Tall Tales From Neverwinter’s Taverns

By Jim Rossignol on November 30th, 2011 at 8:30 am.


It might just be me, but the tone of this first Neverwinter MMO trailer seems like it’s about to break into being a send-up at any moment. I was sat waiting for the punchline that never comes. Anyway, it’s basically illustrating that the game’s dungeons will be heavy on the story elements, which seems to make sense, given the Dungeons & Dragonsness of it all. Also appropriate: a dragon. The game – which was recently reworked as a free-to-play MMO – will appear next year.

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70 Comments »

  1. Valvarexart says:

    Holding my judgement until I get to play it. Dungeons and Dragons is always tempting, as long as they don’t ruin the roleplaying aspect or start selling power.

    • atticus says:

      D&D has lost its soul as far as my impression goes. Maybe its just me getting older, but the fond memories of tabletop gaming in 2nd edition in the Forgotten Realms, playing Baldurs Gate and reading up on the history of Silverymoon is just that – fond memories.

      What I would like to see is someone taking the Elder Scrolls-approach to D&D and Forgotten Realms, having an open world type game set in that world. The locations, lore, characters are all well established and documented. I think I’m not the only one who would like to walk through the gates of Waterdeep, meet Khelben Blackstaff and Elminster, battle orcs in Icewind Dale, and fight my way through the dungeons of Zenthil Keep.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Why must it always be games set in the Forgotten Realms anyway. Plenty of other good settings. Dark Sun, Planescape, Ravenloft.. to name a few.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Wouldn’t mind an Eberron MMO… oh wait

    • Josh W says:

      It’s funny, many people who started playing before you would feel that that kind of setting tourism also ruined D&D’s soul, by making it about what you descover, what you’re a part of, rather than what you decide to do and how you inventively struggle through challenges.

      Personally I think both the big setting 90s approach and the crazy dungeons/desperate plans approaches are good ones. Not sure which is better suited to the computer game format though.

    • Wulf says:

      Funny thing is that there is a sandbox D&D game out there, and one that’s designed for multiplayer, too: Storm of Zehir. It’s an expansion for Neverwinter NIghts 2. Though really, I always found it boring in comparison to the heartbreaking, beautiful tale of the time I spent in Rashemen. I feel that with a proper storyteller, D&D works better like that, so long as there are plenty of choices as to how you can approach the storyline, which would give you a different storyline each time.

      New Vegas is probably Obsidian reaching the height of their style, but Mask of the Betrayer was the one that left far, far more of a memorable and emotional mark upon me. It was a tale of hope, ultimately. And they had the balls to do things there that no other RPG developer had done before, or has done since.

      I love Cryptic though, but for entirely different reasons. I expect this to be an entirely merry, funny, and silly endeavour, but with a dark, dark undertone that just makes you shudder when you run across it. It’s a different sort of thing entirely from Obsidian. Though I have to admit, I would dearly love to see Obsidian make another D&D game. Just one more time.

    • Kent says:

      I honestly don’t find D&D all that impressive in computer games. It were designed to be a PnP game and that’s what it does best. Anyone can make a story but what point is it when there is never any third act?

      An MMO is very much like that. It has a generic first act and then an eternal second act and it never reaches a conclusion with a suitable end or satisfying results. The idea of D&D as a MMO is laughable since D&D all about the third act.

    • InternetBatman says:

      “Why must it always be games set in the Forgotten Realms anyway. Plenty of other good settings. Dark Sun, Planescape, Ravenloft.. to name a few.”

      Absolutely. I’d take it further though. Why do they constantly stick to the same region in the forgotten realms? Neverwinter isn’t even that interesting. I’d like to see Calimsham or Thay. Neverwinter Nights got better the further it was from Neverwinter.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      The few you named don’t exist anymore. At least not to WoTC. Yeah, sure, they’ll publish revisions of Strahd’s Revenge for Halloween, but they aren’t releasing any more source material for those old worlds. They are, effectively, gone and forgotten.

