Posts Tagged ‘Franchise’

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Contemplating Star Trek Online

September 2, 2010

Oh dammit, screenshot should actually look like she's pondering, not picking her nose.

Something tells me I should have listened to my instincts and written this post sooner, but it really didn’t hit me until a couple days ago when I looked at my blog categories on the sidebar and realized I have devoted more posts to Star Trek Online than any other game (*gasp!* Am I a STO blog?*)

Obviously, there has to be something about STO that distinguishes it from other games for me, especially when I acknowledge the fact I’ve spent considerably less time playing it than some of my other MMOs. And while I’m aware it flaunts itself as a casual game and is perfect for scratching the occasional itch I have for the impromptu space battle, quite honestly I don’t even think it’s a particularly exceptional game. Nevertheless, I have a good time whenever I’m logged in, but really, it’s a work-in-progress and the content between updates has always been too limited for my tastes, which explains my month-long hiatus from the game before Season Two’s release.

But STO is still special to me and I know why. It all started at a time when I was looking for good sci-fi MMO, EVE Online having not panned out and Star Wars: The Old Republic having been slated for a 2011 spring release, my eyes reluctantly turned to STO even though I knew practically nothing about it and had no idea what to expect. And I think I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw when I tested in open beta. And my husband is a big fan of Star Trek, so I knew this could be a game that both of us could play.

And as time went on, I discovered that STO is definitely a game where I have as much fun with it offline as I do online.

When I started blogging about STO, and met other bloggers who do, that was when the game really took off. The Combat Archaeologist/Adventure Historian, who also happens to be one of the first STO players I’ve met through this blog, wrote an article recently that pretty much says everything I want to say. The fact that everyone can play on the live shard, our little network became a fleet, and ultimately it’s the people I’ve come to know that keeps me playing and that keeps me coming back.

STO’s capacity for role play opportunities exposed me to my fleetmates’ creativity in the form of their stories. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re dramatic, but most importantly they have inspired me to share my own writings on STO. While something makes me tackle games like Lord of the Rings Online or Age of Conan with a relatively more serious attitude, for some reason writing about STO comes more freely to me, and I have no qualms about being silly with my character, or sharing my random STO escapades.

I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s an effect of the game’s casual nature, or it’s something inherent in the Star Trek franchise in general. Whatever the case, it’s great being able to write for and read posts from others who understand the little pleasures of this game.

Finally — and this is what’s really amazing to me — Star Trek is a franchise that has spanned more than four decades, spawned a multitude of  TV series, movies, books, comics, games…but it wasn’t until I started playing STO that I started paying attention to it. Before that, I knew virtually nothing about the Trek universe and I mean practically zilch. I was like, durrr, what’s a Tribble? The Holodeck, huh, what? I think the only exposure I had to the IP at that point was the 2009 JJ Abrams movie and a handful of The Next Generation scenes I’ve caught on TV when I was channel surfing but have never paid attention to.

Yeah, sad.

Assuming that most people gravitate to a game based on an IP because of an existing interest in said IP, and considering what a big Star Trek noob I was, I’m amazed STO even stuck with me at all. But stuck it did, and for me it was like a gateway to everything else Trek. I was aware of Star Trek growing up, of course, but never thought it was something I could get into. I was wrong about that, it seems. In the last six months I’ve devoured the shows, the movies, and even a couple books. I discovered that, hey, I actually like Star Trek! Who’d a thunk it? And I’ve missed out on it all these years.

So I guess I’ve got STO to thank for that. Also because now I actually friggin’ get all the pop culture references.

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When Nerd Rage Is Illogical

May 8, 2010

Well, I suppose one can argue that “nerd rage”, or the emotional, indignant and often incoherent objections brought on by video game-induced frustration, will always be illogical simply by definition alone. Still, every now and then I’ll come across a grievance on a message board or some other public forum and find myself sympathizing with its author, even if I haven’t personally experienced his or her predicament. Some complaints, however, I will never truly understand. For example, I admit it does baffle me a little whenever I see a long angry diatribe railing against how some trivial combat mechanic or another isn’t matching up with what’s established in an existing IP.

Emphasis on angry.

I do want to say that I’m pretty deep into several IP-based games at the moment, and I respect lore and canon as much as the next gamer. I’m a lore-geek at heart, and I’d be pretty pissed too if a game I’m playing suddenly starts taking flippant liberties with a beloved franchise. But there are differences between sweeping changes versus the small ones that don’t really matter in the greater scheme of things. For instance, I think saying something like, “Star Trek Online is too combat-heavy for the IP and should be balanced with a better variety of diplomatic missions” is a much more legitimate demand than, say, “What the hell, Cryptic, why aren’t my insides immediately melted away by alien cells when I fight the Undine? Bad, dev, bad!” Seriously, even if they could feasibly work it in, why would you want that? I saw what happened to Harry Kim, and it was not pretty!

