I've noticed that most game explanations do not cover enough of a game's playability/possibilities to give a new player a decent idea of what to expect. At some point, most people say "the game is so big and deep that I can't possibly explain it all." Well, Starquest also falls victim to this kind of reviewing (see the IGN review here) and actually probably dwarfs the gameplay possibilities of almost any other game due to its unique code foundation laid by its developers.
I propose to solve this problem by telling you anything and everything that I have seen thus far as well as everything that can be done. Since this will be a relatively large post, I will probably come back and edit it from time to time.
With all of that prelude over with, let me tell you about Starquest Online. It will start with a paragraph about the universe, lapse into a massive number of bullets of what can be done in the game, and finally it will finish with my personal stories in the game. If you'd like, feel free to suggest additions or corrections to the bullets I have below, as the list will evolve over time until it encompasses enough of the game to give new players a relatively complete knowledge of what this game brings.
StarQuest Universe's Uniqueness
The StarQuest Online universe is seamless. This means that your character can exist at any point within a 1000x1000x1000 light year cube, and you'll never see an instance or loading screen. This continuity continues for ships and planets, as they are not separated from the rest of the universe. This means you can in theory jump into space from your ship and fall down onto a planet and then walk around, all the while someone else can watch this occur from anywhere, be it from the planet or a nearby station window. (You probably wouldn't actually ever do such a thing for the same reason you wouldn't in real life, because getting stuck in space is really bad, but the possibility remains) Unlike StarTrek Online, this means you are *not* your ship or any other vehicle. You are inside, and everyone else in the game can interact with you in ways that are much more realistic. I'll give some examples in order to start off my list of gameplay bullets:
Seamless Universe Examples
- Your ship's bridge decompresses, and you are thrown around and exposed to the vacuum of space (which you can survive if you have a space suit on).
- Consoles explode, killing nearby people.
- Jumping outside of a ship before it explodes can save your life. (Although opposing ships can see you and pick you up)
- You can dock between stations or other ships and walk between them seamlessly
- You can fly a ship into the atmosphere of a planet and (this is hard) even land on it.
- You can fly anywhere within the universe, stop, and have it take actual years before you are discovered (since it's like an actual galaxy in terms of size)
- You can gain entrance to another ship either by permission or by sneaking on and then steal items, kill anyone onboard (unless they fight back of course), and possibly even take control of the ship.
- You can lock your doors with a passcode that senior officers can set in order to ensure no one can enter your bridge and take off with your ship.
- You can type any message you want to be sent on a large list of frequencies, such as hailing, distress, or ship-specific channels to be heard by other stations/planets/ships. (This can be done via personal communicators or comm stations)
- You can also send messages to particular sections of a station or ship.
Discovering systems, planets, life
- You can travel throughout the scientifically accurate galaxy and discover new stars and planets. (For example, the star Betelgeuse remained undiscovered until a player flew out and charted it, and it was exactly where it is in reality.) (Your ship and its commanding officer will be credited with its discovery in a database)
- You can sample, analyze, and synthesize new compounds from the rocks and life on a planet. (Compounds can add/substract to skills, knock people out, make them temporarily stronger, go blind, etc, and not all compounds have been discovered even after years of exploration)
- You can discover new life never encountered, and if it's intelligent enough, make contact and interact with them. (This could be talking, trading, government negotations, or just mindlessly killing each other, whatever you want)
- You can see from sensors what planets/systems are emitting radio or hyperwave (different technology) transmissions.
- You can do sensor sweeps of a planet to tell you exactly where all of the lifeforms on a planet are. (This process is not automated and takes some experience, so it is possible for you to "evade" sensors while on the planet as well)
Building, Housing, and Colonies
- You can teleport down to planets, build houses, shops, or other buildings on it.
- You can set up a colony in orbit of a planet and begin producing/mining products for sale as well as determining what goes on in your colony. (Taxes, production, funding, laws for other players who live there, etc)
- You can pay freighters to visit your colony to import/export products to other colonies.
- You can build/run your own freighter and run supplies for your colony as well.
- You can expand your "empire" to another system or planet and colonize indefinitely.
- You can have your colonies (once they are big enough) join other governments, factions, or even create your own.
- You can become a politician representing your colonies in government and help shape whatever laws you deem fit. (laws and rules are entirely player run, although some of the "nations" in the game were originally set up by the admins, those governments can now be completely altered in as much as real governments can be)
- You can mine/buy resources to build stations which can build ships. (Or you could just buy a ship/station from another player)
- You can buy furniture, clothing, decorations, and equipment which you can place anywhere in your ship, house, or anything else you own or command. (i.e. I want a fern to match my flowers at this spot, I think a weapons locker would be useful here, and I'll put a trash can here so people don't throw uneaten apples on the floor)
- You can purchase and change out all of the systems onboard a ship, even preset military ships. (I need a better reactor if I'm going to power these more power hungry shields I just bought)
- You can lock any door you own with any passcode you desire.