  2. President Weasel says:

    You had me until Cryptic. Now it’s in the “shun” column – although at least if it’s a free MMO you’ll expect it to be a bit shoddy and show every sign of being developed on the cheap, and you’ll expect them to be clawing all the cash they can with microtransactions. Yes, I am still grumpy about their pay-to-play superhero MMO. I bear grudges; it’s a character flaw but that’s the way I am.

  3. Lobotomist says:

    We seriously dont need another “action” D&D , instanced MMO. Especially not from Cryptic.

    And exactly how will this compete with DDO ? Which is quite excellent if you can forgive them for making D&D an action game ?

    BTW

    There is still hope for fans of D&D

    Turns out that WOTC could not untangle themselves from Atari license for D&D. So they did next best thing. They gave license for Pathfinder MMO (which is true 3.5 edition D&D)

    https://goblinworks.com/

    Which promises to be blend between sandbox and themepark…

    Still early in development though :(

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Er… isn’t Pathfinder more of a sort of 3.75b?

    • Lobotomist says:

      Its just 3.5+

      Whatever. Its D20. Thats enough

    • sneetch says:

      Pathfinder doesn’t belong to WOTC, it’s Paizo’s.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Ha! That’s fantastic. Hope it actually gets done, unlike various MMOs that get announced and nothing happens.

      Pathfinder is a good license. Not my favorite, but certainly among the best D&D derivatives.

      Pathfinder Online’s robust trading system puts players in control of the world’s economy with player-created items, consumables, fortifications, and settlements. Character-controlled settlements can grow into full-fledged kingdoms that compete for resources as they seek to become the dominant force in the land, raising vast armies to hold their territory against the depredations of monstrous creatures, NPC factions, and other player characters.

      Yes please.

    • DK says:

      There is absolutely no reason to make a 3.5 game anymore, when the greatest advantage of 4.0 is that it’s actually balanced for combat and it would translate into PC form (in turn based mode) ludicrously easily.

    • Arglebargle says:

      DandD mechanics were always murky and haphazard. The very sloppy rules lead to a generation of game designers, as everyone had to fill in the huge gaping holes in the rulesets. The greater the adherence to the official rules, in computer games, the less interested I get.

    • DK says:

      “The greater the adherence to the official rules, in computer games, the less interested I get.”
      That’s your loss – while full rules adhenrence in turn based was problematic in 3.5 (Temple of Elemental Evil), sticking to the most important rules, such as no-health regen, non infinite spells and extremely high enemy lethality led to the best DnD computer game: DnD Online.

      Infact a lot of 4th Editions combat upgrades were predicted and pre-implemented by the DDO devs.

    • Ravenholme says:

      Reply fail

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “The very sloppy rules lead to a generation of game designers, as everyone had to fill in the huge gaping holes in the rulesets. The greater the adherence to the official rules, in computer games, the less interested I get.”

      That’s because AD&D1-D&D3.5 were designed to handle the peculiarities of tabletop play, while integrating some of the neater ideas from the computer games. (OD&D predated the computer versions, obviously, but then when people started making their own computer based variants such as Ultima and Wizardry, Gygax borrowed some of the best ideas to integrate into later versions of D&D. (They were very open about this. Go back and read late 70s/early 80s Dragon Magazine issues.)) The best computer versions of D&D, including the turn based ones, always had major rule changes compared to the version of the tabletop game they were based on.

      Conversely, D&D4 was designed as a ruleset that would work very well in video game format with minimal alteration. Many people felt the tabletop game lost a lot in the change from 3.x to 4, but from a computer RPG player’s standpoint I loved it.

  4. TsunamiWombat says:

    It’s ironic innit? The original NWN, smashing game. Basically a Build Your Own MMO, play the damn thing to this day. Only trick Bioware missed was monetizing it.

    Then they passed on the sequel to work on Mass Effect. Was a sore spot with me for quite some time, especially after Obsidian botched it to holy hell and built that lumbering turgid monstrosity that completly missed the point of what made the original NWN the cult hit it was.

