I’m a Betazoid Scientist!

Too bad I haven’t figured out how to use my science skills yet…

I tried my hand at the Star Trek MMO Saturday night as I was avoiding standing up, sitting down, or walking up and down the stairs in our house. I generally stay away from MMOs: I don’t like internet video game people, I’m prone to throwing myself into video games for hours, and MMOs seem to be geared towards grinding. Greg’s explanation–and this makes sense–is that it’s a server resource necessity to try to lock people up in personal instances of the game (dungeons, etc.) instead of in the shared world. (Edit: Two different issues, per Greg’s comment.)

I went into Star Trek cold, having read a few reviews but no guides to character building or game play. This may be the cause of some of my problems with the game.

I didn’t get a major grind feel from Star Trek in the couple of hours I played, but I also didn’t get a feel that the gameplay was much more advanced than A Final Unity: fly around in awkward battles; receive awkward, under-clued missions; run around awkwardly on planets.

That said, I still want to give the demo a couple more hours of play to see if there’s anything more. Wandering around in the Earth starbase, I watched as people chatted about how much the game sucks and they’re about to cancel their accounts, the game’s going to fail after another 8 months, etc. Do people do that in WoW?

Aside from the starbase chatter, I felt like I was completely alone in the game. All my officers are NPCs (don’t know if that’s normal), and no one’s randomly attacked me while I was shooting down Borg. I’m okay with that.

So far, though, all I’ve done is fight. It’s a rare thing for me to want puzzles in a game, but I made a science officer, dammit.

I’m not sure what a lot of things in the game are for, like Kits. They give me stuff that I don’t get to use. Why do I have a science office slot on my bridge… when I’m a floppy-armed, prancing science officer myself? Do I really need to pick these bridge people carefully?

So far there’s nothing to investigate, and the few anomalies I find that I can scan have an absolutely ridiculous game mechanic. You have about 5 seconds to match the waveforms of the item to unlock some info, and it’s a dumb mouse interface that requires clicking up-down-left-right buttons to change the amplitude and period of the wave form. By the time I get my mouse on the controls and process what I need to do, the damn thing is gone and I apparently need to find a major research facility to figure out what some be-boop (rock, mineral, whatever) is.

Using up skill points is confusing, too. It’s unclear if there are “levels” to each skill or what exactly the numerical bonuses are adding to. I don’t see a clear strategy to point distribution, because I don’t foresee an end goal: I don’t know what my character could possibly become, so I can’t plan for any eventuality.

It’ll get about two more hours of my attention, if the demo doesn’t cap me before that.


  • Gregory Weir

    Instanced “dungeons” occur due to limited server resources; grinding happens because most games really only have X hours of content, and want to keep players occupied for Y months, so they stretch the playtime to 2X or 4X by requiring grinding in each area of play before moving on to the next.