Impressive. Most impressive. You know the tone, conveying respect, slight surprise, and perhaps a little admiration for the audacity shown. I have to tell you, that was the feeling I walked away with after spending time talking to The Amethyst Dragon. One builder, one admin, one vision. Yeah, one guy built the whole thing.
Let's start with the content. The haks were not a daunting download. What they offer you, as a NWN player however, is something old. And don't get me wrong, it's new, but it's old school new. Tenser's Floating Disk, Ioun Stones, and Hats of Disguise. Can't you just picture the tabletop, and the Unearthed Arcana open in front of you? These are not just in there folks, they're done with polish. My exposure to the Hat of Disguise allowed me to change into a skeleton, which of course I did immediately. Equipment was varied, detailed, and looked fantastic. Longevity for a veteran game is a certainty when folks like Amethyst Dragon are carrying the standard.
Custom loadscreens are a favorite of mine, as well as custom loadscreen tips. These abound. They highlight areas and a setting that is unique, which holds another special place for me. I love all of the things that various settings have offered, I like drow, I love pointed hats on mages, I love Balrogs. But a setting where each god is unique, and not something you know? It's like a new car. Yeah, you know what it should do, but you find out, as you travel around, that there is an awful lot of neat little things that can be done with the new options at your disposal. A new setting offers you this. A new setting that has depth, detail, and variety backed by the custom content is like finding that 1967 SS/RS Camaro. It's rare, it's cool, it's got teeth.
Having gotten my fist impressions out, let's take a look at the entire package Aenea offers.
Website. A detailed website offers a great deal of information, which means you can educate yourself on the world that will be new to you. Races, deities, house rules, game changes to skills, feats, there is a lot there. This isn't so much overwhelming as it is detailed. Forums and downloads are there and easy to find. Pictures and stats make it easy to see what you can do or be in game.
Staff. One man to lead them all. There is the lead Admin, Amethyst Dragon, and a small staff of DMs to work with players and run events. European and North American events alike are active.
Player experience. I started out as a vampire. I stepped into the sun. I combusted. Without the help of DM immunity, I would have literally been toast in moments. This is not Twilight vampires. They don't sparkle in the sun, they agonize and crispify like kindling. Lots of races to play with. Lots of spells to tinker with. Most of all, there is the sense that the builder wants your PC look as cool as you want it to. I didn't really scratch the surface too much here, but this was expected. The gear dropped on my PC and the custom races available, as well as chats with the players I bumped into, made it apparent you would not be dressed in brown rags for eternity. The playerbase itself was very outgoing, welcoming, and friendly.
Server performance. I am running a high end laptop on a wireless G signal. There was nothing that gave any hiccups. This day and age doesn't get too many challenges from NWN unless there is a server side issue or terrible connection. None of these problems were apparent. There was a moderate number of players on during my visit.
Design. Once again, for the players. The server is a roleplay server as you wish. If you want to you can, but you aren't hammered about it if you don't. There is plenty to do for both lines of thinking. Games like checkers are there for casual play. I have mentioned the sunlight issue for vampires, scripting is well implemented. A world map (yes, this is NWN1), boats, and portal system make travel fun, and there are more ways to die than you can shake a stick at. Underwater areas, cursed items, sharp falls, it gets hairy. Complex monsters like Cinder Trolls and Dragon Turtles offer variety for those that like a fight, and if you are someone that can't stand vampires you'll find like minded PCs that will add to your playing experience.
I know I am missing several things that I experienced during my visit, and that is a very positive aspect. There was much more conveyed than what is contained above. I tip my cap to The Amethyst Dragon. This is a titanic effort, but my first look at it left me impressed. I would be remiss if I left out the fact that the admin is a contributor to the community, and I thank him for sharing his work.