Star Trek: The Hardest MMO IP Ever?

STO Badge LogoI love Star Trek. I worked as the systems designer on Star Trek Online during its early preproduction period, and I was (and am) excited about the design we had come up with for the game. But that said, it seems that Perpetual is dying more all the time, and it looks like Perpetual will succumb to its mortal wounds before STO gets out the door.

That’d be a shame, but it wouldn’t be the first such tragedy to befall people who attempted a Star Trek MMO. There were two MMO attempts before this one, both by other companies which eventually collapsed.

At first glance, Star Trek seems like a perfect setting for an MMO. It ranks up with Star Wars, D&D, and Lord of the Rings as one of the top four nerd IPs that cross over into mainstream acceptance. But appearances can be deceiving. It’s actually a huge landmine of problems.

The Double Game

In order to do Star Trek right, you need to make two games in one. You need to make a space game and a ground game. This means Star Trek is a “double game.” What’s Star Trek without space battles? What’s Star Trek without away teams exploring strange new worlds? You need both. This is almost impossible to pull off, especially by a team that doesn’t have a stable engine to work from. Even SOE couldn’t pull this off for Star Wars Galaxies — they launched with only a ground game and added the space game later (to which most people cried “too little, too late”).

Space Is Hard To Do (Well)

Space MMO’s are actually relatively easy to code, but that doesn’t automatically make them fun. Space is inherently boring. This is a psychological problem: on Earth we have waterfalls, spooky forests, pits of magma, rivers, and on and on. We have hundreds of instantly-recognizable terrain features to use on the ground, and each of them comes with preconceived notions of how we should feel. (Dark forest = spooky, rickety bridge = tension, idyllic plain with butterflies = relaxing, etc.) We have a huge vocabulary of concepts that can act as shortcuts in world design.

However, in space, it’s hard to come up with more than a dozen easy-to-name features, and they don’t carry much emotional impact anyway. So even if you make up lots of space phenomena, players don’t feel differently about them. In the end, space tends to feel homogeneous. In order to overcome that, you have to work very very hard.

For Star Trek, this is compounded by many additional factors that make it even harder! For instance, there are insane size disparities. Players want to pilot capital ships like the Enterprise-D. But these ships are so ridiculously massive that they dwarf smaller ships that should also be pilotable, like Deep Space 9′s “Defiant”. Allowing both sizes of player ship would be like having playable races of tiny hobbits and 100-foot-tall giants in the same game. It’s not easy to make content that makes sense for both large and small, so you have to compromise. Everybody gets a big ship, or everybody gets a small ship. Or you split your content between big-ship content and small-ship content. Or you cheat on the sizes and all the purists complain.

Another big problem is that 3D space combat is actually very hard to comprehend by many people. It’s one of those “you get it or you don’t” things. So a space MMO needs to work out a compelling combat solution that’s fun for people even if they have a hard time telling north from south, let alone up from down.

Any of these problems can be solved, but it’s the compounding of problems that makes it tough. And we haven’t even talked about the fan expectations yet.

Fan Expectations Are Impossible To Meet

The hardcore fans want an MMO that is far different from a typical MMO, and I don’t just mean the difference between a space game and a fantasy game. Let’s just name a few places where the hardcore fan base’s expectations cause tension in the design:

  • There’s tension about economy. Captain Picard famously said in “First Contact” that there is no money in the Federation and human beings no longer concern themselves with the acquisition of wealth. Purists want a game that meets this requirement, but your average WoW player would be pretty disappointed by a game without loot, money, trading, and auction houses.
  • There’s tension about the setting. Star Trek is a Utopian future. It is in fact pretty much the only popular Utopian future — most sci fi worlds are pretty grim. MMO’s need conflict to drive them, but when you add permanent conflict to the Star Trek world, you damage that “Utopian” feel. In Star Trek, problems generally get solved within an hour and the world returns to a happy place once again. This puts extra requirements on MMO content creators.
  • There’s tension about what you’re supposed to be doing in the game. A hardcore fan might want to be in a crew with 20 other people working together aboard the USS Enterprise, taking shifts in real-time, climbing through Jeffries Tubes repairing minor problems, and doing survey missions. A more casual fan just wants to be a Captain Kirk figure with their own ship, gallivanting across the sky killing bad guys and hitting on green chicks.

