20 years ago Neverwinter Nights entered our lives. It went on to spawn a dizzying array of different content - modules, community packs, new authors, persistent worlds and even new game studios like Ossian, DLA and RoXidy games. But could you have predicted this?
Wind back a little further to the pre-release forums for Neverwinter nights – clunky, buggy and fuelled by dial up modems… the moment for me when I knew NWN was going to be something amazing was when Bioware were doing a demo of the game, and unexpectedly a deer they had spawned outside walked into the dungeon they had just entered.
This may seem like an odd moment to get excited about, but until then I had been treating NWN with typical scepticism, especially the toolset, which I thought would be heavily prescriptive and complex to use. Then the game came out, and though I found the original campaign to have some bland bits, I could see the story-telling potential, and I was nevertheless excited to get my hands on the toolset, and wonder of wonders, it was easy to use.
I think for many this was what set the game apart and gave it such longevity: so many people could now create games they wanted, worlds they wanted. Many of us used it to tell stories, and several of us went on to become authors. I ended up writing professionally for several computer games (including on the expansion Wyvern Crown of Cormyr, then NWN2 and the Witcher). And many of us are still going strong!
Was quite a thing on what I recall was a Pentium III, Windows 2000 box with a 32mb graphics card. Could run it quite well I was already a bioware fan after BG2 and enjoying the NwN campaign and finding the toolset was so engrossing.
Great community forums and the vault for files! Got into AI stuff and spells. Did some PW dev and playing on dial up.
I was going to do some anniversary interviews/articles about current and past modders and devs, but I’ve just been a bit busy, I’ll probably work on some real hisorical wiki pages, on the development of the game and post game major projects and modules over the coming year. Tons of cut content and changes in development of the game. But custom content was always at the heart of it!
I picked up the game, easily one of my top ten favorite computer games ever, during my last stint in grad school before heading overseas from my ancestral homeland. Most significant to me at that time was that its multiplayer networking allowed me to continue playing w/ old friends at home and would help keep me connected to & playing with new friends abroad as I continued shuffling between countries.
It was also part of the whole fascination and experimentation with open-source licensing that came out of the Free & Open Source Software movement (FOSS) which was a large part of my RL career path (technically, Brownian motion is a type of path). Bioware & Obsidian leveraged Wizard’s OGL for D&D 3.x to create one of the most open & still vibrant contributor communities I have ever experienced.
So it’s been a great 20 years and I look forward with anticipation to the next 20. Perhaps we can all get together for a multiplayer game, since it will have been ported to our networked brain chips by then!
At the time when Neverwinter Nights was announced, I was active in the modding community of another long lived D&D game creator, Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures (1993, will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year). Module authors were hyped for it as the next big thing and asking who else would try and create adventures with it. I didn’t participate much in these discussions and I was of two minds about it, because secretly I didn’t really want anyone to leave the FRUA community and create for another game instead - at least not without me, for a game that I knew my old PC would not be able to run. But at the same time I was curious about it, too, and as the years went by, I became so fascinated and obsessed with it, that I actually started downloading NWN modules at university and burn these collections on CD-Roms, even though (or maybe precisely because) I could not play them yet, all in anticipation of the day that I would finally get a new computer that could run it.
By the time that happened, I probably had my own internet access already and no need for the archived files anymore, but I was still hyped about it, all these years later (might have been around 2007?). I played through the OC’s prelude more or less patiently, but then couldn’t wait any longer. I installed my first player-created module! I stared with shorter ones, gradually moving on to longer series, and I got so hooked that I believe I hardly played any other games anymore for three years straight (maybe a little FRUA on the side). I also frequented the forums a lot, helped playtest a lot of new modules, providing authors with (hopefully) constructive feedback, in order to give something back, promoted what I liked, and eventually even took on some responsibility in the AME when others noticed my passion for the game. I made friends with many people, be it on the forums or on PWs (Hlontar - Moonsea Adventures was one I played on a lot, because it was created by a FRUA veteran I knew from that community).
