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Author Topic: Falin's Idea's for STO: warning long read!  (Read 1733 times)

Offline Falin

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Falin's Idea's for STO: warning long read!
« on: 16 July 2008 08:34 PM »
We’ve seen many a visions about what STO should be like; I’ve voiced my opinion on many of them and even despised some of them, so finally I decided to write out my vision of what I expect it to be, to make it a truly AAA game.

Warning: LONG read ahead.


1.   Character creation

First things first, Character creation, when the player first starts the game, they will undoubtedly be needing an avatar, so we’ll touch on that first. When they start their character creation, the first thing they’ll be asked is “what faction would you like to align to”, in this response, they will get the choice of Federation, Klingon, Romulan, or Orion Syndicate. I believe these 4 factions must be present in the game at launch, expansions can add others, such as the Ferengi’s, Tholians, Cardasians, etc.

After a player has chosen their preferred Faction, they will then get a choice of member Races to choose from. Here you’re probably thinking, “But Klingons and Romulans only have one”,  Ah but you’re wrong, we only saw the Dominant species in that region of space, who says Klingons and Romulans don’t have Conquered races working for them and even some could have progressed to very loyal status, enough to be useful on ships and some may even command them, having proved their loyalty and even adopting the dominate cultures doctrines. Each race will give distinct advantages in one area or another, for instance, Humans are great diplomats and may have a bonus to that, Vulcans are great scientist and have bonus’s to that area, Klingons great warriors and Rolumans Great spies, etc.

At this point the game’s main draw will become apparent, the ability to fully customize the avatar to your tastes, I won’t go into detail on this, as we all know how to customize an avatar by now. Once they have gotten the visual look down, the Player will then be taken to the skills section.

Here, I have always said and believed, STO must be a Skill based game, and not level based and we’ll see how this pans out as I go along. Players will have some skills already set by their faction and Racial choices, for instance a federation player may have a starting skill of “Federation Basic Replicator Usage” and if they were Vulcan, may have an added one of “Tridimentional Calculus”. But here the player can now choose a path, Paths are not an end all, a player choosing the command path will just get starter skills for that path, they can still in game learn Medical skills if they so wish. This is the beauty of a skill based system, they can learn skills across the board with no restrictions.

Once they have their path, they may choose a specialization, using the command one above, maybe the person is thinking the long term and wants to run a Starbase at some point, so he chooses the Administrative specialization and get’s some base skills in that area, or he could have chosen the “Pilot” path and planned more for a Helm position.

At this point, he’ll have his character pretty much set, he’ll get a few points to spread around his base skills (they can go from level 1 skill to a level 20 skill and depending what path and specialization they choose, may be at a 1 or up to a 5 to start with) and can apply these starting points to further enhance his character, even so much as taking skills not already given to him, if he so wishes.

2.   Skills

Let’s talk a little more on skills. Each skill, as noted above can go from level 0 (not learned) to level 20 (fully learned), however, some skills would require other skills already known at a certain level before you can learn it. For instance, to learn “Light Cruiser Piloting”, you would first have to know “Destroyer Piloting” and maybe “Medium Ship Docking Procedures” to something like level 12 first. So you see, there’s a tree, but a player is free to progress down any tree he wishes, however, if a player progresses down to many trees, he will not be as efficient as say a player who focused solely on say Engineering skills. But then that’s a draw of Star Trek, the ability to control ones life choices. Like in the shows, we have Sulu, who started off as a botanist, decided that was not enough and learned to be a Heavy Cruiser Pilot, further down the road he was regarded as one of the best Helmsmen in Starfleet, but again, that was not enough for him, so he progressed again, and learned command skills enough to command a Heavy Cruiser. This is not the only example of this, we see it again with LaForge in the Next Generation, and again with Chief O’Brien in that other unmentionable show.

