IJennifer Hepler, a dev over at Bioware, caused a huge controversy when someone found five year old comments from her suggesting that, if cutscenes should be skippable, action gameplay should also be skippable (calculating the result to match average play), allowing people who want to experience games as interactive fiction. She was bombarded with lots of ugly statements, including people trying to goad her into suicide with personal phonecalls...
Wow. Reading that link was NOT a good way to start off your day.
Originally Posted by virusdancer
Could you elaborate on where you see it not representing the IP? What you see as the Star Trek IP...?
I do not think this game has been consistently administrated enough in 2 years to really get a good gauge of what it is. I think calling it gamist is giving it too much credit. The hopes and plans of what the game was in development changed by launch day. The hopes and plans of what the game launched as changed by day 45. The hopes and plans of what the game was going to be in that first year changed by the second year. And so on and so forth.
This game has had too many leaders, too many cooks spoiling the soup, and far too many changes at the top level of decision making for me to think it can fit one of the molds the OP describes.
EDIT: I'll cite an example. Ships, specifically ship design with weapon slots, console slots and BOFF layout. The game had a very specific setup of evolution for all of those things on launch day. And it tapped out with the Admiral tier of ships that each had two alternatives that went into one specific non-profession BOFF ensign. So Science had two choices, one choice with an ENG ensign and one choice with a TAC ensign. It was balanced.
Then came the SPECIAL ships. The retrofits and the Galaxy X. They decided to break the mold with those. Now if you remember, the Galaxy X wasn't even supposed to exist. The ship artist, Logan, stated he did the design on his own time as a treat for himself and the players. Something he did as extra. And it was taken by the designers of the nuts and bolts and they ran with it. Breaking the mold of the launch day balance. And since then the system has been continually mudflated. Till we get to today. With the new flagships coming out as +1 flagships. And the ship designer Geko stating that he's running or has run out of ... options on how to continually build up these new ships.
They didn't initially plan for the system to work the way it ended up working.
They're not gamist. They're just people flying by the seat of their pants. They didn't think 2 years in that their ship layouts would be a trap that they couldn't even design their way out of.
My opinion falls in between you and Liviathan. I do believe that there are some consistant things to the IP but I do agree that many see the IP with there own slant epecially on this board. What bothers me is that I get the impression that a few people take 2 or 3 episodes of TNG in isolation and declare that to be what STAR TREK IS. When the fact is Star Trek is not just sun shinny , pacifist , over the top socilaist ulra biased 3 or 4 episodes of TNG. It is a totatality of all the series and episodes. It is an extremely complex show. Many people want to say that Trek is all about diversity and all Starfleet captains are carbon copies of one another that all AGREE WITH ME!!!!! LOL. Um that doesnt sound like diversity to me at all.
We all know that isnt true if you watch all the shows. We all know that the characters and political climate are just as diverse and complex as they are today. Its just that humanity has evolved to a better point and are more capable of governing themselves in more fair ways without killing each other over every resource.
Originally Posted by virusdancer
Which does not answer the question of what are the consistent elements of the Star Trek IP that Star Trek Online does not represent...
...if they are only offered some vague statement that they are not representing the IP, how could they ever represent it?
Yes, every MMO I've seen is a game first and a narrative second, if a narrative at all. Even SW:TOR, the most narrative driven game I've played in a long time, is still a game first that rewards gameplay with narration, along with a very normal bag of experience and goodies. You need only take a stroll through the SW:TOR forums to see that the majority of the discussions are about game mechanic changes.
I think this is always going to be the case. Ignoring for the moment MMO's like World of Tanks which has a maniacally long character grind and make their money by selling experience boosts, MMO's have a plurality of their player base at level cap. Most players will reach the level cap, and the end of the games narrative, long before the developer is prepared to raise it. What do you do on a game that is mostly narrative driven when the narrative has run out? According to the SW:TOR forum the answer is 'go to the forums and complain about PVP' 'start farming heroic mode flashpoints' or 'roll an alt and see a different narrative' in essence the same answers that you get in any MMORPG.