Likewise, I get that the lightsaber can cut through most substances and that arms and hands have the tendency to go popping off left and right in the Star Wars movies (pun totally intended), but I just don’t understand the fixation some people seem to have with dismemberment! I for one would be pretty upset if my limbs were to go flying off each time I duel a Jedi in Star Wars: The Old Republic, not to mention something like that would probably warrant a Mature-rating. And I could care less how many arms a mature Gundark should really have, just let me kill it.

Ahh, best not to sweat the tiny things, and just enjoy the fact our favorite movie/book/tv show etc. even has a game based on it. Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Hello Kitty or whatever, I think most do a pretty good job! Hey, if it’s part of an expanded universe, chances are that whatever’s chafing you will eventually be ret-conned out and explained somehow anyway. “Cacophinzer rounds“, anyone? Hee hee.

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I Will Not Be Seduced By The Dark Side, Bioware

March 22, 2010

I was browsing Massively.com earlier today and saw that they had linked to an article on Ars Technica titled “Genocide and Jedi: Why the Sith May be Right in Old Republic.” In it, the lead writer of Star Wars: The Old Republic basically talks about how the Sith could actually be seen as the “good guys,” and that it’s all just a matter of perspective.

I call BS. I mean, I generally eat up anything Bioware’s writers come up with, but I’m naturally a bit iffy on this one. Isn’t this just the same old rehashed argument we go through every single time a new MMO comes out to justify playing ball for the bad guys? You can pitch the “matter of perspective” argument all you want, but it’s going to be a little tough to do with an IP like Star Wars. Even when you consider the ambiguous nature of the force and the meaning of being light-side-aligned versus being dark-side-aligned versus being gray, those are arguments made on the individual level, whereas I’m talking the overall nature and distinction between the two factions. After decades of being exposed to the movies, books, comics, cartoons and other related media, the world has accepted the status quo of “Jedi = good, Sith = bad”; it’s pretty much been firmly established.

Perhaps this is related to the string of “Sith-centric” updates we’ve been getting about SWTOR? Are the devs trying to make the Sith more appealing to players so the numbers on both sides will be more balanced come launch time? Granted, what Star Wars fan has never had Jedi fantasies about saving the galaxy as one of the good guys? On the other hand, I’m sure there are a ton of us out there who are enamored with the Boba Fett or Darth Maul types too! I for one am still planning on rolling a Bounty Hunter as my main…so, er, I guess you can just ignore the post title and think of it more as a matter of principle.

“From my point of view, it is the Jedi who are evil!”

“Well, then you really are lost!”

— Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Yeah, you tell him, Obi-Wan. One of the more cringe-worthy lines of the new movies and it’s a pretty lame excuse too, even for the likes of whiny-ass Anakin.

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Bridge Officer Spotlight: We Could All Use A Spock

March 10, 2010

Note: Cryptic uses the term “bridge officer crafting” in this interview about Star Trek Online, which I feel is accurate and appropriate. While it’s meant to describe the process of skilling up, as usual, my inner roleplayer takes it one step further. God knows conventional crafting is virtually non-existent in this game, so I have to take pride in my creations wherever I can.

I know I don’t have to be a fan of Star Trek or know much about it to enjoy Star Trek Online, but I’ve been making the effort to learn more about the IP ever since I started playing the game. Everybody is also constantly telling me that it’s so much better when you understand the context, and I’m inclined to agree. The missions Doomsday Machine and Guardian of Forever seem so much cooler now, for one thing. I also wish I’d had more background information when I first wrote my crew bios, for another. Anyway, there are several decades of TV shows and movies for me to go through, so naturally I started at the beginning. I’ve been on a Star Trek: The Original Series marathon since Sunday, and watched a few more episodes today. Then I re-watched the new ST movie. And then more TOS.

My Trekkie husband was pleased. “Star Trek really grows on you, doesn’t it?” he asked. Eh, well, sort of. The truth is, it’s Mr. Spock that has really grown on me. To hell with Captain Kirk, I’ve always had a soft spot for the geeky types.

