Escalation seems to be an Exodus

It seems that interest has rather quickly waned for the two PVE queues that generate Competitive Wargames marks. it’s frustrating, I have tried morning, afternoon and evening and the wait times are rather long for a brand new queue. The wait is due to a lack of player participants, not an excess of players. Usually everyone is all over these things trying to get enough marks to whoosh through the grind and get Tier V status. Is that just me? Can’t be.

What’s the deal is the puzzle part just to hard? I hate puzzles personally but I find that these are bearable with the sole exception of the one with the stupid symbols you have to chase around. Of course as Captain of a starship we are not allowed to drop red alert and fly with the full impulse to grab these annoying color coded “keys”. No we must use full impulse only at the discretion of our space masters at Cryptic. We can save worlds, destroy a Borg cube and many other amazing galactic miracles but we just haven’t quite earned the right to cancel a red alert yet. Even as a Fleet Admiral. Yeah that makes sense.

So I hate that one puzzle but otherwise this is not a bad queue. I haven’t tried the ground version yet. I do wish Cryptic would fix what ever is pissing everyone off enough to not fill the queues. I want my damn marks! Maybe they are giving a lot of marks for the PVP. Did you know that these marks are awarded for any PVP queue? I figured they would offer more for the specific queues. I have been unable to actually complete a PVP session as my experience continues to be that PVP objectives are ignored and players just want to kill each other. That is fine I suppose, but I can’t see anyone making any large amount of marks in regular PVP sessions. It seems that Cryptic will need to make adjustments to get people back in the queues so we can all advance in the new Reputation System.

So I brought up PVP and every time I play in the PVP environment I find Juggernaut players that have either cheated somehow or have truly mastered the tweaking to the nth degree. I wrote about possible cheating a few years ago “Are There Hackers…”. I even have an active poll that queries the idea and it currently it stands at 2/3 of you say ‘yes’ there are “cheaters” or “hackers” in STO. You can opine on the issue below.

I consider myself to be an above average character and ship builder, probably well above average. I study the game, read tons of material and experiment like Doc Brown. I have however admitted many times on this blog that there are gamers out there far superior to me, that can squeeze every last drop of efficiency possible to create amazing combinations. They are worthy of admiration for their efforts. What bothers me is the ridiculous range of disparity between solid players and God-like master players. There is an egregious wide range between a very good character and the super toons. I don’t like the fact that whether by cheating or by skill one player can be five times stronger than another player otherwise equally as well equipped. As an example, I have a character, Admiral Sager, that has 99% of every possible ability, skill, trait, etc. and an armada of Mark XIV ultra rare and epic console and weapons and yada, yada, yada, bad to the bone et al. I can go into a PVP match and within a few minutes some Juggernaut will appear and dust my dingle in a couple of seconds as if my ship were a Tier 1 starter. There should not be that much of a range between the gamer-gods and a solid well-built toon. I get that better gear should have a significant advantage and Cryptic has done well there, but a 5:1 boost on build seems a bit steep.

The DPS boards show it well, some players are doing three times the DPS of some of my very well equipped level 60 all mark XIV toons. That seems like way to much secret tweakability. If you look at most things in life the “quality curve” is increasingly steep the higher up you go. There is a diminishing rate of return the closer to “perfection” you get. STO doesn’t seem to grasp that concept or there is cheating going on. Either way Cryptic should be able to fix it with either a change in power gap or fixing security holes.

Cryptic seems to be terrified of powerful weapons and abilities but the real terror is not coming from “super weapons” or “super abilities”. Super weapons are tempered by a long charge up and/or cool-down period. The boffins at STO should NOT be nerfing these abilities at all. None of the God-players are going to use them because they are basically one offs. It would however at least allow less experienced players to enjoy the occasional blast of death and destruction that super-players enjoy all the time. Just sayin’ the super weps could be a partial equalizer against the super-gamer-Gods and/or cheaters.

I still think that Cryptic’s tendency to nerf is annoying and the fact that they continue to despise the idea of stealth by making the cloak so easily defeatable. I rage a fair amount on this issue because I have always liked playing stealthy characters. In D&D, Elder Scrolls, etc, I like me some sneaky. Cryptic clearly HATES stealth.

When they changed the skill system to a simpler skill tree, I thought that we would get a little closer to parity between the very best players and typical solid experienced players like me.  I still feel like the very best players are way too strong relative to solid experienced players. Don’t get me wrong, the players that take the time and energy to tweak their setups to a finely honed purveyor of doom deserve to have an edge, but to fly as virtual Gods among men is a bit too much methinks.

It looks like they really nerfed the shit out of Gravity Well. Why did they do that? I think that they need to give science captains a HUGE boost to all science BOFF abilities and deflector abilities and like wise to engineering and tactical. Because after this supposed change to the system to make multiple pathways desirable, it seems we are even closer to all tactical all the way all the time. The nerfed gravity well is a kick in the crotch for science toons.

