Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Weekly Character Update

     Hi all. sorry about this delay, but work decided to add to my responsibilities suddenly and I had to concentrate on ramping up for it. Now that I have gotten my self into the routine of things, I am able to come back here and try to do a catch up of a sorts.

Vice Admiral Zombee
      Since the last time I was here, the Summer Event has ended and crafting got a revamp. Because of how Crafting works now, I am funneling all crafting mats to this guy and doing all crafting leveling with him. Currently I have made it to Level 7 in the Beam School. I have also been collecting the dilithium and Marks needed to buy all of the gear from the Counter Command reputations. I have acquired the Deflector Array, Warp Core and Shields for the Counter Command Set. The Impulse Engines are in progress. After the Space Set is completed the Munitions set will be worked towards and then I will move on to the Ground set for him. The USS Sorrick is the flag ship for Zombee. USS Sorrick is a patrol escort. I also have taken to running the Dyson Sphere Space Battle Zone for my Dilithium and Undine Marks gathering efforts. Seems to be way better overall for me as my final reward is much greater overall than what I get from the STF's for Undine marks.

Vice Admiral Danic
      Still working on getting all of the Counter Command Set together. I just can't remember what all I have on this one. Other than the fact that the USS Brandon W, a Risian Corvette, is the one being equipped with this set. I have set his flagship to be the USS Searcher, a Solonae Dyson Science Destroyer. This ship is fully decked with the Solonae Hybrid Space Set and the Protonic Arsenal Space Set. This character made it to Level 5 in the Beam Schools before they nerfed the fact that you can slot more than one research DOff mission in the R&D crafting system. Since then I have not progressed any further in crafting, nor plan to. All of his mats are funneled to Zombee.

Lieutenant General Sisteric
      All reps have been maxed out to Tier V. He has picked up Nelen Exil. The IKS Ebro has one piece of Counter Command Space gear, the Shields. As a command cruiser, the IKS Ebro has proven to be more nimble than most of his previous engineering focused ships, and just as hearty. The Ebro has done better than I expected in all of the STF's have have taken her into and continues to perform is a very good way. The IKS Ebro is an Risian Luxury Cruiser. While it really seems odd that a Gorn would choose to fly a luxury cruiser into battle, it is so far proven itself to be the best choice for him. It is his flagship. Progress is being made on getting more Counter Command parts. This character also got to Level 5 in the Engineering School. Again, this character is filtering all crafting mats to Zombee.

Lieutenant General Torc
       Torc has maxed all of his Reps and picked up Nelen Exil too. The Klingon empire doesn't have much in the way of dedicated science vessels, but the best one he has is the Haj Heavy Bird-of-Prey, IKS D'npang, as his flagship. It has the Counter Command Shields so far. Working on the other parts. I know I got him to Level 5 in an R&D crafting School but I don't remember which one. I think Ground Weapons. I will have better details next week.

Centurian Zemo
    This is my new Romulan Republic character. He is a Reman Tactical officer currently flying a Dhelan Warbird and allied with the KDF. He is too early in his development to have done anything for reps or crafting or pretty much anything else. I am just purely leveling him through the story content and then I will figure out his specifics later.

Vice Admiral Grell
     He has made it to Tier V in all the Reps. The RRW Graz, a Risian Luxury Cruiser, remains as his flagship with very good results even though he lacks cloaking abilities. The RRW Graz also is equipped with the Counter Command shields, impulse engines and warp core. The Deflector is almost complete and then we will get the munitions set and then gather the ground gear. I got him to a level 5 in a crafting school, i think in projectiles, but I don't remember for sure what school.

   I know that I am leaving some details out and so will update that all in next weeks update. I just felt the need to let you guys know some details. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Weekly Character Update

Vice Admiral Zombee
     Still just collecting Pearls. I am thinking about running STF's to collect marks just to build them up for when the Summer Event is over and I get back to ship upgrading.

Vice Admiral Danic
     Completed getting the last part for the Protonic Arsenal on the USS Searcher. Switched the Flag over to the USS Brandon W, a Risian Corvette. This ship will be outfitted with Counter Command gear. Currently have two of the four pieces for the Counter Command space set.

Lieutenant General Sisteric
     So worked on the reps and now I can say all of them are Tier IV. I am still working towards Tier V. I am flying the Risian Luxury Cruiser as his flagship. The ship's name is IKS Ebro. This ship will be Counter Command outfitted once I have all of the reps maxed out.

Lieutenant General Torc
     Some of my commendations have been raised. Exploration has gone to rank 1, Colonial has gone to Rank 1 and Development had gotten to rank 2. Also made Counter Command rep to Tier IV. I have also transferred his flag to the IKS D'npang, a Haj class Heavy Bird-of-Prey. This ship will also be a Counter Command setup and geared for taking on the Undine.