Okay, so you can find workable compromises for all of these with enough effort. But it gets worse when you realize that even the hardcore fans all have different takes on Star Trek. See, most fans like one series but not others — for instance, they may love Deep Space Nine but hate Voyager. However, the universe works pretty differently in each show, and you can only understand the big picture of Star Trek by taking every show into account. But they don’t want you to do that. (e.g., “Don’t use Voyager episodes as canon, that show ruined Star Trek!”) In other words, it’s basically impossible to make all Star Trek fans happy, or even a majority of them.

And should you even try? The active Star Trek fanbase has been plummeting for years, ever since Voyager ended. (“Enterprise” did not provide a noticeable boost in fans.) The next movie(s) may strengthen it, but that’s just a “maybe” for now. Right now, even if you could make all Star Trek fans happy somehow, you wouldn’t have a successful MMO. An MMO that costs 50 million to make simply must reach a larger audience. This means doing things like adding player economies and letting everybody be a ship captain — moves that piss off the hardcore Star Trek fans.

Star Trek MMO is a Kobayashi Maru

Making a fun and successful Star Trek MMO is incredibly hard. It will take brilliance, experience, patience, and lots of money to pull it off. Even if Perpetual had the game-shipping experience and monetary backing of a company like Blizzard or Turbine or SOE, the Star Trek IP would still be a tough nut to crack.

Although Perpetual has made some clever choices and has brilliant art, I suspect that their fiscal situation dooms them. This makes me very sad, for obvious reasons.

If Perpetual doesn’t make it to the finish line, that’ll make three failed attempts. Will we ever see a Star Trek MMO? I suspect it can only happen when there are cheap commercial MMO engines, so that making a “double game” isn’t such an insanely difficult undertaking, and so that the game can be monetarily successful even if it doesn’t go after the broadest-possible market. Some day…

EDIT: to clear up some misconceptions I’ve been seeing, I no longer work for Perpetual, although I wish them the best of luck. I wasn’t fired from Perpetual; I left when my wife was offered the position of Producer for EQ2. It was a difficult choice and not one I made lightly — I still have friends at Perpetual and I hope they make a great game. I just have a hard time being optimistic these days. :)

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30 Responses to Star Trek: The Hardest MMO IP Ever?

  1. Excellent write-up. I’ve never thought that Star Trek makes for good games. Great TV and movies, sure, but poor games.

  2. Nikos Beck says:

    Excellent post. When the designers ask if there should be ground or space envrionments the answer is probably “Of course, it’s an MMO”. “MMO” is masquerading as a justification for feature creep. Maybe there should be plans to release a series of MMOs (each with a different focus) over two or three years and give players the ability to transfer their characters across the series.

  3. TickledBlue says:

    That was a really great breakdown of the key challenges. To be honest I never held my breath for Star Trek online, from my point of view the main reason a developer picks up a major IP, like Star Trek, is because of the built in fan base – and in a lot of ways this seems to make them ‘lazy’ when it comes to developing and designing the gameplay (not always I know, I am generalising from my point of view – and I did enjoy the first couple of Star Fleet Command PC games). I can’t help but having this knee jerk reaction to any announcement of a game based on these major properties, that it will be poorly executed and not worth my time. Its the fault of all the previous movie tie in games that are little more than blatent attempts to cash in on the hype.

    I wonder how many other suffer from this. We’ve been burned by too many poor implimentations of our favourite properties. Is it getting to the point of it being more difficult to attract an audience for an existing property or are the fans still dedicated enough to ‘try it’ regardless of expected quality

  4. Gof says:

    I’m sorry but this dude sounds like the usual angry guy pissed at the project after getting fired.

    “There’s tension about economy. Captain Picard famously said in “First Contact” that there is no money in the Federation and human beings no longer concern themselves with the acquisition of wealth. Purists want a game that meets this requirement, but your average WoW player would be pretty disappointed by a game without loot, money, trading, and auction houses. ”

    After seeing this you can clearly say that this dude doesnt know anything about Trek pass the few episodes he was required to watch when he began working on this project.

    Yes in the FEDERATION people doesnt use money but the FEDERATION doesnt control all of space, for god’s sake the FERENGI! What the hell man! And where exactly does not having currency mean there would be no equipment or loot? Again…. did this dude even watch any Trek? the number of times they acquired and used alien technology is freakin…. it was everywhere!!!

