Let's start with the orbital view of Vulcan.
Over the decades, the appearance of Vulcan has changed. In fact, it does't look the same from one show to the next. Let's go chronologically, shall we:
It starts with Enterprise -- the planet's surface resembles a deserted wasteland from space:
|Someone has to feel bad for T'Pol.|
Then CPT Kirk has to do some ritual designed to suppress the Vulcan libido. His first visit is botched because he forgot to bring his antiquated BluRay viewer:
|Some special effects, huh?|
When CPT Picard drops in, he finds a planet with geology similar to Earth. The polar ice caps are nearly identical. It's fascinating.
|"Data, is this the right planet?"|
And so we're in STO. The planet looks like a craterized moon with bits of water here and there. But it's just a game, right?
Well, there's a bit more to it than that. One side has ALL dirt, while the other side has ALL water:
My point here is, the orbital view doesn't seem all that critical here. Andoria was done beautifully, but it seems the dev's didn't put as much effort into Vulcan. Nothing actually happens out here at present. So, while annoying and obvious, it isn't all that important.
The system entrance has an orbital platform which is never mentioned or used at any point in game. I guess it's assumed that Federation planets have these huge things to act as relay towers so they can communicate. And there are several mentions of them orbiting Earth in TNG and DS9 (although none are visible in Endgame, but Voyager doesn't count), Even so, these towers are so critical to the Federation I feel they should somehow be incorporated directly rather than being used as scenery.
So something goes wrong (memory core gets hacked, a space microbe attaches itself to the hull and feeds on the metals available, the planetary grid misses a tiny space rock and it destroys something)...the catalyst itself isn't critical. I'm thinking it could be done like the first part of Coliseum, with various consoles to activate and puzzles to solve. The cause itself is a mystery until the end when conclusions can be drawn. Was it sabotage? No, it was just a bloody space rock! I would lean away from having enemies there to kill, unless they're deranged Trellium-D addicted zombie Vulcans. Okay, that seriously would NOT work here. It would be much more Trek if there was a non-violence based mission somewhere in the universe. And Vulcan seems the perfect place for it.
This could be a chain of mini-missions, or just 2 or 3 optional extras. There is a random diplomacy mission in the Bajor system that isn't spoken of, nor does it unlock anything. This could be one such mission. You come to Vulcan for something else, check in with the relay/repair station prior to beaming down, and they say something's wrong. If you accept the mission, it begins like any other. If you decline, nothing happens and they say they can handle it. This would be a nice repeatable for expertise.
So now we're on to the ground.
There's only one mission on Vulcan that isn't related to the PVE content (and only one that is). You have to run around talking to people. And finding them in random ass places that make NO logical sense. Really. After that, there's no real reason to come back to Vulcan. So I'm going to skip that part and get to the planet and its map.
The beam down point appears to be a temple complex. Vulcans are known for their temples, after all.
|Looks sacred, don't it?|
|Walking down the stairs a bit -- more temple looking stuff|
|Looks like they stole water from Disneyland.|
|Nice place ya got there.|
|It's a Vulcan Keep-Out House|
|Remember the rocks from The Arena?|
|No semi-dead Gorn here.|
|Generic desert rocks|
|The city from a distance|
|The base of the big hill|
|Halfway up the hill|
And at the top of the platform (behind the ritual area) is the entrance to -- something. Okay, really nothing. It's a Vulcan temple that we don't have access to.
The mission could then be to find the right tablet (or scroll, or whatever). Maybe a few relics would have the answers but they're hidden around the map? I remember there being an entire cellar full of sacred relics somewhere on the planet. It would make sense if we had a mission where a monk needs help going through the massive volume of treasures to find a few specific pieces to complete a text or prove a point. Vulcans can be arrogant, hard-headed bastards. Maybe the issue could be that two researchers disagree on certain events for lack of information. They have two different interpretations and don't see eye to eye. Then we come in and gather the info needed to prove the quest giver right.
And then there are the random organized meditation groups. These could be monks, or apprentices, or who the hell knows. They're just there. Maybe they're young Vulcans learning how to mind meld. The proper technique does take practice, provided they don't want to cause Pa'Nar Syndrome.
So the last thing I want to point out is this group of Vulcans. They all appear to be talking about something, but there's no interacting with them. A cutscene of their conversation would make a perfect intro to a mission start. They could be discussing the research I mentioned above, or some missing artifact, or any number of other things. Maybe someone is lost in the desert and isn't doing Kolinahr and the mission is to find them.
Or even better -- how about using one of the famous Vulcan temples for a non-story mission? We could examine the ruins of P'Jem (the one Shran destroyed) on that unnamed planet (and possibly even the ruins of the listening post they hid there).
Let's not forget the one where the Kir'shara was found, given that it was actually ON Vulcan. The bodies of the ancient Vulcans could be hiding something. Maybe a new corpse is hidden among the old ones? Or there's a crypt that appears to have been looted long ago, but is actually hiding something sinister?
And what of the Kir'shara itself? Shouldn't it be on display in its own temple somewhere? Or how about making it the centerpiece of a museum of Vulcan history, with a mission that involves investigating certain artifacts?
And here's an idea for an arc.
Okay, we all know Enterprise had a million opportunities to be something, only to piss them all away. Let's not go there. Remember instead that T'Pol was a drug addict. This was the first time Trek actually *almost* dealt with the issue first hand (rather than second hand, like in TOS and TNG). While my personal feeling is that it would have made a lot more sense if a human was an addict, the Vulcan thing opens the door to other exploration of the species. For one thing, T'Pol would have to completely relearn how to suppress her emotions. This is wonderful for us, as all we know about is that the training starts in early childhood and ends with Kolinahr. We could potentially see the middle part, and add some purpose to the temples Vulcan is so famous for. You know, aside from killing random Klingons and bloodshed in sacred places and whatnot.
I came up with this chain of potential missions.
- There's a Vulcan medic (doctor, scientist, something similar) who discovers that one of his patients is addicted to (*add substance here*). Trellium-D (or beetle snuff or Ketracel White) could work here, but really any fictional substance could serve the game's purpose.
- You have to help him find a treatment. The treatment would consist of gathering materials (including the substance in question) to keep the patient stable.
- Upon gathering the materials, a lab would be used to test biochemical reactions to the compound (much like the one on Deep Space K-7).
- Since the damage is permanent (thus incurable), you would have to take the patient to different temples around the planet for different rituals. What they consist of and how the player interacts would largely depend on the devs. I would say simply escorting the patient to and from each temple would suffice. Maybe some simple interactions would be more emmersive, like lighting candles or preparing meditation rooms for use.
- Each temple or ritual would show a different level of practice, or a different method of emotional suppression.
- I also had the thought that part of the journey could involve a valley, a dust storm, and sehlats. Maybe one of those "you have to protect him from the beasts to get to the temple" kinda deals.
Given the lack of interiors on Vulcan, I'm thinking it would be nice if we could see the ShiKahr Academy. Or better -- how about the Vulcan Science Academy? You know -- that place whose council members pissed off Spock in the reboot? Its purpose could be simple -- DOff science missions relating to the planet, BOff training in less common skills, or something similar. A few random cutscenes would be nice just to introduce the place and whatnot. I dunno...just hit me suddenly.