    Something about this makes methinks your business overlords have as well, but it’s not your fault your lashed to the mast of this boggered piece of ratshit. You can only make the game your told too after all, and Perfect World isn’t known for it’s originality. At least they’re dependible and wealthy, though.

    I’ll watch with the meagre interest of a man watching another man be ripped apart by a pack of wild dogs.

    • merc-ai says:

      Except NWN was a toolset with initial campaign that was boring as hell, while NWN2 was an actual game with solid story, characters and all that. But please, keep on bashing NWN2 for being a good game, and not something you wanted it to me.

    • Faceless says:

      @merc-ai

      Neverwinter Nights 2 had a better story, yes. Mask of the Betrayer quite possibly had better story and pacing than Hordes of the Underdark, even. But ‘an actual game’? That’s a laughable statement. Obsidian either botched or downright removed many elements.

      Multiplayer was nearly unplayable at launch, and only now is more or less functional. Multiplayer, by the way, was one of two things that helped NWN thrive for almost a decade. It still has more players than 2. The other thing was the toolset, which 2 did better. Well, the building, anyway – it was far more limiting with custom content.

      From the perfect radial menu to the ability to write your own things in the journal, Obsidian removed some genius features. That’s not counting that they somehow managed to butcher PnP D&D even more so than BioWare, which is an achievement. When fans begged them to include Archmage and/or Hierophant, a community manager said those are too difficult implement, and they’d rather have a lot of easier to do PrCs than a small number of hard ones.

      NWN2 is not unequivocally inferior, but there’s a reason why I still have NWN1 installed, and why that is still played by more people than 2.

    • Bhazor says:

      Nope.

      In all ways that matter as a single player game NWN 2 was far better than NWN 1. Even some Bioware fanboys try their best to forget about that dull one character slog.

      In terms of multiplayer? NWN2 was a better tool kit though wonky net code means NWN was probably better.

      Also Mask of the Betrayer is one of the best written RPGs of all time. Of all time!

    • MrMud says:

      Yes, you conveniently miss the point that Mask of the Betrayer is one of the best RPGs in recent times.

    • ScottTFrazer says:

      At the risk of being THAT guy… the original Neverwinter Nights was an actual MMO based on the old SSI gold box engine and run on AOL.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neverwinter_Nights_(AOL_game)

      It’s kind of funny that the license has found its way back to the MMO space after passing briefly through a phase of being a game that everyone tried to turn into an MMO on their own.

    • Tuco says:

      Guys, guys, don’t figt! Let me settle this… They were both horrible games.

    • Wulf says:

      Ignorance and arrogance are the order of the day. Obsidian went in a different direction and did something more unique with better writing, imagine that. Sure, the toolset was more difficult to use, but then so is the GECK for Fallout 3, you move with the times. Things do get more complicated.

      I think you’re missing the point of the passing of time, Tsunami.

      And the game wasn’t buggy at all, that’s a common myth, and if you can present me with actual evidence to the contrary then I’ll listen. But I started playing the NWN2 campaign on the day it was released, and same for Mask of the Betrayer, and I didn’t encounter one issue throughout the entirety of my play time. And I was impressed by the vast amount of choice that the games offered.

      Even whom you had in your party at the time dictated which content you’d see, or how you could handle dialogue trees, there were numerous ways in which you could succeed, fail, or be entirely neutral toward any given task. The only thing about it was that it was an unusual tale for D&D. That’s it. In fact, both NWN2 and MotB were highly unusual for D&D, but that’s because Obsidian has a large stable of writers.

      To me, NWN2 hate comes across as “I’m butthurt because their campaigns were more interesting than any I ever ran in my entire time as a DM, and I’m horribly jealous of their writing talent.”, and this is what I hear every time when someone screeches about NWN2, especially when they make vacuous, vague, and unsubstantiated claims about the game, that anyone whose actually played it would know to be false.

      Really, this comes down to writer’s pride, I think. Yes, they can write D&D in a way that isn’t generic, get over it. NWN, the original, was a horribly generic and typical affair, as Bioware themselves have said. They didn’t really care about the campaign, they just wanted to make the toolset. Well, Obsidian took the opposite approach, they actually made a game that told a damn good story. And all I’m getting is that you feel threatened by that, for whatever silly reason.

