View Thread : Neverwinter Nights 2


A Black Falcon
Obsidian developing Neverwinter Nights 2
Atari and BioWare tap the KOTOR II developers to create the next version of the popular D&D RPG.

For a company that is barely a year old, Obsidian Entertainment is awfully busy. In May, the fledgling studio inked a deal to develop the sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare's award-winning Xbox and role-playing game. Today, Obsidian announced it is taking the reigns of another of BioWare's flagship RPG series, Neverwinter Nights. As with its predecessor, Neverwinter Nights 2 will be published by Atari, with BioWare providing its Aurora Toolset and creative consulting.

In a statement, Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart expressed his gratitude at taking over the venerated franchise. “BioWare and Atari created an immense community of players attracted by both the immersion of an interactive gaming experience and the ability to create their own pen-and-paper-styled modules. Neverwinter Nights changed the very nature of role-playing games,” he said. Atari executive producer John Hight was also excited, saying, “Feargus and his team at Obsidian Entertainment are the best people on the planet to take up where BioWare left off and bring this great game to new level."

Veteran RPG fans will also be excited by the Neverwinter Nights 2 deal, since it reunites the parties behind some of the most celebrated RPG series. As president of Interplay's Black Isle Studios, Urquhart oversaw the publishing of the BioWare-developed Baldur’s Gate and Baldur's Gate 2 series, as well as the first console version of the game, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. He also developed the Icewind Dale franchise, which was based on the Baldur's Gate engine. Urquhart also worked on the celebrated postapocalyptic RPG Fallout and its sequel before leaving Black Isle last year and forming Obsidian with several luminaries from the studio.

Obsidian is already at work on Neverwinter Nights 2, which, like its forebear, will be set in the Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms universe. (Obsidian is also hiring for several positions for its "upcoming RPG products," presumably NWN2). So far, the game is (naturally) set for release for the PC, but Atari reps said a next-generation console version is a possibility. Unfortunately, gamers won't be playing it any time soon; Neverwinter Nights 2's release date has been set for 2006.

:)

Dark Jaguar
Nice. I know you didn't like the lack of the ability to fully control your party in the game (and let's be honest, that's a bare bones feature they really should have at least allowed custom map makers to do), but it really is a great game for multiplayer and some really good single player community scenarios have been made too. The latest expansion pack was actually made by the community, but pushed so hard by Bioware's official site it might as well have been an official pack :D.

Anyway, if they can make up for the various failings (allowing full control over party members (in multiplayer, having certain charcters assigned to certain players in a party), camera issues (KOTOR ALMOST got it right, but it didn't allow much up and down movement, even in first person view, which meant I couldn't get just the right view of the cooler looking stuff a lot of the time, but it got close to nailing it), and some limitations of the Aurora toolset (just some various weaknesses that had to be worked around, namely things like adding additional races which got tricky)), as well as making an official campaign that's actually interesting (not storyline, a lot of the gameplay just seemed to be a tech demo of what the engine could do, so the game only really got fun in single player when the community made GREAT custom campaigns), as well as the obligatory graphical boosts, this should end up a great game.

OB1
Is it gonna be top-down again?

A Black Falcon
It better be, OB1! :) I really do think that traditional PC RPGs of this style generally work better topdown. Yes, KOTOR worked third-person, and there are plenty of first-person traditional PC RPGs like Might & Magic, Wizardry, etc., but for this kind of more tactical PC RPG (D&D-based) I definitely feel that top-down just works better. Use a nice 3d engine (and make it much nicer and with much better variety than NWN... oh, and FIX THE STUPID CAMERA!!! Make it so that it will work perfectly with no user input required! This is very, very important for enjoyment of the game, IMO...), though, of course. Other than that, they just need to implement parties (if just for single player, having one character in a multiplayer game does make sense). But I have a lot of faith in Obsidian, so I'm sure it'll be quite good. They are at least Bioware's equals in RPG design. :)

Dark Jaguar
That's what I've been hearing. I mean, I nearly got Icewind Dale some time ago (likely will one day).

Anyway, actually NWN eventually patched the game to let you scroll the camera behind the player for 3rd person control. It's obviuos it was just a quick fix though, because the camera certainly doesn't sit at that level comfortably. If you thought running it at the low angle overhead was annoying, try ground level behind the character. Even in chase (which is the only way to have the camera going at that level of course), the thing really doesn't know what it's doing. It keeps getting "stuck" on various objects in the game. I've always hated that. The camera should just go THROUGH any objects it hits, and make things TOUCHING the camera transparent! In short, the camera took some getting used to, putting it mildly. Yes, in a fun scenario or multiplayer session, you don't really notice, but it's an ever present issue.

Anyway, we'll see....

A Black Falcon
Icewind Dale... that is a fun game, but it doesn't show off their true talents. IWD 1 and 2 are fun games, don't get me wrong. Great Infinity engine combat. But they don't have a whole lot of story and have no party interaction... understandable when you make the whole party yourself, of course (oh, IWD2 isn't a continuation of the first, you make a new party), but not like Baldur's Gate. What they show is that when a great team is forced to make a dungeon hack (which that team essentially was), they can make a great one.

For anyone who's missed it in my many previous threads, Obsidian is led by Feargus Urquhart. Worked on Fallout 1 (and 2?), then got his own team and made Planescape: Torment, IWD 1 and then IWD2, and now KOTOR 2 and NWN 2 with Obsidian...

