Confessions of a Viveser

   Over the past six months, I have been working on rebuilding Vives, and hosting the world on my home computer. Vives was created using Neverwinter Nights (the grande dame of fantasy role playing games), and much community effort back in 2003. It evolved over the years, developing a significant following. Most of the community however moved on last year when the original server died. That is around the time that I took up the cause of keeping Vives alive. I rebuilt the world to work on anyone’s home computer, and we’ve been hosting periodic game nights with the die hard Vives fans. I am on the homestretch now in reworking the code running the game. When I am finished, I’ll package it for distribution to the community. Please check out the community forums for the project.

   Unfortunately I am now addicted to using Neverwinter Nights to make games. Why unfortunate? The first reason is that I hate how difficult it is to change the ruleset, and character options for players. I’ve had more than my fill of the clichéd elves, dwarves, and dragons over the years, and don’t need more of them. The second reason is that I can’t make a commercial project with NWN. Nevertheless I am having enormous amounts of fun, so much fun that I have decided to commit to one more project using NWN.

   Will this project have something to do with Vives? Now that Vives has been fixed up, I feel that I have done my part. I would continue to generate content for the world if I was inspired to do so, but increasingly I have wanted to build my own world around my own stories. While Vives itself is a medium of storytelling, I have felt stifled by the setting. Rather than fit my stories to a setting, I want to build a setting around my own story. And lastly, the collection of resources and code for Vives has grown unwieldy. Every time that I start to work on new content, instead of crafting the game play for the story, I end up fixing old bugs, and reorganizing game resources. So recently I set aside my work on Vives and began laying the foundation for a new Persistent World.

   I am very happy with the work so far, and so will continue with it. There’s not much to reveal yet, as most of the work has been coding base systems like database calls. I have however worked out some basics of the setting:

   Most of the action will revolve around a region called Arnheim on the edge of an empire. Since the NWN engine requires that this resemble medieval fantasy with Tolkein’s elves, dwarves etc…, the culture of the setting will resemble pre-renaissance continental Europe, but I am reworking the fantasy races to fit within a fairy tale setting rather than Tolkein-esque high fantasy. Rather than running their own kingdoms, elves, gnomes, dwarves and goblins are all peers of faerie, the old world displaced by the expanding empire. Dwarves on the other hand living within the empire have created a unique situation of semi-autonomy for themselves using their skills as crafters to elevate their status. Other assimilated races – especially those of mixed parentage like half-elves and half-goblins/orcs – are not as fortunate, and distrusted. The dominant religion of the empire is a mix of ideas from Zoroastrianism and Catholicism. The strong good/evil dualism works well for this kind of game.

   I am using Project Q as the base for all the art assets. Project Q’s quality impresses me. It is very well put together. I have found a great deal of other community projects to borrow as well.