Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NWN2 - Year One (Nov 2006 - Nov 2007)

Note: It has been a long while and I am writing these notes from memory, so some inaccuracies in the timeline are bound to creep in.

I started playing NWN2 in late 2006. Planning to build right from the start I purchased both the NWN2 World Editor Guide and the NWN2 Official Strategy Guide from Brady Games. I installed Bootcamp and Windows XP on a Mac OS X laptop and then installed the NWN2 OC. I was pleased with the player creation abilities and also initially pleased that you could have multiple companions. It wasn't long though before I found myself frustrated with many things about the game. I had been hoping that the ability to control multiple companions indicated that the developers recognized the benefits of returning to a gaming style more similar to Baldur's Gate than NWN, but that was unfortunately not the case. Most of the features of NWN2 were developed to serve the purposes of the plot, not the other way around. In other words, they thought up a plot and then decided what features would be required to best implement it, rather than deciding on a feature set and then building an adventure that best demonstrated them.  At least, that it how it played. The player is completely controlled by the game designers and there is no real sense of freedom or risk. My disappointment led to frustration and eventually I was just hoping it would end. I used the Strategy Guide to move things along at a faster clip and eventually reached the ending, which I found depressingly bad.
Silverwand Sample Campaign
World Map

Thinking that I could do better myself, I launched myself into the toolset and began planning an epic adventure, tentatively titled "Gems of Power". I found the toolset to be daunting and buggy and clunky even for a Windows app, but it didn't require any additional resources except time, persistence, and enthusiasm and I was certain I could make progress quickly. Months passed planning my campaign, building areas, and writing scripts and conversations. Eventually I realized that I wouldn't have anything to show for all of this effort for some time and decided that it made sense to work on a smaller project. I knew from the Bioware NWN2 boards that most modders at the time were building modules, just as they had for NWN rather than building campaigns. Campaigns seemed like a much better way to build, so I decided that I would figure out what was needed to create a sample campaign and make that available so that new modders would have something to work from. Thus the Silverwand Sample Campaign was born. This is just a sample campaign that has two modules and a few areas and demonstrates many of the features required for a simple campaign to function, including a world map, companions, henchmen, journal entries, tag-based scripting, and some ambient life. It was uploaded to the NWN2 Vault in May 2007 and can now be found along with all of my NWN2 mods here.

I was about to return to developing the Gems of Power when Mask of the Betrayer was released (Oct 2007), so I purchased it and began playing.  I didn't get very far before deciding that it was as controlling as the NWN2 OC had been and so I quit playing. I continued to create items and became a fairly frequent poster on the Bioware boards, often developing small scripts for others.

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