Empire Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,202
While some people just enjoy playing missions, some others might also like to see how they are created. I know many authors don't want to see people watching how they work, but i'd like to make a new experiment: i'll report step by step (or rather update after update) how i created a mission. This isn't a model, and it's definitely not a howto or 'how authers create missions'. It's just how i'm doing it. Of course you can post in this thread but you may just read too.

Step 1 : a concept to work on.

I can't work on a mission without something i want to see in it. Most of the time, the mission itself will gravitate around this idea or this concept. It's rather tricky because when it's done i tend to be lazy with the rest of the mission, but this time i'll try to polish it without too many updates.

This time, the concept is quite funny: I want to see Bajoran demons in my mission. They will be Fek'Ihris with Bajoran skins. The trick is that i want it to be in a Fed mission. Here it begins.

So, we need Starfleet officers to be able to kill Bajorans. There were several possibilities. The first one was the most stupid: again, the mirror universe. No, thank you, we've seen that too often. I've played with the second one a lot more: time travel. The mission could be around the fact that the player is sent into the past, during the cardassian occupation of bajor, and he's a cardassian gul or something like that. It reminded me a good DS9 episode, where Sisko was on Terok Nor, but even the time travel policy can't explain everything, and anyway the episode wasn't about time travel, just a space anomany and some telepathy - something i couldn't use here for obvious reasons.

The third one is the current idea: a cardassian holographic novel. It opens many more possibilities, and it allows any kind of genocide, anti-Starfleet behaviour, even if we need a strong reason to justify the fact that a Fed character would play such a novel. I don't want it to be a "my boffs and me enjoy slaughtering people during lunch time", even if it's what sto is about.

Again, we need to "force" the player to play this novel, even if the character think cardassian litterature is boring. Fine. Some Starfleet Admiral will ask the player to do that for diplomatic purposes. The true way wants to negociate about something but the diplomat is a famous true way novellist. So, admiral, please learn more about it and just play his holonovel, thank you.

Step 2: Instead of working on the plot, let's just have fun and think about maps.

Now that we have some sort of plot (we know where and how it starts and roughly how it's supposed to end), i'm going to do what no one should ever do: working on a map instead of having a complete storyboard. As usual, the first map will drain all my energy and will take a lot of time to create.

So, we have a plot, and we need maps. This time, luckily, no space map is required yet, and it's a good thing since i'm not good at creating interesting space ones. The penultimate one will have to be a space one, since we need to "meet' the true way, but i'll deal with this later. The current plan is to do 4 maps or so, with a lot of stuff to do in the first two maps, so that the mission qualifies for the foundry repetable without being too long. If i can make something good out of my ideas, i may split the mission and just focus on the novel in the first part.

Now, we need a Cardassian map to make Cardassian stuff on it, like repressing refugees, humiliating poor Bajorans, in the name of our beloved state. Of course i could create one from scratch but i want an iconic map and Terok Nor (aka DS9) would be perfect. There's a lot of lore i can use here.

So, the first map will be DS9. I'll be able to use fun stuff like a 'worker revolt' on the station.

Step 3: Cleaning DS9 from the Bajoran occupation.

Okay, now that we have an iconic map, it's time to preview it. Of course the map isn't the asset of our most secret dreams, and will require a huge revamp to make it rebirth in all her Cardassian glory. There are scars from the Bajoran/Fed occupation and we will have to clean the mess.

The most obvious problem is the bajoran temple. While it's funny to go there to use the 'worship' emote, i'm not sure cardassians would allow that. Oh, well, they could let bajorans do that but the temple could be turned into something more... interesting. These walls are ugly. Lots of bajoran artwork, an orb... There are cardassian walls assets but when we type "cardassian" we notice we can use something more interesting: cells. Why not? If we have to play kind hearted and chatty space nazis let's do it seriously.

So let's add a couple of cells, and a wall in front of that infamous orb. But what's the point of having cells if we have no prisonners? Let's add prisonners! And then... A great idea: let's not add regular prisonners, let's make this temple a brothel with bajoran prostitutes hold in cages. That's better. And a lot funnier.

The exchange also needs to be closed, there are too many weird elements to explain and we won't need that room. The shipyard will be a perfect place for the first steps of a worker revolt. Let's add a wall, and a lift in front of it, because we'll need an asset to use to change maps.

After a lot of previews, (it's not that easy to work with the Y axis on this map) we have cells, a couple of prostitutes, and some extra dialogs for them. One will be a 16 year old bajoran, the other one will be a sad girl the player will have to 'motivate' so that she gets back to work. We're Cardassians, not Mother teresa. I wrote dialogs in my native language, so that i don't have to deal with translation issues, even if i try to keep them in mind.

We also need an innkeeper for our brothel, some optional dialogs so that the player can toy around the idea of having some "fun", and poof, it's there. Of course it took longer than "poof" but you got the idea.

Since the player can choose to have some time with male or females prostitudes, whatever his gender is (4 options is a lot of work, and i fear that the translation will take a lot of efforts here), i'll need to add some white orion males hidden in weird cages with a bajoran name above them.

