Last month, StarBase 118 celebrated its 20th simming anniversary! Simming – and Star Trek – have come a long way since 1994. Today we take a look at some of the biggest changes in simming between then and now and how those changes have formed our game today.
1: Changes in the Trek Prime canon
In 1994, Next Gen was coming to an end, Deep Space Nine was getting started and Voyager was an exciting proposal. The biggest decision a sim needed to make when starting up was whether they were going to include the Borg as an enemy or whether it would be a plain old ‘explore the galaxy/threat-of-the week’ style sim.
Since then we have watched the Dominion War devastate the quadrant, multiple major changes in politics with the Klingon, Romulan and Cardassian empires, the explosion of the Hobus Star, the development of the Delta and Gamma quadrants, the revelation of Section 31 and a myriad of new races come to life on the big and small screens. Sims today need to not only recognize the changes in canon, but pick a time in canon to play in. Sims, like SB118 that have built stories while canon was changing needed to talk about how they could incorporate the changes in Trek canon with the story lines of their own game.
All in all, the later Trek series and the Trek movies brought a newfound complexity to Star Trek, and became a point of discussion and sometimes dissension between fans. It has made our simming games more complex that they were in the past, often times including long term political plotlines and overarching story elements.
2: The Reboot Movies
Love them, hate them, or anywhere in between, no one can deny that J.J. Abrams’s vision of Trek brought changes to the fandom. Even though many sims play solely in the Trek prime universe, the reboot style of high action interspersed with emotional scenes affected the way many players looked at their writing. It has also prompted many discussions about the characterization of Vulcans, taking from the new portrayal of Spock by Zachary Quinto. As new Trek movies come out, more and more simmers will come to the fandom with the movies as their main frame of reference. You can find an ongoing dialogue about aspects of the reboot movies in Star Trek simming forums, and many players who are happy to add elements of those movies into the prime universe that SB118 focuses on.
Wikipedia launched in January of 2001 and as this media source grew it had a profound effect on both the internet and the simming community. Memory Alpha followed in 2003, becoming an indispensable resource for Star Trek gaming. After that individual sims started crafting their own wikis to keep a record of characters. SB118 launched our wiki in March of 2004, and it now boasts over 7,500 articles! Wikis allowed sims to streamline their information into an easy to edit, easy to read format which was a big step up from the old fashioned black-and-neon free websites hosted by sites such as Angelfire and GeoCities. Many players cite a strong wiki as a reason why they are attracted to the SB118 game.
4: Simming interfaces
The first sims to hit the play by e-mail scene were turn based wargames, oftentimes with published rules. These sims had been played over postal mail before the rise of the internet. In Star Trek the most well known wargame is Starfleet Battles, which can now be played in a variety of online venues. As e-mail became more popular, writing intensive games started to crop up, many written as ‘round-robin’ fiction style where each writer would write for an entire ensemble and pass it to the next writer. As simming evolved, new games cropped up restricting writers to only writing for their particular characters and NPCs, bringing with it the concept of ‘tag’ style simming. At the same time, other sims developed over chat media, with each player posting actions and dialogue in real time. SB118 developed a unique simming style that evolved from chat gaming and now incorporates a focus on writing as well as tag style gaming while remaining a play by e-mail focused format.
Whether you have been playing in SB118 for a few weeks or many years, as players change they shape the way the game is played. Longtime players grow and mature, bringing with them a change in perspective as they settle into their lives. Many of them edit their characters or choose to play new ones to explore different aspects of the game. At the same time new players come to the game with fresh new ideas and brand new characters to add life and liveliness to the story.
The result is that simming groups tend to be far more diverse now than they were twenty years ago. Simmers now come in all ages and from a vast background of Star Trek fans across the world! As the internet continues to become more accessible, we can look forward to even more growth and diversity as the story continues.