Proportionate Rewards

It’s been a few weeks now since STO launched its vaulted season 6.  I was initially very positive about this update, and overall still am. However, the shine has started to wear off, revealing the dark underbelly of the expansion.

Cryptic’s biggest flaw is the inability to balance things in terms of work vs reward.  The STF were originally incredibly long and provided terrible rewards. The Borg ship set was nice but it was only worth running the STF’s once for them. Then they to the fact that STO is played mostly by old, casual Star Trek fans and broke the STF’s down into pieces that could be done in 15min pieces. They added new and cool rewards.

But then they made you need to play then 60 times (on elite) to get one of the four gear sets. That’s 240 times to get all of them. And that only would give you the Mk XI set, when the top of the line stuff is Mk XII. To get that you need to a special drop. I’ve played the STF’s 100+ times and have yet to see a drop. I only played them that many times because there was nothing else to do in the game at endgame. Since season 6, I’ve run STF’s twice.

The reward for those is entirely out of proportion to the amount of effort involved. The drop rate is horrendous on the Mk XII gear. The same odds apply to the ships from the lockboxes. There at least its just a greedy money sink so you see the upside to Cryptic for the low drop rate.

However, they never seem to understand the downside to these things; pissing players off. Many people won’t run an STF 100+ times. Even though you can do it every hour, and can run three missions in an hour, you could complete the 240 necessary in 10 days of 8hr days.  But only hardcore people do that. Most of us don’t. My 100 or so runs has taken me 8 months.

Now, you might say, these were all of their past mistakes and Season 6 was a fresh new update, how does it relate? They have the same problem of scale. Our small fleet got to Tier 1 starbase relatively easily. But getting to T2 in any category has run smack dab into a brick wall.

For Tier 1 you needs 10,000 xp in a category (military, science, engineering) to level up. There were two missions you could run that provided 1,000 xp. The resource requirements were modest. Either required 10k Dilithium, about 1000 commodities and 7 DOFF’s or 24 DOFF’s and less commodities and no dilithium. Both needed 180 Fleet Marks.

But for Tier 2, you need to acquire 15,000 XP and most of the missions only reward 500 xp.  There is one mission that gives 1000 xp and it now requires 60 DOFF’s and 300 Fleet Marks.  The 500 xp projects also give you provisions of things to buy in the starbase stores. Some require 60,000 Dilithium and other require 60 SPECIFIC doffs.

The XP requirement goes up,  the XP per mission goes down, along with the resources per mission going up. It’s a triple increase in difficulty. This has slowed down our progress to the point where we are barely half way to Tier 2.

The real kicker is the Operational Asset missions. Those are the ones that require 60 specific DOFF’s. Since getting DOFFs is random there’s no way to work on getting those specific ones, aside from just acquiring tons and tons of doffs or buying them off the exchange. For a million credits a pop.

To top it off, the Operational Asset’s are pretty useless. They are one time use and cost a lot of fleet credits. They might help you beat one of the starbase defense missions but those are fairly easy. So the reward for using them is completely out of proportion to their cost.

Now, Cryptic has started to address some of the problems with the starbase advancement. They’ve added doff assignments that allow you to convert spare commendation XP into Fleet Marks. This allows you to earn Fleet Marks via the DOFF system instead of running the same four missions over and over and over again. Now, it still doesn’t address the problem of needing to runs those same missions so much, but they are talking about adding Fleet Marks as rewards to other missions.

They also added a way to straight out buy DOFF’s from your starbase in exchange for Fleet Credits. 500 credits gives you one white DOFF. Since you can turn a DOFF in for 200-350 Fleet credits that’s not a bad cost (in a small fleet where you can hope to contribute a lot of DOFF’s). Now, it’s still completely random what DOFF you get, so you can’t use it to get those annoying sensor officers and might end up with useless civilians, but it’s still a major step forward.

Acquiring white doffs was becoming a major road block.  Previously you could only get them from the recruitment missions from the Academy or buying the packs.  The recruitment missions can only be done every 4 days and only reward a total of about 18 DOFF’s.

So starbases are proving to be Crypitcs usual mixed bag of good idea/poor implementation. At least they are trying to address some of the problems now. We’ll see how things go forward. I’m not sure I want to look up what the upgrade costs are going to be once we have enough XP to get to Tier 2.

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