Now that pictures of the Foundry Editing Toolkit have been posted in the latest Engineering Report, we’ve finally got our first scrap of knowledge to work with. So, in time-honored Interwebz tradition; here’s a long-winded breakdown of the images, along with plenty of assumptions and guessing how The Foundry might actually work!
Standard disclaimers apply. This is derived from Screenshots of an early Alpha build of the Toolkit, and the final product may be entirely different in scope and purpose.
Also be warned that this is a long read, as it covers a lot of functionality.
Now read on…
The Editing Tool is a single window application, presented as a series of resizable panes. From left to right we have:
Sidebar Pane, containing the following tabs, each holding a TreeView List of related Components:
Publish Pane, which appears constant across all UI modes, containing a count of unfinished Tasks, a Published Change indicator, and a big friendly Publish Button which presumably does what it says on the label. There is also a Feedback Message indicating that in this case the Publish has failed.
The Component Canvas contains a graphical depiction of the current Component, presumably allowing drag-and-drop operations within the canvas. This changes depending on whatever the current Component is, so further discussion will occur below.
The Attribute Pane, below the Component, contains attributes relating to the current Component. These are manually editable, so those with an aversion to drag-and-drop may be able to position things accurately.
The Library Pane, on the right, contains a library of Components related to the current Sidebar. This implies that we can create any number of Components and allow them to be reused within a Project without necessarily having to redefine them from scratch. This seems as contextual as the Component and Attribute panes, so will also be discussed below.
Finally, there is a Dropdown Menu at the top. This is contextual, but always appears to include Menus labelled ‘Edit‘ and ‘Tools‘. It is reasonable to assume that standard Editing commands such as Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo and Redo will be supported.
Now to take a closer look at the individual Panes.
From what we can gather about the application workflow, the Sidebar is the main interface for the tool, and the contents of the other tool windows will change depending on the currently selected tab.
There is no information available for the Project tab right now, but we can hypothesise this would allow editing of top-level project data such as Mission Title and other attributes. So we’ll skip straight onto the Maps tab.
This presents a TreeView List containing Maps attached to the current project, and the various Components within them. In this case the Map is the Alhena System, containing a Spawn Point, a Planet, a Platform (presumably a station of some description), and an Encounter.
The Planet is defined as “Class N 01 #1“, which seems more an internal code than a Trek-Universe definition. Likewise, the Platform is defined as “Generic L 02 #1”
The Encounter is defined as “Hirogen squadron – Cruiser 01 #1“, and contains eight Actors – These would appear to be the individual ships of the squadron, and would be defined elsewhere.
There are additional UI buttons for Creating and Deleting a Map, as well as for Importing a map. There does not appear to be a button for Exporting a Map, but there is another Dropdown Menu at the top labelled ‘Map’ – this might provide additional non-obvious options such as Export.
There is also an additional TreeView Node for ‘Unplaced Components‘. Presumably, this will contain a list of Components included in the Project that aren’t currently used. This is useful for two reasons:
It provides an at-a-glance list of orphaned Components
It allows these Components to be accessed by the tool, and their Attributes changed accordingly.
Component Canvas (Map)
In this case, the selected Component is an Encounter within the Map of the Alhena System. The Map is displayed as a top-down grid. The four Components listed in the TreeView are clearly visible on the Map, and scrollbars exist to move across the available area. There does not appear to be a Zoom function.
The Planet and Platform are obvious on this Map. As they have a physical representation, their outline is shaded blue. This would allow the in-game Map to be automatically generated from this definition.
However, it is not immediately obvious which of the other two Components is the Spawn Point, and which is the Encounter. This should be more apparent when the Tool is released.
Components within the Map could be dragged around, updating the below Attributes appropriately. It seems that the Spawn Point and Encounter also have an indicator to show which way they are facing. It is unknown whether this facing is two-dimensional or three-dimensional.
The Attributes of the selected Component (the Hirogen Squadron Encounter Group) are listed here. There is plenty to discover here.
- Component Icon – An Icon indicating the type of Encounter, these are explained below.
- Component Title – Non editable title.
- ‘Used in’ Label – Indicates which Mission Objective (explained below) contains this Encounter.
- Trash Button – Trashes the currently selected Component. It is unknown at this point if there is the ability to retrieve incorrectly trashed Components.
- Component Name – Editable. Allows renaming of this Component. This may be different from the Encounter name on the Storyboard.
- Encounter – Indicates a link to the Mission Objective that contains this Encounter. This appears to be a clickable button, which should shift Tool focus to the Encounter definition on the Storyboard. A Mission Step can contain multiple Encounters.
- World Position – Where the Component is located on the map, using X,Y and Z co-ordinates. The Y co-ordinate is zero; indicating that Y is the vertical plane, and X and Z are the horizontal. These are editable, which is wonderful news.
There is no ‘Apply’ button, which may indicate that all changes are instantly saved.
Library Pane (Map)
This appears to be a list of Components which can be added to the Map; whether pre-defined by the Toolkit, or defined by UGC Authors. For this Map, the following categories are available:
Special – Unsure what constitutes a special Component.
Unplaced – Another list of Unplaced Components.
Now, on to the Storyboard:
When the Story tab is selected on the Sidebar, The Treeview changes to show a list of Missions defined in the Project, broken down into Mission Objectives. The Sidebar does not contain UI functions to add or delete Steps, so it is presumed this functionality is available in the Component Canvas and/or the ‘Mission‘ Dropdown Menu.
