Neverwinter Nevermore

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The Random One:

Yeah, that's the problem, isn't it? There was a time when a dev could put a toolkit for creating new worlds in their game system and it would just be another bullet point, just a cool thing for the hardcore fans. Nowadays we only have Minecraft, a world where you need tens of mods to turn it into anything other than a pointless faffing around simulator, and while the mod support is admirable it does mean that there is no central game you can work on, mods can enter in conflict, and you need to understand programming to do anything anyone will notice, unless you're wasting time by creating a giant sculpture that can only be seen on a computer.

We used to get excited because we could create brand new things, now we get excited because we can slap blocks together. We embrace less and less freedom - magic crayons made of shit - because the alternative is developers locking out mods so that they can sell you four weapons for fifteen dollars.

How far we've come.

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/browse/?appid=72850&browsesort=toprated

Hmm there seems to be 9610 entries there.

http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/categories/

Even if all the files on steamworkshop are duplicated there that is still another 9128 entries there.

http://fallout3.nexusmods.com/mods/categories/

http://dragonage.nexusmods.com/mods/categories/

Pretty sure modding RPGs is alive and well

I actually spent a lot of time playing Half-Life 2: Deathmatch because of the role-playing maps that some servers used. After a while you start making friends, and enemies.

It wasn't quite the experience described here, but it still felt special.

E. T. Brooking:
Instead, modern MMOs have hewed to the example set by Blizzard's wildly popular and profitable World of Warcraft. That game, released in 2004, sent shockwaves through Neverwinter Nights' comparatively pint-sized online community. Those who investigated the realm of Azeroth returned describing a slickly professional space teeming with endless players and quests. The experience was diligently policed and controlled. There was none of Neverwinter Nights' barely bridled chaos; in World of Warcraft, any such dynamism was developer-produced.

So, how exactly is this different? A small number of people create a world that a bunch of other people play in. It's exactly the same as for NN, except done by professionals instead of hobbyists. I think where you go wrong is in calling WoW a single world. Sure, WoW is, but WoW is equivalent to just one of the mods for NN. If you want something different then you just play a different game, just as you could with NN. Far from taking anything away, MMOs are simply the logical extension of what people were trying to do themselves with the limited tools NN had to offer.

Damn, this has once again reminded me how much Bioware has declined. Everyone should stop buying anything from Bioware until they make Neverwinter Nights 3, or something similar.

E. T. Brooking:
Neverwinter Nights 2 failed to capture the spirit or accessibility of its predecessor. Today, the first Neverwinter Nights still boasts a stronger online community than the sequel that was meant to replace it.

Wrong. The NWN 2 roleplaying scene is thriving very well, actually. I may be a bit bias because I'm currently part of a team developing a roleplaying server based in Amn. A lot of the technical issues have since been fixed either by Obsidian or by player generated patches. There's a huge amount of custom content and several servers that consistently have full population at peak hours (usually around 80 players). Anyone who hasn't roleplayed on NWN or NWN 2 has missed a huge opportunity in the game, though it's never too late to pop in.

This is always going to have a special warm place in my memory because it was my first computer RPG, and really the first computer game I ever played.

I was learning how to play the game, and how to play with a mouse and keyboard at the same time.

*tears up*

Goddamn I love this game.

Blood Brain Barrier:
Damn, this has once again reminded me how much Bioware has declined. Everyone should stop buying anything from Bioware until they make Neverwinter Nights 3, or something similar.

They don't own the D&D license any more so they can't make NN3.

This article has made me really want to dive back into the Arelith servers again, but I'm so used to 3.5 now...

Nice read, E.T.

Bentusi16:
I just know that the new baldurs gate will have nothing near it.

Probably not... But its worth pointing out that the head developer behind Baldurs Gate: EE was Project Director for NWN, and hes made mention of the flexibility as something hes especially proud of. From some comments hes made on twitter, I think if he could he would.

Boudica:

ThriKreen:
<- made the NWN horse system.

You're welcome. ;)

No way. Really? I never thought about the person behind the stuff I downloaded for that game... That's really cool.

Susan Arendt:

ThriKreen:
<- made the NWN horse system.

You're welcome. ;)

Showoff. :)

Someone's jealous :P

No, he's a friend of mine, and I'm teasing him. Unlike most game journalists, I have no aspirations to be a developer.

Damn...
Playing this with a group of 3-5 friends? fucking priceless.

Loads of memories where we'd all come out barely alive after a tough encounter, and try to rest, but one guy just HAD to try and break open the chest first (despite the fact we had people with the unlocking spell), which was usually trapped and got us all killed >.>

Edit: To clear up the chest breaking, that was some RP we injected, he made a warrior and didn't put much onto intelligence, so he couldn't speak properly. It caught us by suprise and he just kinda decided on the spot to roll with it.