On the next update's todo list:
- more NPCs
- finding a suitable backdrop, the regular one is too peaceful and not enough Terok Nor
- a lot more NPCs, the station needs to bee a living place.
- maybe some objectives and mission-related dialogs but ETA is unknown. Making the station more Cardassian will help me to deal with 'mundane' story related elements. The story will have to take players to places they must go to to see optional dialogs.
- some screenshots for the next update.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 3,045
# 2
01-07-2013, 07:36 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by diogene0 View Post
Step 2: Instead of working on the plot, let's just have fun and think about maps.
This is what I usually do. I have my maps built long before I know what I'm going to do with them. I usually just build and build, thinking, ok, I'll need a sickbay, but I'm not sure what the player will do there, etc.

I usually have all of my maps done before I really get started in the storyboard.
Rihannsu
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 12,633
# 3
01-07-2013, 09:27 PM
Hehe... I thought up the concept of the Zelaya as a way of explaining why I chose that map to use for "Zelatta Surface". It was fun trying to figure out what sort of dialogue you could get out of a gigantic inorganic lifeform.

Why do it this way? It helps you keep in mind the limitations you are working with. I wrote out a plan on paper while I was at work on what I wanted to do in the mission. Then immediately revised it after I started writing the mission due to technical reasons. Next time i want a semi-indoor body of water, I might just use a map with ocean front and build walls and floors to hide the excess ocean.
HAIL HYDRA!

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I can haz joystick!
MMOs aren't charities. Corporations are supposed to make a profit. It's what they do.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 514
# 4
01-07-2013, 10:12 PM
So far, I start with a general plot idea, some characters, some notion of what I want to do, then play with maps and costumes. Partly because it's fun and inspires me to do the rest of it, and partly because how those unfold help me tweak and detail out the mission.

At it's most annoying, doing the map out also helps you realize what is and isn't really possible.
Empire Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,202
# 5
01-08-2013, 03:15 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by zahinder View Post
At it's most annoying, doing the map out also helps you realize what is and isn't really possible.
Indeed, it can help a lot but having a good plan is also a great help. I'm working in the dark here, and it's rather unusual.


Step 4: A living place.

The little progresses i've made today are rather frustrating. I've spend half an hour to find the backdrop i wanted - something blue, rather dark and, icing on the cake, dusty, but there's nothing like that in the assets. Anyway.

The brothel is done. The NPCs are here, optional dialogs too. I will probably add or hide some stuff later but for now i'm rather satisfied with the overall aatmosphere of this room, which is 90% done. The player is supposed to feel somewhat uncomfortable here, but not disgusted, and i think it should work well. NPCs aren't aggressive, but one of them will make fun of the player, others can complain about their situation if you really want to listen to them. But they won't like being interrogated by a member of the obsidian order. Preview 1 and 2.

I used my very first workaround on this map here: male orion NPCs can have a bare chest but can't have hair, which is wrong for obvious reasons. So, males are dressed since starfleet npcs can't be naked, while women have very minimal clothing. I had to add an optional dialog to explain that, and it can be... surprising.

The geometry of this map is realy a nightmare. You have no way to clearly see where props are and it's a constant fight against it to place npcs and assets. Adding a NPC using properly the replicator can be a 10 minutes work and a lot of map editions. Every single object I added had to be carefully moved again and aain. I missed the old empty maps i used in previous missions. It can be even more tedious than a handmde interior map. I wish we could edit the map in preview mode.

One of the elements i'm proud of is the NPC mob allied patrol. It's not looking too akward, even if it's far from being perfect. When i added it, it jumped over geometry, tables, pillars, and it was running and stopping for no reason. I found out that a patrol speed of 5.5 could allow them to walk almost normally, even if i'll have to make more tests to find the exact speed, since they make micro stops occasionally. It might be because of patrol nods though. It's something very few missions have for now, and i want it to be looking as normal as possible. It's just a patrol and not something you'll fight eventually, which is why i like it.

For now, 20% of the promenade has been made and it's far from being ready. I'm currently working on NPCs, and the way i've made them interactible isn't something you see everywhere if i'm not wrong. Very few of them will intereact with the player himslef in this map. It's a military station and Guards, soldiers and Guls have no time to waste talking to the player, but you can discretely listen to the conversations. For now it's just routine talks activated with martini glasses under the floor, but i want one or several of this shadowing to be a part of the story. The promenade with the patrol and some NPCs. As you can see it's far from being done.

Todo list:
- Adding some bajoran NPCs. They are supposed to be workers on this station and they need to be there.
- more props on the promenade. Adding npcs isn't enough, the player must feel that Cardassia has a lot of enemies and is at war.

Last edited by diogene0; 01-08-2013 at 03:22 PM.
Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,424
# 6
01-08-2013, 04:08 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirksplat View Post
This is what I usually do. I have my maps built long before I know what I'm going to do with them. I usually just build and build, thinking, ok, I'll need a sickbay, but I'm not sure what the player will do there, etc.

I usually have all of my maps done before I really get started in the storyboard.
^^^

I build my maps first with a rough idea of what I want in mind but... when i start going into the story... I always need to add props etc.
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