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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 1 Foundry: Initial Thoughts
12-02-2010, 07:53 PM
So, having spent some time with the Foundry today, and given my own personal background, I feel it's worthwhile to lay down some extended thoughts regarding my experiences with it today.

First, a disclaimer, sort of: I'd consider myself an "expert user". I'm experienced with level and mission editors, having used more than a few of them in the past; I'm a trained designer working on an MFA. The point is, I expect my experiences and expectations to differ from most people, but that's probably still worth hearing about.

Anyway.

First off is a quick gripe about the other end of the creation process: playing and reviewing missions. I got the chance to do a couple of these, and the comments field, frankly, is WAY too small. Four lines of text is not enough to leave the author enough real critique when they need it, and I would genuinely like to be able to give real feedback as how to improve a person's mission work. I played one today that had a lot of promise, but was hampered by some easily-rectified mistakes. Except I really had no room to go into any of the things that needed fixing. Since we're not allowed to "call people out" on the forums, even when we're trying to help, we really need more room to be helpful in comments. I consider this a somewhat critical issue in terms of building a good community of creators and reviewers.

Okay, moving on.

First, I love the Foundry. This is great stuff, and i can't wait to see where it goes and get my hands deeply into doing some cool stuff with it.

One of the things I found myself doing today in learning the tools was building my fleet's shipyards in a space map, just for fun. While I was doing this, it occurred to me that if the Foundry was modified a little bit, we could build social hub style maps that would form the foundations for Fleet bases. Eventually, of course, nifty functionality could be added in. Please consider this. I already have fleeties asking if we can subvert the system to finally build us a real starbase to hang out in, but I don't like the idea of subverting the system at all. I could, however, see using the foundry to build out a little space map that links up to one or two ground maps just like the social hubs already have set up, and then these get linked to a Transwarp to Fleet Base ability. Then eventually, things like the capability to place vendors and such could be given out to fleets if it's desirable.

Moving on... I feel like the Foundry is really missing out on some basic functions that full-blown editors have left me expecting. Important ones. But consider this suggestions, since they're not 100% required.
  • Selecting multiple objects and moving/rotating them as a unit, for instance, would be nice (this doesn't have to involve a grouping function, though that would be cool).
  • Copy and Paste of objects in a map and whatever else it makes sense for. Please, please.
  • Being able to save/import a map. Or other template tools. If I have a mission, or several missions, that pass back through an area, i really don't want to try to rebuild it exactly every time I use it. That's a rough way to work.
  • Some sort of 2D outline preview thing of the stuff you're placing on a map (especially in space). Right now, I've got to jump into the map 4-5 times to figure out right where say, a drydock needs to sit next to a station to feel right. If I had a better idea of shape than the bounding box, I could cut the time wastage way down.
  • Some REALLY awesome, detailed documentation. If I'm confused in trying to replicate some of the stuff we see in game, I know other people are totally lost.
  • This may be available already, but I REALLY wanted to set some ambiance by having friendly ship squadrons patrol around the station. But there's no way to give them a path to follow (Wander doesn't seem to have anything to do with that?) This would be a great thing for bringing maps to life, in space and on the ground.
  • I'm actually not sure this is a bug, but in space, when you put an NPC contact on the map, changing the y-position doesn't do anything-- they stay at 0. I assume this is because they snap to the terrain on the ground and you don't want them floating, but in space, you may not want everything on a single plane. I've been using NPC Contacts for stationary "decoration ships" on space maps in lieu of better options-- things like named ships parked in drydocks, but the Y-placement causes some issues there.
  • A basic/advanced mode option to give both casual and expert users a good, solid experience would be really awesome. Let casual users get what they need and avoid the complications of what they don't, and let more advanced users get at the stuff that they can use to really make stuff shine-- this is something that UGC tools rarely think to do well, in my experience.

Okay, all that said, I am super-impressed with how much can be done with the tools. It's great stuff! I've already played a mission where I was sent to DS9 to jump through the wormhole, and it basically all worked great, which is really something! I'm really looking forward to seeing what else can get done with the tools at our disposal.

Overall, it's one of the better-implemented and designed UGC toolsets I've seen, so I'm excited for where it's going from here, my own usability nitpicks aside.

Fake Edit: Holy crud, my sig is out of date... gotta fix that.