The Foundry: User-Generated Content in Neverwinter - Page 2

Posted Tue, Mar 19, 2013 by gunky

The Foundry: User-Generated Content in Neverwinter

Current User-Generated Content

During the past two beta weekends, players were able to experience Foundry-built user-generated content by picking up quests at the bulletin boards throughout the city. So far, everything that's been available has been of the "adventure module" variety - short, self-contained adventures with lots of combat or exploration.

Neverwinter Foundry - Missions on the Bulletin Board

These one-shot adventures can be strung together to form campaigns. Campaigns are daisy-chained adventures following a common story arc, and each adventure serves as an "act" in the overall story. There were a few campaigns available during the first beta weekend, and a couple of them were very well done. The second weekend's focus was on other things, though, and the only stuff available on the Foundry was one-shot adventures.

In terms of quality, user-generated content will be all over the map. Foundry missions in Star Trek Online range from sublimely-crafted stories that play out like an episode of one series or another, to ridiculously bad insta-fails created by people with zero command of the written language and/or no idea how the Foundry actually works. Most efforts will fall somewhere between these two extremes.

In the beta weekends, I was able to run through a number of pre-made Foundry adventures - likely crafted by Cryptic alpha testers making sure the tech worked. The first weekend, I ran a 3-part campaign involving drow and intrigue, which was really well done. I investigated an abandoned temple finding clues, and eventually tracked the villains to a nasty dungeon. Thought and care went into the design, and it was reasonably well executed.

Neverwinter Foundry - a Foundry mission

For the second weekend, I ran a rather silly one-shot adventure involving a Deck of Many Things and a poker game gone horribly, horribly wrong. It was fun, the fights were challenging, but not particularly cerebral. This one is probably a good gauge against which to measure other Foundry modules, a solid 3-star experience.

Making a High-Rated Adventure

While the Neverwinter Foundry is not yet available to the public, there are some things you can do to prepare for it so you can hit the ground running when it does launch.

Neverwinter Foundry - really bad reviews Try not to do what this guy did.
  1. LRN2ENGLISH - Internet and gamer slang makes for quick and effective communication, but sloppy grammar and bad spelling gets noticed and earns negative comments and votes. The Foundry won't likely come with a spell-checker, so if spelling is an issue, compose your dialogue in another program first and copy/paste it once it has been checked and edited.
  2. Learn the STO Foundry - It's likely to be close to what the Neverwinter Foundry will be, so get some practice. You will need to earn 10,000 Refined Dilithium on one character to unlock it, but that can be earned fairly quickly by running Fleet Actions and such, or you can buy it with Zen.
  3. Plan Ahead - Know what kind of story you want to tell, and plan it out in small steps. That's how the Foundry works anyway (at least in STO), so knowing what you need to do to move from one story point to the next helps a lot. Tell the kind of story you would want to experience, and other people will respond positively.
  4. Play Other People's Stuff - This will give you an idea of what is possible with the toolset, what kind of things you enjoy playing and, occasionally, a rough idea of how to make it happen. One creator might have really cleverly-designed dungeon spaces, one guy might have done something creative with dialogue trees, etc.
  5. Be Concise - You might be proud of the six pages of dialogue you just wrote, and it might be the most awesome thing ever, containing subtle clues leading the reader on a breadcrumb trail to the next objective. But a lot of hasty jackasses will just skim through it to get to the next fight, and get angry when they can't find it easily. Make sure our players have clearly-defined goals and know exactly how to reach them.

User-generated content can be an amazing thing. It keeps the game fresh without placing content demands on the developers, allowing them to focus more attention on bug fixes and improving game systems rather than cranking out new dungeons. With the Foundry, that will be our job.

Are there any old published adventure modules you're looking forward to seeing in Neverwinter? Let us know in our comments!

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