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Before Final - Module Creation From a Player's Perspective

Vic Kappel

I have downloaded and played through quite a few modules now and have observed quite a few common threads, both good and bad, that have appeared in most of the modules. So, in part to aid those module builders out there, here are some things that I think will help you minimize some of the nastier comments I've seen (and made).

  1. Always give players more than one way to do something. Even then, some players will want to try something off-the-wall that will surprise you. Flexibility is KEY.
  2. Play test your module thoroughly before you go final.
  3. Run every single conversation text and journal entry through a spell checker.
  4. Give it to your worst enemy to playtest it. He will look for ways to break, bypass, and outsmart you, and will more than happily point out each and every spelling and grammatical error you have made.
  5. When you do receive comments from someone, don't get mad. Look at it from the player's point of view.
  6. Every player has their own playing style. Don't shoehorn them into yours. Accommodate theirs as much as possible.
  7. Give it to a total stranger to playtest. Double blind testing will catch something you and your enemy may have missed.
  8. No matter how much blood, sweat and tears you may have put into it, don't get offended if a player doesn't think it's fun. In the end, it's still a huge block of code and not worth the ulcer.
  9. You cannot, and will not, please everyone, and some of them will be quite vocal about it. Get over it.
  10. Use the journal! There's nothing worse than having a player confused as to what he/she is supposed to be doing. Particularly use a journal entry or something similar to announce the end of your module.
  11. Keep the areas to the smallest size feasible. No one likes running 100 miles across a map just to run all the way back again after delivering a box of soap.
  12. For multiplayer - Ensure that if one person gets a quest, everyone gets it. You should never make each and every player go through the same conversation thread just to get a few xp. Corollary - If one person gets xp for completing a quest, everyone in the party should gain the same award, unless it's something very personal to the character.
  13. Send it to someone else for playtesting. And yes, playtesting is key to spotting bugs and errors that detract from the gaming experience.
  14. If you're not a native English speaker - find someone who can speak both languages to do the translation, if that's your desire.
  15. Give players different ways of answering a conversation to suit their styles. Linear conversations just make people want to rapidly click Continue to get it over with, and they may miss something you wanted them to know.
  16. Program for the lowest common denominator. All those effects and weather and sounds are great, but low-end machines will just bog down in that soup. This especially goes for towns with large numbers of NPCs walking around. Alternately, make a low-end and high-end version of your module.
  17. Bells and whistles are great, but if the module doesn't flow, it's all wasted.
  18. The Auto-follow wand in some modules makes keeping a party together much easier. Consider using it if you're making a multi-player module.
  19. If, even after all this, your module doesn't hit the Top Ten, don't get upset. Take it as a learning experience and either a) go back and refine your first module, or b) cut your losses and take what you learned to the next module you make.
  20. Finally. Criticism is meant to be constructive. Even if what is said ticks you off severely, step back, count to 100, and read what they said. Make changes if need be. If the end, it's still your construction.
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