Gray Isles, a NWN2 persistent world

Posted: May 22, 2012 in PC Gaming
Tags: , ,

Oi lubber, watch that mud. Wouldn’t wanna git them fancy boots dirty eh? What brings ye out ta Ol’ Misty anyway? Ye some kinda treasure hunter, or fool adventurer? Well, if yer here to throw yer life away fer a bit o’ gold, there’s somat ye oughta know.  This here town, Freeport, this is the only place where yer almost safe. If’n ye stay upwind of The Salty Tap that is. Ol’ Cap’n Smythe’s place ain’t healthy fer most folks. Ye should find ye some work with the companies. Ye got them snooty sods from Waterdeep, Tallstaff and Jameson. Down the road from them ye can sign on with the Luskan firm, but if’n I were to go lookin fer coin, I’d sign on with that group from Amn. That Isabelle can give me orders any day.
If yer thinkin’ to leave Freeport, on some wild goose chase, ye better stock up on bandages and maybe hire someone to cart yer hind end back to town. Out there, the Island’s full o’ things that just wanna eat ya. If’n the wildlife don’ getcha, the orcs will, or them black skinned elves. Ya, we got drow here, but listen here lubber, ye better get some sense if ye go lookin’ fer them. Some of them drow are protected by then woodsy elves. Calls them moon prancers or some such. If ye go after one of them, ye might as well have a good ol’ pine box waitn’ cause them woodsy elves’ll fill yer arse full of arrows.
That’s all just in the woods. If’n ye are thinkin’ of headin’ toward the mountain, ye’ll hafta get through the orcs. They hold the ol’ fort north of here, and got themselves lots of caves and such up on the cliffs. Course, inside the mountain is the dwarves. They’ll deal with ye, but ye better not try and cheat them. They don’t take kindly to that kinda foolishness. It’s yer life lubber, if ye wanna die on this island I’m sure ye’ll get a right fine burial in the sea. Me? I’m headed over to Smythe’s place for a pint and the fights. I hear their gonna throw a pair of gobbos in the cage with a bear. My coin’s on the bear.

These words greet newcomers to the Island of Aldmyst, also known as The Gray Isles, a NWN2 persistant world a group of us decided to start nearly a year ago.  Getting close to the year mark is what spurred this little plug/review, but also I think our server is getting to a point in its life where we are ready for more players to bring their unique and fantastic stories to life.  Whether you are new to Neverwinter Nights 2, or a veteran looking to get back into the game, this server could be a good fit for you.

Back when we started this project, some of us were desperately looking for a server that offered a good mix of roleplay, story, and dedication to the game we all love.  Sadly we could not find a good fit.  They were either set in worlds we weren’t interested in, action servers masquerading as roleplay servers, or just plain awful places to play.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many good servers out there, that cater to specific types of players, they just weren’t a good fit for us.  After talking about it for some time, joking about it, and finally saying ‘what if’, we decided to buckle down and see if we could actually get this thing off the ground.

I guess first, I should give a little basic information to those who aren’t familiar with some of the terms above.  If you aren’t a NWN2 player, or even a Dungeons and Dragons player you might look at this post and wonder what the heck I’m talking about.  Well, first off Neverwinter Nights 2 is a computer RPG based in the world of Forgotten Realms, a Dungeons and Dragons setting (like a backdrop world for a game.)  A persistant world is an online server where players can go, roleplay, and act out the stories of their characters along with other players.  It’s sort of like getting together to play Dungeons and Dragons with your friends, but instead of going to someone’s house and sitting around a table, you log onto your computer and see the world, and the actions, right there on your screen.

We believe, what makes us different, as a persistant world, is our philosophy, and our dedication to meeting it.  We started with a team of 6 founders, head admins to take on the key roles in server development and make the decisions for the server that would effect everything.  This is the first thing that makes us different.  Most servers have one or two admins, and sometimes that can lead to a number of issues related to favortism, or biased decisions.  We wanted a team of admins that could keep each other in check, make sure that decisions that effect the server and players aren’t based on any bias, and we also believe it has helped us develop a much more vibrant and in-depth environment for our players.  Our core staff is now down to 4 for one reason or another, but the premise is the same.