I know I've said it before, but it really is weird. Fallout to Torment, fine... but Torment to IWD, those games are nearly opposites! Shows their ability I guess, but I (and many other fans of this style of RPG) prefer Torment greatly over IWD. Incredibly deep story and lots of complex conversations gets more respect than a long series of monster fights. :)

After that heritage, I bet that he'll use the NWN engine. He's been making games in Bioware engines since at least 1998... :)



Anyway, actually NWN eventually patched the game to let you scroll the camera behind the player for 3rd person control. It's obviuos it was just a quick fix though, because the camera certainly doesn't sit at that level comfortably. If you thought running it at the low angle overhead was annoying, try ground level behind the character. Even in chase (which is the only way to have the camera going at that level of course), the thing really doesn't know what it's doing. It keeps getting "stuck" on various objects in the game. I've always hated that. The camera should just go THROUGH any objects it hits, and make things TOUCHING the camera transparent! In short, the camera took some getting used to, putting it mildly. Yes, in a fun scenario or multiplayer session, you don't really notice, but it's an ever present issue.

Yeah, that doesn't sound like a big improvement. The two things I'm definitely hoping for most are camera and parties. And honestly, camera is more important than parties, I'd say... *fingers crossed*

OB1
It better be, OB1! :) I really do think that traditional PC RPGs of this style generally work better topdown. Yes, KOTOR worked third-person, and there are plenty of first-person traditional PC RPGs like Might & Magic, Wizardry, etc., but for this kind of more tactical PC RPG (D&D-based) I definitely feel that top-down just works better. Use a nice 3d engine (and make it much nicer and with much better variety than NWN... oh, and FIX THE STUPID CAMERA!!! Make it so that it will work perfectly with no user input required! This is very, very important for enjoyment of the game, IMO...), though, of course. Other than that, they just need to implement parties (if just for single player, having one character in a multiplayer game does make sense). But I have a lot of faith in Obsidian, so I'm sure it'll be quite good. They are at least Bioware's equals in RPG design. :)

KOTOR has the same damn combat system as NWN and works wonderfully with its viewpoint.

Dark Jaguar
So, I take it I MUST get Torment if I'm going to get an Obsidian game? Would you say that's their current crown gem?

A Black Falcon
Well, it's not Obsidian. It's Black Isle. As I said, Obsidian was founded by people who made up Black Isle, which was part of Interplay. Almost all the team worked at Interplay/BIS, so it's a successor of sorts. Just like Troika Games (Fallout (another BIS game)'s creator Tim Cain).

Anyway, he made IWD 1 and 2 and Torment (and worked on Fallout) at BIS, then formed Obsidian, which hasn't published a game yet. And yes, if you appreciate story in games, by all means try to track down a copy of Torment somewhere (probably online -- it came out in 1999 and isn't exactly common in retail stores anymore). It is one of my favorite games of all time, for sure... I finished it right before playing Warcraft III and maybe partly as a result was dissapointed by how simple and derivitive that game's story was. :)

... just don't get it if you like to fight a lot in your RPGs or don't like reading text boxes. It's not exactly that kind of game. :D It's by far the least combat-focused RPG I have ever played. ... and the one with the longest conversations with random bar denizens.

A Black Falcon
Cool... :)

http://pcmedia.ign.com/pc/image/article/535/535696/neverwinter-nights-2-20040803055813255-000.jpg

If you don't know what D&D critter this is, I should probably feel sorry for you. :)

Dark Jaguar
Um... I've seen it in Final Fantasy 1... It's a mind flayer or something like that... and it can use instant death attacks... It looks more like an alien than a monster from terra firma...

And yes, I do enjoy games with thick story that don't really NEED to focus on combat, SO LONG as there is a lot of other gameplay stuff to make up for it. For example, being an active participant in conversations, and having puzzles and such to solve.

A Black Falcon
Yup, it's a Mind Flayer. Classic D&D monster. Very tough, with a wide variety of mind-affecting attacks...

Yes, you're a very active participant in the conversations. It's a game where your character stats matter hugely to what story you see. I know, Wisdom and Intelligence can seem useless for some classes in D&D, but trust me on this. Put a lot of points into them in this game. Those are the two prime stats that determine what dialogue options you get... it works on a principle that if your intelligence/wisdom (it depends on the conversation and the circumstances of course) isn't high enough you won't even see the options you're missing. That could be frusterating if you want ALL the story and don't get it (which is, honestly, likely), but it adds both replay value and user interaction into the game... and it provides a way to avoid a lot of the combat. For the first half of the game you really won't have to do much fighting at all... some, but not a lot. And a lot less if you actively work to avoid fighting as much as possible... to an extent greater than most games you can choose how much you want to fight. Though there are is at least one or two fights that are utterly unavoidable and a lot of places where 95% of people will fight, especially in the second half of the game. But it isn't the focus of the game. Even as you get far into it story has primacy... and as I've probably made clear I don't just mean the story of the mystery of your character, or even of your party (you can talk to the other members of your party! Which is very cool...)... I mean lots of detail about the world you are in and the other people in it. Sure, Random Pedestrian #23535 won't have a huge amount to say. But there are a lot of unique characters (ie not just standard inhabitants) that have quite a lot to say about all kinds of things. It really fleshes out the world you are in... that and the fact that you can click on a good number things to get text descriptions of things on screen. There are way more of these points than there are in any of the other Infinity-engine games (though they all certianly have some), and I loved it... :) Sure, the graphics aren't the best, the character list is pretty limited (6-character party, and there are 8 or 9 in the game playable, some hard to find), the combat mostly melee for a long time... But none that matters much at all.