I wrote a post called Top Ten BS Peeves and the top ten are still largely ignored. To the Cryptic teams credit they made a genuine attempt to fix #6 and it is in “green” for good job. The #1 peeve is in “red” for I want that guy dead, whoever that guy is that created this cluster-eff! Sorry about the rage, but this latest effort by the team at STO is underwhelming and the lack of participation in the new queues is deeply disturbing. OK here’s the peeves:

10.   Red alert hangs too long

Yes this can be annoying, the battle is over and you’ve dusted the last of the pesky little enemies. It’s time to warp out or cloak or whatever you want to do but that damn Red Alert will not go away. Come on already I am the captain of this boat, I ought to able to cancel the effing red alert!

9.    Large ships not properly to scale

I have touched on this in past posts. The big cruisers are just not BIG enough when depicted in the game with smaller escorts and raiders. This is most egregious when watching the KDF BoPs emerge from the Vo’Quv or the Breen Plesh Breks from either of the Breen ships with hangar bays. It’s OK Cryptic, you can make the ship models a little bigger. The smaller ships won’t mind 😉

8.    Full Impulse disabled in combat

I may be missing something here, but I can’t see any reason to have full impulse disabled during combat. No one is going to use full impulse when they are actually fighting an enemy, that would be foolish since all power levels on the ship are nominal except engines. But there are times when you are taking a beating and a strategic use of a confuse ability followed by a full impulse burst can save your sorry ass. But no, Cryptic says to us all, “Die motherf****r die”! If you’ll pardon the ‘Gangsta Rap’ parlance. A full impulse burst after an attack run with an escort or raider could speed up the ability to position the ship as well. Yes, I am aware that there are other methods of rapidly escaping but that does not excuse the inability to use full impulse at our discretion. The discretionary use of the full impulse ability would allow captains to utilize a number of tactical techniques to aid in combat.

7.    All cloaks should be battle cloaks

I have written at length over the years on this. The standard cloak is near useless in battle and since STO doesn’t have any real non-combat stealth opportunities in the game. What the hell is the damn point of a standard cloak. Especially when you must have the device take up a console slot, ala the Tactical Escort Retrofit.  My idea is hardly novel. Cryptic gave every Romulan ship a battle cloak. I think that every cloak should be a battle cloak and certain ships such as raiders and escorts would gain a cloaking bonus to give a slight advantage that compensates for their weaker profile.

6.    Pet AI is too stupid

This is another well discussed issue on this blog. Seriously, the pilots in the fighter craft just fly into an exploding ship and die. Is Cryptic is using Kamikaze tactics? News flash! The damn ship is dead already when its warp core is exploding. What, are the AI pilots fed up with life? Are they saying, “I can’t take it anymore… this is the end for me…” Well they should take a Prozac and pull up, pull up!

5.    Torpedoes do not do enough hull damage

Hear me out on this. Torpedoes only do partial damage against shields. This is good, I have no problem with that at all. But since the weapon has a low DPS value for the most part and has a handicap against shields, I think torpedoes should get a bonus against exposed hull. +50% damage to exposed hull. It would not overpower them as the bonus would only apply when the shield facing was down or on un-shielded targets for which there are few in the game. This would make torpedoes relevant again. I know many players don’t even equip them anymore.  Also maybe cryptic should offer beam weapons a +25% damage versus shields and a -25% damage versus hull. This would bring back the allure of the beams and torpedoes combat tactic. Cannons should remain equal hull and shields damage. There is nothing wrong with having a little more separation between the two energy weapon types to give players more tactical combat options.

4.    Dual Cannons and Dual Heavy Cannons are too weak

This is another thing I have been somewhat expressive about. These 45 degree arc weapons are much harder to keep on target. This is why so many people have abandoned cannon weapons in favor of beams. DC and DHC spend a lot of time off target so come on, give the narrow arc weapons a little more kick, and people might start using them again.

3.    Cloak is too easy to defeat

Some one high up on the Cryptic food chain hates cloaking devices. Maybe his favorite red shirt was killed by a Klingon de-cloak and torpedo attack in a TOS episode. I don’t know, but in Star Trek canon defeating the cloaking device is by no means an easy task. I think the cloak should be twice as stealthy as it is now but science captains get a passive bonus to spot cloak. I also think all of the abilities that have a quick cool down and can expose cloaked ships should have a ‘check roll’ to expose rather than automatically defeating the cloak.  Further more torpedo spread should have the option of firing with out a target lock (or a new tactical ability), this could be used as a tactic against a cloaked ship and Star Trek canon supports the notion.

2.    Not enough Star Trek Spirit

I posted this originally on November 22nd, 2013. Sums it up well. The Spirit of Star Trek.