Another thing that makes us different is our adherance to the heart of the game we love and the lore that goes along with it.  Myself, being an avid reader, writer, and history buff, I have always been drawn to the lore that goes along with any DnD world.  Forgotten Realms has some of the most extensive lore of any of the worlds, and because of that it leads to contradictions, questions, misconceptions, and the like.  What many servers are lacking, and what we believe leads to a lot of issues, is a dedicated loremaster.  Someone to filter the lore through, to organize it, and to make final decisions on what is accurate and what is not.  It helps to keep down arguments between players and staff, and generally offers that broad and detailed lore so that players can create even more elaborate and detailed stories.

We have also dedicated ourselves to the spirit of the game this world is based on.  Our first measuring stick is “Is it PnP (pen and paper)?”  Basically, does the tabletop game do it, or is it made up as part of NWN2.  In every case, if we can make something closer to the tabletop game, we will.  There are limitations, but we’ve done a lot of edits, and customization to bring NWN2 on our server more in line with DnD.  Some servers have tried this, but many times I’ve seen it fail in very obvious ways, when they deviate from the dedication to the game in order to achieve a false sense of balance.  It’s sadly, a myth, that a lot of non-tabletop players have.  Staff on many servers have never even played DnD, but come from computer game backgrounds, where things are balanced.  Dungeons and Dragons is not a balanced game, and trying to force it to be balanced only leads to problems.  We have accepted that the game is not balanced, and instead of spending our time trying to fix that, we have decided our time is better spent making the game fun, and making RP easier and more rewarding.

Those are some of the things that make us different, but what makes Aldmyst different?  What sets it apart from all the other Forgotten Realms servers out there?  When we first got together we talked about a custom world with our own story and lore.  Only drawback to that is it’s harder to get people excited about something they have never heard of.  Custom servers struggle to gain and keep players when they start out, and it’s easier on the writing staff if they don’t have to create 100% of the world out of whole cloth.  We also wanted the server to feel real.  By design a NWN2 server must be limited in size, as far as areas.  Instead of building our world and ringing it with ‘end of the world’ maps, we wanted to make it a frontier setting on an island.  Give a logical limit that represents the real life limit of the server.  As we talked about this we decided, why not both?  So, we came up with Aldmyst.  An island, in the Forgotten Realms, that isn’t actually part of any published lore.  We can present the players with custom content and story that is original, that they haven’t seen anywhere else, against a backdrop of a diverse world that everyone is familiar with.

So, that’s my little review of the server project we have going on over at Gray Isles.  If you are a role player without a table, or someone looking for an RP experience that is more involved, interactive and in depth than some MMOs, come check us out.  If I’m not mistaken you can get NWN2 pretty cheap on Steam.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Staff are insular and arrogant. Quite happy to DM among themselves and leave the players out to dry. Server is already facing dwindling numbers so I would not bother.

    • xamotdb says:

      I approved this comment (all comments have to be moderated the first time) so I could comment on it, and show that we have nothing to hide. As anyone that has played on any persistant world server knows, you will always get disgruntled players. It’s an unfortunate fact of what we do. You simply can’t please everyone. Because this player is anonymous, it’s hard to take them too seriously, but as I’m sure most of our players will say, they are dead wrong. The staff gets very few events from DMs, and it’s very much our goal to include as many people as possible in any event. Our numbers are growing, and I can attest to that confidently since I have access to the server statistics. Our regular players are growing, our forum registration is consistantly increasing, and the amount of time that players are on the server is growing. Stop by and see for yourselves.

    • ceruleanchristian says:

      Your face is insular.

  2. xamotdb says:

    I had to approve that post, thanks for the laugh Cerulean, and for the view. I did, however, have to wonder if ol’ Regingoth (that’s the original commenter) knows what insular even means. Maybe the thinks we are uninterested in other cultures…though on a server that hosts stories for a multitude of cultures not sure how it can be that. Maybe he means we aren’t connected to other people…then again, our forums are quite active, we answer questions, I responded to his post here, and I’ve spoken to others involved in the problems this player seems to have.

    I can say for sure, as the server’s player relations person, Regingoth hasn’t once brought his concerns to me. He’s chosen to talk only among his friends, none of which can help him in the matter he’s having a problem with. I guess that, in fact, makes him insular. Oh well, it’s all fun and games until someone trolls a person blog of a staff member 😉

    • xamotdb says:

      Correction: Regingoth did bring his concerns to me once, and we talked it out and he agreed to drop the matter…as you can see that didn’t happen. Just wanted to correct my mistake there, not a fan of inaccurate info.

