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Topic: AME: A look under the hood, Part V  (Read 3311 times)
« on: July 12, 2008, 09:11:27 PM »
BenWH Offline
Inactive Member
Gold-tinted Silver Dragon
Posts: 945

We're back with more answers to the commnity questions posted in this thread: Click Here

When you found bugs that didn't break the module, but were jarring; did you report them to the author?
B G P HughesSometimes! I tend to report bugs early on in the cycle, but later in the cycle I give no feedback at all as it can be a bit revealing. Once the cycle has closed, I then revisit some of the works to post comments (depending on my memory!)
Andarian Sometimes, particularly when it was necessary for me to complete my testing. The pace needed to get through AME play-testing sometimes isn't conducive to that, though. I've been trying to save up some of my comments for after the cycle is over and the awards are announced.
Tybae When I do find bugs, I try to get in touch with the author to let them know.  Either that, or they get nominated for the upcoming “Best Game Breaking Bug Award!”
Estelindis In most cases, yes.  I use my laptop on the train on the way to and from work, though, and I wouldn't be able to post bugs I encountered there to the Vault straight away, so sometimes I'd forget to do it later.
Starlight Sure. Giving out comments and reporting bugs is an important step that enable the authors to improve their work. If the bugs does not hinder my game playing, I will collect them and report them after I have finished the module. Otherwise, I will post the bugs immediately and wait for the author's response.
SirChet No, I can see how this would be useful when reviewing an adventure, but these are the best the "Creme de la creme", and have already received quite a few comments from many players. An artist doesn't have the opportunity to alter the released work once it has been nominated, or we would have an ongoing award process that would take years and years to complete, (OK, maybe not years).   
QSW I've only played a couple of modules this year for the AME, but the answer would be the same even if I had been around for this years cycle from the start. No I would not report them, as has been said before, this is not about beta testing or bug reporting; these awards are about the crème de la crème.
Qkrch Depends on the scope of the module, they're important for someone who is fixing or updating a big module or campaign.
laisee I hadn't really thought about this before.  I do love providing feedback to author's on the vault even while I am evaluating mods for AME.

NWN is six years old.  NWN2 makes advances on the original, but what do you feel will be the next generation of buildable D&D RPGs, or will it ever happen?
B G P HughesI think the short answer is 'yes' it will happen, but I'm not sure how or when. Wizards of the Coast seem to be changing how they handle the D&D license after a series of computer game flops, presumably with the intent of getting something as good as NWN or Baldur's Gate out again in the future. But the franchise has been pretty poisonous for some developers, so matching a quality developer and new standards may take some time.
Andarian Well, I have a lot of thoughts about what I would like that next generation of games to be, but I don't have any special insight into what may be in the works. I will say, though, that as a module author, I'm not particularly interested in another generation of specifically D&D-oriented buildable RPGs. From the perspective of interactive storytelling, I actually think that the D&D franchise is more of a liability than an advantage. I think I understand why it's been done so far: it's an IP (intellectual property) with known drawing power, and it's used to attract a market that will sell games. A couple of games like Dragon Age are now taking a first step away from the D&D franchise. But from an interactive storytelling perspective, I would much rather see a general purpose engine that's less tied to specific and established content and gameplay IP, that is designed more around allowing small community mod groups to define these things for themselves. The thing that I would most like to see, though, would be an engine and business model pairing that allows custom modders to make money on their work. I'm not exactly sure how it could be done, but if it could, I think it would lead to an explosion of creativity on the part of the amateur community, and would be a big first step toward bringing interactive storytelling into being a more mainstream art form.
Tybae Well, If Dragon Age seems to live up to the hype, then I believe it will be the next big buildable game.  As far as the D&D games go, it’s hard to tell.  WotC is very unpredictable as to how they handle D&D based games.  I hope there will be one, but I’m not going to hold my breath over it.
Estelindis I'm not sure if it will happen or not.  As graphics technology advances, and as games become more and more powerful and versatile in terms of what the developer can achieve, the engines for making the games will become more complex.  I'm not sure if it will be possible for the next generation of development tools will be as user-friendly as those for Neverwinter Nights.  For instance, it seems like The Witcher's Djinni engine requires the ability to create scenes in 3dsMax as a matter of course - skills that would only be needed for making hakpaks in NWN.  We shall see... 
Starlight I still haven't get attached to NWN2 as much as NWN. I'm putting more hope onto Dragon's Age though. Response to Andarian's comment, I think if someone can come up with an open-source graphic engine, it may fulfill his requirements. However, there are not much developers work on such kind of engines and mostly of them are more interested in FPS game. I'm afraid it does take a very long time before it surfaces...
SirChet It's hard to imagine another gaming community having the same solidarity found in the NWN 1&2 world. I may be biased, but I feel strongly that if another generation of game modification arises successfully, it will be here among the passionate builders and adventures that have proven just how unique our community is.
QSW I guess I hope that this community continues to go on for many more years to come; I certainly don't see it failing in the next year or two. That said, perhaps Dragon Age will be where we all move on towards when the time is right.
sixesthrice It will happen. I'm no oracle, and have no crystal ball of premonition. I have to say, though, the way DnD itself is heading these days, the board game itself seems to be becoming practically a buildable online RPG. I personally don't have any plans to continue with modding DnD RPGs after the current NWN games start to fall (if they ever do) from their throne.
Qkrch Only the god of destruction knows, pray Atari!
laisee I have to upgrade my system to play NWN2 as it is, will just go with the flow, but what a ride NWN1 has been!! (my kids keep saying Dad!!! are you still playing that same old game, how lame can that be? when they come home from college ).