But how to people learn these skills you say and I’ve put great thought into this. Eve Online has a great system in place, you buy the skill, and train it, each level takes a set time to learn, a level 5 skill in eve can take days of real time to learn, even though I enjoy this system, I do find it limiting and not very Star Trekish. So I propose a modified system, I believe you shill should buy skills by either visiting the holodeck or a station University center. However, instead of using hard cash to buy the skills, I propose that you will get “learning points” for various actions, and maybe as part of a mission reward. You would apply a number of points to a skill and start training that skill, again as a divergence of Eve, I would say you could be learning three skills at once, first at full rate, second at 2/3’s rate and third at 1/3 rate. Each skill would be assigned a learning time, for instance, maybe shuttle piloting 1 costs 5 learning points and takes 1 hour real time to learn, whereas shuttle Piloting 20 would take 2 million Learning points and take 30 days real time to learn (you can’t be a legendary shuttle pilot over night). I Say real time, because even if you log, these skills would still progress. Giving 3 spots to train skills, you could slot A skill you want, but won’t need till later in either the second or third tie and use slot one for a skill you need now. You could even shffle skills between the three for a small Learning Point fee if you feel suddenly wanting to move a skill to a faster slot.

3.   Starting out

Now you have your character made, have spent the learning points to customize it a bit, what next? Well next you enter the world. Depending on what faction you choose, you will end up in some small village or outpost, this will be the tutorial area and will get you through how to do basic things. At the end of it, you will be asked, “would you like to join the Academy or just be a cilvian”, you’ll be informed you can always switch down the road as well. Obviously joining the academy means you will now go on to a specialized training area and learn your factions “Navy” skills where upon completion, you will begin working for the Navy. Whereas, if you choose civilian, you will end up in a different training school and will learn basic Civilian skills, like freighter piloting, smuggling, etc.

Now if you were paying attention, in the first part, one of the factions was the orion Syndicate. And you’re probably telling yourself they have no academy, well you’re right and wrong as well. They do have a navy, it’s just not formally organized and you will need to learn how to operate ships they have as well as other skills specific to working for a criminal organization.

Once you graduate from the Military or Civilian Schools, you will then go on to do pretty much whatever you want, within reason. Civilians can go on to be cargo haulers, privateer’s, mercenaries, archeologists, surveyor’s, explorers (different than Navy explorers, as they can do and go places the Navy can’t) and countless other things. Naval people will then go on to do missions and tasks for their factional Navy.

4.   Prestige

Both paths garner Factional Prestige Points, these points got towards a variety of things within the faction, new ship, ranks, very unique and special skills, etc. and I hear you now, “this sounds like currency” and your right in a way. Let’s focus on this a bit more:

With every mission/job/task you will get rewarded in a variety of ways, some may just give hard cash, others Prestige and some may give both. How much of either you get depends on many a factors, if you accomplished the mission, you’d get a base amount, however if you were federation and you managed to save the hostages without firing a shot, you may get more. But there’s a twist here with prestige, you can lose it too, fail the task badly enough and you could get points subtracted. Federation commander charging in with no fuel and getting 90% of their crew killed can expect to loose a very large sum of prestige.

So how do we use this prestige, we of course visit special locations that garner what you want, want a new rank, you’ll need to spend Prestige with someone high in the chain of command. But don’t think you’re safe once you’ve bought that rank, fail enough missions or even lose a ship and you could see that rank fly away from the vast amount of negative prestige (even you bought allies can’t help you when you’ve blundered bad enough)

You could instead, decide you like being a captain and decide this old Soyaz destroyer isn’t cutting it and want that nice shiny Excelsior class you saw in spacedock, so you spend your prestige getting it instead. There will be consequences to this action as well, which I’ll get to with missions and ships.

Maybe you’re comfortable being a Captain and love your Destroyer, but think it lacks in a bit of power, so you visit the drydocks and pay for a small power upgrade, and since you have some prestige left over, you have them fit a slightly larger shuttle bay and add 1 more shuttle to your ship.

Or, you saw that nice shiny new Sovereign class being built and drooled over it like mad, buy you just can’t get the ship with prestige alone, you need “Starfleet Fleet Command Ship” skill, however, that’s not available through normal channels, thus you need to spend prestige on it, as well as a dozen other special skills that cost prestige and finally you can fly that ship once you get enough prestige for it.

