Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Types of Character Power in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Originally Posted by writerguy731:
Combat doesn't preclude gear power to the exclusion of all others, and in fact, depending on how you set up the gameplay, could include or exclude any of those power types in any configuration.
Writerguy, I agree completely that a Star Trek MMORPG could be written that way. I honestly hope it will be.

All I'm guessing is that it won't be, if other MMORPGs are any guide to the basic nature of a Star Trek MMORPG. Having some idea of just how much stuff has to be done to build a major MMORPG, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if gear was implemented very simply. I could see some character skills enhancing a few gear effects, but I really wouldn't expect anything beyond that. For various reasons, developers seem to be much more comfortable thinking in terms of conferring power on characters through gear, with skills only either gating gear use or enhancing it. And the most blindingly obvious kinds of gear are weapons and armor... so it's also not surprising that gear and combat tend to overwhelm pretty much every MMORPG out there currently.

As I'm trying to point out in this notion of multiple forms of character power, I'd like to see developers focus on some other ways that characters can experience the gameworld than just tool-use conditioned by character abilities. I certainly don't expect most tasks in a Star Trek MMORPG to be explicitly designed to be solvable in different ways by characters from different departments (to say nothing of characters from the same department with different specializations, as discussed above). Doing that is more complicated than just making most missions about blowing stuff up and justifying doing so by saying "There has to be lots of action." Given how much there is to do to get a big MMORPG out the door, I can all too easily see this gear-oriented, "action"-centric mindset being the core gameplay of Star Trek Online.

Again, though, I wouldn't mind at all being wrong about that. An online game designed from the ground up so that there are always different ways to solve most problems, whether with gear, knowledge, skills, or social acumen, would be legendary. The developers of such a game would deserve the Lamborghinis they'd be able to afford.

Rose-colored glasses set aside for a moment, does anyone honestly think they'll see a game like that any time soon, or think that Star Trek Online will be such a game?