Is there any one module that is just so good that you compare all other modules against it?  And is there any one module so bad that it sets a standard as well?
B G P HughesIf there was, I wouldn't say. 
Andarian Mine, of course.  Seriously, one of my tests for a good module is when I play it and think, "Damn, I wish I'd thought of doing that." Otherwise, I don't have single standards for all mods, but rather particular mods that I tend to look at as standards for individual genres.
Tybae If I told you, I’d have to kill you.     Really, I’ve played too many good modules/series to really be able to pick.  Of course, there’s Aielund, but that’s another conversation.  There’s really too many out there to say that one really outshines over all others.  As far as bad work goes, I really wish Andarian and BenWH would go out and make a module worth playing.     Hehe.
Estelindis In the case of "best," I have too many examples to name.  A couple would be "Bloodright: The Blood Royal" for NWN1, and "Harp and Chrysanthemum" for NWN2, but there are many more that I regard very highly (e.g. first two volumes of the Paladin series, Aielund, Sanctum of the Archmage, Dark Avenger, etc).  What makes a module really great for me is the *immersion* factor: that special something that really draws you into the module and won't let you go.  A number of factors contribute to this, the most important being: 1) an engaging plot, 2) characters you can care about, whether you love or hate them, and 3) a world that has internal consistency (so that you're not jolted unexpectedly out of it).
I haven't actually played very many terrible modules, but I worst I have come across recently was the prologue to "Vis et Virtus."  (Apologies to the makers; I left detailed but hopefully not too harshly worded feedback on their Vault page, so they already know how I think their work could be improved.)  I think the main mistakes with this module were as follows: almost no choice in conversations; huge areas filled with nothing (apart from, in some cases, hordes of very similar enemies); and overall a lack of obvious motivating factors for the player character.  The unfortunate thing about this module is that the makers had clearly put a lot of effort into it - for instance, it had a huge soundtrack composed specially for it (which I thought was very good).  It just lacked in the gameplay department.
Starlight A lot! The following are the modules I'm really like:
City Adventure: Blood Right: the Blood Royal
Epic Adventure: Aielund Saga, Citadel
Horror: A Halo of Flies, Shadow from on Soul on Fire, EE 1&2, Survival Horror Series, Angel Falls
Roleplaying: Island Adventures Series, Paladin Trilogy, Runes of Blood, Hex Coda
Detective: Black Thorns
Strong philosophy theme: Sanctum of the Archmage Series, Some Distant Shore, Prophet Series
Freedom of belief: Enigma Island Series
There are still have a lot of great modules and I haven't listed them out yet....
SirChet No, I strive to consider each and every work on it's own merit. When considering just how much work goes into creating something we vaulters can play through in a number of hours, it's rather mind boggling. I cant' say it enough...there really are NO bad modules, some are more polished than others, some are better planned than others, but ALL are still the product of someone's selfless efforts to produce something for free.
QSW No one module no. To be fair there are so many different types of module out there that it would be quite hard to compare them against each other. I certainly have favourites, even favourite authors as I'm sure we all do. But I do like to play the lesser known authors; sometimes I think they can get buried and often there are some real gems out there.  As for a "Bad Module" heck yes, but then at least the author has tried to produce something; that in of itself is worthy of my appreciation.
sixesthrice No. All modules are good and bad in different ways. The best and worst module could very well be the same. It's all a matter of which points you believe should be given priority when assessing modules - even if those beliefs are wholly subconscious. Or something, anyway, I'm not much better at philosophising than I am at fortune telling.
Qkrch I never could forget the palladin series by Rick Burton in nwn1. But as usual, my pw is the best in the world you know?
About the worst modules....No, when i just enter in the first area of a module... i know in 5 seconds what i will find.
laisee I am a very immersive player and reader and viewer of movies as well, and don't really think in terms of comparing

