Monday, January 21, 2008

The Core Gameplay of a Star Trek MMORPG

I missed it originally, but back on November 28, 2007, Damion Schubert posted a blog entry on his Zen of Design site that asked a very good question about a Star Trek MMORPG: If you played this game all day, what would you be doing?

Here's how he put it:

"What do you do all day" is a surprisingly persistent problem, whenever the design powers-that-be considers exploring either new genres or gameplay paradigms. The answer that most MMOs have come to, combat and quests, is the chosen answer for a lot of good reasons, but it's not the only solution. Still, it merits examination of why combat succeeds, and what any other activity needs to do to supplant it.
As another example, consider Star Trek. At its face, it's a great license for an MMO -- geek friendly with broad mass market appeal. But there's a gotcha -- while there exists both ground combat as well as capital ship combat, both events are seen as a last resort. The Star Trek license is really one about politics and diplomacy. So the question is, what do players do all day? Do you create a combat engine, and push the players towards that? Or do you stay true to the license and push for the politics and diplomacy? And if so, what do you do to ensure that the experience remains repeatable?
So what about this?

Do you agree with Damion's premise that Star Trek is mostly about politics and diplomacy? If so, should a Star Trek MMORPG try to make that its central gameplay experience? Or must it be combat-focused like other MMORPGs?

What do you think the core gameplay content should be? What would inspire the typical Star Trek Online player to want to spend all day in this game?

Is there a single typical Star Trek Online player for whom a core gameplay experience can or should be designed?

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