Dark Jaguar
Sounds fun. You know, you should play Chrono Trigger. No world map enemies at all, and all the enemies you do fight you can just walk around, just like you like. There is also a LOT of talking there. Not so much choices in conversations, but you can still have a lot of control over how people act without fighting, thanks to a little thing called... well... time travel. You can talk to your party members there too, but only in a few locations (as opposed to something like KOTOR where you can always talk to them when they are in the party). I'd say there was an even mix of scenario based stuff and fighting in that game. In those RPGs, the goal is doing whatever you can to unlock EVERY scenario. "Hmm, if I take this person, I get this conversation, if I take this person, a slight alteration... this person and... WOW that's different!"

A Black Falcon
It does sound like a good game... but I'd need a SNES and the extremely rare Chrono Trigger SNES game (doesn't that cart go for huge sums?) or a PSX/PS2 and that version of the game... so it's not likely anytime soon. :(

In Torment, the only 'problem' in conversations is if you want to be able to choose all the options and easily get around the combat/get the most story detail (those two go together often, I think...). It's not quite that simple, you need the right character stats to be able to do it... so I'd recommend making the main character more on the Mage-track. :) Oh, on that note, as you probably know the main character doesn't have much customization either, in a more console-style thing... you are The Nameless One. Your image, onscreen look, backstory, etc. are central to the game. You start as a level 1 fighter (and can later switch to Mage or Theif). All you do is set the characteristic scores (you know, the six base numbers D&D bases everything on...), if I remember correctly... but in the context of the game it works perfectly. My only 'complaint' is that there aren't more classes, but in a game with as much depth as this has in some respects that isn't a major problem. And anyway, he's probably most useful as either an intelligent fighter or a mage anyway... :)

Talking to party members... in this game you can talk to them whenever you want. Oh, most of the time they'll say the same things, but regularly it'll advance some story or do something by talking to them. In Baldur's Gate I or II, by contrast, you couldn't do that. Oh, your party members talked, but only when the game wanted them to (as in, when the other member of your party talked to the main character -- you couldn't start any such conversations). Icewind Dale I or II have none of that of course since you make the whole party of six, so it'd never work.

Dark Jaguar
CT works like that latter thing you mentioned about party members (except in one major location where you can actually start a conversation, but there it's really just them making set statements they repeat over and over until a major story point changes what they say).

So this character is a preset storyline type thing instead of being designed yourself eh? Personally, I love both styles. In one, you can sorta imagine your character's backstory and develop your persona yourself, but the downside is the main story has to be at least in part detached from a lot of what you come up with. With a character that's predeveloped, the game's story can be as fully developed as the makers want it to be, but you are limited in what you can get that character to do. I don't look at them like that while playing of course, I'm just saying that I love both when done well. However, if it's a totally predone character, I wanna know, what's the default name? :D

Ah yes, so you need a bunch of charisma to get all those conversation options eh? I'm used to that after the likes of KOTOR and NWN... Not really a bad idea, so long as EXP is gained from all manner of things and not just combat. I just hope conversations don't rely on dice throws to determine if my "persuade" was a "success" or not. I'd rather it be more set in stone so I don't end up loading the same game over and over (yes, I know not knowing how the guy will respond is realistic, but I personally think a random die throw is NOT the way to put that realism in there).

Anyway, more on CT. I'm not sure how long Torment is, but CT, for an SNES RPG anyway, is actually shorter than usual. It's certainly longer than today's console RPGs mind you :D, but shorter than something like FF6 (I think longer than Super Mario RPG though). If you do get the PS version, be warned that the load times are pretty bad. Just to make it tolerable, play it on a PS2 with fast loading enabled. (The PS2 won't save these PS1 settings though, so you'll need to activate it EVERY time you turn on the system...) Also, the main character is an "avatar" character, meaning he doesn't say a word, not that you can read anyway. The point I imagine is you are supposed to imagine what the main character just said yourself, thus being able to let your imagination create the character as much as possible when the role is already fixed in place. (You know, it's just like Link's character in the Zelda games.)

A Black Falcon
First, new NWN2 infos. Preview. http://pc.ign.com/articles/536/536518p1.html
Bioware interview. http://nwvault.ign.com/features/interviews/BioWareNWN2080604.shtml
Obsidian interview. http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/neverwinter-nights-ii/536369p1.html


Ah yes, so you need a bunch of charisma to get all those conversation options eh? I'm used to that after the likes of KOTOR and NWN... Not really a bad idea, so long as EXP is gained from all manner of things and not just combat. I just hope conversations don't rely on dice throws to determine if my "persuade" was a "success" or not. I'd rather it be more set in stone so I don't end up loading the same game over and over (yes, I know not knowing how the guy will respond is realistic, but I personally think a random die throw is NOT the way to put that realism in there).

Charisma probably would be good too, but Wisdom is probably more important in this game than in any other D&D game I have ever played... and that's not a bad thing. :) It's not 'chance of convincing' stuff, as I tried to explain... it's a situation where if your stat in some category is high enough you'll see more options in some conversations. Like that warrior of intelligence 10 will not see on his list of options (to talk to some potentially hostile person) options that would lead to a peaceful outcome, I'd imagine... As I said, your stats directly decide what you will be able to say. It's not a random factor, I believe. Or at least not in the vast majority of situations.

And yes, of course you get experience in conversations at points.