Do you have a favorite character you like to test with when a module does not have character requirements?
Andarian Yes. He's a wizard with one level of monk, usually named (perhaps not surprisingly) Orion Andarian. The inspiration comes from the (in progress, though currently on hold) novels that my mods are based on, in which the protagonist is named Orion. I re-created Orion as a companion in the Sanctum mods so that I could retain him as a character, without having to force his identity and personality on the player. The significance of the appelation "Andarian" is also part of that story, and is explained during the course of Sanctum 1.
Tybae I have a few favorite classes, but no real favorite character.  I like to play Sorcerer, Cleric, Bard and Rogue.  I dabble with PrC’s as well.  Usually when I playtest, I power-build so I don’t really have to worry about dying all the time, unless it’s a heavy RP module, then I just use a normal character.
Estelindis When playing for AME, I typically use a male human paladin.  Sometimes, for old times' sake, I even break out my signature character: a female elven cleric of Lathander (who I have taken through Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights... and all the sequels and expansions).  Occasionally, when I'm feeling "adventurous," I might stretch to ranger, or a bard with a couple of levels of fighter.
Starlight I have not had a favorite character for any modules. I mostly play with human male paladin, though. I also try fighter, multi-classed rouge, wizard, monk, dwarven defender and many others. However, strangely enough, I haven't tried cleric at all.
SirChet Yes, I have a handful of characters I use to test different aspects of an adventure. It helps to have a character that you fully understand it's strengths and weaknesses, when trying to determine the strength and weaknesses of an adventure.
QSW Yes, I often play my fighter/rogue; I know her and this makes concentrating on a module much easier. If I need to try a different class I tend to still use the same PC only add/remove one of her classes to accommodate the class requirement (If possible).
sixesthrice Yes. Two. One's called Aalnesan Brodt, he's human male, he weilds spears. He can be practically any class depending on the module. But not druids or monks. Heck no. The other is Delhija C'ysvarion. She is human female, she weilds anything she can steal. She is a rogue/assassin, sometimes with a few bits of mage or blackguard. Brodt for roleplaying, C'ysvarion for more action-oriented modules (I tend to play them a little like a stealthy Diablo).
Qkrch No, but Adaur Harbor must be banned from your NWN2 localvault. Alphabetically he's the one who appears in all my nwn2 tests when I press "run module".
My Dm avatar has been "Doraemon" this last year (a fat dwarf with blue skin)
laisee I usually start every module with create new character, have rarely used one that I had used before.  I tend to favor strategic classes (wizard, sorceror, rogue) and monk for when I want to be up front.  I tend to stick with pure classes as well, though I did play Aeilund something like 18 times while waiting for the final chapter to come out, with every possible type of character and had some fun times learning stuff like Shifter strategies!

« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 10:28:47 PM by BenWH » Logged

B G P Hughes
NWN and NWN2 works: Click Here

Wyvern Crown of Cormyr
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