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Toolset in Schoolset(ting) !

I'm going to use this as a record, largely for myself, of a project I'm hoping to become involved in with the Computing Dept. of my local Secondary school ( ages 12-18 for those not in UK).  So, feel free to stop here and resume your life ! It will probably be the better choice . . . 

This first entry is postdated as we are now at the start of March and it came to my attention about two months ago but I feel its a necessary bit of context. I hope this is the first of many blogs so I can check back on the various stages of this small project, as well as remembering what I've promised to do,  and was going to just keep this on my Mac but then it occurred to me that if it goes well it might be of some small help to others thinking about spreading the word regarding NWN toolset. On the other hand, I suppose I may just get fed up and stop or at least lose interest if the project doesn't take off. 

A very short bit of background. Until 4 years ago when I retired I was Depute headteacher of a large (1500) school in Scotland and one off the depts. I oversaw was Computing. Tbh, that was a labour of love as I've been interested in computers since I saw my first Mac way back in the 80s. I was interested in games right from the start of my career as an English teacher before being promoted and used games such as Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and even Batman Cartoon Maker with classes. Later on with the Computing dept. we looked at various other projects . . . but enough about me. 

I remember playing NWN very briefly in the early 2000s and thinking that this would be great in schools but owning a Mac and not being able at that time to access the toolset to learn it at home my interest waned.  Then, out of nowhere about a month ago, I came across, in the space of two weeks two separate items which renewed my interest. The first was the launch of   EE which I thought about buying but realised there was still no Mac Toolset but then came across randomly a YouTube video showing how to access it on a Mac using Wine. Despite being slightly daunted by the thought of mucking about with Wine I decided it was now or never so followed the video and bingo, here I am ! A shout out here to the author of the video, Kaylemspirit,   ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adY-tD09hkM ) for his work. Coming from the Mac community games are not as plentiful as on PCs and this, for me, was a biggie. 

When I discovered that the toolset worked flawlessly ( so far) on my iMac the notion immediately came into my head that my friend the PT Computing needed to see this so I set about learning how to use the Toolset. It wasn't without its issues. There are several here, and they know who they are, who were beyond patient with me as I tried to work out doors, area transitions and struggled with scripting of any sort ( still do). However, I gradually became used to the toolset, created a couple of sample modules, contacted my friend the Principal Teacher and because he sounded interested, arranged a time to go up and show him what the toolset could offer. 

First Release: 
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Sawdust37

JimDad55 - We have been using NWN2 in our computing class too.  It's great to tie in the Literature Departments for cross-curricular activities for things such as plot and character development.

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Jimdad55

Great to hear from you, Sawdust37 !  

It's NWN:EE we're using. Don't know why. It just seemed that a lot of the builders here use that although I'm sure NWN2 has some advantages.

Yup, agree with you entirely. I've seldom seen a better stimulus for Creative Writing than the Toolset. Dialogue, book/scroll content, distinct characters, all perfect for carrying the narrative. We don't want to run before we can walk so next session will be mainly about getting the materials right but we may extend suggestions to other Depts. Art/ English / hell, even Maths spring to mind !

It'd also be good to hear how it has been done in your place. How about a short blog on what you did and while we're at it, has anyone else used NWN in a school or college? I'm sure there are some great ideas out there. 

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Sawdust37

NWN toolset is easier to use but I like the NWN2 better because it is more versatile and I think the graphics are a bit better.  The biggest problem I've run into is expectations.  Most of the students come into the class expecting to develop something quick and easy.  When they realize the effort a good product needs, they tend to lose a lot of enthusiasum.  Basically they tend to enjoy playing more than developing.  This year has been quite the struggle but I've learned more about how to set up the idea of creating something through small steps rather than focusing them on the big picture and then getting into the weeds. 

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Jimdad55

Thanks for responding. For the quality of what they get I reckon it is pretty easy, at least initially. Most of the coding I've seen results in a 2D Pacman sort of game. Maybe it'll be more of an issue when they get into the bones of it. 

Don't know how it relates to your situation but for starters I'm using the Plot Wizard to handle the heavy lifting. I know it arouses mixed feelings on the Vault but I found it brilliant in handling a simple plot/quest. It sorted out the conversations, stages, characters, allowed me to edit them all and personalise the quest through the Plot Nodes. Really pretty impressive for a starting level. As I said we're going to use that in our short tutorial in a few weeks so I'll let you know how that goes.  smiley

 

I think the wanting to play rather than build is understandable. We're hoping they will also want to play each other's modules to give feedback so we'll see how that works. 

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