I haven’t written in a long while eh?
Fear not, I am making a comeback. Part of the reason why I have been “quiet” for almost a year, is that I have been engrossed in an MMO – Star Trek Online. I currently already have 4 max-level characters in the MMO, and I’m now starting on my 5th one, currently at level 2.
This is probably the first MMO that I feel that I won’t be quitting in the long run. Why?
Simple. Because it’s Trek.
I’ve been a Trekker (or Trekkie) since my teens. I started off with The Next Generation or TNG as it is more commonly known. After watching through all 7 seasons (no thanks to SBC at the time, now TCS. They abruptly stopped showing TNG after the 6th season), my interest in Trek grew to the point that I wanted to know more.
Also, as I also grew up with tiny 8-bit computers in the days of Atari, Amstrad, Sinclair and Commodore, I wished that someone would make a STAR TREK WORLD where I can be a part of. When MUDs came around in the mid-80s I was happy that finally I could play in a world (although a medieval one) with other people. As the years went on, text-based MUDS made way for graphical MMORPGs.
Finally, someone made a Star Trek MMORPG, a true world where Star Trek is alive! I’m finally HOME~!
Did you watch Star Trek by JJ Abrams, back in 2009? The one with the young Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the 17-year old Russian genius Chekov? You did? Cool.
Because Star Trek Online, the MMO, picks up where ST2009 left off, kinda. In the movie, we know Spock went through a black hole into an alternate timeline, ie the movie. Star Trek Online takes place parallel to those events, back in the original Star Trek universe.
As Spock disappeared, the Klingons broke off the alliance with Starfleet. Cardassians, Starfleet, and other familiar factions started a galactic war.
80 years after the events shown in the movie, is where the game begins. The year is 2401, this is the 25th Century. Welcome to Starfleet, Ensign!
The game itself manages to blend both space combat and ground combat into a pretty seamless (most of the time) gameplay. The tutorial section tells you that due to a battle with the Borg (yeah they’re here in the game too!), a ship has been disabled and needs help. You beam over and start doing the reparing, fighting, etc. When you complete the whole tutorial, you’ve helped push the Borg back, and are warping back to Sector 0,0,1 (That’s our solar system, Sol) to Earth Spacedock, to meet with Admiral Quinn.
Admiral Quinn then tells you that he was impressed with the way you handled yourself, and, in these desperate times, a desperate measure was taken – he’s giving you command of a Miranda-class light cruiser, even though you’re only a Lieutenant.
Now, as a Trekker, I recognise many elements of the original Trek lore, what we call canon. Many of the stories contain either recognizable locations, planets, or people. In fact, you get to meet many of the characters, or their children, from all the series – TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, and of course, ENT. For example, remember the cute girl on Voyager, Naomi Wildman? Yeah she’s in the game. What about Miral Paris, the daughter of Tom Paris and B’elanna Torres? Yep she’s also in the game.
Worf too, is in the game, altho a visibly aged and more tired version.
As you work through the storyline, you level up and gain promotions in rank. As you rank up, Admiral Quinn starts giving you command of bigger and better ships. By the end of the game, you would have reached the rank of Vice Admiral, and would probably be in command of a Galaxy class or a Sovereign class ship. Or, a Defiant class, or an Intrepid class (Voyager).
There are other things present in the game that isn’t canon too. For example, money. As far as we know, money doesn’t exist in the future. But, Ferengis trade for Gold Pressed Latinum, apparently a galactic kind of currency. However, the game strangely uses another form of currency – Energy Credits. While GPLs are present in the game, and you can actually win GPLs at the Dabo tables (oh yes they’re in the game too!), you don’t actually use GPLs for anything other than buying cloaking emitters to disguise your ship. This is only a cosmetic change – it does not affect gameplay in any way.
Also, during the story and missions, you will come across many items like personal force fields (shields) and armour. Those aren’t canon in the sense that we don’t see them on screen at all whether in movies or on TV episodes. But, they exist in the game.
Also, to cater to different tastes of the individual players, Starfleet has “relaxed the uniform regulations”. So, you can wear ANY uniform from ANY era, with ANY colours you wished… even pink or green. You don’t have to follow the established colour codes.
So as you can imagine, running around Earth Spacedock (or ESD as it is known in the game) is fascinating. You can see players of all ranks running around with all kinds of costumes and uniforms. Each is a captain of his or her own ship and crew.
Speaking of crew, yes you do have a core bridge crew which you can train in specific skills to help you in space, or ground, missions. You can dress each crew differently from each other too as you see fit. You only need to spend the game currency – ECs or Energy Credits, at the tailor’s to do so.
Honestly if you’re not a Trekkie/Trekker, you may find the game a little daunting, not know what to do, or where to go. Familiar names like “Deep Space Nine” or “Q’onos” to us would be bewildering to a non-Trekker. They won’t know what a Bat’leth is or what Klingons are like. However, Cryptic has tried to ease the non-Trekker into the game as much as possible.
However, Trekkers will enjoy this game immensely.
The game is continuously improved. Each “expansion” is called a “Season”, and each mission is called an “episode”. Right now we’re at Season3, with Season 4 slated to come very soon. The major feature of Season 4 is the change in ground combat – to make it more like Mass Effect style of over-the-shoulder kind of thing. However if you’re used to the current way of fighting on the ground, you are free to switch back to this mode.
As for me, I think I will definitely switch over to the new mode!