Like most players, I’ve had moments in MMOs when I thought that I could write a better quest than the developers did. “The story was wrong—there should’ve been a fight against dwarves instead of rats at the end of the mission, and the pacing sucked!” Cryptic has responded to Star Trek Online players with a software-based “Oh yeah?” by launching The Foundry, which turned everyone into a mission scripter after it hit live servers earlier this month.
We constructed this guide for the magazine back when The Foundry was still in beta on the “Tribble” test server. It was already full-featured and there should be very little variation in the process you'll go through on live servers, but let us know if you encounter any troubles. Used wisely, the Foundry will let you create missions pretty close to the quality of those built by the developers themselves.
Here’s all the wisdom you’ll need. Before we get started, you’ll need to log into Tribble and make a character by pushing the “Create Content” button in the top left. Only this magical avatar has the power to create new missions.
I’ve used custom costumes here to create characters for Captain Decker and Commander Lahti, and a custom map for the space portion of the mission, but there are dozens of NPCs and pre-made maps to choose from, so you can use generic ones to save some time if you want to get right into the mission creation.
Time: 2-3 hours
Official forums: http://bit.ly/hqLtzc
Starbase USG, a great source for tutorials and reviews of player-created missions: http://starbaseugc.com
STOwiki's Foundry Guide: http://bit.ly/fcXH5g
1. Space, the final frontier...
Let’s make a space map where the mighty USS PC Gamer is under attack by the Borg. First, we need to create a slice of space for the action to take place in. Go to the Map tab and click on the “Create Map” button. Choose “Custom Map” and add a few items from the tabs to the right. A planet here, an asteroid field there, a sprinkle of debris and you’ve got space for your quest to live in.
2. To boldly go...
But it’s just an empty set—our Star Trek adventure needs action! To get the story underway, go to the Story tab and drag a “Talk to Contact Event” into the mission storyline box. Pop back over to your map and place the contact somewhere in space, and a Map Transition event will be added. Fill in the Map Transition to send players from their location in the game world to the map that you just created.
3. Shields up!
Now your players are in position, so it’s time to try to kill them. Drag a “Kill Enemies” event into the storyline, and add an encounter to give them some enemies to fight. Since the USS PC Gamer is under attack from the Borg, choose Borg as your enemy type. Then choose “Borg Squadron – Weak” as the encounter type. Pop over to the map and drag Encounter #1 onto the map, preferably near the spawn point.
4. Open hailing frequencies
Once you’ve defeated the Borg, we want the player to talk to Captain Decker, the fearless leader of the PC Gamer. Add another “Talk to Contact” event. By filling in a text box, you can have the player’s science officer inform them that the PC Gamer is hailing, and then add a “PopUp Dialog” and have Captain Decker tell players (via another text box) to defend his ship.
5. Evil cubes
The battle rages on. Drag two more “Kill Enemies” events into the storyline. Make sure that each event has one encounter in it (they should appear as Encounters 2 and 3, unless you’ve defied orders and added more—you rebel you). Back on the map box, drag those encounters in, and make them each a Borg Battleship. (Because if Voyager taught us anything, it’s that single Borg ships are easily defeated.)
6. Long-range scan
Select each encounter separately, and at the bottom of the screen you’ll see their behaviors, which you can modify. Set all of them to “Ambient with Combat” to have them fight. For Encounters 2 and 3, set the idle animation to “Warp In – Borg.” Setting up the two separate “Kill Enemies” events will warp in one Borg Cube as soon as a player finishes talking to Captain Decker, and another once they defeat the first Cube.
Steps 7 - 12 continue on the next page.
7. One to beam up
Let’s bring the battle inside to help Captain Decker repel the Borg invaders. Create an interior map for the USS PC Gamer—but this time, use a pre-made interior map: Great Bloom. Populate the map by using the pull-down menus to narrow down the type of details (props) that you want to use to give the PC Gamer an assimilated feel. Make sure to test often as you go.
8. Borg bonanza
Pull more “Kill Enemies” events into your storyline, and place those enemies on the new map you’ve created. Select each encounter (you can click on each “actor” in a squad separately, or you can treat them as a group) and turn on “Wander.” You can tweak the distance they’ll move, patrol points and how quickly they move from point to point. Now the Borg are assimilating the ship!
9. He’s (almost) dead, Jim
In our story, Commander Lahti’s position is being assaulted by Borg drones, and he needs help to mount a defense. Add a “Talk to Contact” dialog to the storyline, and add Commander Lahti to the map. Let’s use a “Reach Marker” event to trigger a Borg boarding party to beam in when the player reaches a certain location, setting off another battle.
10. Resistance is futile
To use a “Reach Marker” event, you first need to add it to the storyline and then place it on the map. Add a “Kill Enemies” event, and set the idle animation for the Borg to “Beam in – Borg.” When players round the corner of that hallway, they’ll see the Borg beam in suddenly. It’s a trap! Have Commander Lahti send the players to the shuttle bay after the fight using a “PopUp Dialog.”
11. Assimilate this!
For our final epic battle, let’s have two separate groups of Borg attack our players as they approach the shuttle bay. Add another “Reach Marker” event to the storyline and to the map, and then include a “Kill Enemies” event. Add another encounter to the “Kill enemies” event, set the idle animations to “Beam in – Borg” and place the encounters close to the door to ambush players.
12. Live long and prosper
Add Captain Decker to the map, and add a “Talk to Contact” event. Then it’s time to test, test and test some more. Make sure that each task flows into the next, and that you’ve filled in each of the text boxes, or else you’ll end up with NPCs who have nothing to say. If you’re able to successfully complete all the objectives, you’re done, and you can share your mission for others to play!