Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 952
As you should know from my sig, I, or rather my Cryptic alter-ego of NCC-89471, am the author of the "Ghosts of War" mission series. As of this post I have completed and published four of the planned six missions in the series. Since my previous threads for the series have been more or less frozen in the Celtris III cave ice by PWE, I've decided to begin anew with a thread not just to announce and promote each new episode, but to tell the story behind the story - how the overall story arc and each of its four-and-counting installments evolved from my original concepts to what (I hope) you have been playing, as well as my future plans for the series, including eventual "remasters" of Parts I-IV to take advantage of the upcoming Foundry upgrades in Season 6.

It should go without saying that this thread will contain spoilers galore from my series, so if you haven't played through it yet, consider yourself warned before reading any further.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"I take it the odds are against us, and the situation is grim." - James T. Kirk
"You could say that." - Jean-Luc Picard, in response

When I set out to write Foundry missions, the first thing I did was adopt the motto of "go big or go home". Nothing short of an epic, multi-mission, quadrant- or even galaxy-spanning story arc would do. That said, the overarching plot I originally had in mind was quite different from the one now being played out. Other than the general concept of a stolen weapon of mass destruction, virtually none of the plot points or characters you have seen in Parts I-IV figured into my original storyline.

It would have begun with a Klingon/Gorn raid on a Federation outpost, which the player arrives in time to put to a stop, but too late to prevent the raiders from getting away with some unspecified cargo. A look at the outpost cargo bay's manifest reveals that the stolen item is a red matter detonator, similar to the one used to implode Vulcan in the 2009 Abrams Trek film. (Needless to say, the story's characters are unaware of the events of that movie; even so, the device's destructive potential is obvious to them.) Fortunately the device contains no red matter, not only rendering it useless for the time being, but making your investigation that much easier: Look for any attempts to procure or steal either red matter or decalithium (its precursor raw material) and it should lead you right to the raiders, if not their superiors. However, as your investigation progresses and no red matter is found, you begin to suspect that the original theft of the detonator was a ruse.

That's about as far as I got with my original idea before starting to rethink it. Only the Klingon alliance was involved in the story, and the Romulans and Remans might possibly have figured into the story eventually, but as mentioned above, I wanted an overarching plot that would span as much of the STO universe as I could fit into it. Then I recalled the arc within the Cryptic Klingon storyline involving Franklin Drake and the Devidians, and it occurred to me that any of the Alpha Quadrant powers would covet the Devidians' temporal phase-shifting capability - any military with a similar capability would enjoy an enormous tactical advantage over an enemy without it. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Cryptic arc demonstrated that the Devidians had stepped up their game and were capable of deviousness on a par with their fellow shapeshifting baddies, the Dominion's Founders.

With the True Way seemingly beaten following Cryptic's Cardassian storyline, I hit upon the idea of making Star Trek history repeat, or at least rhyme, by having them join forces with the Devidians in place of the Founders, as well as the Breen, who joined the Dominion alliance toward the tail end of the DS9 series - hence the title "Ghosts of War", which as you may have figured out by now is a double-entendre, referring to both the ghostlike Devidians and the ghosts of the Dominion War, which this alliance threatens to wake up in a big way.

Like the Founders and Undine before them, I cast the Devidians as having infiltrated every corner of the Alpha Quadrant to achieve their ends, in particular both the Romulan and Klingon Empires. Originally the thalaron device theft was meant to be nothing more than a ruse (similar to my plans for the red matter device in my original story idea) meant to lead Starfleet on a wild goose chase, and would not have been used at all in the Devidians' actual attack plans. In fact the series was originally meant to be eight episodes long, with one of the dropped episodes dealing with the actual weapon: a metagenic device similar to the (nonexistent) one Capt. Picard searched for in "Chain of Command, Part I". For reasons that I will explain in greater detail in future posts, I dropped that episode and the next one (which would have been Parts III and IV), reducing the series length from eight missions to the currently planned six, and also making for an admittedly abrupt transition from the Romulans and Klingons to the Cardassians as the focus of the story in the current Part III. In the process I also wrote the metagenic weapon out of the series endgame and simply used the stolen thalaron devices for the same purpose.

In my next full-length post I will discuss "Ghosts of War, Part I", aka "Dust to Dust", how it evolved and how I plan to enhance it once the Foundry upgrades are in place.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 830
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCC-89471 View Post
O Evil One, I humbly request that you review the fourth installment of my epic "Ghosts of War" series.

