The [redaction] of exploration areas in the game left many with a bad taste in their mouths. Whether you used them for duty officer missions, to acquire resources, or to simply fulfill an existential need that Star Trek must have exploration even though you didn’t use it – losing these regions was a buzz kill for many.
Exploration in all it’s forms is the foundation of Star Trek. This is best summed up in Q’s and Picard’s final conversation of the series in “All Good Things”.
Capt. Picard: I sincerely hope that this is the last time that I find myself here.
Q: You just don’t get it, do you, Jean-Luc? The trial never ends. We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your mind and your horizons. And for one brief moment, you did.
Capt. Picard: When I realized the paradox.
Q: Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. *That* is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.
In the developers defense regions like Delta Volantis were underutilized, and lacked the level of polish we’d all come to expect. There was also a certain groupthink position on Cryptic’s behalf that the Foundry was supposed to carry that torch of exploration, and perhaps eclipse the company’s efforts in this regard. For all practical purposes it did, but accessibility severely limited its reach for all but the dedicated Star Trek Online Foundry fan. Forum reviews, blog and twitter posts became the best way to access the treasure trove of content.
Visibility was the Foundry’s biggest deterrent, and that thankfully has changed for the better.
With the last several updates Cryptic has moved forward with making Foundry missions much accessible from within the sector maps themselves.
“Back in the day” I stumbled across reviews and tried the occasional foundry mission. Heck, I even wrote reviews on our original fleet website, breaking down the good and bad for fleet-mates to perk their interest. Over time that fell by the wayside and beyond the EC farming of pre-Delta Rising or the rare spotlight mission, I mistakenly let my foundry usage slip.
What a difference a simple marketing change* makes. By posting missions within the sector map, giving me easy access to hundreds of potential adventures, this simple change has rekindled exploration for me.
I’ve started to have fun again in Star Trek Online.
The last few days I’ve spent less time with the grind, or the pursuit of 30K DPS (I will get there eventually) and focused most of my free time in missions I never knew existed. The rewards for the first daily missions (per alt) are decent and some of the content is absolutely compelling.
I am not looking for the ‘optimal’ missions to ‘maximize’ my return on the effort. I’m exploring a world it seems I’ve somehow overlooked through the eyes of like-minded fans.
There are low-points in this player-generated content, with either story elements or dialog that seems ‘off’, or for me easily recognizable spelling errors which kills any suspension of disbelief. Spell check people! But the amount of good quality mission exceeds my picky limitations.
How often do you see something like this?
So I’ve started to compile a list of missions and authors I want to explore. I might even write a review occasionally for those that compel me to share that experience.
Isn’t that the foundation of a great MMO? I think it is. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to discover what’s out there.
@CaptainSmirk – a couple of thoughts to enhance it further:
- Add a right-click context menu to any mission that is part of a series, allowing me to select the starting point.
- Add a map filter to the region map that would toggle on/off which systems have available missions.
*Simple to us, likely a major pain for the devs. This change was well worth doing 😉