Perfect Puts Paid to Player Projects

Sometimes I just want alliteration in my headlines.

The news today from Perfect World Entertainment, owners of Cryptic Studios, is that they will be killing off the Foundry, the player content creation portal, for Star Trek Online and Neverwinter.

Just down the street from EA HQ

The Foundry in both games will be discontinued come April 11, 2019.

Anybody who created or played in a mission from the Foundry before March 4, 2019 will get special in-game items in acknowledgement.

As for why the Foundry is being discontinued, the announcement says:

Our team at Cryptic strives to create excellent content and maintain a high standard of quality for our games. However, the legacy knowledge required to maintain the Foundry at our quality standards is no longer available.

Given that they describe the Foundry as a “passion project” elsewhere in the announcement, it sounds as though the person whose passion it was has left the company and PWE isn’t willing to spend the time and money to get somebody else on board to handle it.

This is unmistakably a blow to those who champion the idea of user created content as an answer to the age old problem of players consuming content faster than a studio can make it.  The Foundry was pretty much the poster child, the prime example, the proof that such a solution was viable.

And, of course, there are those who actually play Neverwinter and Star Trek Online and who look to the Foundry to provide interesting and diverse content as an adjunct to what the company provides.  That avenue will soon be closed.

PWE vows to continue to creating top notch content for these games, but it seems unlikely that the pace of such content, even were it stepped up, could off-set what will be taken away come mid-April.

Others on this topic:

9 thoughts on “Perfect Puts Paid to Player Projects

  1. bhagpuss

    It’s a shame, although from what I’ve read the NW version, at least, had fallen into disrepute in recent years. SOE/DBG’s version, the Dungeon Maker, was so roundly abused by exploiters it eventually had to be neutered to sucha degree that no-one wanted to use it for anything other than storage. Players are their own worst enemies when it comes to player-created content.

    On a more positive note, DBG is aiming to revamp Player Studio. That worked pretty well for a while and could do so again…

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  2. Roger Edwards (@ModeratePeril)

    The Foundry in STO has been a mess for a long time. New content elsewhere in the game always broke it and it was frequently taken offline for long periods. Yes there were some standout player created missions, but there was also a lot of shoddy stuff as well. Often the latter was designed by opportunists to try and facilitate some sort of benefit or game advancement.

    The introduction of the Personal Endeavor system pretty much banged the last nail into The Foundry’s coffin. Rather than playing TFOs or replaying old missions, players looked to player created content to try and clear Endeavors as quickly as possible. Naturally Cryptic were not going to allow that. Also as you mention The Foundry was curated and administered by just one person and they left Cryptic last November according to the STO subreddit.

    So I understand why the system is being removed. It’s a shame but The Foundry is one of those things that is great to read about but the reality is somewhat different. However, it does leave a real problem of less content in the game. Something that needs to be addressed.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Roger Edwards – Thanks for stopping by, that is actually some decent insight. I used the Foundry in Neverwinter, but was long done with STO before it arrived there.

    One of the ignorant responses I have seen to this closure has been along the lines of “code doesn’t go bad” with a statement that PWE should just leave it as is rather than take it out. I know, working in software development, that code does indeed go bad, often much more quickly than one would expect, in a live online situation. At times my work life seems to be a non-stop run of fixes to accommodate updates to Ruby gems or Apache that are needed to fix security issues, which always seem to break other things.

    That updates to STO were already breaking the Foundry goes beyond confirming what I suspected. I do get on my soap box at times when people seem to think features are free, you just build them and release them and they take care of themselves forever after. That just isn’t the case in the real world.

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  4. Shintar

    A shame for those who actually used it, but I can’t help but wonder just how many players actually did make regular use of the Foundry. I know that after years of playing Neverwinter and putting a fair amount of hours into it, I can probably count the number of Foundry missions I’ve done on my fingers, and I rarely saw players even mention it while in game. A few of the ones I did play were pretty memorable though…

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  5. Roger Edwards (@ModeratePeril)

    Absolutely @Shintar. I have been playing STO regularly since 2015 and have only made use of the Foundry a handful of times, usually after someone has recommended a specific mission. The index of content was always a pain to navigate and if you looked beyond the top 25 most up-voted missions, you’d struggle to find something that was actually good.

    On a narrative level, for every good Foundry mission there were three others that came across as the worst sort of fan fiction. I would hazard a guess that the Foundry is one of those things like “shopping locally”. We all lament its decline and in principle support the concept, but at the end of the day we still go shop at the mall.

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  6. Naithin

    I haven’t played NW for a long time, and STO for even longer. I’m not even sure the Foundry was IN STO the last time I did…

    But this is still sad to hear, along with how far it seemingly had fallen over the intervening years. I remember playing through some of the top rated NW content and having a *blast* with it, in many ways it felt like the NWN3 we never had.

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  7. Stormwaltz

    I remember reading an article a year or two back (maybe on Massively?) about a player fleet that had used the Foundry to build out their flagship as a guild hall. It had toys like a triggerable Borg invasion sequence. A clever way to expand on the idea STO’s mostly-for-show and equally abandoned fleet starbases, now gone. Whoever that group was, I feel bad for them.

    I also recall that when Neverwinter hadn’t been released, the Foundry was going to be in on day one. It was presented as the feature that was supposed to make the game a spiritual sequel to the old BioWare / Obsidian Neverwinters.

    I was never into the rewards, so the constant nerfing didn’t bother me. The usability block was always the difficulty of trying to find decent work. Every time I looked, it was flooded with story-free combat grinds and overwritten would-be visual novels.

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  8. Archey

    Player generated content, I think, suffers from the fact that players are usually not good game designers (I will include myself here, for fairness’ sake). Minecraft modding is a good example: there are some great mods out there, but others (in my opinion) that are little more than a poorly disguised series of cheat buttons, which gets old. And that’s leaving completely aside the issue of an in-game advantage, Minecraft not being massively multiplayer.

    [side note: Naithin (ex-Asheron’s Call player) and Stormwaltz in the same thread? I feel like I’ve found my people….]

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  9. Krumm

    I actually have played a couple of foundry missions in STO, they were ok. It was more a case of seeing what they where about and that they provided a benefit in doing them. Sadly as many have pointed out; the idea of them is for RP’ers and the like to build stories…what we get in reality is crafty individuals creating ways to play the system and get benefits the improper way.

    I only really care about these systems in games where RP is more relevant; I wish that EQ2’s dungeon crafting system was more robust…not necessarily with regard to loot but in content building. They only have a couple of building opens and none of these is an open area…one open forested area would make for an RP situation far more often then any set of structures.

    In a True Fantasy environment the ability to great the dungeon content itself is reward enough with regard to RP story generation, Who hasn;t wanted to script a city invasion for a RP story at least once. I really feel that these sorts of systems are critical in the later part of a games life where content begins to dry up to give the players a reason for staying “funded” .

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