I’m a big Star Trek fan, so it’s no surprise that when Star Trek Online first debuted, I let a friend of mine convince me into getting a lifetime subscription. I’d always been a little wary of MMOs, but had never really played one extensively before. Since at the time I was pursuing a game design degree, I figured it’d be good experience. “What the hell,” I thought, and put down the money for a lifetime subscription. Pricey, I know, but I figured “going big!” would be a good way to go.
Star Trek Online was awesome – at first. Getting to command my own starship, and leading a brave, intrepid crew of Starfleet Officers on danger-filled away missions was exciting, but unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last. I burned through most of STO‘s content in a month; I didn’t really see the point in PvP and, with such limited content available for the only other playable faction at the time (the honorable Klingon Empire), I didn’t quite feel like continuing on with boldly going to where no one has gone before. Let’s be frank, Star Trek Online did not have the greatest of launches.
But, since going free to play, much has changed about Star Trek Online, and much of it for the better. Many of the missions I found boring, repetitive or just plain silly have been replaced or overhauled, and now have rewards and challenges that match my character’s level and skill set. Much of the in-game economy has been fixed into a more sensible system. I’m really starting to enjoy my time with the game, so far as much that I think I’m beginning to develop a problem.
Whereas before I used to just fly around, and blowing stuff up, I’m now keeping track of how long I have until I can play through my set of daily missions again. I’m catching myself writing down on post-it notes and doing the math on how much certain gear costs. I’m keeping track of how long it’ll take for my duty officers to complete their rounds. I’m starting to care how much DPS my battle cruiser can put out, what type of shields work best and whether the consoles I have in my engineering slots are the most efficient at resisting damage. And I’m even going so far as to schedule my play time around in-game events that grant bonus resources or offer discounts on crafting.
When it comes to MMOs, I still have limited experience – The Secret World and The Old Republic being the only other two major MMOs that I’ve sunk time into since quitting my trips around the universe. But whereas TOR had a stronger start at launch, and The Secret World had a unique world, Star Trek Online is the first MMO that I’ve really felt drawn back into after calling it quits. Is this what MMO addiction is like? The sense that you just can’t put a game down, especially when it keeps offering new opportunities for endgame content and chances to upgrade your gear? To experience new storylines, and new challenges? If so, then I might be in trouble – it’s starting to look like I’ll keep on boldly going into a universe I just can’t stay away from.