Getting What You Want in MMOs
MMOs are all about the proverbial carrot on a stick. The carrot can take on many guises and not everyone is pursuing the same goal. However most players at some point have set their sight on something in particular and doggedly gone about pursuing it. The tale I am about to tell is regarding Star Trek Online, although I’m sure readers may well find parallels with other MMOs that they may play. Essentially this is about when you just decide that you want something in a game. It may be relevant to your overall gameplay and offer a significant enhancement. It may also be just a cosmetic item that has taken your fancy. Either way you’ve decided that you must have this specific thing and that you are going to get it, come hell or high water.
If there is a spectrum of players in STO, I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I have three characters at level cap and have a fairly well kitted out primary Federation alt. I’m not really interested in pursuing top tier status with a ship outputting 50K plus DPS because it means too much work. However I’m not a casual player content with just getting by via just in-game drops. So I have bought ships from the in-game store and equipped them with reputation and fleet items. Also I like to customise the look of my vessel and my crew; personalising your MMO experience is a major part of its selling point.
Last year after perusing the STO wiki, I discovered the Wells Temporal Science Vessel and for no particular reason it became the object of my affection. I don’t even play a Science class, preferring the pew-pew approach of a Tactical Captain. Yet this didn’t matter, as the Wells Temporal Science Vessel is a fine looking ship. That’s pretty much what it boiled down to. I decided I wanted something shiny. Furthermore this ship is not available for purchase in the in-game store. It can only be obtained via a Temporal Lockbox. In STO lockboxes are opened by keys that can be purchased or exchanged for in-game currency. It should also be noted that the chance of getting the aforementioned vessel from a lockbox is 0.41% or thereabouts.
To cut a long story short, after a several months of stockpiling my Zen stipend and also converting Dilithium into more Zen, I opened thirty one Temporal lockboxes. Let it suffice to say that apart from some indifferent duty officers, a smattering of Lobi crystals and some minor boost tokens I did not secure the ship I was looking for. Had I purchased the lockbox keys with cash I would have spent about $30 or so, which gave me pause for thought. Naturally my lack of success increased my desire for the ship in question and I considered the possibility of spending real money on purchasing a further batch of keys. However another option came to mind and after a quick Google search I decided upon an alternative plan.
Lockboxes give Lobi crystals when opened. This can be anything between four and fifty. The crystals can then be exchanged via a vendor for gear and ships. One such ship is the Mobius Temporal Destroyer, a Mirror Universe variant of the Wells Temporal Science Vessel. It has a tactical build so is actually more suitable for my type of game play (which is not sophisticated). Through spurious logic I quickly made this ship my new objection of obsession. However it costs 800 Lobi crystals and I have only 166. The random nature of lockboxes meant I could potential spend a fortune on keys before I had sufficient currency. So I opted to buy the ship for $28 from an online vendor instead. That works out at about £15 which I thought was a fair price.
Now buying from such sources always comes with an element of risk. These sort of online traders that primarily deal in gold are far from legitimate. However I saw the risk as being no more than that of buying a bunch of lockbox keys and not getting lucky, so I bought the ship via PayPal. It was delivered to me in-game about half a day later (due to the time differences between the UK and China). Let it suffice to say that I now have the ship I desired and not only is it a fine looking vessel but it performs well. Being a Tier 5 ship from a lockbox, I was entitled to a free Tier 5U upgrade and I now have all the ship’s mastery skills unlocked. I have also managed to increase my DPS output to 11K which is not too shameful.
In writing this account it is curious to reflect upon the way we latch on to certain items or pursue specific goals in MMOs. I’m sure someone, somewhere has written a study about such behaviour. This recent situation with the ship has put me in mind of when I was determined to get the skeleton horse in LOTRO when the Haunted Burrow event went live for the first time. I also obsessed for hours regarding the Charzooka in Guild Wars 2. I’m still not exactly sure what drives these needs and desires to get what we allegedly want. Bragging rights is one answer or may be the satisfaction of earning something after a long grind. I simply got what I wanted by spending money so perhaps that makes we feel that I’ve gamed the system. Either way, I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if I find myself doing this gain in the future, either in STO or some other MMOs.
Both the Wells Temporal Science Vessel and the Mobius Temporal Destroyer, being unbound items can be exchanged or sold on the in-game auction house. Their respective prices are 400 million and 175 million Energy Credits, which for those who do not play STO, is a lot.