Mission Title : You Don’t Know When It’s Real

Author : @Chipertuesday

Faction : Federation

Level Requirements : 31+

Requirements : Shuttle Based Mission


Introduction:

After a tough mission in which you cooperated with the Enterprise-F, you and your crew go back to earth for a shore leave. Since you have no specific plan for the holiday, when your bridge officers invite you to join a hologram small craft racing game, you accept their offer. It was all enjoyable at first, but then it goes wrong and you suddenly realize that you are now in something more than a simulation…

This review has spoilers; if you do not want spoilers then do not continue to read this review.



Screenshot of a battle inside the Halls of the U.S.S. Enterprise-F

About:

You return to Earth after a two week mission with the U.S.S Enterprise-F, and the crew gets some shore leave to unwind and relax before the next mission. Your officers recommend joining them for some holodeck time that they have reserved. They want to test your piloting skills in a friendly racing competition. You are first up in the holographic shuttle and all seems well, that is until you lose control of the shuttle. The shuttle enters warp all on its own.

You show up in the Lasia system, which sounds familiar to you, and respond to a distress call. You respond only to find a ship destroyed: your ship. At first your officers believe someone has hacked into the holoprogram, but something doesn’t feel right. You scan your shuttle with a tricorder only to discover that your shuttle is not a hologram and neither is the debris of your ship. You follow another distress signal to find a damaged U.S.S. Enterprise, and that’s when it hits you that the Lasia system was where the Enterprise was headed after your joint mission.

You’re no longer on the holodeck, your ship is destroyed, and the Enterprise is damaged. What else could go wrong? Well, that question is quickly answered when the Enterprise locks weapons on your shuttle, but at least they’re nice enough to give you a call before they open fire. Captain Shon demands your surrender and beams you to the brig of the Enterprise. That’s when you learn that you are being held for killing Enterprise personnel and attacking the ship, which is why the Enterprise was forced to destroy your ship.

When left alone, a security officer informs you that there is something wrong, and he believes that the ship is caught in a time loop. The officer lets you out and you try to reach your shuttle via the Jeffries tubes. When your escape is discovered, you decide to turn back to the brig (the last place they would look for you) to help the security officer who helped you out. That’s when you run into the first officer murdering the security officer.

Screenshot of the Lasia System

The first officer seems to know about the time loop, so after you subdue Commander Winters, you make your way to the bridge. When you find Captain Shon with Commander Winters, you try to inform Shon about the time loop, but he believes that you are trying to deceive him. He takes action. After securing the bridge you make a site to site transport to the shuttle with the unconscious Shon, only to discover Winters is waiting for you. You use Shon as leverage to get onto the shuttle, but you still have to outrun the Enterprise. You and your officers conclude that everything is not real, but a world in someone’s mind, Captain Shon’s mind.

After using your imagination to take out the Enterprise you learn that Captain Shon was on a mission to test a Bio-weapon that would target only Undine. An Undine spy on the Enterprise made a mistake and attacked Shon with a psychic  blast that put the captain into a coma. The Undine was trying to break down Shon’s mind with the time loop inside his mind to find more information about the weapon. No one, not even the Undine, could have predicted that Q would send you and your officers into the captain’s mind to help him realize what was going on. When Q sends you back to the holodeck on Earth Space Dock, you learn that only 15 minutes have passed. So, there is much holodeck time left, but you decide to avoid the holodeck for the rest of your leave.

Highlights:

The race track was well done, the “gates” would show up as you pass through one to guide the player along the race course.  That the hazards of stuff show up in your path (so that you can run into) was a nice touch. Character dialogue gave the characters their own voice and personality. The story had a good base to build off, and it keeps the average player wondering what is real and what is not.


Screenshot of the Bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise-F

Criticism:

The battle on the bridge, even though the Odyssey Bridge is one of the bigger bridges in STO, felt cramped. I don’t know how many mob groups were on the bridge at one time, but it was enough that I died at times, three seconds after a respawn. When running away from the Enterprise in your shuttle and you hit the point in the dialogue, the Enterprise continued to attack, which made it hard to get past the dialogue.

Map transitions, map transitions, map transitions! There were quite a few maps that could have been compressed into a single map with the use of triggers. Ex: The use of block walls as walls in your ship interior, whereas using wall pieces would have been better on the eyes instead of giant grey blocks. At times there were dialogues that threw off the story.

To the Author:

Word Processor: I suggest writing your dialogue in a word processor before it even touches the foundry to check for spelling and grammar errors. Although there were a lot of said errors, you did have a notice in the mission description warning players about them, which I liked.

I recommend the use of triggers. While playing the missions, I noticed that you had no triggers besides those that were linked with objectives. With the use of triggers outside of objectives, you can do so much to liven up the maps and thin out map transitions.  You can also fix the problem with the Enterprise attacking the player when they tried to read the dialogue. If you do not know how to use triggers, there are some good tutorials at StarbaseUGC that teach you on the basics.

Q: What is the deal with the player eating while Captain Shon and Q talk? And why is there no bacon in the choices of food to eat?

Conclusion:

The mission had a good plot and structure, although at times the story would go off in one direction and stop making sense. Although there were a lot of spelling/grammar errors, the author was kind enough to warn players ahead of time. Because of the two battles that I had problems with, and the amount of map transitions, I rated You don’t know when it’s real by @Ciphertuesday at three stars. I wish the author luck in the Foundry Challenge #7.