Space: The Crowded Frontier

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The idea of space is vast and expansive, like the ocean: You plunk in and there’s blue as far as the eye can see. For those of you who play Star Trek Online, you ever notice there are a ton of ships for flying around? In STO, the vastness of outer space is lost to me as ships pass to and fro around mine with everyone from lieutenant to admiral at the helm. Both concepts are as alien to me as a lieutenant commanding a starship (no pun intended.) Why?

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Let’s talk about space in game. There are basically two types of space: sector space, where we use warp speed to go from system to system and planetary (solar system) space, where your only option is impulse. In either case, both types of space feel oddly 2D, which could be because the quadrant map of the known Star Trek universe has always been represented as a two dimensional map. Regardless, the enormity of outer space feels boxed in when the player is given a set amount of leeway to fly up and down. Moving from sector to sector has the same feel with the added caveat of sector loading when you cross from one to the other.

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Again, I find myself looking to other games at how this could have been done better and can’t help thinking about World of Warcraft. Anyone who’s played WoW and has trained in flying knows you can go farther and higher along the axis on a flying mount than you can on a ship in STO. If you’ve played WoW, you also know that moving from region to region is overall pretty seemless at best, at worst involves the changing of ambient light as you approach the new zone. The concept of a game taking place on several continents feeling bigger than one spanning the universe BLOWS MY MIND.

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Someone out there is bitching because WoW is huge and rakes in millions of dollars in subscriptions and content for purchase while STO is free to play. I say they poppycock. WoW just did their game better for the very reasons I mentioned above, which is why it’s so huge today. Someone else out there is telling me to go play WoW then, to which I nicely reply, no, that’s not the point. Sure, I’ve played Warcraft and Starcraft, Diablo and WoW and I enjoyed each one in their own way, but it’s not the point.

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I grew up watching Star Trek. TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager. Because i grew up watching, I naturally grew up playing Star Trek games. 25th Anniversary,  Echoes of the Past, Bridge Commander,  Starfleet Academy, Starfleet Command, Elite Force. I ate it up and still play STO now because it’s virtually the only thing left out there and unlike the newer Star Trek movies, the game is not living up to the legend of the franchise.

I know I’m not the only one who believes it can be done better. I know it can be done better. I’m not going to shut it until it is. Hell, I might keep ranting even if it is, because there is always room for improvement.y nerd flag is flying high now. Let me know what you think.

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Space: The Crowded Frontier

2 thoughts on “Space: The Crowded Frontier

  1. I never played STO – come to think of it, I tried some of the Star Trek novels and was never that excited by them, either (of course, there are lots – maybe I picked up the wrong one.) You wouldn’t need much bandwidth for a game that embraced space realistically – there’s a lot of nothing out there. Think of the scientists patiently waiting since 2006 for New Horizons to arrive at Pluto.

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  2. Thank you for liking my blog post about first person shooters. I really enjoyed reading this post about Star Trek Online. I’m a very big fan of Star Trek, and I know that if I start playing this game, I will get hooked. Thank you again. Good gaming.

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