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.


  1. Honestly i’m surprised this seems like a new thing for you. This has often been my experience in many games.

    • Never something like this though. Usually when you join a group in other games, if nothing else at least you get a “hi”. Not like this though…here you can literally go 5-6 groups in a row without having anyone speak or reply to your greets.

      • It really is unique. I’ve had groups in any MMO I’ve played that didn’t talk, but never EVERY group, unless they are a friend or fleet member. It is a little sad when you log group with people and you try and talk, and no one will respond. I’m a talker, I NEED to communicate.

      • I used to be impressed with the way groups were able to handle missions without needing to communicate at all, but after having it happen over and over again for so long, now it’s just kinda creepy.

  2. LOL I switched to to closed group not long after starting. I’ll try to get to RA5 soon, so you have someone to talk to.

    • Yes, go fleeties! (guildmates = guildies so fleetmates = fleeties, right?) I’d much rather prefer to play with you guys!

  3. I’ve read this complaint about STO in particular from other bloggers, you aren’t alone.

  4. I’m sorry, they can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome they are.

  5. If you want to try something new, APB is in Beta. I know what you are thinking, APB but that’s cops & robbers! I thought that too but the character creation & customization is so addictive I just have to play the game 🙂

    I have some details on my blog: http://gvnr.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/apb-all-points-bulletin/

  6. This don’t seem too much different to my actual experience. Whether closed or open group instance have never mattered to me either way. So i just choose to do the open instance to make it more fun. However same experience as mine most people don’t say much in groups/teams either, just zone in shoot, kill stuff and zone out faster than the last ship can finish exploding on a space mission.

    On ground mission its even less coordination as people run all over the place in a hurry or run straight into hostile groups. In such cases I’ve always prefered my own BO team since i work much better with my own BO than a general random group/team for tactics and compared to one where other members are all over the place in many the groups I been in.

    Now i’ve been in some groups where people say hello and a few words and such but that’s more rare than the usual. Some have said thanks for the group or help especially when it was a much harder mission as well but its not usual you have groups like that or people talk that much in team chat i’ve seen either.

    Probably the only exception i can remember is on sector patrol missions where you may have been in group with the same player or group and people likely to say more but again that’s not the usual. On most missions people drop group as fast as any system mission part of mission is usually complete and off to the next thing.

    • I agree with you on the lack of coordination on ground missions. No one talks in space either, but that’s completely fine because everyone knows what they’re doing. People underestimate ground missions though, but that’s where I think teamwork matters most. The point of my post is that at lower levels, the content is easy enough to wing it, but that’s not going to fly at RA5.

      For example, I always bring my Boff healer when I’m doing an away mission. It really boggles my mind when I’m in a group and the others choose their own Boffs and we end up with like 5 tactical officers on the ground. And when people don’t stick together on away missions, they die quickly to attacks from huge groups of borg. That’s what happens when we don’t have communication and people still think they can do their own thing. You’re right, I think I prefer my own BO team to random teams too.

  7. I’ve had this problem in WAR and now WoW is getting really bad with the dungeon finder system. Nobody talks anymore. It is like soloing with Human robots

    • It’s the same problem all over. Randomly being forced into a group of strangers. For years in WoW, players only did end level content with people they trusted from their guilds or servers. People that you spent time getting to know while leveling and gearing up together.

      Now in WoW, as in STO and probably MMOs, you’re partnered with four random people that you’ll have no connection with once the instance/mission is over. There’s no “need” to communicate because it’s likely you’ll never encounter those players again.

    • I’ve heard about the problem with WoW too, though I left the game just before the dungeon finder feature was implemented. At least in WoW, you can be comforted by the fact your group members know what they’re doing, assuming they’ve encountered the dungeon many times before because of the daily system. Doing missions in STO is hell because no one knows what they’re doing and no one talks 😛

  8. I second Scarybooster’s thoughts – we had this problem all the time in WAR, and it’s been happening to us in STO so far as well, so this scenario sounds depressingly similar.

    I really don’t understand it, and I say that as someone who prefers generally to solo or duo and is often concentrating too hard on the task at hand to be able to chat. It’s just not that hard to hit enter and type “hi!” or “thanks!” or “over here!” Even my touch-typing-challenged better half can pull that much off, people. 🙂

  9. Thats what a good fleets for!

    But PUGs in all games are this way now days, its pretty sad. Its because we don’t play in virtual worlds but rather single player theme-park mmos where no one is incentivized to be social .

  10. Thac0 puts it nicely. But I also encountered within our fleet that people do not even notice you jump up and down in front of them and message them simultaneously. Or ram them with your ship in sector space.

    Grouping is not really needed at all in STO except for the raidisodes, and then suddenly people are required to play together.

    The super low difficulty allows everyone to become Rear Admiral, and it depends upon the individual player if he knows jack shit or a bit more about the game he/she is playing.

    What to do against this? I have no idea, the whole way MMOs are designed nowadays is to cater to the lowest common denominator and to constantly reward people with success in form of gear and achievements.

    • “Thac0 puts it nicely. But I also encountered within our fleet that people do not even notice you jump up and down in front of them and message them simultaneously. Or ram them with your ship in sector space.”

      Sorry about that. I’m trying to get better

      • I don’t want to disclose if you did not see me jumping in front of you or humping your ship in sector space. 😉

        It is not even the point – you are not the only one who did that and I am not the only one who experienced something like that.

        I also experienced this in LOTRO. Except whispers some people do not even react if you stand right before their nose and type in local or zone chat.

        The death of the PUG and general communication is a serious issue. In every regard but communication MMOs are usually VASTLY inferior to single player or multiplayer (non-MMO) games. Or has our gameplay been reduced to progressquest and addictive behaviour patterns?

    • I certainly hope you have not been humping my ship in sector space, because if I saw that you would definitely have gotten a few questions from me 😛

      If you did and I didn’t answer though, it’s most likely because I’m afk or tabbed out doing something else. Which I won’t deny, it happens to people and that’s what I always assume when I whisper someone and they don’t answer, especially if I can see that they’re not moving. But in missions, I can see my group members running around and shooting, so I know there’s someone there. They’ve got no excuse not to answer.

  11. Just wanted to echo the comments about War. Nearly every group I was in was silent where it was an automatic group. I haven’t played WoW in a while, but most of the stories I hear now about dungeon finders groups seem the same.

    Early on in STO I had open teaming set and I was running about 50% on silent versus chatty (relatively) groups. I ended up turning the teaming to closed because I was needing to take breaks often (to handle childcare issues) and didn’t want to mess up other players.

    I’m sure that MMOs becoming more mainstream and accessible has led to some of this, but it doesn’t bother me too much since I’ve always been a solo or friends-only grouper.

    I’m at Captain 5 by the way, so you shouldn’t have to wait too much longer for a better AI team member.

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