Got my Temporal Sci character to level 19 and began the mission 'Skirmish'. Twenty seconds later I was respawning.
I have my skill points assigned. I had equipped the best Mk IV gear my toon could find along the way. I have been playing this game since a few weeks after it went F2P. So, what went wrong?
Well, before I even had a chance to look at the map and assess what I should be doing, I spawned into the middle of two enemy fleets, and they all started shooting at me. The nearest friendly ships were over 12k away.
I tried it again. This time I had a plan. I was going to hot-foot it out of the center of the enemy fleets before I fired a shot to avoid becoming the center of attention. No good. I tried to use Full Impulse to get away from the crowd, but the moment I spawned in I was already under fire. Using Evasive maneuvers instead, I turned away from the enemy and ran. Twenty seconds later, still surrounded by the enemy fleets which were easily able to keep up a constant barrage of fire as they followed on my heels, I respawned again.
By this time I knew which way to go to get to the three friendly ships. I tried again, and this time survived due to some lucky torpedo misses on a down shield facing. Once the friendly ships engaged, the two enemy fleets began to fight one another as they should have all along, and while the battle was still somewhat of a challenge, I never allowed myself to become the center of their focused fire again. Three tries to start a mission, and the only reason I succeeded the third time was because I already knew where to run before I had even spawned in. Even then it required luck with the RNG to avoid respawning.
Now, before you assume this is a whine or a brag, I want to be clear: this is a discussion about Game Design.
Given the fact that this mission is essentially the same in all respects to the previous version, with the only noticeable change being that you spawn into the crowd of ships instead of outside the zone of battle as it was originally designed, I have to ask: why?
It seems to me that the only purpose for this spawn point change was to create a 'challenge' for the player. However, forced respawns are not a challenge. If the only way you can avoid respawning is to rely upon the RNG, then it removes all challenge and presents you with a 'Draw Straws' situation, where your actions have little to no effect, and luck is the dominant factor, (one outside the control of the player.)
Let us be clear: I only survived my third attempt because three torpedoes missed my rear shield facing, which had been stripped by the enemy. Had any one of them connected, instead of surviving with 12% of my hull left, I would have respawned.
I tried again. Coming out of the spawn point with all weapons firing, clicking all my BOff powers as effectively as I could, I managed to slightly damage one Raptor's shield facing before I had to respawn. Shooting is ineffective, and so is running.
A scenario designed to be won or lost based upon nothing more than the RNG is not a challenge. If the best you can do is run away and hope the enemy rolls badly on its attacks, you are not actively playing the game, you are a passive observer waiting to see if you will be given an opportunity to play. This is poor game design.
A challenge is something against which you have a chance by your actions to succeed or fail. You must be the agent which makes the difference, in other words, for it to be a challenge. Setting players up to fail doesn't challenge them. They learn nothing from it. It doesn't make the game more appealing to lose when the loss is beyond your control.
I don't mind respawning when I TRIBBLE up. I learn, improve, and try try again. Hopefully I get better. What's the lesson to learn here? How can I learn to have better luck on attack/defense rolls?
I expect to repeat this episode multiple times at multiple levels because the Psionic Personal Shield is the best shield in the game, and my BOffs get the best gear I can grind. The cynic in me says I can just sit there dead until the three fleets, (True Way, Klingon, and Federation,) blow themselves to bits, after which I can respawn and kill the cripples. This isn't fun to me. Fun, to me, is being challenged, not simply being forced to respawn repeatedly until I get a few lucky rolls.
The sad fact is, the episode was fine the way it was: enough enemy ships to make it a slugfest, with the spawn point far enough away that one had to head into the battle. Changing the spawn point to be within the firing range of multiple ships, any one of which is an even match for yours, is just a cheezy way to force a respawn.
Back when I had a regular gaming group I routinely set up sims and wargame scenarios. If I had ever pulled TRIBBLE like this on my players they'd have beat me to a bloody pulp. It is, in my opinion, simply poor game design to force respawns over which the players have little or no control.