Those Aren’t Muskets

As with almost everything in life, the key to making a great team combat game is properly understanding how Star Trek relates to it. Players each instinctively fulfil the role of a Star Trek character when they group up in games. Even if they have never seen Star Trek. It cannot be explained adequately by anyone. I’ve asked.

The great developers understand this challenging situation and embrace it. They give players the platform to express their Star Trek behaviour. I have some pointers on how to spot this behaviour and how we can healthily deal with it.

The Kirk player is one of the most conspicuous. Can you hear mid-game proclamations of impending vengeance, often swiftly followed by extreme napalm/fire/bare-fist retribution? Is this accompanied by dry witticisms and glib philosophising? Are a great deal of enemies dying, albeit with a fair amount of collateral damage? You probably have a Kirk on your hands. The best way to confirm is if you can see an attractive blonde personal assistant by their side. When on a team with a Kirk, it’s always best to keep them pointed at the enemies, and maybe you should wear a blonde wig. Also note that their odd mid-sentence emphasis on seemingly unimportant words can make communication difficult. If you find yourself up against a Kirk, your best bet is to enrage them to the point of utterly obliterating you, so that in the process they will inadvertently cause their best friend to die of radiation poisoning. Don’t try to negotiate with a Kirk. They will no doubt be re-configuring their weapons or shields in some unpleasant manner whilst you quote Shakespeare at them.

Note that you can generally spot a Kirk player quite safely from distance as they will regularly look up from the battle to ask a Scottish team member for more power.

Kirks can be mistaken for Worfs sometimes. The main similarity is all the rage, bloodlust and killing. However, there are subtle differences. If, instead of an attractive blonde assistant, the player in question is brandishing a horrifying melee weapon, that’s a Worf. Again, point them at the enemies and stand back. When you catch the beautiful melody of a song about drinking the blood of your vanquished foes drifting out of a decimated enemy stronghold, you will appreciate how lucky you are to have a Worf on your team. Worfs love Left 4 Dead 2 and Gears of War, because they feature a nice selection of brutal melee options and also a nice selection of severed limbs. Left 4 Dead 2 has very much enabled Worf-like behaviour, and shows that Valve have an excellent understanding of the need to embrace the Star Trek paradigm.

If you are looking at this picture and wondering where the blood goblet is, you might be a Worf.
If you are looking at this picture and wondering where the blood goblet is, you might be a Worf.

Is there a slightly cantankerous team member in your midst? Is there someone, towards the back of the group, who isn’t shooting many enemies, but is instead grumpily moaning about collision detection, balancing, and hit boxes? If there is, you have another common Star Trek archetype in your team. At this stage, you can’t be totally sure which you have. The fastest way to tell is to injure yourself and observe their resulting behaviour. Set yourself on fire, or wander into a nasty patch of Spitter goo. If the player in question hobbles over with a first aid pack, mumbling something about not being a forklift, then you have a “Bones” McCoy. He will distrust aliens. If, while you’re lying on the floor bleeding to death, the player appears to be attempting a site-to-site transport of your spleen, you have an O’Brien. O’Briens are better in a fight than McCoys but require detailed re-enactments of The Alamo on a weekly basis to stave off wiry-haired insanity.

Is one of your number cultivating a grizzly beard and constantly taking time out from coolly kicking bottom to chat with the opposite sex? That’s a Riker. Rikers work well with Picards.

A Picard is a born leader. They sit back and observe proceedings calmly. Is one of your team constantly seeking a high vantage point in Left 4 Dead, Halo or Modern Warfare? Are they then delegating orders and duties to a tall member of the team who has a beard? That’s a Picard. Very useful, Picards. The one drawback with a Picard is that they will occasionally become assimilated into the enemy ranks for a short time. If this happens, send them to a French vineyard until they regain a lucid grip on reality.

Again? Are you kidding with this now? Ok, get him to the vineyard.
Again? Are you kidding with this now? Okay, get him to the vineyard.

Some of the archetypes don’t have many positive points. Is one of your group always lagging behind? Do they jump and lose their bearings fairly regularly upon contact with enemies? Are the Bloodmounts or Tanks massing, yet one of your team mates is cowering in a corner? Bad news. You either have a Wesley Crusher or an Emergency Medical Hologram on your hands. The Wesley may, occasionally, come up with a smart idea at the last minute and totally save the day. Sadly, it will commonly be their fault that the day needed saving in the first place. If you have an EMH player, they might heal you sometimes. That’s the best you can hope for.

There is one type of player who is even worse than those, though. Does one of your team have a tendency to fret? Do they incessantly try to organise items and weapons evenly between team members, whilst reminding you about the importance of good preparation? Do they try to befriend Infected, Locust, Covenant or terrorists by handing them leaflets? Can you smell a nice stew?

You have a Neelix. I'm so, so, sorry.
You have a Neelix. I'm so, so, sorry.

There are many others to be aware of. Is a teammate making you uncomfortable with lingering eye contact and asking you about your feelings? You have a Troi. They are good for morale. Does one of your squad obsess over the comparative efficiency of weapons and perks, before taking four weeks and twenty brainstorming sessions to make a decision on which killstreak rewards to use? Spock. Match with a Kirk happily, but never with a Neelix. The Spock will increase the efficiency of the Neelix and thus permanently cripple your squad.

Does one of your fellows stumble around clumsily, bumping into various objects, before bellowing “Coolant leak! We have a coolant leak!” and rolling off under a lowering barrier? That’s a Geordi La Forge without a visor. If you can find a Data (notable for a cruel, robot-like ability to accrue headshots and impressive kill/death ratios), pair them with a Geordi to witness a heart-warming personal bond develop. The Data player will protect them both whilst the Geordi player gradually shows the Data how to emote and crack a joke. You will cry.

Finally, do your teammates insist that you wear a red shirt? If so, there may be question marks over your value to the group.

That’s all for now. I’ll be running a seminar later in the year on this and related issues.







7 responses to “Those Aren’t Muskets”

  1. Kat avatar

    I don’t know much Star Trek yet I lolled. So which one are you MrSimonwick?

  2. James avatar

    That was giggles.

    Don’t know about Cuddles, but I think I might be a Tasha Yar – I sometimes exhibit characteristics more commonly associated with the opposing gender, then die unexpectedly.

  3. Simon avatar

    Damn James, wish I’d thought of that one…..

    I’m a Kirk, Spock or O’Brien I think. In my head.

    I guess I’m more like a Neelix or Wesley Crusher in reality though.

  4. Kat avatar

    I think I’m in a red shirt :/

  5. Conners avatar

    I think I’m a tribble.

  6. Stephen avatar

    Damn that Wesley Crusher. The cause and solution to every episode in a whole series. Him and Alexander (the ‘fruit’ of Worf’s loins) are still the bain of my life.
    When I played the original Quake I was a Q. I was incredibly bad, so had to resort to breaking all the rules and playing in God mode…

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