Community Interview: TomRotfl (PW Server Admin, A Dawn of Heroes PW)

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    Orion

    I had the great privilege to interview TomRotfl, one of the two server administrators for A Dawn of Heroes Persistent World (Prod is the other server administrator).

    A Dawn of Heroes is a Nordock based server and one of the most popular action based PW servers that go to level 40. It has a vibrant and active community, with players, DMs and Server Admins. There is a very active ADOH Discord with over 1000 members, and a Trello discussion board as well to plan future improvements and changes. It was very highly rated amongst Reddit users.

    Question:

    Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! Firstly can you tell me what got you interested in NWN in the first place? Were you a fan of RPG games in general, or did you have a pen and paper dungeons and dragons background, or was it something else?

    TomRotfl:

    I started playing pen and paper d&d, version 3.5, at the age of 14. I was reluctant at the beginning because I grew up with videogames, and it didn’t make much sense for me to play something with “voice, pen and paper” only, while I could have played in front of a screen in real time.

    Not to say, I was completely wrong. I instantly fell in love with d&d, and so I’m still playing on a weekly basis with my friends.

    That same year during summer, a friend of mine introduced me to Neverwinter Nights (HoTU was about to be released). I stopped playing everything else, it was the perfect translation of d&d pen and paper on a digital game, and I have never stopped playing the game since then.

    A special server event at ADOH PW – a maze!

    The community satisfaction and happiness are essential when working for free on something that requires so much of your time. The love I feel for this game is what keeps me going and seeing a big community such as ADOH happy and satisfied, is everything I need.

    Question:

    You’re currently a server administrator for A Dawn of Heroes Persistent World. Can you tell me how you got involved with A Dawn of Heroes Persistent World? Did you start the server? Or were you a player in the past, who eventually graduated into this role?

    TomRotfl:

    I didn’t start the server myself. It was initially run by a couple of Australian friends who loved Nordock and wanted to bring their favourite Nordock version (Richterm’s Retreat) to the new NWN Enhanced Edition. I played for almost a year as a player, but the Nordock module was still the same it was in 2003, and so in the long run I felt it was in need of someone to heavily rework the entire world, add new features, systems and mechanics to keep people interested on it.

    I am now an administrator with one of the 2 Australian guys who started this project (Prod).

    Question:

    Dawn of Heroes is one of most popular action PW servers which goes to level 40. Is it hard work maintaining such a busy server? Do you get help from others? Did you have to buy specific hardware, fast internet connections, etc etc? Do you worry at times the server might drop if you are away from home, for example?

    TomRotfl:

    I started my developing experience with A Dawn of Heroes itself, I had no engineering/coding experience or development studies in my background, and so it took me more than a year to properly understand how to work on the toolset and understand “nwscript”.

    It was a great challenge, which taught me a lot, and which is still teaching new things each day.

    The module is hosted on one of the most famous server host available. It has indeed a very performant CPU and fast internet connection, and it based on Linux Server operative system.

    Prod is helping me a lot with this since hosting on Linux requires some specific knowledge, which I didn’t have initially. I only used to work with Microsoft operative systems in my work career in IT.

    The server is meant to run and come back by itself in case of server crash, so my presence usually is only required for weekly maintenance and to push server updates. I can access the server console from anywhere in the world (any PC, smartphone will do).

    Christmas time at A Dawn of Heroes PW!

    Question:

    I also see there is an extensive website as well. Is there a team of people also helping with the website, or is that all managed by the server administrators as well?

    TomRotfl:

    I made the whole website and most of the changes to the original module by myself. I got a lot of help from the community who created guides and maps to attach to the website. During this year I started to look for volunteers willing to help me with the development, since projects size got bigger and bigger, and so it became too much for one person only.

    It took me a while to come to this decision, I was worried to not be able to manage other people’s work, but I am glad I took it. I now have a team of competent and nice persons helping me, and I am very happy of this.

    Question:

    I can see you there are a huge number of custom features on the server. This includes an autofill bag system, a banking system, death and resurrection, easy character deletion, custom loot systems, socketable items, custom crafting. How do you decide on what gets implemented into the server, and what doesn’t?

    TomRotfl:

    At the beginning, I was adding or adjusting features on the module based on my personal ideas. It all started as a “I am going to develop something to improve my playing experience”, but in the long run, it ended up being “I am not going to stop until I will be completely satisfied”. I use a board on Trello to show the community all projects we are currently working on or discussing, and I select what to do based on community feedbacks and what needs an urgent look.

    Question:

    Finally, were there any final messages you had for the community?

    TomRotfl:

    A special thanks goes to my team of Quest Master, Developers and volunteers from the community who helped with writing the guides on our website:

    • Prod, QM Ricadro, QM Rick – Guardian, QM Kuda, QM The Flying Rodent, QM Caylin, QM Yagger, DM Hugh, Alice, Rickz, Scrootch, Rhonnie, Brock

    I want to thank all who have always supported me, my ideas, my person, and my role of developer. I also want to specifically thank whose who didn’t, since I also needed to see the opposite side of it, to realize I was going off route sometimes.

    The community satisfaction and happiness are essential when working for free on something that requires so much of your time. The love I feel for this game is what keeps me going and seeing a big community such as ADOH happy and satisfied, is everything I need.

    2021 will be a very good year for NWN:EE and specifically, for A Dawn of Heroes. There is still a lot to do to, and I can’t wait to see it happen!

    Images were supplied to me from TomRotfl, or obtained from the ADOH website, with slight editing with GIMP

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