    And why are you worrying about WoW players? Isn’t your target audience the Trek fans? First make a game that makes your core audience happy before trying to jump into something else.

  5. Eric says:

    Hehe, I wasn’t fired by any means. And actually, if you look at STO’s dev blog, you’ll find that it was *me* who wrote out STO’s stance on the economy, where I talked about the Ferengi examples we’ve seen in DS9. If you read up on STO’s economy you’ll see that this is exactly what STO has chosen to do. But that doesn’t really solve the problem, because they’ve gotten plenty of flak for making that choice. Yes, you’re willing to use the Ferengi as trade barterers. People who dislike DS9 refuse to acknowledge that as an option.

    In the end, this is exactly what I mean about the fanbase — nobody can agree on any aspect of it. You have to make tough calls that will inevitably piss off the majority of the Star Trek fanbase. And the hardcore part of the Star Trek fanbase is… tiny. I don’t think you can even use it as your core audience if you want a successful AAA MMO. (If you make a small-scale MMO like an EVE Online, you can succeed with smaller concurrencies, but with the money they are spending on Star Trek Online, they have to shoot for a different core audience. Nice catch-22, isn’t it?)

  6. Gof says:

    Look man, make an MMO that follows similar rules to the ones we have seen in the shows and your job is done. You are not here to worry about the people think that the Red Squad should be part of the Academy or whatever other crap.

    If you take WoW for example you see that the people there made several choices that made fans angry but guess what? People accepted them because the product was great. It still had enough of the core story, the core world that people just forgot about it. The Tauren and the Undead joining forces makes no sense but it was done, Orcs having warlocks when they decided to not practice demonic magic in the last makes no sense but it was done. The Elves joining the Horde… well anyone that plays the game knows why it was done and everyone hated it, but guess what? It was done.

    Stop complaining and blaming the fans and just do it. All this complaining about the fans is what destroyed the Star Trek franchise in the first place. We are going back to the exploring ship with Voyager and we are sending to an unexplored area of space so we can get back to that final frontier thing, it was horrible. OK, we are going back to the original Trek with Enterprise and doing the Big 3 blah, blah, blah, it was horrendous.

    JUST DOOOO IT!

  7. Meliagan says:

    *Sorry for my English and greetings from France!*
    Maybe STO was publicly announced to early… and communities can’t wait more than 3 years…
    But if Perpetual would have the time to really develop their project, a great MMO in the Star Trek Universe would come to us…
    BTW Eric, your devblog on Economy is one of my favourite moment in STO development and I think we never thank you for it :)

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  9. Babs says:

    This may seem amazing but MMOs are businesses and are supposed to turn a profit just like any other kind of business. You don’t “just doooo it” until you’ve done your research, split your cross hairs, and manufactured a business model that screams, “we can make some money!”

    So…worry about fans and WoW players and all who went before and failed? You betcha. To do otherwise is to Sigilize.

  10. Kris says:

    News today is a lawsuit was filed against Perpetual for fraud. Their former PR firm alleges they deceived them into thinking they were fiscally liquid, persuaded them to do work outside their contract and have yet to pay between $80,000 and $280,000 owed.

    http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/15621

    In October, Perpetual’s principals sold all the company’s intellectual properties (STO licenses and code, website licenses, etc.) to P2 for less than market value. They then moved all other assets (chairs, desks and all other useless crap (if you’re a software company)) to a bankruptcy shell company.

    Another blogger – http://vertigo-hosting.com/launchpad/?p=11 – suggested Perpetual’s principals dumped Gods & Heroes so they could focus on STO.

    Seems like a pretty crappy way of doing business, at least on the face of it. But be sure to read the actual filing – the allegations are convincingly clear. (And oddly like a press release…)

    Perhaps you were lucky to leave when you did? If fraud is proved, there could be long lines of people wanting to sue.

  11. I get asked about potential IPs for MMOs from time to time. Invariably, two properties keep coming up on my personal “Yes, I love these universes too, but they would be a nightmare to actually do well” list:

    Star Trek and Dune.

    Great explanation for why #1 is there. :)

    - Scott

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  13. Adam Murguia says:

    Hey All,

    I’m currently the Associate Art Director for Star Trek Online.

