Well if you are reading this you are probably a Cryptic Studio programmer. So you will know exactly what I am talking about (although I do not all the time) so I asked my husband this;
Why is the Foundry in 0.5 beta? Didn't the programmers make this game using it?
He replied, "No that program is not what they used. It edits a large database that is most likely written in SQL or some other similar networking DB language. When the database programmers made the code they wrote it out in text and entered a bunch of information into fields."
Why can't we just use their tools?
"Because you would not get a simple GUI to work with the data would be in code most users would not understand. Now go back to playing your games and quit bugging me."
Hmmm.... So here is my solution to something you might know how to do. Could you in upcoming versions of the Foundry PLEASE put an "advanced editor" button somewhere? Sure not everyone will use it, but some of us will take the time to learn. I would like the ability to export my mission and edit it offline, so if that means learning to use SQL or FRENCH then so be it.
You can export your mission into a scrip file. It would be massively helpfull if there was a parser that allowed us to import that script file back to the game somehow.
That is only couple days of work for a cryptic dev, but would allow faster content generation, asset sharing, author collaboration, version control, you name it.
Would it break the system? No. The parser could simply reject any file that is not correct syntactically or semantically. Too bad Cryptic won't do it.
I don't think writing a script that directly accesses their database is all that practical. Not to mention, if anything whatever Cryptic uses to make missions seems horrendously inefficient anyway since their production time is so much longer than a Foundry author, so I'm not sure it would be of much help.
That being said, giving us an advanced scripting language to use to tweak some mission parameters could be beneficial for tweaking our missions. But, then again, it might be easier just to add a GUI method of making those changes, rather than writing something to parse cryptic commands (pun intended).
I agree with Pendra though that it would be nice if we could both export and import UGC files.
Well from what my husband said, you change the STO database every time you publish. The database is not left wide open to attack but the same changes could be made from secured web pages, programs, etc.. I know because he does this sort of stuff all the time. He works on much more secure systems like online bank accounts, corporate databases, and such. So I am pretty sure they could give us some kind of raw editor. But I would be pleased with anything.
Currently I type all my dialog into Open Office (spell checker) then I have to copy, open STO, and paste, minimize, back and forth. :p Yuck! I don't know any other way of doing this, but that is how I am dealing with it.
@theapparatus: I suspect the devs and programmers must have an ear in the forum. So that is why I made the statement. As for the "beefy" version of the foundry, I have been told, it is probably firmware or some other software that cannot be distributed in such a way due to non disclosure agreements or ELUA. But my husband here is pretty insistent that most database programmers work on a direct level to avoid errors. As he puts it, a fancy GUI can get you in trouble real quick. I have to take his word for it, since he has been doing this for over 25 years now.
Working in a GUI does tend to present all sorts of issues, right from minor input errors to... Well... The world blowing up (well not quite, but you get the picture).
What the rest of the guys are saying is also correct though: There is no way we will ever get the same options as Cryptic does when they make new missions, for a number of reasons...
If I were them, I would be working in a very open environment (development wise), meaning they can directly alter stuff that is bugged when needed. Obviously they can't allow us to do that.
We on the other hand have to "assemble" (compile is not the proper word) out missions each time we publish it.
EDIT: Also, there is a good chance that they would then have to admit that it dosen't take 12 months to make 5-high quality missions.
I don't think Cryptic will ever give us the builder they use, and I don't really think they should. I think the devs need to keep some capabilities in their pocket so they can do things we can't with a mission. A dev mission ought to trump ours in complexity and things like adding in completely new sets. Otherwise whats the point of the devs making missions at all?
Also I don't want the editor to be all that much more complex than it is now. To me the Foundry is very accessible. I've tried to mod games for years using 3rd party software, and in a lot of games it was just impossible for my limited brain to comprehend. With the Foundry I was able to dive right in. So I don't think I want it more complicated. I'm fine with the 2d editor, I'm fine with most of the mechanics really, I just want them to add in some more things to play with: more sets, more npc customization, more assets, etc.
So, give us the dev editor? Nah I don't think so. It's probably too complicated to be accessible for the normal player, and if they let us do everything they can do, what excuse do they have to keep any devs employed?