1.    Dialog box breaks cloak

This is by far the most egregious of them all. I have been playing this game almost as long as it has been out and this stupid issue remains. Any dialog box de-cloaks your ship. I cannot be alone in my disgust over this issue. It is an affront to the spirit of gaming. I can’t tell you how many times in battle in both PVE and PVP matches, where I have cloaked my ship after an attack run only to have a freaking stupid ass dialog box that says something pathetic about the tactic you should use to fight the PVE enemy or some other horse shit about the PVP/PVE objective. Of course not only is my ship exposed, possibly in danger, but I have to wait for the cool-down timer to elapse before I can cloak again. Like I said in #3, some one high up at Cryptic just hates cloaking devices. They should fire that asshole, and fix the problem.

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6 thoughts on “Escalation seems to be an Exodus

  1. I’ll chime in on the power disparity issue here with my theory, based on some recent observations.

    Once you get to a competitive endgame build, everyone should be roughly around the same power level. What sets the high-end DPSers apart is that they know exactly which powers can be stacked together in a specific order for maximum effect – from gear, Boff skills, and captain skills. Once you’ve figured out the combo and sequence, you must run Keybinds or Macros in order to get consistent results. Keybind is the only reliable way you can activate the exact sequence of powers, and minimize the activation times. To give an example, manually clicking and activating the needed powers on my Escort at the beginning of an STF run takes up to 3 to 5 seconds (Thank the UI for unresponsiveness) — in that time a DPSer would’ve brought down the first NPC ship!

    And this is where my play style falls apart — because I don’t use keybinds. I feel using keybinds take too much away from my gameplay; I don’t want to bang on my spacebar all day long and call it playing. I recognize that I might have gimped myself in PvP, but I’d rather play for fun than be competitive, so it’s a choice I’m consciously making.

    Anyhow, that’s just my theory!

    1. All true, but I use keybinds and there is still a crazy disparity and like I said in the article, I think the guys that are able to dial a toon in with that much precision deserve to have a edge, but they remain Gods among Men and that is a bit over the top.

  2. There are indeed hackers. After about 5 minutes googling it, I found an article discussing the various methods of hacking a game like sto (with specific examples from sto itself). I agree with you that they ruin the game for us, and rarely do I participate in PVP for that reason. It’s just not fun to get beat over and over because someone else is too lazy to put in [real] effort themselves.
    That said, I don’t think Cryptic knows how to deal with it properly. Their response to high dps outputs? Give npc ships millions of hull and a stronger arsenal! Meanwhile my ship WILL be destroyed if even one of their torpedoes get through my shields. The answer shouldn’t be an enemy buff. (unless of course they want to be as grindy as possible).
    Alright, there was my rant. I appreciate your posts. Keep it up!

  3. Oh I also meant to comment on the seeming shortage of players in the two Wargame queues.

    I suspect there might be two things at work here. One is the new PPS system, which sorts players into “matched” games but does so in mysterious ways. If 10 players queue up for Core Assault and PPS decides they are mismatched… well then that’ll prolong the wait until 10 “matched” players sign up. I’ve kinda noticed this longer wait time is true for other queues now, even the ever popular Crystalline Catastrophe.

    Suspicion number 2 is a lot of players see these queues as PvP… and more importantly, the reputation itself (and the associated Rep gear) is seen as PvP-centric. A lot of players aren’t at all interested in PvP, so they choose not to participate and earn a Rep that benefits PvP gameplay.

  4. I agree about the player base getting smaller. I started noticing it back when Cryptic released Delta Rising. Now, I too, have problems getting reputation marks and fleet marks because of a lack of player participation. I think Cryptic had a good idea about reviving PVP, but nerfing everything on the last season update wasn’t the right thing to do. A better way might have been to lower the player levels, say to 45 or 50, like they do in some STF’s, when players enter a queue.

    As far as hackers, I haven’t been aware of any significant hacks being used, and I am in several chats where there would be bragging if there was. I agree, that with study and research, it is possible to build super ships, but where you max out on one area, anothers suffer greatly. Ex: a glass canon build that has little or no defense.

    Also, I am an average player and I use the keybind system that is built into STO. It’s easy to learn and set up, and being it’s part of the game programing/language, I don’t feel like it’s a cheat. As a matter of fact, I enjoy the game more because I can pilot and plan better than if I were just looking for what button to push constantly. Of course that’s my opinion on game play. As far as using macros, I don’t, so I can’t speak for that.

    1. I use keybinds, I like em. My complaint isn’t the glass cannon or super tank, I have those. I am talking about God-like ships that have it all, hull crushing tractor beams, cloak defeating super sensors, shield raping energy weapons and tanking like the Norad bunker all in one ship, that shouldn’t be possible whether by superior skills or cheating.

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