A Precursor Demonstrating The Dynamic

Before I once again dump Neverwinter Nights 2, possibly never to pick it up again, I’m considering taking a run at the editor. I’m not completely new to NWN2 development, having familiarized myself with the toolset by putting together a module I called The Gauntlet. This was a simple, boring, but powerful module in that you could take a character up to maximum level on a single respawning map.

I made The Gauntlet about a year and a half ago, and my philosophy towards Neverwinter Nights 2 has changed. I used to consider the D20 system rather poor because of the excessive randomness leading to a constant need to reload saved games. Now, I’m now willing to consider the D20 system to be reasonably worth playing (though luck is still a major factor).

I’m considering writing another module, this time one that has many more dynamic features and a compelling story. Off the top of my head, some of these ideas include:

  1. A central focus around the player character(s) involved in the module geared to continually challenge them with dynamically introduced content. Think of it as having a computerized GM who monitors the players and tries to produce a compelling game for them, which is a different approach than the standard scenario one.
  2. A number of unique locations which are occasionally re-infested with varying bands of foes, creating missions to clear them out. This is one way in which dynamic content can be introduced, through a sort of adventuresome capture point system where dungeons and towns are at stake.
  3. Game progresses in real time, with resting skipping x number of hours, tied to dynamically occurring game-changing events happening over time. This has two good affects. First, its’ a better handling of spell duration and character movement as well, with a “what you see is what you get” mechanic as opposed to one where you spend 5 minutes walking across a dungeon only to have had 10 game hours pass by. Second, it provides a consequence to resting indiscriminately: rest too much, and the mission fails and the world passes you by.
  4. A dynamic merchant mechanism that adjusts to players’ levels and continually weeds/reorganizes its inventory over time. The goal is to prevent unnecessary clutter of sold item while providing things the players may be interested in purchasing.
  5. A system of crime handling that more realistically behaves to the player characters infringements. The goal is to create a more believable feeling virtual civilization, losing the requirement of a suspension of disbelief that comes from being able to walze into anyone’s house to loot it without consequence.

Having a bit of Java/C++ programming experience (though not quite enough to make overrides) I know that much of this is possible and comes down to mostly a matter of planning. I know there’s some technical limitations of the engine, but those just have to be worked around. The toughest thing on that list would be some kind of script to weed through merchant inventories – I’m not sure the necessary function calls for that even exist.

Once the implementation hurdles are figured out, the main thing that remains is the plot. After all, the D20 system is built to tell a story. It’s all very good to call my world dynamic, but if nothing meaningful ever happens as a result of the player’s actions, it’s no better than the average static-feeling MMORPG. A story suitable of the dynamically changing world would likely be based around multiple endings. End game battles could be unlocked by making prerequisite changes to the world.

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