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Topic: Golden Dragon Interview: Andrea & Wes Landaker  (Read 5834 times)
« on: August 03, 2008, 09:46:33 PM »
BenWH Offline
Inactive Member
Gold-tinted Silver Dragon
Posts: 945

Time Becomes a Loop won the Best Multiplayer award for NWN. It's a strong story-bsaed module with some interesting dilemmas that also encourage good roleplay.Today we catch up with the authors of the module to find out a little more about how the module was created.

What made you start building modules for NWN?

Andrea: Custom content was one of the things that we looked forward to most about NWN, and seeing both how badly and how well it could be done made us want to tell our own story.  We fooled around with the toolset, which was fun (I made a short module as a Valentine's Day present for Wes), but it wasn't until we really had a story to tell that we got serious about making a module.  We both have backgrounds in computer programming and in music, so that made it easier and more fun.

Wes: One of the main reasons I was interested in NWN in the first place was because I used to make adventure games as a kid on the Commodore 64 with a program called "Adventure Construction Set". In many ways, it was like the NWN module maker: you could make areas, monsters, weapons, quests, towns, new tile sets, add music and sound effects, etc. Except it was all 2D and had little 32x32 tiles and 8-bit colors. But one of my loves--even if I don't do it a lot--has been telling a story with games; NWN makes it pretty easy to do that.

Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration for your module?

Andrea: We both love science and science fiction and fantasy, and so we wanted to kind of combine all three with time travel to have the player experience for themselves some of the classic elements of fictional time travel.  That's the great difference between a story and a game; in a game, you get to have choices about who the main character is and their attitude, even if most of the events have to be the same to tell the story.

Wes: I love stories with elements of time-travel. I've always found them very intriging, but it's always my pet peeve when things don't add up right. The main idea for this story is: wouldn't it be fun to not only have a time-travel not-quite-a-paradox effect-is-the-cause story, but go farther into a cause-is-the-effect-is-the-cause infinite loop? Once we fleshed out more of the story and details, we had to give a little (or the story could never end!), but I tried to weave the deus ex machina of Venrir and the Niche into a bit of an unanswered teaser about how the universe and time is more vast, expansive, and unanswered than we were going to get into with this story.

If you could go back, would you do something differently?

Andrea: I still think the maze area is too big, but Wes likes it that way, and it certainly does a good job at making the player feel the frustration at Moebius for his imperfect time travel device . . . Oh, I would have started using the Gestalt Custscene System way earlier -- that made custscenes so much easier!

Wes: Yes, some people have said the first niche was too big and annoying. After playing it through a couple times, I have to agree. There isn't anything  wrong with the size per-se, just that it's too repetitive and annoying. If I did it again, I'd probably make the first niche the same size, but I'd do more interesting things, have multiple paths to the end, etc. The main feel of the area was supposed to be that you were stumbling through a interdimentional maze, but I think I was a bit to literal in the "maze" aspect and there was too much forced backtracking. As Andrea said, a cutscene system would have been great, but I'd never heard of such a thing at the time. I can't even express in human language how hard it was to tweak the cutscene by hand to match the timing of the music, lining up effects for Venrir, etc.

What's the 'best bit' of your module for you?

Andrea:  OK, obviously spoilers here . . . My favorite part is the cutscene where you come back to the village, presumeably to save it, and the BOTs go nuts.  I really wanted to convey the idea that, even when you are trying so hard to do what's right, sometimes there's things beyond your control, and you can make messes that are too big to fix.  You just have to clean them up the best you can.

Wes: Honestly, the "best bit" for me is that we actually finished it. The game sat at 90% done for a long time waiting for final touches with dialog and playtesting. We have toyed with the idea of two possible "sequels", which would each be quite a bit different--Andrea has actually started designing towns and characters--but I don't know if we'll ever get those done. But I'm really glad we could finish this one, and let other people have fun.

What did you think when you first heard about the Golden Dragon awards?

Andrea: I was really happy to hear about them -- there are so many modules and so much custom content that it's nice to have a "best of" list.

Wes: I was surprised we won anything. I thought only guys like Stefan Gagne picked up NWN module awards. I'm most happy that it gives more exposure to our module and hopefully people will have fun.

Have you ever tried the other finalist in your category?

Andrea: No, but I want to!  It sounds like great fun to play as the rampaging orcs instead of the heroic adventurers.  :-)

Wes: I also want to do this when we get time. I appreciate other people's modules a lot more since I've done some of my own.

What are you up to currently?

Andrea: We had started on both a sequel to this mod (a murder mystery where time runs backwards), and a fun piratey module, but I'm not sure those will ever be finished.  I really like NWN, but I wish it was more of an open platform so that it could be sustained longer.  If I spend all the time to make a module, I want it to be something my kids can play when they're old enough.  And, eventually, NWN will not be supported, and it will be tough to get working, and since it's closed source, there could come a day when there's no way to play modules at all.

Wes: Since I don't run Windows at all, NWN's longevity is also a concern for me. I use the Linux NWN client and we always play our modules using the Linux NWN standalone server on another computer. I have to use Windows (or an emulator) to use the editor, which I find rather annoying. I like NWN, and may make more modules for it, but I'm also always interested in finding new and better platforms for storytelling.

Andrea: But I did recently write a mystery party game, sort of a cross between live action role-playing (without combat), and murder mystery party kits, so someone that's never heard of either of those things can participate in the party and still have fun.  That's available for download free at my website,

Wes: On the creative front, I've been rather dull lately. Mostly I've been busy with catching up on my PS2 game backlog, re-playing old "classic" PC games using DOS and Windows emulators, and doing lots of work on open source software projects.

We hope you enjoyed the interview, and keep your eyes peeled for more Golden Dragon Interviews here.

B G P Hughes
NWN and NWN2 works: Click Here

Wyvern Crown of Cormyr
Reply #1
« on: August 05, 2008, 02:37:17 AM »
QSW Offline
AME member
Silver Dragon
QSW by Dragarta Posts: 674

A fun interview, and really interesting to see where the whole story idea came from for this module. The boxed set looks really fun! I hope that Andrea & Wes make something more for NWN1 or indeed even NWN2, they have a unique style of building that many people enjoy.

Dragon Disguised as Quality Family Butcher...
Reply #2
« on: August 07, 2008, 09:39:27 AM »
Starlight Offline
AME member
Bronze Dragon
Posts: 373

It is funny to see how the idea behind the story come into the module and it really works well! I also know there is another Linux client user just like me... Smiley

If everything goes wrong, go for the eyes!
Reply #3
« on: August 09, 2008, 06:49:58 PM »
Carlo Offline
Former Members
Brass Dragon
Posts: 116


Nice to see the thoughts behind the module, which I really enjoyed playing in multiplayer.

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