Hello, computer (and players)! Welcome to this week's edition of Captain's Log, brought to you by "Geko" Insurance. (And let's just say, you may want to purchase a policy). If you are a Star Trek Online player who watches Cryptic's official forums, you know that the game experienced an Occupy movement of its own this past weekend. Even if you don't frequent the forums, you may have seen some of the concerns raised through the #STO Twitter feed.
Over the weekend, players lashed out against some of the recent changes that have made their way to the Tribble test server. It may be surprising to some of you reading this, but the commotion was not related to the economy changes. The main concern is that some of the items for purchase in the C-Store are going to be changing from account-wide unlocks to per-character transactions. While I was a little perturbed at the thought too, I was happy to see that some of the misconceptions were cleared up once we got an official statement from one of the devs. But since there is a lot more to the story, let's take a look.
Ensign, warp 10! And don't forget to buckle your seatbelt...
As I mentioned, the primary reason that the community was put into frenzy was that some C-Store changes had made their way onto Tribble and were only brought to light when a player randomly stumbled upon them and created a forum thread. While many began to post their concerns about the change (in a thread titled "Pets+Tribbles are now PER CHAR... WTF CRYPTIC!?"), some went further and called for a boycott of the C-Store. The main change was that many of the more popular items, including pets and Tribbles, would no longer be unlimited to an entire account when purchased; this change would require a player to purchase the item multiple times if they wanted to have them on all of their characters.
After players made their feedback post about how much they despised the change, something else was brought up: the fact that this change was not listed in a patch note. This got me thinking, so I did a bit of research. Ninety-nine percent of the time, past C-Store additions have been made through a different communication channel than most changes to the game. Most of the time, we would see a message placed on the front page of the game's site that announced an addition. Because Marketing controls the C-Store, developer patch notes are not really an appropriate place to announce new items for sale. The one exception to this was when there was a patch that said "update 'X' is occurring to prepare for the release of 'X' item in the C-Store."
Another common post in the same thread was along the lines of "why aren't the devs responding?!" I am not sure about you guys, but when it is the weekend and I don't have to work, I do everything I can to stay away from anything work-related so that I can just relax and unwind. I strongly believe the reason no one responded to the thread was that the team was off for the weekend (if I am not mistaken, the devs actually worked the entire weekend prior). Let's not forget that the devs are humans, probably have families, and just want a little R and R when they can get it, like the rest of us (except for Heretic -- I really think he is a robot who can stay up 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just to post about the Duty Officer system).
Monday evening, once the team had a chance to read through all 48 pages of responses (over 450 posts), Al "CaptainGeko" Rivera, Lead Designer for STO, posted a response. The first thing he did was reassure players that ships are going to remain account-wide unlocks (this was another big concern that players thought was going to be a subsequent change). He did also mention that the devs are planning to "make as many C-Store items as possible to be character-unlocked" and that "the reason is simple." He goes on to explain that this new model will allow players who have not already purchased the items before the change to trade or gift items that "are really not game/balance changers."
The next morning, in response to everyone's outcries about the changes coming to the crafting system, Rivera did post the following message:
BTW, since it was asked, yes we are still working on crafting. The current implementation is not final and we hope to improve it to your [liking]. I don't want to get into details because this is not the right place, and frankly we are not done. We will try to get you the information as soon as we have more details.Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. I understand that many of you may still be upset with the explanation provided, the time that it took to get a response, and the change itself. Just remember these two things: 1) the devs are entitled to a life too and deserve the weekend off without having to watch the forums, and 2) Cryptic is owned by Perfect World, a publicly traded company, which has an obligation to its stakeholders to create a business plan that can help bring in profit. Next week, I am going to be livestreaming STO on Tuesday, November 8th, at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Tune in to our Livestream channel as I check out some of the latest updates to the Tribble test server.
Until next time, let me know your own thoughts on the matter by commenting below or sending me an email to email@example.com.
Computer, terminate recording.
Boldly going where no one has gone before, Brandon Felczer transmits Captain's Log through Subspace right to your PADD every Thursday. Join him as he discusses the latest news, gossip, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Hailing frequencies are always open to his bridge through firstname.lastname@example.org.