All good things – 10 years of USS Providence
This article was written by FSF Josh. The phrase “All good things must come to an end” resonates with many Star Trek fans. That was a key line and the title theme of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s final episode. For many fans, that held true. The series had developed into a mature science fiction show that in many ways eclipsed the original show from the 60’s. Its 7 year span had brought many adventures to the screen for fans to enjoy. Sims can be just as entertaining and, for the most part, more interactive and expansive than any television series. It offers the opportunity for players to be creative with fictional characters, creating and expanding upon a story world that, if built right, will catapult players and their imaginations into a world that makes them feel like they are living their favorite Trek series. It was with this intent that I created the Providence simulation in 2003.
SEE ALSO: An introduction to USS Providence
Ever since its inception, I’ve done my best to provide stories with feeling, with deep backstories, or just immersive experiences that left players and writers feeling as if they had been a part of the Star Trek universe. Whether these missions were more routine assignments in the Federation or exploring strange worlds outside of colonized space, the Providence’s tasks have been diverse. Over the past ten years, it has covered a variety of assignments, stories, and environments. Initially, when it launched in 2003, the ship was a Nova-class science vessel exploring the unknown 5 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. The galaxy was relatively peaceful, which bode well for the science vessel and its lack of armaments. However, one of the ship’s early assignments had it come across a new and threatening species, the Litvokians, who were territorial, predatory, and very difficult to negotiate with.
The introduction of the Litvokians to Providence was my tip of the hat to the Dominion in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. They ended up becoming a major backdrop that, while not featured in every story, you knew that something was up with them somewhere else in the galaxy. The first few years had them in a cold war of sorts with Starfleet. Initially, their technology seemed inferior, but as the years went on, it became apparent that they were learning, growing, and even being helped by outside sources. As a result of the changing climate, and the need to move to a better suited vessel, the Providence changed into what is known online as an Excelsior-B class vessel. I had loved the Nova-class that the ship originally was, but I was intrigued by the images I had seen of the Excelsior-B, hosted on the famed Star Trek Australia website which, sadly, is no longer online. By the time of this ship change, the Providence game itself had become a part of the Federation Sim Fleet and was receiving more attention. The original science vessel had worked well with my initial command character, a young Captain eager to explore the frontier. The new stories that were to come, filled with conflict, deep character profiles, and even some political overtones, as well as the stronger, more defense capable vessel, required a command character with a stronger persona. This lead me to creating one of my longest lasting characters, one that I became quite attached to, with several new facets brought into play that I had never done before. He was a veteran, a seasoned command officer who knew how to run an effective starship. He also was a family man, with a wife serving in the medical field and three young children accompanying them (with a fourth on the way). All of this helped me to expand my creative abilities and lead me to developing stories in ways I may not have originally thought. Sometimes, I would sit down and write up about 5 or 6 story ideas, lay them out on a timeline, and plan out how they could all work together and interact to form a compelling, comprehensive, and believable narrative. I wanted consistent stories as the sim progressed. My character’s family, however, always helped to bring some additional tones to my story plans. How would his children react? How would my character, as a father, react in a given situation? How would his family life affect the way he would respond to certain encounters? I believe those considerations helped me to keep stories flowing in a way that they could potentially reach the heart of my players. As the game progressed and grew, so did my creative abilities. I certainly believe that my writing abilities have improved much in the past ten years. And of course, some of the things that were done on Providence would not have been possible without the support of the other members of the game. It is amazing how the presence of other creative individuals can affect what you write. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to write and create with quite a few brilliant individuals. Their contributions had long-lasting effects on the game and will not be forgotten.
In recent years, the story has gone down a darker path. The main galactic powers are on the verge of major conflict, established systems are falling apart, and the conflict with the Litvokians has reached a head, with an open war now occurring between them and the Federation and its allies. But to me, as Providence’s creator, this isn’t a cause of concern. Most of the major plot points over the years were originally developed years ago. And the time has now come to play through those final points. Ten years ago, my life was much different than it is today. I was freshly out of school, with plenty of free time to devote to online games and role-plays. However, that is no longer true. My time is much more limited as the responsibilities of life and family have taken the portions that they rightly deserve. So as my life moves into another chapter, it seemed only right that the Providence move on, as well. To me, the Providence story has been an ever flowing book. The time has come to turn the final pages of the closing chapter. What role does Providence play in the history of the Alpha Quadrant? What will be its legacy? There are only a couple of games left to play. The finale on May 23rd will wrap up the Providence saga and bring a decade of Star Trek writing to a close. Will another chapter open in the future? Time will tell. But for me, it has been a fun ride. I hope all that have had even the slightest part on Providence feel the same way. “It’s been a long road, getting from there to here. It’s been a long time, but my time is finally near.” This article was written by FSF Josh, who is Communications Director for the Federation Sim Fleet (FSF).