Monday, September 15, 2008

Future tense-ions

Dropped in on the Academy of Modding Excellence NWN2 winners chat over the weekend - check out the log here. I wouldn't focus too much on my small contribution to proceedings but it's definitely worth checking out what the guys at Robinson Workshop have got going on - myconids and gelatinous cubes!! Oozes are sadly lacking the the toolset and what's a dungeon without a black pudding latrine, or gelatinous cube hiding at the bottom of a pit trap?

Still on a bit of a downer with NWN2 at the moment (not as enthused by it - either playing or building) so not much toolset time the past week, but did make some good progress on the Halloween project. I've finished the cellar part, and am working on an investigation in the upper reaches of the house - which is hopefully good practice for the quests i'll be working on for Dark Avenegr 3. Jclef has put together my exterior building which looks pretty cool. It'll be interesting to see the ideas other have - and how many themes recur across them.

Something that cropped up at the end of the AME chat was a discussion about the future of NWN2, which I couldn't hang around for much of. But I was interested that the overwhelming consensus was that NWN2 would die with the advent of Dragon Age - especially with some big names in the community agreeing with this. There's still an adventure pack, and expansion and many big-time modules from forum/blog celebs to come for NWN2, so I thought there's life in the old dog yet, but maybe things are slowing down? WHat do you guys think? We're quite insular and insulated in the blogging community, but do you sense thigns quietening and the end in sight with Dragon Age?


mooncalf165 said...

My God, I think that’s a fate still undecided, because that’s a point of view applicable rather more to module designers than to players, who will actually take to the game more in the long term if the official campaign/gameworld excites them than the graphics etc. The long-term success of good ol’ ‘bulky-NPCs’ NWN is evidence of that. No matter if modders create fascinating new worlds from the DA toolset: they’re not going to attract people to play their games unless the OC has an established fanbase community (something which any D & D game has already, to its advantage)

DA LOOKs fantastic, game-wise, also looks, imo, to be struggling originality-wise in its setting. Of course, that’s only based on screenshots and on the trailers, which often replicate Lord of the Rings shot for shot. It may turn out to be a really refreshing new take on fantasy, but at the moment, it is looking very, very familiar. And if you bear in mind the fact that the OC was accused of being too unoriginal with its setting by many mainstream critics, DA may not be the Holy Grail after all.

Interestingly, the forums for DA, a new title, have around 700 topics; SoZ, an expansion pack, has over 400. That’s a pretty damn good ratio for a ‘dying’ game.

(Apologies, Wyrin. I didn't mean to turn your blog into a soap-box podium, it just happened that way.)

Wyrin said...

"Apologies, Wyrin. I didn't mean to turn your blog into a soap-box podium"

Hey no worries. I was just suprised at the overwhelm tide of opinions amongst the people in the chat (and NWN2 community) being that DA would herald a swift death for NWN2. I agree, there's something lacking in the DA movies I've seen so far. Seems more like a Hellgate/SpaceSeige type action, but I could be wrong. But then I've heard several builders talk about readily dropping NWN2 for DA.

I'm not sure either way - but thought i'd see what people think. I do think it's easy for builders to be insulated from the player perspective tho.

mooncalf165 said...

Agreed- but hey, only the game release will tell. It'd be sad if we all agreed to jump ship before we even knew what the DA toolset was capable of.

Amraphael said...

I love much of what the Bioware folks have done for us when it comes to CRPG. But I really have my doubts about the whole DA-concept. I hope I'm wrong because that a failure could scare away the money-guys from this rather small niche, causing the few companies interested in developing them for us a hard future. Alright, it looks pretty, but it lacks the attention a game based on a well known game system as automatically receives. Even a mediocre game will be sell if it says DnD inside. Of course the BW guys can't help that. I've followed the DA forums from the beginning but can't say that I get that "want it now, want it now!"-feeling that waiting for NWN or NWN2 gave me. I said it before, I think the NWN1 community is fantastic after all those years. But - the NWN2 are of higher quality. Less releases but more solid. I'll buy DA, there's no doubt about it. Sadly I can't play it together with my LAN-group which has played together since BG1 or with my wife with whom I played almost 100 modules. It's lacking the important multiplayer function i love in NWN1/2.

Then I have some concerns about the Eclipse engine used in DA when it comes to flexibility. But thats only based on rumors.

Oops, now I'm too talky again. My conclusion: NWN2 survives the DA-release with several years.

dirtywick said...

The Witcher has a toolset and sold huge numbers, nobody gave a crap.

Josh said...

"The Witcher has a toolset and sold huge numbers, nobody gave a crap."

The Djinni Toolset was separate from the game. You had to go online and download it and that was only fairly recently. The problem with the Djinni Toolset is that its learning curve is even steeper than that of NWN2's. The Area Designing portion for the Witcher involves working in a 3D modeling program, so most modders aren't going to go for that kind of toolset.


