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What’s to love about Cryptic’s Star Trek Online?

Posted by on March 6, 2009
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Ya know, I was going to start this forward looking collection of cool stuff about Cryptic’s forthcoming Star Trek Online with a look backward at Perpetual’s time with the license, but I couldn’t. The Perpetual people were making the game they wanted. It wasn’t the game *I* wanted, but they weren’t making it for me. They were making it for people who wanted a Star Trek game that wasn’t very different from World of Warcraft.

Here’s why Cryptic’s version of Star Trek Online may be the one I wanted.

Ships: You get to captain your own ship. You can customize your ship’s appearance, change its weapons, engines and so forth, and though it will remain recognizable as a ship of its class, it will be yours.

Crew: You will have a Bridge Crew that you recruit, train and level. You control everything about them — their race, gender, gear — they are yours to command. The better they get, the better your ship becomes at its mission. Choose a science ship if you want to see how things work. Or a long distance exploration vessel if boldly going is your thing. Or get some good tactical crew and load the photon torpedoes for battle.

On away missions, you can just order four of your bridge crew to meet you in the transporter room — or meet up with some of your friends and have no NPCs along at all.

Races: You can be nearly any major race that ever appeared on any of the shows. Or make your own race, come up with your own history, story, planet and so on. You never have to look remotely like anyone else.

Exploration: The Bartle test pegs me as ESAK — Explorer, Socializer, Achiever, Killer, in that order. Star Trek Online has achievements for seeing unique cosmological phenomena, and bringing unique items back to Federation space. I love the idea that I could just zoom around, so far from Federation space that no alien race I meet would even know of our existence, just hanging in space, taking readings from a particularly active nebula with an unusual stream of high-energy chronotons being directed at a nearby black hole… hmmm….

Yeah, I’ll be the one in the old Miranda-class science vessel. Mine won’t be the strongest or the fastest, but it might well be the furthest. Back in old EverQuest, I loved finding places nobody ever went; the scattered bandit camps in South Karana, the stranded gnomish pirate ships in the Western Wastes, sneaking alone through the old, pre-nerf Plane of Hate to snatch a book from the bedside table of a creature who could kill me in a second if it turned around at a bad time, and I’d have never gotten my gear back, either. Nowadays, no place is really very far. STO will allow me to get lost again. (Um, okay, EVE Online has places that are really far. Another space game!)

Missions: There will be planetary missions, ship-to-ship combat missions, beam into enemy ship and attack them missions, and exploration missions. There’s the possibility, down the road, that player admirals will be able to assign new missions. Combat won’t be just about targeting someone and setting your phaser on kill. You’ll have the Vulcan nerve pinch, judo, the bat’leth, etc to use. I have no idea if ripping your shirt off will be optional.

Being able to have my own starship, make it look like what I want, make my own character look however I want it to look, train my own bridge crew and bring them — or not — along on missions making all the missions potentially soloable a la Guild Wars. Being able to just point my ship toward the second star on the right and go on till morning and come to someplace nobody has ever been… I dunno. But I think this is more or less just the Star Trek MMO I have always wanted. Well, except for being able to group together with other players to form the bridge crew for a major starship; I’d have liked that, STO doesn’t offer it.

Nothing I have read even hints of a “Kill Ten Romulans” quest, and that’s a good thing. I’ve grinded levels just about as much as I ever will. Life is too short.

It does seem that Cryptic is planning on releasing Champions Online well before STO, so the hints that we might get it this year are probably off base. Which is too bad; it would be a perfect time. But that will give me time to play with Champions Online, too.

References:

GamersInfo.net interviews executive producer Craig Zinkievich
Massively interviews Star Trek Online executive producer Craig Zinkievich
Exclusive Jack Emmert Q&A from GenCon Indy ’08

14 Responses to What’s to love about Cryptic’s Star Trek Online?

  1. Another Average Guy

    I want to make giant humanoid chinchillas with massive cankles.

  2. Tipa

    The fact that I know you’re not kidding disturbs me more than you can know.

  3. Openedge1

    Ok. Impressive. Please no kill 10 Vulcan crap, and it could be interesting. I do not mind if they say…”Capture a ship by killing 5 of so and so” or “Kill 10 engineers to take over the engine room”…acceptable if used correctly.
    Too bad I only liked TNG, and am not a ST geek. Star Wars looks more fun to me…
    Never know though eh?

  4. Tipa

    That brings up a good point about IP-based games. If you weren’t into the IP, the game starts off on the wrong foot. I enjoyed the first few Star Wars movies, but if I wanted to play a MMO with magic swords, wizards and wise goblins, I could play WoW. I mean, Star Wars isn’t even science fiction, it’s fantasy. At least Star Trek pretends to be about science fiction — exploration. I can’t imagine SW:TOR will dwell much on just getting out into the void and seeing what you can find there.

    It will, I’m sure, do a lot more of the fantasy magical stuff like in the movies. And like most fantasy MMOs, it will center around killing vast hordes of nameless beasts, I’m sure.

    Not saying I won’t try it. But from this end of the cosmos, STO is looking better to me. And yes, I am more of a ST geek than a SW one — I haven’t read the Star Wars books or all the comics or watched the cartoon or seen Clone Wars, so I lose SW geek cred completely right there. I don’t think I even bothered buying Episode III on DVD. Watched it in the theater, never again.

  5. Spinks

    It does sound interesting. I hadn’t realised that you didn’t make up the ship’s crew with other players.

    The downside of user created races is that it’ll be full of catgirls though. And other assorted furries. (But I suppose there is a sort of scifi precedent. And at least Vargr were cool.)

  6. Tipa

    You are SO not going to like Earth Eternal

  7. Robert

    Thank you very much for writing your thoughts on STO.
    I now understand why you find the game appealing. I do admit now that I too see it as being something I might enjoy.
    One thing that would ruin it for me is a lack of polish. A lot of the players will have seem some star trek before or may even be very familiar with it. If they skip on the polish, then instead of being like “This is awesome! I’m on a federation ship!” it’ll be like “WTF! This isn’t how it looks/operates at all in star trek!”

    Originally I had hoped STO would be more like your comment: ‘group together with other players to form the bridge crew for a major starship’
    Being a single person, living in the Star Trek universe. Actually going to Star Fleet Academy for a while, actually having to run from ten forward to engineering when an emergency hits and perform your duties. Working together to be the best ship possible, that really sounded appealing.

    However I understand how the ‘arcade game’ aspect that the game really is might be a lot more fun than the simulation type of game I just described ;)

  8. Tipa

    Yes, I would really enjoy getting together with friends and taking the Enterprise, or something like that, out for a truly large mission, where we would all have to be at our stations working together to do things. But THAT’S not a game either Perpetual was or Cryptic is making, so, can’t have everything. I wonder if that’s something they might add in an expansion?

  9. Tesh

    If the game is fun to play, I can forgive a lot of subprime visuals. If the game stinks, pretty visuals won’t save it.

    It sounds like the gameplay of STO may well be awesome, so I’m looking forward to it.

  10. Sente

    When Cryptic revealed that they were doing STO I believe Jack Emmert stated that it would be ready within 3 years. That is one reason I have my doubts about 2009, but if they manage that and get a good game out I will be very happy to try it out.

    I am an ESAK myself and the approach Cryptic is taking do seem hopeful. I am no ST geek and would not really be bothered if there were details that are not quite as it may have been in some movie or TV series. As long as it is an interesting and fun game I will try it.

  11. Taymar

    Between this and Zork, I’m really looking forward to up-and-coming games again.

  12. Tipa

    There’s a new Zork? MMO? Cool!