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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 94
04-08-2009, 10:47 PM
It might be worth reiterating (or maybe not, but what the heck) that if the ability for players to fill specific bridge roles on one ship is implemented as an optional feature, then that says something useful about the appropriate requirements for player bridge crew content.

Maybe player bridge crew content doesn't need to be designed to push itself at players who might otherwise complain, "I'm bored! There's nothing to do!" because the only people who'll willingly show up to play a bridge role other than ship's commanding officer are the ones who'll want to be there in the first place. They're not likely to be heard muttering, "Bored now!"; these are gamers who are more likely to be saying things like, "Whoa! I get all these sensors and laboratories to play with? Cool!" and "We've got a few minutes between missions -- I wonder what I'd find if I did an internal security scan?"

In other words, the most likely consumers of bridge crew content are going to be players who are already predisposed to enjoy sharing a bridge with friends. They're already thrilled to be there; giving them functional ship systems and interesting things to do with those systems is a bonus, not a requirement.

That reduces the degree of difficulty considerably, I'd say.

And if the space game is designed so that there's generally little time when players are flying around with no specific task before them as part of a mission or episode? Even better.

If there's almost always some relatively high-level thing to do in space -- solving a puzzle, finding an artifact, defending the ship from hostiles, discovering a lost world, transporting interesting NPCs hiding a secret, mapping a new star system, or escaping a trap, for just a few examples off the top of my head -- then that goal can be decomposed into specific tasks for players to perform according to the division in which their character presently serves. In some cases, these will be solo tasks ("scan the mysterious vessel's cargo holds for a canister of fleabaggium" or "perform a tactical analysis on that mysterious vessel to boost our chances of hitting in case it turns hostile"). In some (preferably many) cases, these will be tasks that call for cooperation among two or more bridge crew officers ("develop an anaesthetic gas the holographic Tac officer can administer that will knock out the intruders who've taken over Engineering" or "outfit the CO with a neural amplifier boosting her already-incredible charisma in order to fast-talk some hostile aliens").

Either way, the point is that perhaps it's not a requirement to crank out so much player crew content that no one playing a bridge crew officer with other players could ever possibly get bored for a split second. Perhaps only some such content is necessary, for those times when players who want to be sharing a bridge with friends aren't using these starships and their cool systems to tell their own stories.

Just a thought.