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Default NWN2 - Toolset Criticisms

June 23rd, 2007, 07:33
Lucky Day pointed out that the July PC Gamer criticises NWN2's toolset, apparently saying "The NWN franchise was once the gold standard for the modding community, but now people are abandoning it in droves". The text isn't online but BioWare's Rob McGinnis responded in this thread:
Speaking as a community member:

I will not address the article, but I will address the mods and the potential of the game.

Is the toolset more difficult to use? I think by the very nature of increasing the flexibility of the thing the difficulty naturally becomes more apparent. But I would say it is no more difficult to use than any of its peers and far easier to use than many of the other toolsets out there.

If your total experience in game modding consists solely of creating mods for NWN1, then I think your frame of reference is extremely limited and you are not prepared for the complexities of modding in today's world, unless you can work through the concepts of modding in your mind - without the interface. The NWN1 toolset was made to crank out cookie-cutter areas quickly for a small group adventure. It was made for the lowest common denominator user and, while it was an excellent solution for what was needed, it does not compete with toolsets or tools for today's modder.

As far as quality goes, I think the bar has been raised. The work you would accept five years ago is nowhere near what you expect now. Much of that comes just from our own maturation - Many of us were in our teens and twenties when NWN1 came out where we are now in our twenties and thirties. Some of it comes from the change in technology as well.

With this in mind, many of the modders are working hard to create modules that are "perfect." At the very least, that's a difficult thing to do and takes a lot of time. We demand engrossing stories now. We want characters with character. We don't want to suffer through amateurish attempts anymore - we did that with NWN1, we want better in NWN2. This puts a lot of pressure on the modders. the criticisms dished out make many modders think twice about publishing.

So I don't think it's necessarily the act of making the mod that's difficult. I think it's making a mod that is acceptable that is difficult.

For me, I enjoy them all, amateur and semi-professional alike.
More information.
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June 23rd, 2007, 07:33
Wouldn't that be Obsidian's Rob McGinnis?

That's not to say I disagree with him. I'd be surprised if Mass Effect puts out an end-user toolset, simply because the game is light years ahead of NWN in terms of what you can do — and thus, what you have to control. A toolset in which you can customize the start-time, speed, and intensity of an arm wave is a toolset that is necessarily going to be more complex than NWN's "Angry Gesture" system.

The more cinematic a game is, the harder it is to produce end-user content — unless a game goes full-tilt in terms of making it mod-friendly, or unless somebody else goes up that big long ladder first and makes some nice mod tutorials for the community.
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June 23rd, 2007, 07:45
Maybe I know something you don't…

Oh, OK…I stuffed up.

-= RPGWatch =-
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June 23rd, 2007, 10:43
I have looked at the toolset in NWN1. It is fairly easy to use, easy to learn, and in no time (at all) you can see results i.e. build a level or two. It is intuitive to use and the controls are easy to to figure out. However, ot be good at it would probably months or even years to figure out… And here's one place in which the lowest possible common denominator really is helpful as this means all can play i.e. learn how make your modules.

I then also had a quick glance at the toolset in NWN2. It will scare any potential new modder away. It looks very complicated to use, imo, and looks like it have a very steep learning curve. There is nothing of the sleekness, streamlineness, or the smartness or intuitiveness of the old NWN1 toolset left. It also means that all
NWN1's modder will have to un-learn all the things, they have learnt over the past 5-6 years in order to make modules for NWN2. As a teacher, I know that re-learning something which you have gotten the hang of, can be a very long and tedious process.

The NWN2 toolset looks and functions probably more professionally than the NWN1 toolset, but modders are not professional game artists. Modders are people who want to have fun while building modules for games, be it NWN1, NWN2, Oblivion or Morrowind. And Obsidan's Robert McGinnis sounds like another pr-guy for any firm.
(I'm sorry, but he does).

