Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Living In" a Star Trek MMORPG

Originally Posted by HoratioHornBlower (from StarTrek.com):
If you haven't played the RP games from the Elder Scrolls franchise (Morrowind & Oblivion were the last two), trust us: the notion of that same open-ended, in-depth, "alternate life" style of gameplay inside the Trek universe is something you would more than appreciate -- you would cherish every moment you had to play.
Originally Posted by Commander Blue:
If a player could "lead a Star Trek life" to the same extent you can "lead an Elder Scrolls life" the way Morrowind and Oblivion let a player, it would be the biggest Trek game success hands down.
I agree, but that's just me... and maybe some other people.

Not all gamers are interested in the same thing from these MMORPG things. As I like to put it, I think some of them want to "play in" a gameworld, while others want to "live in" a gameworld.

Those who see gameworlds as places to play in are the Achievers and Manipulators, the ones who focus on concrete rewards. They don't get wrapped up in the fiction. They're just there to follow (or break) the rules of the game. When frobbing the rules no longer generates interesting effects, they leave the game; there's no emotional attachment to it.

Meanwhile, those who see gameworlds as places to live in -- the Explorers and Socializers, the ones who enjoy good simulations and opportunities to experience emotionally interesting stories -- are the people like HoratioHornblower (and me) whose enjoyment comes from experiencing a different world as though it were a real place, from immersing ourselves in the systems and the lore and the relationships of the place. These are the people about whom the word "community" is more applicable. They're the ones who stick around the longest, but they're also the ones who are the most bitter when their "home" is radically altered (as was the case with Star Wars Galaxies).

So speaking just for myself, I see HoratioHornblower as correct; I think most Star Trek fans want a place to live in, rather than (primarily) a place to play in. I therefore agree that most of these folks would thrill to see a Star Trek MMORPG that feels as fully-developed and "real" as the Tamriel of Oblivion. But these aren't the only people who are willing to pay to play MMORPGs! The gamers who assume without question that these gameworld things are purely for playing in -- the gamers for whom all other major MMORPGs have been designed -- will also want a say in what a Star Trek MMORPG should look like.

I think that's exactly as it should be. I think both kinds of gamer add value to a massively multiplayer persistent-world game, and a good Star Trek MMORPG will be designed to satisfy both kinds of gamer.

So, assuming that Star Trek Online survives with a new developer, the first time some producer sniffs that "it's not going to be a Star Trek simulator," we'll know that the gamers like HoratioHornblower who would happily pay to "live in" a Star Trek MMORPG are about to get the finger again.

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