In the end, I even tried my hands at creating modules myself, when the game was re-released digitally on GOG and they announced a module competition in the NWN community. I had always wanted to do it but lacked incentive to do it just for myself, so the challenge gave me something to work for. Sadly, that was also the beginning of the end for my obsession with NWN at the time, because after winning the NWN contest (like all other participants ) I discovered the world of digital game stores and got sucked into catching up on all the old games I had missed out on (so their marketing strategy totally worked on me ). I still played the occasional NWN module on the side and checked in on the Vault forums, but a lot less often than before.
Fast forward to 2018 when Beamdog annouced an Enhanced version. I was initially sceptical because it didn’t look like they actually had changed much. I also feared that the classic (and cheaper) Diamond edition would be removed from stores (and I was right about that) and that the EE would split the NWN community and break compatibility on modules (maybe it did, a little, but not as much as I had expected). But in the end I still bought it, for old times’ sake (twice actually, and then a few copies for friends who would never really play it ). I don’t regret it, because despite some disappointments and issues with the EE, it has become my go-to version now and I haven’t looked back much (I especially like the concept of patch haks and that you can now use all 255 head slots in the EE). The release of the EE renewed my interest in NWN and I started to catch up on modules I had missed out on back in the days. I even playtested a few new modules. I made new friends and met old ones again that I hadn’t heard from in a long while, which was pretty sweet. And I recognized that I had never truly left the game and its community, because there’s just nothing like them, and I still get very enthusiastic about both, even 20 years later.
Perhaps some day I may get something or other accomplished in building. My autodidactic builder training, if I may be allowed a thoroughly stretched math analogy, seems to be the convolution of Brownian motion with Zeno’s paradox.
You mentioned a couple other things that caught my attention.
You CAN still get NWN Diamond if you want it. If you get NWN EE from GOG (gog.com) you get a copy of Diamond. On GOG during their current summer sale, that’s $4 American (which is to say, $3.99).
You also mentioned Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures, which I had never come across before that I can recall. Pandemically perturbed like pretty everyone else, much of my leisure time since has gone into checking out all the old games I missed. So not to promote GOG generally over rivals, but I started hanging out there more than Steam because of their emphasis on acquiring the rights to old games and doing the technical work (like including a pre-configured Dosbox environment) to get them running under Windows 10.
So of course I set off seeking Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures and found that GOG has it bundled into their Forgotten Realms Collection 2 offering, which just hit my wish list. It’s not on sale yet, but I have the patience of someone who was amazed at the arrival of CDs for computers. I was handing out floppy disks as drink coasters for years after that. I can wait, at least for a little while…
I just checked - it’s also in Steam’s FR Collection 2 which looks, at a glance, to be the same thing at the same price as GOG’s offering. I wishlisted it there too. Let’s see which one puts it on sale first!
I know, and with the high discounts that the EE is getting these days, it’s more of a plus than a disadvantage that you can now get both versions in one package. But at the time it looked like a forced 100% increase in price for anyone only interested in buying the Diamond version, which I disliked mostly on principle. (like, why not let the customer decide which version to buy at which price?)
GOG was the one who supposedly unearthed these old D&D games and signed as publisher for the re-release at first. Now the publisher is SNEG and they have also brought it to Steam earlier this year, but if I’m reading this correctly, SNEG was founded by someone who used to work at GOG for a long time.
It’s a bit off-topic here, but if you have questions about FRUA, feel free to message me.
In order to build a bridge back to celebrating NWN and give a little addendum to my story, here are three modules by authors from the FRUA community who tried their hands at building with the Aurora Toolset:
Man, 20 years! That’s NUTS and AWESOME at the same time! My love for the game still goes strong, even after all these years. Neverwinter Nights adventures can vary so much depending on the creator, and that is what ultimately still draws me to the game. Also, NWN isn’t just a game, actually… it’s more like a tool with which we can create and share stories with each other.
I’d love to share some nostalgia, but I think I need some time to compose myself first In the mean time, If you’d like; you can also check out some older posts from my blog(you’ll find the blog archive at the very bottom) – I’ve been posting about NWN and other stuff since 2005.
