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Star Trek Gaming => Star Trek: Online (MMORPG) => News and Announcements => Topic started by: Zach on 06 April 2010 04:06 PM

Title: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Zach on 06 April 2010 04:06 PM
When Star Trek Online was launched back on February 2nd, Cryptic Studios touted that they had over 1 million pre-orders and subscribers across their Cryptic Network.

It has now been revealed by Jack Emmert in an interview with "The Big Freaking Podcast" that Star Trek Online now has just a hair over 100,000 subscribers, a drop of almost 90% compared to the launch day numbers.

It is no secret that Star Trek Online has not lived up to the expectations of many players - in fact, even I am not playing the game very much (I haven't logged on for over a month at this stage) - however, when you consider that Age of Conan or Warhammer Online have 300,000+ subscribers, Star Trek Online really is struggling!

That hasn't been stopping Cryptic from moving ahead at full steam with new content all over the place, so hopefully, in six months time, the game will be a very different beast compared to what it is now and maybe, just maybe, it will start creeping up in those subscriber ratings again.

Listen to the interview at http://thebigfreaks.com/?p=263 (http://thebigfreaks.com/?p=263)
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: gaius on 06 April 2010 04:25 PM
So you made up another attention grabbing headline? Well, good for you.

If you would like to be a bit more serious in the future, consider this:
STO has a much smaller scale than other MMOs at the moment. However you have to to pay the same monthly fee for STO as you would have for most MMOs. The reason for the small scale of STO is that Cryptic doesn't invest as many resources in STO as other developers do.
What does that mean in the end? Well, you have a success, if you earn more than you have to spend. So my guess would be, that STO is actually a success. 100k subscribers are enough to keep STO running.
On the other hand I'm really curious how and if EA will ever get the 2M subscribers they need for The Old Republic.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Falin on 06 April 2010 04:33 PM
Not suprising, as I've been predicting this for over a year now with reguards to STO. it failed to grab the essence of Star Trek and went for the generic MMO with a Star trek skin and they failed o listen to the many many many people in closed beta telling them thier template would not grab Trekkies for the long haul.

I really hate to say I was right, I really wanted to be wrong on this, but tiume has shown what i was saying was going to happen has happened. Ah well, now maybe we'll get a real ST MMO from someone in 5-10 years time. really sucks they took the SWG approach and screwed the pooch on this.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Kinjiru on 06 April 2010 04:38 PM
I haven't listened to the podcast, but is that 100k number including lifetime subs? Or is it just the month - month subs that they're talking about?

Regardless, I think that a lot of folks will come back when Cryptic adds a bit more of the "missing" content (I started playing more immediately after they added the cluster exploration missions for Klinks); like functional bridge stations (the ability to conn the ship from the bridge - just switch to 3rd person view for combat), more interior spaces (that actually mean something and have some reason to go there - would go a long way toward getting rid of that "I'm-driving-a-matchbox-car-ship feeling), RvR neutral zone PvP, science and diplomacy... in short, all of the things that we thought we'd get when we heard that a Star Trek MMO was in the works. :)
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: honeymane on 06 April 2010 04:48 PM
@100k users, they're getting 1.5 million a month. If the game is continually supported, they'll attract more users over tie.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Zach on 06 April 2010 04:52 PM
Personally speaking, I don't intend to play Star Trek Online for at least 3 more months.   They are adding in alot of features now that, in my opinion, should have been there from the start.

We were always going to get a compromised game based on the deadline CBS handed Cryptic, and I am happy they are moving so fast to put in new content, however they have alienated alot of potential players, and in the long term, that can be damaging.

Out of the 1.5 million dollars (probably more like a million) they are earning in subscriptions per month, how much of that is going to pay the 50+ employees working on STO, how much in server maintenance, bandwidth, etc etc......How much did they invest in developing Star Trek Online over the 2 year period.......If they are in the green right now, its probably not by much.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: chThren on 06 April 2010 05:05 PM
I have to admit I've been rather dissapointed with the game.  I got to Rear Admiral WAY too quickly and lost interest in my chThren character, a character I had waited to play for a LONG time.  Finding RP is almost impossible.  I haven't logged in for almost a month and haven't really felt like I was missing anything.

To me the game just feels so empty.  There doesn't seem to be a goal worth reaching for.  The "Episodes" are fun for a while but then become repetitive and there doesn't seem to be a larger arc following through with anything.

