E3 2011: Neverwinter Overview
During this year’s E3, Cryptic Studios showcased Neverwinter. Set one hundred years in the future from Neverwinter Nights. Neverwinter is aiming to bring the classic feel of Dungeons & Dragons to the MMORPG genre. Players can team up with other players or go it alone using the henchmen (and women) available in game. No game of Dungeons & Dragons would ever be complete without players having the ability to create their own content. For any of you old school RPG players you can think of the persistent world of Neverwinter as developer-created modules. They’ll be sure to please and great to advance a character, but the dungeons your friends design always seemed to have that unique edge to them. To that end Cryptic Studios introduces The Foundry to Neverwinter.
The majority of the E3 demonstration with the team revolved around this element of the upcoming game. The Foundry is taking the popular aspect of User Generated Content found in Neverwinter Nights to the next level. This built-in tool will allow players to create content, controlling elements such as story, maps, dialogue and character appearance. To many this already sounds familiar as Neverwinter Nights is famous for its user generated content. What will allow the UGC to stand out in Neverwinter is its overlap with the persistent PVE world. Creators will have the ability to choose an NPC character within the game to initiate their content. You can choose something as commonplace as a guard to the entrance of the city, to the most obscure NPC character that exists. Meaning when you click on a NPC not only will you see the PVE content, but also those scenarios created by your fellow players.
Dialogue has always played an important part of both PVE and UGC scenarios, The Foundry allows creators to create their own dialogue as well. Creators can be as verbose or terse as they choose. Half of the RPG experience is the story. The control over dialogue allows the story tellers to tell the tales they want. The Foundry’s asset table unfolds much like a flow chart for dialogue creation. Players can choose their response which in turn shows the next option available to them. More experienced story tellers may use this feature to ensure that only those of the right mindset enter their scenario. Conversely the choices to enter a scenario can be as simple as “yes” &”no”.
Dungeon design with The Foundry can be as simple as allowing players to choice from existing room templates. These templates then can be dragged and dropped to a grid. Watching the design was reminiscent of the old graph paper designing days. Creating your own dungeon can be as simple as just aligning the doors to rooms you select, and voila… instant custom dungeon. That simple method may be enough for amateur scenario creators, but nowhere near enough for those looking to truly create something unique. Never fear, The Foundry allows for an incredible amount of user controlled detail. Some of the tiny facets shown during the demonstration for each room were lighting, webbing, shadows, and some color choices. Theses aspects will help allow players to create a more custom feel for their environment and make them stand apart from their counterparts.
The question of custom rewards for UGC dungeons is still up for debate. A lot of thought is still going into finding the right reward balance. A dungeon created with one rat to kill and some kind of uber-sword for a reward is hardly balanced. There is speculation on some kind of point system to be added. Players can be sure that the Neverwinter creators will be giving careful thought to this issue.
User Generated Content will receive a mission rating from players. The more popular a custom scenario is, the higher its ranking. The possibility of the highest mission rated scenarios may even by officially recognized by Cryptic Studios, with some kind of potential reward. Of course that is a very early development idea; we’ll see if it evolves to the released game.
For more details about the Foundry, click here. Ok, maybe there are that many details available at the moment, but keep an eye for them as we’re told plenty is coming. Neverwinter is aiming for an October release, although Cryptic Studios assures us that it will not be released until they feel it the best their players deserve.