Death by a thousand choices - I begin anew in Faerun

True to my word, I've moved past Mass Effect 2 and selected a new title from my Constipation List.   Neverwinter Nights 2 is now loaded up on my laptop and ready for playing on lunch breaks.   Patching was a muti-hour affair, but I now have the main campaign, Mask of the Betrayer, and Storm of Zehir ready to go.  I mention this because the first thing I noticed on loading up the game was how overwhelming it was.  
 

Starting a Character

My first inclination was to select a pre-made character.  I'm no stranger to D&D 3rd Ed, and I knew what the setup would cost me in terms of time and anguish, but having loaded both expansions, my selection of pre-mades had jumped to 24 options.   Taking stock of what that meant, it didn't give me much reprieve from the overwhelming nature of character creation in D&D.   I set aside 30 minutes and decided to create my character from scratch.  
 
Bad idea.   There are 8 races to start with, and most of those have sub-races to further delineate them.  
 
    • Dwarf - Gold, Gray or Shield
      • Elf - Drow, Moon, Sun, Wild, or Wood
      • Gnome - Deep or Rock
      • Halfling - Lightfoot or Strongheart
      • Half-elf - normal or half-drow
      • Half-Orc
      • Human
      • Planetouched - Aasimar, Tiefling, Air Genasi, Earth Genasi, Wind Genasi or Fire Genasi
 
To simplify my life, I'm playing a human.    
 
Next up, class choice.   There are 14.  Keep in mind that if you want to eventually get a Prestige Class, you need to start planning now.   There are 22 of those. 
NWN2 Character Creator
I'm not going to even attempt to count out skills and feats, the likes of which easily exceed half a hundred individual options.   
 
Since the number one source of frustration I have in games like this is traps and locked chests, I went with a rogue.   Later on I'll find out this is a stupid choice because you are forced to group with a rogue about 2 hours into the game. 
 
Getting ready to head into the world I took stock of where I was:  Human, Rogue, Chaotic Good, high dexterity (for dodging and ranged combat) and the ability to cast wands and scolls, in addition to picking locks and defusing bombs.  Or something.
 
 

In search of originality

 I am a staple of the genre.   This is revealed to me almost instantly -- I am an orphan, raised by a generous man in a small villiage.   There is a mystery surrounding my family/origin and as expected there is a mysterious magical object in my past as well.  I believe I am the product of almost every major fantasy trope in existence.    If nothing else, Neverwinter Nights 2 has set me up for the most traditional of Fantasy Settings, and although it's hard to fault a game that's almost 4 years old for not being as exciting as Dragon Age.   Or maybe I can.    Wikipedia tells me that the Forgotten Realms are somewhere between 23 and 43 years old, which leads me to believe that the setup as I see it so far is probably familiar ground.   Is it too much to ask for a twist on the formula?   Probably, but a man can dream, right?    
 
Tropes exist for a reason, some might say.   They are tried and true representations of the collective expectations of the genre, and therefore they deserve a place of reverence on that pedestal, to be worshiped as originators, if not original anymore.    Bullshit, really.   If you're asking me to come to a well-trodden locale using well-established character parameters in an over-mined genre, then you better bring your A game to loop me into your narrative.   Make me an escaped slave, give me a pet monkey that throws feces at my female companions, or slap me with narcolepsy that strikes at the most in-opportune of times.   
 
Next up, why the dialog system works against immersion. 
13 Comments
14 Comments
Posted by dvaeg
True to my word, I've moved past Mass Effect 2 and selected a new title from my Constipation List.   Neverwinter Nights 2 is now loaded up on my laptop and ready for playing on lunch breaks.   Patching was a muti-hour affair, but I now have the main campaign, Mask of the Betrayer, and Storm of Zehir ready to go.  I mention this because the first thing I noticed on loading up the game was how overwhelming it was.  
 