    I think that this article had great things to say and I will agree that STO will be one of the hardest MMO’s to create…ever. All of the things mentioned are challenges indeed…

    …as a team we eat those challenges for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. We are game developers and Star Trek fans and those challenges are the things we relish. Those challenges are the reason our jobs are exciting. Those challenges in short, are why we are here. The stance of this team is “Wow. What an awesome challenge. Bring it on. Let’s go”.

    I’m surrounded by people that still get misty when Spock lectures Kirk about the needs of the many. One of the reasons the Star Trek MMO is going to be the hardest MMO to create is because the expectations of the people on this team are so high. We do not take Star Trek, fun, design, economy, aesthetics or tribbles lightly. Our expectations are among the highest. We will not ship a Star Trek game that is inferior. We will not rest until these questions (and many more) are answered. We’ve polled gamers, we’ve polled Star Trek fans, we’ve polled our forum leaders and fan sites and we’ve gathered a force here that has the ability to answer these questions. I have absolute faith that our team and our designers have made the right choices and will continue to make the right choices.

    There is a lot going on in the news these days about Perpetual Entertainment. There’s talk about Star Trek going “casual” and countless speculation about a lawsuit. I’m an artist so in layman’s terms I’ll just say as a company, when you get bought, a lot of stuff happens.

    Great points. Relax. We’re on it…)

    Adam

  14. Astral says:

    It certainly is a “catch 22” – just look at Star Wars Galaxies. My question is why take a “Triple-A” title and try to have world of war craft numbers based on the Wow formula? In the end the fans of the IP get shafted for a dumbed down game that seems to have taken a turn that reminds me of Galactic Civilizations without the RTS view in space. My point is that the original design that was communicated seemed to have really captured the heart of Star Trek fans. Once you capture the heart of the fans you’re in great shape in a Triple-A sci fi game, But the Star Trek fans which are your central fan base seemed to have been given the shaft. I think the most important item to maintain on a project like this is the integrity of the title. Then fans would only endorse the game. After all the turn of events most Star Trek fans have disregarded this game over the last year. And it is a shame because we were all cheering you on.

    I think future MMO’s really need to be in touch with their reputation and word of mouth as the game is being developed. I would never cut out the fan base, the correct story line, or the technical specifics of any AAA title. But heck it is really nice to get your perspective from the inside.

  15. Tom says:

    Hi All,

    Lets see if I got this right:
    You say, that you have to make the Game more appealing to the casual gamers in order to have more customers and thus more profit, which you need to cover the costs to develop the game.
    Sounds clear to me…

    My problem is, that I think you won’t get a lot more “casual gamers” to play STO because of the following:
    WoW has over 6 million paying players. Why would any one of them leave his two lvl 70 Chars alone and start with STO?
    Just because it’s easy to learn and easy to play?
    Maybe you have to make STO a bit more like WoW, so the players will find it easier to change?
    Wait.. why should they change in the first place, if STO is just WoW with different textures?

    My Point:
    In my opinion, you can’t just do your concept on the idea of “lets make the game so easy, that even a quake3-kiddie can play the game, so he will buy it, and we’re happy”.
    But if you ask “how can I get as much players as possible to play my game” you have to rely on the existing fan base, which is longing for the game and will buy the game, regardless of their other gaming preferences.
    And i think that the mayority of this fan base doesn’t need a game which is planned for “casual gamers” i.e. gamers that are not yet gamers :)

    Thanks

    Tom

  16. Leftbrainedgamer says:

    Wow, I never thought Star Trek would be a very fun MMORPG. However, I think you are on to something here. The conflict that is neededed for the game is built into the passions of the fans that scream when they hear something different. Star Trek lore is not homogenous. It seems the solution is factions.

    Star Trek TNG fans: good-goody, no money etc.
    Star Trek DS9 fans: The gritty side of life.
    Star Trek Voyager: Exploring gamers by nature less concerned with the political aspects starfleet.
    These factions could be used to play on each other and also to keep their vision intact. For example quests in the TNG factions could be around stopping an underground faction of cynics in starfleet that want to take a more militaristic angle to things. And of course there have been lore associated with this.
    Meanwhile while the bean counters from Starfleet get to DS9. Well that is not the way we play down in this part of the galaxy.

