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.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2 I am not an expert...
12-02-2010, 09:40 PM
I have played many games, and have written many rpg games or adventures for large groups of role players. I am very excited to be able to use the Foundry.

The name of my story is called: Enter the Orion Syndicate.

When I first logged into the foundry, I did not find it to be overly complicated. It took me some tinkering around moments, but once I got an understanding of what the basic tools did, I was able to start designing to story quickly.

I am not sure how this UGC will work. I have used City of Heroes UGC. The tool allowed for 5 maps in a episode. Then you had to string it along to your max of three posted/published limit.

I was able to use the editor tool easily. I still do not fully understand what the top character thing is above the green flag pole.

The story I am trying to create basically starts out where the player is sent to earth to receive orders. The mission person then sends the player to Shipyard requisitions to find the secret orders. When they enter requisitions, they will see the flashing computer on the wall behind the desk. When they interact with the screen, a hologram comes out and gives the basic orders to get the plot moving for the story.

The idea here borrows from the old Mission Impossible show where the main character would go and get his mission orders. In my story, I plan to write them around a 12 part serial style. Each episode hopefully will take a month to play out. SO each part is just one episode of a larger mosaic. I want my stories to be more roleplay focused. What this means is they will be more story driven and not necessarily action driven.

I was able to set the ESD part up relatively fast. The contact then sends the player to the mission liaison located at Drozana Station. I was able to set up the contact at Drozana who is Odumli. He then sends the character to Cestus III a planet in the Regulus sector block. I was able to quickly make the planetary system with the tool. I was able to set the starting point and place a object at the planet for the player to establish a standard orbit. The player must go to Cestus III to gather intelligence on a Orion Syndicate boss named D'anna (pronounced Diana). This first episode is where the character establishes a deep cover as a fighter in a illegal gambling ring. It is the hope of STar Fleet the player will be able to infiltrate the Orion Syndicate here and learn the secrets of Dona D'anna.

I was able to link the point from Drozana to Cestus III easily. I am not sure if it is better to have the characters fly to Cestus III in their own ship. However, I am contemplating this as I explore the tool more.

I was able to make the space port on the ground with the main planet contact there. The player is sent to this village to get the field agent who helps them through the entire story arc. Her name is Tina, and she is a Orion Slave girl, who is a deep undercover operative for Star Fleet Intelligence..

I was able to construct a town for the space port with several buildings and the train station the character will use to go to Leisure City. I was able to construct the interior and exterior of the train station. I was able to set up a clickable console for the player to activate the doors.

I got as far as that and the server went down.

I am trying to create my story from a story board point of view. Or a story teller point of view. I have not figured out how to do the puzzles yet. In our role play stories we do in the game already, we use dice rolls to do task. I am wondering if I can use dice rolls with the foundry. If I can...then I will be able to engineer some neat task.

So far the foundry has been fun.

I do like how the list on the left of the screen itemizes the story events. I have questions about 'objects'. Do we always use objects to move from one map to another. For example, if I want to have a player go into a building from an exterior to an interior set. I use the object tool of the building in the exterior set to have the player interact with the building. Then once the character is in the building (interior set), they zone in via a zone in point. Then I have them move to a desire door (object) via a move to mark tool? I think that last sentence was a question.

To simulate a train at a train station, I used a small building for the exterior prop. Then I had the character go into the building. I was able to get them to the door , where I put a console out in front of the door for the clickable object. Since I do not have an actual train to use, I figure I would just use the door as a transition screen from the Spaceport to the Leisure Town train station.

The player has to go to Leisure town to find a contact/bookie named Swindle Tau ( a Ferengi who coordinates the fights). I want to make a series of task the character has to do to get the support of the bookie. This will allow the character to enter the fight club as a contender. Through the entire arc of the story, the player will be having to do hand to hand fights to make money and earn the trust of the syndicate boss.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
12-02-2010, 09:58 PM
I was able to make a simple mission fairly quickly. I think users will be blown away about all the customization options. I made demo space and ground missions and barely scratched the surface of what the Foundry could do. I'm pysched. Lets get the Tribble back in operations!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
12-02-2010, 10:21 PM
Quote:
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.
Wander options don't work until pathfinding is generated upon publishing a mission. Crunching the data to determine eligible flight-paths or movement requires lots of computing power, something Cryptic handles on special servers.

Most enemy mobs of the same faction as you are friendly.

Quote:
#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.
Y axis is for raising or lowering an object vertically.
X and Z are the horizontal and for forward/backward

Quote:
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.
There is an advanced mode. You ahve to enable it but it didn't do anything in closed beta aside from more behavior options for enemies (like chat, wander, idle, etc.)
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
12-02-2010, 10:29 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren_Kitlor
Wander options don't work until pathfinding is generated upon publishing a mission. Crunching the data to determine eligible flight-paths or movement requires lots of computing power, something Cryptic handles on special servers.
While that makes sense, it also doesn't give us much chance to see what it's going to be like during the stages where we can actually change it. And anyway, I'm more interested in being able to define a set path for a mob or group of them to follow, like patrolling a perimeter, which is what I was trying to get at.

Quote:
Most enemy mobs of the same faction as you are friendly.
Yeah, I know. Didn't have a problem getting that part set up (you can also explicitly set them to friendly, IIRC)

Quote:
Y axis is for raising or lowering an object vertically.
X and Z are the horizontal and for forward/backward
The problem is that changing the Y-axis wasn't doing anything. I know what it's *supposed* to do. My suspicion is that Contact entities override the Y-axis so that they conform their placement to terrain features. Which is awesome on the ground, but not as awesome in space, where they seem to stay at y=0 even if you set it to y=100.

Quote:
There is an advanced mode. You ahve to enable it but it didn't do anything in closed beta aside from more behavior options for enemies (like chat, wander, idle, etc.)
Didn't recall seeing a switch, but if its there then that's good.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
12-02-2010, 10:43 PM
Quote:
The problem is that changing the Y-axis wasn't doing anything. I know what it's *supposed* to do. My suspicion is that Contact entities override the Y-axis so that they conform their placement to terrain features. Which is awesome on the ground, but not as awesome in space, where they seem to stay at y=0 even if you set it to y=100.
On space maps, this number needs to be insanely high.

On ground maps, the NPCs will fall on any objects underneath them. and rest there.
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