I may not support Bioware anymore, but they did do a lot right at one stage...

Susan Arendt:

Boudica:

ThriKreen:
<- made the NWN horse system.

You're welcome. ;)

No way. Really? I never thought about the person behind the stuff I downloaded for that game... That's really cool.

Susan Arendt:

Showoff. :)

Someone's jealous :P

No, he's a friend of mine, and I'm teasing him. Unlike most game journalists, I have no aspirations to be a developer.

I joke, I joke!

Either you've just arrived at work and are still sleepy, or my joking attitude is bad.

Must be the first one.

JuliusMagnus:
Not to be 'that' guy (or kid more likely).

But the only game that has done the same giving up servers and multiplayer content creation to fans while not asking money beyond initial purchase is Minecraft.

Although admittedly not an RPG out of box. Many modders are busy inserting those systems.

I don't know... games like Little Big Planet, and Trials HD actually offer a stunning amount of tools. I don't know about LBP, but the Trials creation engine is exactly what the devs used to make the levels themselves. Effectively anything is possible, people have made puzzle games and FPSs in the Trials engine.

Sseth:

E. T. Brooking:
Neverwinter Nights 2 failed to capture the spirit or accessibility of its predecessor. Today, the first Neverwinter Nights still boasts a stronger online community than the sequel that was meant to replace it.

Wrong. The NWN 2 roleplaying scene is thriving very well, actually. I may be a bit bias because I'm currently part of a team developing a roleplaying server based in Amn. A lot of the technical issues have since been fixed either by Obsidian or by player generated patches. There's a huge amount of custom content and several servers that consistently have full population at peak hours (usually around 80 players). Anyone who hasn't roleplayed on NWN or NWN 2 has missed a huge opportunity in the game, though it's never too late to pop in.

You can't fix that module size hardcap

PS: EFU Represent. We made Ed Greenwood sad.

Mouse_Crouse:

JuliusMagnus:
Not to be 'that' guy (or kid more likely).

But the only game that has done the same giving up servers and multiplayer content creation to fans while not asking money beyond initial purchase is Minecraft.

Although admittedly not an RPG out of box. Many modders are busy inserting those systems.

I don't know... games like Little Big Planet, and Trials HD actually offer a stunning amount of tools. I don't know about LBP, but the Trials creation engine is exactly what the devs used to make the levels themselves. Effectively anything is possible, people have made puzzle games and FPSs in the Trials engine.

True,

But in this case I was looking at the persistent world capabilities of a game like Minecraft to mimick what was done with Neverwinter Nights.

I could have also talked about Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3/NV creation kits but sadly they don't offer persistent worlds out of box.

The reason why this is less common than LBP/Trials/TES is that there is the serverside of the equation. It's increasingly rare for developers/publishers to allow you to set up your own servers for free.

JuliusMagnus:

[quote]
True,

But in this case I was looking at the persistent world capabilities of a game like Minecraft to mimick what was done with Neverwinter Nights.

I could have also talked about Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3/NV creation kits but sadly they don't offer persistent worlds out of box.

The reason why this is less common than LBP/Trials/TES is that there is the serverside of the equation. It's increasingly rare for developers/publishers to allow you to set up your own servers for free.

Very true hadn't considered the persistent worlds part.

Boudica:
No way. Really? I never thought about the person behind the stuff I downloaded for that game... That's really cool.

The NWN mod scene was VERY active, as unlike modding for most games which usually involved a lot of programming or 3D modeling work, there's an aspect with writing that allowed aspiring DMs to write adventures for people to take part in.

A handful of modders even got hired at Bioware (like yours truly) among other places.

Susan Arendt:
No, he's a friend of mine, and I'm teasing him. Unlike most game journalists, I have no aspirations to be a developer.

Don't make me bring my trout along to the Expo!

Also I'll repost from elsewhere:

So many fond memories of modding NWN and playing in DMed games and PWs.

A far cry from MMOs where the focus seems to be just on leveling up and gaining more power. Since one could just use the toolset to make yourself uberpowerful, the desire to "beat" other players is lowered, so games tended to be more on the character interaction and having fun with everyone in the party.

My favourite role-playing incident was having a pacifist airheaded cleric who loved everyone and tried to heal them, deciding the Big Bad must be anemic since he wanted our blood, so she casted Heal on him. He went up in flames, who knew?

The best non-rp incident was a random player in a PW joining our party, but then trying to be a munchkin and killing the deer in the area for their measly 1XP. But then some bug happened and the whole deer faction went hostile to him.

Nothing beat watching the poor guy run around the level with this horde of deer chasing him. "Help me!" he would cry, but as I was playing my airheaded pacifist cleric again, her response was along the lines of "That's what you get you big meanie!"