So having had time with somebody’s pirate copy I eventually bought NwN back in 2004. As this predates digital download of games, it took that long for the price to drop into my price range of what I could afford back then. Back then the market took care of the price not the seller…
It wasn’t until 2006 that I built enough confidence to make a module and that took more time than intended. Don’t they always… So I thought well I’ve made a module so what next. Originally I was going to make a very simple tileset but was talked out of it on the original Bioware forums and to use placeables instead. So Map Mats was born. After that… well you get the idea.
Playing wise. I could swear the two expansions were easier than playing them again in EE (even of the “I’m a wimp - Get me outta here” difficulty). Must be getting ancient Played loads of user made modules in the early years, not so many these days.
so somewhere in 2008 I saw this game at a store in the mall yes that long ago) and bought it for $5. Shortly after that I bought another copy. Turned out it was a really great multiplayer experience. That led to learning more about computers and networking and LAN and all that type of stuff. The original Neverwinter forums were really intimidating for me as everyone was more knowledgeable than me so I don’t think I ever posted there. I guess my first online post was on the Bioware Social forums. Prior to that I had only ever posted anything online on one other forum anywhere. Over time I ended up with a dozen computers set up on a LAN in the basement with Diamond on XP and towards the end a little 7. The difficulty was that many of these computers struggled and the game was always finicky. I never mastered making remote play possible. Our gaming group shrunk and the machinery wasn’t maintained. The basement fell into ruins. It really did become something of a dungeon. Then EE came out. For me things started to work properly and I found myself upgrading the computers but never intended to make any serious investment other than maybe 4 players max. Along the way my niece was introduced to the game as I am a bad influence on her. Our decimated gaming group was starting to grow again! One thing led to another and more friends and family joined in. In the winter game night became THE place to be with meals and snacks random spells thrown all over the place. The whole thing really has taken on a life of its own again and I am grateful for it. Our oldest player is late fifties and our youngest is nine. In the basement everyone can be themselves without having to worry about what someone else thinks is cool or silly. There’s precious few things that teens preteens young adults and old people can all do together and have such a great time doing it. Every spent cent was a good investment and I am personally grateful to Beamdog for making EE. Without the Enhanced Edition it isn’t likely that any of this would have happened.
The fun we’ve had with this between friends and family is honestly priceless. We play casually and probably wouldn’t be considered serious players by most but it’s just such a great experience the way we are currently doing it. The community’s module creators are fantastic. The forums are supremely helpful. There’s no other gameplay experience quite like it.
If I was granted a gaming wish it would be for all the “old hands” to try to create just a little something or even just stop by the forums to comment on the longevity of NWN.
There are modders who kids are having kids!! Play as a family. You can learn some neat stuff in the game.
The first time Rose played with me I told her that we don’t play evil in this game. We’re in this gameworld to to good. There’s enough bad in the real world that we don’t need to add to it in the game. Nearly three years later she still reminds me that “we don’t do evil”.
Thanks so much to everyone in the community. I seldom interact but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate what all of you have done to keep this NWN going for 20 years. It’ll be fun to be here for the 25 year bash too!
From the very beginning, this unusual game and it’s very supportive community have always inspired me.
The open concept, custom content, story telling, and general in game improvements (ie horses) the community has never failed to push outward the boundaries of the original engine. With the development of the enhanced edition by Beamdog the envelope of joy has kept growing.
There have been tremendous improvements. Look at some newer tilesets, comprehend the increased scope of Nwn-scripting, and custom content that keeps pouring new resources into our old game. I can hardly imagine the countless hours devoted to Nwn just to keep The Vault organized and operating, let alone improving the many available expansions. Many special people deserve the accolades!
Thank you, thank you, thank you (to all concerned) !!
It is because of this game that I learned to be proficient in Max, Blender, Photoshop and Gimp. Not to mention Audacity and a host of other programs and sites. The primary reason for upgrades to my computer systems was to insure silky game play and dedicated hard-drive space. This “hobby” has out lasted my interest in many other games and I remain grateful, happy and hopeful for it.
Wishing the very best for Nwn (& community) on a very notable birthday.
