The Measure of a Man
- Platform: Neverwinter Nights Module
- Development Period: July 2008
- Final Status: Released
- Josiah Lebowitz: Designer, Writer
Samples & Documentation
The Measure of a Man is a short Neverwinter Nights module for characters of any level. There is no combat or puzzles, as it was created as a showcase of interactive writing to be used as part of a Bioware job application. It's a very serious mod, and deals with the appreciation of life and the acceptance of death.
Although I'd sworn off using the Neverwinter Nights toolset after completing my previous NWN mod, I needed a module for part of my application for a writing position at Bioware in the summer of 2008. And, as it had to meet very specific requirements, none of my previous work was appropriate. Bioware required a short mod with a very heavy focus on interactive text done in a style similar to the dialogue in their games.
While writing had always been my strongest skill, I'd never tried to write dialogue with as many possible responses and branching paths as you can find in Bioware games so it made for an interesting exercise. After coming up with a concept, I spent about two weeks working on the script in MS Word in my spare time. Once the script was finished, it took another week to turn it into an actual mod. Since there was little scripting involved, outside of NPC conversations, the mod creation process went smoothly and there were no major problems.
The Measure of a Man opens with an angelic figure informing the hero that he has died and must converse with six spirits, each representing a different aspect of life and/or death, before he can pass on. The six spirits can be approached in any order. Their conversations feature many branching paths and, depending on the responses chosen, they may or may not bestow the hero with a relic when the conversation ends. Once he has finished speaking to all the spirits, the hero is allowed to pass into the next chamber where he is told his eternal fate. There are three unique endings, determined by the number of relics the hero received from the spirits.
What I Learned
In terms of game play design, The Measure of a Man was an extremely simple project. However, I gained valuable experience with the type of highly interactive writing used in Bioware RPGs. As most of my previous writing had focused on a more traditional linear style with few branching paths, this made for a very different and interesting experience. And, though I still prefer more traditional styles of writing and storytelling, creating this mod made me far more comfortable writing heavily branching dialogue.