Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Uniform Colors in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Looking at this from a Trek point of view (as opposed to gameplay, which I'll come back to in a moment), these seem to be the colors worn ca. 2373 regardless of rank:

  • Command

    • Command

    • Command Support (includes Strategic Operations)

    • Admin

    • Helm

  • Operations

    • Engineering (includes Engineers assigned to starbases and ground stations)

    • Tactical

    • Security

  • Services

    • Science

    • Medical
However, even if this finds general acceptance within the Star Trek universe, what about Star Trek Online?

My guess is that player characters won't be assigned to Strategic Operations or Admin roles. And in Perpetual's version of Star Trek Online, the Helm position is gone; whoever owns a ship gets to drive it. (NPCs might be described as filling some or all of these roles, however.)

So the big distinction for which players wear red seems to be whether you're acting in a direct Command role or not. The thing is, how is that going to be determined in this game in which all players, whether solo or grouped, can eventually have a starship of their own?

I guess then that it comes down to one of the following two options:

Should uniform color be determined by what your character does in the game?

If I have the rank of Captain and I'm flying my cruiser-sized ship on which four or five other players are serving, it makes sense that I wear red.

But what color do I wear if I'm a lowly junior-grade Lieutenant off by myself? Do I need to be in a position of leadership when playing the game (i.e., leading a group) to wear red? Looking at this from the other side, if I'm an Engineer or Science or Tac/Sec officer, and I decide to lead a pick-up group, do I suddenly find myself wearing red whether I want to or not?

What if tomorrow I decide to serve as crew (Engineering, perhaps) on someone else's ship? Should I wear red today and gold tomorrow? Will most of Star Trek Online's likely players be OK with that? Does/should it matter if my character has a rank of Captain?

Alternatively, should uniform color be determined by what your character knows in the game?

Should I wear red solely because I've chosen to invest most of my prestige points into Command skills instead of into Operations or Services skills?

In other words, should a character's uniform color depend on that character's actions or assigned role, which can change from minute to minute, or on that character's abilities, which remain mostly constant from day to day?

(This is one of those weird intersections between the lore of an established IP and the needs of game design. Who should win? Why?)