Mission Name: Ghosts of War, Part IV
Author: paxfederatica, formerly known as the author NCC-89471
Minimum Level: 35+
Allegiance: Starfleet
ST-HFDLKG5XV
Estimated Mission Length: 30-45 minutes
Method of Report Delivery: Forum Post
Federation Mission - Ghosts of War, Part IV
Author: NCC-89471
Allegiance: Federation
Project ID: ST-HFDLKG5XV

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

Summary: This is a great mission sequel in the series. The map design is great with tough, but fun battles that should be used as the example of how to build battles for the community. Your story dialogue was flawless; I do not think I found a single spelling or grammatical error. I would highly recommend this mission and the entire series leading up to this one. I noted your use of "Continue" as a response button was appropriate to the dialogue and not over used.

Below are just a couple of items 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 description. Consider changing the note at the bottom to [OOC] dialogue to make it stand out from the rest of the description. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this description.

Grant Mission Dialogue: This is a good grant dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue.

Mission Task: The initial task gives the general location of the first custom map. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this task.

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

MAPS:
1: DS9 Promenade (Interior): This is a great map design with excellent dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I noted one item to consider changing:
-Consider consolidating all console interacts into one location rather than having the player change consoles.

2: DS9 Cargo Bay (Interior): This is a good map design with excellent dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I noted a couple items to consider changing:
-Consider consolidating all console interacts into one location rather than having the player change consoles.
-The map transfer dialogue NPC is my ships science BOFF, but the dialogue is from Admiral Youngs. I believe this is a limitation of the Foundry when using author generated NPC?s, but I thought I?d point that out.

3: Celtris III (Space - Portal Inactive): This is a great map design with excellent story dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I noted one item to consider changing:
-Be careful about the dialogue triggers. Many players, including myself, disable the ?Stop moving during dialogue? feature in the game and may fly past the scan point. I usually will stop the ship manually to read dialogue, but that is because I am reviewing it.

4: Celtris III (Caves - Upper Level): This is a great map design with some fun diversionary battles and excellent story dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

5: Celtris III (Caves - Lower Level): The map design is excellent with tough, but fun battles and great story dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

6: Celtris III (Caves - Phase-shifted Lower Level): This is a great map design with several tough, but fun battles. The story dialogue is excellent. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

7: Celtris III (Phase-shifted Space): The map design is excellent with good battles and outstanding story dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

8: Celtris III (Normal Space): This is a great map design with a good battle and excellent story wrap up dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

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

Thanks again for authoring and for giving me the chance to review your work. You did a great job with this mission and the entire series to this point. I am looking forward to reviewing the next episode in the series.
Brian

This critique report also filed 06/24/2012 on forum posting for: In depth mission reports upon request.
If you would like a detailed review of your mission please visit my forum posting "In depth mission reports upon request" for details. Also see Evil 70th's list of missions at "Evil 70th's Missions".
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 952
# 3
06-29-2012, 11:19 PM
In addition to tweaking the missions themselves, I will also soon be adding pages for each mission in the series to STOwiki.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 952
# 4
07-15-2012, 12:26 PM
Just a heads-up that once the Foundry goes live again, I will be taking Part I offline in order to do maintenance on it per the Season 6 updates. While I'm at it I will also be making other enhancements to the mission, in particular the first map (the CA-115 array).

Once that's done I will ask evil70th to do another review, and then repeat the same process for Parts II, III and IV before moving on in earnest to development on the much-anticipated Part V.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 952
# 5
08-09-2012, 08:57 PM
I have published a major update to "Ghosts of War, Part I". As mentioned above, I will also rework Parts II-IV before moving on in earnest to developing Part V.

Unfortunately as it turned out, the upgrades we got weren't quite what I needed to overhaul the first map the way I wanted, so I ended up only making cosmetic changes (albeit a ton of them) to that map. Most of the other changes I made were at the tail end of the mission, and yes, those changes will propagate into Parts II-IV.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 830
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxfederatica View Post
I have begun designing and assembling the components for the long-awaited "Ghosts of War, Part V" - but before I begin developing Part V in earnest, I will be remastering Parts I-IV, beginning, of course, with Part I, which I have just re-published.

Unfortunately as it turned out, the upgrades we got weren't quite what I needed to overhaul the first map the way I wanted, so I ended up only making cosmetic changes (albeit a ton of them) to that map. Most of the other changes I made were at the tail end of the mission, and yes, those changes will propagate into Parts II-IV.

Anyhoo, here is the mission info. Please have another look at it when you get the chance, O Evil One.

