Speed and evasion

February 26, 2010

I’m currently working on the research for a new article covering several aspects of starships in STO, and how they’re affected by the ‘Captain’ skills. As it’s been fairly slow going so far, I thought I’d share some initial results on the relationship between speed and defence in space combat.

In the following tests I took a Tier 2 Science Wessel and circled constantly while two even-level (Lt Commander-1) Birds of Prey attacked. I logged 3-4 minutes at each speed, then used a log parser to compare the hit rate of their Disruptor Turrets (the only weapon that they fired enough times for a statistically significant result, although their other weapons tended to have around the same hit percentage).

Here are the results:

Speed (Impulse) Bird of Prey 1 Turret hit rate Bird of Prey 2 Turret hit rate
20 76.4% 74.0%
15 82.1% 81.7%
10 93.0% 96.1%
5 100% 100%
0 100% 100%

It seems fairly clear, then, that the speed you’re travelling in space combat can have a pretty significant impact on how often you’re going to get hit. I’m planning to do some more testing with different ship types and opponents, but I thought these were interesting enough results to post them in the meantime.

As an aside, the testing really brought home to me just how trivially easy PvE space combat is right now. In over 20 minutes of constant firing, two even-level Birds of Prey were completely unable to dent the shields of a Tier 2 Science Vessel with common Mk II gear running at 65 shield power. I didn’t even need to rebalance the shields, let alone use any abilities. It also highlighted that the AI seems to be completely incapable of lining up shots with Dual Disruptor Cannons, rarely getting off more than three or four shots with these weapons in each 3-4 minute test.

New State of the Game

February 26, 2010

The first post-launch  ‘State of the Game’ article from Executive Producer Craig “Zinc” Zinkievich was published on the official site last night, and contains an overview of what’s next for Star Trek: Online.

Although there are few surprises for those who pay close attention to the official boards, it’s still a useful summary of what’s in store for the near(ish) future. I’m not going to cover every point as you can read it for yourself, but there are a couple of things that struck me.

The first is the mention that some form of ‘death penalty’ is on the way. Predictably enough, this has already caused something of a stir on the official forums, although without any details it is perhaps a little early to start frothing at the mouth (not that this has stopped anyone, of course).

While it has to be said that shortly after launch would generally be a bad time to introduce a blanket death penalty of any significance to an MMO, my hope is that the upcoming system will be optional, allowing players to accept a death penalty in return for greater rewards (h20rat recently made a few posts in the ***What Kind of Death Penalty Do You Want?*** thread proposing some interesting ideas along these lines, although he was quite clear that these were personal opinions and not ‘official’ plans).

Such a system could tie in quite nicely with the ‘difficulty slider’ that’s also mentioned. Again, we’ll have to wait and see exactly how the difficulty slider works, but my suspicion is that it’ll be something similar to the slider in City of Heroes that allows you to increase the number and/or level of opposition in PvE missions.

In principal, I’m all for anything that increases the challenge of Star Trek: Online. In my opinion, the largely trivial nature of PvE space and ground combat is the single biggest weakness of the game in its current form. Without any challenge there’s little sense of achievement or satisfaction, which can quickly lead to boredom, the antithesis of fun – and fun, after all, is what games are all about.

In practise, however, a CoH-style slider won’t address any of the fundamental issues with the current mission structure and design that contribute to the lack of challenge and excitement, and so I can’t help some mixed feelings at the prospect. Nonetheless, it’s perhaps the best we can expect, given that the game is now live and making the kind of changes I’d really like to see would require an overhaul of almost every mission.

***What Kind of Death Penalty Do You Want?***

Patch note preview

February 26, 2010

The notes for this morning’s upcoming patch have already been posted to the official forums.

As well as several bug fixes, there are references to the character copy tool that should allow players to copy characters from the ‘live’ server (Holodeck) to the upcoming ‘public test’ server (Tribble). Hopefully this means that the test server should be up soon, as the ability to copy a character from live to test should make it a lot easier for me to investigate some of the game systems that I still don’t understand very well.

