One of the trickiest parts of an MMO these days is how to deal with holidays.
We celebrate the holidays in real life, and there’s an expectation these days that our “second lives” should also do so. The problem is that it isn’t always obvious on how to do so. For some games, it’s pretty easy: the games set in current times, or even the near future or past. Halloween is Halloween; Christmas (ahem, the “Winter Holidays”), New Years, and such. It makes sense in those games because it makes sense in real life. Where things get a little more complicated is where we go well beyond the bounds of what we know-the far future or the fantasy settings.
World of Warcraft, as usual, managed to make it their own. Most every major holiday is celebrated in some form (some stranger than others) in the setting of Azeroth. Lord of the Rings Online has a few as well, although it’s tricky to work into the general setting of Middle Earth. Then you start getting stretches, like in Star Wars Galaxies; Life Day is justified as the Christmas (ahem, the “Winter Holiday”) event, thanks to that holiday special that George Lucas would rather everyone forgot, but Halloween is a bit harder to justify. And don’t get me started on the Valentine Ewoks. Just don’t.
Star Trek Online didn’t look ripe for a holiday event, either. And officially, it didn’t have one. Unofficially, though, you could say that the current series of weekly episodes are a decent stand in. You’ve got your ghosts showing up in the form of the alien Devidians (originally appearing co-starring with Data’s head). And on the Halloween weekend, they had a reasonable haunted house in the form of the sublevels of the Drozana station-complete with Devidians, dark hallways and rooms lit by a single flashlight, dropping architecture, and even a really creepy serial killer. Most of the forums over at STO claim that this episode may well be the best one they’ve done, and I’m hard pressed to argue. Science Fiction is a genre that can mix well with many other genres, and this episode showed that horror can do just fine for STO.
Could it mean another similar event or episode next year at around this time? Hard to say. An annual “event” that isn’t obviously Halloweenish but holding true to its spirit-like with what the latest weekly has done-could do well for STO. I can’t see how they’d pull off Christmas (ahem, the “Winter Holidays”); but as it’s the “season of giving”, I could see something following the vein of the “aid the planet” missions going on.
And then there’s always Q, of course….