Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Star Trek Online Beta: Contest, Prognosis

If you’re itching to get into the Star Trek Online beta, developer Cryptic Studios is offering a guaranteed spot for the winner of this contest. Essentially, they’ve given everyone a picture of a mysterious planet, and they’d like fans to come up with a backstory for it:

Part of the adventure that comes from exploring strange new worlds is discovering that planet’s history and hearing the stories of its inhabitants. Imagine you have just entered orbit around the planet pictured here. Your mind races with the possibilities of what you will find. What is the planet’s name? What or who lives there? Are they peaceful or antagonistic, welcoming or outright hostile? Are they long gone leaving only more mysteries to solve?

Planet

Tell us about the planet shown here as well as on the Planet Exploration contest rules page. You can tell a story of daily life of the inhabitants, make a scientific survey log entry, or weave any type of tale you choose.

Email us your story of up to 500 words at contest@crypticstudios.com by January 29, 2009.

Orbit established, Captain. What do you think is down there?

Well, Ensign, just off the top of my head, I’d say there’s a good chance of encountering corny dialogue, drama with a liberal dose of sci-fi vernacular, and more Trekkies than I can shake my fist at. If that’s your idea of fun, then this demo is probably for you (I’m looking at you, Nate).

Really, though, this is going to end up being a mediocre, niche MMO unless Cryptic Studios can pull off the following:

  • Make conflict a constant threat, if not the main element of the game. If this ends up being nothing more than WoW in Star Trek clothing, forget it. On the other hand, if everything I do is predicated on whether or not I need to worry about my Federation character being caught in a Romulan raid, or destroyed by angry Klingons, or out-traded by conniving Ferengi, this just might have a chance.
  • Factions should be emphasized. If Cryptic really wants to get ballsy, they should give strengths that only work if you play along with your faction’s goals, and crippling weaknesses if you don’t. Example: if you’re in the Federation, you’ve got a considerable deal of freedom to move around, trade, etc, but not much muscle unless you’re in a large group, following council directives. If you’re Romulan, you’re got spy skills out the wazoo, but you can only act for the glory of the Romulan Empire. If you’re Klingon, you’ve got beastly strength, but your ability to work within your culture is dependent on whether or not your actions are honorable. If you’re Ferengi, you’ve got awesome trading skills, but horrific diplomacy, and terrible weapons. If you’re Dominion, you’re the most powerful overall, but everyone else gets a stats bonus when they band together to attack you. If you’re Borg… you’re just unstoppable. 🙂
  • A naval battle system that will allow ships to either be controlled by a single person, or by multiple people. If you’ve got several people running a ship successfully, which would be much harder than doing so by yourself, there’s a bonus. If you’re part of a fleet, you get a stat bonus for following the commanding officer’s orders, and a temporary reduction in stats if you disobey.

This isn’t perfect, granted. I’m not a game designer/developer, and it was pretty much off the top of my head, to boot. Here’s the rub: Cryptic needs to do something daring in order to pull this off. They can’t just follow the lead of other development studios, because that will lead to another Hellgate: London. It might have been fun, but ultimately it didn’t break any new ground, and it disappeared a couple years later. Trekkies will love this simply because it is Star Trek, just like Star Wars fans jumped onto Star Wars Galaxies simply because of the name. In order to keep that core group, and eventually build beyond it, there needs to be more keeping them there than the name and a couple references to the different TV series.



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January 19, 2009 - Posted by | Gaming | , , , , , , , , ,

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