The original show is almost forty years old. The whole Star Trek license is becoming less valuable — there are no shows on the air, the movie coming out this year seems more like a homage to a fading memory than a new start to the franchise, and I just have to admit that that ensign phasoring a Gorn just didn’t do it for me. Kirk spent an episode fighting a single Gorn; now they’re trash-mobs? Nuh-uh. Don’t go there.
In fact, I want you to forget all about normal MMOs. I don’t want to see Level 50 Engineers — ever. If levels weren’t in the show, I don’t want to see them in the game. If mass slaughter of harmless creatures wasn’t a normal part of the show, I don’t want to see it in the game. If grinding experience wasn’t in the show, I don’t want to see it in the game.
Hey, if I love the show that much, why don’t I marry it?
Why don’t you?
I mean it. Watch the show and try to think how to take that show — and make a MMO from it.
I think, pretty soon, you’ll pick up on the One Show is One Adventure idea. You start out on ship, and then something happens, and then even more bad somethings happen, you come up with a plan, try it, fix it until it works, and then it ends. The bad somethings may involve ship battles, or diplomacy, or exploration, or mystery, or meeting alien superbeings — WHATEVER, it’s Trek, anything can happen. Nazi lizard aliens? It’s in there. Time travel? It’s there. Wars between the gods reimagined as a Civil War battle? It’s there, it truly is.
Not to say it’s not corny.
Look at Dungeons & Dragons Online. This is basically their model. You start out at a meeting point, and then you choose an adventure and you go out and do it.
They have all that D&D baggage, though. Classes, levels, hit points, d20, THAC0… there is absolutely no reason why a Star Trek MMO has to do that.
And I know that’s — broadly — what Perpetual was planning with STO, from what we know. You start in your hub, choose a solo or group mission, go off on it, and come back. Some might have problems with that, but I don’t. The show was episodic. My problem was that it didn’t allow you to command your own, huge starship — to be on the bridge and be part of that whole bridge crew dynamic. I was still with the game, even then — where I lost hope was that screenshot of the popup window they were going to use for all character interactions, and that stupid screenshot of some crew member killing “a gorn soldier”, which seemed to go contrary to the episode in which they appeared.
In a world without loot, what incentive does someone have to play? Well, what is loot besides a marker of achievement that lets you access more content?
Imagine a future with dozens of factions — those who hate aliens, those who hate humans, those looking for power within Starfleet, those who want only to explore, those who want only to conquer, those who want to discover new technology and those who want to suppress it. It’s easy to think of many. Players start off only able to do, say, a hundred missions in and around Starfleet Academy. Each can prepare them for more difficult missions; each of them may have a positive or negative faction associated with it. Doing these missions will open more; some limited just by the number of missions you must have completed, some by faction, some by not having a separate faction.
And among these are woven many stories, so as you complete more missions, you advance your story. Many of these missions will be solo; visit an archaeological dig on a dead planet; successfully thread a wormhole at maximum warp; take a shuttlecraft and investigate a spacial anomaly. You know, Trek stuff. Others will require more help. Sometimes you may even have to get your guild to go.
Oh, of course there will be guilds. MMOs are built around guilds. And the larger your guild, the bigger the starship you get. Have a huge guild? You get a huge ship. But if too many people leave, you lose it. There’s a powerful incentive to keeping your guild large — and happy. It will require a specific series of missions to get your guild faction enough to qualify for the nice ships.
There will be a bridge on this ship — it will be able to be entirely commanded by a small crew, but more difficult missions will require sufficient people all working at their stations to complete.
Is this what Perpetual intended to do? I think they were headed in this direction, then took a different turn at some point. Nobody wants to wait several more years for a ST MMO. And if we DO have to wait, for God’s sake, don’t give us WoW in space. Missions. Ship the game with 200 and release more every couple of months. Expansions will open missions on new worlds and new factions — Klingons and the like. New ships to earn. New technologies available.
Just — something small, if possible, that gives us the flavor of the game and the TV show. And a framework that you can build on.