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The Maze Engine, Retooled Dungeons & More

By Robert Lashley on February 23, 2016 | Interviews | Comments

The Maze Engine, Retooled Dungeons & More

Neverwinter will be expanding again soon with The Maze Engine. We took the opportunity to speak with Lead Designer Scott Shicoff to find out more about the retooled dungeons and to learn more about the Maze Engine itself. Read on!

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With the new expansion you have gone back and retooled some old dungeons for higher levels. How many have you redesigned?

We have a total of 5 dungeons available with the upcoming expansion. For regular dungeons, the following are returning: Cloak Tower (Level 12), Pirate King’s Retreat (Level 40 and formerly Lair of the Pirate King), Frozen Heart (Level 44), and Caverns of Karrundax (Level 54). These dungeons are built for 3 players, and can be run by anyone who has access based on the levels listed above. We’re also bringing back a revamped Castle Never as an epic dungeon. This queue requires 5 players and is significantly more difficult than the other 4 dungeons I just mentioned.

Are the redesigned dungeons all for Level 70 characters or are they spread out to carry someone from 60 to 70?

Each of the dungeons become available at a different time. Once available, anyone that level or higher can run them and earn rewards. We don’t necessarily expect people to run dungeons exclusively from 60 to 70, but it is something you can do if you’d like.

Can players still access the dungeons in their original form?

No. The original versions of these dungeons have been converted to a new format. For regular dungeons that means 3 players, and for the epic dungeon, that means getting the time expectations in line. Rewards have also been updated for both types.

Which redesigned dungeon would you consider to be the best of the bunch and really shows off the team’s talent?

I think there are really cool things to find in each of the new dungeons. If we’re talking visually, I’m a fan of the work done on Caverns of Karrundax. There are some really cool design mechanics throughout Castle Never, and I like that the designers were able to teach mechanics earlier in the dungeon that would later be used in boss fights.

A challenge for media; games, books, TV, you name it, is constantly trying to escalate and one up themselves. How can you hope to out crazy or out terrify Demogorgon in this new expansion?

Well, as Demogorgon was sort of a master of the whole madness thing, I don’t know that we could have topped that in a related way. Instead, with demons like Orcus and Baphomet, we wanted to let them shine in their own domains. So with Orcus, you’re facing a horde of frightening undead, including the resurrected corpses of things killed back when Castle Never was first available. Assuming you’ve recovered from the madness and paranoia of Demogorgon, you should be all set to hide in a corner and shake with fear at the monsters we have waiting for you now. Bwahahaha!

What exactly is a Maze Engine? Is it something that smashes up corn?

I mean, technically it probably could smash up corn if that’s the reality you want. The Maze Engine is an artifact capable of warping reality. It’s incredibly powerful, and Baphomet is planning to use it to bring his lair from the Abyss into the material plane.

What new iconic characters can we expect to see make cameo’s this time?

Some characters are new, but many are returning. More importantly, we’re going to have some team-ups that should really please fans. Ever wondered what it would be like for Drizzt and Minsc to be on the same adventure? You’ll get to find out! Here are some of the characters you’ll be adventuring with: Drizzt, Bruenor, Regis, Minsc & Boo, Linu, Makos, and more!

Is the new module content focused on level 70 only?

The new content has something for players of all levels. As mentioned earlier, the dungeons are spread out across the levels, while the Maze Engine campaign is something that can be started at level 60. As most of our campaigns really kick in at level 70, we felt it was important to make this available to lower-leveled players.

How will we be able to customize our mounts with the stable system?

There’s a lot to talk about here, so I’m going to attempt to cover things in some broad strokes. First of all, there are 2 new mount-related windows attached to the character sheet. There’s the Mount tab and the Stable tab. On the Mount tab, you have 4 fields that you can customize based on the mounts you’ve acquired.

You’ve got slots for the mount that you’ll summon in the world, a place to slot a power that can be used in combat, a slot for a passive power, and a slot for speed/durability (how fast you move and how easy it is to knock you off your mount). Every mount provides a visual component (what it looks like when you summon it), and a speed/durability choice. Epic mounts also include a passive power, while a legendary mount includes both a passive and a combat power. So, if you acquire an Armored Fire Strider, Heavy Howler, and a Gelatinous Cube, you can choose to slot the Cube as the mount you summon, the Heavy Howler’s passive power, and then the speed and combat powers of the Armored Fire Strider.

Mounts in the Stable can be slotted with new items called Insignias which can be found in different types and with different powers. Slot an Insignia onto a mount in the Stable and get bonus powers! If you set up a special combination of these Insignias, you can even get an additional bonus power, meant to feel like a set bonus. There are 5 slots in the Stable, with the rest of your mounts being kept in a new bag, helping free up space in your main inventory.

What exactly was wrong with the current queue system and how have you fixed it?

There were a lot of technical limitations under the hood that prevented us from being able to make any real new features, matchmaking, or quality of life improvements. This new system is being built with future customizability and expandability in mind. At launch, our biggest goal with this queue update was to make sure we were at least matching what people had access to in the old tech. I’m happy to say we were also able to add a few cool new features. First, we’re adding the ability to put together a queue group that consists of more than 5 people! So if you want to get 24 of your closest friends together and take on Tiamat, you can do that. You’ll also be able to queue for Tiamat from anywhere, though, you do still have to wait for it to be available based on the in-game timers. Second, we’re adding the ability for people to either join a Private or a Public Queue. In a Private Queue, you don’t need to worry about role restrictions (like 1 healer/1 tank), but you won’t automatically get reinforcements if people leave. As you might have noticed, I mentioned queuing for Tiamat.

Robert Lashley / Rob is a Staff Writer and jack of all trades for MMORPG.com. When he isn’t blinding people with the glare from his head in front of a camera you can chase him down on Twitter, PSN, XBL, and Nintendo @rant_on_rob.
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