Starting a Character

My first inclination was to select a pre-made character.  I'm no stranger to D&D 3rd Ed, and I knew what the setup would cost me in terms of time and anguish, but having loaded both expansions, my selection of pre-mades had jumped to 24 options.   Taking stock of what that meant, it didn't give me much reprieve from the overwhelming nature of character creation in D&D.   I set aside 30 minutes and decided to create my character from scratch.  
 
Bad idea.   There are 8 races to start with, and most of those have sub-races to further delineate them.  
 
    • Dwarf - Gold, Gray or Shield
      • Elf - Drow, Moon, Sun, Wild, or Wood
      • Gnome - Deep or Rock
      • Halfling - Lightfoot or Strongheart
      • Half-elf - normal or half-drow
      • Half-Orc
      • Human
      • Planetouched - Aasimar, Tiefling, Air Genasi, Earth Genasi, Wind Genasi or Fire Genasi
 
To simplify my life, I'm playing a human.    
 
Next up, class choice.   There are 14.  Keep in mind that if you want to eventually get a Prestige Class, you need to start planning now.   There are 22 of those. 
NWN2 Character Creator
I'm not going to even attempt to count out skills and feats, the likes of which easily exceed half a hundred individual options.   
 
Since the number one source of frustration I have in games like this is traps and locked chests, I went with a rogue.   Later on I'll find out this is a stupid choice because you are forced to group with a rogue about 2 hours into the game. 
 
Getting ready to head into the world I took stock of where I was:  Human, Rogue, Chaotic Good, high dexterity (for dodging and ranged combat) and the ability to cast wands and scolls, in addition to picking locks and defusing bombs.  Or something.
 
 

In search of originality

 I am a staple of the genre.   This is revealed to me almost instantly -- I am an orphan, raised by a generous man in a small villiage.   There is a mystery surrounding my family/origin and as expected there is a mysterious magical object in my past as well.  I believe I am the product of almost every major fantasy trope in existence.    If nothing else, Neverwinter Nights 2 has set me up for the most traditional of Fantasy Settings, and although it's hard to fault a game that's almost 4 years old for not being as exciting as Dragon Age.   Or maybe I can.    Wikipedia tells me that the Forgotten Realms are somewhere between 23 and 43 years old, which leads me to believe that the setup as I see it so far is probably familiar ground.   Is it too much to ask for a twist on the formula?   Probably, but a man can dream, right?    
 
Tropes exist for a reason, some might say.   They are tried and true representations of the collective expectations of the genre, and therefore they deserve a place of reverence on that pedestal, to be worshiped as originators, if not original anymore.    Bullshit, really.   If you're asking me to come to a well-trodden locale using well-established character parameters in an over-mined genre, then you better bring your A game to loop me into your narrative.   Make me an escaped slave, give me a pet monkey that throws feces at my female companions, or slap me with narcolepsy that strikes at the most in-opportune of times.   
 
Next up, why the dialog system works against immersion. 
Posted by TheJohn

You mention patching. How did you find getting the game up and running on Win7?
 
I'm asking because I was entertaining the idea of getting back in myself. I was a big fan of the first one, and as a result I got NWN2 at launch. Sadly, my computer wasn't up to task with all the spell effects and rather heavy graphics that fill the screen at later stages, so I never finished all the expansions. Now I've moved on to better hardware and win7, but some googling gave me the impression that the game wasn't really compatible with my new OS
 
On the other hand, reading your blog reminded me of several issues I'd forgotten about the game, mainly the lackluster origin story you mention. Maybe I should just get Dragon Age back from my friend who borrowed it a while ago, and just go through the different origins and DLC there.
 
Last. I'm enjoying your blog. Being in the same age bracket and with much of the same taste in games, I'm looking forward to continue reading your stuff

Posted by dvaeg
@TheJohn: Patching was pretty easy, but it took a long time.   The servers froze on several occasion, leaving me with 20-30 minutes of no activity bar movement, but the game eventually patched when I left it running overnight.   I have no way of knowing if it took one hour or seven though.   I have yet to run into any problems with it on Win7.
 