- You can set permissions for others who might use your house/ship/station.
Creating/Managing your Character
- THERE ARE NO CHARACTER LEVELS: ONLY SKILLS AND STANDING WITHIN YOUR FACTION (government/military)
- 38 skills can be learned either at creation, by using the skill, or by another player teaching the skill to you
- 7 Attributes exist which are used for certain skills. (Attacking in person usually uses Strength, Willpower, Constitution; Teaching uses Intellect; Repairing and using parts of a ship depends on which system is being used)
- A skill cap will eventually reduce unused skills while increasing the ones you've used most recently. (This ensures players will specialize into particular roles, which the developers feel will help entice players to form crews and groups in order to achieve things) (It's worth noting that your unused skills do not diminish to zero, so it is possible to perform all skills on a mediocre level on a single character)
- Just like skills, attributes can be trained through use (exercising at a gym, talking, using consoles) and has an attribute cap to diminish the attributes you've used the least.
- Hunger, thirst, sleep, temperature, hygiene,& bathroom bars will require that your character eats, drinks, sleeps (or drinks a lot of coffee), showers, and urinates in a very similar manner to the Sims. (While it is possible to die from not eating/drinking/bathing, it's pretty hard to do so, and keeping the bars full isn't very difficult or time consuming)
- You can join the military of an existing government (Starfleet) or even create your own through your own government. (Yes, it's been done too)
- You can roleplay as an officer or crewman (NCO) in the military fleet, specializing in certain skills and roles on your assigned ship/station.
- Your status (rank, awards, clearance, access, etc) can be adjusted by those higher rank than you. (Strictly game-mechanics-wise there isn't much restricting how higher ranks can change your status, but the military rules are strictly enforced, meaning roleplay and player-based rules are the main driver behind what is and is not allowed. In other words, an Admiral could in theory promote a 1 hour old newbie up to Captain of a ship, but that would be noticed by the players in the military and challenged through the government/military until ultimately the President of the government would demote/retire/threaten the Admiral into playing correctly. This means any military status problems like promotions arise from players making the decisions and not a game-based mechanic. Because of this, rank and status are recognized, achieved, and sometimes hotly contested in a way similar to real life)
- Missions can either be automatically assigned to ships from a pool of pre-made missions, or they can be directly assigned by higher ranking players (These missions can be anything the person wants. For example, you can be ordered by a player to enter enemy territory and engage in PvP battles to determine the control of a colony)
Stories of Gameplay
---A pirate player beamed onto another player's ship when his shields were down (the ship commander was slightly careless) and killed the crew. However, the last crewmember locked the bridge and raised shields, trapping the pirate onboard. The pirate continued throughout the rest of the ship and looted as much as he could. The remaining crew member sent out a distress message, which was intercepted by a military ship run by players. Two military ships eventually came, gathered together a boarding party, and beamed aboard the ship. The military players had a firefight with the pirate, stunned him, beamed him aboard their military ship only to have the pirate wake up and run away. The pirate eventually found a gun and killed a few sleeping crew members before he was stunned again and thrown into the brig. The judge of the government was about to begin trial of the pirate when the pirate convinced one of the military officers to let him go free. The renegade officer and pirate then beamed back onboard their pirate ship and started to hyper to safety. Another player military ship was alerted via distress signal, pursued, and (after a very long chase with hiding and getting close to enemy space) and eventually disabled the pirate ship.
---A ship was taking damage from an unknown source. It sent out a distress signal and eventually had another player ship arrive to assist. Eventually all of the players with repair skills beamed over to the damaged ship and repaired like crazy while the bridge crew tried to steer the damaged ship away from the unknown source of damage. That section of space is still being charted and examined via sensors to this day.
---We beamed onto a planet, looking for rocks to sample. My comrade eventually stunned a giant worm creeping its way towards us. When I beamed back to the ship, I was inadvertently standing near the worm and beamed it back with me. Not realizing the worm was merely unconscious, I went about my duties until we both stopped talking and saw the worm creeping towards us again. (It definitely reminded me of The Blob) My comrade started shrieking about the slime on his ship and eventually said "ewww, it's alive! kill it!" My gun was out of power, so I picked up a sword and whacked away at the worm. It finally died, and I dragged it back to the teleporter and beamed it right on top of another worm on the planet I found on sensors. (Live/dead worm sandwich...it amused me at least) I was then given the title "Ship's Janitor."
I've had two false starts with Starquest online (installing and quitting within minutes), as the initial player experience was/is quite horrible, as it lacks a decent presentation of how to play the game. This leads you to the mistaken conclusion that the game probably lacks substance. Fortunately for me, I was desperately looking for an open-ended gameplay MMO and kept bumping into Starquest everywhere I looked. Now that I've played it a third time and had a little patience, (a couple of hours) I finally managed to get the hang of things, got sucked into an amazing whirlpool of events and activities (all player driven), and I've never looked back after 3 weeks of playing.