I regret my decision to purchase a lifetime membership, but it's done and I can't change that.  I just hope that in time this game improves and isn't another Conan.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Hamilton on 06 April 2010 05:26 PM
3D MMO's rarely get second chances or become highly successful after a sharp decline (the after launch spike effect).  100,000 is great for a niche marketed title, but not for a mass marketed title with a huge following.

As Zach stated with expenses, I would add in first there are taxes and service fees (credit card servicing).  That is quite the killer. 

Seems though that companies are focusing on the sales of the client rather than of keeping subscribers around.  Though interesting that WAR has now made the client for free.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: dctalk365 on 06 April 2010 06:12 PM
I reached RA5 rather quickly compared to reaching the end level in other games. The biggest issue with STO is that it's only been in development for 2 years! Most MMOs are in development for 4-6 years.

Originally it was supposed to be a 50 level game, but they scaled that back for an early launch, and those 5 extra levels will get added later this year.

I didn't like the set up of sector space, it's a pain to navigate, and the over instancing is a draw back, imo.

While leveling, there was not enough missions to level, where I was forced to do repeative missions or PvP to level. Once I reached RA, there was not enough end game content to do, at the time only PvP, until The Infected was added, and now The Cure. Outside of doing those two missions and PvP there is nothing else to do.

Now, I have canceled my subscription, but what was the final nail in the coffin for that was with this last update where they added more things to the C-Store than they did to the game itself. When I am already paying a subscription, I should not also have to pay for extras, even if they are novelty items like bridges. I should also not have to pay for retraining my captain. (Yes, I know that you get one with each rank up, and I have heard you can use credits from in game, though I can not confirm that last part)The point is, don't have a subscription and then throw in extras to try and get more money from people.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: syberghost on 06 April 2010 07:05 PM
They've been saying "well over", and that's the evidence you use to say "just a hair over"?

Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: RedChico on 06 April 2010 07:05 PM
What were you guys expecting?
Its not even a true MMO, 10 players total at a time? Hell, even the lazy guys at World War 2 Online (AKA battleground europe) did a better job.

Once you did all the missions and reach the rank limiter you'll wander around like a mindless ant trying to get some fun.

"Good for me" i didn't spent a cent on STO.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: darrellakitchen on 06 April 2010 11:24 PM
... with reguards to STO. it failed to grab the essence of Star Trek and went for the generic MMO with a Star trek skin ...

That's exactly it.  If anything, in my opinion, STO has besmirched, bastardized, and insulted the name of Star Trek by including the all the ST elements in another mass-bash-n-smash where Starfleet is the civilized barbaric-antagonist in the Galaxy.

It's a modern style version of ST's Imperial Starfleet, where the player is forced into a graph-sheet sectored version of space that doesn't even give the player the feel of being in space, rather a small boxed in restraint of both space and planet-side events.

I was so excited when I was able to enter OB, but became quickly disappointed one month into the game after launch when I discovered that the only thing the game had to offer all players, Trekkies/Trekkers and everyone else, was nothing but kill-kill-and more kill ... definately not a Star Trek genre, rather another ho-hum dole-drum MMO hack-n-slash with all the ST toys.

Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Gauwyn Vorec on 06 April 2010 11:26 PM

WRONG. They had 1 million FORUM users (to INCLUDE Champions Online)... they never said they had 1 million subscribers. PLEASE get the information straight before mass mailing people and freaking them out.

Read here:

http://www.incgamers.com/Games/1394/News/20839/one-million-star-trek-online-accounts-registered (http://www.incgamers.com/Games/1394/News/20839/one-million-star-trek-online-accounts-registered)

or here:

http://trekmovie.com/2010/02/02/star-trek-online-launches-with-over-1-million-accounts-new-ground-video/ (http://trekmovie.com/2010/02/02/star-trek-online-launches-with-over-1-million-accounts-new-ground-video/)

or here:

http://www.massively.com/2010/02/07/star-trek-online-reaches-one-million-accounts/ (http://www.massively.com/2010/02/07/star-trek-online-reaches-one-million-accounts/)

