The Frequent World Savers Club
- Platform: Neverwinter Nights Module
- Development Period: May - Aug 2005
- Final Status: Complete but Unreleased
- Josiah Lebowitz: Lead Designer, Producer, Writer, Lead Level & Event Designer, Voice Actor (Hero)
- David Coddington: Henchmen & Enemy Scripter & Designer, Sound Editor, Voice Actor (Bob, Pizza Guy, O.J.)
- Patrick Cissarz: Scripter, Script Trouble Shooter, Voice Actor (Mr. Incompetent)
- Chris Selogy: Level Designer, Voice Actor (Old Man Plot Device)
- Matt Vowles: Level Designer
- Matt Stoner: Music Composer, Sound & Voice Recorder
Samples & Documentation
Voice Acting Samples
The Frequent World Savers club was the second mod project I worked on at UAT. It's a Neverwinter Nights module for mid level characters where the player must guide a hero in his quest to save the world six times, thereby earning a free pizza. The most notable feature is nearly 30 minutes of voice acting which was recorded specifically for the module. It was a team project and, as such, the size and scope were far lager than that of my previous NWN mod. It was created over the course of four months for Ken Adams's Applied Game Theory class, in which it received an A.
The main project in my Applied Game Theory class was to create a mod using one of several game editors. Said mod had to meet a variety of criteria including size, number of levels, and amount of original content. I teamed up with my friends David Coddington and Patrick Cissarz to work on the project and we were soon joined by Chris Selogy, Matt Vowles, and Matt Stoner, who were looking for a team and had skills that the rest of us thought would be useful for the project.
We decided to use Neverwinter Nights for our mod, both due to my past experience with the editor and our desire to do an RPG project. Since I was the only writer in the group, I was tasked with coming up with a plot for the mod. I brought two potential stories before the group, one a serious mystery and the other a comic adventure. The comedy story proved very popular among the other team members and, since it was my idea, I was appointed lead designer. With input from the other team members, I quickly put together a full outline of the plot and game progression.
With that taken care of, we assigned roles to the remainder of the team. David and Patrick, the two programmers of the group, were assigned to various scripting tasks. David focused on creating custom creature AI to match the personalities of Bob the Henchman and many of the enemies. He designed the appearances for those characters as well and, since he finished his work ahead of schedule, he took over the job of editing and converting the large amount of custom sound files created for the project. Patrick was tasked with some of the trickier scripting jobs, including the Packing Crate and Sewer Grate items (our versions of NWN's Stone of Recall and Wishing Well). He also scripted the Bridge Keeper event and helped troubleshoot various problems with the more mundane scripts. Chris and Matt V. became level designers. Being rather inexperienced with both NWN and level design in general, Chris was assigned the simpler dungeon type areas such as Mr. Incompetent's Fortress and the HQ of the Witnessing Worshipers of the Almighty Cheese, on which he did an excellent job. Matt handled the village and sewer areas, which were also very well designed (although rather sparsely populated). Finally, Matt S. volunteered to compose original music for the mod and handle the recording of the voice acting.
Aside from writing all the dialogue and managing the design document, I took upon the task of combining everyone else's work into a single module. This involved minor and major editing to the various levels, adding additional NPCs and encounters when necessary, and handling the majority of the simpler scripting tasks.
Our initial design concept was rather ambitious for a single semester of work and had to be scaled back due to time constraints, delays, and the like. In the end, nearly all optional content was cut from the finished mod, though the core game remained intact. TFWSC is divided into six primary quests. To summarize the plot, the hero enters his favorite pizza joint only to find out that a significant price change has put his favorite meal way out of his budget. As a result, he signs up for The Frequent World Savers Club and heads off, accompanied by Bob the henchman, to save the world six times so he can earn a free pizza. Bob himself is a very uncooperative henchman, he refuses all attempts to change his behavior and equipment and runs from combat whenever he's targeted by an enemy.
The hero's six tasks are:
- Convincing himself not to take over the world. This one was entirely my idea.
- Defeating the local super villain, Mr. Incompetent. Also my idea, although various aspects, such as Mr. Incompetent's guards' behavior, were thought up by other group members.
- Framing a peaceful slime monster. My basic idea, though David added a lot of the personality to it.
- Attacking a country music concert. I hate country music, enough said. David, Matt V., and Chris contributed some good ideas for this one.
- Defeating The Witnessing Worshipers of the Almighty Cheese cult. Mostly my idea, although someone else suggested adding the bridge keeper section.
- Defeating Bob the henchman, who was really a super villain using the hero to get rid of the competition.
Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong at the end and the hero never does get his pizza. A more detailed plot summary is linked to above.
Despite a rather serious case of last minute crunch time, due to work that got turned in late and some serious problems with the NWN toolset, the mod was completed on time and everyone was very pleased with the end result. Unfortunately, it still had three major bugs which we were unable to remove, which is why it was never formally released.
What I Learned
One of the most important things I learned from The FWSC was to never use the NWN editor again if at all possible. Aside from the three aforementioned bugs that we were unable to remove, there were numerous other problems that came up during the design process, often for no real reason at all. There were scripts that stopped working until you deleted and remade the script file (even though the contents of said file were exactly the same) and once I had to rebuild the entire module just to fix a perfectly fine script that had randomly decided not to work anymore. By the time the module was finished, David, Patrick, and I had had more than enough of NWN.
Software problems aside, I learned that, in the future, I need to delegate more tasks to my other team members (compiling the entire mod and doing all the simple scripts myself was a bit much). I also decided that I need to be a bit more forceful when it comes to deadlines (though my power as leader of a class project was rather limited), as late work turned in by Matt V. and Matt S. contributed heavily to a serious last minute crunch time. That said, The FWSC was, for the most part, an enjoyable project to work on and it turned out very well. I only wish that we'd been able to fix those bugs so that we could have put a playable build online.