I’ve watched a few trailers and teasers for STOL, and I’m quite impressed. The universe looks amazing, the battles exciting, and overall it’s probably going to be fun. However, I am a bit reserved about some of the aspects of actual gameplay. Is Star Trek really the “thing” for a full on MMORPG? All the things the developers say sound fair and wonderful, but how is it going to turn out once the monsters of players have been released upon this nice idea?
First of all, making a massively multiplayer game in the Star Trek universe sounds like a terrific idea. I mean, it means playing in a world that’s already familiar, which probably is a huge advantage for the developers anyway. They already build their glory on other people’s successful ideas – just like LOTRO builds on a franchise that already had millions of fans beforehand.
But being a MMORPG player myself, I started wondering: In my experience, all these great ideas that Craig Zinkievich talks about may fail for most players. For example, he speaks of huge groups of people, everyone getting together and fighting and all that; but usually this only works in really well organised gaming clans. There are alot of players who play their games quite egotistically. They’ll probably love the “show off” aspect that he speaks about: I’ll show you my starship, you show me yours.
Sure, the game probably tries to promote teamwork, as without it, you won’t stand a chance against, say, a Borg cube. But I’m afraid that temporal allegiance might be as far as it gets. That’s the thing though: the Star Trek universe of Roddenberry is utopian – I mean, no more poverty and all that, which was in my opinion best realised in Kirk’s and Picard’s passionate pro-Federation-value speeches – and it’s a given that many citicens were naturally “better people” than before, and were only striving to “better themselves.”
How will that work in an online game? It won’t. Because we’re players of a quite different mentality. And naturally, the developers thought the same, and created a game where war is the main factor. Okay, fair enough, the game needs a substantial amount of fighting for it to be successful and, well, fun. It would be interesting to see how far the “non-fighting” way of life works: could you simply play a freighter captain?
And think about Star Fleet’s essential chain of command. I think many players will have difficulties adjusting to that kind of system, especially because if they don’t get what they want, they can simply stop playing. Can the Federation really be enacted by us? I think this is a game that needs to, no deserves to be taken seriously – can the majority of players do that?
I can see the game working best for die-hard Trekkies. They already kind of live in that world anyway when they choose to – they will really file serious captain’s logs and “hang out on their bridge” for fun. Heck, I would do that, if I knew enough people to share that fun with me. But as cool as that sounds, I really hope the “casual gamers” (and the game needs them too, if it is to be a success) and bored teenagers (pardon me..) won’t ruin the fun. You know, the people who run around outposts spamming rubbish in the chat and deserting your group in the face of a huge enemy.
I can see it now:
“Lieutenant, red alert, raise shields!”
“Open a channel to all ships.”
“Everyone, attack the Borg Cube on my mark…”
“All ships standing ready, captain.”
*holds up hand* “One, Two…”
“Captain, The Newton is withdrawing from battle!”
“Er… ‘his mom said it’s time for dinner’.”