So this character is a preset storyline type thing instead of being designed yourself eh? Personally, I love both styles. In one, you can sorta imagine your character's backstory and develop your persona yourself, but the downside is the main story has to be at least in part detached from a lot of what you come up with. With a character that's predeveloped, the game's story can be as fully developed as the makers want it to be, but you are limited in what you can get that character to do. I don't look at them like that while playing of course, I'm just saying that I love both when done well. However, if it's a totally predone character, I wanna know, what's the default name?

The Nameless One. That's the name. :) Oh, you also can't rename anyone. Remember, there are is a bit of voice acting... not much, but enough that you can't rename anyone. Either for your character or any of the people who can join (though that's just like Baldur's Gate (I or II), where you can change the name/picture/voice set for the main character that you created, but not the NPCs who joined your party... of the Infinity Engine games only the two IWDs have fully customizable parties. But as I said it comes at the price of story and interaction...) But it's done to improve story quality... and that's exactly what it does. The game is about your character and his unique qualities, and the strange world you explore (Planescape is not like the Forgotten Realms... pretty cool D&D setting. Too bad it was dropped when they went to D&D3.0. It's a really unique setting. See, Planescape is set on the planes. In D&D there are different planes. The Material Plane, where the planets and stars are... the Elemental Planes (air, fire, water, etc), the planes of hell, planes of heaven, planes on the edge of material and hell, etc... and the city of Sigil, which is the main city in Planescape. Outside of the material planes but part of them, it has 'doors' that go to all kinds of places hidden around... the game starts there.). Anyway, The Nameless One wakes up on a slab in a mortuary with no memory and his only company a talking skull... and it goes from there.


The last part... CT is shorter because they want you to replay it a lot, right? Torment doesn't really work that way... oh, it has replay value sure sure, but it's not as direct about it as that game. Length? I don't know. Shorter than BG2 and in the same ballpark (though probably a bit shorter than) BG1... 50, 60 hours? Probably something like that, though I'm sure that it can be done quite a bit faster if you wish to.

Dark Jaguar
A few things about CT. The main story, as you might imagine, is nearly immovable. If you really want the full story though, not just the bare minimum, do a lot of exploring and talk to EVERYONE.

They did pack in a lot of replayability. That is, there is a feature called New Game +. If you use this, you will restart the game with all the (non-story essential) items from whatever save file you used to do the new game +. Also, all the playable characters will have all the exp and abilities they had in that source file. To really make it worth your time though, they added the "hidden ending" system. I won't spoil much, but essentially they give you access to the final boss from the very START of a New Game + file, and beating this at all sorts of points in the story grants you with one of about a dozen hidden endings (not just slightly modified normal ending, there's a lot of story you can get from these). They aren't the "cannon" ending mind you, but they are interesting and worth going after.

A Black Falcon
The new NWN2 interviews are worth reading, a good amount of new info... it uses the same engine (but it will be greatly improved obviously). It'll still be one character (but they're going to have multiple henchmen, like the expansions). You'll start from level one again (being that at the end of the NWN expansions you're level 30, which is about as high as you can get in D&D). Too bad about one character, but it is possible certainly to do a good single-player RPG if it's done well... see Ultima or Diablo... but this is D&D. That's the biggest problem here. This is D&D, and D&D was never designed to be a game you play with one character. It just isn't as fun and leaves you with a much more tedious play experience -- you do a lot more clicking badguys adn a lot less strategizing.. For multi as I said using one character probably works best, but for solo... Well, I guess all I can hope for is a lot of control over your henchmen. D&D's about parties.

A Black Falcon
http://www.rpgclassics.com/shrines/pc/planescape/images/characters/namelessone.jpg

The Nameless One. Wakes up remembering nothing except a message tattooed on his back that the floating skull reads to you... saying much more would involve spoilers, which is bad in this game. :)

Morte, the skull. Funny guy, by the way... in that 'his insults are funny' way...
http://www.rpgclassics.com/shrines/pc/planescape/images/characters/morte.jpg

Oh yeah... this is Planescape. Don't expect any Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, or the full assortment of normal D&D creatures. Oh, some are here for sure. But Planescape has its own creatures (that show up, somewhat, in some games of D&D...). But this is a noticably different place.

Dark Jaguar
I don't expect stereotypical RPG monsters anyway. I generally expect unique creatures and am disappointed by the same ol' stuff. I think that's why I like Night Elves more than High Elves in Warcraft. Yes, I do enjoy the classics now and again though :D.

Okay, that skull IS Murray... :D As for the main character... I'm not sure what I was expecting (I guess I was thinking of a bedraggled homeless man), but that wasn't it. He looks like a He-Man reject... But hey, if the story's good then I'm sure it won't matter.

A Black Falcon
That is kind of a weird pose... it's the big image, I think (for the character screen). But I guess it's to show that he's not weak. Well he starts out level 1, but he's not weak... Not your average person, for sure. He has one amazing power (from the start) that I could tell you (because it says so in the manual), but do you want to know? It is a major gameplay feature too, actually...

As for the skull, yeah, Murray is certainly one thing I was thinking (and was probably some of their inspiration for the character), but he's quite different. As fits this game he has a quite definite serious side... this isn't Monkey Island, after all. He is definitely funny with his insults, though. :)

I don't expect stereotypical RPG monsters anyway. I generally expect unique creatures and am disappointed by the same ol' stuff. I think that's why I like Night Elves more than High Elves in Warcraft. Yes, I do enjoy the classics now and again though .

You must be dissapointed a lot then... :) But this is the only D&D game I have ever played with no elves or dwarves...