Notice how prestige can be very useful, however it should never be in abundance. I player doing a mission should not get 1000 prestige and only need 2000 to get a Heavy Cruiser. Using prestige in this manner could limit the number of “admirals” running around and the number of uber powerful warships.

5.   Ships

Upon graduating from you Academy or school, you will be given a “Cargo” shuttle, this should allow you to complete missions near your starting base and get enough prestige and/or funds to buy a bigger ship. As I’m a Big proponent of “Destructible” Ships, anytime you’re ship is destroyed, you will always get a replacement starting shuttle. You can only have 1 ship at a time, buying a new one means turning in the old one for someone else to use.

All ships need at least the basic Interior areas, personal quarters, bridge, sickbay, shuttle bay, engineering, astrometrics, cargo bay, Holodeck, etc. Of course this is dependent on the ship itself, shuttles would be one big room basically. There’s no need for 100% full interiors, just common places and other necessary areas for damage control, etc.

All ships would need a believable Max warp speed, a small destroyer, with a limited power system should not go warp 9.9. now that being said, all ships would require fuel to run around, thus they’d have a cruising warp speed that would be the optimal speed that they’d maximize consumption. In other words from warp 1 to cruise speed, the amount consumed would be on a linear growth, but after cruise speed to max, the amount consumed goes exponentially. Thus I could cruise for 5000 parsecs or max warp for 500. 

The second part would be all ships would have a warping curve, this is different than warp speed, this curve is how long it takes the ship to go from warp 1 to speed. Every ship will take a different curve, a small destroyer can get from warp 1 to warp 5 pretty fast, but a galaxy class may take 3-4 times longer. So we see a small ship could out run a larger opponent in the shirt run, but that larger one may catch up to them in the long run by having a potentially faster top warp speed. Conversely all ships should also have a deceleration curve exactly as the acceleration, thus a small ship could warp in and drop to sublight and begin combat much faster than a bigger ship.
All ships would have a maneuverability rating as well, this is their sublight ability to move around space, a smaller rating means the ship can move faster and make sharper turns, a higher rating means it takes a long time and radius to turn that Galaxy class ship to face the Warbird that just warped in behind it.

6.   Missions

Missions can be picked up in a variety of ways, for navy folks, they may get subspace calls from a higher ranking NPC, or the local base commander, etc. Civilians may visit markets, outlaw camps, universities, etc.

Missions will be based on your current ship, so if you just have a shuttle, you will get relatively easy missions and accordingly, your rewards will be lower. Got a massive Galaxy class, expect serious missions with serious rewards. Civilians won’t be limited to just a shuttle, there will be a variety of freighters, smuggling ships, blockade runners, etc for them to use, even very large mammoth freighters that rival the size of a dreadnaught.

I don’t foresee a lot of combat missions, I expect all missions to have a fail mode and a multitude of victory modes, no simple pass/fail types. If you managed to save 10 of the 45 hostages you were expected to bring back, I’d consider that a partial win and you’d get rewarded as such, if the reason you only got 10 was because your ship suddenly was attacked by 3 other ships and you barely had time to get out with those 10, then you might even get more reward than what the base amount was.

So what’s all this mean? It means all missions would be variable in nature, you could run a “drop the vaccine off” mission 100 times and never have the exact same encounter or reward, one time it might go smoothly, another, you might get there to late, another you might get there and find the planetary defenses awry and need to be bypassed before you can drop them off, another you might get ambushed enroute, or even a distress call and have to make a choice between responding or diverting and hoping you can still get the vaccine there.

As well as assigned missions, you may encounter things by just flying along, maybe you’re on border patrol and encounter a strange artifact that’s entered space, this could open a mini-game mission. What’s this, You said a Mini-game? Yes, these are special missions that are unique, some of these will require thinking others brute combat, but all will be significantly more challenging than a general mission and may be epic in length. For instance, that strange artifact may take over your ships computer, somehow modify the engines and fling you thousands of light years away to a distant dead planet that you explore for clues as to why your there, solve the mystery and get transported home, or you could just try flying home and perform a voyager  mini-games will give greater rewards as well, you may discover a new computer chip that can enhance your warp ability or a weapon of unknown design that the scientists as Starfleet are drooling over the find and so you get great prestige.