Vice Admiral Grell
     Counter Command Reputation is now Tier IV. Also changed the flag over to RRW Graz, a Risian Luxury Cruiser. Again this will be a Counter Command setup once I maxed out the last rep.

     That's all I have had time for in games for now. I plan to at least keep playing STO for now, but I am wanting to expand this list some more. I hope this was interesting enough for you and Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Weekly Character Update

Vice Admiral Zombee
     Finished getting all of the Pearls and got the Risian Luxury Cruiser. It's really a engineering vessel than a tactical vessel so did not bump the top ship. Staying on Risa till the summer event is over to build up pearls for next year.

Vice Admiral Danic
     So Counter Command made it to Tier V. Now working on the components to get the Protonic Arsenal set for his Dyson Science Destroyer. That will fill out that ship as best as I can get it. Then I will move on to the next ship till all of the ships are geared as best as I can get them. I also got the Risian Luxury Cruiser at the reduced price.

Lieutenant General Sisteric
      Advanced to Tier IV in the Task Force Omega, Nukara Strikeforce and New Romulus. Dyson Joint Command and 8472 Counter-Command are now Tier III. He also picked up the the Risian Luxury Cruiser and his now his primary ship. The ship performs very well even though I don't have it fully geared out.

Lieutenant General Torc
      So I attained Tier V for Task Force Omega, Nukara Strikeforce, New Romulus and Dyson Joint Command. *472 Counter-Command is only Tier III. Attained the Risian Luxury Cruiser too. Not a Science vessel so is way down the list for ships to be geared and flown.

Vice Admiral Grell
      Was able to get the Development Commendation up to Rank 3. I was also able to get to Tier III in the 8472 Counter-Command reputation. Got the Risian Luxury Cruiser too and using it as my main vessel. The Luxury Cruiser really is geared for Engineering pretty heavily.

Airholen of Baldur's Gate
       So I jumped on this character for little bit because Neverwinter has had two expansions since I was last on. Ran a single dungeon but I was so rusty on how I play the character that I was less than effective. I really should spend more time on this character. But I also looked at some of the changes and except for the adding of relics, I really didn't notice any real changes to the game experience.

      SO that is what I did this last week with my happy little characters. The stories are coming soon for the STO guys. So please hang in there. And Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What is Crafting?