And yes, the modders that are left in the NWN community are the semi-professionals or the wholetime professionals, either working in the business or in the fringe areas of the business. They are the ones with enough time on their hands to get really aquainted with the toolset in NWN2. And yes, the toolset in NWN2 might be more flexible in what you make it do, but that means nothing, if the interface & controls simply put more & more people off from (NWN) modding…
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June 23rd, 2007, 16:30
@aries *hammer hitting nail emoticon*
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June 24th, 2007, 19:38
Interesting question.

Just a snippet from a german article about a GDC workshop (translation, not 100% precisely):

GDC Moderator: 90% of the user content is crap

No one denies besides Kim Pallister

Ray Muzyka (analogously): It was a fault to develop the NWN tools for the 90%. Instead of single persons who created one module completely, there have been teams of specalists. One of them only made graphics, the next one level layouts, and so on. For specialists the toolset wasn't extensive enough, they could not do what Bioware designers were able to do. So in future they will make the tools more extensive, so the 10% can make really great expansions.

German Source (page 2, 2nd paragraph)

A-Van-Te-Nor: A big car full of black hot beverage
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June 24th, 2007, 21:16
Yes, that may well be. But that means it excludes the 16 year or the 21 year old who just wants to get into modding for fun at a young age, and then maybe train to be better at modding for NWN1+2. This excludes the not so professional type of modder from even beginning his or her modding careeer.

When you have a toolset as intutive as NWN1's, it really means that that a young modder of 16 or 17 can learn how to quickly. Of course, his or her first results usually are crap, but he or she learns how to work with the Toolset over the years which, of course, means that the work made after 5 years of practice or training is much better than the first modules released.

The modders used to make mods for the NWN community have had a really hard time re-learning the ways of the new toolset for NWN2. And only the best and most interested of the modders continued to make modules for the Neverwinter community and NWN1 and NWN2. This mens that module making now apparently is seen by the industry as way to discover new talents to be given job offers, not as the delightfull hobby it (once) was meant to be.

And to me, at least, that is a real shame…
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June 25th, 2007, 00:14
The shame for me, is the lack of MP mods being made!! We want to play a few and they aren't there!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 25th, 2007, 12:34
We were planning a module for NWN2 but after messing around with the toolset I came to the conclusion that I was more limited with NWN2 than with NWN1. The main problem was available resources. Armor had only a few (like 3 or so) appearences, where in NWN there were around 10 or more. The available elven faces looked like absolute crap. Also NWN2 simply do not have any Beholders. No Beholders in a NWN2 game? They could have dropped out half of the demons in favor of a Beholder as far as I care.

The lack of decent modelling tools is even worse. Obsidian would have made themselves a huge favor if they had picked model filetype of which there were editors available to normal people.
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June 26th, 2007, 01:29
Hopefully, the next few patches will address some of your concerns.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 26th, 2007, 14:54
I think it's quite funny, all the people that keep talking about the 16yr olds who are trying to get into learning this stuff and are finding it so hard because the interface is not intuitive.

You have to work hard to get into the industry (gaming or otherwise). It's not going to be a cake walk, and if an unintuitive interface is all it takes to make you give up, then you should just forget it.

If any of these modders seriously want to get into designing games as a career, they have to realize that everything is not going to be handed to them on a silver platter. The tools the developers have to use when building these games are *far* from polished and intuitive.

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June 26th, 2007, 20:32
Yes, I know this…

That said, I still stand by initial comments about it easier for 16 year old or any person new to makings mods for games to be making them with a very intuitive toolset rather than a professional. If they then want to be professional game makers, then they can learn how to use a professional toolset or construction set.
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June 27th, 2007, 23:06
I agree with the complaints about it not being intuitive in comparison to NWN 1. I also think it could be much better with some tweaking and rearranging. Finding items you want in a misc list a mile long is not intuitive or fun. Granted there are more complex set of rules for building what you want, but I think if they took some time to just resort the stuff it would help a lot.

Bart and Corwin should just admit that when it gets down to it, I will have the final say.
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