      And all I’m getting from the replies is that:

      A) The people who’re agreeing with me are seeing exactly what I’m seeing, which is multiplayer DMs being threatened by the storytelling capabilities of Obsidian, and thus trying to undermine them because they want to be superior to Obsidian in some way. (Lame.)

      B) The multiplayer was buggy on launch, so that these DMs couldn’t unleash their poorly considered and horribly written campaigns on the unwitting masses.

      Nevermind that NWN2 was actually an incredibly great game, or anything.

      So yeah, if I see bull, I’m going to call it. I don’t lack balls in that regard, and this is nothing more than self-interested bull perpetrated by haters (who’re gonna hate) who feel threatened by Obsidian. And they’re putting NWN1 up on a pedestal above it simply because NWN1 was so generic that it wouldn’t be hard to write a unique story in comparison to it.

    • Wizardry says:

      Why are you people comparing Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2? They are just D&D games. Temple of Elemental Evil shits on both those games from an RPG perspective.

      @ScottTFrazer: I was going to point that out.

    • vecordae says:

      @Wulf

      http://nwn2.wikia.com/wiki/Bugs

      I’m pretty sure that the game had some bugs. Enough so that the wiki lists them in 7 categories. Many were, eventually, resolved, but that was over the course of several expansions and quite a few patches. They handled the majority of them pretty well, but that doesn’t mean they never existed.

      I’m not entirely sure why prefering NWN1 for its far more robust toolset, multiplayer capabilities, and the slew of mods that that allowed for means that one is “butthurt” over NWN2′s more involved plot.

      Don’t misunderstand, I really enjoyed Neverwinter Nights 2, but I honestly spent more time with NWN1. The interface was easier to work with, Hordes of the Underdark was a lot of fun to play, Mssr. Gagne’s mods were fun to play and the Arelith persistant world server ate up a huge chunk of my time. In retrospect, I’d wager that I derived more enjoyment from the first game.

      @Wizardry

      I’m pretty sure video games don’t have digestive tracts.

    • dreadguacamole says:

      Wulf, though I’m in the NWN2 was a lot better than 1 camp, I really really really take exception to your reply. Way to go for ad-hominem, unsubstantiated attacks and building straw men.
      I’ve never multiplayered NWN, but I have acquaintances who still do – and they play NWN1, not 2. They agree with me that 2 is better written than 1, but the game they like is untied to the campaign that came bundled with Bioware’s (or Obsidian’s) offering.
      Let me put it this way: when I play or run tabletop RPGs, I know sure as hell my plots and characters aren’t up to, say, China Mieville or McMaster Bujold. And you know what? I don’t care. My enjoyment comes from a completely different place. If I compare, say, D&D 3.5 to 4, I’m probably not going to base my opinions on the modules or settings published for them.
      For shame, man.

      At least we can agree that Obsidian are awesome.

    • Nim says:

      I am going to respond to the accusations that NWN2 was buggy at launch. Yes it was. Very. Why?

      Well you may not be aware of it but NWN2′s Electron engine is a enhanced NWN Aurora engine. I used to visit the NWN2 forums back in the days and came across a post by an Obsidian developer saying that they were given the source code of the aurora engine somewhere around the patch 1.10 – 1.20 era. NWN was a buggy game. I don’t know which one was buggier NWN or NWN2 at launch but I do know that NWN received a substantial amount of patches with final version being 1.69, it’s not 69 separate patches but it’s quite a substantial amount of them and all issues did not even end up fixed. Obsidian did not receive any of these updates and do you honestly think a user is going to discern whether an issue in-game stems from Bioware’s or Obsidian’s coding, no he’s just going to attribute it to Obsidian. Obsidian ended up having to fix their own bugs and bugs by another company while simultaneously taking the fall for both.

