Friday, October 15, 2010

The NWN2 Toolset

A couple posts back when I ruminated on my NWN2 future generated an interesting exchange that I thought I'd just make a whole post on.

nicethugbert started with:

Why did TMGS take so long? What tasks consumed the most time?

I responded:

Sorry, thugbert, didn't see your comment until now.

There are literally over 200,000 words of dialog in TMGS. That's the equivalent of a 400 page book, assuming 500 words per page. Thattakes a long time to write, edit, proofread, and so forth.

There were around 55 maps for the entire campaign, and the majority were exterior maps. Each exterior map can take a good two days of solid work to put together. That's two weekend days, not days where I just work a couple hours after my day job.

Testing and troubleshooting took a good six months. Each complete playthrough takes 20 hours including note-taking, replays to confirm, etc. And then you have to implement changes, do scenario testing, and so forth. Player choices early on really do filter through the rest of the campaign, and I'm not sure a player can really appreciate the extent of this on just one play-through.

nicethugbert responded:

Does NWN2 make any of this difficult? What I'm driving at is the quality of NWN2 as a tool.

Obviously, a 400 page book is a problem in itself and a modern word processor would be more help than obstacle.

I responded:

All I've worked with are the NWN1 and NWN2 toolsets. As far as exteriors go, NWN1 was far easier, but it also allowed far less customization of the area. I actually think the dialog editor is much better in NWN2 and allows for reduced numbers of overall scripts.

I do use a word processor for the first draft of almost everything I write. It's still a laborious process.

To clarify, I like the NWN2 toolset, but I haven't used anything else other than the NWN1 toolset. My general thought is that the NWN2 toolset is much more powerful and of an overall better quality than the one for NWN1. Yes, there were some odd behavioral bugs up front, but those seem to be gone now.

That said, I have no experience with any of the other toolsets, such as the one for DA. What I've read hasn't really inspired me, but I'm still mulling expanding into other directions. For now, I'm interested in any insights or experiences others have in this arena.

I do have a small announcement upcoming, but that comes later.


Starwars said...

I think once you learn how to avoid the quirks and annoyances of the NWN2 toolset, it's quite good. But the learning curve (which can be frustrating since you can screw up your work in various ways) is a bit steep.

The possibilities make me like it more than the NWN1 toolset though. And I agree with you on the dialogue editor, I think it's one of NWN2's best features.

I briefly tried to do some quest work with the GECK (Fallout 3 toolset) but quickly abandoned it due to how *incredibly* clunky it is to write dialogue in it. Supposedly Obsidian has done improvements on the GECK for New Vegas (including a better dialogue editor) so that might be interesting to look into.

I haven't looked into the DA toolset either.

Corey Holcomb-Hockin said...

DA toolset is really frustrating. At least for area design.

Also I'd recommend working on a platform where you actually get payed for your work.

Maerduin said...

Yes, DA toolset is frustrating and limiting (especially in terms of art), and I get the feeling that the community for standalone DA mods is not any bigger than NWN2's current community. But that is my very unscientific guess.