By Commander Rhys Bejain, First Officer, USS Kodiak
“Jaygee to Lieutenant Commander…ah… that was the time I enjoyed the most in UFoP.” Time and time again, senior staff will say that with a smile of inner knowing. It is quite true. You are having fun simming, pushing the plot forward, battling the Romulans or Dominion, or whoever. You do not have to worry about the paperwork, the organization, the assorted minutiae of running a ship, even a cyberspace ship. But for the people in the thick of it, the Jaygees and Lieutenants, it can be a frustrating time of waiting for responsibility and command. Recently, I talked with Lieutenant Paul Diamond, CMO of the Constitution-B about his views on the UFOP, on senior staff, and on the promotion process. Made for quite an interview. The writer for Lieutenant Paul Diamond initially was captivated by the adventures of Kirk and Spock. “When I was 9 or 10,” he says, “I caught an original series episode on T.V. Star Trek: The Next Generation wasn’t on air yet, so that was all I had.” It was a new world, where disease and many of the problems of today; racism, intolerance, my mother-in-law, had been abolished. Certainly it was a heady new world for a young man. Then NextGen came on, and Paul felt even more drawn to it. His favorite captain is from this show. Oddly, not Picard, but Riker (as he is a captain now).
Then in the spring of 2003, he discovered UFoP, and created the character of Paul Diamond. Paul, he decided, had a rural upbringing on Earth, a doctor mother and a horticulturalist father, a tomboy sister, an interest in archery and science… well; you can read the rest in his bio. When he joined the academy, he developed a medical background. “I find it easier to write medical scenarios since I have a medical background,” says Paul. “The background was based on part my life, part fiction… as far as character building, I put a lot of myself into him, maybe too much at times.”
Initially, incidentally, Diamond joined the UFoP by searching on Yahoo for Star Trek Role Playing games. I did a little test among Kodiak crew, and found that (at least among this small survey group) this is the most common way of crew joining. Six officers were looking for a RPG group, and two found the group by word of mouth.
When he finished training, he was posted to the now decommissioned USS Nemesis-B as a medical officer. He did three missions on the Nemesis-B, and has, up until now, three on the Constitution. His favorite, he said, was the Brikkan mission. During this mission, Paul was almost killed by a double from a parallel universe. Doctors injected him with Brikkar DNA, to assist his healing. “It was a blast to write,” says Paul. “I was teamed up with three of the best writers I’ve written with, I was able to show case Diamonds non-medical abilities, and it gave me additional material for future character building sims for Diamond.”
Paul Diamond, says his writer, “can be wishy washy sometimes. That’s why I added the new ‘warrior spirit.’ I would like to have made him more artistic, possibly a musician, but can’t have him be able to do everything.” Since his days as an ensign, he has become much surer of himself. Paul’s aim is to be a Commander and Chief Medical Officer on “the best ship in the fleet.” Unfortunately, Kodiak already has a CMO, so I can only assume he meant the Constitution-B.
The Constitution-B, Paul says, “is more of a family than a crew. We do everything a family does; we protect each other, fight amongst each other, laugh, cry, and rejoice with each other.” This seems to be a common comment on each ship. Just as crewmembers of a navy or merchant vessel develop a special fondness for their own ship, the members of a UFoP ship develop a genuine affection for their ship and respect for their colleagues. This camaraderie is one of the special things about simming in UFoP.
UFOP, Diamond says “has given my an outlet for my creativity; a way to fine tune my writing; an audience to read what I write; and friends I wouldn’t have otherwise.” While generally enjoying the experience of writing for UFoP, he says the only thing he dislikes is the unavoidable cliques that can form on a ship.
The promotion process, Paul feels, takes into account quantity, and not quality of sim. Many characters, he believes, are promoted because they are regular simmers, and not necessarily good ones. He feels, perhaps understandably, that in moving from the Nemesis to the Constitution, he was overlooked for promotion, as a new command team had to come to terms with his skills and weaknesses.
One of the more interesting responses was in answer to a question almost idly put: what it was about Star Trek that made him want to live out Paul Diamond’s life. He replied “Paul has a much better life that I do. The technology is better; the era’s situations are different than today; space travel has always fascinated me; everything seems better than today.” I suppose too many of us, the lives of our characters can seem to have more interesting lives than we do. But then, consider that we only sim the interesting part of their lives, and ignore the mundane. For example, I doubt a sim that read like this would have much of a place on the Kodiak.
((Rhys’ quarters 0630))
::Rhys groaned as, pre-programmed, the lights came on in his quarters. He decided against staying in bed for another ten minutes, as he had defaulters that morning. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, and yawned again. He scratched his chin, and groggily stood. He’d gone over Solok’s recent findings on that nebula that they’d passed a couple of days ago until late last night. He seemed to remember that that’s what had put him to sleep. He walked to the replicator, and ordered a raktajino. He sat down at the table, and picked up a padd. Sip. Scanned the news service’s headlines. Sip. Read through the obituaries, and was glad he wasn’t in them. Sip. Hmmm… cup was empty. So, he stood, disappointed, and stumbled to the shower…
You get the idea. But perhaps, then, that’s one of the reasons we *do* sim, perhaps why games like The Sims are popular: because, through our characters, the monotony of day-to-day life is forgotten. Rhys and Diamond are never bored during a watch, or lying on the bed channel surfing. They are always fighting Romulans or actively involved in research.
Paul Diamond has a definite career plan. From Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander to Commander, as he gets to know Paul better, and as his simming skill increases. It is a continually evolving process, simming, and we all get better at it as we go on. I will be interested to watch how Paul and his writer develop. I hope Rhys and Diamond get to meet one day. I’m sure they would enjoy a beer and a yarn.