Neverwinter: unintended consequences

While I was away my partner has been busy creating foundry missions in Neverwinter. He’s noticed a rather strange quirk related to certain player behaviour and the restrictions on the daily foundry quest. Like other daily quests, the daily foundry rewards you with bonuses for completing a set number of qualifying foundry missions. In order to discourage creators from making exploitative “single room full of monster” quests (as happened with EQ2’s dungeon maker system), a mission only qualifies for the daily rewards if it lasts at least 15 minutes.

Now he’s noticed that over time the average playtime for his missions will decrease, it’s pretty hard for foundry writers to control this, you can add more content to the mission if it’s too short but the Neverwinter server decides what the average time is based on all the playthroughs to date. So if a mission dips below 15 minutes suddenly it doesn’t qualify for the daily foundry and will be ignored by a lot of players. He has speculated that min-maxers are zerging his missions every day to get the daily done as quickly as possible, once they know the mission well their playtime will become faster and faster thus pushing the average downwards.

It’s a bit of a flaw in the system. There’s also the wider issue related to player-made content, designing an acceptable reward system and what the motivation should be for playing such content. In Neverwinter it seems most players are only doing them for daily rewards, your mission can have the best story ever but it’s likely to get lost in the crowd if its average playtime isn’t as close to 15 minutes as possible *without* falling below that magical timelimit.

The foundry system offers some great content as an alternative leveling path for anyone bored with the official campaign. You can also actually get some nice supplies as random treasure, e.g. identify scrolls or potions, as drops. It’s well worth ignoring the length of missions and just going for something you like the sound of once in a while…

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