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Player's Guide to Persistent Worlds

Intended Audience: For Players     [Printer Friendly Version]
by Major Bill Marcellino, USMC,
Project Administrator for A Land Far Away (ALFA)

1. What is a Persistent World (PW)?

Persistency means things happen in the world whether you (or any player) are there or not, and that the people, items and actions within the world persist. When you start up a game of Donkey Kong, the world springs into being afresh, and when you turn it off, Donkey Kong and world goes away. When you start the game again, it is as if nothing you did before ever happened. If you had somehow killed Donkey Kong, he would be alive again. If you had made friends with Donkey Kong, he wouldn't remember. If your screen icon had learned the wiles of Donkey Kong, and if your character become an agile and formidable opponent that would all be lost when you restarted; your screen guy would be back to square one.

In a persistent world, if you kill a merchant in The Thousand Eye Trading Coster for example, he stays dead (other than an ingame reason to bring him back). If you make yourself an enemy of the Purple Dragon soldiers of Cormyr, when you log back on the next day, they remember you and still hate you. Lastly, if your character, your virtual you, gains items and abilities, they persist from game session to game session. You persist as a character.

Compare it to the real world; when you go to sleep things still go on in the world if you are there or not.

A giant fort located between the Hullack Forest and the Vast Swamp

The Murdered Manticore, a cheap bar in the Calantar Gate District of Arabel

2. When you say 'world' what does that mean- a large area or group of areas?

For small PWs it is many areas all on one server, for larger PWs it means lots of areas spread across multiple servers.

3. Can I affect the world I am playing in?

It depends on the PW, but yes. The current NWN Toolset has some limitations on persistency (saved games cannot be edited). The NWN community has come up with some workarounds, so it is possible that you can permanently alter the landscape of a world. For example, you might negotiate the purchase of land in a PW, and then the construction of a keep. If the DM has the technical ability and will, they can swap out a new area with your keep in it for the old area pre keep. Voil�, you have changed the world.

Of course, a good DM can alter the world with no technical ability at all, by altering the storyline to reflect the player's actions.

4. Is NWN like EverQuest (EQ) and Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC)?

It can be used in a similar fashion, but on a much more intimate scale. NWN might be the first iteration of an IMORPG, an Intimate Multiplayer Online RPG.

Most PWs now focus on roleplaying rather than character power enhancement. EQ and DAoC are very good at that, while the increased flexibility and intimacy of NWN plays to the strengths of those interested in character development rather than character ability enhancement (leveling and loot).

5. Where can I find a list of PWs that are accepting players?

Start the game in Multiplayer, and select the Join Internet Game option, and look in PW Story/PW Action rooms for any blue (non password) server. Also go to NW Vault to their game database to see PWs listed.

You can also use BioWare�s Guilds and Registry Server Search to look for PWs.

6. Where do I get my character? Do you create it, or do I? Can I use an existing character I have?

Almost all PWs require you to make a new character on their vault using their rules.

7. Where is my character stored when I am finished playing for the day? Do I get to save my games?

Almost all PWs use a server vault they control. The world is not saved, as it is persistent, but your character is saved for the next game session each time you log off.

8. Are there quests?

Yes, but the number and quality vary from server to server. The best ones are run live, by a DM.

9. Is there some sort of DM or is everything already scripting into the world?

It varies from world to world. Some are heavily automated, some have no scripted quests; many have a mix.

10. Do you have any tips on how to get the best experience out of playing in a PW?

  • Don't use shout. It is bad manners in most PWs.
  • Look around and explore first. Try to talk to every NPC to get hints.
  • Don't use out of character banter. If people want to talk about the Patriots, they will tune into SportsCenter. Pick out a character, stay in that character in speech and action, and develop that character.
  • Be social. Meet people, in game and in character, and they will show you the ropes.

11. What are some special considerations (problems, things to look out for etc.) for playing in a persistent world?

NWN does not support Persistent World projects very well, so there have been a number of kludges and work arounds. Pretty much every PW is essentially a beta right now. Some of those beta's have a lot of content and DM involvement, and are a lot of fun to play, while others are still heavily testing. Be ready to test, put up with crashes, changes and downtime. Also be prepared to deal with other players, not all of whom will be to your taste to play with.



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