Cryptic to Close the Foundry
Cryptic have announced that they will be removing the Foundry from both Star Trek Online and Neverwinter on April 11th. The Foundry was first introduced to STO back in 2011 and has proven a popular means for players to create and share their own missions, using in-game assets. Cryptic state in their press release that “the legacy knowledge required to maintain the Foundry at our quality standards is no longer available”. This is a roundabout way of saying that the member of staff responsible for curating and quality testing the service has no left the company. Naturally, Cryptic has stated that they will acknowledge those players who have contributed to the Foundry over the years by handing out various virtual trinkets and baubles. There has been quite a strong reaction of the STO subreddit as no one like to see content removed from a game. However, the isn’t a black and white as it first appears, because the Foundry has been broken for a while.
I personally haven’t played a Foundry mission for at least two years and have often only tried those I’ve specifically read about. One of the systems biggest faults is poor indexing and curation. Finding good player created content beyond the most popular missions that has been voted to the top of the list, has always been a challenge. Then for several years now every time Cryptic have revised STO in some way or simply added a new feature episode, it has always resulted in the Foundry going offline. Yes there have been some standout player created missions over the years that reflect the passionate nature of the STO community and that of Trek fans per se. But for every good mission you also get three indifferent ones. Often the latter have been created by opportunists trying to facilitate some sort of in-game benefit or provide a fast path to advancement. And on a narrative level, many of these missions are just further examples of poor fan fiction.
The recent introduction of the Personal Endeavor system in STO, pretty much the last nail in the coffin for the Foundry. Endeavors are essentially daily missions that earn statistical upgrade points and are designed to encourage players to try Task Force Operations (group PVE content) and repeat old missions. However, many players looked to Foundry content to try and clear Endeavors as quickly as possible. Why spend thirty minutes in a structured TFO that runs to a timed script, when you can run a player created mission that allows you to achieve your goal far quicker? Naturally, Cryptic were not going to allow this to continue. So when you consider this along with the flaky nature of the system to begin with, and the fact that no one is available to maintain it, it’s surprising that the plug wasn’t pulled earlier.
The Foundry in STO is one of those concepts that looks great on paper and seems like an invaluable community service when discussed. But the reality is that it never delivered as much good content as hoped for and its curation and cataloguing further hindered “the cream from rising to the top”. It can also be argued that Cryptic never promoted the service as much as they could. But irrespective of the quality of content and its accessibility, this is still a case of something being taken out of both STO and Neverwinter and that is never an easy sell. If content is taken out, one naturally feels that something else should replace it. Whether Cryptic does this remains to be seen and I won’t hold my breath. As for the Foundry, I suspect it’s a bit like the concept of “shopping locally”. It’s something we all like in principle but seldom do in reality, therefore we as players, have actively contributed to its demise.