Screenshot. You should notice how, compared to BG or IWD (the two other Infinity engine titles locked into 640x480) this game zooms in quite a bit to get big character sprites. It means closer ranged combat, but as I said most of the characters use mostly melee weapons (or magic) anyway...
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/screenshots/5/187975/torment_screen006.jpg

Dark Jaguar
Does the skull have any fighting ability or is it just there to look pretty?

A Black Falcon
Oh, he can fight. His weapon is Teeth. They do better than you expect. :)

This game has a lot of character-specific weapons and items... the main character doesn't wear armor. He has Tattoos. Morte can only get upgraded weapons with better Teeth (which there are not that many of). One character has a weapon you can't unequip... but it gets better as he levels up. Etc.

Dark Jaguar
tatoos, teeth... It's true what they say. In every RPG, no matter HOW weird or obscure the weapon that some character uses is, you will ALWAYS find stores selling it and buying it, and a decent number to find along the way at that!

CT for example has robot arms. You can buy what's an amazing technical upgrade from the prehistoric era... They are "stone arms"... I just get this image of that Jetsons meets the Flintstones movie...

Crator (used as stove): Eh, it's a living...
Pelican (used as cement mixer): *dies*

A Black Falcon
Well, the tattoos are interesting... it's not just 'armor'. You can equip several at a time, and they give you various bonuses... so it's not quite like a console RPG where you just have 'robot arm A that does 5 damage', 'Robot arm B that does 8 damage', etc... :)

As for the teeth, they only upgrade a couple of times in the game, really.

Oh yeah, and I don't care what their excuse is but in Chrono Trigger there is no way that things from prehistoric times should be better than ones from the far future. That's just stupid.

Dark Jaguar
Hey now! Those Flintstone cars really caught on with the Sprocket company from the DISTANT FUTURE of 2002! *checks calander* Anyway, in the FUTURE, they have amazing technology far beyond our comprehension! They showed it to me on this tape!

GR: *looks at tape* ... Does anyone have a Betamax VCR?

Really though, I dunno, it's probably just something magical, or rocks are really strong...

Anyway, actually a lot of the armor and weapons have special effects aside from stats. Some have critical hit bonuses (higher chance, or extra damage). Some do certain things to certain kinds of enemies (undead, magical, etc...). A lot have status related bonuses, like either causing or preventing things like Mute or Sleep. Some of my fave armor are the elemental absorbing set. Nothing like fighting an enemy that uses lightning attacks exclusively only for them to heal me with every hit :D. This goes for a lot of the RPGs I play though. Not sure how you got the idea that armor and weapons ONLY affect stats in console RPGs... Perhaps bad experience... I will grant you it's true that in the START of most console RPGs, that's all they do. Play FF6 though, they REALLY went to town on the strange effects there. There's the thornlet helmet (think crown of thorns) that provides GREAT defense, but causes seizure status (similar to poison... but it's not), and some weapons that can instantly kill the enemy (but if you use them on an undead, it'll kill and instantly revive the enemy in a weird way). One particular item has horrible stats and causes all the negative status effects in the game (it's cursed), but if you fight with it for 256 battles... Some weapons ALWAYS do critical hits but use MP to do it. Some weapons will randomly cast certain magic spells. There are "dice" weapons where the damage is calculated by adding up the total of the dice and multiplying it by some number. There are a few weapons that totally ignore the defense stat. Some weapons auto-steal when you attack with them. Two weapons depend on your current HP alone to determine damage (one needs high HP for high damage, the other needs low HP for high damage). I didn't really focus on the armor at all there, but there's plenty of effects on those too. There's a chunk of armor that ONLY uses it's true (really good) stats when you are transformed into a Kappa (a certain spell), otherwise it's the weakest stuff in the game. That's just FF6 and CT there, I've played lots of console style RPGs where armor and weapons have all sorts of special boosts. Character specific, well if the weapon is really unusual, often times it'll calculate damage in some very strange way (see: megaphones in FF7, yes, attacking with... megaphones...).

A Black Falcon
I'm talking about how in most console-styled RPGs it seems that you have a clear item progression. Not whether it's about stat boosts or status effects (though that certainl is something pc games handle differently)...

From what I've experienced, generally in console RPGs there is a clear item progression, where armor A is worse than B is worse than C and you upgrade it each time you reach a new town... seems to be the standard in such games... status effects? Sure, some do such things. But is it actually a point where you have a bunch of similar items and you have to choose which effects you'd rather have (like it is in most PC RPGs -- do I want the damage bonus, increased stats, armor, etc...) and none is clearly better, or is it like most console RPGs I've seen and you have a clear progression of items without a whole lot of choice along the way (I'm not saying that in PC RPGs you don't progress to better weapons, obviously, far from it, but that you generally get a lot of choice of what kind of weapon or magic or whatever you want to have along the way, and that Torment has less of that than many D&D RPGs.

Dark Jaguar
Ah, I see what you mean. Yes, there is steady progression, but there is ALSO choice concerning what effects you want at a lot of points usually. Generally, store bought weapons will just be stat boosters over the previous set, while weapons you find strewn around the world will be the ones with special effects (this is only a very general rule mind you). By the end of the game, there are "ultimate weapons", but often times you might want some OTHER weapon instead of the ultimate for whatever reason. In a lot of FF games in fact, there are a LOT of alternate choices. Do you want the one that hits the enemy 3 times, the one with the uber stats, or the one that heals your character for the amount of damage you deal with an attack?

A Black Falcon
You must admit, though, that console style RPGs generally have a lot less choice than PC RPGs. And a lot more character-specific weapon types.

