Thursday, December 6, 2007

Star Trek Canon vs. MMORPG Gameplay

"Fun" is not the same thing for every gamer. These MMORPG things would be more popular if their designers tried harder to accommodate more than one kind of gamer.

Some people like game-y MMORPGs focused on rules-based competition; some people want to be free to explore immersive worlds; some people like low-stress socialization such as chatting and roleplaying. My view is not that current MMORPGs "suck"; it's that they could be better by offering a more inclusive feature set. What I believe I see is an opportunity to make MMORPGs that are more successful than those currently available because the new games will offer more features that are attractive to the explorers and socializers who really have nothing worth playing right now.

That doesn't mean completely replacing rules-based play with sandbox content; that's a silly objection since no one is calling for any such thing. It means offering different kinds of play for different kinds of players. It doesn't mean taking anything away from people who are happy with existing MMORPGs; it means making better MMORPGs by building on today's features with additional features that are appealing to other kinds of gamers as well.

Of course there'd be practical concerns in implementing such a game. But that's not an indictment of the overall thesis that we're not yet making much use of the full potential of MMORPGs.

That's my larger argument, and I would hope (now that I've explained it better) that it's an argument that no one feels is an attack on their preferred style of play.

My more specific argument -- that Star Trek Online would be an appropriate choice for the kind of deeper and more broadly appealing MMORPG I've described -- probably seems like more of a threat since it does affect other people's conceptions of what they think ST:O ought to be. I won't say any more about that here, but I should mention that I believe my opinions on this subject are as valid as anyone else's. I hope we can trade views on this subject (or any other) without getting too heated about it -- the last thing we should want is to cause people to stay away from this important conversation because it got emotional.

Originally Posted by CINC-UFPForces-Cardassia:
LCARS is filled with stuff that's just blatantly [useless]. Most consoles on the television show have to be big because the camera is several feet away, and they can feature gibberish because there's nothing really important there. The LCARS for ST:O is the opposite on both counts, and Perpetual (rightly) hasn't forgotten that. They cannot and should not pull LCARS shapes and sizes from the television show simply because it would be useless to the game, and simply the fact that "It was on the show!" isn't sufficient cause to ignore that fact.
That's clearly sensible, but I hope it's not taken too far. Yes, much of what appeared on displays in the TV shows and movies was "chrome," but that chrome contributes in some measure to the overall Star Trek vibe. As such, I suspect LCARS-ness is something that many people looking forward to a satisfying Star Trek experience in a Star Trek MMORPG will expect to see to some degree, if not actually use.

What that degree should be is, of course, completely debatable. I expect we'll be having this "not enough LCARS!" "too much LCARS!" conversation for a while.