Not to be a spoil sport or anything, but the deeper I think about all this (after reading all the stuff that Zubon linked to, too, which was all awesome and smart and everything), the more I've got to question whether devoting all this time and energy into tools and automating processes and routines will actually pay out in the end compared to just brute forcing everything with crappy low level tools as far as content goes.
And even if you automate a lot of stuff you usually have to go back and make exceptions or redo the way it works later on.
It all sorta reminds me of the learning skills in EVE, y'know?
Although a game with a lot of "randomly generated from-a-list-of-good-choices-only content" would benefit from this kind of thing more than something like EQ where everything about every single monster in every dungeon (pathing, loot, safespots to rest in, etc.) and everything about the dungeon itself was hand-crafted (that's what I'd call "brute forcing" it).
The guys that are brute forcing it are generating content gains while everybody else is still back at the starting line building better tools, and sure the brute force guys won't be moving as quickly if they're forced to NEVER automate any processes (just because you are being a stickler with me haha) but they still might win the race.
And their junk is gonna be exactly the way they want it, every ten feet in those dungeons is a new nightmare heh.
And its a more likely scenario that they'll ask for a few tool enchancements when they really think of something that would help 'em move along quicker.
Instead of putting an emphasis on tools, just sorta make a couple as you go along when you see something you really need.
Meanwhile the tool guys are probably stuck spending time making some "oh I need it to be able to do this too" stuff that no content guy is ever really gonna use in the end, too.
People always leap right to the place where "oh man I wish this toolset coulda done this, that would be exciting and new, everybody's already seen all the other tired-ass junk we could do" heh.
"DUDE TURNS OUT I NEED HORSES AND WAGONS FOR THIS NWN THING I WANT TO DO!" ahaha.
Its all a bit of a gamble really, 'cause you don't really know what kind of results you are going to get in the end as one guy on a team full of cooks, you could build the best gaming system in the universe and people might just hate the art or something and that'll kill the lifespan of your game.
"I'm not playing nothing with cat people in it."
Or mebbe you'd be like Sony and be able to make 10 different games with 10 different genres all at once, and make this whole tool thing pay off in a huge way or something.
And I think the composition of the guys doing it could be rearranged in lots of different ways, too, besides the way that Sony (or whoever we're basing all this process stuff off of) does it.
Plus, what are these tools going to be used for?
Making the totally kickass quake-style maps like they have in WoW and EQ?
Those guys already got killer tools for that, that's a Survival of the Fittest game that is way the hell tougher than the stuff that MMOs have been put through so far.
So mebbe its for making kill-ten-rats and fed-ex-type quests, or monsters that do some kinda cool new trick or something, where the npcs move around, that "puppetry" stuff, right?
Tools for making traps and stuff like there was in NWN?
Is that really such a big deal as far as tools and content goes?
I know I don't sit there as a player and think "man, I wish they had some more of these quests where I follow some npc dude around!" much, if at all.
Y'know, not that that stuff ain't cool sometimes, like the way they had us follow that Joe Pesci guy around in Mafia so that you'd get to like him right before he got whacked, its just not the be-all and end-all of the whole thing, y'know?
And mebbe folks wanna be able to automate monster spawns and pathing or something, but so far, whenever I've seen anybody do THAT, it really sucks, its like the game is missing an important dimension entirely heh.
Y'know, there isn't infinite possibilities, there's only a few things that I can even think of that this tool stuff even applies to, and they don't by any means make up the most important parts of a game, and the contributions of automated systems haven't been that great anyways.
Well, not so far.
And when everybody has to build things from bricks at the lowest level, dot by mind-numbing dot, they can't mangle things up like Zub was talking about either heh.
I know Dundee is totally into this stuff so I must be missing something about it.
Well, he's also totally into that randomly-generated-content thingie and organic systems, so that kinda explains it to me, I guess, but as far as looking at the junk that's really out there, I don't see anybody who is into that like him.
You've played with the tools for NWN right?
Or made mods for other stuff sorta like that?
The tools for all that stuff was fine, man, don't you think?
Or are we talking about some new kinda randomly generated content thingie?
Or is this some kinda thing about enabling a guy who doesn't understand anything about computers to make "good content" for a computer game?
Where all the responsibility for the "good content" is actually put squarely on the shoulders of the guys making the tools and the ten million pounds of lego-brick-art so that this "vision" guy can rearrange 'em all in different ways and make fascinating dialogue boxes that nobody reads and fed-ex and kill-twenty-rats quests out of 'em heh.
Its okay if you want to call me a stupid bastard or whatever y'know I really just don't see the schooner we're all supposed to be looking at here ahaha.