      Of course this information is often conveniently forgotten by biased people.
      So Tsunami, were you aware of this? How do you feel about this? Because you got to admit, NWN2′s story was decent enough. People tend to say it’s very clichéd and bland while conveniently forgetting the contents of NWN’s campaign. Try replaying them both, you may find that they are not what you remember them to be.

      Both games ended up alright in the end though. Wish we could get a another sequel.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      NWN2′s Singleplayer was absolutly superior to NWN’s, yes.

      No one who still plays NWN gives a fuck.

      Nobody bought NWN for it’s singleplayer, owing to it having been completly bollocks, as has been said. Singleplayer was not the point of NWN, the community aspect was. NWN2 tried to reimagine it as a Singleplayer rpg with some multiplayer elements and lost the magic.

      PS: Check out EFU:M, Escape from Undeath: Mistlocke (formerly Escape From the Underdark) under PW Story. No, I am not on the build or DM team, nor am I a particularly entrenched player. It’s just that good.

    • Nim says:

      Actually no.

      I did buy NWN and all its expansions for the single-player and single-player only. I assume that single-player incorporates single-player modules available online. I did not have broad-band back then or any stable connection whatsoever. I downloaded modules on school computers which I burned to CD:s. The “community” meant absolutely nothing to me as I could not interact with it in any meaningful way. So that statement that nobody bought the game for the single-player is just something you pulled from your as… vivid imagination.

      Also I asked how you felt about Obsidian having to repatch Bioware’s bugs but you did not answer. Did you not see it or did you choose to not see it?

    • Arglebargle says:

      NWN2′s user interface was much worse than NWN1. For me anyway. I’ve deleted 2, but am still playing some of the really cool player designed campaigns available for 1. The continual irritation of NWN2′s lousy interface lead me to not care if there were even good player campaigns for it.

    • Ravenholme says:

      Besides MotB and so on, there is another reason NWN 2 is awesome, and that is the module ‘Harp and Chrysanthemum’ by Maerduin. If you’ve not played it, do so now. It is an EXCELLENT piece of work.

  5. rvdleun says:

    The only reason why I’m keeping an eye on this game is the supposed toolset. The old one from NWN kept my interest for a good 4-5 years. Now if there will be some sort of DM Client as well which’ll allow me to host campaigns again, I could even see myself putting some good money in it, especially if the toolset is NOT as advanced as NWN2′s. The latter required me to put too much work per week if I’d want to host a session once a week to react to whatever the players did

  6. Vexing Vision says:

    I actually like the art-style, but dear gods, someone send those people some decent writers.

    Even WildSpace had better writing that this. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHGz5r-b1do)

    • Chaz says:

      Really, I thought it all looked a little to clean and antiseptic, not to mention dull and generic.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      This is D&D – if it didn’t look generic, something would be horribly, horribly wrong.

      I’ll curiously wait for the mechanics, something that kept me playing DDO for far longer than any other MMO ever managed to.

    • Leandro says:

      Actually the new Neverwinter setting is prettty unique and creatively done. They just went the generic route anyway.

      My problem with the graphics is the characters are too small for the scenery. I mean, look at the bridge battle scene! The Old Republic is doing the same thing, very annoying trend. Not that I care much, since it’s a MMO and I’ll never play it.

    • Chaz says:

      Yes D&D is a generic mish mash of Tolkienesque type fantasy themes, but that doesn’t mean the artwork also has to be generic as hell and look like every other run of the mill depiction of sword and sorcery.

  7. Faceless says:

    Set in Neverwinter again, developed by Cryptic, action-oriented, MMO model… It’s as though everyone sat together and decided what is the worst way to defile the legacy of Neverwinter Nights.

  8. Screwie says:

    There already is a F2P DnD MMO, and this game would have to to a lot to improve on it to lure me.

  9. HermitUK says:

    “Ok, guys, I hired all the Two Worlds voice actors for our new Neverwinter MMO.”

  10. Choca says:

    Cryptic’s last games were “meh” at their best and they are now owned by Perfect World, which is pretty much the Devil of the free to play scene. Not looking forward to this.

