As if this wasn’t a surprise, I think I’m done with New World. There comes a time in all games when the tutorial-ness of the situation wears off and all that stretches before me is the actual game. I really like learning and discovering, but in gaming, specifically MMOs, that interesting part is so short compared to the amount of time I’m expected to apply what I’ve learned…to what end? I’ll refer you to Belghast’s recent spate of posts regarding the grindy troubles that the game has surfaced now that it’s settling in to a steady rhythm, because I don’t bother to mine games the way Bel does, and he’s already painted a large portrait of what awaits New World players in for the long haul.
Of course, as Tipa points out, that “long haul” may also be over for a majority of New World players.
I guess no offense to New World; it’s a good game, or a great game considering it’s Amazon’s first foray into MMOs, but as Bel puts it, the pedigree shows. Some mechanics and design choices seem to have been made with a very specific outcome in mind, and never took into account how to provide flexibility on how the players should be allowed to get there. As intricately linked as PvP, territory control, crafting, and PvE are, that linkage is linear, and when one (or multiple) parts break down, the whole thing quickly breaks down.
On one hand, I don’t want to be a cliche gamer with the dark and angsty desk setup punctuated by bright, cycling lights of peripherals, and highlighted by multi-colored lighting accents behind my “Oh! Did my collection of geek bona fides happen to appear in my livestream camera shot? How careless of me!” arrangements. On the other hand, who the hell is going to see it aside from me, my family, and friends now that I’ve completely dismantled my ability to stream and make videos?
I ordered some of those LED strip lights. I don’t actually have anything to “put them behind”, so I had been contemplating running them around the top of the walls, specifically so I could dim them 25% and get some softer light in the office area. Right now I only have a four-bulb LED track light in the center of the room, and a light bar above my central monitor, but it’s either feast or famine between the two. Plus, with the holidays fast approaching, I thought it might be nice to set up interesting color patterns to get into that festive mood. Red and green. Maybe silver and gold?
Star Trek Prodigy
OK so now I will speak a bit about the latest addition to the Star Trek stable, the Paramount + Nickelodeon collaboration Star Trek Prodigy. Like Lower Decks, it’s animated, but unlike Lower Decks, it’s CG and is a lot less comical. In truth, it’s Star Trek’s answer to Star Wars Rebels animated series. This is both good and bad in my opinion, but know that while I am the target audience, I am also the least important part of the target audience. My opinion counts as maybe 5-15% of what the show-runners should care about.
If you’ve seen the promos, then you might know that this is a story about a group of — for lack of an official designation, because you know how aliens can be be — kids who find a Federation starship, start it up, and are expected to have “adventures” in space, running from evil, learning about themselves, and forming a life-long bond with one another. It’s not told from the point of view of Starfleet, and aside from the iconic Star Trek ship design aesthetic, the discovery of a lost comm-badge, and the brief but much-hyped appearance of a holographic Katherine Janeway, this could be mistaken for a very generic sci-fi setting. So far the Star Trek-ness is mostly implied, although the pilot episode raises a lot of questions that I’m sure the writers will answer, such as why is this NX-designated Federation ship in the Delta Quadrant (the go-to place for non-Trek Trek stories before Discovery shot over 900 years into the future), where did the ship’s crew vanish to, and exactly when is this story taking place?
Being aimed at kids, there’s a very low-trope-ceiling at play here. The main character, Dal, is the “wisecracking, street-wise unofficial leader” of the group who channels every single wisecracking, street-wise male character ever…it’s only a matter of time until he unleashes the “DreamWorks Face” on another character. Jankom Pog, a Tellerite who looks more like a high-fantasy goblin than a Tellerite, is the lead comic relief, followed by the incomprehensible Murf, a cute jelly creature of unknown species. I suspect these two to cause a lot of mischief and will most often be the gateway to “…and comedy ensues” situations. There’s Zero, who is [REDACTED, because it’s a Pretty Big Deal in Star Trek Canon]. They are the “has trouble understanding humanoid behaviors and emotions” character. Rok-Tahk is the “can’t judge a book by its cover” stand-in, a hulking rock-like creature who — wait for it — turns out to be not what you’d stereotypically expect of a hulking rock-like creature. And then there’s Gwyn, who starts the series as a hostage, but will no doubt throw in with this crew. She’s the Molly Ringwald-in-Breakfast-Club character; a bit uptight and serious, who will no doubt thaw out specifically in response to the main character’s incessant snarkiness and sense of unbounded wonder. Probably some kind of early teen love interests there as well, because you know how it is. There’s the typical stable of jokes, patterns, and verbal rejoinders that kids know by heart and which serve as a light elbow-to-the-ribs of a certain demographic as if to say that “this isn’t the talky Star Trek that your parents love; it’s something just for you”. Overall, there’s not a lot that will throw elder viewers for a loop here, assuming that elder viewers have had to sit through other, similar kids shows in the past 10-20 years.
Then there’s the opposition. The show starts out on a prison asteroid where slaves are mining for what we assume are some kind of valuable minerals. We see prison guards in the form of wedge-shaped quadrupeds sporting whip-like tails that can grab and shoot phaser beams. We also meet a “General Grevious“-like overseer named Drednok (note the homonym for “Dread” in his name, indicating that he’s evil!) who communes with the prison’s boss, a strange, unknown species of alien who lives in a techno-phylactery, is called The Diviner in some kind of lo-fi foreshadowing, is actually looking for the Federation starship buried beneath his very own plinth, and just happens to be Gwyn’s dad! Not only does that explain Gwyn’s attitude, but it also serves as a potential grain of sand beneath the tongue of the clam that is The Diviner’s desire to possess the Federation ship.
Despite my tone, I really enjoyed the pilot, but I also have a very, very low bar for entertainment, especially when it comes to science fiction. I do not wish to insinuate that Prodigy is bad in any way. I am very happy that Star Trek is getting a Clone Wars-level animation of it’s own, and even though it’s aimed at what show-runners believe to be a very unimaginative demographic (gotta check those boxes!), I expect there to be a lot of Star Trek gold waiting to be unearthed in subsequent episodes. The animation itself is fantastic, although the show has some kind of eyeball fetish that I doubt will get explained in any way. Kate Mulgrew is returning as Janeway to provide an immediate touchstone to existing Trek lore, and according to the series page on Memory Alpha, we can expect an appearance (in some form) of Voyager’s first officer, Chakotay as well. Kids probably won’t care, but it’s a nice way for the show-runners to invite older Star Trek fans into the room.