Captain's Log: The Foundry and you

Captain's Log, Stardate 64750.3...

Hello, computer (and players)! "Ceeeeelebrate good times, come on!" That's right, captains -- it's time to let the good times roll and the never-ending content stream to begin. Earlier this week, Larry Everett helped break Star Trek Online's news drought with his post about the Foundry being moved from the test server, nicknamed Tribble, to the live server, aka Holodeck. (I've always thought the test server should have been called Holodeck, but that is a discussion for another day.) For those of you who do not know by now, the Foundry is a user-generated content (UGC) toolset that allows players to create their own missions and episodes.

Since late last year, volunteer testers have been creating hundreds of missions and pushing them out for captains of all ranks to try. Co-developed by Cryptic devs who are working at implementing the system in the upcoming Neverwinter game, the Foundry has gone through extensive changes since its inception -- the evolution of the toolset has actually provided a platform for some UGC episodes that rival those made by Cryptic. But what does this really mean for STO players?

Ensign, warp 10! Let's talk about STO's "saving grace."

While still in its beta stage (despite being on Holodeck), the Foundry is being acclaimed as STO's saving grace and a game-changing addition that will separate STO from the rest of the sci-fi genre MMOs. While the tools themselves are difficult to learn at first sight, even the most amateur of players can bring his Star Trek stories to life after a few hours of playing around. Some may choose to use pre-made maps, while others will want to start with a blank canvas. When I created my first mission, "Classified," I chose to use the pre-existing social map of Memory Alpha for the ground portion and a custom map for space.

In addition to maps, the Foundry allows you to customize the NPCs and enemies in your mission. Cryptic is known for its customization options, as highlighted in my livestream from last week -- these have been ported into the Foundry. One customization that has worked quite well is using "skins" of random ships and placing them on a class of ship from a particular in-game enemy. This allows the author to choose what types of weapons the player encounters, which can provide for a higher level of difficulty. (Check out this trailer for a Foundry mission made by @soriedem!)

One of the latest updates to the Foundry has been the addition of branching dialogue tree creation and triggers. Picture Captain Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise trying to reason with a Romulan Commander whose warbird just decloaked on the Federation side of the Neutral Zone. Picard has to say the right thing if he wants to avoid all out war. The same scenario can be created in a Foundry mission -- say the wrong thing and that warbird could begin firing on you. These tools will also allow for diplomatic and first contact missions to be created -- better talk that alien race into joining the Federation before the Klingons attempt a treaty.

Speaking of Klingons, I believe that the Foundry will bring new life to the KDF faction. Many players have not rolled a Klingon toon due to the lack of PvE content, but now authors will be able to create Klingon-specific content that will allow players to level up without much of a grind or having to play hundreds of PvP rounds. The developers have stated that they are not relying on the Foundry to bring the red faction more in line with Federation content; instead, there will be some major updates and content pushes with the release of Season Four sometime this Spring. Not coincidentally, my livestream from yesterday focuses on the current state of the Klingon faction:

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Some authors are getting very creative with some of the missions they are making. Matthew Cashion, a new Foundry user, created a map that will allow players to practice their jumping skills for one of the game's raids. "Infected" requires you to jump from platform-to-platform without falling into a pit filled with insta-kill plasma. Many PUGs will get to the end of this raid only realize that no one knows how to jump. When asked about his endeavors, Matthew told us that "the Foundry is not only a tool for creating some of the best missions seen in Star Trek Online; it is also a tool for creating training missions that can help teach players to become better at specific tasks." If you would would like to practice your spacebar tapping skills, search for "Infected Jump Simulator" by @4ID in the "community authored" tab of your mission log. (And if you have a creative mission that you would like me to check out, send it to

As you can tell from our community guide, the STO fanbase is one of the best in the universe -- there are so many gamers who are playing the game and supporting each other by providing a wealth of information and resources. Fansites such as StarbaseUGC and STOFoundry provide UGC authors a place to call home. Not only can you post the missions you make and have them reviewed by fellow readers, but each site also features blogs that share the latest Foundry news, provide hints and tips to make great missions, display tutorial videos, and occasionally even feature player missions while providing critique from the experts -- this is the best way to get the word out about your missions to the rest of the community. Both are thriving communities and a pleasure to be a part of.

Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. Before you go, I did want to leave you with a little food for thought that counters a popular argument that is flying around the official STO forums. Players are claiming that unless you have a lifetime subscription, using the Foundry basically means that you are paying to create your own content for the game. In all honesty, I would pay double the monthly subscription for the chance of making my Star Trek dream episodes become a reality -- what about you? Make sure to tune into my STO livestream next week as we spend an hour playing around with the Foundry tools. Until then, keep boldly going and never look back... or maybe take a look at the official Foundry trailer!

Computer, terminate recording.

Boldly going where no one has gone before, Brandon Felczer transmits Captain's Log through Subspace right to your PADD every Thursday. Join him as he discusses the latest news, gossip, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Hailing frequencies are always open to his bridge through
This article was originally published on Massively.