As I approached my half century of being, I eagerly slipped into a free to play game that nuzzled at my attention like a needy pet. The game was Star Trek Online. It was a game I’d visited early on in its development cycle on the PC. And now it had contorted itself Houdini style to fit snugly into a console. Along the way it had gone from a subscription based model to a free to play festival of extravaganza. It’s middle-man currency known only as ‘zen’.
I enjoy spaceships, always have done, always will. Since my early days of marionette mirth with the FAB 5 of Thunderbirds, the steely 5 o’clock shadow of Captain Scarlett, the Angel Interceptors and the Mysterons, I’d been hankering after science fiction space action.
Early 1970’s fun was to be had roleplaying Star Trek in the school playground, with me, the bespectacled one, always landing the role of the Doctor “Bones” McCoy. Never Kirk! The Enterprise was a white paint blueprint of a badminton court, with its respective compartments for us all to inhabit. The saucer pointing towards the school, the docking bay and engines pointing out into the road. Late 1970’s brought with it a heavy obsession with the Star Wars Universe. It cannot be stressed just how much that one film impacted my life towards space aged escapism.
Now having ventured into space many times, during the RPG years of Traveller and during the formative years of video-gaming, leading up to modern day epics. It seems once more fortuitous for me to step back onto the bridge of my very own Enterprise.
As I began my “Trek”, little did I know, that my 50th birthday coincided with Star Trek’s 50th celebrations. How apt.
As I ramped up the enthusiasm for the online multiplayer game, it swelled to incorporate the lore of the Star Trek Universe. I soaked it all up, like an absorbant Horta and pursued it with much rigour, basking in a future vision of Space exploration and adventure.
Boldly going, so to speak.
I found strange comfort in Star Trek the Original Series (originally known only as Star Trek, I know, I know…). My childhood excitement for the show, the heroes and the action, suddenly had discerning adult eyes of appreciation. Bowled over by how much the trinity of Kirk, Spock and Bones seemed to elevate the show beyond it’s tawdry budget and the late 1960’s TV setting. I found my humanism keenly served by Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. The positivity and comforting nature of the “predictions”, coupled with the bravery, heroics, and staunch use of science and reason really hit a note with me. As an old man.
The 50 year celebrations were a look back, to asses just how far the show and myself had explored the unfolding frontiers! But more than that, it was to marvel at how comfortingly familiar it was to me personally. This IS who I am. Engage!
Back to the game, Star Trek Online, is your usual free to play MMO pursuit, lots of gathering, collecting and tweaking complexity wrapped around visual action and a nod to the entire Star Trek franchise. The game gives you an enormous amount on content for free! I have to applaud that. But they are trying to make a living, and so later as you become more and more invested in the title, the later tiered ships, encourage you to spend your expensive-to-acquire Buddhism-free zen.
Since I’ve ploughed many many hours into the game, and my obsessive interest has inflated to take in the entire Star Trek Universe, I see it all as totally worth it.
The game has some exquisite space combat, huge vessels “of the sea” firing phaser beams and photo torpedo volleys at each other.
U.S.S. Moon (Carrier Escort)
U.S.S. Loyalty (Battlecruiser)
Rumble with the Romulans
The game also boasts a ground combat mechanic, with bridge officers in your away team and phasers blasting in ship or installation corridors, or on the surface of alien planets.
Pirate Arena on Nimbus III
Taking on a V-Rex in the Dyson Sphere
Sabotage on Kobali Prime
So I hit my mid-century, bathed in the light of a transporter beam whisking me back to a time when my excitement and novelty knew no bounds. I was clothed in a Star Trek t-shirt, watching the “Trouble with Tribbles”, whilst sipping Saurian Brandy, and raising the glass to the entire space faring franchise.
Happy 50th Star Trek!
Live long and prosper.