I think Legolas’ take on NWN’s appeal is quite off. Yes, if you attempt to try to shoehorn a strict PnP campaign into NWN, it will probably suck, largely because the infrastructure doesn’t support all the crazy segues and backstory DMs love to overdevelop. And that also assumes that everyone WANTS that aspect of PnP.
What NWN does allow for is great multiplay of IT’S OWN BREED. It may not replicate the PnP experience, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun on its own terms, which is fast-paced cooperative AD&D 3E hack-and-slash with a bit of story and context thrown in for atmosphere.
I don’t expect some fruity Gygaxian multiplane-spanning campaign full of politics and romance and elven intrigue or whatever. They can save that shit for Baldur’s Gate 3 so the people who apparently found BG3’s interparty dynamic so incredibly compelling that life without it is a shallow mockery of living can get their rocks off. And yes, the people that attempt to replicate the entire Lord of the Rings across a set of NWN modules will probably have a pretty unfun Internet multiplayer experience on their hands, no matter how badly they wish otherwise.
What I do expect is Tomb of Horrors or some other hackfest module type design that features good old-fashioned killing and looting and levelling and bragging. Y’know, like Diablo 2, but with a whole host of new environments and monsters and loot coming from the fertile minds of the people who appreciate hack-and-slash to the degree I do. Just because LoTR would suck as a NWN internet multiplay module doesn’t mean that say, the Helm’s Deep bit will as well.
And just because Baldur’s Gate had a party and RTS elements doesn’t mean that every single AD&D RPG that comes from Bioware should have likewise, fer chrissakes. There’s quite a few great RPGs out there that don’t have parties and sexxxy dark elves hitting on your non-fatty avatar, contrary to what the melodramatic reactions of a few around here might indicate. Personally, I like having a single character, since it allows me to really focus on them and chew up landscape minus constant bandboxing.
LAN play also works quite well, since you can do a good chunk of the things you’d do in a PnP session while the DM is masturbating behind his little screen, such as BS with your buddies. You can also communicate without the need to type, which allows for more frivolous conversation and less terse commands, which builds the social dynamic in which the real appeal of PnP lies. Y’know, a bunch of geeks just hangin’ out, talking about what might be the geekiest thing conceivable: their lives in a world where they aren’t geeks, plus stat management exercises.
NWN is a great, great hack-and-loot AD&D experience, which adequately replicates a lot of what I liked about the classic dungeon crawl modules, only in streamlined form. When you start trying to script a fucking fantasy novel, yes, it WILL get lame, just as Counterstrike might get lame if someone tried to cram a whole Tom Clancy novel into a mod. NWN is an incredibly fun way to hack monsters, collect loot, and get a bit of the good old AD&D atmosphere going on over the wire, along with pretty graphics and a questionable camera.
It is not a substitute for PnP, and I think Legolas’ ideas that EVERYONE is going to try to replicate the PnP in their modules is incredibly silly. Survival of the fittest: the mods that don’t work well under the game’s core design logic, such as a port of any story-intensive, NPC-driven module, will fail. People will stop making them. What will work are quality hack-and-slash episodes, and I imagine they’ll find a lot of clever ways to work around the limitations of the engine. Not every mod designer wants to the next Gary Gygax or Douglas Niles or R.A. Salvatore - some of them (like me) just want to make a good mod that’ll give a group of gamers a good two to five hour campaign with some fun twists and surprises (that don’t necessarily involve overwrought dialogue trees) and work their party tactics a bit.
Legolas assumes that everyone bought this game expecting to play through a Dragonlance novel at some point with their pals, which does the audience quite a disservice; not to say that a few swallowed the hype, and there’s also quite a few of us having a great deal of fun with the game on its own terms.