Executive Producer Daniel Stahl posted a new engineering report, which includes a small teaser of info surrounding new updates to the Foundry. The language is fairly vague, and we don’t know what these “much requested storytelling features” are. We do know that branching dialogue and triggers have been much requested and are at the top of the devs’ priority list.

Most likely, the storytelling features relate to the devs’ Foundry Roadmap, which includes these short-term priorities:

Upcoming Foundry Feature Goals
The following features are high on the priority list for upcoming updates (most likely Q1 2011)

Improved features for playing Foundry missions
•The ability to flag missions as “favorites” so players can bookmark them for later play
•Improved searching options to allow for more specific flags and filters

Project Management improvements
•Setting prerequisite and follow-up missions that can be linked together into a story arc
•Set the level, powers, and gear for test characters to improve testing

Map editor improvements
•Better visualize placed objects in the editor using 2-D preview images
•Fully customize backdrops, assembled from various sky effects layers, atmospheric effects, sound effects and music
•Enable snap-to-grid to more easily place objects
•Place waypoints for patrol routes for actors to follow
•Place “job” nodes for actors to interact with, such as consoles

Mission Triggers (new)
•Triggers are a way to make the game play react to the player’s actions
•Show pop-up dialogs in response to a trigger
•Spawn encounters in response to a trigger
•Play music or sound effects in response to a trigger
•Set a trigger on entering a volume
•Set a trigger on killing an encounter
•Set a trigger on interacting with an object
•Set a trigger on talking with a contact

Branching dialogue (new)
•Add multiple buttons to a prompt and chain prompts based on button chosen
•Show/hide buttons based on mission state
•Alter button behavior based on mission state

Costume creator improvements
•Add in body scaling features found in the in game costume editor

Timeline editor (new)
•Change encounter behavior based on objectives in progress and triggers
•Change contact dialog text in based on objectives in progress and triggers

Plus general improvements to usability and more choices throughout the environment

Here is the specific quote from the engineering report:

In other news the Foundry continues to perform wonderfuly in Beta on the Tribble Test Server. The development team is preparing the first major feature update for the Foundry which will introduce some much requested storytelling features for mission creators. Once this update is on Tribble in February, we will begin to make plans to migrate the Foundry beta from Tribble to Holodeck so that everyone can begin to see the awesome fun that is making and playing player created content.

From the time table, it’s also likely that we won’t see the Foundry “migrate” to the Holodeck server until late February or early March. Whether this “migration” will include ugc missions is still unclear, considering the mixed signals of the devs over the past few weeks.

Stay tuned.