7.   Space

Space is a vast area, I expect a seamless environment, that means I would warp from Earth to Vulcan and never see a load screen. I should be able to head down to my shuttle bay, walk into a shuttle and fly out the back of the ship, fly through atmosphere and land on a planet, all without ever seeing a load screen.

Travel times should be realistic, I should not be able to go from one side of the federation to the other in a matter of minutes, it should take months at cruising speed. Thus if I’m working in an area and want to start working a different are due to a war brewing there, it may not be feasible to fly there, as you might get there after the war’s over.

Of course there will be wormholes, special anomalies and other events that would shift a player’s location.

8.   Crews

As much as I’d love to see multiplayer run ships, unfortunately knowing the online community and the mentality of people who really don’t know each other this is almost an impossibility. However, I will say I’d like to see the ability there so that small groups of friends can join up on a ship and do missions together and equally share the rewards.

Otherwise, maybe you have the skills to pilot a Galaxy class, but can’t command one, you could take your shuttle to the nearest starbase and announce you are available and hope people will sign you on for a few missions. Unfortunately I see this leading to “got X skill”, “no but I have Y skill”, “Sorry we need X skill, you won’t do”. Sadly this is far to often the case, so most multi-crews wont be populated except by Clans and small groups of friends.

So what’s a solo players options? Well he could learn the command skills for that ship and command it, or he could go to the starbase and sign onto an NPC ship in a particular role, this means of course he’ll be following orders by a NPC Captain, and doing random assigned missions that the ships NPC crew are doing.

My hope is that the star trek community makes a tremendous shift in mentality and doesn’t do the “min/max” approach, but alas, I fear it won’t change, so we’ll end up with a lot of players wanting to crew up, but unable to unless they learn certain skills and thus killing the fun of being totally unique.

There’s so much more, but I’ll end on this, as this is quite lengthy as is.
Admiral and Commander, TDFS Vindicator

Offline Raven

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Re: Falin's Idea's for STO: warning long read!
« Reply #1 on: 16 July 2008 08:41 PM »
I definately like a lot of what I see here, seamless environments is definately a must.


Offline Sarevok

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Re: Falin's Idea's for STO: warning long read!
« Reply #2 on: 17 July 2008 07:57 AM »
I have one question about your views: you start with mentioning skill points to use to get skills, but then, you never explain how you're going to get more. Should we buy them with prestige?

Offline Falin

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Re: Falin's Idea's for STO: warning long read!
« Reply #3 on: 17 July 2008 02:23 PM »
That's one posibility, actualy i switched usuage and started calling them learning points and did say you could get them in a variety of was, but the prestiege way would be a good way to again control "fast flying" characters.
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Offline Raven

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Re: Falin's Idea's for STO: warning long read!
« Reply #4 on: 17 July 2008 04:40 PM »
Personally I still believe that the old SWG Skill system would work best in SWG;

For Example:

"A Merchant is skilled at advertising and selling wares through a vendor. At the Novice Merchant skill level, the player earns the ability to place a NPC vendor of a random playable race. The Merchant also has the ability to place control vendors one at a time.
This profession requires 42 skill points to master, 29 of which go towards prerequisites.
XP requirements to master, including prerequisites:
405,000 Merchant XP
Merchant XP is granted for operating vendors, as well as placing access fees on structures. For each hour a vendor is active, 50 pts of XP is earned. This amount does not update until a character interacts with the vendor. A character interacting with your vendor (restricted to once every 15 minutes for all of the merchant's vendors) grants 50 XP as well. Also, each time a character pays the access fee for a structure, 50 XP is earned."

Another example would be:

"Brief overview of profession, including its playstyle and strengths/weaknesses (combat professions).
This profession requires 106 skill points to master, 43 of which go towards prerequisites.
XP requirements to master, including prerequisites:
4,891,650 One-handed Weapons XP (received for using a One-handed weapon)
405,000 Combat XP (received with any weapon experience)
91,650 Unarmed Combat XP (received for unarmed combat)"