read about the varied pre-order bonuses for Star Trek Online (a game I
am excited about, but hesitant to embrace due to the overwhelmingly
monotone space battle footage I've seen), I was surprised to receive an
email from Cryptic Studios,
the game's developer. Cryptic was informing me of a pre-order bonus -
the subject of the email is "Star Trek Online Pre-order Exlusives!"
glanced at it and nearly deleted it before I noticed the lack of
plurality in the exclusives mentioned. There was no list of various
pre-order locations and related bonsues, no comparison or information
on the various (and very different) options available at different
retailers. Instead, there was only this: "Pre-order Star Trek Online
from GameStop and get your own limited edition Constitution class
starship; a ship Captain James T. Kirk would be proud of!"
a tempting offer - the Constitution class is, well, classic.
Unfortunately, Cryptic seems to ignore their use of the plural
"exclusives" in the subject, and doesn't list these other great
- Best Buy: Pet Tribble or Targ (based on faction)
- Amazon: "Liberated Borg" Bridge Officer with "unique nanotechnology augmentations"
- Direct2Drive: Multi-Spatial Personal Shield (regenerates itself and player health)
- Wal-mart: Bonus Skill Points (bestows additional skill points)
- Target: TR-116 ground weapon (micro-transporter beams projectiles to target, no line of sight required)
- Steam: Chromodynamic Armor, improves critical hits and damage of energy weapons
I have no idea which of these is the best. I can tell you one thing -
Cryptic seems to have ignored the very important fact that any player
can get a Constitution class ship in the game. The only thing that
makes the GameStop offer unique is it has blue lasers. But other than
that, I of course have no idea what item is best. And I am sure I'm not
the only person who is getting frustrated by the idea of offering
different pre-order options at different retailers.
if not all, players of an MMORPG will attempt to get the best items
they can and create the best character they can. This requires learning
about the various skills on offer and creating a build that is superior
to all others. A good game will have enough balance to offer a variety
of optimum builds.
There are only two ways that I know of to learn
about the skills and items and figure out what is the best path to
pursue for your character's development: doing it yourself, or learning
from someone else. Either way, it takes time in game (by either you or
someone willing to share their information) to get there. The most
frustrating problem with pre-order bonuses to me is related to this
If I don't yet know what the rules are, how I might want to
develop my character, or what items are available or what their stats
may be, I have no way of knowing what pre-order bonus is best. And
given that I want to pick the best one but only have a 1-in-7 chance of
doing so, I feel that I am leaving up a part of my character
development to chance, rather than to information or skill.
the serious gamer's min-max obsession, however, I fear that developers
will not test the items they offer as pre-order bonuses. As a result,
either they will be too powerful and skew the gameplay (even if that is
a matter of unbalancing just early levels), or they will be pointless
items that are used for 5 minutes before being replaced by something
better. Of course, without inside information, it is impossible to know
what will occur, and what to do. In the meantime, I hope I get
something having, and don't regret my purchase - a feeling I would hope
the developer aims to ensure I don't have.