(This morning I started to write up a post offering my thoughts on this thread. To say that it got out of hand would be an understatement. It ended up as a full-length article on my author website blog, which I’ll include and link to below — with apologies for the length, but also the hope that readers will find something of value in it. )
In 2002 I was software engineer working on a second graduate degree. I had an opportunity to work in quantum computing (which I ended up doing for about a dozen years), but felt I needed a better background in the science to do it properly. So to say that NWN came into my life when I could least afford the time to fully appreciate it — I was literally working a full time tech job and studying quantum physics in my spare time — would be an understatement. That’s why it took years for me to really get involved in the NWN “modding” community, which in hindsight is a significant life regret of mine. (I’m not doing quantum physics anymore, but I am still trying to write and make games.)
I wasn’t on the Bioware forums when it was brewing, but I’d heard the scuttlebutt about how “Neverwinter Nights” was going to be something new and unique in computer-based RPGs. So over the next couple of years I bought, played, and enjoyed the game and its expansions. I really wanted to keep going after finishing HotU (Hordes of the Underdark), and I’d heard, thanks to the toolset, that fans were making their own adventures. So I found IGN’s Neverwinter Vault (the place to go for them at the time), downloaded and played my first module, and was hooked.
I spent most of my available game time starting in 2004 playing one NWN module and campaign after another: Aielund, Lords of Darkness, Shadowlords, Dreamcatcher… the list goes on. And as I did, I discovered the first thing that would go on to change my life: that indie modders could often make better and more engaging games than companies with dev budgets in the millions. They usually weren’t as polished, but they were frequently more creative, better storytelling experiences, and more “on target” for what I was looking for as a player. And perhaps most important of all, they showed a willingness to experiment, to take risks in gameplay and narrative design, that I typically didn’t see in commercial games of the time.
I largely lost sight of the commercial games industry for years as a result. And by the time mid-2005 came around, I knew that I could no longer put off trying my hand at creating my own game. I had an expansive story idea that I’d originally developed as the setting for a D&D campaign years earlier, and that I’d made a (then stalled) attempt to turn into a novel series. So despite a challenging work and grad-school schedule, I began development on an NWN module of my own based on the backstory to that campaign: Sanctum of the Archmage: The Sight.
As I continued to play these modules, and immersed myself over the next few years in building my own adventures, I gradually came to realize that Bioware had — perhaps unintentionally — accomplished something truly unique and ground-breaking. By creating a game-building toolset that was simple enough for many people to use, it put the game creation process, for the first time, within the reach of talented storytellers. These were individuals with rich ideas, but without a commercial (much less AAA) budget or dev team to back them.
This provided a desperately needed “release valve” for the repressed creativity of a generation of frustrated game authors. The resulting firehose of adventures that exploded onto the NWN modding scene over the next decade not only proved and paved the way for some (sometimes controversial) trends that game companies finally began to adopt (such as better and more inclusive romance plots). It also democratized game design and development in a way that had never really been possible before — and as far as I’m aware, has never quite been matched since.
This latter point is worth emphasizing. For nearly every other game that I’m aware of, the word modding refers to making “modifications” to extend an existing, professionally developed game campaign. Anyone who’s played with Skyrim mods knows what I’m talking about: things like new companions and side quests dropped into the world to be played as a part of the base game. Neverwinter Nights (along with Neverwinter Nights 2, and the Bioware game that followed them, Dragon Age: Origins), are the only significant, 21st century games I know of for which modding also has another meaning: not just making modifications , but creating modules . That use of the word took its inspiration from the D&D (and other) “booklets” that Dungeon Masters could buy, which contained a modular adventure (standalone, or part of a series) that they could run for players.
And that word names the key distinction between a game mod and a game module . A module (standalone or series) is an adventure that stands on its own, as its own game. It may be connected to the setting of the original game (as with Wyvern Crown of Cormyr), or it may not (as with The Aielund Saga and Sanctum of the Archmage). It may use or repurpose assets from the original game, include new custom content developed by independent artists and musicians, or (more typically) both. But whatever the use of setting or assets, what Neverwinter Nights gave its customers, for the first time, were the tools to actually make their own games.