In this case we have a simple mission entitled ‘Distress Signal’, containing a number of objectives. The Mission is completed by going to the Alhena System; Speaking with the Station Administrator; Defeating the Hirogen; Speaking with the Administrator again; and finally returning to Earth Spacedock for a Welcome Back ceremony.
There does not appear to be a way to Import or Export Mission Objectives.
Component Canvas (Storyboard)
The Canvas shows a linear list of the individual Mission Objectives, connected by arrows to indicate story flow. It is unknown whether a Mission can be configured to Branch depending on how Objectives are completed. Editing of Objectives appears to be done within the Component Canvas itself, rather than the Attribute Pane.
Four Objectives are shown in this screenshot. Two Pop-up Dialogs, a Kill Enemy Objective, and a Transition.
Dialogs are defined on the Mission Storyboard as light gray speech bubbles. They contain a number of elements:
- Trigger – such as [MAP START PROMPT]. An optional indicator as to when the Dialog appears. It is otherwise presumed that a Dialog will display after the previous Objective has been completed.
- Costume – containing a link to the Costume Editor. This is the definition of the NPC who will be speaking, including a snapshot picture and NPC name.
- Style – Presumably the style of the Dialog, offering different options such as question and answer Dialogs. In this case, it is a simple message with an acknowledgement button.
- Text – Text spoken by the NPC. This is HTML formatted, and may include line breaks and font colouring to indicate Objectives.
- Button – The player’s response. Displayed in-game as a Button to move the Mission on to the next Objective.
This Mission Objective is created as a list of Encounters attached to a particular Map. These Encounters are defined on the Map screen.
Mission Text – The Text displayed in the in-game Mission Panel. Also the Title of the Objective.
Encounter List – The Objective can contain multiple Encounters. There are buttons to edit an existing Encounter in the Map Screen, as well as to Add a new one. As suggested above, Encounters can be deleted.
Project Map – A Label to indicate the location of the Encounter.
The last Objective appears to define a Transition from one System to another. The Mission will only progress when the player has performed the Transition. This allows the player to leave an unfinished Mission in their Journal, visit other destinations on the Sector Map, and then progress to the next Objective in the Mission at their leisure.
System to Leave – Ideally where the player is currently located.
System to Enter – Where the player should go to next.
Library Pane (Storyboard)
The Library contains a list of Mission Objective templates that can either be dragged to the Component Canvas, or placed with the use of a ‘PLACE’ button at the bottom right of the pane.
So far, five Objective templates are available:
Interact with Object – standard ‘Press F to…’ Objective.
Kill Enemies – detailed earlier.
Talk to Contact – Presumably displays Contact NPC with indicator over head to imply conversation.
Popup Dialog – detailed earlier.
Reach Marker – activates within a set range of a particular point on the map.
The Transition Objective implied earlier does not appear to be on this list. This could either be an omission, or an indication there are more Objective templates to come.
Finally, the Costume Designer:
The term ‘Costume’ is used a lot in the Cryptic Engine, and covers many things – not just the clothes that an NPC is wearing, but also their physical appearance. It can even refer to the different styles of ship appearance. In this case it defines the very nature of the NPC that is referred to in the Storyboard.
When the Costumes tab is selected on the Sidebar, the TreeView changes to show a list of Costume Components defined in the Project. Buttons are available to Create or Delete Costumes, and there is no additional Dropdown Menu for this mode.
There does not appear to be a way to Import or Export Costume definitions.
Component Canvas (Costumes)
The Canvas contains a large scale picture of the currently selected Costume. It is presumably animated, and may allow drag and zoom features similar to the in-game Tailor.
Attribute Pane (Costumes)
The Attribute pane contains a number of Attributes related to the Costume
- Costume Title – Non-editable label.
- Trash Button – Trashes the Costume.
- Name – Editable Costume Name. Uncertain whether editing this automatically updates the title.
- Description – Description of the Costume. Not used in game, but provides more detail for Component Management.
- Randomize – Buttons to allow random generation of a Costume. ‘All’, ‘Head’ and ‘Body’. This is a great feature, as it will allow authors to click until they find something they like instead of being snared up defining every NPC down to the last detail.
- Disable Stance in Editor – Some Stances have distracting animations that could hamper Costume editing. This will allow the Costume to display in full.
There is no ‘Apply’ button, which may indicate that all changes are instantly saved.
Library Pane (Costumes)
The Library Pane is repurposed in this mode, and instead used to define the Costume further. There are four sets of controls:
- Costume Basics – whether the Costume is a Ground or Space Component, as well as Allegiance, Species, Gender and Stance in the case of a Ground Character.
- Head – Some definition of the Character’s head – such as Species Specific elements.
- Upper Body – Uniform definition only.
- Lower Body – Uniform definition only.
Here we notice an apparent limitation. There does not appear to be any way to set the body’s proportions. There are no sliders for Height, Weight, Torso Size, or any of the other myriad elements that make up a character. It is uncertain whether this is an omission in the UI, or a limitation in the way NPCs are defined in the Engine.
This rounds up our first look at the Foundry, and thanks for sticking around if you’ve got this far! In the next few weeks it will be rolled out as both a Closed and Open Beta, so more folk can get their hands on it and see exactly how it works.