I wonder if I can create a NWN-like editor and engine with Unity3D? There were a couple things that NWN did right that games nowadays still don't, but Unity comes really close and with some set up, I could make that DragonLance PW environment I've been designing.

JuliusMagnus:
Not to be 'that' guy (or kid more likely).

But the only game that has done the same giving up servers and multiplayer content creation to fans while not asking money beyond initial purchase is Minecraft.

Although admittedly not an RPG out of box. Many modders are busy inserting those systems.

I gave a lot of thought to Minecraft and the Source RP scene while writing this piece. Those systems permit much more player freedom than NWN's Aurora toolset. Given enough time and effort, architects can create almost anything, at no additional cost and playable with others from around the world. That's simply awesome.

The distinction is that, in addition to its sophisticated world-building client, NWN also provided a faithful implementation of the D&D 3.0 ruleset. Just as you could spend dozens of hours finding the perfect server, you could spend dozens more hours trying to find the perfect character build or pvp strategy. NWN was intended to be a deep, heavily customizable role-playing experience. It succeeded and it didn't nickel-and-dime its players in the process.

ThriKreen:
<- made the NWN horse system.

You're welcome. ;)

ThriKreen...now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time. A long time.

Probably not since the notes from one of the post-HotU patches! Thanks, a few years after the fact, for making us all feel a bit less silly when traveling across those absurdly sized grassland areas so many servers insisted on having.

Thinking back, the NWN community really was one of a kind. There were superb writers, master programmers, and visionaries who could breath life into a 300+ area module. I'd be interested to see what they've gotten up to since.

My username was Tulin_Darkarian if anyone remembers me. I was a regrettable "eh." across all three fields of that writer/programmer/visionary spectrum.

Kahani:

E. T. Brooking:
Instead, modern MMOs have hewed to the example set by Blizzard's wildly popular and profitable World of Warcraft. That game, released in 2004, sent shockwaves through Neverwinter Nights' comparatively pint-sized online community. Those who investigated the realm of Azeroth returned describing a slickly professional space teeming with endless players and quests. The experience was diligently policed and controlled. There was none of Neverwinter Nights' barely bridled chaos; in World of Warcraft, any such dynamism was developer-produced.

So, how exactly is this different? A small number of people create a world that a bunch of other people play in. It's exactly the same as for NN, except done by professionals instead of hobbyists. I think where you go wrong is in calling WoW a single world. Sure, WoW is, but WoW is equivalent to just one of the mods for NN. If you want something different then you just play a different game, just as you could with NN. Far from taking anything away, MMOs are simply the logical extension of what people were trying to do themselves with the limited tools NN had to offer.

Neverwinter Nights is different because of it's size; it is much easier for a player to have some sort of real change to the world (That the developer never planned to implement). This could be creating a faction that (eventually) become a permanent feature to the world. The "real" persistent worlds evolve or change according to what the player needs.

WoW is a world you play in; your path is linear with a story you "read".

A good persistent world in Neverwinter Nights becomes your world and a story you create.
----
It is the ultimate difference between a "theme park" MMO and a "Sandpit" MMO.

I always keep NWN installed on my computers and still play it semi-frequently. Some player-made modules put many retail games to shame and, as the article says, the online community was something to see.

Following NWN2's relative failure, I was hoping Dragon Age would ressurect the idea of custom modules with its toolset, but it never went very far. It's a real shame, but I guess we'll never see another game like NWN.

This is my favourite game of all time. I still drop in on Ravenloft: Prisoners of the Mists. Still has a dedicated group of around 30 players 24 hours a day.

Unbelievable online playability.

RandV80:
Yeah I spent a good bit of time playing this game back when I was in college. I wanted to comment on the article though, in addition to the 2 expansion packs Bioware did release a couple of smaller $10 campaigns for the game.

Really? Not counting Hordes and Shadows? What were they called?

(also, this dish related captcha could easily be read by a program. I think the point of the captcha is being missed here.)

That brought back memories. I spent a couple of years with NWN online and was fasinated by the depth of RPG on some servers, the worlds on others and the action packed dungeon crawling on servers.

I tried WoW afterwards, but it never was the same to me. The RPG seemed pointless and the world to generic. I hope for newer gamers, that they will have the chance to experience such a world as was NWN online.

beefpelican:
Really? Not counting Hordes and Shadows? What were they called?

They were the Premium Modules, the pre-cursor to DLC.

Witch's Wake, Shadowguard, Kingmaker, which you can get as part of NWN Diamond or the Kingmaker pack.

And download only (which I worked on): Pirates of the Sword Coast, Infinite Dungeons, and WyvernCrown of Cormyr (HORSES).

Funny thing, I never played NWN multiplayer and never had any interest in it. I still loved fanmade single player modules for it and NWN2. Definitely agree in giving it accolades but I never even think of it as a multiplayer game. And I find there's an interesting disconnect where single player NWNers seldom consider the multiplayer aspects, and vice versa.