The value of that to a player base brimming with creatives hungry to do so, but not fortunate enough to have landed a job in the games industry, can’t be overstated. And for me, after years of trying to “find myself” professionally, it provided a life-changing revelation. I’m still trying to forge a career today as an indie novelist, and to start my own new publishing imprint. But those are an (admittedly strong) second in my list of true passions. After a couple of years of creating my own games with Neverwinter Nights, I knew I’d found my own first calling in life: creating technology enabled interactive fiction. Or, in simpler words: making storytelling computer games.
I also think there’s an interesting comparison to be made about the intersection between indie publishing today, and the growing indie games industry. Just as NWN provided tools (in its time) to enable the democratization of game building, so too has the explosion of indie publishing tools done the same for authors. E-books, print on demand, and audio, and the companies that now provide them, have set writers free from the publishers and agents who gatekept the industry in the past. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I, and most of the other indie authors of today, would not have been able to pursue careers as writers without them.
Similarly, the maturing gamedev tools of today are doing the same for the next generation of indie game builders. Development and engine toolsets like Unity and Unreal Engine, along with 3D and other modeling tools, are making it increasingly possible for the game creators of tomorrow not only to do their work, but to have a shot at making a living at it. And to do so while (at least, hopefully) escaping the creativity-stifling restrictions of the companies that gatekeep those industries today.
So, to sum up: what, on its 20th anniversary, would I have to say is the legacy of Neverwinter Nights in my own life? More than anything else, it’s the game that helped me to rediscover my passion for writing and storytelling, and for role-playing adventure games — at precisely the time that I needed it most. And it’s what helped me to finally discover my true calling in life: storytelling through games.
So Happy 20th Birthday, Neverwinter Nights — the game that changed my life.
You definitely went for it Tony! I put a very similar post on my own blog (obligatory link www.bgphughes.com), a bit ammended and then had to stop myself. Was tempted to get into the whole NWN/NWN2/The Witcher/Wyvern Crown project cancellation thingy but decided that’s a story for another day!
I think you make some good points though - interested to see how the publishing sphere develops - as you know I went traditional, and not sure if that might not be getting a bit dated. We shall see I guess…
But sticking to topic, it is amazing reading these stories and seeing what a game can do for people. For me one of the highs was meeting a bunch of fellow NWN creators in Edmonton for the Dragon Age toolset preview. I couldn’t have predicted that. Nor that someone whould translate my mods into various languages or I’d find it stuck on the front of PC Gamer (when such things existed in the physical world). Strange times indeed!
You’ve definitely got material for a follow-up article on the whole Premium Modules cancellation thing. It’s always good to keep some material for another article and day, though.
Indie vs. Traditional is a very personal decision. They’re each legitimate paths, depending on your goals and values. And there’s no question that going indie takes a boatload of work. I’m technically retired now and I still can’t find time for it all.
Attending the second DA Builders Event in Edmonton in '09, and meeting so many people there that I knew only from the online community, was a real high point for me as well. Bioware’s actually still got the blog posts online, starting here. (That’s me in the blue shirt in the front row. )
Neverwinter Nights has turned 20. Where did the time go? That means in two years Neverending Nights will officially turn 20, as our series started two years after the release of the game.
But I remembered being on AOL, and playing that version of Neverwinter Nights (I was already a huge fan of D&D and the SSI games). But when Bioware’s version of Neverwinter Nights came out – it was a literal game changer. Not only was it a massive game that welcomed online playability – but it also had the toolset to create your own maps, adventures, weapons, classes, you name it – this game made it possible. And the modding community for it was huge!
I think it was the second or third episode of the Halo machinma Red vs. Blue where Adam and I – who worked together at the time – got together and thought that we should get in on this. A metric ton of other Halo themed machinima were coming out almost daily, it felt like and so by the time we’d figured out how we could pull this off – we both decided we did not want to do a Halo machinima, because the internet was already flooded with them.
I’d recommended Neverwinter Nigths as a possibility – not only because I love fantasy more than I do science fiction, but also because I was in the middle of trying to build my own world with quests – and I knew you could use the “DM Jump” option to take control of anything – and thus, be able to move multiple characters how we needed, since we both owned a copy of Neverwinter Nights.
