Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Hi all,

Just wanted to let everyone know that Iíve published a new Foundry mission. Here are the vitals:

Title: Checks and Balances
ID: ST-HBB7S2UEL
Faction: Starfleet
Level: Any
Start: Defera system, Orellius Sector Block

Description: In the shadow of the Borg invasion of Defera, you are called on to protect the Preserver Archive at Laeínas. When you arrive, however, you find a mystery that takes you beyond explored space and a threat that no one expected.

Itís intended to be a side-mission to the Defera invasion event. It takes its starting point from that event and then tells a related story. It also tries to wrap up a couple of what I thought might be loose ends from the Breen FE (although you don't have to have played the Breen missions).

I just published it today, so obviously Iíd love to see some folks play it soon to get it out of the review bin.

And, as always, feedback is appreciated. There are a couple of things in particular that Iíd like to know if anyone has the time or inclination:

1) Is the first space battle too difficult? Not difficult enough? I tried to spice things up a bit byÖwell, youíll see. It was almost too simple in the Miranda my Foundry test character was in. When I tried it with a larger ship, it got a lot more challenging.

2) A lot of the interactions and dialogues are optionals rather than part of the story. Do you feel like you miss too much? I didnít want to lead the player by the nose at the same time that I tried to give some clear instructions about what to do next.

3) I had originally ended it with a scene in a ready room where you compose a letter of condolences to Captain Nemecís daughter. But that seemed forced and to drag things out. (And, since I had the player add phrases together to create a finished letter, involved a gigantic dialogue treeóif I donít add it here Iíll use it in another mission.) Does the ending seem too quick now?

Hope everyone enjoys playing!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by mygod_itsfullofstars
Hi. First off, thanks for reviewing missions. It's an incredible service that more people (and I'm looking in a mirror here) should take up.

Title: Checks and Balances
ID: ST-HBB7S2UEL
Faction: Starfleet
Level: Any
Start: Defera system, Orellius Sector Block
Federation Mission - Checks and Balances
Author: mygod_itsfullofstars
Allegiance: Federation
Project ID: ST-HBB7S2UEL

----------Report Start-----------

Summary: This is a great mission and story. I would highly recommend this mission to anyone who likes a great story combined with good map design and a battle or two for good measure. There are some nice twists in the story as well. The only other option I would recommend adding is a "Skip Dialog" button followed by a summary of what the player needs to continue the story.

The Foundry limits the author to a linear storyline and the desire to make optional branching stories or outcomes is something that hopefully someday will be added. In the mean time the authors are forced to be creative when it comes to designing dialog that leads the playerís thoughts in one direction and then twists them back to linear storyline without them really noticing thatís what happened. This is not an easy thing for any author to do regardless of experience level. The problem with optional tasks and dialog is the location and trigger of those elements of the story. Also making an optional task or dialog limits its usefulness to the story. It can also cause some follow on dialog to feel out of place or seem awkward. Iíd say many of the "Optional" tasks and dialog you created on the maps for this mission should all be required tasks in a specific order to tell the story. The "Captainís Log" entries on the "USS Eldridge Bridge" were obviously "Optional" but I went and read them. I felt they added more to the story and that is why I made the note I did on that map regarding making that dialog required reading. Anyway, I suspect at this point you get my point.

My feelings regarding use of the response button "Continue" in dialog is quite well known by anyone who has read just about any of my reviews so I wonít go into great detail. Suffice to say you should take a look at its use and see if there is an alternative to it. This is particularly true when it comes to the player as the "Captain" responding to dialog from a BOFF or an NPC. As Iíve indicated before I know Cryptic does this all the time. Perhaps someday theyíll read one of my reviews regarding this point and change their missions too. Well I can hope anyway.

Below are some things I noted while playing the mission that I wanted to let you know about. Everything in this write up should be seen as suggestions on ways I felt you could improve certain elements of the mission. They are yours to do with as you see fit.

Mission Description: This is a good detailed description. The note is good information but try to make it stand out by using [OOC] text.

Grant Mission Dialog: The initial dialog is straight forward and I noted no issues with the pre "Accept" dialog. The follow on dialog is well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with the dialog. I noted one item to consider changing:
-Consider changing "I have an urgent matter to discuss with you but it is far too sensitive to mention, even on a secure channel such as this" to read "I have an urgent matter to discuss with you in person. It is far too sensitive to discuss even on a secure channel".