etc. etc. etc. But please get the information straight.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Jatal Khyron on 07 April 2010 03:28 AM
     The sad truth is that the game is underdeveloped. It doesn't surprise me that the haters showed up almost immediately to pile on, but it was way too easy for me to max out. When I played Everquest 2, it took me a looong time to max out, over a year or so. For STO? 4-6 weeks.
     The lack of content and meteoric rise thru the ranks are broken, and while I'm proud to say I didn't blow my load on a lifetime sub, I hate the idea that I have to keep spending $15 a month for a game that I've essentially already beaten, at least for the time being.
     This game feels so much like it's underdone, like it was pushed out the door waaaay too early. Maybe that's why HF was passed over for their council, we have a tendency to speak our mind.
     That all being said, I still think that given time, the game can still be great. It just needs a LOT more seasoning.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: ES_Archer on 07 April 2010 02:55 PM
Sadly for me,as a Lifetimer,STO is dying.
Everyday more and more people leave the Game...even last night 4 of my fleets members canceled their subscription and went back to EVE.
But seriously,are we surprised?I'm not! The game is awfull,it has NOTHING to do with Startrek,it's a shoot'em'up disguised as StarTrek,there are mod's out there that are better then this ever be,just look for a mod called RPG-X for Elite Force...Come on Cryptic...REALLY??
Is that the best you can come up with?Really??
Startrek was never about shoot first ask later,where are the deep misteries to solve,the human drama...and more importantly WHERE THE HELL IS MY BRIDGE??
You may say,"the bridge is there",but come on...Really?
It's just ANOTHER instance,you cant and you wont be able to do anything from it because of it,you cant travel while on your bridge or any other part of the ship because they are diferent Instances.Its like your car is the bridge,and to get to engineering you have to get in a neighbours car,and crew quarters is another neighbours car.Can you see them traveling at the same time and do everything as one,i cant.
You (cryptic) looked at this wrong,the game should have been focused on the BRIDGE...and then the rest like in all movies and shows,but you worste mistake was using an game engine that sucked from the beginning on Coh,and put a Star Trek skin on it.
What really made really sad and at the same time angry is what i read what Perpetual had planned for STO,i already  saw the screen shots they realeased way back when they were developing the game,but for the first time i read what they were planning and ...it was the most cannon road for the game...but then happened what we all know and cryptic came by and turned it into a flamming turd.
But again sadly i made a big effort to come up with the money for the lifetime and i feel cheated,i feel it was for NOTHING,i made a leap of faith that wasn't rewarded.
And i would really beleive that the game Will get better and shut me up,but with this engine and with the road that they chose for the game,i really doubt it.
The only way for this game to get anywhere is for you (cryptic) start from scratch,better yet,give it up and let someone that actually knows what they are doing give us a Star Trek Online that we Star Trek Community deserve.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: starbaseprime on 08 April 2010 03:44 PM
The question really now should be how are we going to fix it?

http://forums.startrekonline.com/showthread.php?t=147379 (http://forums.startrekonline.com/showthread.php?t=147379)
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: darkknight on 08 April 2010 06:59 PM
 :startrek025: i have been playing sto sence it came out. i am not impressed one bit. i am a avid game player for 30 years now.
one of the main turns offs in this game is the C-Store. this is where you have to spend more money and buy cryptic points in order to buy ingame items. ontop of buying the game and paying the 14.99 a month, they still want you to spend more on items and player races that should be apart of the game. this is probably one of the biggest complaints.
another big complaint, is lack of content.. shallow missions, and not many missions at all. i know this is a new game, but it should have more. if you want to be a klingon, there are no missions beside the begining tutorial. then you have to PvP in order to increase rank. they prob will improve on this, but it shoulda been there when it went live. another note on missions is: alot of them are bugged,..uncomleteable, missing elements, and very bad story lines.

it plays and feels like city of heroes, they didnt go out of there way to come out with anything new, flying through maps, its a joke. they have the whole screen garbled with unnessary lines and trails that have nothing to do with anything. even put a nice grid lines in, still dont see what there for.
my suggestion is: wait a year before you get into this game, maybe then some stuff will be fixed.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Virogen on 11 April 2010 09:16 AM
Yeah Zach you misinterpreted the million subscribers thing.  Actually, Cryptic wanted everyone to interpret it the way you did - misleading PR machine they had going...  I'd change the article b/c it's spreading misinformation though.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Random Redshirt on 21 April 2010 11:19 PM
Color me suprised.

Ok, maybe not.

Before I even got invited to Closed Beta, I had severe doubts and reservations about STO. Many of those doubts and reservations I voiced, loudly. Most of the time I was shouted down as a pessimist or a non-believer or whatever.

And yet, nearly every single thing I said, came true, in one form or another. I did an audio segment for Hailing Frequency about a year before launch, talking about the keys to a successful MMO, and learning from the mistakes of past MMOs such as Warhammer and AoC, while also talking about keeping the heart and soul of Trek intact for this game.

