Archive for March 2nd, 2010

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Dark Places on the Internet

March 2, 2010

You might have heard by now about the promotion at Atari.com this weekend that has caused quite a stir in the Star Trek Online community. Unfortunately, that promotion isn’t available anymore, due to the controversy first sparked by some current subscribers on the game forums who felt that this sweet offer to entice new players was a betrayal by the game company. If you want to read more about the whole thing, you can take a look here. Personally, I’m not that fazed by the issue, even after my visit to the STO forums to see what the fuss was about. To be honest, I’m more disturbed by the state of things over there. I mean, seriously, what the hell happened? I can’t believe these are the same message boards I visited three months ago when I saw its members avidly supporting STO as the most anticipated game of 2010 for the Voodoo Extreme awards.

I don’t want to single out the STO community though, because I have to say I hold a distaste for the unfavorable aspects of all game forums. It’s like you can’t navigate them these days without tripping into a cesspit of negativity. Sometimes, it’s so bad that reading game forums actually gets me depressed. No, I don’t think all MMO forum communities are like this, but you have to admit, a lot of them are. There always seems to be a certain level of discontent, but not all of it is bad sometimes; once in a while, you’ll see a legitimate complaint here or a bit of constructive criticism there, and I think mostly we just accept the fact it’s the internet and you can’t please everyone all of the time.

But what happens when the bitterness reaches a fever pitch? That antagonism seems to spread, and you start to see the rage posts and general trolling that serve nothing but spread anger and hate towards the game and the companies involved. Sooner or later, you reach a point where it starts to seem like the entire universe hates the game and are ready to burn their developers at the stake, while the reality is that the majority of subscribers are probably satisfied customers, too busy playing the game to care about the forums or the haters on them. The forums might not represent the actual player-base, but it’s not hard to see how naysayers can drive people away when the ranting gets too aggressive, whether it’s simply from gamers being turned off by bad vibes to the extreme case of the recent STO sale fiasco that resulted in the lost opportunity to attract new players. With regards to that particular issue, I can empathize with both sides. Perhaps Atari did offer the promotion a little too soon, but I also can’t help but think that some of the head-shaking at the STO community has been very much deserved. And it’s not just STO. In general, it gets a little difficult for outsiders to treat a real problem seriously when the levels of nerdraging about anything and everything start to reach stratospheric proportions, no matter how justified a complaint is.

Why is it that so many MMO forum communities degenerate into such a sorry state? It’s clear that this generation of gamers has become more demanding over time, which isn’t necessary a bad thing when it drives game companies to bring us bigger and better games. But when higher expectations lead to a demand for instant gratification and an unreasonable sense of entitlement, it’s inevitable that things will get ugly. Regardless of what’s happening, the lesson here is: if you want to enjoy an MMO, stay far, far away from its forums.

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Top 3 Favorite STO Moments

March 2, 2010

Well, it’s been a month since the release of Star Trek Online, and now is when a lot of players are going to be taking a step back to decide where they’re going to go with this game. Maybe you’ll stay on because there’s still plenty of things to check off on your in-game to-do list, or perhaps the month has given you enough time to decide that STO just isn’t for you. There’s a lot of negativity surrounding the game as of late (which really isn’t anything new if you’ve been following STO at all) but I’ve personally decided to maintain a positive outlook. One month is a milestone after all, and I wanted to reflect upon the experiences I’ve had in the game in the last 30+ days and share my top 3 favorite moments here.

3. Finding out about Tribbles

According to Wikipedia, even the most clueless of Star Trek fans know about Tribbles, but not me apparently. The first time I picked one up, I thought it was some kind of in-game food item. I mean, it looked just like a scoop of chocolate ice-cream to me, okay!? So I gave it to one of my bridge officers without a second thought. I was on one of my ground missions when I first heard it — the call of the Tribble. Of course, I didn’t know what it was at the time. Since I just happened to be on a jungle planet I thought to myself, “Oh cool, this place has monkeys!” But when I heard the call again on another ground mission, this time in the belly of a Klingon starship, I knew right then that the sound couldn’t have come from any species of space primate. The next time I heard that distinct purring sound, I immediately panned around to see if I could catch the source of it. Imagine my surprise when I saw my BO pull out a puffy fur ball and pet it!

2. Promotion ceremony in the Stateroom

Every time you reach a new rank in STO, you’re given an assignment to talk to an NPC for a new ship. The first time I got promoted, I also noticed a quest labeled “Optional” in my log to go visit the Stateroom to attend my promotion ceremony. Not one to miss out on any game content, I did what the quest called for and made my way to the Stateroom…and was met with all the NPCs turning to salute and congratulate me! That was just way too cool. Commander Menn Hilo, the officer at the front of the room behind the podium, will also tell you how awesome you are when you talk to him to complete the quest. I gotta say, nice touch, Cryptic!

1. “Breaking the Planet”

The Away Mission part of this quest was hands down the most fun I’ve ever had in STO and I would love to see more content like this. Ironically, this Fleet Action mission was broken at the time of launch but was fixed soon after that. Like many others, I went to do the quest as soon as I heard that the bugs had been ironed out, and together we all poured into the Laurentian System and beamed down to the planet surface. Dozens of us including myself cooperated to complete our orders, amassing ourselves into a single, unstoppable fighting force to raze our way across the map, destroying all enemies that got in our way. At one point, two groups of players converged for a battle against the Klingons and I could see at least 40 other people around me engaged in combat, which was a real sight to behold. It’s enough to make even the most jaded of STO players say, “I gotta admit, that was pretty cool.”