In January, 2012, Star Trek Online (STO) went Free to Play. Previously, it had been an exclusively purchase or subscription-based MMO. A friend of my wife convinced her to give it a shot and join him in some MMO fun. My wife and I had played City of Heroes for a few years, and had become really bored with its lack of content/development, focus on "grinding" for just about everything, and the drastically declining quality of the player base. Needless to say, my wife only joined because he was a friend who asked. You can guess what happened next: she lassoed me into joining her as well.
I had looked up the meta-critic rating for STO, so I was extremely skeptical of the game from jump street. After a few weeks of playing semi-regularly, I felt comfortable in the game, and had nearly progressed half way to the end-game level content that one reached when one's level caps at fifty. My wife and I were enjoying the game. Sure it had some flaws, the tutorial was just about the worst either of us had ever seen in a game, and the learning curve was pretty steep, but all in all it was a good game with a lot of content, a dedication to accuracy in its portrayal of the aesthetics of the canon that was surprising, and the game itself was a feast for the eyes. We were really surprised at the terrible meta-critic score as we felt that the game was easily in the "80's" range based on our experiences.
We did our research and joined a fleet--that's a "guild" to you players of other MMOs. Our research paid off, and we were playing with folks who had been in the game since its 2009 beta-testing. After weeks of playing with these veterans of STO, we learned a few things:
1. What we still didn't know grossly outweighed what we thought we knew
2. STO started off buggy as all hell and greatly lacking in breadth of content
Now we knew why the meta-critic rating was so godawful: the rating was applicable to the game at the time of its release. The game has come so far since then, so many bugs have been ironed out (don't worry, new ones surface with each major addition of content!), so much content has been created, and whole aspects of game mechanics have been tweaked and built upon to such a degree that, other than the name and genre of the game itself, the game is fundamentally not the same game rated by critics in 2010.
More to come in future posts...
Explorers Unlimited (EU) is my first corner of the web. Started in early 2005, EU has been home to many of my creative energies over the years. Play-by-post gaming (PBP) is a forum-based venue in which the collaborative storytelling of roleplaying games is done. The primary benefit of PBP is that those involved in the storytelling are not constrained by time or space in the same manner as a tabletop roleplaying game. In a tabletop game, the players have to physically meet at a specific location, at a specific time which requires travel (gas money!), and often creates scheduling conflicts. PBP uses the web to get around these factors. There is still the matter of maintaining an active game though, so those involved in a game are required to post their character's thoughts, actions, and dialog at least once a week.
EU has had its share of ups and downs, but throughout I've maintained my focus on encouraging quality gamers/writers to play, and kept standards high. EU has had nearly two hundred players at its volume peak, and presently has a membership of around forty players. If you can write fairly well, enjoy roleplaying games, and are reading this entry, then check out EU. If you can't seem to find time anymore as an adult to meet up with your pals to chuck some dice, eat some Doritos, and slay some bad guys, perhaps PBP gaming would be a good fit for your grown-up life.