Anyone who has read this blog over the last several months can attest to the fact that I have been a dyed in the wool hardcore STO fanboy. But I do actually have some reservations about the direction my favorite RPGMMO is heading.
Yesterday I had an in-game IM exchange with the Fleet Commander of the Resurrecting Phoenix Fleet. I didn’t tell him I was going to write about this in the blog, so I will refrain from quoting him (or her not certain). The gist of the conversation centered around the “spirit of Star Trek”. It seems that Cryptic has created an amazing MMO experience at the expense of the core values of Star Trek.
I commented that the game is trending towards making all of us like Klingons. The missions and story line are all about battle and destruction with little exploration and diplomacy. I like a good explosion as much as the next guy but I tend to feel that STO can and should have it all. The Klingon faction ought to be a warring, aggressive, blood lust group of hooligans. But the Federation should not. The Romulan faction should still be the devious and clandestine society that is always looking for the angle to exploit. That is all apart of Star Trek lore and canon.
What is keeping Cryptic from creating a better diplomacy and exploration line of missions? Sure we can still fight the baddies as a Federation player, but how about some options. Rather than just flying into a mission with phasers blasting, how about some dialog? Maybe a split path option could work? Decisions made during the dialog exchange could lead to a diplomatic solution or digress into something more physical. Romulans could have similar dialog but they would often have ulterior motives that the player could try to use to their advantage. Klingons, well they would probably just run in disruptors all afire, but they could have some dialog possibilities as well. Perhaps Federation players that are too aggressive might get called in for special missions and a tongue lashing from Starfleet. Likewise when Klingons fail in battle or choose a more diplomatic solution they might suffer similar consequences from the High Command. Nothing dire mind you, just enough to make it seem true to the nature of the various factions in the canon of Star Trek.
Why not have some exploration and discovery missions as well? Even the Klingons have science officers. These don’t need to be mandatory missions. Those who enjoy wanton destruction should be able to fly around blowing things up as they see fit.
But as any fan of the greatest science fiction franchise in history knows, the roots of Star Trek are in the exploration of space and discovery. Is this phrase not the quintessential statement of Star Trek? “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
We should all remember that an MMO has to appeal to the widest possible audience. If they don’t have a lot of players involved the whole shebang goes bust pretty fast. Most people who engage in a game environment are looking for fun and adventure. Shooting bad guys is a big part of that equation. But many a great RPG has had all the swashbuckling adventure a player could want along with a variety of game play opportunities of a more docile and often cerebral nature. Star Trek Online started out with a nice mix of missions that seemed to evoke the proper ethos of Trek. But it seems that the newer content is all about shoot first and ask questions later. That my friends is not the vision of Star Trek, at least not from a Starfleet perspective. This latest directional shift makes me query, “Did Cryptic hire J.J. Abrams as a consultant”?
Cryptic? Are you reading this? Keep up the great work, and believe me the game is fantastic in many ways. It just seems that there is too much J.J. and not enough Gene. How about a little ‘Star Trek Spirit’ in Star Trek Online.