I just did AdmiralMurphy's "Victory is Q" -- his Jem'Hadar ship contest competition opposite my "Final Judgement" -- and the review box just didn't contain enough space for me to go into detail. I find it interesting in some respects that we both had the Undine figure in although, really, Murphy had so many different enemies involved, there was bound to be overlap.
First of all, I gave it four stars but my feelings on it are just a tad more complicated than that.
- Lovely space environments. I can see that this is where Murphy's passion is all around (more on this later) and Murphy shows his mastery of the Foundry toolset in full force here.
-Really challenging space fights against a wide variety of enemies..
- Q's personality is great and really comes across.
- Some interesting and funny use of tech.
On this point, I feel like there was a "Kitchen sink" approach to tech, by which I mean there were some clear gimmicks for the sake of gimmicks. I can be guilty of this too. The martini glass with the dance interact has been a staple of a lot of missions since the Foundry was on Redshirt although I could see this is, in some ways, where Murphy is cutting loose a bit more and doing a more fun episode than a pure action story -- although it is an action romp.
I also had this nagging feeling that Murphy has an extreme bias towards space combat. That's okay as I have a real bias towards seeing my avatar on the ground. My own bias is rooted in how many episodes never actually had space combat in them whereas I suppose Murphy's bias is rooted in a love of the space mechanics, which are a novel part of what makes STO unique on the MMO market. In this respect, I feel our missions, both dealing with Jem'Hadar ships, compliment eachother quite well and you could probably play both for a balance.
If there was one thing that did feel shaky to me, it was whenever I wound up on a ground map. I felt like Murphy was taking any detour possible to avoid ground combat or ground interactions and that his skill with custom construction seemed just a hare off for someone who is otherwise such a master of the Foundry. He did use the dissolving corridor technique, which I've used a time or two myself, although I can imagine some groups having trouble since several of my BOs fell to the ground immediately. The work was evident but the comfort level seemed lower.
There were several typos, very few and all towards the beginning. I'm also bigger on topical newspaper style line breaks and there's something about Murph's line breaks that just didn't look right to me. The dialogue was otherwise clean and clear and managed to be peppered with humor and some flowery "duty minded" language from Thompson. I note that Murphy used yellow text for extended comments by the player and I felt just a bit led by the nose but he did make a good effort overall at offering choices.
If I had to cite one major flaw, it's that the plot felt very much like an excuse for a series of random space fights Murphy wanted to play through. The variety was appreciated and made for engaging action but I felt this Q was particularly arbitrary outside of a hint about "scanning rocks" and that detracted from the story's dramatic weight because everything felt like it was on Q's whim and "making things interesting" without any more nuance than that seemed to border on a fourth wall breaking love letter to space combat.
Basically, Q wasn't dramatically relevant to the heart of the story but acted as more of a B-plot that doubles the length and breaks up the combat, while helping to give the story a funny beat to end on. There was no inherent test aside from how well I could blow things up without getting blown up and while that would pass for a mission against most enemies in Trek, I expect more out of a Q.
Also... I wasn't exactly clear but during the foray into fluidic space, we're told that Undine beamed aboard our ship and go to investigate. The hallway is somewhat of a clue that something is up and then the lack of Undine aboard our ship or a mention of what happened to them (assuming they were real) was a dangling detail for me. I realize there's an obvious answer that Q simply made them vanish but I didn't get anything from the detour into fluidic space aside from how it covered theplot proceeding without us.
Then, we have the Romulans showing up, which comes out of nowhere. I didn't feel like this was foreshadowed at all or that it furthered the story. Murphy might do more with both the Klingon and Romulan villains here since they both survived, but I felt like they showed up.
Solidly constructed and thoroughly entertaining. Everything makes a relative amount of sense. The gameplay is engaging. The gimmicks are rarely too distracting. The space maps are pretty to look at.
My REAL one complaint, and this is as a nitpicky narratologist, is that we have a standard call to action at the beginning and Murphy puts a button on the story at the end but there's not quite a full and solid arc connecting them, leading it to be what comics legend Dennis O'Neil calls a "one d*mn thing after another" plot structure. The narrative arc isn't exactly smooth. I could say the same of a lot of stories out there, from blockbusters to many novels, but it feels like it's EVER so slightly underbaked because of this... and I'm probably holding Murph to a higher standard based on his reputation and the praise lavished on him in the past.
Great work. Keep picking up more Foundry slots, Murphy. Like I say, four stars all around and I look forward to what you have for us in the future.
It's interesting to see the similiarities between missions that are used for the same contest. Final Judgement and Victory is Q employ similar elements. In that you both have the Jem'hadar ship as the macguffin and the plot continues on from there as "the one d*mn thing after another".
Both in some way use undine, and both have their humour. (Less obvious in Final Judgement but still it's there :p)
Then compare mine and sori's mission More Than Just Missing and the KDF The Fires of Prometheus.
Both bring in a bajoran NPc, both are more tied to the lore of the Jem'hadar ships, both involve fighting along side the Jem'hadar ship, both involve science/engineering feats (via interacts) and both have space/ground combat.
Yet every single story is different and unique. This for me is one of the great things about the foundry are the many different approaches that we take. We all had the same brief to do a story based on finding/capturing an Abandoned Jem'hadar ship. Something we've all done and yet all are very different stories.
Admiral Murphy is a comical Jaunt with the Q being Q. Leviathan99 is essentially a police prodcedural except you get to bash up and kill the real purpertrators (aka the Undine). Sori's is a plea for more KDF content - Klingons are smart. and mine is an alternate universe story.
I'd hate to be the podcastugc crew and try to weigh up these completely different styles of missions but in any case I think the foundry now has 4 new great missions for people to enjoy.
What's really going to be interesting about all these projects is who is closest on the money when it comes to the final showing of the official cryptic episodes.
So far I like how each on has just the right amount of space open for any blunt explanation cryptic throws out there. They are all eluding to the same reason, Prophet/Wormhole alien magic, but each have there own things to get in the way. May it be a court case or a dimensional rift.
I will say I'm glad I haven't seen a mission just throw a Jem'Hadar ship in it for the sake of the plot and then have a mission that is completely unrelated to it.
When I've hit spots where I really want to use a full name, I do it like this: "[Rank] [Lastname], [Firstname]," .
Way I figure it, to a captain with one name it's just like the dialog speaker knows that, and is just cutting back to a shorter form of it. To a first and last name it's the same thing, but the speaker is dropping to casual or announcing the first name, and for Bajorins and anyone else with Last name first, they get to feel special. Not perfect, but it's not like you would use it everywhere.
Although, I'm loving the Nickname button, but a [FullNameBio] button or something to take that first full name line of a captain's chosen Bio name (with format of last first or first last) would be sooo much of a headache remover if you want to use a full name.