Originally Posted by Nick Roman:Just as another perspective, I won't be bothered if there are "fleets" (ST:O's likely version of guilds) as long as increasing size generates increasingly difficult challenges. Too many MMOGs ignore scaling effects, with the result being that bigger is always better. That just leads to guilds fighting with each other instead of on more serious external threats (bigger, badder groups of enemies).
By the way, I personally I don't like the idea of "guilds" in STO. Groupings by speciality or by fleet or ship, OK, but not "guilds" in the traditional sense.
What will serve Star Trek Online best, I think, will be to find a way to incentivize grouping that doesn't penalize soloing. One obvious way to do this would be to give characters bonus prestige when they complete a mission or task as part of a group. Another approach would be to create character capabilities that are only active when grouped -- sort of like "combo attacks," except that I'd hope that the special group capabilities weren't just combat-oriented.
I just don't want to see Captain and/or Admiral ranks made dependent on being the leader of a fleet, either.
I'm a proponent of the idea that the rank one earns should depend on one's level of service to other players. But I think there are more ways to be of service than leading a fleet. I would really, really hate to see Star Trek Online designed such that if you're not in a fleet, you can never advance. There must be a better way to manage rank advancement so that not everyone is a Captain or an Admiral.
To that end, I still like my suggested approach of changing the gameplay so that, instead of all ranks just doing tactical stuff, Captains get operational gameplay and Admirals get strategic gameplay. I think this kind of design would cause players to voluntarily choose not to advance in rank because their current rank offers the kind of gameplay they enjoy more. I believe this would be a more organic solution than an arbitrary, "You must be this tall to ride" approach. But that's just one way we might go.