Since 2011, when Star Trek Online was still young, and Foundry was introduced on the Tribble server, the game has evolved and grown in some significant and exciting ways. This latest expansion was a resounding success, especially with players for whom Deep Space Nine has always been a particular favorite. The meandering Iconian War storyline is a distant memory, and it seems that story development has hit its stride. With the announcement that we will have a new Discovery addition in the Fall, players have a solid indicator that STO will live on well into the future. That being said, things are not so rosy for a broken and sadly neglected Foundry.

In March of 2011, Foundry finally went live on Holodeck, STO’s main game server. The player base was intended to be used as guinea pigs to gauge reaction to, and use of, this User Generated Content(UGC) creator before they released a bigger and debatably better UGC Editor in the highly anticipated Neverwinter. Things did not work out as expected.
While players in STO went right to work building story content, Cryptic went to work promoting and focusing both developer and player attention to Foundry. Ideas were coming fast and furious. There were conference calls between the Executive Producer and our humble organization, as we were the first official Foundry-centric community. There was so much excitement for what was possible and what Foundry could become. Nearly all of the first original authors were members of StarbaseUGC.

As the months went by Foundry exploded, as more and more players became authors. Podcasts sprung up. There were shows broadcast and articles published to review the newest missions. STO was onboard choosing monthly Spotlight missions that the chosen authors considered a point of pride, and a badge of honor. Authors made trailers for missions in an attempt to get plays. It was healthy competition at its best. Members of StarbaseUGC got together and published the first truly collaborative series of missions with the release of Purity, which was immediately spotlit by Cryptic. StarbaseUGC had a booth in the vendor’s room at Star Trek Las Vegas in 2012. With all of this attention and participation came great UGC content. Authors learned to do amazing things with the Foundry editor, and in many cases, coaxing it to perform above and beyond its limitations. It was a great time to be both player and author. This was Foundry’s Golden Age.

Fast forward to 2018. It has been years since Foundry got regular and steady attention from Cryptic. A precious few precious devs had spent their off hours putting new assets into the details tab of the editor in an attempt to keep the UGC content alive. It was a type of creativity triage. There is nobody at Cryptic who can program the old editor, as far as we know. They don’t talk about it. The editor itself is bugged. You can’t play your mission through in Preview mode. Map Transitions are broken. Some assets are invisible, and it seems that it just gets worse each time there’s a major update to the game. Half of each author’s work is no longer qualified for rewards when it once did, leaving players less incentive to bother spending their time.

Once upon a time, the community was promised that the editor would get some of the fancier upgrades that Neverwinter players have enjoyed since they got their Foundry. No updates materialized. Interestingly enough, Foundry seemed a much better fit for Star Trek than it ever was for Neverwinter. The Foundry there may not even be working now. I don’t know. The guinea pigs became the most prolific users of this tool, while the players who got a finished version of Foundry, couldn’t care less. Did I mention that STO Foundry is still a Beta?

StarbaseUGC also released a second collaborative series. Cryptic didn’t notice. That was a long time ago, now. We were talking about a third series, but there just isn’t as much interest these days. It also may be that the editor is now harder to use. There are also those lost StarbaseUGC souls still haunting our corridors, having forsaken STO completely. There’s only one podcast left that focuses on Foundry, and as the producer of a few Foundry podcasts that no longer exist, I marvel at the dedication of the Foundry Roundtable guys. How they have carried on in the face of plummeting interest in Foundry by both devs and players is an amazing feat. At this point in STO’s history, the future of UGC looks grim.

This is the part where I have to beg. Authors please get back into Foundry. I know it’s harder these days, but if you still have any love of STO, and Star Trek in general, please tell your stories. Make noise. Let Cryptic know we’re still here and Foundry badly needs their help. Players please play Foundry missions. Even if there’s no reward other than a good story, please spend some time with content made by other players. I promise you there is better storytelling, in many cases, than you’ll find in the official content. Review the missions. Let authors know what you think. Usher in a Foundry Latinum Age.  Authors and players please tell Cryptic that STO just won’t be as good a game without Foundry missions. If they know we’re still here, maybe they’ll get someone to fix it. We accept that they’ll never upgrade it. We no longer hold out that hope. We want the bugs fixed so we can continue to tell stories.

There will come a day when STO will reach the end of its life. There will be no more official content. The only possible way that players who are still interested will get new content and new stories to challenge them will be through a working Foundry. Authors will be the only source, yet we always feel ignored. Isn’t it worth a little time and money to keep Foundry in good working order? I think it is, but I’m just an author like many others. I spend my free time building maps and writing dialog, and I’ve done it for about 28 missions now. Many of us do it for free. Many have paid to do it in the form of a lifetime subscription, and all have spent dilithium on more Foundry slots. It is a laborious endeavor that can take months to complete. It is a labor of love that gains us nothing but satisfaction while Cryptic reaps the quality content. We aren’t asking for very much in return. All we want is the opportunity to continue. How can they turn down that proposition?