    • Wulf says:

      Well, they seem to be enjoying no small share of success for their ‘meh’ games. The population (which can easily be measured by Millennium City instances) of Champions Online has pretty much tripled over the last year. It’s niche, sure, but they’re good for those that like them.

      And remember, not everything is measured in total popularity, because if that were true then the Titanic is the greatest thing ever. And if you believe that, then goodness help you.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Of course, even with that increased number of players, niche game doesn’t mean that it’s particularly good either.

  11. Ed123 says:

    I’m at a loss as to why a skeletal Lich would need such a large bust.

    • Leandro says:

      She (Valindra) actually looks pretty faithful to her picture in the new D&D Neverwinter setting book. D&D artists always do that, something about the teenagers enjoying it I guess!

      Or perhaps she is just starting to rot, her nose is gone but the body is still conveniently intact.

  12. ananachaphobiac says:

    There’s a Neverwinter what now? Has this been covered before?

  13. Pardoz says:

    “WHERE WILL YOU BE?”

    As far away from this abomination as humanly possible, thanks.

  14. Wulf says:

    Yep, that looks entirely silly. Completely Cryptic’s staple. I don’t know whether Cryptic has what it takes to do D&D though, but it’ll be interesting to find out, and I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. At the very least, the gameplay will be interesting and it’ll have more than a few funny moments.

  15. Jimbot says:

    I’m interested in seeing how that adventure creation kit they’re releasing with the game so you can create your own adventures and upload them for other players to experience. That seems like a pretty neat idea.

  16. vecordae says:

    Might be worth a month’s subscription to check out all the nicer pay-for-play features. I had a good time with STO and Champions.

    Truth told, all I really want is a proper implementation of the 3.5 druid class. I don’t care about nature worship or one-ness with the trees. All I want is to summon some dinosaurs, call my dinosaur animal companion, turn into a dinosaur, then cast a spell to make all of the dinosaurs huge and resistant to damage, then have the me-dinosaur grow fiery wings and fly around while laughing in the free and wild way dinosaurs do.

    This is the best thing to do.

  17. nimzy says:

    Is it just me or does the dragon in the article image look slightly… mentally challenged? It’s got a big orange cone on its head!

  18. WPUN says:

    [self censorship] but I have to admit I actually did enjoy plain ole NMN 1. It broke my heart that they was no way to have a LAN party with my old D&D buddies.

  19. Felixader says:

    Hm, these are some awfull aesthetics.

  20. Jake says:

    “I was there, on that bridge, when literally fifteen zombies attacked us, and I’ll be there again tomorrow unless we shut the gates for a change”.

  21. LincolnSmash says:

    “D&D has lost its soul”

    Oh FFS. D&D lost its soul for anyone who gets caught up in nostalgia and the fact that they’re not 12 in their parents basement playing with their middle-school friends anymore. TSR D&D wasn’t any better than WotC D&D, and 3e is hardly a masterpiece in terms of actual game design. Not to mention there are plenty of other good TTRPGs you could play with more coherent and well-thought out design.

    Also, in response to Wulf getting all defensive about NWN2:

    Hey, it’s a great game. But to blame it on multiplayer DMs being butthurt? That’s pretty stupid. D&D, at least in its original form, was never about “story.” If it was, it was about emergent story. Couple that with social interaction and improvisation and a pre-written campaign can’t compare. It’s apples and oranges, man, and the reason why a lot of people still play 4e or Pathfinder in addition to playing CRPGs. NWN1 offered a middle-ground between two mediums.

  22. Arglebargle says:

    Perhaps Cryptic would have finally done a decent version of an MMO with Neverwinter, but it sure seems that Perfect World has fitted it to their Procustean Bed of ftp. I hold very low expectations.

  23. mbourgon says:

    Well, crap. I was waiting for another small-party based dungeon crawler like NWN, specifically any of the modules by TwoFlower. This looks like… well, nothing I have any interest in. I don’t want to be part of 50 people taking down the X of the Y. I wanted to go dungeon crawling with my college buddies, on Saturday nights, via TS, after everybody’s kids are asleep.

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