Economy Improvement Suggestions - TFOs

novin7
novin7 Member Posts: 12 Arc User
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.

STFs/TFOs have had many changes to them over the years - and mostly good ones! There have also been many new factions added, and many new stories. One of the persistent challenges when creating new TFO content is balancing them. Difficulty, time to completion, rewards, mechanics, etc. I get it - it's a lot of work! We all know how players are, though - they'll try to meta-game, exploit, and otherwise abuse anything you throw at them. As developers, trying to keep up with the complex issues which affect TFO demand is a daunting task - and there's always going to be that one mission that everyone plays ad-nausea because "It's got the best payout!"

Couple that with the fact that some TFOs are simply mindless AoE-damage grinders, where ships which can kill at exclusion of everything else - including basic survival - and it's not only created a way to rapidly produce dilithium without having to really invest any to do so (IE: Players can jump into Advanced queues with no qualifications and just get carried through them) but also detracted from the authentic "Ship adventure" experience where logical role-play elements such as "I should protect my ship so it doesn't get destroyed" aren't even addressed.

Therefore, I suggest the following changes to both increase demand for dilithium and improve TFO balance in general.

1. Make the dilithium payout be tied to completing the optional objectives instead of the marks payout. Invariably, the main reason to play TFOs is to get the Reputation marks associated with whatever faction the player wishes to progress in. But regardless of which mission it is or how well players perform, heaping chunks of dilithium are sent their way. By changing it around so that optional objectives add dilithium payout and the marks are static, players can reliably progress their Reputations but won't be given large amounts of dilithium unless they A: No longer require the marks, or, B: Actually play the mission correctly.
2. Deliver Damages/Injuries far more often, and add in an Energy-Credit and/or Dilithium cost to recovering them. It irritates me that the only priority in playing a mission is "Kill the enemy faster!" One of the core aspects of space exploration is survival. Recklessly throwing your ship to oblivion to create a cool AoE effect is not something that any actual starship captain would likely do. Similarly, ignoring a crippled teammate in order to get a higher DPS score on a parser is not something a ship captain would do, either. Increasing the incentives to defend oneself and their allies not only improves the feel of the game, but also adds incentive to develop more diverse types of ships and gear - which in turn will increase demand for dilithium as alternative ship builds and equipment sets get developed. I do remember a while back, when Advanced difficulty missions would be set to fail if the optional objectives were not completed. Unfortunately, since you cannot guarantee your team composition for random queues, and not all of the missions have optional objectives which are balanced the same way, this was not a good adjustment to make. However, adding in a bit of sting at losing your ship during combat would both restore realism while also providing a mission-neutral sink for energy credits and dilithium. Since Normal difficulty would still not incur injuries, casual players and/or players who just want to earn resources without the added risk can still do so. And because the advanced tokens aren't given away on Normal, players would need to choose between coming to Advanced runs prepared to survive in order to gain the higher rewards, or slotting the 100 Marks-per-day reputation project in order to purchase the advanced tokens needed to buy Reputation gear. Either way, a significantly improved distribution of dilithium would be reestablished.
3. This one I suspect may not be easy to code, but I think it would still be worth it. It is also the biggest change I'm suggesting anywhere. Institute an auto-balance to the TFOs system. Here's how it would work - every week or month, or whatever timeline you consider appropriate, the top 1/3 most-played missions would automatically incur a certain percentage reduction in their payout (you can determine what amount would be appropriate). The bottom 1/3 least-played missions would automatically receive a similar percentage increase in their total payout. Over time, some missions will stack up multiple penalties or benefits. This would immediately tell you very useful information about the true nature of the TFO. Missions which lower in payout, and then stop getting played, were only being played because of the efficiency of their rewards - not the enjoyment of the content. Missions which increase in payout, and then suddenly start being played, are similarly enjoyable missions which were just being avoided because the payout efficiency was too low. Missions which continue to increase in payout, but still never get played, are either broken or miserable to participate in. Lastly, missions which continue to decrease in payout, but still get played, are the most entertaining and well-designed ones you have!

I hope these suggestions are helpful in brainstorming a way to both improve the value of TFOs 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

  • westmetals
    westmetals Member Posts: 8,221 Arc User
    edited September 2021
    Cutting the ability to earn dilithium will not necessarily help.

    As I see it, those players who earn dilithium and then spend it as dilithium, have no effect on the exchange.

    Those that do, are those players who do either of the following:
    - earn dilithium and then want to exchange it to zen
    - purchase zen and then want to use it to purchase dilithium

    In both cases... if you look, most uses of dilithium (other than buying zen) have a natural limit to them. If you ask around, most players who are buying zen with dilithium, can do so or are doing so because they've already done all the other dilithium things, while the zen sellers are buying dilithium in order to do those things (and then usually stop when they hit the limits).

