[PAX] Impressions of Neverwinter’s Foundry System

If you’ve ever played an MMO before, you’re well aware that they utilize quests to move the story along and grant experience. Occasionally the quests can be interesting or can deliver some useful information; but if you’re like me, you probably just click through them as fast as possible because they’re boring as hell. If you’ve ever trudged through some quest text and thought “wow, this is awful, I could do way better”, then put your money where your mouth is and check out Neverwinter’s Foundry system.

The name of the game with the Foundry is user-generated content. Using the Foundry’s robust tool set, players will be able to create their own custom quests and dungeons with ease, and then share it with the community.

The system is as simple as drag and drop. The Foundry has been designed to make quest and dungeon creation quick and painless. You can create quests that are as simple as talk to guy, go kill ten giant rats and then talk to guy again. Or you can create long, heavily detailed quest chains that are packed full of great storytelling. It’s all up to the creator; they’re given sufficient tools to go nuts and create a story as elaborate or simple as they like. It allows players to carve their legacy within the Forgotten Realms universe. While most MMOs rely on developers to create new content for the game, Neverwinter puts new content generation in the hands of the ones who love it the most.

But not this guy, pretty sure he doesn't love anything.

In addition to creating quests, players can create their own dungeons in a similar fashion. They utilize a drag and drop system to design dungeons as elaborate as they like. You are given a plethora of rooms of varying shapes and sizes that you can connect together to create your dungeon. A fantastic feature is that you can connect two rooms together as long as the two edges of each room are touching. When you spawn into the dungeon to test it out, you will see that the doorway has automatically been created.

Even though the game is still in development, the bank of dungeon assets that are available as of now is almost overwhelming. Your dungeon can be in a traditional stone-walled dungeon, or you can mix it up and create a large mansion with many winding hallways. In addition to the varying themes you can use to customize your dungeon, there are tons of set pieces you can add. In the demo we created a small tavern and populated it with tables, chairs, a large statue and a wagon. There was even an entire ship available as a set piece, unfortunately it was not finished at the time.

You can totally make something resembling this concept art if you like.

If you’re more interested in creating your dungeon quickly and don’t care too much about decorating it, there is an option that will automatically populate each room with appropriate set pieces for that room’s setting. The tavern we created earlier was auto-populated with the tables and chairs, and then we were able to add the wagon and statue. In case the Foundry auto-populates something you don’t like, you can easily edit what has been added to your liking. This is great if you’re just trying to create something for your story to play out in and don’t want to stress about what should be in the room.

All user-generated content will be available to download from within the game. You will also be able to rate content after you’ve played it, and highly-rated content will be shown on the main Foundry screen. The community will dictate whose content is worth playing and the creators of highly-ranked content will get neat little in-game perks along with their recognition. Rewarding players for creating unique, engaging content is brilliant. It will promote creativity and re-playability since new content will be continually generated by the players.

I also found out that, yes, there is someone who actually scans each Foundry submissions for any offensive content. You and I will never know what true horrors they face.

But I imagine that process looks something like this.

Overall the Foundry looks very promising. I’m a big fan of the MMO genre and I know things have gotten stale, but the Foundry definitely gets me excited. I have not seen an MMO do anything like this before. Giving players the ability to create elaborate content with an intuitive system can lead to countless possibilities. Traditionally, Dungeons and Dragons is about creating an amazing adventure with your friends. Neverwinter’s Foundry system continues that tradition in a way that lets everybody participate if they want to. I cannot wait to get into Neverwinter and mess around with the ridiculous amount of dungeon designs and assets.

For more information and to sign up for the beta, head over to the official Neverwinter website.

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