The number of comments I read and opinions I hear, where a group of gamers is trying to define how to play a sandbox game, never ceases to amaze me. I’m floored by the narrow perspective and beliefs in an idea of progression and winning, that doesn’t allow variation beyond their playstyle. Those for whom having more ships, grinding money, beating others in combat, having the best gear, etc., is perceived as the only possible point of it all. While players who deviate from this narrow view of enjoying an MMO are doing it wrong.

There’s so little tolerance in the world, in general. It confounds me that people bring the same problems into a game.

Games are a form of entertainment. An environment designed as an escape from everyday reality. I don’t play them to feel better about myself as a person. I don’t play them to make others feel less. It’s unfortunate when we choose to create new battlefields over how to play a damn game. I suppose my live and let live nature simply can’t comprehend their closed and demanding point of view.

In considering the incessant debates of … Is Star Citizen is P2W? The insistence that people who have multiple ships ruining progression for themselves! Why play if you already own the ships you want? Clearly, there’s only one way to define enjoyment in a sandbox game. If you can’t hear it in my tone, feel free to insert me rolling my eyes and shoving a finger down my throat.

One the back of all this nonsense, I concocted an exercise that illustrates how differently someone such as myself, goes about playing MMOs. Having more isn’t the aim, goal or victory. It’s about having a diverse toolset with which to experience the content. This doesn’t work for completionists or killers. It’s probably a weird combo of a semi-social adventurer.

One Year. One Profession. Two Ships. Go!

The rule of this musing is assuming all professions. For one year, you can only do one profession and possess only two ships, what would your choices be? And no matter how much money you earn, for that year, you can’t buy any additional ships. Literally, one year, one profession, two ships and go!

Of the professions I’m most excited about, I think medical will provide me with the most content and group composition diversity.

  • There will be standard fare missions for evenings when I want passive gameplay.
  • Players and NPCs will provide opportunities for small scale ad hoc interactions.
  • Participating in org and scheduled events will provide large scale content options.

Solo, small group, large group – all available in one profession with two ships.

There are three ships dedicated to the medical profession. The Cutlass Red, RSI Apollo, and Endeavor Hope. Other ships that have a medbay, but for this exercise, I’m choosing to pick dedicated vessels.

Me, Myself and I

Given that the Apollo is a Connie sized ship and only has two crew stations, it will be viable as a solo operation. I imagine myself free-roaming densely populated areas. In particular, locations where FPS missions or PVP skirmishes occur. In those instances, players likely want to return to the action as soon as possible. Unless there’s a medical outpost nearby, a field medic in the area will be considerably faster than seeking attention planetside.

We’ve also been told that there will be missions generated to service NPCs. Accepting missions in the Apollo is precisely my plan for doing causal solo gameplay. This is my preferred M.O. during the workweek. Accept a mission, do the mission, and on to the next, while enjoying the atmosphere of being in that virtual world. For me, this is pleasant, relaxing, low key and avoids trying to coordinate with other players when I’m short on time and patience.

More People. More Risk

The Apollo will also be perfect for small group sessions – structured or ad hoc opportunities with my family, friends or gaming buddies. We can take on relatively safe content via missions in high-security areas or venture off on freelance journies to where other players become our content pipeline. Outfitted to defend ourselves and with an escort in tow, we can venture into locations where players are participating in FPS or ship combat. Unless there are medical outposts nearby, our services will be more convenient.

With the expanded planetside content, I think FPS will be a staple for some players. Player run outposts, contesting harvestable resources, and bounty work, both the lawman and the target, will provide ample opportunities for an eager field medic.

I can see myself participating in structured combat encounters such as the scenarios Rexilla is popular for orchestrating. Instead of the combatants being sent elsewhere, the Apollo can be located in a no-kill zone where players from both sides can be healed and sent back into the breach.

Big Ship. Carefully Considered Choices.

Lastly, is the hulking Misc Endeavor Hope. A ship I’m only likely to use in high-security areas unless part of a coordinated event. When I’m captaining a ship of this size, I’m after experiencing the top tier interactions for that profession. I’m looking for the contemplative immersion of being aboard a ship of that size, likely crewed with up to a dozen people just to maintain that one ship. I’m not interested in combat or orchestrating external activity such as escorts. I simply want to have fun being a doctor.

When captaining a large ship, I’m in it for the onboard experiences and interactions.

In most cases, I’ll float around an armistice zone, acting as a spawn point for players who’ve died and tend to any residual damage.  Players who are arriving at the starbase to conduct business or summon ships can also stop in to have old wounds healed. Much like we repair our ships before heading off to the next adventure, the Hope can do the same for the player character. Here again, if the current travel on planets holds true, my hospital will be considerably more convenient than going planetside just to see a doctor.

If the organization I’m part of is having a large scale skirmish, I would also participate by having the ship close enough to give us the advantage of returning our people back to the fight faster. Of course, this would be the highest risk scenario and I’d expect to have escorts and protectors. If we go boom, we go boom.

Other professions can provide similar diversity in content – game generated versus finding freelance work. A spread of group size – solo, small and large. Opportunities where I can choose to take calculated risks. However, of them, I think medical will be in higher demand.

So with one profession and two ships, I can experience all the facets of gameplay I expect in any MMO, especially ones that lean toward being a sandbox. I don’t care what other players are doing, how many ships they have or how much money they can make in comparison. I focus inwardly on defining strategies that let me be successful in doing whatever content I enjoy most.

It’s Not About the Benjamins

The reason I have so many ships is the result of setting up these options for the professions I’m most interested in experiencing. Whether it’s medical, transportation, data running or exploration, I’ve simply pre-established the scenarios that suit my personal objectives for playing Star Citizen.

Any modern MMO worth its salt should cater to a wide range of player types – social, completionists, adventurers and killers. When, where and how they take risks should never be forced. The content should be compelling enough across all spectrums and the risk versus reward artfully designed, that enough players will choose to cross their normal boundaries on occasion.

Games should entice players into deliberate interactions not coerced hack job conflicts.

For me, content options are king in MMOs and combat-only scenarios will never be an inducement. This is why I harp on professions. Without them, there’s no content I’m interested in consuming. I’m fine with combat being a means to an end, which is all it is for me in games that have levels. But if that’s all you’ve got, you don’t have a GAME by my standards. Therefore until the professions arrive, Star Citizen is little more than an attractive husk for me. She’s gorgeous, innovative and complex and yet, just a shell without more professions.

For more details on what we know about the planned medical profession, you can check out a full discussion here.