Archive for April 14th, 2010

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STO: What We’ve Got Here Is A Failure To Communicate

April 14, 2010

Note: I just spent an agonizing morning dealing with half a dozen clueless tax accountants, so I’m at my wits’ end and I’m about to tear my hair out! Hear me rant!

I haven’t been having such a hot time in Star Trek Online lately. Maybe it’s just a streak of bad luck, but seriously, what does it say when I’m in a party wishing my away team was with me instead, because the AI plays more intelligently than the person I’m grouped with? Saying that all the missions I’ve been on since reaching Rear Admiral 5 haven’t gone so smoothly is a gross understatement. At first, I thought the missions were just becoming more difficult, but that’s just part of the story. The truth is, the content only feels more challenging because it requires increasingly more cooperation between the players.

Obviously, to have cooperation, you need communication. And communication is something you don’t see much in STO. Actually, for an MMO, I would say it’s sorely lacking. Sure, like in all games, you’ll see a lot of crap in general chat, but throw five random people together in a group, and suddenly everything goes deathly silent. I say “Hi!”, I get nothing. I say, “Hey guys, the quest’s over here!”, I get nothing. I say, “Good job everyone, thanks for the help!” when things are done, and still I get nothing. Everyone starts dropping group one by one without even a “goodbye!”, and we all go off on our merry little ways. Instance after instance of this and not seeing a single word is kind of disconcerting, and it’s a phenomenon I haven’t observed in any other game.

What the hell is this?

I think those who play STO will know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like, I know you’re there, I can see your character moving. But if you don’t want to talk, it’s okay, I won’t take it personally. It’s frustrating, but still not that big a deal, especially during the early parts of the game. Someone in the group might not be following directions, pulling their weight, or they could be blatantly screwing around, but as usual, no one says anything about it. The rest of us, we each go off to do our own thing in order to get the mission done — shoot this, activate that — all the while not saying a word, of course. The content is straightforward and easy enough at this point so that while we’re in a group, we don’t actually have to work as a group.

I’m afraid that doesn’t work so well at RA5, however. And I’m not even talking about the raidisodes, this is just the missions in general! The problem is, at this point, we’ve all developed a bad habit of not communicating or working together. Why should we start doing it now, when it has proven not to make a smidgen of difference so many times in the past? The griefers and moochers are still doing what they do best, clueless people are still clueless, and still no one says a thing. The difference is, separating from the group in the hopes of completing the objectives on your own isn’t really a viable option anymore. At this stage, the missions are harder, not like the shenanigans in the past where groups can come together, split apart, come together again, and things miraculously seem to get done.

In a full player party, it’s immediately obvious when someone isn’t on board or if we aren’t meshing well together as a team, because things start to fall apart. Times like these, I make an effort to talk to my group and maybe try to coordinate a plan or something. While some may respond, the majority still won’t, either because they’re not paying attention or being obnoxious on purpose. In either case, an otherwise simple task becomes nearly impossible to complete.

I didn’t intend for this post to sound so whiny, but I’m also sure I’m not the only STO player who has had these problems. I really don’t want to have to run this game with my closed group setting on, because I play online games for the purpose of being able to interact with others. It’s also because a good player will beat out an AI bridge officer in terms of fun and efficiency any day. But if we’re going to have to work together, STO players will have to open up those lines of communication first.

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