Space, the final frontier that we trespassed over so often already.
Star Trek, ghosting around the media landscape for over fourty years now, has always been a part of my life. Seriously, when i was a kid i watched TOS. When i transcended from teenhood into adulthood i watched TNG. I also watched Deep Space Nine and Voyager and even the exploits of Cpt. Action Archer have been part of my daily routine. I do not intend to ramble on about these shows however and i will not rant about the new Star Trek Movie. I liked it, period.
What i want to hatemonger about today in my first bLog entry EVER is the lobotomisation of games.
One game in particular:
Star Trek Online
STO is one rare breed of a game. A game that has a heavy burden to carry. The burden of a licensed franchise. Aside from that its a MMOG featuring Space, Spaceships and the things you do in Space when you happen to have a Spaceship.
Namely flying around a whole lot and Shooting things.
Its the shooting part that stirred the hateful beast that resides in the dried out plum that is my heart.
It went on as follows:
As i cruised the STO website, the news of a gamespot article sprung into my eyes, because the headline said it would give details about the combat aspect.
Make no mistake! Star Trek or not, if the combat sucks the game will die quickly and under much pain. Exploration can only last so long as a motivator because you need to remember 2 important things about the universe:
1.) Its mind boggingly big.
2.) Its mind boggingly BORING.
The player does not want to traverse a giant museum after all. There have to be things to do. Itresting things. Non-repetitive things.
Since STO aims for the fee-paying MMO audience it will face a serious challenge in filling the universe with non-combat oriented tasks that do not bore the brain out of the players skull. Don't even get started with crafting and its ugly brother and sister ressource gathering and item farming.
So the most important factor will, of course, be the fighting.
Spaceship fights. We have a lack of it. There are not many games around to have decent spaceship fights and certainly not any Star Trek themed ones.
Oh yes i was excited when the trailer for STO came out with the sweet promise of delightfull combat on its lips.
But then i read this article:
Here Mr. Craig Zinkievich, executive Producer, proudly gave details about the combat mechanics of STO. When i read the lines i thought my eyeballs would rot in order to protect me from the dreaded truth:
Space will be flat. Flat as in "No you wont have complex maneuvers" Flat.
The Age of Sail is once again the source of inspiration for a Game developer and again i can only shake my head in denial and disbelief.
Controlling my Spaceship on a 2d plane and basicly jousting with the enemy isn't exactly what i had expected from the high calliber game STO SHOULD be. What am i, a knight on horseback fighting to get the affections of some princess? I actualy looked forward to sneak upon people from all directions, for space is 3d after all.
But no, STO will basicly play like Starfleet command. Yes Starfleet command, that joyfully non-exciting AGE OF SAIL (or age of FAIL?) inspired tactical spaceship combat game (based upon the age of sail inspired flowchart game Starfleet battles), in which we joust with the enemy ever since 19fckn99.
Yes, 10 Years after SFC we will still get SFC gameplay in the single most important Trek game to date. The game that carries the burden of the franchise. The game that could have made Star Trek a force to reckon with in gaming. Don't get me wrong ,SFC was fun back then, but nowadays i'm ready for a more... sophisticated aproach at space combat.
Cryptik, i ask you: Why not 3d and all the perks that go with it?
What? you say its to difficult to get 3d combat in an mmog?
Yes, certainly its a challenge to create an engine that can handle 3d movement and several hitzones (left-right-top-bottom-front-rear) and weapon arcs without failing to lag (and balance the whole thing), but didn't you say you looked forward to the challenges of making a Trek Game when you first took the job of making STO?
Surely, balancing 3 dimensional combat while keeping the spaceships in line with trek style is a challenge, but are you sure you want to tell me that you cannot achieve what modders did for Bridge Commander? Star Trek Bridge Commander, the game that came out 2002, 7 years ago, and achieved 3d Space comat within the Star Trek Theme? The Game that still lives on with the mods the community made for it, mods that improved it so much?
The game i still play with my friends online to fight out furious battles in Multiplayer?
Are you afraid of loosing potential customers if the combat is a little bit more complex? Or do you simply do not trust people to be able to grasp and cherish the concepts of 3d movement, tactics and strategies?
Why would i want to trade that for a reload of SFC that is bogged down with everything that makes MMOS such a dull experience? (Item grind for example)
"Cryptic is apparently attempting to build in a strategic preparation aspect to ship combat. That is, the best way to come out ahead in battle is to prepare beforehand, ideally with some advance recon on your enemies, including what kinds of weapons they have access to. Your preparation will include choosing the proper crew, equipping the appropriate weapons, and installing the proper shields."
Oh yes, i can already see where THAT leads.
Much like in EVE online i will look up a website to determine what kind of fitting i need for a given mission/fight.
THANK YOU SO MUCH for adding such an "strategic" aspect to the game.
If i wanted to play EVE, i would, dammit!
This concludes my first bLog-entry. I'm looking forward to how STO will turn out, because in this epic race to Winhood there are a lot of detours onto the fail-lane and i fear Cryptik just now has made the first bad call in its pathfinding.
The Next entry will be about Real Time Strategy, and the question why everything has to be dumbed down to CoH levels of gameplay mechanics.