    It is difficult to solve the big ship little ship problem. Space battles are an interesting problem. I don’t know how other games have handled this but I would think the analogy is that capital ships are guild houses. Guilds are crews. If you don’t have enough to crew your ship you recruit independent players that are online to crew it and take it to the fight. The battles could be PVE, PVP or even PVM like in lord of the rings online where people can make their own enemy class character and play. It would give lowbies and causal players the captain of the ship experience.

    Or some quests could be “look I need to take the enterprise on a mission, you will be captain for this mission but you will need to find a crew to help you from other recruits.” Then you have to recurit a party. That gives lowbies an opportunity to lead and captain a ship. Other players would be movitated to help to increase skill in whatever capacity they have on the a ship. If they finish the quest they can hit on a green chick.

    Anyway that is my 2cents but I understand, doing Star Trek is like walking on egg shells but like you say conflict drives a game. I recommend that you discover what the conflict between the fans are and merely give them the tools to fight not with you but with eachother.

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  18. I come from a clan/fleet that plays all Star Trek games that come out, shoot we even gave Legacy a real go.

    Games like Star Trek Elite Force and Bridge Commander are still played.

    We have been anticapating STO for some time now, All MMO’s have daily, weekly, monthly patches and or updates,
    if you start with a lvl cap like most do and get the game out there, that would be a plus in the right direction for you to find out the “fan base” and how they feel about the game….. do your updates and patches according to their response.

    Any other game developers out there? Keep this in mind…. most of us are looking for an MMO that has the feel of Elite Force combind with Bridge commander, where you have FPS and the ability to get into and control vehicals and then beam or shuttle to a ship and control that as well.

    And for the Star Trek fan base come check out our site…… we support Star Trek games and some others. http://www.starfleets.st

  19. Charles Widden says:

    As he says, it has to be multiple games in one. This is how you get around the problem of pleasing different types of players and people who only like different portions of the franchise. Each different region of space has to be made completely different, and with unique economies. The Federation can be made to have no currency. But the rest of the universe does. Romulan space has a different currency than Klingon, etc. The Ferrengi are the standard ‘universal’ mediums amongst the various economies. This sort of model also solves the problem of playstyle and ship scale. You can easily justify every Klingon player getting to pilot a small bird of prey and be blowing things up within half an hour of play. Players who join Starfleet instead have to build themselves up through to the command ranks. And, anyone can choose to stay ‘neutral’ with a mercenary ‘anything goes’ sort of playstyle.

    The problems are all solvable. But, again, doing it properly requires making several games.

    Anyway, as an Eve player, my big hope is that the game isn’t dumbed down to please the WoW fans. Sure, Eve only has about 200,000 players, but at $15/mo that comes out to three million dollars per month. Only a tiny fraction of what WoW pulls in…but think of it this way: three million every month is a lot more than the nothing you’ll make if the game fails or is never released.

    Maybe this game isn’t intended to be a 135 million/mo game.

  20. noob says:

    Psh Perpetual should have stuck with Gonds and Heroes: Rome Rising.

  21. noob says:

    Gods* hehe

  22. Suraknar says:

    Well, I am bumped by reading this, and by all the recent news about STO.

    I am no game designer, yet after reading all these things it makes one become one. I really not understand why is it so difficult for someone who is familiar with the Star Trek Universe be unable to make a MMORPG design for it.

    Of course its it going to be several games in one, I’d like to see it like several facets of the same game however, like any world, there is variety in it. If you were to make an MMO that only encompasses one aspect of Star Trek it would not work. Why was this hard to understand from the start, is beyond me.

    Utopian world? Not exactly, there is so many Villains out there in the Universe, heck the Orions Practiced Slavery, how Utopian is that? How many episodes, in a Stra Trek Chronological order have we seen from Entreprise, to Voyager, and including the movies, that had to do with Miners working their buts off to extract Dilithium Crystals? Greedy Independent Merchants bent on fulfilling their own very Lucrative goals and Latinum Based Pleasures? Pirates and Smugglers, Rebellious factions, to say nothing about Totalitarian Governments of some of the Major Powers out there bordering the Federation.

    How many times did the Protagonists of any Star Trek series, had to save some Merchant Ship. Did these merchants not do what they do for Profit? Maybe Star Fleet personnel have a higher moral sence of things however the Universe itself is not made out of Star Fleet its made out of Thousands if not more Different Races with different Views and own Philosophies about how things would work, some are Warrior Based Societies and some others are very Profit oriented, Commerce based societies with little regard towards Life itself.