I don't really know what else to say about it, it just seems patently obvious, which I've always believed to be a terrible reason to believe something. How do you determine if an MMO is more a narrative than it is a game? What standards would you use to judge that. What would an MMO look like if it were more narrative than game?
The issue may be what you see as story. I mentioned story on the Champs forums and someone brought up complaints over excessive cutscenes there. The following is what I said in reply:
In turns of cutscenes and walls of text, I don't think that's narrative, really, and find that it hinders game designers, both narrativist and ludological/gamist designers who think of those things as narrative.
I studied dramaturgy or script development as an undergrad and my master's is in oral traditional storytelling.
Stopping the action without very deliberate reason stops the story. In turn, costuming, architecture, emotes, etc. can enhance a story and can BE the story in very dramatic ways.
As a theatrical director or a performance storyteller, my focus is not on exposition. Cutscenes, unless well timed, are exposition. Text is exposition.
The movie that just won Best Picture is a silent film.
When telling a fairy tale to kids, my focus is on what happens and how I convey what happens. There are places where exposition is needed to bridge bits of action. There are places where it is necessary to address something in a story, like, say, a fairy tale that has gender inequality in it that needs a break in the action to address or to cover how someone gets from point A to point B when travel would seem implausible.
So I think action vs. story is a false divide. Story, to heavily paraphrase theplaywright David Mamet, is about a series of challenges that your hero doesn't fully succeed at until they build up to a point where your hero either ultimately succeeds or ultimately fails.
In some respects, I think treating story and action as different things ends up hindering a lot of game designers. Because they start pitting the two against eachother or weighing out one versus another. Story is action that has flow and meaning. Stopping the action needs to be limited to things that provide flow or meaning.. And you have to do it if the action would otherwise lack flow or meaning.
But the end goal is action that has flow and meaning if your focus is on story, not breaking action arbitrarily.
I think people overestimate how many of the episodes from the various series actually involved exploration.
TOS 1st Season: Not even a third of the 29 episodes.
TNG 1st Season: Not even four of 26 episodes.
Obviously VOY's going to have more. DS9's not.
I'm not sure I watched more than a few ENT.
DS9 was the one of five series that I think did not live up to the exploration theme. The other four though made it their theme and priority. That's what each ship was doing out there in space in the first place.
So I guess, specifically, they seem very concerned with the action they supply us. And somewhat, in a longterm sense, intrigued by the idea of action having bigger consequences through things like territory control.
But a lot less interested with supplying the action MEANING.
And I think good Foundry missions instinctively grasp that without necessarily being text heavy or while still making text optional.
And good text or good cutscenes give action meaning. Bad cutscenes or text are people talking without contributing meaning or, at least, humor.
And Trek, more than most IPs, is about action having meaning. Not just in terms of consequences or outcomes but in terms of giving you the feeling that every punch or gunshot has a meaning, even if it doesn't change the galaxy. People have motivations beyond just having orders.
Think about this: a standard trope in MMOs is that you're getting a cure for a sick child or defending a weak person. And that's super-common in Trek, along with weight put on whether you should help the weaker person because of the Prime Directive. (But MOST of the time, the Captain decides to help the weaker person. The Prime Directive is just an extra obstacle to provide tension.)
How often, in STO, are you hitting or shooting someone because they're picking on somebody weaker than they are?
I can only think of a couple of examples.
Trek is about force applied with reason in many respects.
In general, in STO, the only reason we're given is because the other guy is shooting at us or doing something fairly esoteric. So it winds up being about duty to Starfleet or the KDF. When most characters in the IP weren't driven by duty; again, duty was something they had to weigh against what they wanted to do, not what they wanted to do.
By making duty the rationale for a lot of the gameplay, that tension is eliminated.