EditorialsNeverwinter Nights 2: NWN 2: Vault Article About The State of PWs and MultiplayerEditorials - RSS 2.0
The Vault has a terrific article about the state of persistent worlds and multiplayer a year after NWN 2's release. Contributors included several persistent world "owners" and multiplayer modders. Here's a peek at the article:
1. Where do we stand, How do players perceive the process of joining a PW and playing on one? [/b]
Grinning Fool :
Things could definitely be better. The bulk of the casual player 'market' has been all but lost due to the PWC. Even though it's simple to install if you're familiar with the folder structure of NWN or NWN2, most players aren't familiar; and don't find it worth the added headache to become familiar. This is compounded by a lot of PWs that don't make their PWC files easily available.
I think the proliferation of alternate solutions has more disadvantages than advantages - rather than being able to standardize on a single solution, the community has fragmented such that each PW is doing it's own thing. This makes things even more confusing for would-be players, requiring them to actively research a PW before even attempting to log in - and for most people , it's not worth the trouble.
MotB is sure to bring back a lot of players who are looking again at the multiplayer scene for improvements; hopefully we will see an official integrated download solution from Obsidian at around the same time.
Most statistics will show that the majority of the customer base for NWN2 does not play PWs, however that being said I frequently see people new to PWs and people already familiar with them coming to NWN2. Most people find the entire process confusing, and anything provided by Obsidian to simplify the process are more or less "band-aid solutions". However, many projects including my own have built their own tools for simplifying the update process so players simply run a client which checks for the latest version before joining the server in order to keep them up to date. The NWN2 forums also have many great little tutorials for new players on how to get in and play on a PW, and what they need.
I think it's extremely difficult to catch new players, not for the server, I mean for the entire online game we should see on nwn2. I can only see old players, 80% of them were playing nwn1 and they know how to play, but for the newbie it becomes hard and a little ridiculous. A built-in updater for PWs is a must, newbie players need a better way to introduce themselves in a virtual world. But also most players become happy playing again a nwn with all the new functions and visuals. The PW myth is potentially more groundbreaking than before, it's just a matter of time and work.
I think the process of joining a PW with vanilla NWN2 is quite a large headache. Unlike nwn1, players cannot just hop online, pick a server at random and play without having to download files from some external website. This defeats the motivation of some of the player base, because well.. lets face it, people are lazy. If they have to go searching for some random place they have never heard of, they probably wont. Most PWs I've seen with an established player base were because of word of mouth, or friends of the devs/DMs play there.
As for playing on a PW, I really don't know for sure. I do not play PWs regularly, but I would hope given the advanced nature of the toolset, people enjoy the game thoroughly as long as the DMs and players are active.
In the early stages of the game and for most sites today I still believe there were two issues, figuring out how/where to get the pwc for a server(and/or necessary haks etc...) and the fact that every time there was a change they had to re-download large files. The addition of ModuleURL= and PWCURL= variables to the nwnplayer.ini file helped though there is still the issue of needing to now to add to favourites and look at server info rather than being able to look at server info directly from gamespy interface Worldgate and audolo have helped in the latter respect. Correctly configured players only have the burden of a large download the first time they join a server.
The third issue is override folder - due to lack of understanding of hak implementation or some other circumstance people have things in their override folder that conflict from PW to PW. There is no easy solution to this from the PW Builders standpoint as they have no way of controlling what's in a players override.
I haven't played much online over the last few months. When I did, I found the biggest problems to be 1.)PWC files were not easy to locate and download off the server's website/forums, and 2.)pretty much all the decent servers have an application process. Between those two things, just logging into a PW becomes an ordeal that sometimes takes as long as a week. Too much time to invest just to try a place out.
I also think custom settings have gone a little overboard. If I have to read a source book's worth of information and rules changes just to feel comfortable playing on a server, then I'm not likely to stick around long. A familiar setting, even something that most people consider boring like vanilla FR, makes it much easier for players to get acclimated.
As has been said before, the process of getting into multiplayer is a pain from a usability and technically point of view. The client file handling and distribution needs to see a major improvement. With the size and complexity of data, required to join a server, the freedom and flexibility in trying out servers is very limited,
I gather that the vast majority of current PW players are carried over veterans of NWN1, who already have a good understanding of the game's mechanics, the use and functionality of client files and most of all, the dedication to get through that whole process to be able to play online.
I do not have much new to add to this as I agree with the comments above. The often heavy file download and instability makes it difficult to catch new players.