Archive for January, 2010

The Skill Cap Issue

Posted in Gaming News, MMORPG, PC, Star Trek Online with tags , , , , on 01/26/2010 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Cryptic has done it now. They have churned the cesspit and the trolls have risen! Enter the 500+ page post of whining (at your own risk of course).

Long story short, people are mad (read PISSED OFF) that Cryptic has a Cap on the Skill Points you can earn in Star Trek Online. Now, unless you’ve ONLY played EVE Online, this shouldn’t be anything new. But by the responses on the forums and on many blogs, you would think that Star Trek Online is the ONLY game to have a skill cap. it won’t be the last. In fact, there are some very livid bloggers who keep making the comparison over and over again. A lot of these people are personal friends of mine, but I still disagree with the comparison. STO is not EVE.

Now, before I get into that, one of the big arguments people are trying to make is that Cryptic is doing this solely to be money mongers, and to sell Respecs through the Cryptic Store. A Dev posted already (sorry, can’t find the link now) about how it’s not to sell Respecs at all. Respecs will be available in-game for in-game currency. So, that argument is shot down.

As for it being like EVE-Online, it’s nothing like EVE. I really think that since Star Trek is space, everyone is trying to compare it with EVE, and that should not be the case. This is not the first time I’ve heard the EVE argument come up, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. In EVE, there are literally thousands of skills that take 250k+ skill points to completely master, where the final tier can take anywhere from a week to several months to actually complete training on. STO isn’t like this. You earn skill points while you level/do missions/kill things, and you spend these to learn your skills. No person is meant to be a master of every category. In EVE you can, but in almost all other MMOs on the market, you cannot.

Players are meant to specialize in one area, while having secondary and tertiary skills that they are “OK” at. There would be no need for strategies and finding certain players if everyone could do everything. In fact, I think the best example with the way the STO skill system works would be Fallen Earth. You get AP while you level and do quests, and you spend that AP to specialize your character in a certain way. There is an AP cap and you cannot master everything. Everyone is meant to have their own niche.

And just when it thought there was a chance I might be wrong (hell, 500+ pages of people telling me I am was sure to get to me, especially since I take official forums so personal! /sarcasm off) StormShade, the Cryptic Community Rep, posted a response backing up my theories.

My other argument for this cap is one of game balance. Unlike EVE, all other games try to maintain some sort of class balance, especially in PvP. While STO doesn’t have “Classes” per se, they have character and ship types. There would be no point to having this, or having one main area of focus, if there was no cap on Skill Points. If everyone could master everything, why would you have to choose a Tank, DPS, or Healer? I for one have always spoken out against the “Holy Trinity” of classes, and wish there was a better way around it (see Fallen Earth), Cryptic isn’t going in a “New” direction with STO. It’s the same old gameplay, and that’s how they, and the majority of people enjoying the game see it.

Let me be straight forward in saying that my only qualm with this decision on the cap is that it comes towards the end of Open Beta, and not sooner. Should it have been done months ago? Probably. But with everything else Cryptic was focusing on, I’m sure it only recently became and issue, after they opened up End Game for testing and saw the effect it was already having on the game.

And for the love of God, do NOT even begin to categorize this as an NGE type event. NO (read Notta, Zilch, Zippo) major gameplay was changed by this at all. All it did was put everyone on equal ground. The game still plays exactly as it did before the cap was put on, it just means people have to think when they spend their points, with repsecs easily available if any mistakes are made, which is exactly how it should be (you hear me Icarus?).

With all that said, this kind of goes back to Cindy’s post on MMOVoices last week. Who’s fault is it? It’s the players (or non-players as it is), who are trying to find something to blame on Cryptic for them not enjoying the game. Listen up folks, if you don’t like the game, you don’t like the game. There were no gameplay changes at all, and harping on the Devs for putting something as simple as a Skill Cap in the game is only causing them undue stress where it is not needed. Take a look in the mirror, and take a cold shower to cool off. It’s not the Devs fault you don’t like the game, it’s your own for buying into the hype and not getting what you expected.

(Sorry for the lack of writing lately, I will try to remember to share all of my writing from MMOVoices.ning.com to here as well. Bad Jmo! /slaps hand.)

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