Dark Jaguar
Yeah, a lot of console RPGs tend to have characters that can only equip a certain set of weapons. A few allow a more free range of equipment (meaning characters can share a lot of weapons). The armor is somewhat different though. The armor is generally not character specific at all. Generally, the most specific that'll get is class, maybe, and gender.

Choices... Hmm, come to think of it, armor selection and equipability is about equal in both kinds of RPGs. Probably the same with accesories. Weapon selection is nearer to what you said though. Generally, they will give you many weapons that behave vastly differently in the console RPG, without any sort of gradiance between them. The PC RPG does give you a massive number of gradiances between two extremes though. I think that might be where it comes from.

A Black Falcon
Armor generally is by class, yeah, no matter what kind of RPG you are playing... honestly, it's hard to compare console-style and PC-style RPGs. They are so different in so many ways. I have a lot more experience in PC RPGs, true, but I have played a couple of console ones... maybe others are more complex in this way (than Lunar for GBA or Skies of Arcadia)? Don't know though...

One thing that it does seem like to me is that in console style ones you upgrade your weapons and armor a LOT more. In a standard D&D PC RPG (which is most of what I have played and generally what I mean by PC RPG) you really don't upgrade your equipment that often. Mages won't get any armor at all (well, robes...) for several levels, for instance... jewlery and stuff also generally doesn't come until later and often you'll keep some of the same things on for a really long time. Armor? You'll upgrade it sure, but not anywhere near as often as in a console title. Same with weapons... in BGII I kept one weapon (for my main character, who dual weilds) for about three quarters of the game... and the other for the two thirds of the game after I got it. I never found anything better than them. And that's typical, I think... once you get to that level (BGII starts at around level 8) the really good magically enchanted weapons are pretty rare and hard to find and even when you find one one you have that is 'weaker' (lesser enchantment) might be better for various reasons, like if you really like some enchantment on it... once you get good stuff you won't be changing it much really. It doesn't seem to work quite that way in console games from my experience... yes, you can get the best stuff, but by that point you've pretty much finished the game and there is only so much choices you can make... which, yeah, is mostly about the accessories.

Dark Jaguar
Yes, that IS certainly true. I know when I first started playing the PC style RPGs, I was going for long periods without finding any decent weapons, not ones that were better than what I had anyway. The majority of the ones I found were merely slight alterations. Equipment doesn't really seem like a major focus, not like Final Fantasy 9, where every single bit of equipment has a special ability attached to it that you can learn permanently if you equip it long enough.

But yeah, the two kinds of RPGs, Japanese or American, tend to be vastly different.

A Black Falcon
Equipment is really important, DJ! But the differences between weapons is more similar and once you reach a certain point you definitely start to see less improvement in your weapons. Let's take BGII. It's 2nd edition D&D, remember... so each weapon type has a seperate proficiency. So with my mages I really have to stick with the weapons I'm proficient in if I don't want a big damage hit... when you combine that with class weapon use restrictions, you get limited upgrade potential. And when you do find a weapon that does more damage, it well might have other drawbacks. Like, say, the one you have gives you some skill you really like, or it gives you an extra attack, or something like that... for reasons like that you may want to keep the 'inferior' weapon because of something that it does better. It's a complex system, certainly more complex than console game equipping... yes, in console games you change more, but it's a whole lot simpler to figure out what is best. In D&D PC RPGs there isn't a 'best'. :)

So, 1d6+4+1fire+1cold+1acid, 1d8+3+1acid+1cold, 2d4+4(+ 1 to 4 cold)(also has +20% fire resistance when equipped), or 2d4+3(+6 vs undead and demons)... all proficiencies are equal, and they all have about the same speed factor (ie how many attacks you make in a turn). Which two do I equip)? :) And should I pull my 1d8+2 (double damage against dragons; Fear immunity; +1hit point regeneration per 10 seconds; special ability: detect evil once per day) sword if I fight any of said monsters?

Equipment is definitely extremely important... you don't change it as much, that is certainly true, and upgrading your items is not as much the focus, but deciding exactly what you want on your character is. It's called player choice (to build your character(s) in the direction you want them to go in), something PC RPGs have quite a bit of and console ones lack greatly in. Oh, and you constantly get weapons and armor in D&D RPGs... it's the most common things monsters drop when you kill them... it's just that most of the time they're not as good as the stuff you have. Only 'boss' (tougher)-type monsters will probably have stuff worth getting.

Oh, that's one other key difference. In PC RPGs you get most of the loot worth getting off monsters. Shops in towns? They sell generic weapons, not the really good magic stuff (or in higher levels, generic magic weapons that just have a +1 or higher enchantment and nothing else). Towns are for buying some healing potions, maybe some spells if you need some... but armor and weapons? You'll probably find most of it on baddies.

Dark Jaguar
You haven't played enough I think. In ALL Japanese RPGs I've played, towns give you upgrades yes, but the BEST stuff, for every "tier" in the game, is ALWAYS found in dungeons, dropped off monsters, obtained via sub quests.

A Black Falcon
So, 1d6+4+1fire+1cold+1acid, 1d8+3+1acid+1cold, 2d4+4(+ 1 to 4 cold)(also has +20% fire resistance when equipped), or 2d4+3(+6 vs undead and demons)... all proficiencies are equal, and they all have about the same speed factor (ie how many attacks you make in a turn). Which two do I equip)? And should I pull my 1d8+2 (double damage against dragons; Fear immunity; +1hit point regeneration per 10 seconds; special ability: detect evil once per day) sword if I fight any of said monsters?