While I have no illusions that anyone at Cryptic even heard what I had to say, it is as if they listened to that audio segment, and did EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of everything that I said they shouldn't do. Not only did they do the opposite of what I said they shouldn't do, they have embraced it wholeheartedly and are dancing a jig to the funeral dirge on the decks of the ship as it goes down.

When I got my Closed Beta invite, I figured I'd give it a try. One last chance for Cryptic to prove me wrong.

For all intents and purposes, Closed Beta was the biggest disappointment I had ever experienced in gaming. Not because of technical issues, bugs, etc. Those things can be fixed, and worked past, and are expected in a Beta Test. My disappointment came from the souless entity that is STO, bearing the name of my favorite sci-fi franchise. Heck, even the legal issues and bankruptcy of Cheynenne Mountain (the former developers of Stargate Worlds) didn't compare. The game never made me feel "the Trekness". It didn't make any attempts to capture that which made Star Trek great. Instead, it took a flawed idea, that only combat sells, and wrapped Star Trek around it to try and sell it. But the Trek franchise was never at it's best when the focus was on war. War, combat and pew-pew did not endear the franchise to fans for over 40 years. Cryptic didn't seem to recognize that though. To top it off, they didn't use seasoned Trek writers, they didn't consult with Trek veterans that had been with the franchise. Instead they relied on novices that produced nothing but fan-fic level garbage and tried to pass it off as better than anything we ever saw in the series. Unfortunately for Cryptic, most fans were not fooled.

As Falin put it, the essence of Trek was not captured by this game. Sure, for those that care nothing for an RP experience, it might be a satisfactory game. But for your devout MMO players, especially those with a vested interest in the IP, your MMO has to have heart. You have to give your players an experience that immerses them into the very world the game is trying to portray, and STO utterly failed to do that, and never seemed to want to correct that either. The story was bad, the mechanics of your interaction with the world around you were bad, and the RP based game elements that contribute to immersiveness were non-existent. Cryptic seemed to gear the game towards the action pew-pew gamer, and they are reaping the result of that gearing as we speak. The action pew-pew gamer gets bored easily, and leaves just as quickly. Many people said this would happen, me included. Guess what gang? This is what it looks like. This is what it looks like to alienate fans, in favor of FotM (Flavor of the Month) gamers, only to have the FotM gamers get bored, and leave as quickly as the fans did.

STO is dead. Or at the very least, suffering a severe case of dying. Dying a very painful death, that could have been avoided.

I think the biggest suprise of all is not that STO is suffering, but that it hasn't suffered more. Frankly, 100k subscribers should be seen as a blessing by Cryptic, because it could have (and probably should have, or maybe even is) much, much worse. In all honesty, I figured that maybe at the most, STO would have 15,000 to 20,000 right now, including the lifers.

Oh and for those that are wondering, I never bought STO. I didn't play it at launch. Closed Beta told me everything I needed to know about the direction of the game, and it's fate after launch. I am very glad that I didn't buy it, or give Cryptic a single cent. Just my time as a tester, and my payment for my time, was fair warning to not take the cruise on the sinking ship.

Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: BLZBUB on 25 April 2010 11:33 PM
 RR...I fail to see how you could learn EVERYTHING you need to know from a closed Beta. Perhaps as a non-MMO player ( until STO ),you could enlighten me as to the process of how a closed beta would give you what you say it did..."Closed Beta told me everything I needed to know about the direction of the game, and it's fate after launch."
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Falin on 27 April 2010 02:27 PM
RR...I fail to see how you could learn EVERYTHING you need to know from a closed Beta. Perhaps as a non-MMO player ( until STO ),you could enlighten me as to the process of how a closed beta would give you what you say it did..."Closed Beta told me everything I needed to know about the direction of the game, and it's fate after launch."

BLZBUB, this is one of those things that just comes from expirience. I'm sure RR, lke me, has played or tried to play every mainstream MMO out there. I know I have beta's almost every one of them and from my expiriences and observations of various games over time, I can tell you if a games on the right path or not during Closed beta.

In this instance, i could tell there was no replayablity ( the ability to create a new character and progress through a different content), there was a severe lack of a Hook (you want the players to want to not want to put the game down), sevdere lack of unique content (all the messions were cut and copies of each other with a few unique ones thrown in) and those are 3 Standard things missing.

