Anyone who was lucky enough to check out the Neverwinter Panel at NY Comic Con last weekend got a great taste of Dungeons & Dragons. Not just a normal serving of awesome, but how Wizards of the Coast are working with Perfect World and Cryptic Studios to build Neverwinter. The game looks amazing with some great combat mechanics and quest systems. However, at NYCC the team talked about what it takes to bring a game from the table-top to the computer and why certain things are so critical.
Chris Youngs from Wizards, Joe Jing, Dan Emmons, and Randy Mosiondz were all on hand to talk about what makes Neverwinter so special. The core philosophy behind the game is they wanted a D&D game from the start. Players can explore, fight, discover, and find great loot in the process. In dooing this they had to make sure the basics of D&D fit into the action game medium. They also wanted to make sure the game had a strong story. Forgotten Realms fans will be happy to see a lot of locations in and around the famous city which really are being represented by the art team. So the team spent a lot of time focusing on these two core values.
The story part is where the art team comes in to make sure that famous locations are represented. The giant werewolf mountain for the barbarian tribes outside the city makes for an amazing landscape. While the run down section of the city which was taklen over by Orcs now looks completely different. These images give the designers a lot to do with the game's content.
One of the main areas the team focused on was a ruined temple to the dead god Helm. It has now been taken over by a plague. Sadly the people trying to treat the plague are also cultists of Asmodeus. Therefore the entire story breaks out into some serious depth to find the true answers of what is going on. This is classic D&D in all its forms, with some great action combat to boot.
The art team continues to go back to the Wizards source material for inspiration. Using books like the Monster manual to really bring some of these characters to life. It made the team realize that over the years there are only a few pieces of art representing D&D monsters, despite the game’s almost 40 year span. This partnership lead to some great collaboration between the teams at Wizards and Cryptic to bring a lot of these monsters to life. The world is truly realized and the players will have a lot of enemies to contend with. The team showed the progression of Kolbolds through the years and how they have grown from the early editions of D&D to the in-depth characters on screen in Neverwinter. It was fun to see the journey of such a low level monster that was your common enemy at level one in most D&D games and now has a whole background behind it.
Another great area the team talked about in depth was the Foundry System which will give Dungeons Master’s the power to create their own worlds. Making the entire tool set available to players will give budding DMs and game designers access to literally create their own adventures. This part of Neverwinter is key to the game’s growing through player created content. Not only will you create dungeons, but users can go through them and rate them on the boards. Therefore the top designers will among the ranks and players will be able to challenge themselves in all types of scenarios. This aspect of the game is truly amazing and we cannot wait to see how it works for DMs and regular players.
Neverwinter has impressed us again and again with its combat and action sequences for players, however after this panel we came away with a new appreciation for the artwork and design side of the game. There are so many things that need to fill up this vibrant world and having the art team talk about what they do to make the Realms live and breathe was great to watch. I think with a solid action RPG design embedded in the traditional D&D Forgotten Realms world you really cannot go wrong. Cryptic's engine seems custom-built for the D&D license. But allowing players to build their own zones and dungeons, that is the icing on the cake of D&D awesome. We are very excited to see Neverwinter when it launches and cannot wait to get into the beta. Hopefully soon!