Captain's Blog, Over Communicating Or TMI?


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Captain's Log

Talk talk talk, that is the theme this week. I see where Cryptic and the Star Trek Online team are going with this whole "let's be better communicators" and I'm not sure I like it. My wife likes to talk, it doesn't mean that my chores get done any easier. I'm getting ahead of myself, let the news roll and then you'll catch on my wool-over-the-eyes brethren.

The Week That Was

Last week was the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, California. The land where Republican is a four letter word and we all hug (except for Medawky, he still kicks people who try to hug him). Jumping right into the fray, Cryptic announced with much fanfare that they are taking a kinder gentler approach to community relations. Maybe not kinder, or gentler, maybe just real. Did that strike a chord or a nerve? Let's find out.

Is Over Communicate a term?

Our Ten Ton Hammers got the goods at this year's GDC which included an interview with Craig Zinkievich the biggest big dog on the STO Team. During the interview, Craig says "one of the things that Cryptic is going to try and do is to over communicate." Here is where my spidey senses start tingling. Not because I think it's a bad idea, but because it brings up some deep rooted issues I have with people talking. Most people over talk so I inherently listen to only half of what the say. This keeps my words heard per day closer to the average. Game developers have taught me to soak up each word they utter like rationed bread in the old Soviet Union. If Cryptic opens the information floodgates, I may be overwhelmed. That is my demon though, I'll fight it.

Looking under the hood.

Another topic that Zinc discusses in the interview is the transparency and complexity of skills, powers and their effects.

"I think that there is a lot of complexity in Star Trek Online that is not readily accessible and it’s very difficult to see “well if I add to this skill what are my powers? What weapons of mine are actually improving?”, so there are a lot of things we have planned UI wise to really improve that.  It goes for the bridge officers too, “is this skill going to help me? Is this skill actually going to be usable on the ship that I have right now?” Yeah there are a lot of usability things that we can do, and you continually add to the game to make it more in your face and better for the user."

Per some of my previous concerns, the lack of "math" has been a problem for me. In a game that uses probability (i.e. dice rolls be it virtual or actual) I like to know how I'm stacking odds in my favor or against it. I like to understand the variables and then be able to adjust my gear to put more odds in my favor for specific events, i.e. skills and powers for crit versus damage, etc. I think this is a great direction for the team and look forward to more of this transparency.

State of the Game 

In some of their gaming firsts, Cryptic has been very forward in their State of the Games, and especially with their Engineering Reports. Both are great strides in the right direction. Some might say that these newly opened communication channels are desperation grasps by the developers to catch the coattails of people before they head out the door. I see it as passionate people wanting their customers to see that they (customers) matter, and that concerns have been heard. Love them or hate them, they seem to really care about the game.

From the Office of the Obvious: Raids are not easy 

I'm glad to hear that the first raidisode is no cakewalk. I hope it takes players months to figure out. By then, they'll have even more raids to figure out. Many things seem impossible the first time they are tried. It reminds me of the first time I did some break dancing. At first it seemed impossible, but in just a few short weeks, I was funky fresh. Actually, it's times like these that I thank Al Gore for not inventing the internet and things like Youtube until many decades later. 

Finally Some Answers

Speaking back to one of the earlier points, the information flow is still being developed for the game. Many times I feel like I'm making some wild ass guesses based on partial information when it comes to bridge officer skills and effects. I haven't found a nice concise guide to show me what is available so that I can determine which routes I'll want to go with each of the ever-so-valuable bridge officer slots. Luckily, Dalmarus has undergone the head-to-desk smashing pain of clarifying the first of the three trees - Engineering. Check out the interactive guide for Engineering Bridge Officer Skills and you'll see what I mean.

Have a great week, and thanks for reading.

Weekly News

Star Trek Drink of the Week


 Harry Mudd Slide

1 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Coffee Liquor

1 oz. Irish Cream Liquor

1 oz. cream

Shake all ingredients with ice and serve in a cocktail glass. Umbrella optional, make sure to check for your wallet.

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