Chris “Spare” Higgins, Guest Columnist
As many gamers can attest, the first ten to fifteen minutes in a MMOG
is extremely critical because your interest in a game will diminish
fast if a game doesn't meet your particular standards. If they're like
me, most players want to login and jump right into the action. So how
will Cryptic achieve this sort of "quick action" in Star Trek Online?
My solution: Cryptic should add the Starfleet Academy into the game.
While adding Starfleet Academy might seem like a boring step in the
wrong direction, I think adding this as part of early game play can
really add to everyone’s enjoyment of Star Trek Online.
addition of Starfleet Academy to Star Trek Online could really help the
new player experience.
Imagine you just logged in to Star Trek Online. You are the
a starship which has fallen under attack. You look
view screen and see two Klingon Birds of Prey ready to fire on
you. While you are deciding how to deal with this situation,
you receive information on how to control your ship and why you are
being attacked, all in an in-game manner, of course.
You then decide to fire your phasers destroying one ship and wounding
the other. As you circle around to give the finishing blow to
the other ship, three more Birds of Prey decloak and open
fire. You give the order to initiate warp drive and escape
just as one of the Klingon’s phasers score a direct hit your
starboard engine. You give the order to abandon ship, but you
realize it was too late and your starship explodes. However
instead of killing your crew and dying, the simulation stops. You were
on a target="_blank">Starfleet Academy simulator the
whole time. The voice
booms over the simulator laughing a bit: “Once you finish
honoring your dead crew Cadet, report to
debriefing!” You realize you are a cadet in
Starfleet Academy working on your training towards being a starship
Almost all MMO games have their low level area. In these
areas you are told “Go kill 15 boars and bring me the
tusks” etc. In Star Trek Online, a captain's
Academy timeframe could be used as this particular portion of player's
experience. Players would run various encounters using
holodecks and simulators to progress and learn the game. You
might see other cadets scrambling around the halls, desperately trying
to finish instructions given to them by their superiors.
Academy could serve as the intial hunting grounds for new players.
An instructor might assign the task of defending bases from
attack. You would go to the simulator (possibly with other
cadets) and do this task to earn XP towards skills or level.
Cadets could go through historical encounters from all the movies and
the legendary kobayashi maru which would appeal to all Trekkies and
Trekkers. The main purpose of the training simulator is to
provide a consequence free environment to learn the game while having
tons of fun and progressing. You would not have to worry
about fighting another player on your mission because each simulation
is yours and your teammates.
Since this will all be holodeck combat you can allow cadets to use all
manner of ships without throwing off the balance of the game.
I would imagine some ships might be better suited for missions than
others. This also allows everyone to command all the ships
right of the bat, so it feels like you are getting everything but in
reality you're still going to need to progress to earn your own
ship. In these holodecks and simulators you would also be
given the opportunity to fly enemy ships as well. While
players are in the Academy the game can also lay plot foundations to
have the player learn enough of the lore so they know what is going on
in the universe.
To graduate from Starfleet Academy cadets will have to fulfill certain
criteria by passing courses and completing a few mission
tests. Once Cadets have graduated they will be assigned the
duties of a captain on a starship. Since the two factions for
Star Trek Online will be Starfleet and the Klingon Empire you can have
the Klingon’s join the href="http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Klingon_Defense_Force"
target="_blank">Klingon Defense Force and offer
similar training using Klingon traditions.
Klingon Defense Force could have similar elements as the Starfleet
A player creating a Klingon would expect to find themselves on Ty'Gokor
in a simulator where, instead of being laughed at for being killed,
they are regaled as a hero for dying in battle in such an honorable
way. Running scenarios where Klingon warriors are pitted
against such foes as Captain Kirk and Captain Picard would be good ways
to really immerse a player in Klingon culture. Instead of
being given a command after you complete your training you should be
assigned to a ship under a captain. Then when you realize the
captain is weak and no longer able to perform their duty so you slay
them and take control of the ship.
Overall I think doing early stages of character development in this way
leads people to become more attached to their characters and allow
people experience the game in a different way. After three
years of Star Trek Online live gameplay, it would be nice to see
“When I went through the academy things were
different..” or “Remember that Training Scenario in
the Academy?” in chat versus. “Remember that
mission in the n00b area?”
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