Starship Weapons Overview updated

February 25, 2010

Just a couple of small changes to the Starship Weapons Overview article – the Torpedoes section has been updated to include the special effects of Photon and Quantum torpedoes (chance to injure and/or kill crew), and I’ve added the results of some testing of torpedo flight speeds.

Bugfix patch

February 23, 2010

There’s a small patch today, which addresses a few bugs. Perhaps the most significant fix is to bridge officers with incorrectly ‘slotted’ abilities.

You can read the full release notes on the official site.

Power levels, drain and DPS efficiency

February 21, 2010

If you’re interested in some more details of how your skills affect your ship’s power levels or the impact of power drain on the DPS output of energy weapons, there are a couple of threads on the official forum right now that are worth taking a look at:

  • System Power Guide from Kiala takes a look at the various factors that influence your ship’s power levels, including several tables showing the actual power output of systems at different power levels with various combinations of skills
  • Comprehensive Weapon Energy & Build Testing from Nagorak, on the other hand, looks at how power drain from energy weapons appears to work and presents the results of testing the overall DPS of various different energy weapon load-outs when fired continuously

There’s some interesting and useful stuff in both of these threads, and I’d like to thank their respective authors for the work they’re doing on these aspects of the game system.

Comprehensive Weapon Energy & Build Testing

Ask Cryptic: Skills

February 20, 2010

The latest instalment of ‘Ask Cryptic’ was posted to the official STO website last night. Following the announcement of the skill point cap and the Al Rivera Talks Skills article three weeks ago, Ask Cryptic: Skills answers a few of the many player questions that had been posted to the sticky thread on the official boards.

As much as it was nice to see that one of my questions had been picked, I have to say that I’m not entirely convinced by the answer, and have some concerns over the changes mentioned in response to another of the questions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Resistances and ‘Diminishing Returns’

February 19, 2010

Something that seems to be coming up a lot on the boards at the moment is the way that resistance bonuses are calculated and the belief that this leads to diminishing returns.

This isn’t actually the case.

The misunderstanding stems from the fact that your final resistance is calculated with this formula:

Resistance = 1 – (1 / (1 + Total Resist Bonus)

For example, if you have a total +50% phaser resist bonus, your phaser resistance will be 33.3% (1 – (1 / 1.5)). If you have a total +100% phaser resist bonus, your phaser resistance will be 50% (1 – (1 / 2)).

Certainly seems like diminishing returns, right?

But percentage resistances aren’t linear, they’re exponential:

  • If you have 0% resist and you add 1%, you reduce incoming damage by 1%
  • If you have 90% resist and you add 1%, you reduce incoming damage by 10%
  • If you have 99% resist and you add 1%, you reduce incoming damage by 100%

So, if a ‘+X% resist’ bonus just increased your resistance by X%, you’d be getting exponential returns. The formula doesn’t give diminishing returns, it converts that exponential return into a linear one.

For example, with a 50% bonus, you get 33.3% resist, which means it’ll take 50% more damage to destroy your hull. With a 100% bonus, you get 50% resist, which means it’ll take 100% more damage to destroy your hull.

The thing to remember is that the resist bonuses listed on items like certain engineering consoles isn’t the percentage of resist the item will give you, it’s the percentage of additional damage the item will let you take.

Patching the patch

February 19, 2010

There’s another patch today, mainly aimed at fixing some issues introduced by yesterday’s update.

The main change is that the restrictions to the contacts list are being ‘rolled back’ while the team work on some of the problems they brought up.

You can read the full release notes over at the official site.

Blog of the week!

February 18, 2010

I’m rather pleased to say that The Engines Cannae’ Take It! has been named one of the ‘Blogs of the Week’ in the latest episode of the Shut Up. We’re Talking podcast over at VirginWorlds.com

I’d like to thank them for their kind words – the relevant section starts at around 1:08:30 in episode #58.