Trek or Die – Timelines, Social Game or MMORPG in Disguise?

Let’s talk about Star Trek Timelines for a minute. In case you’re not familiar with it Timelines is a new game in development by Disruptor Beam, the company who created Game of Thrones Ascent, for mobile and web platforms. It was featured on the website a few weeks ago in a “First Look” article, which consisted of “Hey, here’s a new game we’re working on” and a 53-second video that showed the the game’s title. Thankfully the Disruptor Beam website provides us with a lot more information.

In this article Jon Radoff, CEO for Disruptor Beam, provides us with the intended vision for Timelines including what the game is, what it isn’t, and what they want to focus on. Mr. Radoff begins by providing us a brief history of his Trek cred, how Disruptor Beam aims to be a fan-oriented company, and reminding us that the game is still under development. Further, he outlines their plans to make the game available for iOS, Android, and a web browser platform. That’s kind of boring though, yeah? We want gameplay details! Don’t worry. It gets very interesting in his very next paragraph, and coincidentally mine.

Mr. Radoff goes on to describe what Timelines will be and won’t be. Timelines will not be a first person shooter nor, he says, will it be an MMORPG. Direct from the article, Mr. Radoff states,

“There are already Star Trek games that feature first-person action—and we also feel that a combat-oriented game wouldn’t really capture the vision of Star Trek. Instead, we’re going to focus on giving you beautiful vistas of outer space, artistic renderings of your favorite characters, and a conflict mechanic where science and diplomacy are just as important as your ability to fire photon torpedoes.”

What the game will feature is “dialog-driven storytelling, character development and a deep crafting system” in addition to what sounds like an extremely in depth exploration system. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? These are exactly the things we expected from Star Trek Online, and some of the things that players are currently clamoring for; and when it comes to story it turns out they’ve hired some of the top writers from BioWare.

Exploration is also further touched on. The article says that they’ve created the largest and most detailed galaxy that has ever been created for an online, multiplayer game. Crews will be created from characters available in Star Trek lore. Crafting from their GoT game will be “taken to a whole new level” with Timelines. The game is also slated to have a large social aspect as well, the article states “You’ll be able to team up with your friends, form fleets, and take on big challenges through cooperation.”

So does this sound like an MMORPG to anyone else or have I just had too much Romulan ale? Let’s review.

Massively Multiple Online Role-Playing Game. Large world? Check. Playing with others and creating fleets? Check. Online? Check. Story? Check. Game? Duh. According to Mr. Radoff an MMORPG is “combat oriented”, but the article mentions tactical engagements and photon torpedoes being involved in Timelines. MMOs are not strictly combat, not anymore. Star Wars Galaxies had a robust and powerful crafting system and for some people that’s all they did. Both Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and The Elder Scrolls Online offer the ability to focus just on crafting. In ESO there are entire guilds devoted to crafting.

As much as Disruptor Beam wants to say this is nothing like an MMO, well, it sounds very much like an MMO. On paper at least, there aren’t any screenshots to go from. Are we looking at a Star Trek version of League of Legends or Marvel Heroes? Okay Captains, I don’t want to be sensationalist but what does this mean for Star Trek Online and why would CBS authorize a game with clear MMORPG aspects? It seems very plausible that the two might compete against one another, especially when Timelines is promising gameplay that STO players have been wanting for months, if not years, now.

I guess we’ll see where it goes.

Vision for Star Trek Timelines | Disruptor Beam
FIRST LOOK: Star Trek Timelines

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