The aim was to have players explore an Elizabethan environment, interact with characters from the Bard’s plays, or just go to a tavern and wager a few farthings on card games like One-and-Thirty. Meanwhile, Castronova would further his research by studying players’ behavior. Hey nonny nonny!
Unfortunately, the PW didn’t end up being as entertaining for players as the designers hoped:
“We put Arden in front of Shakespeare experts and they loved it. We put it in front of play testers and they yawned. We’d get feedback like, ‘I talked to that Falstaff guy for a while and got a quest to go repair something. I logged out and never came back.’ Too much reading, not enough fighting. Arden II will be more of a hack-and-slash Dungeons and Dragons type of game.”
The PW eventually shut down, but you can still download the module to play yourself. They also encourage people to improve Arden on their own; unfortunately, unlike the game client, the NWN Aurora Toolset was never released natively for Linux (here’s instructions for running it with Wine though). It’s not stated if Arden II will utilize NWN1 or NWN2, which doesn’t support Linux at all.
I was going to use this as an opportunity to rant a bit about D&D Insider, an application that will allow Dungeon Masters to run sessions online, being a Windows-only product, but Wizards of the Coast did release the D20 system under the Open Gaming License a few years back. I guess one thing I’d like to see is BioWare and Wizards agreeing to open source NWN1, even if it’s a few years from now.
What existing open multiplayer RPG projects do you enjoy or look forward to?