    In both cases... hitting that wall of "I've already done everything else" causes... more demand for zen and reduced supply of zen.

    But at the same time, reducing the ability to earn dilithium does not, necessarily, create demand for it: these players won't need it, even if it is more scarce.

    The only way to affect those specific players is an appealing dilithium spend... and we really have not had a large-scale, effective dilithium sink added since early 2019 (or late 2017, when the fleet colony was introduced, depending on your opinion of the Phoenix boxes and re-engineering). A lot of older / more-established players have thus had plenty of time to reach those limits.

    If you were to look at a chart of the dilithium/zen exchange rate over time (I have)... it used to increase at a fairly slow pace, say an average of about 2 dilithium/month... and at about the time I am referring to (roughly late 2018, give or take a couple months), suddenly accelerated to about 7 dilithium/month and never slowed back down. (At that time, the exchange rate was around 300).

    Why? Because they stopped moving the goalposts. (Allowing for a year or so for the fastest fleets to construct their colony.)
  • drdrahcir
    drdrahcir Member Posts: 23 Arc User
    theres an easy way to start ... STOP the DIL Weekends when the exchange is broken!! FFS talk about adding to the problem!
  • westmetals
    westmetals Member Posts: 8,221 Arc User
    edited September 2021
    drdrahcir wrote: »
    theres an easy way to start ... STOP the DIL Weekends when the exchange is broken!! FFS talk about adding to the problem!

    See above, re: "Cutting the ability to earn dilithium will not necessarily help."

    And FYI the exchange is not "broken". It still works, there's just a waiting list for dilithium sellers due to the price cap and a constrained supply of Zen sellers.
  • drdrahcir
    drdrahcir Member Posts: 23 Arc User
    Oh I know both of these ... I wanted to just keep the crazy situation in view

    .... the 500 limit needs to change for one thing and yes they need to give us ways to use the Dil such as the vanity shields ( which I thought was a good idea , but over costly ( volume over profit) ) ... The cash purchase of Dil in the past was an obvious revenue stream which they seem to have given up on and lets be honest here without a reliable revenue stream they cant employ the developers needed to either fix the bugs OR give us proper new content
  • kf4tvi
    kf4tvi Member Posts: 164 Arc User
    Just my two cents worth, but I really don't think we need a new place to spend Dil. What we need is incentive for people to join fleets and contribute to fleet projects, most of which require Dil. Our fleets projects completion delays are almost always due to Dil. I'll bet right now you could drop a million Dil on projects that need it and only it for completion across our armada. With that being said though, I have recently noticed a huge increase in doff cost on the exchange and we are now seeing that as a hinderance to many fleet project completions as well, so the cycle continues. Common duty officers selling for over 100k on the exchange is inflation run amuck, luckily right now it is very cyclical. Fleets could definitely use some work. If your an old timer and have all the stuff you want or need from fleet stores, what incentive is there to donate to those projects? It's just a thought.
  • westmetals
    westmetals Member Posts: 8,221 Arc User
    kf4tvi wrote: »
    Just my two cents worth, but I really don't think we need a new place to spend Dil. What we need is incentive for people to join fleets and contribute to fleet projects, most of which require Dil. Our fleets projects completion delays are almost always due to Dil. I'll bet right now you could drop a million Dil on projects that need it and only it for completion across our armada. With that being said though, I have recently noticed a huge increase in doff cost on the exchange and we are now seeing that as a hinderance to many fleet project completions as well, so the cycle continues. Common duty officers selling for over 100k on the exchange is inflation run amuck, luckily right now it is very cyclical. Fleets could definitely use some work. If your an old timer and have all the stuff you want or need from fleet stores, what incentive is there to donate to those projects? It's just a thought.

    FYI, you can buy the white doffs you need with fleet credits and re-donate them; it will eat about half the fleet credits in the process, but....
  • pirokobo
    pirokobo Member Posts: 3 Arc User
    edited October 2021
    so each one is targeted at balancing the demand for Dilithium while not interfering with, or even increasing, the demand for Zen

    The exchange is completely drained of zen amid an ocean of di and you think the solution to that is constraining the di faucet?

    There is no zen on the exchange because demand for it simply outstrips the amount being introduced. Most people who are buying zen are spending it directly either in the z-store or on keys to convert from zen to credits for reward pack ships.



  • westmetals
    westmetals Member Posts: 8,221 Arc User
    pirokobo wrote: »
    so each one is targeted at balancing the demand for Dilithium while not interfering with, or even increasing, the demand for Zen

    The exchange is completely drained of zen amid an ocean of di and you think the solution to that is constraining the di faucet?

    There is no zen on the exchange because demand for it simply outstrips the amount being introduced. Most people who are buying zen are spending it directly either in the z-store or on keys to convert from zen to credits for reward pack ships.

    I do kinda see where he got the idea - he thinks that making dilithium more rare, would increase its relative value.

