[MUD-Dev] RE: Graphical Mud-in-a-box musings

Rob Bartel rob at bioware.com
Mon Jul 9 12:36:44 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On July 6, Justin Rogers wrote:

> NWN is providing most of this.  But they aren't providing editors
> for every aspect of the game.  They aren't letting you edit game
> mechanics, those are computed based on the d20? Rulebooks.

True. You can script some workarounds, of course, but the
fundamental nuts and bolts are all D20 / 3e D&D.

> They aren't letting you create new monsters, and every monster
> must come from the compendium.

Not true, actually. You're limited to about 200 visually distinct
monsters, art-wise (more on that later), but you're free to adjust
any stats and special abilities of the creature at will, as well as
mess around with the AI and scripts that run it. This gives you a
*lot* of flexibility.

> You won't be able to create new land tiles.

Okay, here's where things get a little more complicated. Either in
our initial release or very shortly thereafter, NWN will support
what we're calling "Hack Packs."  Who knows what people will cram
into here but custom sounds, models, and textures are all likely
candidates (aka user-created tilesets, monster models, etc).
Basically, this is the level at which most game mods and conversions
work (the WWI conversion for Myth, for instance, or any number of
FPS mods). Just because we provide a toolset with a low barrier to
entry doesn't mean that our title's immune to more substantial
conversion efforts (nor would we want it to be). We're like any
other game in that respect.

> So while they sit and do many things that we like, they still have
> to maintain a business model to make money because they can't find
> another way.

To be honest, we're pretty confident about an expansion-based
business model. Our theory is simply that you need to provide a
well-rounded and cohesive package: together with the typical new
story and art content, we can also provide interface enhancements,
new toolset functionality, new DM functionality, new skills and
feats, rule enhancements, game optimizations, and so forth. Then
there's the issue of packaging and distributing user-created content
- With CounterStrike, etc., Valve has really shown the viability of
that kind of an approach as well.

I certainly don't want to put a damper on the brainstorming that's
going on here, as there are a lot of exciting ideas under
discussion. I just want to insure that NWN's hidden features don't
take you by surprise when we finally release.

All the best,
Rob Bartel
Co-Lead Designer
Neverwinter Nights
BioWare Corp.

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