For your answer, I have equipped weapons #1 and #3. :)

You haven't played enough I think. In ALL Japanese RPGs I've played, towns give you upgrades yes, but the BEST stuff, for every "tier" in the game, is ALWAYS found in dungeons, dropped off monsters, obtained via sub quests.

It probably depends on the game, first. But yeah, of course Japanese ones also give you stuff from monsters in general... some games more than others. I'd say it's more common to get weapons and items from monsters, but not so much armor...

Dark Jaguar
Yeah, armor does tend to be more store related come to think of it... To be honest, I haven't played much Skies of Arcadia, but I take it that's about your only experience with Japanese RPGs?

A Black Falcon
As I said, I also have Lunar Legends for GBA... and both Final Fantasy Adventure and Sword of Mana have a lot in common with normal Japanese RPGs. FFTA is more different. TBS.

Dark Jaguar
Well actually FFA and the Sword remake are much more simplistic...

A Black Falcon
In FFA you pretty much just get items from stores (though not necessarially in towns), equipment especially. Sword is more complex, certainly... not super deep, but more complex. Like how you get weapons and stuff from enemies you defeat. :)

Dark Jaguar
Yeah, but it's just plain simplistic. It's an EXACT archetype of what you said, and that being one of your main experiences with RPGs, that's probably why.

A Black Falcon
And of those five titles I've only beaten Skies and FFA. Never got past that stupid dungeon I got stuck in in Lunar...

FFA obviously is really simplistic. Sword? It's got nice depth, but it's more about the weapon/magic powerup system (using them makes them stronger, not getting the next best sword) than about pickups. But there is the system where you combine those fruits and stuff to make items.

Dark Jaguar
Yes there's that. I must say I didn't play around with it too much...

A Black Falcon
I've made items with the stuff I get, but I have no idea what I'm getting so it's a bit odd... the other stuff, to improve the weapons (veggies? I don't remember) are more directly useful. :) But I do make items when I run into a place where I can enter the hothouse.

A Black Falcon
http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3134617

Nice interview with Feargus Urquhart... I'll post it because people should read it. :)

PR Flak Brandon has entered the room.

CGW: Great, so I get stuck with you? ;) Where's Feargus?

PR Flak Brandon: I am a sexy monkey. Isn't that enough?

CGW: Ummm, no.

PR Flak Brandon: haha. Okay, I'll just be the silent partner and keep Feargus in line.

FUrquhart has entered the room.

FUrquhart: Okey Dokey.

CGW: Welcome to the party everyone. So, how should I address you, Feargus: Mister? Doctor? Esquire?

FUrquhart: How about Feargus Urquhart, CEO, Obsidian Entertainment, Inc.

CGW: Anything shorter?

FUrquhart: Smooth Motherf***er.

CGW: That's more like it. I guess nothing shocks you at this point.

FUrquhart: Pretty much - I survived the development of Fallout 2 - that pretty much scarred me from being surprised at anything.

CGW: so was that your own personal Vietnam? Mine was reviewing Breed.

FUrquhart: Well my hell lasted from about June of 1996 until September of 2000. That was pretty much one straight crunch time - Fallout 1 to Fallout 2 to Baldur's Gate to Torment to Icewind Dale to Baldur's Gate 2. It pretty much sucked.

FUrquhart: Not to whine, but I got one vacation in there to get married.

CGW: I know that crunch time schedules mean many sleepless nights, but what kinda crap do you get from your wife for that?

FUrquhart: She understood what I was doing and I usually set aside dinners for us to spend some time together. Luckily, she worked at Interplay as well, so she was pretty busy.

FUrquhart: She was definitely done with it after BG2 though.

CGW: So I guess I can't paint you as a notorious player in the industry

FUrquhart: Nope - that's one of the other owners - Darren Monahan. All the girls love that boy.

CGW: I remember Darren. Slick guy. Nice name too (if I don't say so myself)

FUrquhart: They call him SAM - Sweet Ass Monahan.

CGW: Now that has to go into print.

FUrquhart: Well he is the producer on Neverwinter 2 - so it could just be part of the "background".

CGW: fair enough. Maybe you want to reference that in the credits. Producer / Sweetest Ass, NWN 2.

CGW: Ahem. Yeah, maybe we should be talking about the game a little ;p. So, Mr. Motherf***er, can you clue us in on how Neverwinter Nights 2 is coming along so far?

FUrquhart: We've been working on it for about a month now and things are going really well. We are finishing up the story, the list of new features and the programmers are getting the engine ready for the new stuff.

CGW: So this is a new engine?

FUrquhart: No, but it will be a heavily modified one. One of the first things we did was move it up to DirectX 9.That will give us the ability to pull in a lot of the new graphic features and make it more compatible with other platforms - if necessary.

CGW: Hang on a sec. Does that mean this is making the console jump to the Xbox as well?

FUrquhart: We don't have anything definite in that regard, but since we were doing a big overhaul, we felt we might as well keep the window open.

CGW: gotcha. What would you say is the one thing that you wanted to change most design-wise between NWN1 and 2?

FUrquhart: Design-wise our big focus is the single player game. We really want this to wow people and make them feel like they are playing a great story.

CGW: good call. the first game felt like a test run while the modules/expansions that came afterwards seemed more thought out.

FUrquhart: We've been talking a lot about older RPGs and how RPGs have evolved.

FUrquhart: We want to get back to the place where the world really played a role in the game. When you were playing Ultima IV, it wasn't just about your stats and the next big sword. It was about your place in the world.

FUrquhart: I guess we want to make it an adventure.

CGW: So how do you really feel about all the other RPGs out there now?