    The problem with that theory (as I pointed out above) is that scarcity does not automatically create demand. The people who were previously selling Zen and have stopped or cut back, because of having reached the logical limits of dilithium to spend (because if you think about it, every method of spending dilithium has some sort of logical limit, except buying Zen).... they're not going to come back as Zen sellers until there is something *new* that they need dilithium for.

    Then and only then would scarcity help (because they would be more likely to try to buy their way out of a shortage).

    Or else... it would cut down the surplus that people are trying to use to buy Zen. But the cut would have to be pretty drastic to fix the exchange entirely from that side.
  • novin7
    novin7 Member Posts: 12 Arc User
    kf4tvi wrote: »
    Just my two cents worth, but I really don't think we need a new place to spend Dil. What we need is incentive for people to join fleets and contribute to fleet projects, most of which require Dil. Our fleets projects completion delays are almost always due to Dil. I'll bet right now you could drop a million Dil on projects that need it and only it for completion across our armada. With that being said though, I have recently noticed a huge increase in doff cost on the exchange and we are now seeing that as a hinderance to many fleet project completions as well, so the cycle continues. Common duty officers selling for over 100k on the exchange is inflation run amuck, luckily right now it is very cyclical. Fleets could definitely use some work. If your an old timer and have all the stuff you want or need from fleet stores, what incentive is there to donate to those projects? It's just a thought.

    I agree completely kf4tvi, see my post on Fleets here:
    https://www.arcgames.com/en/forums/startrekonline#/discussion/1263333/economy-improvement-suggestions-fleets
    ...for my ideas on how to increase the demand for Fleets again.

    All economic adjustment requires supply and demand balances - as westmetals accurately points out. It's absolutely true, reducing how easy it is to get Dilithium will not fix the problem by itself. All I'm stating, with regards to the TFOs, is that a great amount of fun in playing them has been taken away by people who just mill them for dilithium without any drive to be playing the mission correctly. The random TFO system is fantastic and was a great addition, but it didn't help the dilithium issue since it hands it out in spades. All I'm suggesting is to pivot the rewards for TFO play more in favor of the reputation marks, and less in favor of dilithium. Also, by having actual consequences for playing advanced missions badly, it would encourage other styles of play - IE: other builds and tactics, which would increase the demand for the 2/3rds of the game's ships and abilities which are currently being ignored. There are several missions with objectives that involve defending something - and most of them, you can't even heal the target that you're supposed to be defending! That's absurd - why even have healing abilities in the game if the easiest thing to do is just die, respawn, and come back swinging? So my idea to tighten the supply of dilithium from TFOs wasn't so much aimed at reducing the dilithium supply, as it was increasing the demand for alternative builds of ships and captains - thus increasing the demand for the 2/3rds of the game's content which is currently of less value to people.

    For example, if the number of enemies in both space and ground combat missions was cut in half, and their toughness doubled - suddenly AoE powers would be far less attractive, and single-target and survival powers would be far more useful. This would open up a lot of options for new builds that could be "meta" and though I dislike metas, I accept that they exist and people chase them. People will want to theory-craft and develop different ships and gear - most of which already exists, but hasn't been touched - to try out against the new format. Getting all of that equipment upgraded would cost a ton of resources - possibly enough to encourage spending Zen on Dilithium.
  • westmetals
    westmetals Member Posts: 8,221 Arc User
    edited October 2021
    kf4tvi wrote: »
    Just my two cents worth, but I really don't think we need a new place to spend Dil. What we need is incentive for people to join fleets and contribute to fleet projects, most of which require Dil. Our fleets projects completion delays are almost always due to Dil. I'll bet right now you could drop a million Dil on projects that need it and only it for completion across our armada. With that being said though, I have recently noticed a huge increase in doff cost on the exchange and we are now seeing that as a hinderance to many fleet project completions as well, so the cycle continues. Common duty officers selling for over 100k on the exchange is inflation run amuck, luckily right now it is very cyclical. Fleets could definitely use some work. If your an old timer and have all the stuff you want or need from fleet stores, what incentive is there to donate to those projects? It's just a thought.

    The thing is... what if someone is already in a fleet, but the fleet is already maxed out?

    Because... it's been mathematically possible for a fleet to be maxed out for... close to three years now. And a lot of the players that I talk to are there. (One of the private channels I'm on is loaded with people who were heavily into colony sims in mid-2018... when the pedal-to-the-metal fleets were just approaching finishing up their colonies. A quick, unscientific poll on that channel the other day found that 75% are in maxed out fleets.).
  • pirokobo
    pirokobo Member Posts: 3 Arc User
    westmetals wrote: »

    The problem with that theory (as I pointed out above) is that scarcity does not automatically create demand.