Mission Name: Ghosts of War, Part I
Author: paxfederatica, formerly known as the author NCC-89471
Minimum Level: 16+
Allegiance: Starfleet
ST-HBPDJHGFE
Estimated Mission Length: 20-30 minutes
Method of Report Delivery: Post to this forum thread
Federation Mission - Ghosts of War series Part I: Dust To Dust (Re-review)
Author: paxfederatica, formerly known as the author NCC-89471
Allegiance: Federation
Project ID: ST-HBPDJHGFE

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

Summary: This is a great mission and seems to have survived the season 6 upgrade. I noted some of the updates you made using the new Foundry functionality. The map designs are good with several challenging battles and excellent story dialogue. The mission length is probably closer to 60 + minutes with the dialogue and combat combined. I would highly recommend this mission to all players who like a good story with their mission.

Below are a few 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 an intriguing description. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this description.

Grant Mission Dialogue: This is a good grant dialogue with just enough of a story to draw the player in and make them want to click the "Hail" button.

Mission Task: This is a good initial description with a clear start location for the first custom map. I noted no spelling errors with this task.

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

MAPS:
1: CA-115 - Space: This is a nice map design with several tough battles. The story dialogue is very well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-I think you are using the "Weather Starstreaks North South 01" effect, which only works if the player is traveling at higher speeds in a northerly direction on the map. Consider changing the map set up so the spawn point is to the east of the array facing west towards the array. Then use the "Weather Starstreaks West East 01" effect. Set up a "Drop from warp" interaction in the story using an "Invisible Object" which comes in 10Fft through 1000ft size. The interaction animation you should use is the "Warp In - Federation" effect. Then you set the "Weather Starstreaks West East 01" to disappear and all the array objects to appear when the "Component Complete" is achieved. This would mean you?ll also have to move the initial enemy mob encounter as well.
-The enemy mobs are a little close to each other which can force the player to engage both at the same time. For some players this might be a little overwhelming so consider spreading the mobs a little bit further apart.

2: Verena III - Space: This is a great map design with excellent explosive effects for the satellites. The story dialogue is excellent. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

3: Verena III - Ground: This is a good map design with several tough but fun battles. The story dialogue is very well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-If a player is playing this map with high detail they will still see "Alien" plant life spread across the map. I do not think there is much you can do about this except to go into the editor with high detail set and place rocks over the plants on the map. Beyond that I don?t think you can change it that much. I just wanted to make you aware of it.
-Consider adding respawn points further into the map, especially for the last battle.

4: Verena III - Space: This is a good map design with some fun battles. The story dialogue is excellent. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

5: Emborian Nebula - Space: This is a nice map design. The story dialogue is very well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

6: Intel situation room - Interior: This is a good map design. The story dialogue is excellent and a good wrap to the mission. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

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

Thanks again for authoring and for giving me the chance to review your work. You did really well with this mission and if the in game review system was functioning I would give it 5 stars. As always, I look forward to playing/reviewing more of your work in the future.
Brian

This critique report also filed 08/11/2012 on forum posting for: In depth mission reports upon request.
If you would like a detailed review of your mission please visit my forum posting "In depth mission reports upon request" for details. Also see Evil 70th's list of missions at "Evil 70th's Missions".
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 952
# 7
08-15-2012, 08:43 PM
Thanks again for your latest review of "Ghosts of War, Part I". I probably won't have you re-review my changes, but I thought I'd quickly respond to a couple of your comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evil70th View Post
2: Verena III - Space: This is a great map design with excellent explosive effects for the satellites. The story dialogue is excellent. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.
Funny you mention this - from time to time I still see the "delayed explosion" problem that you once mentioned in a previous review of this mission. It's not quite as bad as it used to be, but it still does happen sometimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evil70th View Post
3: Verena III - Ground: This is a good map design with several tough but fun battles. The story dialogue is very well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-If a player is playing this map with high detail they will still see "Alien" plant life spread across the map. I do not think there is much you can do about this except to go into the editor with high detail set and place rocks over the plants on the map. Beyond that I don?t think you can change it that much. I just wanted to make you aware of it.
-Consider adding respawn points further into the map, especially for the last battle.
Thanks for mentioning the high-detail issue, as, of course, the planet is meant to be completely lifeless. Unfortunately the plants are too big and too numerous for rocks to do much good for hiding them. So, instead I simply added a bit of dialogue (which also serves to foreshadow a discovery made by the away team later in the map) to explain the plants away:

Quote:
Indeed, Captain... my tricorder shows petrified remains of what appear to be indigenous trees and large animals in the surrounding dunes. Some of them are even emitting faint luminescence - likely either a latent biological process that has continued after the lifeforms died, or perhaps even a byproduct of decomposition.