Mission Task: The first mission task needs to have the location of the first custom map, despite the fact that you indicate it in the "Grant Mission" dialog. Consider changing "Getting Instructions" to read "Getting Instructions: Defera system, Orellius Sector Block".

Mission Entry Prompt: This is an excellent use of the prompt. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this prompt.

MAPS:
Conference Room 2: This is an excellent map design. The story dialog is good. I noted no spelling errors with this dialog or any issues with the map. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-The "Admiral Lin" dialog; consider changing "but there is a much at stake" to read "but there is much at stake".
-The use of the response button "Continue".
-The "Professor Olpar" dialog; the use of the response button "Continue". This will be covered in more detail in the summary.

Lae'nas System: This is a great map design. The story dialog is very well written. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-The map name is "Lae'nas System" but in the initial dialog the Bridge Engineering BOFF refers to it as the "Lea'nas system".
-The use of the response button "Continue".
-At the planet the dialog in response to "What do the scanners reveal"; there are two response buttons labeled "Could there be survivors anywhere else". The second button with that label is the Professor talking about the "second archive". Perhaps label the second one "Professor, what do you think" or something along those lines.

Archive Beta: The map design is well done. The story dialog is well written. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-The use of the response button "Continue".
-Consider adding some dialog to the beam down map transfer from the previous map regarding the professor being made to stay aboard and monitor the situation from the ship due to the potential danger or something along those lines. That way it makes more sense on this map when we access a console and the professor responds but the NPC is not present.
-The NPC Breen group is visible from the moment the player enters the second cave. Consider making their appearance triggered by our approach to the next tunnel entrance or something along those lines. There is a group of enemy visible on the map in that vicinity but it never seemed to trigger their appearance or engagement. Was this intentional?
-Requiring the player to return to the first chamber terminal seems to be unnecessary to make the story interesting. I would suggest adding another console to the second chamber for the purposes of determining the access code or make it accessible from the terminal already in the second chamber. Having to run all the way back to the first chamber to get the code and then come all the way back to enter the code is not intriguing nor does it add to the story.
-After all the steps to get to through into the next tunnel the interaction with the NPC Breen group in the cave seem unnecessary. If there was supposed to be an engagement the NPC Breen group might work, otherwise consider making them just a communication interaction in the story when the Breen ship enters the system.
-The second Breen dialog; consider changing "We were been able to track" to read "We were able to track".

Interstellar Space: The map design is outstanding. I really liked the "Weather Starstreaks WestEast 01" effect you used. Iíve used that in my mission designs and recommend it to others all the time. The story dialog is great. The battles are a nice diversion and an interesting story point. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialog or any issues with the map. I noted one item to consider changing:
-The use of the response button "Continue".

USS Eldridge Bridge: This is a great map design and the battle was really well done. The story dialog is well written. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-The use of the response button "Continue".
-The Navigation console dialog; consider changing "There is no inhabitable planet" to read "There are no habitable planets". It seems to flow better that way.
-Consider making the "Captainís Logs" a required task. As an optional I didnít have to read them, but chose to and there was a lot of good story dialog in them. It would be a shame for all the obvious effort you made in writing them for the player to miss reading them.

Sigma Sagitarii V Space: The map design is very well done. The story dialog is well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialog or any issues with the map.

Sigma Sagitarii V Surface: This is a good map design all though things are spread out just a little too much. Consider moving the interactions closer together. The story dialog is very well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialog. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-The use of the response button "Continue".
-The "Command T'Learis" dialog; consider changing "I am command T'Learis" to read "I am Commander T'Learis". When referring to the rank by itself it is okay to use all lowercase, but when referring to a specific person of that rank it is usually done by capitalizing the first letter of the rank. What this means is when you refer to "the Captain wants this done" then that is the correct usage as you are referring to a specific person. However if you are referring to "a captain would normally want this done" then this would be correct.
-As I entered the platform I passed by the NPC Breen and spoke with him. I secured his help and then when I went to "Talk to Shirok" I was told to talk to the Breen to secure his help and then "Speak to Shirok". Since I had already spoken to the Breen it seems pointless to have me speak to him again. Also because I'd already spoken to him the option to "Speak to Shirok" was already available as soon as I approached and havenít even fought anyone. Consider making all these conversations required separate tasks that must be completed in the story before the next task. This would help the story flow better.

