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The Foundry is one of the neatest feature in Cryptic's MMOs, Star Trek Online and Neverwinter. It allows players to use game assets and tools to create their own scripted quests to share with fellow captains and adventurers. Inside these MMOs, an unlikely community of modders sprang up. Unfortunately, Cryptic has announced that the Foundry will be closing its doors for good next month.
While the Foundry has been kept alive by player imagination, it still requires resources and maintenance from Cryptic, and sadly the developer has decided that it can't give the Foundry the attention it deserves while still creating new features.
Star Trek Online and Neverwinter continue to receive regular, meaningful updates, with the former currently taking advantage of finally running concurrently with a show through the free Age of Discovery expansion. There's clearly plenty of life left in them, then, but they've both been around for a long time, and MMOs don't seem to draw in the sort of crowds they used to, so it looks like some cuts have to be made to keep the new stuff flowing.
I'll miss the Foundry, but I confess I can't remember the last time I used it. It's got nothing to do with the quality of the custom missions, but Star Trek Online, which I still pop back into, has so many missions and activities that I never have any time to look for more. But it was nice to know it was around if I wanted to mix things up.
You could hunt down some story-rich diversions, solving murder mysteries in country mansions outside Neverwinter, or you could just blow off some steam by shooting the crap out of 1,000 terrans. In Neverwinter especially, the Foundry was evocative of the brilliant modding community that sprouted around BioWare's Neverwinter Nights, which had the best modding support of any BioWare game then or since.
Players will receive some rewards for participating in the Foundry. In Star Trek Online, everyone who has played a Foundry mission will get a badge, authors will get a Botany Bay space pet and anyone who created a spotlit mission will earn a Genesis Torpedo ground device. Things are a bit more stingy over in Neverwinter, though. You'll get a title of you've played at least ten missions, while creating at least ten will net you a cape.
The good news is that if, like me, you've not browsed the Foundry for a long time, you still have time to play a whole bunch of missions. The lights will stay on until April 11.
Star Trek Online has been taking advantage of finally running concurrently with the TV show. Last year saw developer Cryptic launch the Age of Discovery expansion, and on the cusp of the MMO’s nine-year anniversary, a new update will continue to delve into the Discovery universe, as well as introducing the ruthless Captain Killy. Check out the teaser above.
Even after some overhauls and the 2016 makeover, STO is pretty creaky. Ground combat is worlds better than it was at launch almost a decade ago, but it’s still shallow and looks a bit naff. The space combat, though? Stellar. It’s real-time with some tactical sensibilities, but the real treat is just designing the ships. Not visually, which remains a bit limited unless you shell out real money, but the components you cram inside them let you make all sorts of different different warships, bristling with phasers and torpedo launchers.
It’s the missions that I’m really enjoying replaying, however, which isn’t something I could say for many MMOs. The writing quality isn’t all that consistent, but the storylines all feel like classic Star Trek fare, even structurally, and they’re bursting with nods to the shows and cameos from Star Trek actors, most recently Discovery’s Mary Wiseman, who plays Ensign Tilly.
Tilly’s Mirror Universe counterpart, Captain Killy, is the star of the Mirror of Discovery update. Evil Tilly and her crew were in the Mirror Universe’s ISS Discovery when it was believed to have been destroyed by Klingons, but it actually hopped over to the regular universe. Players will find her on the planet of Pahvo, where they can meet Captain Killy and stop her from destroying a planet.
I really like the idea of the MMO fleshing out bits from the show like this. We never actually saw the real Captain Killy, since she was presumed dead, so this is the first time we get to meet the character. Trion Worlds’ Defiance did something similar with the show of the same name, though it never really capitalised on the relationship beyond some events loosely linked to things happening on the show and some brief cameos. It’s still around, though the show was cancelled in 2015.
The update will feature two new episodes, available to all factions, as well as the return of the Omega Molecule Stabilisation event. Collect enough particles and you’ll net yourself a new T6 Vulcan scout ship from Discovery. A new system that offers daily challenges and account-wide performance boosts will also be included, with more details coming before the launch on January 23.