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Star Trek Online: Can It Ever Be The Star Trek?

in News, Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online's FoundryStar Trek Online's latest edition of the Ask Cryptic has revealed the development team's plans for 2013. Executive producer Dan Stahl continued to answer community questions. This month's questions range from Season 8 questions to Klingon ships, Dilithium reward structure and licensing new authentic Star Trek music but the most interesting part was about Star Trek Online's ability to offer an exploration centric Star Trek experience like what Gene Roddenberry created in 1966. Continue reading for details.


Star Trek Online: The solution is Player Created Worlds?

Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, has always been about exploration and new adventures. The original series was incredible but it continued to be a cult with The Next Generation, Deep Space, Voyager and Enterprise. Starship Enterprise had one main mission for the crew. It was to go where no man has gone before

Star Trek Online foundry screenshot

So what do you REALLY expect from a Star Trek game? In the latest Asky Crypric post, one of the questions was particularly interesting. A community member Timjerom asked Dan Stahl:

Now im personaly not a fan of flying round a box where you just get the same old missions over and over again.... of having to scan 5 anomolies and warp out, blow 5 sets of hostile vessels up, beam to a station/planet kill 5 sets of hostiles. Its not Trek! Where are the ailens that you talk too to sort the situation out or just the ailens that you don't have to kill full stop? Also where is the exploration to seek out new life and to boldly go where no one has gone before…

Now he has a point, doesn't he? This isn't the Star Trek he dreamed of, at least not all of it. Was this ever supposed to be like the Star Trek he is describing?. That's a bigger question and I can't even talk about it (devs can). This is not a Star Trek Online or a MMO specific complication. We have seen almost every big franchise (movies/series) turn into some game at some point. Be it a console game or an MMO... The end product is not always what you expect. I can understand why it can not be EXACTLY like the TV series or the movie. I remember expecting much more from Terminator 2 The Judgment Day back in 90's but it was nothing more than a short game with repetitive missions and boring content. It was far from offering anything authentic. Now there were better examples in the past such as Robocop being a decent game offering all the action you'd want to see in a Robocop title. And then there were the famous and great Indiana Jones series and not so great Transformers games. And of course the Star Wars games. There has been great and terrible examples of games based on films and series.

I believe Star Trek Online's developers should not be blamed for not offering enough exploration in a single game. The idea of releasing new episodes is great. In theory it should work excellently but then there are development costs and Star Trek Online is now a free-to-play game and I remember when Dan Stahl talked about the difficulties of the free to play transformation and its affects on development funds. Star Trek's motto "going where no man has gone before" is HUGE. It's beyond creativity. It takes a genius like Gene Roddenbery to create this and how many creations have we seen in the last 50 years as close to Star Trek anyway? Star Trek, Stargate... Both offered something new and unique in each episode thanks to all the creativity and talent of writers.

Offering something new every time might be possible if you are making a 13-episode TV series every season but is it even possible to create a game that is full of unique adventures and keep it fresh at all times? Not likely... Even if it is based on a solid piece like Star Trek. So I am trying to put myself in the shoes of STO's developers and I can only empathize.

Read Star Trek Online review

This doesn't mean there is no way to give something to the players to use their imagination to create their own fantasy worlds. Dan Stahl and the team had a pretty good solution to offer a more authentic Star Trek experience to the fans. To give them a chance to create worlds noone has ever seen before... They have created the Foundry and allowed players to create Player Created Worlds

A player created world is one of the recently added features of Star Trek Online. The new in game tool Foundry allows players to create and build brand new missions and stories and then share it with their friends and the entire Star Trek Online community. Players can add new missions in space or on the ground. This is probably the best solution one can think of. It still needs a player's creativity and time to work on the new world, the new missions. But it's something that enables creativity in Star Trek Online.

And before we close, here is Dan Stahl's response to the question:

 We’ve poured significant resources into creating procedurally generated random space encounters and, unfortunately, they never quite feel like the Trek you are talking about. This is why we created the Foundry, so that players could author missions that are much more genuine and offer something new. The next step will be to marry the Foundry to a solid Exploration concept where you can be rewarded for exploring new sectors of randomly (but player created) strange new worlds. That is the basis of what we want to do with Exploration in the future.

Let's see what other solutions Cryptic comes up with in the future to offer us an even better Star Trek experience in STO. 


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