Choose My Adventure: Neverwinter wonderland
When I think about what separates a good Neverwinter Foundry mission from a great Foundry mission, I have to say that it's the ambiance. Ambiance ranges from sounds to lighting to special effects. I could create the best mission ever, write the best story, but if I don't create the best ambiance for the quest, my design could fall flat. What are some of the best ways to create ambiance? Which ones should I put into this Choose My Adventure?

In my limited time in the Neverwinter Foundry, I have barely been able to scratch the surface of everything that the design tool has to offer. Of course, decorations such as a dining table in a dining room add to the atmosphere of the setting, but so does the sun shining through the window or the NPCs clapping in the next room. Today, I need your assistance in choosing the different types of ambiance for different parts of our adventure.

Decorations
I think the foremost objects that determine the ambiance of the setting are the decorations. In each map, Neverwinter allows for 1500 pieces of detail, beyond Actors, NPCs, and rooms. These details can range from a rug on the floor to a lighting fixture. The details can also be fog or twinkles of lights, but we'll get into those in a bit. For now, I would like to talk about just the objects in the room, like furniture or light fixtures.

I am interested in your help on a couple different items. We have two different maps in our Foundry quest. The first map is Reed's house. I want to establish that Reed is a person who almost always gets what he wants. His house, which is likely his family's house and not his personally, should be lavish. However, I really only have one room to work with. What is the best way to project his lifestyle through decorations? What type of room should that be? Of course, vote in the polls, but then let me know in the comments of any additional items that might help establish this ambiance.
How should I decorate Reed\'s house?
Dining hall30 (24.4%)
Library and study81 (65.9%)
Mostly empty with extravagant lighting12 (9.8%)

The other map, Reed's dream world, has a different issue. It's a cave, but we need to establish that it's not a cave but rather some sort of otherworldly dimension. Of course, some of this atmosphere can be established by the lighting and special effects, but perhaps we should consider decorations, too. I've come up with a couple of general ideas about how to establish this ambiance. Let me know which you like the best.
How should I decorate the dream world?
Floating furniture from Reed’s house67 (54.0%)
Ghost NPCs38 (30.6%)
Nothing. Let the lighting and effects handle it19 (15.3%)

Lighting
In the Book of the Dead Foundry quest, we saw how lighting and the lack of lighting added to the mood of the quest. I don't know whether you felt the same way, but when I walked into that cabin without any lighting at all, I felt cold and a little bit lonely. The creator of the quest wanted to establish that there was nowhere for the player to turn for help, so the player was going to have to do everything himself.

Unfortunately, for our quest, there is not a lot that I can do with Reed's house. The bright sunlight coming in the windows is stuck there. I added a firelight in a couple of darker areas of the house, but for the most part, there is not a lot I can do to change the ambient lighting there.

The dream cave is a different story. There are a few pieces of established lighting, the bright spawn area for one and the sporadic brazier fires for another. However, I believe we can change the rest of the lighting, even the colors of the rooms. So assuming I can adjust the ambient lighting to dim, I have a couple of items for you to vote on. Should we reduce the light in the dream, allowing only items like fires and candles light the way, or should we light it with a funky color like purple or black and white (desaturate)? Secondly, should the lighting be natural or weirdly colored?
Which kind of lighting should the dream world have?
Only fire light44 (37.0%)
Ambient light75 (63.0%)

Should the lighting be natural or unnatural?
Natural light27 (23.3%)
Weird lighting89 (76.7%)

Effects
If you watched my stream last week, you saw that I've set up some special effects already to help tell the story of the quest. For instance, the first beast to appear from Reed's dream pop out from a glowing yellow portal that you the player jump into to enter his dream. But effects like fog and twinkles can establish the mood of the setting.

To establish our dream setting, we can go a number of different directions. Initially, I thought fog would be the best way to do that, but then I got to thinking about other ways to imply that it is a dream. Dreams don't have to make sense, right? What if it started raining while you're clearly inside a cave? Or we could set up random moving lights all over the place that appear to be completely unnatural. Let me know which you think we should do.
Which effects should establish the dream world?
Fog33 (27.5%)
Rain41 (34.2%)
Twinkling lights46 (38.3%)

Sounds
I have played too many Foundry missions where sound was thrown in as an afterthought or not at all. Of course, certain maps and especially encounters have their own sounds, but many times, that isn't enough to tell the story or set the mood. A well-placed scream during a conversation can make a player jump or at very least let him know that there is trouble, even if he can't see where it's coming from.

I'd like to address the ambient sound of the dream world. It's certainly a cave, but that doesn't mean that we have to give it cave sounds. We can make it sound like a bustling inn or a panicked crowd. I had considered a couple of ideas about the ambient sounds of the dream world. Let me know which one you think is best.
Which ambient sound establish the dream world?
Crowded building (still in Reed’s house)18 (15.3%)
A panicked crowd21 (17.8%)
Spooky ambience like ghosts47 (39.8%)
An empty cave with things dripping32 (27.1%)

All polls close on Friday so that I can dig into the mission this weekend. Be sure to hit up my livestream on Saturday!

Choose My Adventure - The Larry EditionLarry Everett loves MMOs, but sometimes when he gets stuck in one particular MMO, he loses sight of everything else he's missing. Direct his game time in Choose My Adventure on Wednesdays and on The Stream Team.

This article was originally published on Massively.