Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Game Idea: Star Trek

Watching reruns of DS9, it has occurred to me that it is time for a new Star Trek game.  Of course, I say this having not played most of the star trek games released.  So I guess what I really mean is:  It’s time for me to play a star trek game.  Or, more specifically, it’s time for me to play the star trek game I’m imagining.  Does it exist, I wonder?

What I’m imagining is basically a Maniac Mansion style adventure game.  I have some vague memories that a Star Trek game has done this in the past.  The idea being to solve puzzles using a crew or away team and a set of equipment and specializations.  Tricorders, med packs, phasers, engineering skills.   All that good stuff. 

I think the potential for level and puzzle design might be very high when you consider all the different possible things a Tricorder might detect.   Invisible Gasses, energy waves, life signs.  It’s the basic structure of any Star Trek episode.  The captain says ‘give me a reading’  and someone says ‘I’m detecting high levels of _____ radiation.  That could be causing the ______ to ______”  now ship it off to Michael Okuda to fill in the blanks.

I suppose what I’m interested in is capturing and augmenting the experience of watching the show.  I don’t necessarily want to dream up a fully functioning, open-world star trek universe (though that is obviously a cool thing to exist).  My thought is of rich scenarios,  clever puzzles, interesting characters and engrossing drama.  I’m imagining something akin to Mass Effect, but with less fighting and more puzzles.  

One game design question would be how you control your party.  Is it five independent people, all controlled by the player, or does the player just control the commanding officer, and issue orders to the others?   The second option seems the simplest.  Your commands can include ‘scanning’ or ‘advisement’ or ‘batten down the hatches.’  Well, some star trek equivalent anyway. 

Also, it seems obvious that getting actors from actual star trek series to do voice overs is a good thing.  On the other hand, the Star Trek universe is rich, and with good writing, I know I would happily embrace a new cast and crew and a new setting.  I've done it four times already.  

I don’t think these ideas are original by any means.  But in the past, Star Trek, like any licensed product, has had a series of rather mediocre games.  I’m just hoping there is a higher production value game that shows a true understanding of the beloved show and universe.  Of course, by now it’s likely that any new game would be set in the re-imagined Original Series universe, which is full of non-stop action.  Yawn.  I left my heart with TNG.  


P.S.  http://www.pixeltrek.com/  for a digital tour of the Enterprise D

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I too don't have a lot of experience with Star Trek games. I did have the TNG Gameboy game, which played like a lot of Star Trek themed mini games: synchronize standard orbit (fly through rings), transferring power to shields/phasers/something else (spark-type Bioshock-type puzzle), transporting people (find a moving signal/thing on a large area you can't see the entirety of), fighting another ship (via the main viewer). It wasn't a great game and the difficulty took off in later stages (any time having to fight the Romulans). There wasn't anything to do with away teams (aside from transporting them), but it was a 1993 Gameboy game.

    There is the "Star Trek Online" game (which now looks like it's starring 7 of 9, whom I've never really liked as a Borg), but I've never played it, so I can't comment on how many of your ideas are found in that game. Maybe it's time to give a Star Trek game another go.