As for Trek, if failed to meet the requirements for the IP. There was no reason to group up, the game ended up just being a big solo game with other players mingled in a lobby enviroment. There was no comprehensive exploration, diplomacy or Universe, Ship just became random mobs to kill (5 cruisers against a miranda and the miranda wins?), you could reoutfit your ships in space and there was no real death penalty. On top of that, the extensive instancing just through  immersion out the window, no feeling of the vastness of space.

ST has and always will be about a group of individuals working together (usually a bridge crew) to solve a larger than life problem. for that, I still hold that for a ST MMO to be successful it needs to that the approach DDO took, where people can get together (like a hub city or SB) and go do an EPISODE together or if not try them solo or with a hired Bridge crew. the essence of Trek is the group and self advancement, it's npt about Pew pew, although if that had done a more DDO approach with say 70-80% combat for mission, I think the game would still have been a Huge hit with fans.

anyways, i've said this and more all before. Cryptic did this to themselves, they had a vast number of people telling them that this approach would not be sustainable and they ignored them.
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: BLZBUB on 27 April 2010 08:28 PM

anyways, i've said this and more all before. Cryptic did this to themselves, they had a vast number of people telling them that this approach would not be sustainable and they ignored them.

I have always respected your opinions Falin...even when they clashed with my beloved IP Star Trek! Your opinions on this and other forums is well known, and after playing STO for about 10 - 15 hours (I got to Lieutenant-Commander yesterday), I can see your thoughts come to life in-game.
 Although it is Star Trek, the instances play similar to NavyFeild ... and in that I mean that your start...travel...battle...(hopefully) return. STO just has a ground instancing thrown in.
 Perhaps the new Tribble server will develop a better team working style as you hinted at...the bridge crew being part of the player base. Time will tell. As it stands now, I have some serious thoughts as to re-newing my subscription at the end of my first month.
 Don't get me wrong, I love Star Trek and enjoy the game, but I sure would like to be able to just drive my cruiser out to Jupiter or Mars just for a lark.
 Why is it that games like Independance War  and Battlecruiser3000 allow free flight and STO cannot?
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Zach on 27 April 2010 10:49 PM
Yeah - STO is a shadow, a mere shell, of what it could have been.  Its ok for when I need a Star Trek Dose, but not much more.   I barely even bother to read the mission descriptions.

My hopes for a decent trek game now lay with Star Trek: Excalibur - as a part of that team, I am in a position to see that game as it comes together and its looking real good so far.

Lets hope they manage to get the persistent multiplayer in for launch!
Title: Re: Star Trek Online Struggles with only 100k Subscribers!
Post by: Random Redshirt on 27 May 2010 01:19 AM
RR...I fail to see how you could learn EVERYTHING you need to know from a closed Beta. Perhaps as a non-MMO player ( until STO ),you could enlighten me as to the process of how a closed beta would give you what you say it did..."Closed Beta told me everything I needed to know about the direction of the game, and it's fate after launch."

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner BLZBUB, it's been a crazy few weeks at work.

Much of Falin's response on your comment is correct. When you play a few MMOs and test a few others, it becomes pretty easy to get a feel for what a game will be like, and to make a judgement on it, even as early as Closed Beta. Now, that being said, I remind you that in my last post, I indicated that bugs, gliches and such weren't a factor in my decision not to play STO. Those things when experienced in a Closed Beta are to be expected, and generally you just anticipate that they will be fixed.

Now, personally, when I'm looking at an MMO to play, I look for 4 key factors that appeal to me. Story, Immersion, Gameplay Difficulty and Graphics. Throughout Closed Beta, I was not at all impressed by these four components within STO.

I'm not sure if you were in Closed Beta or not, or if you had access to the Closed Beta Forums. After my first playtest, I wrote the following, which described in detail exactly my feelings on STO's shortfalls. (My apologies, it's rather wordy.)


Star Trek Online Beta Test
Report 001 (October 31, 2009)

Initial Impressions and Observations

On October 31st, I conducted my first play test of Star Trek Online Beta. What follows is a summary of my impressions and feelings about the game. For those that do not wish to read the full synopsis of my findings, I shall summarize them here in the beginning.

In short, I was not impressed with Star Trek Online. I felt that the gameplay was far too simplistic, I felt very little challenge in what I was doing, and I felt that it lacked a genuine Trek feel to it, which really disappointed me. Ultimately, it is my feeling that for STO to be successful with the type of gamer that I am, a significant redesign would need to occur. I will qualify that statement later in this report. And at this time, I will now begin my in-depth summary of impressions during the play test.