The first problem to overcome was the camera – we needed a way to take control and for the camera man to be invisible. But even casting invisibility on the character didn’t work out that well, because there was a swirling magical effect. We tried a “chicken cam” (DM controlling a chicken) which worked better, but restricted the height of the camera. However, the answer came on the Neverwinter Nights forum, because sure enough, Netriak gave us the answer we needed! He gave us a code that turns the “camera man” invisible on spawn, without the magical effect. Now we were in business.
We moved to using Fraps for the video capture which improved the quality, considerably. We were still using cheap $9.99 mics that we picked up at some random computer store for the audio. But I was now using Goldwave for the audio editing.
To my surprise, PC GAMER UK had contacted me on our website and asked if they could put the first five episodes on one of their DVDs that ships with their magazine. I was skeptical at first that it was even legit – but what did I have to lose? Adam and I threw together a quick intro episode, made specially for PC GAMER UK and sent it on the way. Sure enough, it turned out to be quite legit – and NeN appeared on the Jan 2005 Cover Disc – as well as having a small writing up about the series within the magazine itself! It was incredible to see our material in print! (You can view the NeN PC Gamer UK Thread on their website). NOTE: The link no longer works; they were bought out by another company and it redirects to their site. It can be found on Archive.org.
Absolutely floored that PC GAMER UK had even heard of us (though I was, admittedly, promoting us pretty hard around the web) – I figured I’d try to kick it one level higher. It was time to get a hold of BIOWARE and say, “Hey! Look at what we’re doing!”
Grabbing a few email address I found for folks who worked at Bioware, I let them know about us and that we had been picked in PC GAMER UK in Jan 2005. Much to my surprise, I was contacted by Jay Watamaniuk, who was one of the Community Leaders of Bioware. Jay mentioned being interested in finding out more about NeN – and I answered all every question tossed my way. Eventually we landed an interview with Jay in March of 2005, which appeared on the Bioware forum, including some pictures sent to Bioware, as well as the infamous “map” of the series. (Bioware has since redesigned their site, so the original link does not work but here it is on Archive.org. I also captured it back in the day and here is a screenshot, should anything ever happen to Archive.org).
That was an absolutely amazing thing to happen! We were floored by the kindness and willingness to show support for what the Bioware fans and community were doing with their games! Not just Bioware staff – but the entire community!NOTE: Due to Bioware redesigning their site, the original link does not work, but like most other things I’ve referenced, can be seen on Archive.org.
We knew at this point, that we really had to sit down and write out the other episodes and plan things out – so we got together and brain stormed the rest of the season which we planned to be 21 episode.
Around Episode 10 or so, Adam built a home made studio within his garage and we purchased a pair of rather expensive SHURE mics, as well as an audio/digital converter that helped with the audio. Episode 10 is where we had really found our groove.
In August of 2005, Jay Watamaniuk interviewed Hugh Hancock who worked on Machinima.com, as well as his own company called Strange Company which was working on an epic sized NWN Machinima Movie entitled Bloodspell. We were quite surprised when Jay asked Hugh what he had thought of our machinima during the interview! We had both assumed they had interviewed us and forgotten us! Not so! That was quite flattering! And Hugh had some nice comments about us! As you might guess – NOTE: Due to Bioware changing their site, the original interview with Hugh can be found on Archive.org.
Surprisingly, Neverending Nights was also nominated for the 2005 Machinima Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image. Realizing this was a once in a life time chance, both Adam and myself flew ourselves to New York City to be there. We got to meet a number of our peers, and other Machinima folks, including the folks who make FRAPS, the folks who run Machinima.com, the folks of RedvsBlue, Purple Hearts/Silver Stars, and many, many more! It was such an incredible time and such a fun experience to be a part of! While NeN, in the end, did not win for Best New Comedy or anything – it was still something I will cherish forever! NOTE: I am beginning to feel really old, because here’s another one where the site is no longer up, but can be seen on Archive.org about the Machinima Festival.