    Gene Roddenberry’s vision may have been Utopian in relation to Human Ideology and the Federation itself, contrasting it against Ficticious alien Cultures in a very philosophical sense permitted by the Fiction element of the series to convey the message “Hey we can be better than that”, yet that does not mean that the whole Star Trek universe is Utopian.

    And the Universe of Star Trek has to be the basis of any MMORPG game made for it, not only a single aspect of it. You cant call it Star Trek if you only make a game about Star Fleet and the Federation.

    So the basis is the universe, it implies that there will be more than the Federation, and more than Star Fleet, more than Humans. In other words, you have to look at the Big Picture, you cant segment it and make an MMORPG to cater only a single portion of the fan base. This is your setting where you game take place in.

    And Yes I realize it is vast, yet again, so was “Star Wars Galaxies”, and so is “EVE Online”, to a lesser degree yet equally challenging was “Jumpgate Online”.

    What remains is to clarify what you want players to be doing in it. And the answers to that are more numerous than the questions, which in my mind provides much flexibility for any Development Team’s decision making, to say noting about variety of play, which is important after 10 years of MMORPG’s being out there starting with Ultima Online.

    Cant make a STO a la WoW, I am sorry, this just wont fly, no one from the ST fan base will log in a game for the purpose of accumulating wealth, gear, and farm materials or reputation all day long, no matter how good and colorful your graphics are.

    Instead, why not follow Gene Roddenberry’s own visions as expressed through his creation? Place the players in Challenging situations depending on the Culture and Background that they have Chosen, people Could elect to play a Civilians or part of their respective Navies. (Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian, Ferengi – could be a good start of choices for playable sides).

    Implement an RvR system in the outer fringes of each of these Governments or Empires, and let the players themselves experience Star Trek by taking the place of both Star Fleet Personnel or as being members of one of these other Empires. Both in Military and Economical applications and always based on the Ethical precepts of each one of these Entities.

    Establish Core Sectors where RvR PvP would not be possible, and where new players gain experience for their characters, and establish several avenues. Players can still be part of Science, Exploration, Medical, Tactical, Intelligence, and Commercial and Diplomatic branches of their respective side.

    The Galaxy is Vast, even within any of the side’s sphere of influence there can be unexplored areas, areas of expansion. Tour of Duties can be part of the Game, in various areas of expertise or part of any of the above branches.

    Bigger ships? Not difficult, if there is already a core mechanism for several players to command and operate together any Defiant Class ship, superimpose that Core on to a Galaxy Class ship and make these players the Senior Staff Group, all of the rest of the crew can be made out of NPC’s.

    So the same mechanism can work just as well with the Bridge and Engineering crew of the Defiant and a Galaxy or Sovereign Class Ship. Solutions are not what is missing here, suffice it to be a bit creative in the approach.

    Above all, have to have a Dev team that is passioned with the ST Universe if such a game is to ever become a reality. Where there is passion there is only solutions, otherwise all you see is walls and obstacles.

    It is a shame that the potential is not being seen here. As the ST universe can provide much fun to millions of people, in a both PVE and PVP, yet above all FUN game to play. All of the ingredients are there, one just needs to make links between them.

    Just a few ideas to throw around.

  23. The solution to the “two game” dilemma should be obvious. There are space battles in Star Trek, but all of it happens from the bridge of a ship. Essentially you make a game that is 100% land based, only some of the “land” is on ships. And you figure out a way to make space battles interesting from inside the bridge. They are on the show anyway. The few outside shot focus on stock explosions and laser beams. Nothing complex.

    I tried the Star Wars MMO and the groud part was cool, the space part was impossibly difficult.

    Conflict? Well as a huge fan of every Star Trek series the show is totally based on conflict. It is not a utopia in my opibnion although it is often cast as one. The whole pont of Star Trek is that it focusses on HUMAN conflict. Even though earth has been freed from hunger, as long as there are human(oid) beings who must interact there will always be conflict. In the end conflict is not a negative thing. It is what drives us to grow. The best part about Star Trek is that it deals with problems that still face us today.

