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View from the Vault - NWN Online


A little rumor can start a lot of chatter. Sometimes they are full of sound and fury, but signify nothing. Sometimes they are a blip on the radar that is forgotten 15 seconds later. Sometimes a collection of people around a dinner table, a bonfire, or a coffee house can discuss a topic and gain something. A greater understanding of the topic. A different perspective. Maybe plain old contempt. But the core of the experience is the discussion, and tossing your idea or take into the collective hat.

That brings me to the subject of a Neverwinter Nights MMO experience. It's just started as a small rumor, but we are about all things NWN, so it bears discussion. There are several apsects of this that I'd like to throw into the hat regarding the possibility of this happening.

  • The community. First and foremost, I wonder at the collection of people that make the NWN community, and how any of them can pick up the game and contribute. They can create a prefab item or area, add a portrait, design a new model for the game, create a module, or even create an entire gameworld and lore for that world to share with people all around the globe online.

    What would happen to all of the people that did something like these things when the game is controlled by a group of people that are set apart, and are driven by the almighty buck? They would most likely stay on in the older game area, or find something new to spend their free time on. Some very talented ones could land a job with the company that makes the game. If the Ossian crew can do it, there is a chance someone else can. But the individuality, the variety, the customization level available to builders would vanish.

    We would become a community of just players. That would work for many, might make some of their lives easier, but I think the creative spirit of the community would be diminished by it.

  • Must be the money? It's illegal to make money on NWN or NWN2 creations or worlds, but NWN Online (I'm calling it that for now) would be the exact opposite of that, would it not? Not Joe the module builder, but the big bad Corporation getting richer? Pure eeeeeevil? Just D&D Online all over again?

    Not so fast my friend.

    The counterpunch to that line of thinking is something that I have heard echoed about NWN2. It's not seamless. It is cludgey. The walkmeshes are a huge obstacle for gameworlds. The learning curve of the toolset is too steep. The hardware requirements are too high for the age of the game. All of this would be removed in an online experience managed by a company. If it was done poorly, the core of their revenue, the monthly fees, would disappear rather quickly.

    Another side note. One lure of World of Warcraft is that you don't have to be very computer savvy to get it running. No haks, no downloads after installing. Everyone has the same thing. Plug and play if you will. WoW has lasted 5 years and is going strong. Was it lightning in a bottle? Other MMO's are still posting hundreds of thousands of users. Would a well done NWN MMO post these kinds of numbers? As pointed out above, the NWN community numbers may swell to greater numbers of players and reduce the number of authors and designers. Is that a good or bad thing, or is there a way that both can be achieved?


  • The bottom line. Let's face it, this is all just a pie in the sky conversation. But if it has a spark of truth, a common line of thinking seems to to be "it's just going to be D&D Online all over again". I think most people know it will have to offer more than just hack and slash. It will have to have depth, massive depth. I think the idea has merit, if it has a staff to back it. A community outreach program that adapted community created content would meld the best of all options together. There's lots of angles to discuss. Maybe someone is reading and watching discussions, and will listen?

    Thank you for taking the time to peruse the View from the Vault.


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