The unbelievable EDUCATIONAL potential of NWN - My project

Hi everyone,
This is a long post, I know, but I promise you that if you read it you won’t be disappointed. Even if you’re not interested in my project you will find out I’m an interesting person :slight_smile:

Before I do my pitch, let me tell you I started NWN since 2002; been around for the golden era and very happy to see it’s still going strong.
I’ve hosted a persistent world for a while in the past (2005 Last Gate - ) but having signed up to college I couldn’t keep it going and eventually had to shut it down. I’ve also dungeon-mastered in the most awesome server when NWN was just starting up (2002-2003) - “Exaria”. And later had a successful “career” as a player in Arelith. NWN is very personal to me, so much as that I’ve written a novel based on a NWN gameworld that I played (HAZE) and how the power of social interaction and role-playing there personally affected my life (it will be published most likely in a month or two - I promise to post links here).

Well, takes a deep breath
Back to my purpose for posting here,

For many years I’ve been trying to “repurpose” NWN as an educational language-learning tool. I never quite got it right. I always felt the idea of making it educational was unique and phenomenal, but I kept approaching it at wrong angles (I could show you the old projects promotional videos I still have on my youtube account that are currently kept private because they’re dated). Now, older and wiser, I’ve picked up on many of my mistakes; understood where I’ve gone wrong and I want to give it another go.

So without further ado, I’ll explain my short-term goal as best as I can (and what does it mean to learn a language via NWN):
My goal is to create a language-learning persistent world where people could play NWN while learning a language. Most likely the format will be language-exchange for Spanish and English. Players will also use a program like TeamSpeaker. It would be a friendly, un-intimidating environment where people would feel free to practice their foreign language. The gameworld itself should also be interesting to keep those first players interested enough to stay for those first few months to draw more players (ripple effect). So, there will be quests (given in dual text of Spanish and English with audio) and the settings would be fairy typical fantasy stuff with a dose of folklore from Spanish-speaking countries. The selling point of it is the interaction between players, not the settings.

The long term goal:
Provided it proves to be successful in NWN, the next step is to re-create the same type of gameworld in an engine where it could be commercialized. Doing it first on NWN would serve as a type of basis for the research and development, building the community and staff recruiting: which leads me to my next point and the main reason I’m writing the post to begin with: staff!

Right now what I’m looking for people who are interested in getting involved in the project, preferably people with skills that can help (programming, building and toolset know-how…knows Spanish? Likes language-learning?). At this stage the focus is on building the gameworld and launching it. So, feel free to email me at languagequesters (at)

It’s important to me to mention that only I will pay for hosting of the server and I won’t ask you for a dime.



Interesting idea.

I have once tinkered together some educational games for my 3 nieces when they where young, teaching them about colours, art and basic physics so I might come up with quest ideas (pero no espanol). Which age is the target audience?

Maybe take an existing pw from the Vault and use that? Then everything would be set except for language translation.

While I won’t be participating (I’m a dedicated single-player modules person) I do have a question. Is the aim -

  1. To teach Spanish to English speakers
  2. To teach English to Spanish speakers
  3. Or both.

The choice will have design consequences but I can’t think what they’ll be off the top of my head.

Anyway. Definitely an intriguing idea. I wish you well and good luck with this.


1 Like

Great to see replies right away, happy to have this thread starting to roll. Before I answer, let me say that I’ve already started working on the game module; will certainly post updates, beta-testing videos and whatever regardless if anyone decides to join the team at this stage.

It’s aimed at all age groups, really, but not for anyone under 13. You certainly don’t need to know Spanish to be a part of the team, it would just save the need for a translator.
If you become the part of the team I’ll send you the module I’ve been working on to add more life/quests and interactivity to it.

Well, interesting suggestion; yet I trust my own skills to make a good gameworld from scratch; get the architecture (meeting locations, basic hunting locations) and balance (slow advancement, death penalties) right. The most successful PW’s know how to do that to near perfection (The Arelith model I played back in 2010 and Exaria of 2002-2003). Let’s say that if I get the language thing right but the gameworld will be crappy, then I’ve failed. So that’s why I prefer building it from scratch; plus I could add some folklore related to the language with the design of the world.

Certainly a good question,
The answer is both. I’d like the gameworld to be self-sustaining. Language-exchange is a self-sustaining concept because people are feeding off each other’s knowledge and curiosity. The reason I went with Spanish-English is purely due to popularity, but if there will ever be a commercial version of the model the idea would be to expand it to other languages.