Either way, this suggests that these particular lifeforms weren't affected by thalaron radiation in the same way that humanoids, or even most other life on this planet are. They may even have had some degree of natural resistance to it. Not enough to save them, obviously, but a very intriguing possibility nonetheless.

Last edited by paxfederatica; 08-15-2012 at 10:23 PM.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 952
# 8
08-28-2012, 09:39 PM
Part II remastering is now complete. Please note that I have redesigned it as a shuttle mission (though truth be told, only the new first map really needs a shuttle, as there is not much space combat in this mission to begin with).
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 830
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxfederatica View Post
O Evil One, I am pleased to report that remastering of "Ghosts of War, Part II" is now complete.

Mission Name: Ghosts of War, Part II
Author: NCC-89471
Minimum Level: 31+
Allegiance: Federation
Project ID: ST-HI6PMJ2Y8
Estimated Mission Length: 45 minutes - 1 hour
Method of Report Delivery: Post to this thread

Please note that Part II has been redesigned as a shuttle mission (though truth be told, only the new first map really requires a shuttle, as the ground maps remain the heart of the story).
Federation Mission - Name: Ghosts of War, Part II (Re-review)
Author: NCC-89471
Allegiance: Federation
Project ID: ST-HI6PMJ2Y8

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

Summary: This is a great mission and an excellent sequel in the series. The map designs are great, the battles are tough but not impossible, and the story dialogue is excellent. I really like the redesign of the beginning and end of the mission. I would highly recommend this mission and the series to all players who love a great mix of map design, intriguing story dialogue, and a few battles to keep it interesting.

Below are a few items 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 description. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this description.

Grant Mission Dialogue: This is a good grant dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue.

Mission Task: This is a good mission task with a clear start location for the first custom map. I noted no spelling errors with this task.

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

MAPS:
1: Bironex Depot - Space: This is a great map design with a challenging path to get through the patrol ships without having to fight them. The story dialogue is very well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

2: Bironex Depot - Interior: This is a great map design with excellent story dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I noted one item to consider changing:
-The last dialogue tree; at the end of the "Explain" response button tree the response button says "[Back]" but when pressed the map transfer dialogue appears. The player never gets to read the "Even if we capture" button dialogue. Because of the "[Back]" I thought it was going to take me back to that menu. I was not sure if that was your intention.

3: Barradas III - Space: This is a great map design with excellent story dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

4: Barradas III - Ground: This is a good map design with some fun battles and well written story dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

5: Listening post - Interior: This is a great map design with some tough battles. The story dialogue is very well written. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

6: Barradas III - Space: This is a good map design with tough but fun battles and well written dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I note one item to consider changing:
-The S.S. Fleming is visible the minute the player spawns.

7: S.S. Fleming - Interior: This is a great map design with excellent story dialogue. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue or any issues with the map.

8: U.S.S. Monticello - Interior: This is a good map design with well written story dialogue. I noted a couple of items to consider changing:
-The Captain Sadak NPC standing by himself during security alert seems unlikely. Consider adding a couple of security standing next to him. If this is because he is an alien you should still consider placing the guards to keep the player from being suspicious. I was suspicious from the moment I saw him by himself.
-The map transfer dialogue; consider changing "[OOC]Two to beam back[/OOC]" to read "[OOC]Five to beam back[/OOC]"

9: Barradas III - Space: This is a good map design with a good battle and excellent story dialogue to help wrap up this mission. I noted no spelling or grammatical errors with this dialogue. I noted one item to consider changing:
-Realizing the limitation within the Foundry of creating an object to represent the two ships, it is still distracting that I am scanning two vessels that are not there. I understand there is nothing you can do about it at the moment.

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

Thanks again for authoring and for giving me the chance to review your work. You did a great job renovating the mission with the season 6 upgrades. I look forward to playing/reviewing the rest of the series as you complete them.
Brian

This critique report also filed 08/31/2012 on forum posting for: In depth mission reports upon request.
If you would like a detailed review of your mission please visit my forum posting "In depth mission reports upon request" for details. Also see Evil 70th's list of missions at "Evil 70th's Missions".
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 952
# 10
09-01-2012, 07:19 PM
Thank you, O Evil One. I have fixed the problems you mentioned above. In the case of the invisible ships on the last map, I just altered the dialogue a bit to explain it away.
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