Last time I wrote, I touched on a subtle game mechanic in Star Trek Online which is the antithesis of everything the entire franchise was built upon. To sum it up, a significant part of Star Trek is about the responsibilities of command and how relationships are affected by those responsibilities. So imagine playing a game partly based on command and wielding absolutely no command authority what so ever: it’d be like being the boss of no one but yourself, or being in that army of one all alone.
In Star Trek Online, from the very beginning at the tender rank of lieutenant, players start out as the acting captain responsible for the safety of ship and crew. Initially you start out with four or five bridge officers, dishing out their experience points and determining at which point they should be promoted, generally based on the bridge slot the officer holds. Around the rank of commander you receive duty officers you use to either bolster your ship stats, work on research or accomplish tasks which level you (or your ship?) up on various categories such as trade, diplomacy and military, amongst others.
Throughout the game, however, you actually interact only with your bridge crew as you progress on missions. Everyone else are names and stats on a roster. If being the captain implies that you’re actually in charge of something other than yourself, here is where the game fails us infinitely as the gameplay actually has us piloting, steering, driving your ship across sectors and through planetary systems. Its important to differentiate the difference between command and control as everything we’ve been shown about Star Trek is centered on the captain’s chair. Furthermore, there are past games which exectued the command concept of Star Trek extremely well (25th Anniversary, Bridge Commander, Echoes of the Past.) So why didn’t we go this route in STO?
I’m sure at some point the game designers had to gage just how best to implement game play and decided everyone wanted to command a ship, I’m just here to tell you that what we do with our ships in STO is piloting, not commanding and to me, that now what Star Trek is about. We all might as well be doing this.