In April of 2006, Maverick Shane, the Community Manager of the soon to be release Neverwinter Nights 2 , by the folks at Obsidian Entertainment got a hold of me and inquired if Adam and I would be interested in creating a NWN2 based machinima to promote the release of NWN2. To say that we were floored to be officially contacted by the folks of Obsidian Entertainment and Atari would have been a severe understatement. Naturally, we agreed in a heartbeat.
Shane informed me that some of the corporate big wigs and creative folks from ATARI would like to meet Adam and I in person – at E3. So under ATARI’s badge, Adam and I were invited to E3. With our badges, we gained “backstage” access to ATARI’s booth area – which had this incredible tropical theme, with free food, drinks, the works. Meeting the ATARI folks was quite an experience. We shared some ideas that we had wanted to do with the NWN2 Machinima, and they seemed pretty impressed by what we had to offer.
After some discussion, Adam and I went to the offices of Obsidian Entertainment to see NWN2 in development – by the programers themselves! They let Adam and I tinker around with the NWN2 toolset to see how it worked and showed us the amazing things that it could do that the original toolset in NWN1 could not. The landscapes were breath taking. You could resize any object to make it impossibly small to giant sized! The possibilities were rather endless! We were sent home with BETA copies of NWN2 to begin using and piecing together Machinima ideas. In October of 2006 the new series, Neverending Daze was released. ( NOTE: Yes, once again – another one that’s on Archive.org due to Bioware redesigning their site). It proved to be quite an experience working with the BETA copies of the game. While we would try to do certain things, or build things, we were naturally stumbling across bugs within the game. But it was incredible working directly with Obsidian because as soon as we found something – they were fixing it and sending us a new patched version of the BETA disc! To say Obsidian Entertainment was fun to work with during this whole process would not be doing them justice! There is a handful of them that I couldn’t even begin to thank enough! Neverending Daze , which featured brand new characters with a difference from Neverending Nights – NeN, each episode tied into the next to make an ongoing story. With NeD we wanted each episode to stand on it’s own – yet feature the same characters. We wanted to go more with a whole “Bugs Bunny” kind of thing – where characters could die one episode, and be alive and fine the next!
On March 16th, 2007 I made an official Neverending Nights Youtube Channel, and within two weeks we ranked as the 4th most subscribed comedy channel! On September 4th, 2007, Hugh Hancock informed me that we had a mention within the Machinima for Dummies book he had co-written. Also in 2007, we did an interview with the folks from The Movies On Air Radio Show . You can listen to Part 1 and Part 2. We also did a video version of those interviews.
On June 30th, 2008 I finished the final episode of the second season. 2008 proved to be a rough year for Neverending Nights. October 1st, 2008 the external hard drive that had all of NeN’s data – crashed. With a program I found from local San Diego folks, called BadCopy Pro I was able to recover some of the data (as well as some of my own personal data stored on that external drive). I decided, rather than carrying NeN to five seasons, as we originally planned, I’d make the 3rd season, the final one. In the meantime, Adam and I agreed to take a break – and during this time, he married his new wife, Amanda (Host) Freese. I had planned to at least begin Season 3 by June of 2009, since our last Episode of Season 2 was released June of 2008. But between distractions and life – that got delayed. Now, here I am writing the episodes out for the third and final season. I am hopeful that everyone enjoys the conclusion of Neverending Nights – an experience that will forever be one of the brightest moments in my life.
In October of 2009, I was interviewed by Neverwinter Connections which can be found here.NOTE: You probably know what I am about to say right? The site’s gone, but you can find it here on Archive.org. Roughly around the same time, both Travis Richards and I were interviewed on NWNPodCast Episode 117. (And yes, here it is on Archive.org). Their site is gone, but I have it available on our site. In November, Travis Richards was called back to interview with the folks of NWNPodCast for Episode 119 (and here’s that on Archive.org) to talk about the music he’s created, not only for Neverending Nights, but for the Neverwinter Nights Community. Their site is gone but I have the MP3 available on our site.
On March 5, 2010 – the first Episode of Season 3 was launched after nearly two years of a hiatus!