  3. chromia says:

    I enjoy the server. I enjoy the staff, and the events have been great and engaging.
    The staff has always been there for me, ready to discuss any concerns I had. I’m not sure why they would call you insular. You’re very easy to talk to and very open. |Cheers.

  4. Discopanda says:

    We’ve both talked to you one-on-one, Magus. I’m not sure how Regingoth’s conversation went, but for me it involved you trying to start an argument with me for 20 minutes, followed by you rage-quitting. We have all tried to be diplomatic and polite throughout the whole affair, though you described it as “guilt-trips” and god knows what else behind your ivory walls.

    As for you sir, I’m not sure you know what “PR” means. You took something minor and single-handedly escalated it to the point where (so far) three players left your server. The fact that you are still an admin at Grey Isles proves that the staff is terrible at self-policing, at least.


    • xamotdb says:

      Went ahead and approved this because I want to ask, disco, do you really want to air this dirty laundry? You’ve called me out on my own space. Here, I am admin, I am writer, I am owner and doorkeeper. Here I don’t have to worry about what I say and what I reveal because here I’m not a player relations staff member, and here you’re not a player. You’re a guest in MY house here.

      So, you can decide if you want to go into this, where I will reveal for all to see, exactly what happened and why you and Regingoth found yourself on the wrong end of this issue, or you can drop it, as was advised more than once. Your call.

      • Discopanda says:

        Unfortunately I don’t have any threats to levy against you, so I’ll just drop it.

  5. deserk says:

    In terms of GI’s mechanics, I highly appreciate how RPers are rewarded over grinders. You can get quite a bit of XP through RPing, and it’s more difficult to get XP through killing hostile NPCs (you usually get big batches through slaying sub-bosses and bosses). I hope this model is something other PWs will be inspired by if they want to appeal to RPers rather than grinders.

    There’s also quite a low leveling curve, meaning being even lvl 7 feels big, and personally I find that very cool.

    Because of the nature of how XP is distributed, the result is that most people who want to RP stay and people who want to just hack n slash don’t, I really like this as it means we get a community of quite some talented RPers who just give whole new dimensions to RP. 🙂

    Also I really like the area designs of the server’s many regions, it looks really fantastic for being in NWN2. I believe most are made by Vekin, and I’ve greatly appreciated his work on another PW, so it’s great to see him on a place where he’s made a lot more awesome stuff.

    It’s also great the guys here manage to regularly update once or twice between each week. Two awaited features I’m dying to see would be the XP craft system (allows you to change the appearance of your armor & weapons, piece by piece in-game) and the Lolthite drow settlement for the evil drowsies. :p

    I highly recommend this server to anyone who enjoys RPing.

  6. xamotdb says:

    I just have to say, thank you everyone who took the time to read and post here. Yesterday was the busiest day my blog has seen, in hits and in comments in one day. The more comments a post has the greater chance of someone stumbling on it in a search engine. I am just very appreciative of everyone, and hope to see more. Oh, and the positive feedback, the players that log in every single day and stay for hours, and those that can’t stay that long but come back, finding a little block of time in their busy lives for us, that is why we do it. Everyone will tell you running a server is hard, starting one from nothing and running it is even harder, but those players make it all worth it. Ask any server admin, unless they have forgotten what it was like to be a staff member on a server, when you have so many great players that really care about the game and the server, it makes all the struggle worthwhile. Thanks again all.

  7. BreakNova says:

    There are some good servers out there and there are some very terrible ones. Gray Isles for near-year I have been Head DM on it has brought me a great deal of pride and joy in being part of the community both as a player and as a DM.

    Though it is still in development and there are some wrinkles we need to iron out, the server stands as a testament to the accomplishment of a small group of us that gathered together to start it in the fall of 2011. With the server’s first year just around the corner, I amazed by how far we’ve come and am very excited to see how much more the server grows both in development and in the RP that the outstanding playerbase brings to it.

    When we started the server, we never sought to be the biggest server out there. If we did, we’d make an action server with an RP theme. Gray Isles is a pure RP server designed to allow the players to leave their mark as the island grows and evolves through the chapters of story that are written every day.

    We are not paid for what we do. We aren’t compensated in any way other than the satisfaction we get at the end of the day that we have made a true RP server that all of us can log on to and enjoy.

