Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Types of Character Power in a Star Trek MMORPG +

I like deep games and I cannot lie; you other gamers can't deny....

Sorry. :)

Seriously, as I've noted in my Complexity series of posts, I do prefer games that go beyond mere killin' and lootin' and pretty particle effects to also offer brains and heart. And I further believe there are other gamers like me who are feeling underserved by the kinds of games generally and MMORPGs specifically that are being released these days. This is why I started talking in the first place about giving knowledge-power and people-power a place at the table alongside gear-power and skill-power.

Having considered knowledge power somewhat, let's now turn our attention to one of those other kinds of character strength: people power. What are some ways in which social interaction and dramatic narrative in a MMORPG can have concrete benefits (or penalties!) for characters?

To what extent should a Star Trek MMORPG offer features that treat socializing and storytelling as tangible, rewardable forms of gameplay?

I phrase it that way because it's easy to think of social features that don't actually do anything in terms of tangible gameplay: emotes, chat windows, friends lists, and so on. But those things don't confer any tangible in-game power on a character.

So what are some ideas for things that players in a game like Star Trek Online can do with each other that are primarily social but which confer real gameplay benefits on characters?