Sunday, August 5, 2007

Starship Time vs. Planetary Time +

Originally Posted by K'Shaq:
I just couldn't understand how someone could plan to get somewhere only when it's light. I'm just fine with getting there in general, and would rather spend time thinking about what I am doing at the time.
I should have been clearer. The suggestion for how to sync up a ship's time with local planetary time was how I'd guess a "real" starship would do it, and from there to how it could work in a Star Trek MMORPG.

That's just the "how" -- I'm not saying I think it "should" be done that way in Star Trek Online. I'm just observing that if there was a gameplay reason for doing so, it could be done plausibly.

And I'm a fan of letting players make their own choices, too. If players wanted to be able to arrive at a certain ship's time or local planetary time, it would be relatively simple to have a GUI that lets you enter the two times, then the server calculates the best possible speed that achieves that synchronization. So you could arrive when it's morning for both of you, or noon for you and midnight for where you'll be landing, or whatever.

Is this necessary? No. Star Trek Online could be implemented as just another brain-dead MMORPG in which players could arrive any time, day, night, whenever, and the NPCs they're supposed to see could somehow magically always be awake. For that matter, we could do away with the idea of planets having "day" and "night" altogether. A certain amount of going "to explore strange new worlds" is lost if ST:O is little more than the usual eternally-available NPC quest-givers and elite mobs to kill in the daylight, but there are probably a lot of gamers who feel that a MMORPG's developers should stop there instead of wasting time on simulationist stuff like planetary rotation and day/night cycles on a starship.

I'm not one of those gamers. I like my science fiction games to have some actual science somewhere in their fiction. And I like my gameworlds to have some worldiness as well. But that's just me, and my opinion is worth no more and no less than any other individual's.

Whoever develops an online Star Trek gameworld will decide for us where to draw the line between action features and world features in their game. And then each of us will have to decide whether the game they made is close enough to our individual definitions of "fun."