Captain's Log: Ruminating on Star Trek Online's future story

STO Orion header
As a self-confessed altaholic, I spent a lot of time in Star Trek Online over the past week. The third anniversary celebration is still in full swing (although it does end on Thursday, February 14th), and I needed to get all 13 of my characters through the special featured episode in order to obtain the special ships being given as rewards. Suffice it to say that I pretty much know the episode by heart now.

I actually dusted off my two low-level Klingon Defense Force characters and took them out for a spin so I wouldn't miss out on the beautiful new Kamarag class vessel, but in doing so I found myself chewing on the story as presented so far in Star Trek Online and what the most recent missions could mean for the rumored introduction of a Romulan faction, as well as what they might mean for the mighty Klingon Empire.


STO First City
A bit of history

When Star Trek Online was first launched in 2010, there was confusion as to the status of the Klingon faction. What was once billed as being a PvP-only faction was bulked up by the addition of a series of story-based missions and then released as an incomplete enemy faction. A player could not (and still cannot) create a Klingon character until he reached a certain level with a Federation character first.

That hurdle has been, first and foremost, the Klingon faction's greatest downfall. Now that I have a bit more experience in playing additional MMOs, I have found more and more support for my theory about the reasons STO players fail to make a Klingon character. Simply put, Klingons aren't offered as a choice at the outset of the game.

STO KDF Academy
The KDF disadvantage

People like the feeling of creating the characters with which they will play their favorite games. Heck, I've even heard of people refusing to play games because the character creation tools are too simple. They like the feeling of individuality in a virtual world the same way we all like it in the real world. Alter-egos or not, people want to feel connected to the characters they create, and that connection begins at the very same time the game does: at level 1.

Unfortunately for the honored members of the Klingon Defense Force, they're just not offered as a choice at the onset of the game. By the time a player reaches level 24 (the current level required to unlock the faction), he's likely already invested a lot of time, and possibly a lot of money, into his Federation character. Stopping the advancement of that character in order to create one of the opposite faction would probably seem ridiculous.

Thus, the Klingon faction has floundered, supported by only the most loyal of loyal players. I suspect their numbers took a severe blow when STO went F2P and likely never recovered.

STO Raptor
So what's in store for the KDF?

Before STO's third anniversary, Executive Producer Daniel Stahl had been quoted on several podcasts and interviews as saying that the Klingon Empire would get some well-needed attention in the upcoming content released currently set for May 2013. As most game executives are, he was tight-lipped when it came to outlining exactly what that means.

However, after the third anniversary video was released and the subsequent Romulan teaser sent the fandom atwitter, many of us had to sit back and really chew on what a Romulan faction would mean for the Klingons.

So let the conjecture begin!

One thing STO had going against it from the very start (minus the original publisher's crash and burn) was the fact that right in the midst of the game's story development, the license holder threw a big wrench into the franchise's hitherto unshakeable lore.

The 2009 film directed by J.J. Abrams literally shattered the prime Star Trek universe fans had come to know and love and left it holding the ashes of the popular planets of the Romulan Star Empire to make way for the alternate universe of Chris Pine's version of Captain Kirk. Suddenly, weeks into working up the story for the new MMO, the writer for Star Trek Online, Christine (Kestrel) Thompson, was forced to set aside all of her work pertaining to Romulus and Remus and then try to write for a game that was shockingly left missing two of its core planets.

STO Morn
It was a position that I am glad I've never had to face. I write only fanfiction, and I cried at the thought I would have to re-write even an amateur novel to make it gel with the new story. Thompson had to find a way to make the new information fit within the context of the official game. And while I think that was likely really easy for her to work in with regard to the Federation, it surely had to have been much more difficult working in the new story when it came to the creation of the Klingon Empire as a stand-alone faction.

At the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we were informed that the UFP no longer had an adversarial relationship with the Klingon Empire, as evidenced by the appearance of Mr. Worf on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. That surly-yet-loyal relationship only strengthened throughout the franchise's subsequent television shows, especially Deep Space Nine. So when STO players were told that the KDF not only summarily discarded decades of friendship but also decided that war-for-the-sake-of-war was more their style, many players, including me, were more than just a bit shocked.

Clearly a decision had been made to have an "enemy" faction in STO. Personally, as a fan, I think it would have been a lot easier to believe that the KDF and the Federation would have kept their alliance against the Romulans, making it easy to create a low-level Klingon character and then have the second faction be Romulus. But J.J. blew it up it and killed any possibility the game might have been able to muster... until now.

STO Klingon Raptor
So here's my theory

I think we'll see some fleshing out of the Klingon tale in STO. I think the KDF is going to get some of the love we all know the faction deserves. However, I'm not so sure we're going to see enough content to actually allow for a "full" Klingon faction -- just enough to tie up some of the loose story threads that were created when the faction was converted from PvP faction to an enemy faction. After that, I think we're going to see the beginnings of playable Romulan characters, Romulans who are a part of the new and burgeoning colony on Mol'Rihan.

I don't believe that they'll be an "enemy" faction. In fact, I think they'll end up sharing the same enemies with both the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Simply put, the UFP, the KDF and the New Romulans will all be able to fight side-by-side against their common enemies, namely the Tal Shiar, the Tholian Assembly, and any other rogues that come out of the wormhole.

So tell me what you think! I want to hear from you what we might see with any possible new faction. I want to hear how you might tell the story! How could you make the pieces of this puzzle fit together? Until next week, live long and prosper!

Incoming communique from Starfleet Headquarters: Captain's Log is now transmitting direct from Terilynn Shull every Monday, providing news, rumors, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Beam communications to terilynn@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.