In March 2010 – I brought on the incredible talent of Lindsay Archer who has done some work for Margaret Weis Productions, including art for the Supernatural and Serenity RPG (as well as some Dragonlance, among others!) Keeping up with the special guest stars in Season 3, July 20, 2010 I saw none other than Al Lowe, the creator of the Leisure Suit Larry series, honored us with agreeing to do a voice. Al Lowe appears in Neverending Nights – Episode 55: All Time ‘Lowe.’ Having Al Lowe do a voice and be a part of Neverending Nights, highlights one of the greatest landmarks of the series – but it didn’t stop there! I also got Greg Johnson of Toejam & Earl fame to lend a voice for us! Another amazing highlight for Neverending Nights’ expanding history!
On Jan 17, 2013 – I finished the final Episode of Season 3 (Episode 65) and wrapped up the Neverending Nights storyline.
Beginning in February 2016, I decided I would revisit the series and re-film the entire series in 1080p HD, re-releasing each episode every Saturday; available as a download, Youtube, and Facebook. On March 15, 2021 – Episode 65 (in 1080p) was released, completing my remake of the entire series.
A year or two ago, I learned that the “Neverwinter Nights Podcast” had closed down – and their site vanished. I reached out to them and got their permission to host all the files if I had them – I had all but two, and yet again, the community came through and got me the last two files I’d needed to host them here on my site.
I feel very charmed and blessed because of all the things that came about because of Neverwinter Nights. It wasn’t just a game. It was an outlet for me to tell a story and bring so many others along with me – that, to my surprise got the attention of PC Gamer UK, then Bioware, then Atari – and blessed to have childhood icons like Al Lowe and Greg Johnson be a part of it – and the magic of including all of my friends at the time, to become voices for the show. This was so incredible.
It’s hard to believe – this all originally started in 2004, and it took until 2013 to finish 65 episodes. In 2015, I got it in my head that I would redo the series in 1080p (because when we originally started this in 2004, episodes were in 800×600 then 1024×786, and it was all over the map; a free video editor, horrible video quality) – the series has always been near and dear to me – so getting it done in proper 1080p was something I wanted to do. In 2021, six years later, I finally finished Episode 65 in 1080p. In total, I’ve spent over 15 years on this series. And I absolutely have zero regrets.
My most memorable moment probably occurred a couple of years after I discovered the Viking Northeast server, running a near-simulation of the Diablo game (minus the random dungeons of course as that was impossible in NWN at the time).
The module-maker (Christopher) had noticed that a particular armour design looked a little like a dress even when equipped by a male character and, as a joke, had made available a design which very much looked like a pink dress. He named it “Pansy Outfit.”
He had also included an “emote wand” which when activated could perform several functions including making the PC do a silly little dance lasting around 20-30 seconds, accompanied by drumbeats.
On this memorable occasion, around a dozen of us in the game (players and DMs in visible mode) all got together in one place, all wearing the Pansy Outfit, formed a line, and then all at the same time we activated the “Dance” function to make all of our PCs dance at the same time.
It was timed almost perfectly, with most of the PCs dancing in perfect synchronisation on my screen, and was utterly hilarious! Several people screen-shotted the dancing (as far as I know, nobody had access to video capture at the time) but unfortunately it appears that all of those screen-shots have been lost.
Try to imagine all kinds of races, including large and hefty-looking half-orcs (large phenotype) wearing what appears to be a pink dress, standing in a line and dancing together.
The server is still running, now under EE and although the module has been updated many times since then, the basics are the same. Sadly, it appears to not be played much if at all these days.
Tooting my own trumpet for a while, if you do ever play on the server, you can blame me for the areas resetting and all the monsters respawning just because you decided to go back to town and go afk to get a cup of coffee before going back in and trying again.
I wrote a multi-part script which effectively “resets” areas when they’ve been empty for a while. You have been warned!
Wow, thanks for listing all those links. Busy listening to some NWN podcasts. We did 2 for DLA/Wyvern Crown (eps 28 & 30) and I know Tony you did several - don’t know if you recall but we did ep.39 together!