    The areas are beautifully, the best I have ever seen on a PW. The RP is fantastic. The lore is engaging and leaves room for my DMs to expand and create an exciting world. Our coming features will separate us further from other servers, making Gray Isles unique in many ways. I can’t wait to see what our server looks like in the following year and how much we’ve grown.

  8. Iamanonymous says:

    This server has its ups and downs, but that is the same as any other server honestly. I will start with the downs. Take these as you wish.

    – That little outburst of “My house” you just had above is the best approach. If you want people to come to “your house” you do not be a jerk, and whether you like it or not, your player numbers ARE dwindling in part because of it. I am sorry, but that is the truth of it. What you just said is “I am god, bow to me,” and players do not respond to that well. You can believe me or not, but this is how many see it in the end, and it is what keeps many more away.
    – Another problem with this server is the sheer size. Not of the players numbers, but of the actual number of areas. When you get friends to Rp with, that is all fine and dandy, but when you have no one around, you are out of luck. Even with the addition recently to give small bits of experience per monster kill leaves little value to truly stay on the server if no one is around you. Yes grinding is obviously discouraged, but that is not really my point to this topic. Rpers are either often too far spread apart, or everyone is around a single campfire, leaving a person logging on or joining to wonder “where is everyone?” Sure, they could send a tell, ask where people are, but that is metagaming is it not?
    – Whether it was intended or not there is a few “clique” problems. I have seen far, far worse on other servers, but that doesn’t mean I have not seen it forming here either. I would like like to say that it has not affected my time on here, but it has.

    ALL of these have or are contributing to player numbers dwindling.

    I do not want you to think everything is bad. You are doing some things right. I will name things I like here.

    -Areas I like them, simply put. Yes I said before it’s too big of a server and I stand by that but the maps are well-made. I particularly have found the forests, the beach and Freeport itself to be quite attractive and have that really got across the setting.
    -A few growing cliques aside and a couple of bad apples here and there, the truth is Rp has always been fun on here when you can find it. The characters are generally interesting and it combines a Forgotten Realm feeling with an original setting. Added to that, the players themselves tend to RP their group quite well, and even though they may be jerks in-game, you usually can tell that outside the game they are decent folk.
    – The organizations that are on the island are particularly well done. The three organizations of Freeport in particular all have interesting lore, and the town itself definitely has a seaport feel to it. More than that, the few interactions with other factions like the elves and drow were also rewarding in their own way. To that note, the lore on drow is a far welcome change to this player, who has done countless servers and games on drow that lacked the intrigue. The players here have had that intrigue.

    There is the good and the bad. It is my hope you may listen to this. I do not like to be mean though, but your post above about “my house” leaves little hope in this.

    • xamotdb says:

      I think you may misunderstand. The reference to “My house” is this blog. It is not affiliated in any way with the Gray Isles server. It is my own personal blog, in which I chose to do a review of one of my projects that I work on with a team of others. Someone chose to take something that happened there, and bring it here. Effectively coming to my house and spitting in my face.

      As for numbers, based on server stats, registrations, and time played, our numbers are steadily growing. It’s not boasting, it’s simple fact based on all the tools we have to measure that.

      Appreciate the post though, and the read.

      • Iamanonymous says:

        Your words are respectful this message. I am thankful of this. I do not want you to think I see only bad in this game either. As I said in my message, there is much to like as well. I hope that the bad can change and the good can come out more is better.

  9. xamotdb says:

    No worries at all Iam, honestly we don’t mind constructive criticism. We won’t always agree over on the server, but it doesn’t upset us. Your post isn’t about all negative stuff, and sure, we are aware that not everyone is going to like every aspect of the server. It’s impossible to make something that so many people will love 100% of.

    Basically what we have is a party, where we are inviting everyone to come have fun, for free. Just bring yourself. We supply the drinks, that hopefully people don’t find too bad. Food that hopefully everyone will find palatable, music and entertainment that hopefully most people like. We don’t mind if someone leaves, or even says “Hey, this just isn’t my kind of party”. That’s all good. It’s the ones that start throwing food, and yelling, and throwing a fit cause we didn’t buy the right brand of chips that they like. Then, every once in awhile someone leaves that party and knocks on my door and wants to carry the fit on here. That’s where I draw the line. On the server, I’m professional, it’s my job. I take it just as seriously as my real one. Here though, this is Frags and Beer, here I’m only nice if the person I’m talking to is nice. Almost everyone has been nice, and when they are I’m nice right back, that’s just how I am.

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