The SWLOR Design Philosophies

As described by Zunath

This document will elaborate on the core values of the design philosophy of the SWLOR server, and contains comments and explanations of values regarding crafting systems, character builds, item and skill balance, and community involvement in development of the server. All of this is from quotes and explanations from the server owner Zunath, and any disagreements with these ideals or guiding principles should be discussed with him.

The broader core values of SWLOR are:
Freedom of choice. This means providing the tools to players to make their own fun. If they don’t have something they need, then we’ll build it and give it to them. This means that tools and features built into the game will typically revolve in some way around giving players the ability to make their own things inside the game itself – for example base customization and the modular character building mechanics that already exist in the server.
Keeping authentic to the setting and lore of Star Wars in roughly the same time period as the KOTOR game. This takes a back-seat to the first core value if the two are ever in conflict.
The overarching goal of many things in SWLOR is to allow the players to do everything they want and play an authentic Star Wars experience, and in many ways engage in an expansive simulation of this world, without ever interacting with a DM or core team member. Interaction with these people will still happen for things such as events and DM plots and storylines, but other than story-driven things that DM’s partake in or engineer, everything will be done in-game with players interacting either with the game world and mechanics, or with each other. Authenticity to the setting and lore is also important but takes a back-seat to the first value if the two come into conflict.

Regarding Crafting
From Zunath directly:
“Crafting should be the foremost way to get the best gear. Ideally there’d be a push and pull between the crafters and the hunters. The hunters need gear from the crafters and the crafters need the materials from the hunters. In an ideal world, we would offer other options to acquire gear such as via quests, random item drops, and so on. But these items wouldn’t be as powerful as what you could craft.”
Essentially, the design value for the server regarding crafting is that crafting is the way to attain the best of the best gear, and therefore characters more focused in other skills will need the services of crafting-oriented characters to attain the best gear. Bar-none, the best items are meant to come from crafting and using materials that you can gain in the game-world without any interaction from a DM or team member or from fighting anything (except possibly fighting the creatures that inhabit the area that the material spawns in).

Regarding Character Builds
From Zunath:
“Keeping in line with maximum player freedom, the characters should be able to change over time as they make decisions for their character. Nothing should ever be permanent - there may decisions players make which send them down one path, but given enough time and creativity (or straight up grinding, I guess lol) they should be able to go in another direction. The baseline I generally use is a “pure” character having one or two (200) weapon skills, one armor skill (100), and maybe one crafting skill (50). The rest being distributed however they see fit. In practice, we see people doing a little bit of everything which I have no problem with. Ultimately though, the players who specialize should always have an advantage over those who do not.”
In other words, this server differs from traditional D&D in that character builds are not binding, are fluid, and are subject to change. Grinding is a primary feature of character building, mechanically, and is how you gain or lose proficiency in anything. Any character who specializes in a given skill more than someone else, will perform better than the lesser-focused character. When taken in conjunction with the remarks on crafting, one can see that a crafting-focused character will likely be richer than a non-crafting character due to having better and more varied and desirable services to sell out to other characters.

Regarding Balance
From Zunath:
“I’ll have to be a little bit vague on it because getting into specifics - especially in a bible - is just asking for trouble lol. But the guiding philosophy is that no one build should beat all others. Force, non-force, sabers, blasters, etc should each fill a specific role and that role should also have weaknesses which can be beat by another role. I hesitate to use the rock-paper-scissors analogy because I think that simplifies things down too much. But something along those lines - I have this ability, but you can counter it by using another type of ability.
As far as gear goes, I think top end stuff should provide you a significant advantage. If you’ve dedicated a bunch of time to getting it, you should be rewarded to the point where it’s a noticeable upgrade. Now, having said that, even if you’ve got the best gear I still think a group of 3 lesser geared players should be able to take you down.”
Generally speaking, better gear and higher levels ensures 1v1 victory. However, a build that is tailored to take down your specific build may beat you even if you have a bit of a gear advantage, and even if you have excellent gear, facing three players with relatively average gear for their level, equivalently leveled to the excellently-geared player, should pose a threat and be able to win the battle against the single character.
Balance regarding abilities and gear should keep these things in mind, generally speaking.

Regarding Player Involvement in Development
From Zunath, again:
“I think there should be a formalized vetting process but I won’t go into detail about what that looks like in the bible. Contributions can and will be changed to fit the server or outright rejected in rare cases.

The most useful skills are programming skills in my mind. Typically if you can do that, you can do anything else in NWN. But other very useful skills are area design, content creations, NPC dialogues, etc. A lot of people say they’re writers but in my experience it is more helpful if people can implement their ideas, rather than just give us ideas to implement, from a development standpoint.

Discord is the main way to get in contact with the core team, followed by the forums.

I would like to re-iterate however, that as far as development and player involvement in that arena goes, we need implementers—if you have ideas but can’t implement things, be aware that you may be limited in your ability to contribute. We are willing to help you learn the basics of development however, whether you’re interested in coding, area design and building, writing and implementing dialogue, and more.

Constructive criticism is helpful but if all you’ve got is complaints without any real solutions that’s generally not helpful for us. If you dislike something, think about how it could be better first, to open up a good dialogue.

I’m only leery about people touching the code. It’s a bit of a beast so I don’t want someone just jumping in and hacking away at things. We use the regular github pull request process so all changes need to go through there for review and approval. Most everything else I’m okay with people contributing but make sure to ask questions when you get stuck on something.”
The big thing here is that before going forward to ask about development, it’s incredibly useful (almost mandatory) to have some skill in some area of development, no matter what that area is. If you don’t have skill in coding (C# for this particular server), designing and building areas, writing full NPC dialogue, or some other area of development, feel free to ask the team where to begin, and they will more than likely be willing to help you learn the basics and get you on your feet, so you can start contributing to the server and building cool things!