Economy Improvement Suggestions - Fleets

novin7
novin7 Member Posts: 12 Arc User
edited September 2021 in Fleet System and Holdings
Greetings. As an STO player of about 8 years, I've greatly enjoyed the game and have watched as the price of Dilithium for Zen has shifted from under 100-per back around 2013 to the "Unavailable even at 500-per" that it is today. Since open attempts to address this issue have been posted by Cryptic (but do not seem to be working), I'm offering the following series of suggestions to help out with the situation. Note that these suggestions incorporate the fact that Cryptic needs to make money by selling Zen - so each one is targeted at balancing the demand for Dilithium while not interfering with, or even increasing, the demand for Zen. Also, having a background in software, the suggestions will be tailored to avoid things that would be particularly difficult to code and implement.

One of the biggest draws for dilithium consumption years ago was Fleet development. Fleets have projects which cost massive amounts of dilithium to complete, and took a very very long time to do so. As such, the addition of Fleet holdings had, for a long time, provided a very necessary demand for dilithium. Unfortunately, over the years Fleet development has been stymied by the following factors (not in any particular priority order):

1. Rendering end-game content provided by Fleets to be obsolete. (IE: Fleet-grade ships replaced with newer T6/X variants, and the Tech Upgrade system rendering Fleet Equipment less competitive.)
2. Overly complicating the resource costs needed to complete the projects (IE: Colony provisions wildly inaccessible compared to other types of provisions, or projects requiring resources which are either exceptionally rare or no one knows how to obtain them.)
3. Good systems insufficiently marketed/buried where players rarely find them (IE: The Research Lab's temporary Fleet-wide boost projects!)
4. Most fleet rewards are one-time-only products that inspire joining, buying, and abandoning fleets. The drive to put in the cost to build and maintain a fleet just isn't there without ethically-minded players doing so despite the lack of incentives.
5. Poor implementation of the Armada system. Primarily the UI for contributing to the projects of other fleets, which takes a lot of getting used to in order to find which fleets need what you actually have to offer.

Therefore, a great way to bolster demand for dilithium is to reintroduce viable demand for it via Fleet projects, but in a way that does not create a pressure for Cryptic to constantly add new holdings and content, which adds demand on development resources. I propose revamping the Research Lab's Fleet-wide boost projects (the best fleet holding addition I've seen to date) as follows (again not in any priority order):

1. Remove the one that bolsters Dilithium gain (defeats the point) or move it over to the Dilithium Mine holding where it's more intuitive to find.
2. Change it so that these projects cost only dilithium, making them more accessible to fleets of all sizes and supporting the need to soak up dilithium. There are plenty of other options that already exist to offer demand for Marks, Credits, Expertise, etc.
3. Move/divide up the Combat Boosts to each of the Starbase Holdings, with offense under Tactical, defense under Engineering, and utility under Science, where they're more intuitive to find.
4. Cancel or supplement "Bonus Weekend" event boosts - most especially the Tech Upgrade weekend, which I feel has been very toxic for the economy - by adding fleet-driven temporary boosts that can be purchased via dilithium projects. You'll need to be careful to determine an appropriate amount of dilithium cost/time duration so that it's accessible to smaller fleets without being trivial for larger fleets to get a hold of. Though it would be a bit more work to code, perhaps incorporate suggestion #5:
5. Offer all of the temporary boost projects at every stage of progression for a holding, and scale it so that smaller ones are viable versus higher ones. This way, smaller fleets can offer something to grow, while larger ones can splurge dilithium to showcase their prestige. For example, if a Tier 1 boost was a 5% boost for say 100k dilithium, then Tier 2 would be 10% for 250k, and Tier 3 would be 20% for 750k.

In addition to the above changes for a particular fleet's boosts, updating/upgrading the boosts afforded to fleets for being members of an Armada would increase the incentive for large fleets to help build up smaller ones as well. The current boosts are nice, but adding more or increasing them would also drive up the demand to develop/join Armadas.

There are other significant problems that I see the Armada system facing, and these problems in turn inhibit its effectiveness as an expanded dilithium sink. First, is that large well-established fleets find it easier to have their members just create alternate characters to establish new fleets, add those fleets into the Armada, and build them up; rather than go through the effort to recruit actual new players to their team. Perhaps if the Armada bonuses scaled based on, say, the number of unique accounts throughout the armada in addition to the overall fleet level - that might fix the disincentive to recruit genuine Beta and Gamma fleets. And it might be difficult to code, but consider offering a bonus for the activity of the fleets via some sort of Recent Login check. This way "dead shell" fleets which are well-upgraded fleet-level wise, but are no longer active, would not be more desirable than smaller ones with active new players looking for a boost to help them participate in the game. These fleets only have 1 or 2 active members in them, who might not be on often enough or aren't officers and so cannot slot new projects for the parent fleets in the armada to contribute to. But because a level 70-80 "dead shell" fleet offers a larger Armada bonus than a lower-level fleet, there's an incentive to keep the inactive fleets in the Armada over smaller, more active fleets. A genuine new fleet with 6 active people in it will slot projects, consume dilithium, and add to the community's growth much faster than a large old one that's fallen by the wayside.

