingy?) when I open a lockbox?
Put aside for the moment that I am one of those people who enjoys gambling and understands it’s dangers. There’s definitely a rush when you open a box and ‘get’ the big prize. Whatever neurochemical process is behind that feeling, or whatever sociological training I’ve had to justify this as good/bad – it isn’t what I’m addressing here.
For me the value in a lockbox takes 3 forms.
#1 – The Unexpected.
That item/thing that I’ll stick using beyond the 90 days or longer. That also goes for lobi store purchases.
A great example in the Na’Khul lockbox is the Plasma Wave console. It’s a console that gives a passive bonus to Plasma damage and weapon power settings in addition to having a large single attack. It’s’universal’ meaning I can add it anywhere. That on it’s own is pretty cool.
After slotting it on my Scimitar build – it blew my mind. The Scimitars wing extensions from the Tharalon pulse activate when you use it!
Why is this a big deal for me? It looks uber cool. I never used the Tharalon pulse because – and here’s where you can roll your eyes – it violates canon and has the destructive power of a wet noodle. Starfleet would never allow a weapon of mass destruction, especially one covered by a still active treaty. Put aside that the activation of the animation was very likely an unintended consequence – being able to use a very cool animation without having to stack 2 additional consoles (and use a WMD) made me smile. Smile a lot. I stayed up 3 hours past bedtime just because of this.
Here’s the weird part – I would have paid 1000 zen for this. (Yeah, yeah – I effectively did just that – but I digress).
#2 – It’s something I will use.
Ships. I love ships. This is my ‘illicit drug’ of choice and outside of keys is where i spend most of my Zen. I’ve opened enough boxes to know I need to spend X to get a ship. I’ll likely get 4-6 of the 2nd place ship, and certainly 1 of the hard to get prizes. The first ship I will almost certainly keep on the alt most deserving (usually the alt that has previous ships of that make for console synergy), and i’ll do a review on it. If I get a second ship, I’ll sell it incase the next lockbox is less lucky and I’ll use EC to buy it (note this is less likely today as the top ships are way overpriced). If I get a third ship – it’s given away to friends. In the rare cases I go overboard with lockboxes – I’ll put that together for a contest on the blog.
This is a broader generalization, but to say anything related to R&D I will most certainly find a use for. Having maxed out all of my schools I am starting to see that gear at all levels has value on the exchange. While crafting full-time is not my idea of fun, when I start a new character, or help a friend with gear – or when I flood the market with AEGIS shields for the emerging space barbie fans – I enjoy doing that. And in terms of generating EC it’s a lot more profitable than flipping batteries or skill pads.
And of course Lobi – more on that below.
#3 – Lastly, something I won’t use and can resell.
This usually rounds out how I value a lockbox. If I can sell the stuff I don’t want, it can go towards something I do – or have missed out on.
A few thoughts on the current offerings:
Traits are becoming less thrilling. While I’m sure the average player (and I would kill to know the stats on the player base, ave. money spent etc) doesn’t have more than a dozen traits – some of my alts are getting overwhelmed with traits I never use. So for me to get excited about traits, it needs to be something entirely new.
Duty Officers – generally quite good, although this latest batch all seem to be the same 4 duty officers over and over with the same bonus triggered by different ability sets. In my case I have been opening 3-4 on every alt and in most cases selling or giving them away. Greater variety of doffs in the same lockbox would be prefered.
Bonus tokens (XP, CXP, R&D XP etc, Bonus marks) – cool, but not something i buy on it’s own. A nice to have, but not a need to have.
Dilithium vouchers – I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: they need to be tradable or sellable or used in another way – maybe as vouchers used at a discount (meaning 75% of what you could mine) towards dil costs somewhere in the game. Maybe add them as currency for the reclaim/event stores? Convert them to Spec Points?
I have so many now all 11 alts could not possibly use all of them up before the next box is released. #firstworldproblems Dilithium mining is NOT fun, except of course on Dilithium Weekends. If I switch back to F2P only and not spend money ingame, then maybe they are worth it. Heck – at least let me GIVE them away 😉
Weapons – sure, ok. I’m neither for or against them. Some I like to have sets of because they look cool, or have value in a unique build. It does occasionally give new life to my end game at least until the meta changes and we can start all over again. I’m less focused on processes that snare or slow a target, and more interested on processes that do something unexpected. Space Barbie plays a substantial role here.
I love the unique doff missions. These are really nice, they add a level of immersion and are rare enough to work for. The rewards are very nice.
Lobi in my opinion are the perks of Star Trek Online. I think of them as frequent flier miles or club points or a big thank you for my fiscal patronage. The ships are generally top notch, or at the very least have traits or consoles that are fun to use. A great example of an item I have at least 1 of for every alt is the Herald staff. It’s so NOT Star Trek (it’s more Stargate SG-1, but I digress), but damn is it hard to switch back to a normal split-beam or pulsewave.
What’s also nice is that the bigger ticket Lobi items can be resold on the exchange. I wish they all could.
So what would I like to see?
- More unexpected things. Maybe consoles/gear with optional secondary cosmetic benefits. Anything that makes me smile (gee Loot, that was helpful). Maybe consoles that do different things based on the ship they are used on. Faction-exclusive bonus abilities?
- Add Trading Cards for Admiralty or other types of games.
- ‘Lost maps’ to unexplored regions with unique ground and space missions, with cool rewards. They could be about discovering dead civilizations, first contact missions, salvage operations etc. Maybe these maps could be first introduced in a lockbox, and then added to the game later in addition to the normal missions.
On second thought – this would be putting content behind a pay wall, something I think most people would disagree with.
- Scavenger Hunt maps – these are ongoing maps that connect, lockbox to lockbox, for a year-long mission. Each quarter you get new clues where to find unique elements/components/map fragments to get to something huge at the end of the year. Find a playable Borg Cube at the end (ok, ok, that wont’ fly – but a guy can hope).
- Single use, mega items. Give me a 12x12x12 mine field as big as a borg cube. A pair of drones that have DR-levels of NPC hit points that harass opponents until destroyed. Single-shot torpedoes that create class 100 gravity sinkholes. Something that will give me a visceral ‘America! frack-yeah!’ moment.
- Ground combat pets; air defense, more crawling mines, information scout drones, mini tanks that actually are combat pets.
- Clusters of Research tokens all by their lonesomes.
- Unique, single use R&D recipes that have the required duty officer built in.
- Unique versions of existing components that give an automatic quality boost to the item you’re making.
- More costumes or costume items.
- Specialization Points
- And make dilithium mining vouchers sellable.
My Two Bits (or 1/2 of a key on sale)