First Contact Day
Star Trek Online is an MMO that likes an event. They have numerous scheduled over the course of the year. The latest is to celebrate First Contact Day (5th April), when Humans and Vulcans first met on Earth. The event takes place at the Zefram Cochrane Memorial and Historical Museum and participants are tasked with building their own replica Phoenix ship. To build an effective vessel, players have to search the immediate vicinity for engine, hull and stabiliser parts. These vary in quality following the games standard colour coding system. Thus, in theory, purple colour parts will perform better. Once the Phoenix replicas are assembled, they are launched simultaneously, with the winner being the one that reaches the highest altitude.
As ever with STO, events run over a fixed period and can be played once every twenty hours. There is a reward at the end that requires a fixed number of vouchers to be handed in. Players receive both a voucher and a choice of rep marks each time the participate. Yet despite the competitive framing of the event and the mechanic involving variable part quality, the outcome is actually random. Phoenix replicas with blue and green parts frequently outperform those with purple parts. Furthermore, your place in the race results table has no impact upon the number of rep marks you receive as a reward. In fact, some players simply elect to join the event and then go AFK during its short duration. I tried this myself today, collecting no parts for my Phoenix. Although I came last I still got the event voucher and full rep marks of my choice, for doing nothing.
I don’t claim to be the most driven MMO player and do not like events or activities with excessive complex criteria. Yet even I balk at this situation that Cryptic has created. An event that allows you to simply sit and wait rather than participate is certainly ill-conceived. Plus, the random nature of the outcome totally contradicts the competitive aspect that the event implies. At least ensure that the quality of the parts that you use does have an actual bearing on race results. First Contact Day is only a six-day event, so it won’t remain a bone of contention for long but as a player of STO I don’t wish to see its flaws perpetuated in any future activities. Perhaps Cryptic will learn from this situation and tweak the event for next year, making it more equitable and removing the AFK flaw.