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STO: Our Continuing Mission...

Brasse -- 2010-02-26 20:47:44

Since I've had a bit more free time over the past week or so, I've played quite a lot of Star Trek Online, EverQuest II and Free Realms. I enjoy all three games for markedly different reasons, but of late I've been comparing the quest structures of each, and giving thought to what it is we seek in MMOG content. Quests are a given, the common denominator expected in all MMOGs... but are they fun?

I swear, if I have to do one more kill x rats quests, I'm gonna... well... not buy the writer a beer.

It's 2010, and what flew a decade ago just ain't cutting it with me any more. I long ago traded in my crappy phone for a funky SmartPhone. Our recreational indulgences should evolve at least as fast in usability, features and function. Oh, and FUN.

The quest - err - EPISODE introductions in STO can be somewhat wordy, the closest the game really gets to the lengthy drama and buildup seen in the various series and movies of the license. To be honest, the comic is pretty close to how Brakk and I were playing it last weekend. Yeah, yeah [click continue] Yada, yada [click continue], ok, KILL STUFF!

We had fun with all three games... but again, as we plowed through traditional quests, I started to think that the "next gen" of MMOGs may well be the ones that take storytelling, progression and immersion more seriously. The game that can make me buy in to what I am doing as more than just leveling, collecting cash and "stuff"... it will win.

The last time I felt a true sense of personal progression was way back in 2003, in a little game called Star Wars Galaxies. Quests were actually relatively scarce there, and I found my purpose within a well-organized, heavily structured guild called The Consortium (TCON). I was not employed at the time, as I was still waiting on my green card, so I had time to sink into this game, and that I did. Quests existed of course, a few to convey Star Wars storyline, and missions for credits and experience, but they were a mere sideline to the real action.

Many have said that SWG was designed as a "sandbox" game, and that is true. In TCON, from early beta through live, we created much of our own content, through running a complex internal political system, an incredibly solid and cooperative trade/crafting oriented economy, and, when cities were introduced, the building of a great metropolis on the most inhospitable of the habitable planets.

Unfortunately, while we accomplished so very much, the game itself did not evolve to keep pace and as our energy for self-made play waned, nothing appeared to replace it. Eventually, and all too soon, most moved on to other games, to kill ten rats, ten rabbits, ten thugs, whatever the new shiny offered... but it all felt a little hollow after the monumental effort and achievement we had experienced in SWG. I always wonder what would have happened if space combat had arrived earlier, if more goals had been raised for us... but the time had passed.

Although I had moved on, I found myself returning time and time again to SWG, drawn always to the wilds of Lok to revisit the remnants of the great city Consortia. Dust storms and kimogilas roamed where our gardens and markets once stood. It was surreal and haunting, and made me truly sad that it was gone.

Finally, in August of last year, with the Wanderhome server about to close, I picked up my houses and felt more than the driving sand stinging my eyes as I keyed in my request to transfer to Starsider.

I don't think I've felt that same sense of loss after leaving any other game, and that is in itself a testament to what I am looking for in future. I want to care, deeply, about more than levels, cash and items. I want to care again about the experience, the journey.

Someone, please... make it so.
Make me believe again.

Today I will sign off as
Bhin'der, the proud first Mayor of Consortia

ps. I did not intend to make this about Star Wars Galaxies... it just surprised me and snuck in there while I was writing this piece.

If you have not played Star Wars Galaxies for several years, it is long past time for you to give it another look. It ain't your grampa's SWG, that's for damn sure. Rumors of its demise have been grossly exaggerated; it has a solid, incredibly loyal playerbase that you can settle into.

Producer Tony Tyson
and his small dev team produces a striking amount of top-notch content on a very limited budget - the recent Galactic Civil War update alone is a reason to re-up your sub for a few months. SWG has changed a lot, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Some of you may have received an invitation to reactivate your old account for a time, but if you didn't, give it a go from scratch with their generous 14-day free trial!

Re: STO: Our Continuing Mission...

Carynne -- 2010-02-26 09:37:20

*sniff* Lovely, Bhin'der. Truly right on the mark. All I can say is "ditto."

Re: STO: Our Continuing Mission...

lesterley -- 2010-02-27 06:58:45

As much as I love doing the *pew* *pew* *pew* in STO, I'm really disappointed by the lack of storyline.

When I'm playing a game, I want to feel that on some level what I'm doing MATTERS.

Oh, and you might find this amusing: The Uncanny Silicone Valley


Re: STO: Our Continuing Mission...

Charfahl -- 2010-03-03 12:53:33

LOL I left SWG and all 4 accounts we had open to go to STO, well, I quit a while back, but we wanted to go to STO when it went live, as it is, we went preorder and lifetime :>

I too enjoyed SWG for my brief time in the pre-NGE mode of gameplay... The NGE was horrible to get used to, but once i got used to it (all of what 2 weeks) I enjoyed it for what it was... I could dive in and out of the game for relatively short spans of time and still accomplish things...

Best thing they EVER did IMHO was make stacks of resources stack to 1mil... took a HUGE load off my storage droid...

Yes I miss the game once in a while... but, mostly because after they did the holo-pets I bought a bunch of the jax's and made a shrine to my current and past fur babies... Tore me right up when I had to move one of my "live" babies to the shrine for the passed shrine... I did tear up quite a bit when my best friend logged in my toon one night to add one to the shrine of his old kitty from when he live in town...

But I digress... Yes SWG has alot of sandbox-y characteristics that I do miss... and to be honest, if I made quite a bit more money, I might be able to justify my 2 station passes, and 2 spare accounts... BUT... as it is, STO has our attention, and we enjoy the crap out of it :>

But I will agree with you on the whole story line aspect... I was thinking earlier, about the Stargate MMO they are working on (yeah i know they filed for restructuring) and wondered to myself, how I would make a game like that...

I think a game based on that kind of liscence would NEED to have some of the actors from the series' voice and possible likeness in the game, and be mostly ground based, with very little flight... Until the Atlantis expansion...

BUT I digress... Storyline IS lacking from STO, but, it's so weird, that I don't care right now... I only really get to play for 2 hours max at a time 99% of the time, so it's hella fun for me :>
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