As far as the game itself, the technical issues are still there, at least through the main campaign.   If you have upgraded  your computer since then, you can probably muscle through it.   It's a lot more responsive on my newer laptop than it was 3 years ago when I first tried it.     
 
The biggest issue is that it's a product of its time.   Though I have heard good things about the expansions, the main campaign seems to be by rote, though to tell you the truth I'm still enjoying the hell out of it.   That said, playing through different origins in Dragon Age might be a better use of your time, especially since it sounds like you know what to expect.  
 
A caveat:  I have heard GREAT things about some of the smaller modules you can get for free at the NWN2 Vault.   Some are very highly rated and only last a couple of hours.   Having it installed for those mini-modules might be worth looking into, especially since you won't be out of pocket.   You can also just jump straight to Mask of the Betrayer or Zehir, maybe they will tickle your fancy.
 
Thanks for the feedback, too!
Posted by Jimbo

Stick with it, it does actually have a couple of neat ideas later on which freshen things up a bit (which Bioware borrowed heavily from when they made DA: Awakening).  The narrative never goes anywhere incredibly original, but it executes pretty well on where it does go, and overall it develops into a very enjoyable campaign imo.  
 
Mask of the Bertrayer is even better and has quite an interesting premise - also, you can have a Bear God in your party.
 
I haven't played Zehir (it doesn't really have a story as I understand it), but Mysteries of Westgate is worth checking out.  It isn't made by Obsidian and is quite low budget, but it has a certain charm to it.

Posted by dvaeg
@Jimbo: 
I've heard Zehir is unique for allowing you to select which party member is talking to an NPC at any given moment by clicking on their portrait, the dialog then changing to them taking over the conversation instead of the hero. 
Posted by DonChipotle

I never did finish the game, always meant to play it. I do remember it took a few hours for me to really get into the game and even then a few more hours until I was having actual fun. 
 
 
I did really enjoy getting to make a bio since I tend to roleplay like that and that sunk a lot of time before the game even started.

Posted by FunExplosions
@dvaeg said:
" @Jimbo:  I've heard Zehir is unique for allowing you to select which party member is talking to an NPC at any given moment by clicking on their portrait, the dialog then changing to them taking over the conversation instead of the hero.  "
That sounds pretty neat. How much of that actually changes the flow of the conversation?
Posted by dvaeg
@FunExplosions: It will probably take me 3 months to get to that expansion, given my playstyle.   I have a feeling it does nothing but flesh out the personalities.
Posted by ArbitraryWater

You plan on multiclassing, right? It's pretty much a fact that in any D&D game ever, there is no need for a pure thief unless you are really into stealth or something, and in games where you don't create your entire party there is always a competent NPC rouge available.

Posted by jorbear

NWN2 itself was a long and fun game, the story, while ,full of cliches, was somewhat interesting and fun.  
Mask Of The Betrayer is where it's at though. One of the best WRPG's in a long time.

Posted by ryanwho

I've been wanting to get back into it. I'm wondering if there's some ultimate cosmetic mod pack in a torrent somewhere I can download to make the game look a bit better.

Posted by dvaeg
@ArbitraryWater
You plan on multiclassing, right? It's pretty much a fact that in any D&D game ever, there is no need for a pure thief unless you are really into stealth or something, and in games where you don't create your entire party there is always a competent NPC rouge available.
I'll probably touch on the topic of multiclassing in my next post. yikes.
Posted by jorbear

Judging by your avatar, I assume that it shouldn't be that much of a culture shock for you...

Posted by TheJohn
@dvaeg: Hey, thanks for the reply. I was a big fan of the mods to the original NwN, and played that game to death. Since I own both of the expansions, I think I'm gonna jump back in and ignore the main story. If I'm able to find my original CD-keys, that is.