I began my play test with the character creator. I will say that having expanded controls over the physical features of my character was a welcome feature, and having the ability to give my avatar a full name was a welcome change as well from normal MMO fare. However, I felt that the uniform customization was far too loose, and I suspected that I wouldn't like that very much when seeing many people in one area, which would be confirmed later.

So I begin my time in the STO universe aboard the USS Khitomer, a ship under attack. I felt this to be a tad bit strange. I had long hoped that STO would incorporate the Starfleet Academy into the game as the Academy serves as the perfect setting for "training" of the next generation of Starfleet officers. Moving on, I encounter the main NPC in the area, an EMH that is administering to wounded Khitomer crew members. I am greeted by a popup screen telling me to press a button, and when I do, a larger popup screen appears with text and a picture. My first impression of this quest interface is that I'm not fond of it. It really pulls you out of the moment and wrecks the immersion of being on this ship that is being destroyed around you. But I will talk about some more aspects of this later in this report. So I receive my first quest, which requires me to scan some nearby wounded with a tricorder. So I walk over in that direction, and I am greeted by a popup screen telling me to press a button. Two thoughts enter my mind at this point. The first thought is: Why am I not using a medical tricorder (which the EMH would have instructed me to get) since we've heard it so many times, a doctor correcting someone and telling them to use a medical tricorder. And then, as I conduct the scan, It seemed far too simplistic for my tastes. I tell myself, this is a tutorial area, and perhaps later on, things will be more complex, and so I go turn in the quest.

My next quest takes me to an engineering area. My trip there has me wondering if the ship I am onboard is truly a Federation vessel. The interiors don't really strike me as familiar, and looks more like a hybrid of Federation and Klingon decor, or perhaps something you'd see elsewhere. But this is not a major thing, because it's a matter of skins, which can be changed easily, so I move on to my objective. I arrive, and encounter another NPC who actives with the push of a button. This seems like a clunky system, and I wonder if using a system similar to World of Warcraft with a click on the NPC, would provide a better interface.

Now I need to step outside the story here for a moment, and comment on the Borg. I was more than a little shocked to be facing down the Borg in my very first missions, in a tutorial area none the less. The Borg are what I would consider a "raid level" enemy. Much like dragons or the Scourge of Warcraft. The Borg are an unstoppable force. It was a bit disappointing for me, to be walking through the corridors of a broken ship and blasting Borg like they were nothing to be concerned about. I was also very disappointed that the Borg did not act in the ways that we traditionally know the Borg to act. First and foremost, their reaction to phaser fire was not at all what it should have been. We know from a lot of experience and a lot of canon lore that the Borg adapt (and quickly) to most types of energy weapons, with the common number of available shots being 12 or less before adaptation occurs. Secondly, I have never seen a Borg that was contained by Federation force fields. They tend to adapt to that quickly as well, so containment is always an issue. Finally, the issue of assimilation comes to mind. I never seemed to be afraid of being assimilated with the Borg I fought. They didn't seem to try.

So back to the play test. My next quest takes me into a room that contains Borg being held behind a force field and an engineering officer working at a control panel. He gives me a quest to store the patterns of the Borg behind the force field in the pattern buffer. I turn around, and find a console that is glowing with a gradient light bar sweeping through it. As I approach it, another pop up, and press the action button, and their patterns are stored. At this point, I'm getting a tad bit frustrated that there seems to be little or no challenge in anything I do, as it all boils down to me simply pushing a single button. On top of that, I questioning why the Borg are simply standing there like cattle in a feed lot instead of at the very least, attempting to move through the force field. I turn in the quest, and my next quest takes me to a transporter control panel to beam the Borg from their current spot into a hull breached area of the Khitomer. This didn't make much sense to me. Why would any responsible Starfleet officer actually transport Borg to another part of the ship? Why not beam them directly into space? Why not scatter their patterns and not allow them to rematerialize? But I push my one action button, and the quest is completed.

