The Foundry Shapes the Game
They say that the people are the lifeblood of an MMO. If that's true, Neverwinter is going to be an immortal beast. Cryptic Studio's upcoming, massively multiplayer addition to the Neverwinter canon is a game with a vision. It wants to break all the rules. It wants its players to help make the game as they go along.
The Foundry in Neverwinter is one of the most exciting things being made in the genre today. If you don't know what it is, here's the quick run-down: it's a toolset for user-generated content. Yes, just like the old days, you will be able to manufacture your own quests, scenarios and designs for public consumption. Unlike the old days, however, The Foundry is built for the plug-and-play generation. No additional installations required.
It really is just drag and drop? Want to make a series of rooms? Here, just put them in place. They'll snap together. Doors will be made, connections will be formed.
Cryptic Studios says that there are, literally, thousands upon thousands of detailed objects available for usage. Books, chickens, gravestones, beet-filled boxes - you name it, they've got it. The perfectionist can spend hours here, quietly crafting rooms that would make the developers green with envy. If you can't be bothered to hand-craft each and every segment of the room, you have an alternative: right-click on a room, hit 'populate room' and that will be all she wrote. The artists at Cryptic Studios were kind enough to ensure that every room can be transmogrified into a shippable state within a second's notice. Mind you, you'll still be able to modify the new inhabitants of the room if you so choose.
With so much to do and tweak and adjust, it's easy to forgive Neverwinter for not allowing users to upload their own assets. Then again, would you really need to? The sheer number of customization options will keep most people occupied for weeks on end.
But, that's just the objects, the static decorations, the chandeliers and the skulls in the corner. Let's move on. Not only will the Foundry allow you to generate decorative items and quest points and objectives (a click is all it takes to signal to the Foundry that a bag of onions is the objective in your campaign), it will let you make monsters.
Trash mobs, elite mobs, easy, medium, hard; you'll be able to get drow and kobolds and felspawn and goblins. If it exists in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, it will probably exist here.
We're not done yet. These encounters will be editable. Want to change their clothes? Do so. There are hundreds of pre-set costumes you can choose from, all of which can be modified further. Want to move them around, rename them, and erase their existence entirely? You can do all that too. The possibilities are endless.
Once you've built it up, you'll be able to explore the world to see if it functions the way you want it to. My favorite thing about all this is probably the Dialogue Editor. I mean, I like the idea of being able to make a dungeon-crawl as much as the next girl but that's not what's making my heart beat faster here. The dialogue editor kind of works like this: Once you've made the designated NPC, you'll be able to fire up the dialogue editor and start developing his conversational skills. You could make it exceptionally simple and have the NPC do little more than inform the players that yes, they have to kill fifty kobolds before they are permitted to permit or you can make a story.
A full-fledged, meaty story filled with as many branches as you like. Potentially, you could craft an entire textual adventure with nothing but the help of the editor. Heck, if you really wanted to, you could probably even build a dating simulation out of dialogue trees and triggers. We would really rather you did not, though. Please?
Before you ask, the answer is 'yes', by the way. Yes, sadistic DMs, you can potentially spawn an entire army behind your unwitting players if they make the mistake of tugging at the wrong level. Triggers exist in all shapes and sizes here in the Foundry. Asides from attaching them to dialogue branches, you'll also be able to connect them to objects, thereafter allowing you to build potentially brain-tweaking puzzles.
Cryptic Studios isn't quite done yet. There's more in the works. They're trying to figure out how to get PVP into the Foundry and how best to replicate those evenings spent rolling dice at a tabletop D&D session. There is a strong adherence to quality as well. A team of five volunteers is responsible for ensuring that every map passes muster before it is submitted to the player base for cross-examination. The good levels will see themselves elevated to stardom; the bad ones will get buried under negative reviews.
Now, excuse me. I think need a cold shower.