Space…The Final Frontier… For many, these words were the beginning of a journey of imagination, introspection and adventure. When it was announced that Star Trek was going to be coming to the world as a Massively Multiplayer Online game, it was only natural it would attract the interest of fans around the world. Within a year of the games launch, the developers added a feature that gives ANY player of the game a voice rarely available in most online games – the ability to make their own content.
Greetings varied beings reading this! In Star Trek Online, I go by the “handle” Castmodean, and I represent a collective of authors and enthusiasts associated with the fansite StarbaseUGC.com. The “UGC” in the site name stands for User Generated Content, and that is what I would like to talk with you about today.
Want to investigate a distress call from Terra Nova, a planet off limits since the days of Captain Archer? Work with Starfleet Intelligence to extract a deep, covert operative from within the Orion Syndicate? Investigate why the Borg are attacking a specific colony and what one of its residents has to do with it? Or, perhaps as a warrior of the Klingon Empire, you are ordered to stop a Gorn rebellion or asked to investigate an intelligence report about a Starfleet Admiral which has been replaced by a shape-shifting alien. All of the previous examples are already available in-game to play now – but, best of all, they were created by players just like you using a special toolset called the Foundry.
When using the Foundry, you are no longer “just a player” in the world of STO – you have the opportunity to forge your own strange new worlds, new life and new civilizations. You can author a story for your friends to enjoy and others around the globe to discover. You can create a mission that has no combat, or you can create battles the likes of which have not been seen since the Battle of Sector 001. Perhaps you want to go a step further and create a series of missions, with a villain to rival Khan Noonien Singh himself who dogs the player’s steps and sows conflict and villainy. You, the author, can do all this and more within the Foundry. Oh, and let’s not forget that STO is a Free to Play game, so anyone can jump in and play, and with a little effort create missions. Please visit this page to visit STO’s Foundry hub, complete with videos, a FAQ, and more!
So, curious about what others have done with the tool? Perhaps even you just want to play something outside the normal mission chain in the game? You can do this! Let’s start by introducing you to how you can find those missions already created by authors. Foundry missions can be accessed through the Mission Journal; this can be accessed by either the default keyboard command, the letter “J”, or through the Delta shield icon (the combadge logo) located on the mini-map. On the “Available” tab of the journal, there are two additional tabs, “Community Authored” and “Review Content.”
Let’s touch on the latter first, as any new Foundry content starts its life listed under “Review Content”. In order to be visible in the “Community Authored” section, authors are required to obtain five reviews from other players. All missions pass through this tab when they are first published, so this is where you can find the freshest ideas players have created, or where your artistic steps into the Star Trek universe will first be displayed for all to see.
Above, I mentioned five examples of missions created using the Foundry. As an example, let’s choose the one regarding the Borg – it is a mission by RachelGarrett called “The Longing”. If you click on the “Community Authored” tab, a list of missions will populate the screen, along with a small arrow near the top of the screen. When you click on this arrow, a search box appears. If you know a specific mission you want to play, you can find it by typing the author’s name, mission title, or
project code here. Alternatively, you can also just scroll through the list of missions and choose one that looks interesting. Double clicking the mission in the window will bring up the mission specifics which usually tell you where the mission begins and what your goals are. From there you will accept the mission and travel to the destination specified and live the adventure!
After playing any of these missions, you can help the author gain greater recognition by leaving a review of their work. When you complete the mission, a box will appear that allows you to leave a brief feedback on your experiences, as well as rate the mission using a 5-star scale. Did you find a mission that blew your socks off (assuming your species is capable of wearing socks)? Wish there was some way to thank the author other than giving a 5-star rating? Well, you can! Cryptic recently added the ability to “tip” authors a quantity of Dilithium (an in-game ‘currency’ used to purchase various items including spaces to create more Foundry missions, more on that later) as a “thank you”.
Overwhelmed? It certainly can be daunting trying to explore all the myriad missions created by players, but there are resources to help you navigate these trials. One of the first places you can consult is the STO forums themselves. Under the “The Foundry for Star Trek Online banner”, there is a Mission Database forum. Contained within are postings and discussions by other players of missions available to play – additionally, you can discuss various aspects of the Foundry and ask advice as you take your steps into the larger world of user generated content. You can also visit StarbaseUGC.com where we feature reviews and author previews of missions.
Now that you have had a taste of what can be done, you might be thinking, “how can I do this?” the answer is simple. Gold Members (lifetime and monthly subscribers) start with 8 slots to use immediately and Free to Play players (Silver Players) can use some of their in-game Dilithium (10,000 to be exact) to buy “project slots” that will open up mission authoring. This link contains much of the information a player needs to get started using the Foundry, with a basic overview that will allow you to take this:
Want more in depth walkthroughs of mission creation? You can visit STO’s Foundry Tutorial section here – it contains a collection of videos tutorial that will get you started on your Foundry quest. You can also come and visit us at StarbaseUGC.com where we have links to many of the videos, as well as other written tutorials and a chat room where live help can often be found to your questions. Lastly, make sure to review the Foundry Terms of Service before you start creating missions – it has important information about the “dos” and “don’ts” regarding UGC for STO.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in the Foundry!
*Mission examples mentioned above:
General Rebellion – CaptPFDennis (Klingon)
Mind Games – Bazag (Klingon)
The Longing – RachelGarrett (Federation)
The Syndicate Extraction – Galactrix (Federation)
Return to Terra Nova – Kirkfat (Federation)