Currently the Foundry community’s morale is at an all time low.  While editing and reviewing have recently returned (yay!)  plays are next to impossible to get due to a convoluted rating system and confusing search tool.  After some brainstorming I believe I have come up with and idea on how to alleviate our problems.

Issues

Players are not engaged to play the Foundry
Players wishing to play Story missions are not seeing missions to play other than spotlights or the top 50 ergo authors are not getting plays unless they are spotlit or in the top 50

Reasons

The only way to access Foundry missions is the Mission Journal.  While it is great and way better than what we had before it isn’t fully immersive in the STO universe.  You’re still bringing up a “game window” and finding a mission.

There are some community based events that bring attention to it such as Spotlights, contests and the recent Purity series, but if you’re a casual player and/or you don’t pay attention to STO news or the forums you would never see them.

Another thing holding the foundry back is the Foundry search UI.  For one it only shows 50 missions (but that is discussed in many other threads).  Also it is not always used to its full potential.  Not everyone knows you can modify different search settings or just simply don’t use it because its easier to just use the default settings

Conditions

Any potential solution must be easy to implement

  1. Not take much programming
  2. Not take much art development

Solution

Take the searching out of the player’s hands by giving them the Foundry missions to play.

When in Sector Space there will be a button at the bottom right where the dialogue buttons usually show up.  This button will “hail” an “NPC” of the appropriate faction who will provide the player with a selection of Foundry missions in that Sector Block.  This can be added to Social maps as well, or provide an NPC or console for the player to use.

This button will provide an immersive way for players to enter the Foundry.  Hailing an NPC who gives the player a choice of missions provides a much more streamlined experience than opening the journal.

Mockup

(Click for a bigger image)

Sound familiar?  If it did it’s because it’s what Neverwinter’s uses.  In Neverwinter there are Harper agents that provide this functionality.  Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like when you access a Harper agent’s quests.  There’s no such window for STO so it will have to be created.

NWHarper

(Click for a bigger image)

Technical

Foreword: This is my best guess.  I’m a developer and I hate it when “outsiders” try and guess how much work something will take but hey here I am doing exactly that.

From what I can tell these are the things that will need to be added to STO.

1. New Button in Sector Space, NPCs or consoles that starts dialogue

    • Button added to Sector Space UI
    • NPCs and Consoles in social zones
    • Dialogue that accompanies accessing the Foundry NPC

2. Ability to filter and select a list of Foundry missions

    • Ability to filter Foundry missions by location
    • Other filters (rating, amount of plays etc)
    • Ability to display the list of Foundry missions
    • Ability for the player to view pick the missions

Point 1 has been done before, in season 7, where you can pick up random jobs in the Tau Dewa Sector block.  This would be the same except instead the last window would be a selection of Foundry missions (which comes up in Point 2).

Point 2 has a lot more technical work that must be done so I broke it up into four different parts.  The good news however, is that most of this work is already done in Neverwinter with their Harper Agent feature.  It’s my hope that it won’t be too much of a headache to port over to STO.

The only part that would require new work is the ability to filter missions by location.  When creating a Foundry mission the doors are all separated by Sector/Social Map so hopefully this means there is some way of determining where the mission starts, but I don’t have the insider knowledge for this so it’s hard to say how hard it would be.  A UI Designer will also need to create the windows for the system.

Conclusion

All in all I think this would prove to help with the visibility of the Foundry and get more exposure for authors.  Additionally by taking advantage of work that has already been done in Neverwinter it will keep the workload for programmers low.

Suggested Additions

If you guys have any reasonable suggestions I’ll add them to this section.  Remember it must satisfy the conditions above (as little workload as possible).

Randomized List – Both NW and STO
One thing that I believe would help even more, is if the list that gets generated for the player was randomized.  There would be requirements to be included (qualifies for rewards, rated 4.0 or higher, at least 100 reviews etc).  This would provide a constantly refreshing source of content for players and authors whose missions don’t show up at the top get their missions picked too.  Even better would be a button that “refreshes” the missions being shown.  Technically this shouldn’t be a huge challenge if the foundation is already in place.