    The solution to this is to base a game that has conflict of many kinds. Not just fighting (trust me, that gets BORING very fast anyway), but diplomatic and interpersonal conflicts as well.

    Another idea is to make large events to polarize the community. Like the borg attack. This would be a big event that intrudes into the game and affects everyone. This could be organized through a command system based on personal affiliation. I.e. if you are a Romulan all your missions center around this, but you have choices.

    Seriously, I could sit down and start writing ideas, missions, player scripts, classifications, etc and write for weeks upon weeks without stopping to an almost unlimited degree of complexity. No one will ever ask me to do this though sadly. But I think they would be better off making it “ne game” and coming up with a creative way to do space battles from the bridge. After all no one could single-handedly take the enterprise and pilot it around by themselves like an X Wing. You must think outside of this box. There is no need to satisfy anyone. Make a MMO that is so good no one can deny it and the people will come regardless even of the topic.

  24. Matthew says:

    I’ve only played TWO good space games in my entire life, and although it’s my favorite genre because I love the concept, and I loved these two space games growing up more than any other games, so I’m constantly looking for something that is comparable, I NEVER FIND It.

    I would love someone to suggest a game that might meet my expectations.

    The two games I enjoyed were the Tie Fighter game and Lightspeed (from micropose)

    I’m looking for a game that puts me in control of a big ship and it FEELS like it’s a big ship.

    And it feels like I’m in control… I love being able to repair my ship because it takes damage, of being worried about running out of fuel, but I don’t want a ponderous slow game like Battlecruiser 3000 AD… I want TENSION

    That’s what makes a good game for me, being worried and concerned with winning, but having more to worry about than another stupid space dog fight… they all involve the same bs… you do a fly by, you turn around, you do a fly by… you aim ahead of your target, it blows up. Your shield regenerates… OK… boringgggggggggg and *played out*, it’s been done, too often. let me climb around my ship and do repairs on my engine, let me manually adjust where my shields are strongest like in Tie fighter.

    Does anyoen have any suggestions?

  25. Bleh says:

    If you can afford to make an mmo then its not really hard now is it??

    Reason why I say that is because an mmo has to be one of the most toughest game design subjects, where talents, time and money make the dream happen. The investment in creating an mmo is as high stakes as in its sales, you could say all that you invest in creating an mmo is the equivalent if not double the return in sales assuming the project lives to its hype.

    Since we have ascertained that much, I can only think of two possibilities aside from all the BS talk. It will either work out or it won’t simple as that, and if it doesn’t you would have proved history’s greatest fork in the road that a Star Trek mmo can never be done.

  26. Dave says:

    I would say it would be pretty easy to solve a few of the problems you pointed out.

    As to currency, There is currency in the federation, a credit system backed by latinum( i think thats the right spelling).

    What Picard meant was that money was not required, as in the basic necessities, food, living arrangements, bills ect. a citizen of the federation does not NEED money for anything, but, if you want luxuries, you sure do need money.

    Remember DS9, if the federation crew wanted to visit quarks establishment, they needed currency. Remember Riker’s poker games? they weren’t playing for free, they backed up chips with currency.

    And as to the Utopian society? maybe if you lived on earth and didn’t go anywhere. But there were serious tensions with many different races.

    In fact, if they placed the time frame of the MMO star trek just beyond the TV shows, you could create lore for some real fighting, the popular thing to do would be kilngon/federation vs cardassian/romulan.

    Considering the need for combat in a MMO, it would be easily acceptable for fans to see some lore created, that stays in line with the already established lore.

    Seriously, if you followed the TV shows, the federation is constantly on the brink of war, one wrong word to a Romulan ambassador, an accidental bumping into of a highly placed cardassian official.

    It is even very feasible to expect some sort of secret deal the romulans and cardassians made to bring down the federation, and of course the klingons come to the fedrations aid, since they hate romulans as much as a vampire hates garlic on his steak.

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  28. hoppazo says:

    having read this and also the article about Champions Online, i would be really interested in some of Eric’s thoughts about this IP taken over and dealt with by Mythic.
    i mean we’ve seen and read some dev-diaries about STO throughout the year, while they were also producing and releasing CO, then all of a sudden they announced STO will go live feb 2010.
    They’re done? i mean, really?

  29. hoppazo says:

    Cryptic more likely, sry :)

  30. Melissa669 says:

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