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.