My next quest takes me to the warp core room. (Which I felt was very well laid out, and was the one part of the ship that made me feel like I was on board a Federation starship) To get there, I had to take a turbolift. I was more than a little disappointed that the turbolift amounted to nothing more than a solid wall, and a pop up screen telling me to push an activation key, which then prompted a load screen. This really destroys immersion factor in my opinion. At the very least, I think it would have been nice if the doors open and you walk inside before being prompted to push a button and is a load screen really necessary? Is there a way to load the instanced area that keeps you in the turbolift, without the screen popping up? So, I get to the warp core room and it is being defended from the Borg as a barricaded strong point. I questioned the tactical sense however of creating a "frontline position" in the warp core room, as I'd be concerned that stray phaser fire might produce an unintended result, but I wasn't the Op Officer on site, so I did my part to defend. However, the defense of that position gave me my first "John McClaine" moment, as I stood there blazing away at Borg. During this quest, I never felt in any sort of danger, I didn't even feel the Borg to be a threat. My personal shield was never damaged enough for me to take damage, they never moved to assimilate me, and I simply stood there shooting and dispatched several Borg quickly. Much more quickly than any other Starfleet officer in history, and with little complication. They never adapted their shields, they never broke through mine.

So the conclusion of this area tells me it's time to head up to my ship, the USS Nehalem, and assume command because all the other command officers are dead, and the only person of command rank left is me, a lowly Ensign. Suddenly I am reminded of Star Trek XI and Kirk jumping from 3rd year cadet to Captain of the flagship of the fleet, but I dismiss that, and transport up to my ship. I did love the transporter effects, they did look awesome. So, I get up to my ship, and see from the 3rd person view that I have a Centaur class vessel. I go through a brief tutorial and proceed to fly my ship around. I've said it a lot already, but I can't help saying again that I was very unimpressed. The simplicity of the controls, the simplicity of the combat, the lack of strategy required, did not make this aspect of the game play fun for me. I proceed on my mission to go beam out survivors from wrecked ships nearby. I held out hope that maybe, there would be some complexity in this task. However, I was greeted by a pop up screen, telling me to push a button, and the task is done. I have to ask, but is all there is? Is this the full extent that STO will be, a connect the dots MMO where exploration is considered flying to random point X in space, and pressing the button I am told to press? Another thing that struck me during the space portion of my play test was how objects can be located. Someone asked in zone where one of the ships was they were looking for. I went to answer, then realized, how could I? I didn't have a coordinate system that I could use to relay position to another person, and this isn't WoW where you can say "over by this" or "over by that". This is space. Direction is a relative thing. So, I complete the mission, and my next mission takes me to meet up with a task force to destroy some Borg cubes. The first thought in my head was "Serious? A raid as part of the tutorial?" I guess my impression had always been that taking on a single Borg cube would be a raid level event, like 25 ships or more. I was wrong. My small, light duty Centaur, along with a handful of others, dispatched 6 Borg cubes and 2 Borg spheres in a matter of minutes, which left me going "what the...".  The space combat I experienced left me with the feeling of someone had mounted phasers and torpedoes on my flying mount in WoW, and I could simply fly around and blow things up. It reminded me of a game I played long ago (but not for long) called Star Trek Encounters. Very simple, very arcade. I never bothered rotating shields because I was never in enough danger to need to, even while facing down the Borg. I never felt I needed any sort of tactical maneuvers as the ship control was so simplistic. I lost interest in the space combat quickly, and so I wrapped up my quest and proceeded to move on.

Another thing becomes apparent to me about the space combat and movement as the quest screen pops up telling me to go down to the planet below and provide assistance. Pop-ups are "suicidal" in space mode. I didn't have time to bring my ship to all stop before I got the pop-up, and had there been an enemy around me, he could have blasted away at me while I was reading the quest, reducing the USS Nehalem to space dust. This was a little disconcerting for me, and ultimately a huge blow to immersion factor.

So I head down to the planet, and I take on a quest for rescuing colonists being held captive by the Borg. Held captive? Why are they being assimilated? Are the Borg no longer into assimilation? Anyways, I pick up a phaser rifle, that is labeled sniper rifle, but seems oddly reminiscent of a compression rifle and head out. I start off by looking for cover, looking to see what I can do to protect my avatar. Apparently this was a bit of a waste of time, because it doesn't really matter to use cover. Now, queue up the "Ode To Joy Die Hard Remix" because it's time for another "John McClaine" moment as I run out into the open, guns blazing and Borg falling left and right like European henchmen in Nakatomi Tower. 16 Borg taken out. 0 deaths for me, never once does a drone adapt to my phaser fire. I get into melee range, and never get assimilated. Mission completes and I end my McClaine killing spree.

