Recently I started to work a little bit on a mission in Foundry in Star Trek Online. While I generally like the toolset from an initial view, I have still hesitated a bit. I am not a bit Star Trek fan and do not have detailed knowledge on much of the Trek lore – if I do something I would like to keep it consistent with the general world set up.
Either way, I have started to work on a mission and similar to a few of my story arcs in City of Heroes Mission Architect, I used my existing characters as inspiration. Since I usually have some thought or idea what my characters are I have found this to be helpful to make up some kind of story.
While the Foundry seems to be a pretty decent tool to create missions with, neither it nor Mission Architect are good tools to write a story in. Text editing is very basic and one does not really have any support to organize the story writing – what are the characters, their motivations, background info, locations, timelines etc.
There are a number of different tools around to help with writing stories (novels, screenplays etc) which may be of some help, although most of these are commercial offerings. Personally I have settled for using a mindmap editor to help with the story/mission writing, Freeplane. I use mindmaps at work and find tools to create those to be quite useful.
Any kind text editor or word processor can be used also, but I like the way I can work to organize my thoughts and ideas through the mindmap. One useful feature that should be considered for text handling is that the tool has a spell checker. I have seen a few spelling mistakes in Foundry missions, it could certainly lower the overall impression of the mission if there are too many.
In a perfect world a lot of the work could be done outside of the Foundry mission editor, before even using the editor – most of the story writing could be done that way. However, for that to be practical one really need to be familiar with the Foundry toolset and perhaps done a couple of missions. When the toolset is new I find it more suitable to switch back and forth and be more iterative – work a bit in the mind map, try out a few things in the editor, back to mind map etc.
For example, I had to change some of my initial locations I had planned – they were not available for players to start from when I tried to set it up in the tool. I see this mission work as learning how to use the Foundry and see how I can combine it with handling in Freeplane.
I expect this to take a couple of weeks; I will perhaps spend a few hours per week on this and from my experience with Mission Architect it can take quite a bit of time to get a story arc to a stage where it feels reasonably good and ready to be exposed to others.