    True, but doubly... price does not create supply. Zen has two principle faucets: the monthly stipend for lifetime subs, and direct purchases with real world money. Now, I dunno if others have noticed, but real world inflation is running hot right now. Food prices in particular have skyrocketed in the last three months, which takes a bat to discretionary spending.

    Meaning people are spending less money on internet spaceships.

    Even PLEX in EVE Online has started to creep up.

  • westmetals
    westmetals Member Posts: 8,221 Arc User
    edited October 2021
    pirokobo wrote: »
    westmetals wrote: »

    The problem with that theory (as I pointed out above) is that scarcity does not automatically create demand.

    True, but doubly... price does not create supply. Zen has two principle faucets: the monthly stipend for lifetime subs, and direct purchases with real world money. Now, I dunno if others have noticed, but real world inflation is running hot right now. Food prices in particular have skyrocketed in the last three months, which takes a bat to discretionary spending.

    Meaning people are spending less money on internet spaceships.

    Even PLEX in EVE Online has started to creep up.

    No, you're correct, that is also true.

    Assuming however, that there are players buying Zen (ignoring the real-world effects that might hamper that for the moment)... players who have been buying and selling Zen, but who have recently changed their behavior and choose to use it for things with prices in Zen rather than trading it for dilithium, is where (I think) we need to fix the issue.

    In other words... The real "fix" requires convincing those players to switch back to spending their Zen as dilithium.

    (And also, the same goes for dilithium-to-Zen buyers.)

    The problem? Most of the ways to spend dilithium in-game (other than buying Zen) have some sort of logic limit to them. Eventually, your fleet is maxed out, all the equipment you care about has been obtained and re-engineered and upgraded to perfection, etc. You reach the point where the only use for dilithium is trading it for Zen.

    The only solution to that is to introduce something new to spend dilithium on. And that those players actually want.

    At that point, you increase the Zen supply and decrease demand at the same time.


    Basically put, the dilithium/Zen "economy" actually consists of four distinct behaviors:

    1- earning dilithium and spending it as dilithium
    2- earning dilithium and trading it to Zen
    3- buying Zen and trading it to dilithium
    4- buying Zen and using it as Zen

    However, only #2 and #3 affect the exchange rate.

    When players exhaust the logical ways to spend dilithium, they naturally switch from 1 to 2, or from 3 to 4.

    As I see it, the current problem is that there are too many people in #2, and not enough in #3. The deficiency in #3 may be due to the RL economy as you mention, but my theory is that a lot of those players have, over time, exhausted their dilithium needs and switched into category #4.

    What we need to do is get some of the people in category #4 to shift to category #3, and/or category #2 to shift to category #1. Both of those would be achieved by a new, desirable dilithium spend.


    I did see a proposal (which I support) in another thread to revise the fleet credits value of dilithium donations (upward by a factor of 3-5)... this might help, but I suspect its utility would be limited due to the number of maxed out fleets where it would make little difference.

  • baihu#9879
    baihu#9879 Member Posts: 29 Arc User
    It be nice, Idea.
    it would defently help bring more players back and new in.
    but I can see them shuting down for a few days to fixed all the problems caused by the misused of it.
  • kf4tvi
    kf4tvi Member Posts: 164 Arc User
    So, even though a fleet is maxed out doesn't mean there are no longer any donation opportunities. The stores in fleets must be constantly maintained.

    What I see as being the problem is that once an individual has reached a certain level in the game and has most if not all the fleet items they need or want there is simply no reason for them to help complete ongoing fleet projects aside from simply being a responsible and active fleet member and doing your share to help. And, yes westmetals I am aware of the doffs available at the fleet starbase, the problem is most people are not willing to part with their fleet credits to buy them since that is what they are there to get in the first place. Like the special projects that give you weekly boosts, the fleet credits are always the last thing to be filled even though the rewards offered by that project are in my opinion well worth it. In my fleet, when I slot that weekly project it is usually completed in a few hours if not sooner with fleet credits being the last thing filled.

    The fact of the matter is that fleet items have fallen behind in usefulness as new items are offered elsewhere in game that meet or exceed their stats.

    From what I have heard, most people are using their refined dilithium to purchase zen so they could buy stuff from the Zen store, especially the free to play players which I can totally understand.

    So, if that is the case I do not see how that can be fixed unless new items are introduced outside the zen store that people will want to buy to help reverse that trend. So lets say that statistically people are selling dil to buy zen to purchase keys to open lockboxes, then maybe what we need is an option to buy keys directly from the dil store? It's just a thought.
  • westmetals
    westmetals Member Posts: 8,221 Arc User
    kf4tvi wrote: »
    So, even though a fleet is maxed out doesn't mean there are no longer any donation opportunities. The stores in fleets must be constantly maintained.

    True, but the amounts of dilithium needed are far less and can usually be generated by accidental gameplay. There would be no need for someone to sell zen to get dilithium to fund that.