What an amazing month this has been. Family issues, being stalked on Myspace, and finding out that shoes will be visible on your character…
The most devastating news for our Shadows of Cormyr community and the NWN 2 community at large is the news of the suicide of one of our long time members in late May. I believe the entire gaming community has lost a good friend, whether they knew him or not. So this one is for you Lupuz.
One of the most difficult things to do in any module is to identify your target audience. A number of folks have told me that this is an unnecessary step, that they prefer to just build their particular vision without worrying about who may come and play.
I personally, however, find this disturbing. Every game has a target audience. Let’s say you are building a role playing mod. Shouldn’t your systems and philosophy will be directed toward role players, with rules specifically geared to meeting the needs of role players?
Conversely, a simple hack and slash mod would be directed to combat, with little restriction on things like l33t speak and such atrocities.
Identifying your target audience is important because the more you build directly for the group of people you want to play in your module, the more enjoyment those people will have.
There are many ways to do this, but I personally choose to research what types of players we may be getting and apply what I find to what I know of our existing community.
Recently, I began trying out MMO’s: RFonline, WoW, City of Villians, and any other that’s offered a free trial. This allowed me to look for things that I enjoyed about these games and to find ways to apply them to the module I am building.
As an example, I know that role players are suckers for details and realism. A realistic Cormyr setting like we intend to build will have contested borders, areas that are constantly in need of defending by the noble heroes who join our module. I was impressed with the method RFOnline used to bring large scale PvP into a necessary and logical context. For example, a large mine is fought over twice a day by all three races present in the game. The winning race gains exclusive access to the resources in the mine until the next war. This was a very interesting dynamic to watch.
Something like this is a similar dynamic we would like to work in our module. What role player, good or evil, doesn’t love to feel like there is a battle that simply must be fought?
This is but a single example of the importance of identifying the various things that my community would like to see and do in game. I am able to go into any number of other games and find ways to adapt what works and can avoid creating game mechanics and scripting rules that will limit or prevent the people I am building for from fully immersing themselves in the world I am designing.
I recommend that any PW designer attempt to identify who they are building for. Make a list of what you like and don’t like from the ideas you gather. Interview other players and run your ideas by them. Insist on play testing the module! You will likely find, for example, that forcing players to take a bathroom break every 8 hours, while a fun idea in the abstract, isn’t terribly conducive to the gameplay you wish to enable on your server.[b]DISCUSS.