I also like to mention that I played in Puerta de Baldur to try and improve my Spanish; it’s one of the most popular Spanish-speaking PW’s currently out there. I may post my experiences there in a different topic. It would be an interesting read in of itself, I promise :slight_smile:

This is a lovely idea. Combining play-time with learning-something-useful-time is always good.

Integrating the bilinguality immersively might work out nicely and make for an interesting setting to boot. Phase-shifting or something, for instance; switching between versions of the same area, just in different languages.

You’ve probably seen language learning sites like Duolingo and Babbel already.

Combining language-learning methods like those with immediate opportunity to apply what one has learned should drastically improve retention rates. I always kind of thought that was the biggest problem with those sites; very quick way to ingrain phrases, but no direct routing of users into regular artificial-prompt-free use of what one has learned.

You’ll want to see this thing, if you haven’t read it already:

Thanks @TheBarbarian for the kind words, and the link might come in handy :slight_smile:

After thinking about it, I’m not sure how keen am I on recruiting at this point since I would like to establish the basics of the world and perhaps even launch it before someone joins the staff; that way the person who joins the team might originally have been a player while having already experienced my vision. Nevertheless, if you want to help me in some way you certainly can: because after getting back to the toolset I realized the thing that’s gonna delay me most is the programming part. So, if I won’t be able to find the solutions in NWN Lexicon or whatever, I’ll be posting in the scripting forum my issues. In fact, I already have an issue that I posted.

I actually have decent scripting-savvy having played around a bunch in C# Unity, but a new language always comes with its own challenges and kinks.

Best Regards,

I understand you want to set up things first before you get others aboard.

So I simply give you my ideas now.

I would install a series of simple shopping quests where an NPC tasks the player to get a number of items from the respective vendor. There should be 2 different NPC with 2 different conversation files who task the player to get the foreign language named items. There should also be two different vendors who have conversations for the 2 languages but both have the same inventory with every item names AND tagged in both languages. So if players are shopping for bread, cheese, ham, lettuce and eggs they have to make sure they bring back the foreign language items to finish the quest. That way the players have a visualization from the 2 ham icons that one is named “ham” while the other is named “jamón”. Of course that would require a lot of custom content but at least the images only had to be 2D.

The second similar quest line is about “tagging” things. p.e. an NPC tasks the players to enter the barn and make an inventory of the tools, meaning they have to click the pitchfork, shovel, axe, saw and rake and report back to finish the quest. Here also all items would be presented in both languages so the players have to make sure they click the foreign language items. This is of a little more work to pull off, since it would need some 3D models once you run out of fantasy/medieval staples. CEP and ProjectQ however offer both lots of additional furniture, tools and trade stuff.

What’s behind that method is, that learning by visualization works well and is more entertaining than NPCs teaching words in conversations.

If you had a completely different approach in mind and this is not what you need, no problem - and in in case you like it, feel free to contact me later on.

Yes-- That’s more or less the type of quests. There are so many ways to approach it and I plan to have and explore all those type of styles in the game (this is quite the R&D effort so having different approaches is great and they’re not gonna contradict):

  1. NPC’s who speak either Spanish or English with bilingual text always showing up
  2. NPC’s who speak a mix of Spanish and English (i.e. would quite often throw in Spanish words or English words)
  3. Quests that requires you to know/learn the words in order to get complete it (as you suggested)
  4. Placeables that can be clicked to show translation, maybe even audio (i.e. barrel, tree, etc)

etc etc…

Certainly visualization would be key so a hackpack might be necessary to expand those capabilities.

I’d love for you to create what you wrote or something similar! You can even do a quest in a module you create (preferably without hakpacks at this point) and I’d import it to the main module I’m working on for starters.

I’m learning as I go along the scope of work and effort this would require and NWscript learning curve is indeed quite steep. Certainly doing it alone wouldn’t be as effective, so I’d gladly accept any help you’re willing to offer.

It’s more important to me to be in control of the general architecture/geography of the world so that was my worry when I said that I prefer to keep it just for myself for now. Programming is, and always has been, the biggest challenge to overcome. In the PW that I ran in 2005 I had someone writing the scripts for me (Not just anyone, she was the main scripter of Exaria which was the most popular PW at the time of NWN’s launch. I lost her email address though) so I never learned to properly do it by myself. I did get quite far with programming in Unity but there’s more support to Unity as opposed to this dated (but amazing) engine.

I will try to come up with a vanilla NWN .erf template for both a shopping and a tag quest. It could take some time though :sweat_smile:

Of course! Rome wasn’t built in a day.