As you will notice, this is not a Weekly Character Update. I will be putting that in tomorrow. But today I was wanted to write about Crafting.
Crafting has taken a forefront in my thoughts because WoW and STO are both making changes to their crafting systems. WoW seems to be removing some of the capabilities and traits from it and with all the other changes to gear and traits crafting had to be re-looked at to fall in line with all of these changes. STO, on the other hand, is completely redesigning their crafting system. And these changes have caused discussions on their respective forums.
Now the changes on WoW to crafting have so far been low key and I have not seen much on it. But my understanding has been that the changes are to accommodate the changes they have made to the rest of game system, including healing, mana regen and stats. But I since I have not seen any real info on the changes I will not comment further.
STO changes are very sweeping and radical and are in Beta Test on Tribble server. I have been on Tribble and tried it out and have reached some conclusions about what the direction is and how well received it will be. The forums have been very vocal on this topic and have brought forth some points that got me to thinking about crafting in games as a whole.
To start with, you have to know what crafting is before you can emulate in a game. So looking up Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary for the definition of Crafting and you get: to make or produce (something) with care or skill. So to put it into words that mean something to me and related to games, Crafting is the process of making something with skill. 
Now in WoW, when you look at the crafting system and this definition, the results are good. You have to have a certain skill point level to craft a particular item. Once you have reached that, you learn from making that item till you have so much skill that that item is simple by comparison and therefore doesn't give you any more skill. This forces you to move on to other items to make to challenge your skill so that you keep learning. Therefore always making you make things that always take more skill if wish to get better. This fits the definition and so can truly be called crafting.
In the New STO crafting system, you assign a Duty Officer, basically a crewman on your ship, to make something. Upon completion of this you gain skill points and the item. Your skill level does define what items you can make but only at certain points. If you have enough Duty Officers, you can assign a different DOff (Duty Officer) to each item and your ‘skill’ advances. Your Individual DOff's doesn't get that skill, just your character. And since these DOff's can be ‘bought and sold’ on the Exchange, when a DOff leaves the skill doesn't go with it and so doesn't change your character skill. Additionally, the item created will have a random chance as to what ‘quality’ that item will be. This random chance is affected by your skill level, the mark level of the item being created, the quality of the assigned DOff, and some catalyst that you can buy from the c-store. So , following my definition,  this systems uses others to make something that sets chance of what quality the item will be based upon skill, worker quality, bought resources and item complexity. This doesn’t fit the definition well and over reaches what a crafting system is.
So what can be done about crafting in STO? STO is now calling crafting Research and Development (R&D). It seems like they are not sticking with a tradition sense of crafting in a game. SO does that mean we need to redefine Crafting or create a new definition for what they are creating? I don’t think STO is going to go down the traditional path of crafting and so we would need to redefine what exactly it is they are creating.
My first clue as to what this new paradigm is in the very name they gave it, R&D. R&D is where you have a team made up of people with various skills working together to create a prototype. The prototype is then tested to make sure it works, and figures out if this a feasible idea that the company can make money on. To apply this to STO, your DOff's is the team used to create something new. But it doesn't quite fit because you are making the same things over and over again, with random results on the quality. With the system being called R&D, it really isn't.
By that lead me to the thought that the R&D is really a manufacturing plant. Manufacturing plants take resources and put out a specified product. Manufacturing has quality controls that look at the product, doing random testing and ejecting those products that fail to meet certain standards. These ejected products are either sent back to be recycled and added back into the system, or collected and sold at a reduced cost as a way to recoup some of the loss from mishaps. STO R&D you are taking resources and creating a specific product with a variable quality. The better the quality the more it sells for in the exchange or at the vendors. This most closely resembles the STO system. SO it seems that my Starship Captain is now a Captain of Industry in a traveling factory.
Working with that idea, it would seem that you would need a workforce and plant manager. But in the system you are just selecting one person to make this item.
I need to take a moment right now to talk about the ship’s crews. There are basically four levels of Ships crew.
The captain of the Ship is you and is the top tier of the ship’s crew. And the only Player Character onboard.
The next step down is the Bridge Crew. These are NPC's that are fully customizable by the player and fill the rolls of department heads and away team membership. They also fill in ship stations and provide skills that you can use in combat. The Bridge Officer’s or BOff's also come in quality levels ranging from common to Very Rare.  All BOff's are also officers and you can promote them in ranks when you want to within certain guidelines. BOff's can also be bought and sold on the exchange, you can change what skills they have and you decide what gear they are equipped with. You also have the ability to change their looks, race, sex and name.
DOff's are the next tier. These guys are your named enlisted men and women that crew your starship. They have profession and quality levels. They also have traits. You cannot do any customization to these guys. Their name, race professions and traits are all hard coded. You can buy and sell them on the exchange and they come in the same range of quality levels. They are also the guys you send out on most of the minor mission that you have.
The last tier is the crew compliment on a ship. They are just a number on your ship that is tracked. None of them are name nor do you have any interactions with them. It’s a stat that ship has, and has crew is incapacitated you ship suffers is capabilities during space combat. They do not have a quality to them.
So going back the DOff that you can assign to make something in the R&D, I see this as you are assigning the Plant Manager. The ships compliment is managed by the DOff. And it’s the DOff'd quality that influences how the crew works for him and determines the final quality of the end product. And this fits the manufacturing style of creation.
But the randomness of the final quality of the item made was not truly explained by this. Or is it? If the crew is just a collection of unnamed guys, it might be that every time you assigned the DOff to make something, he gathers a random group of people together to retool the workshop and make the item. It’s this randomness of people that ultimately determines the final quality. And that allows me to say that the “skill level” that you acquire is not really assigned to you but to your crew. And the DOff's quality allows for it to manage the people, organize the work space and give directions in order to avoid most of the pitfalls and help increase the quality of the final product.
So the new STO R&D is really a manufacturing process, with you assigning a plant manager (DOff) to make the workers (crew) to create a one off item from a universal workshop. Seeing it as this; you can understand where they are going with this new system. But they confuse this issue by calling it a crafting system and R&D. And as long as they call it by these names, I think they will cause a lot of anger with the community. I also think that as long as they try to make dilithium, a resources that is limited in how much you can get in a day, a necessary cost to get the best gear they are going to relegate the manufacturing system to a little used feature.
My feelings to increase the usefulness of the STO R&D will require removing or dropping the cost of dilithium by a factor of 10 or more, remove c-store requirements to control quality outcomes, and making the quality randomness lowered for higher skill levels by dropping common and uncommon qualities from the outcomes. I also think that the amount of experience points it takes to go from one level to the next has to be retuned to make it a more gradual step. They also need to do this to cut down the amount of time to actually get to make level in just the one school. And there are seven schools.

These are my thoughts so far. I have more to ruminate on these changes and hope that Cryptic will actually consider what people have been saying about this new system.  Until tomorrow, Enjoy!