I hope these suggestions are helpful in brainstorming a way to both restore the value of being a member of a Fleet/Armada in Star Trek Online, as well as providing a lasting resolution to the economic issues facing the Dilithium/Zen market.
Post edited by novin7 on

Comments

  • novin7
    novin7 Member Posts: 12 Arc User
    Regarding the update to Fleet-wide bonuses in the previous post, I determined what I feel would be the ideal dilithium cost for the bonuses. A 5% bonus - available at Tier 1 - would be 12,500, 10% at Tier 2 would be 50,000, and 20% at Tier 3 would be 200,000. This would make the "break even" points achieved at 5, 10, and 20 players respectively - which creates a balanced incentive for all size fleets to make use of.

    Two additional ideas for increasing a drive to build and contribute to fleets. Each of these should be offered only to fully-developed fleets to create more demand for recruiting and retention:

    1. "Dilithium-Infused Zen". Essentially, Zen that's tradable created by spending 100 dilithium and 10000 Energy Credits per Zen. Historically, these values were the ideal conversion ratios to Zen over the years. The ratio would consume a significant amount of Dilithium and EC, without being so costly that people won't bother with it. Tradable Zen will allow players to help their friends in the game, increasing the total number of players and the overall demand for everything in the economy. Wealthy fleets could have raffles and giveaways that help them recruit more members. Friendships built within the game among players that do not know one another in real life could be more collaborative. Exchanging cash with strangers isn't something many players would be comfortable doing, especially if they want to keep anonymity. Creating tradable Zen would spike the demand for it, but making it cost Dilithium and EC to trade the Zen would reduce the inflation on those two currencies in the process.

    2. An inverse to "Mudd's Market", a store that offers whatever Zen products are least-selling for a Dilithium cost. Set the cost in Dilithium to whatever exchange rate would create a suitable discount, just like having a sale, and use that as a way to soak up Dilithium - potentially enough to create a demand to buy Zen to sell for Dilithium. There are hundreds, possibly even thousands of Zen products available at this point. No one is going to have the money to buy everything they want purely with Zen - but if they had access to discounts through spending Dilithium, it may be enough for them to buy the Zen to sell for Dilithium in order to take advantage of the discount.
  • westmetals
    westmetals Member Posts: 8,220 Arc User
    edited October 2021
    problem: the game has real-world costs (servers, bandwidth, staff payroll, etc), which the developers/staff pay for by selling Zen. Introducing a way to create Zen "from thin air" (using only in-game currencies) on demand, would probably cut into that income, and make the game not financially viable.

    Also I don't know where you are getting 100 dil as an "ideal" exchange rate for Zen... the exchange rate has not been anywhere even close to 100 since like 2013.

    ----

    As a counter-idea perhaps.... this "tradeable zen" could be done in the form of Zen store coupons/gift codes/etc which would require an equivalent amount of Zen and a small amount of in-game currency to create. That way it is still portable (as you suggest) but not "from thin air".

    (I am aware that there are already limited-time-only, tradeable T6 ship coupons, but this idea would be for an amount explicitly in Zen that could be used for any Zen store item. For example, they might come in 100 and/or 500 Zen increments.)
    Post edited by westmetals on
  • novin7
    novin7 Member Posts: 12 Arc User
    Ah, I wasn't clear in how I wrote my idea - what you stated as the counter-idea is what I was trying to say. For instance, I could buy 1000 Zen, then make it tradable by infusing it with 100,000 dilithium and 10,000,000 EC. I am absolutely not suggesting the ability to create Zen purely from in-game materials, for exactly the reasons you stated.

    So spending Zen on yourself is the same as it is now, but the "power" of trading it to others/giving it to others has a surcharge but is at least possible. The reason I picked the amounts I did as an ideal exchange rate, is that if it costs 500 dilithium right now to buy 1 Zen, then a 20% surcharge (100 dilithium) and 10k EC seems a reasonable amount to ask to be able to trade the Zen. At least, I know I'd be willing to pay that much - and I don't really have a lot of Zen right now. But I have friends who play the game that I don't really know (IE: Wouldn't want more personal account/PayPal info to buy them stuff directly) but would totally be willing to buy Zen, then spend some of my Dilithium stockpile to trade it to them in-game.

    The limited-time-only tradable T6 ship coupons was a fantastic idea! I happily dove on that, again so that I could help my friends. But the problem with that type of promotion is that there's a massive amount of Zen products and you can't know what someone really wants or needs. For example, the very first Zen products that I bought were Inventory and Doff Roster space. Whenever my friends join the game - it's the first thing I try to get for them too. To me, that was the greatest quality-of-life improvement for the game. T6 ships are great, but I really only need at most 1 of each archetype - if that - to be happy and most of the people I know are the same way (not saying most people, just saying most of the ones I know!).