And it remains yet to be seen what the DA toolset can do. The PW players/builders will stay behind with NWN1 & 2, because DA offers no multiplayer functionality. I believe it was mentioned that they will be adding it later or some such, but I don't know the details. Afterthoughts generally don't work very well.

If DA handles somewhat like NWN2 you might see some modders leave for it.


Mooncalf: "No matter if modders create fascinating new worlds from the DA toolset: they’re not going to attract people to play their games unless the OC has an established fanbase community"

This is also BioWare we're talking about here. The community is already there even if some of them are currently in the Obsidian community. Previous titles already give them an edge over what some game companies have to go with.

Need I mention how "good" the NWN1 and 2 OCs were? They were absolutely terrible, especially NWN2's. It was like I was playing a retarded comedy where no one could be taken seriously and the jokes weren't even comical. The biggest joke was probably the ending voiceovers.

And for me, it seems Storm of Zehir is going right back into that direction again and is one of the reasons I'm just not looking forward to it. I can just see a bunch of Annie personalities leaking in there already :P (No offense to Annie, but those just aren't the characters I have any interest in ;) ). Granted I'll still buy for the content, but the campaign just doesn't appeal to me.

What a long post. See what'cha did Wyrin, making everyone type up monologues.

E.C.Patterson said...

We'll see what the DA TS has to offer and how user-friendly it is. One thing that might have an impact is that DA is not built on any known ruleset (or is it?) and PnP resources. Having to learn a completely new ruleset and get familiar with entirely new concepts might be a hurdle for some.

Although I haven't played PnP since 1st ed AD&D, I know the knowledge I have from back then is definitely a plus for me as a builder. The many D&D resources and info on the net is also something I turn to often.

Jclef said...

About DA: like Ampraphael, I too lack the anticipation that I felt with NWN2's release.

Maybe that's because as modders, we are satisfied with our current building tool? Or is the "D&D" logo THAT enticing?

BTW Wyrin - I'm thrilled you like your Halloween housing. I do need to start texturing your yard soon though.

mooncalf165 said...

Josh- I meant more the D & D fanbase as opposed to an Obsidian/Bioware fanbase.

An interesting thing to note about the DA toolset release is that it won't immediately come with any sort of area creation/editing; you'll be able to add creatures, scripts and encounters but that's about it: Bioware say area editing is planned in the future but that might actually be an immediate turn-off for many modders.

Anonymous said...

dirtywick summed it up nicely.

I also think that nobody knows how complicated the DA toolset will be. If it's much more involved than NWN2, I'd be skeptical for people to jump on board(additionally, some NWN2 modders might be too accustomed to some of the cool toolset features to jump ship).

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

There are a few things (already mentioned) that do not fair well for DA as a whole compared to the NWN game:-

1) The shipped toolset appears to be both harder to work with and wil not be "complete" upon release.

2) NWN works with an established ruleset (D&D), which many players appreciate, even if there is the odd complaint between versions.

3) NWN works with multi-player sraightaway, whereas DA sounds like it may be an afterthought at best.

However, I believe the main determining factor for longevity will be how builders are attracted to the software or not, and from the points raised above, I still believe NWN has the greater attraction. After all, players will buy the game and play the OC, but if no builders use the toolset to make new modules, then the players will lose interest and return to where there is a well-supported framework.

Personally, I believe NWN2 already has many accessible tools to write the exact type of adventures I already want to write. The bottom line would be what does DA have that would make me change toolset?

Of course, time may prove DA the better, but I have my doubts.


Alazander said...

I've done something of a 180 on the subject. Initially, I thought DA would most probably spell the beginning of the end for NWN2. More recently, though, after having had the chance to evaluate fourth edition D&D, I'm skeptical of its chances of success to such a degree that I think NWN2 could be *the* last bastion for D&D, and more particularly Realms fans, for the next few years. That's a sizable number of folk. The game itself has gotten steadily better with the release of MotB and soon SoZ. While DA looks great, the lack of an integrated area creation tool will prove problematic in fostering a modding community, no matter how sweet the rest of the tools and BioWare's excellent community management.

The Witcher fumbled the ball completely. CDP simply lacked the experience to foster a modding community and provide it with the right tools and support. I'd be surprised if there are half-a-dozen quality playable modules this time *next* year.

Sean said...

I would like to say this,
NWN games where built with builders in mind from the off, Dragon Age toolset is an afterthought( As far as i know)
Check the increased learning curve from NWN 1 to NWN2, I imagine the Dragon Age learning curve will be that again and then some.
Also the multiplayer factor and Obsidian have been dropping very small hints that we may see a 3rd Expansion.
NWN2 will not die because of DA, hell NWN1 is not dead yet.