On April 11, we are sad to announce that we will be sunsetting the Foundry system for Neverwinter and Star Trek Online. Join us for a livestream at 3pm PT today for more details.
Highlights from the livestream:
1) Foundry was built over the course of a year (6-7 years ago) by programmers who are no longer with the company. They passed on their knowledge as best they could, but the game has moved on. Foundry has a tendency to break with each update and it can take a week searching the code for a fix.
2) As a company, it is no longer tenable to spend the resources anymore on fixing the Foundry, as it takes away those resources from developing new innovations and new technologies for the game. Every time the Foundry broke, the engineers had to spend time fixing it instead of working on updating systems and the tech underneath.
3) Developers have spent a year discussing whether they could keep the Foundry or not. EVERYONE has been fighting to find a way to make it tenable to keep the Foundry going: Julia, Vincent, QA, Thomas, Al, Jeremy, Andre have all been working on it, but none of the solutions have worked.
4) Can just the missions be kept online?
Yes, but that doesn't fix the problem, because when the Foundry breaks, the missions break. And then they still have to spend time fixing it.
5) Could a separate server be created that never updates to host the Foundry missions?
Yes, but extra resources would have to be spent on a server that's on a different build from the game and that causes tons of headaches, not to mention it splits the playerbase, which is something you try to avoid in MMO games.
6) Everyone loves the Foundry and what the players have contributed to it, and if there was away to keep it going, they would have. They tried EVERYTHING. They do care deeply about what the players have done with the Foundry, but this was the best decision for the business as a whole, for the health of Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, and Cryptic Studios.
7) Is everything just going to be deleted?
No, they worked really hard to back up and save everything that players worked on and created in the Foundry, it just won't be accessible. They don't know if that is going to change. They hope it does, but that's still up in the air.
8) Are they hoping to make a Foundry 2.0?
No, not at this time. The original Foundry took a year to build, and they aren't dedicating those kinds of resources and time to that right now.
9) Is there an engine overhaul coming because of this change?
Not because of this change, and there's not an "engine overhaul" coming, but a lot of the things the programmers are working on right now are quality of life fixes and a lot of "under the hood" changes that make the games better: animations and just day-to-day life of playing the game better. Some are being developed for the upcoming project: Magic the Gathering, some for Neverwinter, Star Trek, and Champions, but no matter where they are developed, all Cryptic games work on the same ecosystem, so they make all of the games better. There is a core team of programmers working on all of these updates.
10) There is virtually no reason why those missions cannot be made part of the actual game.
No, that is actually incorrect, and they know, because they tried. The Foundry missions do not run on the same system as the in-game missions. A herculean effort was made by Al and Thomas to convert Foundry missions to in-game missions. It turned out that it would take months of work for each individual mission, because of the way the Foundry is setup and the way their editing tools are setup. It's still a hope, but if there's not a way to do it efficiently and to a quality that they expect, then they can't do it. If they just took the missions and dumped them on live, there's a good chance that the missions wouldn't work as designed: assets in the wrong place, objective not completable, etc.
11) With the Foundry being removed, will the missing Klingon War arc missions be fast tracked to return?
There are different people working on the Klingon War arc missions, the Content Team: Jesse, Paul, Ryan, and John, and they are focused right now on stuff for later content drops this year, but they are hoping to open up some time later in the year to bring it back, though.
12) Is this part of a wider plan to rid Cryptic Studios of "legacy tech?" Are you moving on to new games, new platforms, new engines, etc.?
Tech upgrades happen always. New things being worked on for Magic the Gathering go into new things for all the games. Every game has different systems and that works differently sometimes, but there is an angle towards improvement at Cryptic Studios right now and that means going into the old things they have and trying to make them better.
13) Will this free up time for [insert specific request]?
Things for Star Trek and Neverwinter will still move forward on the same schedule. What the core team, who would work on fixing the Foundry, will do is work on fixes that effect all the games or major programming bugs. A lot of their top priorities right now are working on things that will eventually make their way into STO, NW, and CO.
14) In response to using the Foundry to complete Personal Endeavors:
They have seen the feedback that many players think some of the endeavors take too long to complete, and Kael and Bort were discussing it earlier in the day. The Systems Team was having a longer discussion on it, but not sure what will come out of that yet.
15) Is there anything coming to replace the Foundry as far as player created content?
No, not at this time.
16) Do authors own the rights to their stories and characters?
Check the Foundry End User License Agreement (EULA).
17) Is there any chance of getting the mission editor that the devs use to make real missions or is that too difficult?
18) What will happen to Foundry test characters?
They are going to disappear. There will be no access to them anymore. Let Kael know if that has any effect on the account, though. If Foundry characters use characters slot, you should get those back, although that has not been confirmed at this time.
19) Quest contact related to the Foundry are being removed from Neverwinter and Star Trek Online. Universal Endeavor to complete a Foundry mission was removed already the last time that the Foundry was broken.
20) How many years does Star Trek Online have left?
Hopefully, another decade. This is not a reflection on the life cycle of any of the games. It's a reflection on the state of the company, that they are moving towards the future and have to dedicate programmer resources towards new technologies instead of constantly fixing old ones. The STO, NW, and CO are all showing strong numbers and are profitable.
21) In-game memorial for the Foundry?
Kael would love it, but doesn't know if that will happen. They are offering the rewards, however, and that is one way that the Foundry will stay alive.
22) Was Kael shocked and caught off guard since a Foundry spotlight went out on the previous Friday?
No, he knew the sunsetting of the Foundry was coming. He wanted to make sure that there was one final Foundry spotlight, because he knew they were giving away rewards for it. If you had a spotlight mission, but don't receive your rewards, contact Kael.
23) Can the Foundry source code be made open to the public?
No, that's proprietary Cryptic Studios code.
24) When will the rewards be sent out?
Closer to the shutdown. No exact date at this time.
25) Will demorecord playback of Foundry missions still work after April 11?
Yes, but will need to check and make sure.
26) Why the short lead time?
Actually, this was the longest lead time that could be given. The CEO was very adamant that the Foundry wasn't left broken and not fixed. He wanted to make sure that everyone had time to finish their missions.
27) The cutoff for rewards was set to the announcement date, because it was felt that what the authors did was special and they didn't want rewards going to just anyone who saw the blog and made a mission without anything in it in 5 minutes just to get the rewards.