Sigma Sagitarii V Space Redux: This is a good map design and a nice wrap up to the story. The story dialog is very well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialog or any issues with the map. I noted one item to consider changing:
-The use of the response button "Continue".

---------End Report----------

Thanks again for authoring and for giving me the chance to review your work. You did a very good job with the development of this mission and the story. The details of the story were well thought out and intriguing. Keep up the great work.
Brian

This critique report also filed 02/18/2012 on forum posting for: In depth mission reports upon request.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
02-23-2012, 01:20 PM
Thanks again for the review. I've made a bunch of the changes you suggested already and will continue to refine and adjust things as time passes.

I've readjusted some of the combat, which was (particularly the last ground battle) pretty challenging. Now I'm wondering if the fighting isn't challenging enough. I'm especially curious about the space fight.

I also changed the end to match up with my original vision. I had a sense that things should end on a quiet note and something about creating a ship's morgue just felt right. I also wanted to experiment with having a player actually compose a letter, albeit a simple one.

I'll note any other major changes as I make them.

In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
02-23-2012, 04:33 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mygod_itsfullofstars
Thanks again for the review. I've made a bunch of the changes you suggested already and will continue to refine and adjust things as time passes.

I've readjusted some of the combat, which was (particularly the last ground battle) pretty challenging. Now I'm wondering if the fighting isn't challenging enough. I'm especially curious about the space fight.

I also changed the end to match up with my original vision. I had a sense that things should end on a quiet note and something about creating a ship's morgue just felt right. I also wanted to experiment with having a player actually compose a letter, albeit a simple one.

I'll note any other major changes as I make them.

In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy!
Glad I could help. It was a lot of fun as well.

Thanks for authoring
Brian
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
02-25-2012, 08:55 PM
Stay tuned for my first Bitesize UGC review. This mission, with some tweaks, would be one of the main contenders for top of the class. I'll try to find time to do a full sbugc illustrated review after Bitesize.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
02-26-2012, 03:52 AM
A fantastic Trek adventure with lots of great mechanics, dialogue and character development. Definitely one of the best I've played, amazing work!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
02-26-2012, 08:49 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil70th
Glad I could help. It was a lot of fun as well.

Thanks for authoring
Brian
Now THAT was a great review!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
02-26-2012, 10:50 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tucana
Now THAT was a great review!
Thanks for the compliment. The full review above the one you quoted was pretty great and so was the follow up you quoted.

Glad I could help.
Brian
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
02-26-2012, 04:02 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirkfat View Post
Stay tuned for my first Bitesize UGC review. This mission, with some tweaks, would be one of the main contenders for top of the class. I'll try to find time to do a full sbugc illustrated review after Bitesize.
That's really high praise, thank you very much. I'm very much humbled. I have to say, like a lot of folks I'm sure, I wouldn't be able to create missions like this if it wasn't for your tutorials. I'm also looking forward to trying Helna of Troy. I've heard good things about it.

I'm definitely open to any suggestions anyone has about how I can improve things too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stylsy View Post
A fantastic Trek adventure with lots of great mechanics, dialogue and character development. Definitely one of the best I've played, amazing work!
Thanks a lot. Also, congrats on having The Vornan Rebellion played on PUG TV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tucana
Now THAT was a great review!
I'm actually quite surprised, with such in-depth reviews, Evil70th has the time to make missions too. I'm assuming he doesn't sleep.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
02-26-2012, 04:20 PM
Well, it turns out Bitesize has to review a different mission, so I wrote this review instead.

http://starbaseugc.com/index.php/ugc...tsfullofstars/

I do have some technical stuff that I'd like to point out:

Increase size of reach marker at planet (flying between planets, moons, and debris), because I get stuck trying to avoid the atmosphere in my excelsior.

Also, I didn't understand why the ship appeared when I chose to go to the planet first. Probably a limitation of the Foundry?

The triggers on the desert planet seemed a litlle awkward. I could complete the task without fighting by talking to the Vulcan. She told me to return to her, so I did immediately.

Also, I would experiment with using invisible objects at the ring and the other place, when you tell people to go north, or go east, but the things to find aren't exaclty north or exactly east. Put an invis object set to go invis with this component complete. Make interacting with it the first task, whether it's disguised as something else. That should make the tricorder direct players to the scene.

I can easily see people getting lost on that map.

Those are my only tech suggestions. I didn't see any typos.
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