Hello STO community,

This is the first installment of “Sensor Sweep,” which is meant to be a non-technical and entirely impressionistic review series.  I’m not going to give any real spoilers, point-by-point plot summaries, or a long list of categories and ratings.  Instead, I’ll simply talk about what I loved or hated and why.

It’s more of a general scan of a new or old Foundry mission that focuses on my first impressions and take-aways from the general scene.


Mission: “Checks and Balances” by MyGodItsFullofStars

Let me start by saying that I’m very jealous of this author’s ability to add an immense amount of detail to a mission.  I’m not talking about big, impressive sets, like a temple or coliseum.   I’m also not referring to complex plots, twist-and-turns, and crazy things done with triggers (although the mission contains all three).

Rather, I’m referring to the immense amount of detail put into characters and npcs.

This mission is ALIVE with three-dimensional characters.  They have personalities, back-stories, and individual quirks.  From an arrogant, but delightful scientist to a side-splitting Breen captain, the characters in this story will make you grin, chuckle, and even slightly tear up.

It could be argued that a lot of the detail (in popups, etc.) is unnecessary, such as a puzzle that gives more clues about the characters than the code.  There is even a final custom map that is there simply for dramatic character development and personal reflection.  Indeed, much of the time spent playing this mission involves non-combat tasks of reading, much of which could seem disconnected to the main tasks at hand.

However, it would be a mistake to call this amount of detail unnecessary.  It adds a tremendous amount of nuance, sophistication, and especially humor to the map. I can’t tell you how many times I chuckled or smiled.  Simply put, it was a charming story, due to the interesting characters.

If I’m not mistaken, some of these characters were first fleshed out by Cryptic.  I can only suspect that this author did what the original mission(s) may not have done (as far as giving us fully fleshed out characters).

So, I highly invite other Foundry authors to play this mission and think about additional little details that could be added to their existing popups.  Why, for example, have a “Shall we beam down, Sir?” dialogue from a throw-away character, when that character could be better fleshed out?  Sure, it may be irrelevant to the plot at hand.  Who cares, if it adds frosting to the cake?

Give that officer PTSD, or make his obsession with Vulcan love slaves apparent.  Give your villains a few Dr. Evil moments.  Give the Bridge Officers personalities, even if it may conflict with player perceptions of their individual BOFFs.

Then, raise your hands to the sky and scream, “It’s Alive!  It’s Alive!”  I can imagine MyGodItsFullofStars doing just that, after an intense battle with branching dialogues, buttons, and triggers.

My Rating: 5 gloriously wonderful Quarks.  Check it out.