Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Types of Character Power in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Originally Posted by Daedelus:
Everyone would have a basic skill but the more research/study and points you put into your knowledge of that skill would enhance or slightly alter the effect of a given ability.
I'm liking this idea a lot, Daedelus. Skill-enhancing discoveries... slick. Let's call them SEDs for short.

In fact, I'd like this idea even more as gameplay if you'll allow me to make the following tweaks to it:

  • Characters have only a limited number of slots for SEDs. (Maybe higher department level [not higher rank!] allows more slots?)

  • There are many more SEDs possible than slots.

  • SEDs will need to be balanced very carefully so that none are clearly better than all the others in most situations.
The value of defining skill-enhancing discoveries this way is that it creates opportunities for interesting choices, and it helps players distinguish their character from someone else's character. (That makes the gameplay a bit harder to balance, but it's very important for roleplaying.)

Suppose you and I both have Level 30 Engineers. (Rank should be irrelevant to this, but for the sake of discussion let's say we're both Lieutenant Commanders.) This means we both have (just picking a number out of the air) four slots available for skill-enhancing discoveries.

Let's further say that I choose to enhance my Engineer character's skills by making four discoveries related to Power Systems, while you focus on making your four discoveries in the field of Sensors. In this case, we're both going to be more valuable Engineers than someone with fewer skills or fewer enhancements. But we'll also be different from each other, giving us different play experiences that are a better fit for what we enjoy doing in these games.

There is a potential downside to this, which is that by no longer having characters with exactly identical gameplay capabilities, we're no longer "plug-and-play" for groups who want an Engineer. Now that we have specializations (from the SEDs), and those specializations can vary between characters, maybe we each become a perfect fit for one group but not quite as good a fit for some other group. And we're both not precisely right for some group that just wants a generic Engineer as a kind of Gear-Healer.

Maybe so. OTOH, I don't know about you, but I have zip point zero interest in being a generic anything.

So I find the notion of having a limited number of slots for making skill-enhancing discoveries (through solving puzzles of some complex kind) to be a pretty interesting possibility for how Skill power and Knowledge power can be combined in a game like Star Trek Online.