I know every once in a while I have these moments where I get all gushy about something girly, and well, I’m sorry to have to say that now is one of those times. I admit it, I’m hot for Spock. He’s highly intelligent, adventurous and bold, has a good heart and a no-nonsense approach to getting the job done, and carries himself with a quiet, introspective dignity that just makes you want to jump on him, run your fingers through that shiny hair, and just ravish him up good. That’s seriously one sexy Vulcan. And no question about it, I want a Spock of my own aboard my starship…and then I realized, I sort of already have one.

Sleer is my Spock. He has reminded me of Spock even before I started watching the shows, and I suspect this is just another reason why I’m so attached to this Vulcan science officer. The others I could switch out at the drop of a hat if I had to, but not Sleer, not ever. Silly, I know, but he was my first ever bridge officer to join my crew and has been there since day one, and for that reason he holds a special place in my heart and I can’t bear the thought of ever removing him from my team. He’s not just a bunch of ground and space skills to me.

Like Spock, Sleer is the loyal officer who will always be by the captain’s side, constantly watching over T’Androma on every away mission. A Vulcan herself, T’Androma values efficiency above everything else and believes that sometimes violence is the most direct and hence logical approach. Sleer’s logical side, on the other hand, is of a “softer” nature. With it, he provides his captain with the balance required to maintain diplomacy, especially on those sensitive missions that could really do without something getting blown up. He’s her most adored companion, her first officer, her healer, her rock.

Also, Sleer got himself a little makeover yesterday. Because if there’s one thing sexier than Spock, it’s a Mirror, Mirror Spock.

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Greatest Fight Music Ever?

March 5, 2010

You know, one thing that doesn’t get talked about much is the music of Star Trek Online. Granted, much of what you hear is from the movies and the shows, but it’s a big deal to a Star Trek fan like my husband who was once again raving to me about how much he was enjoying the game’s epic soundtrack. He started telling me about how the best music in STO is always from the original series and proceeded to hum this tune: “DUN dun DUN dun, DUN dun DUN dun…duh-de-dah! Duh-dah-de-dah!”

I was like: “What the hell is that?”

He goes: “You know, the music from one of the best fight scenes in the history of Star Trek.”

Me: “Never heard it in my life, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard that in game.”

Him: “Um, I’m pretty sure it’s there.”

What followed was another short lesson on Star Trek. In this one, my husband directed my attention to the following video. His summary of the scene: “Spock is in a rut, needs to return to Vulcan like a salmon going up river to mate with his betrothed, but she’s a bitch and wanted to be with this other guy. Kirk tags along to show support for his friend but somehow ends up getting tricked into fighting with him to the death.”

Two things I gathered from this video: 1) I can’t watch any fight scene from the 60’s without laughing my ass off, and 2) despite that, I have to admit the music is truly as epic as my husband claimed it to be.

Anyway, I don’t know who’s right here. The tune is so awesome and distinctive that I’d like to think it’s something I would remember from the hours of playtime I’ve racked up on STO, but it doesn’t ring a bell. My husband insists that it’s there, but he’s a Trekkie and I wouldn’t put it past him not to mistaken what he hears in the game with whatever theme music he’s humming in his head as he’s playing. I still don’t think it is, though it really, really, really should.

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Exploding Starships Make Me Laugh

February 22, 2010

It’s no secret that I’m a Star Trek noob, so my research into the IP continues.

Last week, the executive producer of Star Trek Online said in an interview that they are considering adding a death penalty to the game. While implementing something like this after the game has launched isn’t going to be a popular decision with everybody, I’m inclined to agree that there has to be more of a deterrent against getting your starship blown up than a mere respawn delay. But then, what sort of death penalty would be appropriate? Somehow, the issue came up between me and my Trekkie husband today.

Thinking that maybe they could carry out a system like they used in the shows or movies, I asked: “Hey, sweetie? What happened to the U.S.S. Enterprise whenever it blew up?”

Him: “Well, it depends. For example, Captain Kirk never blew up the Enterprise, at least not in the original series. Every time it took a beating, they would just fix it up again. Picard, on the other hand…”

Well, that conversation got me no where in terms contemplating a fitting death penalty for STO, but it did pique my curiosity and lead me to conduct many online searches into statistics regarding the destruction of the Starship Enterprise. Inappropriate as it may sound, I find the idea of the Enterprise being destroyed absolutely hilarious, and I don’t know why. The Enterprise-D apparently appears to have been the most abused of them all, with at least 11 on-screen demises under its belt. It made me feel a bit better about my own track record, because at least I’ve never blown up my ship 4 times in a single episode!

No real death penalty means I deliberately exploded for this screenshot.