Now up till this point, I had been looking for something that would really make me feel like I was part of the Trek universe. Something that would get me in the mood of being a Starfleet officer. When I was told to return to Sector 001 and report to Spacedock, I thought to myself "Okay, here it is. This will be it." I was envisioning that I'd be treated to a classic view of Spacedock, as we'd all seen before, and maybe an approach sequence, similar to the Enterprise's return in Star Trek. As I sat through the loading screen, I was excited about the possibility. Unfortunately, the moment fell flat, as the structure I approached looked nothing like the Spacedock I knew, and once again, I was treated to a pop up screen, push a button, and a loading screen appeared. At this point, I was really not feeling this game, and was ready to log out, but I figured I owe Cryptic a full 2 hour test, and so I proceed to the Spacedock interior.

I mentioned earlier my trepidations about uniform customization, and my trepidations were confirmed as I walked around the open areas of the station. The characters I found there were a hodge podge of color, in many different patterns and variations. One of the things about Star Trek is any time we saw open area scenes either aboard ship, or aboard a station, everyone wore virtually the same uniform. Sure, during crossover periods (as seen midway through DS9) you saw a bit more variety, but it was nothing like this. Starfleet by its very structure is a military type organization, with a set Uniform. The very meaning of the word Uniform means all the same. No two people in Spacedock wore anything remotely the same, and it didn't look like a Starfleet installation.

I proceed on my quest to Admiral Quinn's office, and once again find myself disappointed in the turbolift. I talk to the Admiral, and he goes into a glowing review of my performance, and tells me he is giving me command of a ship on a permanent basis, and is even going to pull strings to allow me to keep my ship, the Nehalem. This reminds me just how non-Trek this game is, as I, a lowly Ensign, because of service rendered, am going to be handed the keys to the ship. Never mind that I'm a lowly Ensign, never mind that I wasn't promoted, and never mind that somewhere in the background of Starfleet, some Lt. Commander, Commander, or even Captain could be waiting for a posting, I'm so special I get a ship. A ship that normally would not be commanded by anyone with a lower rank than Lt. Commander. Really, it didn't make me feel like I was a part of Starfleet, it made me feel like I was Q or some super natural being, snapping my fingers to make people give me all this grand stuff, regardless of normal protocol. After that, I left the Admiral's office and wandered around, just to see what Spacedock had to offer. Things like a Promenade (only ever seen on DS9, which is Cardassian in nature and had the Promenade for civilians), a night club, complete with Dance music, and an Auction House. Wait, an Auction House? How is an Auction house possible in the Federation? How can it exist on an inherently military outpost, and why is it even called an Auction House? I look around some more, and take a turbolift to Personnel, which had I looked more carefully was really right around the corner and accessible by foot travel. The turbolift, literally seems to go nowhere. No up or down elevational change, and the distance is short enough on foot, that taking a turbolift there seems utterly lazy.

So, then the notice comes up and the play test window is over. I log out, and I'm done.

In summation, from a standpoint of the types of games that I enjoy and like to play, STO is not a game that I would likely play for any length of time, and certainly not on a subscription basis. Maybe it simply is not geared towards gamers like me, and I'm perfectly fine with that. As I noted earlier, I count myself as the type of gamer that enjoys games that provide a combination of factors, from challenging gameplay, to great story, to immersion factor. STO seemed to lack in these departments for me. I felt the gameplay was far too simplistic for what I would be looking for from a Star Trek game. I felt no real story developing, and the introduction of the Borg so early in the game, kind of degraded their status as "super-villain" for me. Finally, I never felt immersed enough in the game to really get that "Star Trek" feel. It felt more like a Star Trek roller coaster theme park ride, where the ride is the same as any other roller coaster, but the decor is Trek themed, but not always correctly applied. Now I know, I only proceeded through the tutorial area, and things might change once you get deeper into the game, but the old axiom of first impressions would seem to apply here, and my first impression of the game was not resounding. I liken this as the mirror opposite of Age of Conan, where Tortage (the level 1-20 starter area) was fantastic, well done and enjoyable to play, but once you left Tortage, you went "what the...". Until I can get further into the game, I won't really know what to make of STO beyond the first two hours, but at least for me, it speaks volumes in my own mind that I don't really have the urge to push further into the game, other than innate curiosity as to if the game gets better, gets more complex, more challenging and more engrossing.

Now to all of those who may read this, I would add that I am not looking to get into a fight about this. I know many people here enjoy the game thus far, and to you I say kudos. So I would ask that flaming be kept out of the discussion.

Respectfully submitted,

Random Redshirt