And NWN2 was a fantastic experience for a single player gamer -- yeah, they borked the multiplayer, but as a single player game it was great (and I actually preferred NWN2's toolset).

And I think NWN2 teaches a lesson there...

The thing about NWN is that it was in development for a looong time. It was actually originally going to be an Interplay game before Interplay collasped--you were originally going to be able to import your Baldur's Gate characters into it (so said a loading screen in BG2). They had lots and lots of time to figure out what was an extremely complex gaming engine, beyond just making a single game.

NWN2 comparatively was made in a much shorter timeframe, by an at-that-time new company that was forced to use someone else's by-that-point aging game engine and upgrade it and add new things to it--oh, and convert the mechanics from D&D 3.0 to 3.5. Trying to make it do all the stuff that NWN did plus update the graphics and game mechanics in a couple years was a ridiculously tall order. Hence the borked multiplayer and other things. (I still loved the game, but again, I don't play multiplayer, so I didn't get burned like the multiplayer players felt they did.)

And the thing is, to develop a game--or rather software system like NWN---that can be a comprehensive single player game, toolset, GM tool, and persistent world provider--in this day and age with current tech and getting everything right would take way, way, way longer than most developers are given time to create. Maybe in the era of Kickstarter and indie projects it would be possible but for now I'd be skeptical it could happen again for awhile.

ThriKreen:

beefpelican:
Really? Not counting Hordes and Shadows? What were they called?

They were the Premium Modules, the pre-cursor to DLC.

Witch's Wake, Shadowguard, Kingmaker, which you can get as part of NWN Diamond or the Kingmaker pack.

And download only (which I worked on): Pirates of the Sword Coast, Infinite Dungeons, and WyvernCrown of Cormyr (HORSES).

I am intrigued...Not yet sure if i'm intrigued enough to find my old NwN install disks, but then again I did always like the way it handled more than NwN 2.

Holy Crap! No one here knows that there are over 100 persistent worlds run by the NWN2 Engine currently via the games MP function?! Really!?

It's a whole new NWN2 and we built it!

For the last eight years hordes of die-hard NWN fans from around the world have been building entire worlds and server clusters of worlds via the NWN2 toolset. We have been running eight year long D&D campaigns with live dungeon masters. Our worlds now have all the features of MMOs that we as a community programmed in.

I personally come from a series of four interconnected servers based naturally on D&D Faerun. We run the Moonshae's Isles, Baldur's Gate, Western Heartlands, and The Silver Marches. We run live games and we run in hardcore 3.5 rules with Roleplay standards of total immersion and PERMADEATH rules according to the manual.

Our servers were built by a host of international players who all got together originally to host 15 different Faerun based servers back on NWN called A Land Far Away (alandfaraway.org) I am a builder and a past Dm and through my contributions via creating areas and worlds I have learned and taught others to create naturally realistic gaming environs via using new unique content you will not see in single player.

Our servers have engendered international friendship, vacations, mini-cons, and even marriages. And we are just ONE group of a hundred servers that are run in all different languages. NWN2 have three adult RP servers, a game of thrones based server, and even a space-travel based server all created through content shared in the creative commons via NWN2vault.com.

Sure we don't own a lick of this content via Hasbro/Obsidian/Atari, but we love what it brings to us, a world under OUR control, with live Dms that care, plus static content and all the professions and customization that MMOs offer.

We took that so called piece of crap NWN2 and used as fertilizer to grow an entirely different world. Contact me on our A Land Far Away facebook group page for more info.

With the constant integration of technology into our daily lives, I'm confident that a day is coming soon when a group of young adventurers set out to defy the system, will create a new world online that will put the status quo to the test. We must always remind others around us of the past, and an age when freedom in life and online were side by side.

I solo through MMOs & treat them like massive open world single player campaigns overrun with useless NPCs. I play lots of them, provided they're FTP with optional cash shop or a one-time payment, & don't have open PvP. I'm not antisocial & am interested in tabletop gaming, I just really dislike playing video games with others. & I do put money into the ones I like, I just rotate between MMOs every 2 weeks, rendering even a one month subscription pointless.

It's nice to know there will be another Neverwinter game, even if I already have ::checks:: 6 other upcoming MMOs I'm excited about. 2013 is going to be awesome. I'm especially hopefully that it will be very story heavy, like LotRO & NWN & BG. Well, my biggest hope is really that playing it reminds me of playing NWN & not something else.

Oh man, NWN had the BEST premium mods. The stories were good enough that I almost ripped my hair out when I remembered that some of them were left unfinished. While NWN2 & it's first expansion were great, the other 2 expansions were quite disappointing. I tried to enjoy them; I shouldn't have to try,

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