Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Have This Idea ...

Hello All!

It's been awhile yes, but you should know me by now - I blog when the mood tackles me, chokes me and threatens me with personal implosion.

So - yeah. :)

Last week I was asked by an online acquaintance - @DantesSTO - to participate in a podcast for the relatively new website Starbase UGC. Starbase UGC is a hub for tutorials, chatting and reviews for "user generated content" for the MMORPG Star Trek Online or "STO."

For those of you who don't know what that means: if you've ever heard of a computer game called World of Warcraft (WoW) then you may glean an idea as to what an MMO is. An MMO is an online computer game that allows for real-time interaction with other players in the same computerized "universe" so-to-speak. STO is this type of game. You create a character (sometimes referred to as a "toon") and that character moves around and interacts with other players' characters.

Within the realm of STO your character is considered to be a Starfleet, or if you prefer -- Klingon, captain and you are assigned to a starship and complete "missions" that are received from your commanding officers generated by the game. You can undertake most of these missions alone or, you can team with other players in groups of up to 5 to play the missions together.

All in all, it's an incredibly social and very fun game to play.

Over the course of the past year since it was released, STO has undergone some major improvements with regards to the quality and quantity of missions one can play. For players like myself who are more "casual" (meaning I don't have the time to play non-stop for days on end,) I've never really had to worry about the so-called "lack of content" that more active players had complained about over the past 6 months.

However, one of the more recent improvements to come from the game developer, Cryptic Studios, has been what has been called "The Foundry."

When I read about this, I flipped out with excitement.

The Foundry is where players will be able to write, create and develop their very own missions for the game! This is what's called 'user generated content' and I truly believe it will ensconce STO as a game that needs to be played for years to come.

Starbase UCG's site is focused on helping players utilize The Foundry and its incredibly complex set of tools in order to make a mission that others will want to play.

All in all this is a fan-ficcer's dream really: the ability to tell a story within the universe of Star Trek and convert into a mission that others can share.

Of course - there is a possible downside to this: the very real probability that as with most fan-fiction, a majority of it will suck hairy donkey balls, but there is a rating system built in and players who appreciate quality story-telling and mission building will, on the average I believe, promote the better-made missions to flourish.

And here's where my BIG IDEA comes in and I'm hoping that the eyes and ears of Cryptic are willing to just hear me out on this.

One of the features that was made available to lifetime subscribers and now "veterans" of the game has been the ill-fated Captain's Table area.

Ill-fated you ask? Well, yes really. Within the game, the area is nothing more than another "starbase" for your character to change clothes, outfit their ships and get their mail. It's a pretty dead space because it already sits just a few kilometers away from Earth Spacedock which already provides the players everything they need without having to go to the "special" Captain's Table.

Trek fans who have read any good portion of Trek books published in the past few decades will be familiar with the roots of this concept. The Captain's Table is a place created for the official writers in order to provide them an avenue to tell short stories and other works from a myriad of different Trek character perspectives.

Essentially the Captain's Table is a bar set in another dimension and accessible only by starship captains from any time and from most anywhere. The bar is manned by "Cap" (of course) who tends the bar and serves the captains their favorite libations - for a cost of course.

And what is that cost?

A story.

In the books, patrons of the Captain's Table pay for their drinks by telling a tale.

This is utterly missing from the game.

And I propose that the Captain's Table be made into the place where the story-tellers can thrive.

Cryptic! I think you should open the Captain's Table when The Foundry is finally ready to come out of beta and be "the place" where all players can go to "hear the stories" of their counter-parts and undertake the missions that were created by them!

I think you should turn Cap into someone who will reward you with your favorite libation for creating and posting a mission in The Foundry and then be the man you can go to when you are looking for a new mission to undertake.

I dunno - it just made sense to me.

There is SO MUCH that could be done with the Captain's Table and The Foundry together!

Just my two credits... <3