In regards to the OP, I think Cryptic should do a lot more to leverage the Foundry content. However, it just seems so far from the reality of the situation, that I don't know if it's even worth contemplating. Regardless, I'll add three possible suggestion of how this could be done.
Raising Missions To Official Status
This idea has been mentioned previously, and is the minimum of what should be done. Cryptic would go through the highest rated missions, with at least a minimum number of plays, and then select and vet some of those missions to be made semi-official.
For simplicity, these would be considered "soft canon", much like the books are considered "soft canon" compared to the on screen ST episodes. This way the UGC missions could still be overruled by 100% official missions, so the STO team doesn't have to spend tons of time trying to keep track of all of the semi-official story lines.
These semi-official episodes would have their own official rewards and experience, and be fed to the players in a more official way (instead of checking the Foundry, a specific NPC gives them out, much like other storyline missions).
Right now the game is short on content, but the fact is this sort of stamp of approval to convince many people to play the UGC missions. The truth is, a lot of people will not even consider playing a Foundry episode, because they aren't official. I've seen statements like that in the forums. Even in this very thread some are making a distinction between "amateurs" and "professionals", even though it's kind of silly. The fact is not every talented writer/content creator works at it as a profession (and I know some "professional" MMO content creators myself).
Taking this one step further, there could be a monthly contest, where one Foundry episode is selected and the creator "wins" $500-$1000, or something along those lines, and the episode is made official. This could be completely automated, where the highest rated Foundry mission on 11:59 PM of the last day of the month, with a minimum of 1000 plays is automatically selected (of course then it is vetted to make sure it doesn't violate any rules). Or, the devs could vet the top 10 missions meeting their criteria and make the final selection through some more subjective means.
Now, the question is, why pay, when people will already do this for free? The reason is, the contest would be as much of a promotion, as it is a tool to generate content. The fact this contest exists would encourage some would-be authors out there to pick up the game and start making missions (as silvers they're either going to have to sub, or pay for Foundry access to get started). It draws more people to the game and to the Foundry, and it probably would also generate some publicity.
See, the Foundry doesn't have to be some after thought, it can be a money maker too!
This sort of thing is not unheard of. There have been other game design related contests, like the Make Something Unreal contest (that one actually pays significant money if you win, this would obviously be on a much smaller scale).
Paying Authors On Commission
Now, taking things one step even further. Winners of the previously mentioned contest, could be hired on commission to make more content using the Foundry tools. Once again this would further the promotional nature of the Foundry, while also providing more content for the game ("So and so won the STO Foundry Contest for the month of December, and now he's being paid to make another mission!").
Now, the beauty of this, is certain guidelines would be laid down, and if for whatever reason the person doesn't produce, then they're not paid. You don't need another person on salary. You don't need to worry whether they work well with a team. If they don't end up working out, then nothing is lost.
Originally Posted by J-Sheridan
Incidentally, Cryptic need WAY more technical devs than anything else. That seems to be the major failing with STO since Cryptic can put out loads of new shiny skins on stuff but they consistently suck for mechanics.
I disagree. Personally, I think what Cryptic needs more than anything are a dedicated team of a story writer, and a couple level designers. There's really no excuse for the fact that there has been so little storyline content added since launch. All they need are a three man team, exclusively devoted to making episodes, and they should be able to create one episode every other week at the least (maybe one per week). Maybe they already have them, and just need to redirect their efforts, or maybe they need to hire them-- I don't know.
I'm not talking about feature episodes with voice acting and cut scenes, but just basic episodes. I think Cryptic has sort of been out of touch with what the player base wants. We don't need a lot of bells and whistles, just basic content. I'm pretty sure if we logged in every Friday, or every other Friday and there was a new mission to play, even if it was not "FE" quality, then a lot fewer people would be complaining. By this standard, Klingon content could have been filled out a long time ago.
Without knowing the ins and out of what bioware did or did not do, the neverwinter toolsets are totally unique. they literally are devs tools compared to the foundry.
did they hire them blind, did they have an interview?
edit - basically from what leviathan said these guys at bioware gave them a protracted interview with part of it being to impress them with the tools that would be incredibly similar to what they use. thats not the same thing as having people vote for their 10 favourite from dumed down tools then cryptic going through them and hiring them blind based on their mission. what if all 10 are unsuitable people? do they still have to hire 3 because its a competition?
You realize any job opening is a competition right? Therefore no one can hire blind. The only possible way for that to happen is for an HR manager to open the phone book, blindly pick a name, or have someone else do it, call the person, and offer them the job. Bioware simply changed the nature of the competition for the job openings they has. The OP seems to be suggesting the same thing. I think it's an excellent idea, and very proactive.
Will Cryptic have to make a new system to run the competition? Yep. Fact is Foundry lacks any real developmental tools such as scripting language, etc. The tools the development team uses will be vastly more intensive than what a Foundry user has at their disposal. Thus Foundry would just be the first step in the competition. The next step would naturally be up to Cryptic to implement.
What would Cryptic get? Any number of things from new systems to full FE's depending on which element they focus on for the competition. Sure they may get a load of dross at the beginning, but as the rules are tightened they would eventually end up with a finished product that cost them nothing except giving someone a position in their company, or even a contract for X amounts of FE's depending.
We get new content, or new systems, someone gets paid, and Cryptic comes out smelling like roses. Who loses exactly?
Don't forget the existence of the Foundry Contest would also be a good publicity tool.
Free publicity, and marketing as well. To me it's win/win for everyone so why wouldn't they do it? There's got to be a pool of players who can do the job somewhere in this game! "Utilize what you have" May be able to grab a dev whiz or 6 who can freelance for them as a side job.