Friday, November 13, 2009

The End of NWN2?

So Dragon Age arrived... finally. And it had to come just in time for me to release TMGS. Oh, well. Truth to tell, I'm getting more and more eager to just finish the damned campaign. I'm looking forward to moving on to other projects (non-modding-related), or maybe I'm just in a pessimistic mood today.

The truth is that NWN2 has been in its death throes for maybe a year now, but it's been allowed to linger on because there was no CRPG successor. But with Dragon Age out, the dagger's just been driven through the heart of the NWN franchise. Honestly, it saddens me. NWN was a fantastic community that thrived for five years. NWN2 flashed for half that long... maybe. It could have been so much more and so much better, and I guess I'll never understand why some things went the way they went.

But enough of the vague lamentations. It's not like I can divulge anything more than I have, so complaining about it serves no point. Maybe Dragon Age will revitalize the genre because I don't see much else in the pipeline. That said, let's move into more positive directions.

Alpha Testing
I got feedback from one of my alpha testers over the last couple days, and I'd say it was generally positive. There are a few bugs he noted as well as a few suggestions for improvement. As I agree with nearly all these suggestions, I have some work to do. There's nothing that's going to take an obscene amount of time to implement, but a few of them aren't trivial either. That will serve as my work for the next week.

So who was my alpha tester? Ossian lead designer Luke Scull. Most of his comments are specific and therefore contain too much spoiler information to reveal, but some of his general quotes about the overall campaign follow. Before you think that the whole review was glowing, most of the specific comments regarded things that needed to improve (as one would expect).

"Let me just say that was a fantastic adventure ... it took me a good 18 hours overall. The whole thing was excellently designed and really well written. In fact, the last third contained some of the best writing I've seen in a game in a long while."

"Overall, the game was a really terrific piece of work; probably the best module I've played for NWN2."

I've been working on the project documentation as I've waited for the alpha testers to finish, and I'll be releasing the Character Creation Guide shortly. As a head's up, one issue that did arise is that the start level for the game is going to move to 6 with the ending level being 10.

So the schedule: The next week will be spent implementing improvements. The week after that (Thanksgiving week here in the States), I'll be on vacation and out of the country. When I return, I have 3+ weeks until Christmas vacation. That will be spent target-testing the new material, playing through the entire campaign again, and then implementing fixes from that play-through. By Christmas break, I anticipate releasing the Character Creation Guide to the general public and getting 2-5 beta testers to try out the campaign. I have a couple people in mind already, but if anyone else is interested in joining the beta group and playing TMGS over their Christmas and New Year break, let me know. Note that it won't be all fun and games; I will expect detailed feedback if you join up, and the payment will be sincere gratitude.