FUrquhart: They've started to fall into this "on a rail" feeling, or they are so expansive that you don't know what to do next. But Bioware did a great job with Kotor1 and brought the story back to being at the forefront.

CGW: So, for the most part you see lots of Diablos or Morrowinds.

FUrquhart: Exactly!

FUrquhart: I loved Diablo, but you didn't feel the accomplishment when you finished like you did when you finished an Ultima. And well, Morrowind, I think it's a good game in a lot of regards, but there are also a lot of problems with it.

CGW: I know, Ulitma IV was like a morality play...teaching you how to live a moral life and all. Sadly, I think I learned more from that than Sunday school. (They had an Apple in the rec room, what can I say?)

FUrquhart: Yep, and you still had the character system, items and spells - but that didn't over shadow what you were trying to do. We want to make sure that both reinforce each other and not have one overshadow the other.

FUrquhart: Game playing as a religion - it could work. :-)

CGW: So what exactly can you tell us about the story at this point?

FUrquhart: Actually today was our first milestone for Atari and that is getting sent off in the next hour or so. From here Wizards of the Coast needs to approve all the story stuff to make sure we are treating the Forgotten Realms right. So I can't say anything yet.

FUrquhart: I can tell you that a big focus for NWN2 is on the NPCs - we want the player to care about them and have them be real. So, we are focusing on the key NPCs and putting a lot of time and energy behind them - to reinforce their part in the world.

CGW: In that respect, you've already done a great job with of your previous work: Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, the fallout games. All great stories that, at times, will make you laugh out loud.

FUrquhart: Yep, it works a lot better when they are introduced to them early and deal with them throughout the game.

FUrquhart: Luckily one of the owners here is Chris Avellone, who is just amazing at dialog. He was the lead designer on Torment. Did a bunch of work on Fallout 2 and is the lead on Kotor2. He'll join the NWN2 team when he's done.

page 2

CGW: Ok, so we're getting a rockin' story this time around. What else is going to make NWN 2 stand out beyond the first game?

FUrquhart: Well that it's Neverwinter 2. :-)

CGW: nice

FUrquhart: Seriously - I think the key is to really focus on the story and to make sure it is as mod-able or even more so than the first one.

CGW: can you give a taste of things to come? How would you make the single player experience different? Or about how you might tweak the modding tools?

CGW: (besides story, are there game elements you'd add. for example, torment was a brilliant evolution using the BG engine)

FUrquhart: There are some interesting ideas that we have - but we can't really talk about them right now.

CGW: Aww, c'mon. I promise I won't tell anyone. I swear.

FUrquhart: You promise?

CGW: Sure!

FUrquhart: Okay (so I'm easy). Some of the new things are going to be pulling in more of the flavor of the Forgotten Realms - full support for many of the sub-races.

FUrquhart: We are also going to be working on the henchman system a lot. We are working on having them be a lot more reactive and making it easier for you to control them.

CGW: Really? So you won't have to dig into 10 menus to set AI coding routines for henchmen?

FUrquhart: Exactly. One of the ideas is to have them call out to you and ask if you need help and then you just have to acknowledge it with a single button press.

CGW: that sounds like a much more reasonable alternative.

FUrquhart: That help will be context sensitive, so you won't have to press different buttons.

FUrquhart: It will also make a fight feel more like a fight. We are also looking at where you can ask for help and you will yell out in combat and then your henchmen will yell out in response. That might even be based on their personality.

CGW: so that would be like a hotkey communication setup?

FUrquhart: Kind of - our theory is that you can just yell for help and they can figure out to a limited degree what you want. Then there will be other keys where you can ask for specific help, like - "Attack my Target".

FUrquhart: If you yell for help and your hit points are low then the cleric will heal you. If you aren't wounded but your opponent is really tough the cleric will help you attack it.

FUrquhart: You know, something will go in like this. We're just not sure how robust it will be.

CGW: very cool. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this in action.

CGW: can you say anything about the plot at this point or is it just too soon to go into?

FUrquhart: It's really too soon to say, especially since we need to get approved by Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro.

FUrquhart: We are also looking at a lot of MMP stuff right now to see what might fit into Neverwinter. Can a hunting and crafting system interesting enough to be a part of the overall story? Dunno.

CGW: hmmm...so you're looking to incorporate that end of the mmo world. No dancing like in SW Galaxies? ;)

FUrquhart: Well maybe Brandon pole dancing... but other than that, no.

PR Flak Brandon: anything for coverage...

FUrquhart: He is a PR whore, after all.

CGW: Brandon? Any possiblity of that happening in Mexico

CGW: no doubt

FUrquhart: If you think about it, he starts about ten steps behind because he doesn't have breasts.

PR Flak Brandon: convince Jeff to give us a cover and I'm your bitch

FUrquhart: Is that incentive?

PR Flak Brandon: Feargus...i hate you..

FUrquhart: I merely speak the truth.

CGW: the searing image is having me pluck out my eyeballs

FUrquhart: Well maybe not about the pole dancing and 75% of this interview, but you know what I mean.

CGW: ANYHOW, back to nwn2. We were talking about MMP elements...

FUrquhart: Well, we haven't really ruled out anything yet other than camping for 12 hours for the 33% spawn chance. Although, think of the gameplay hours we could quote. :-)

CGW: I can see it on the box already! 900000000 hours!

FUrquhart: We do want to give the player things to do that are off the main path of the story and reward them for exploring. MMOs do that very well.

FUrquhart: It's all a balance - you want people to see as much of the game as possible, but you also want to make some of the game a reward for the player to find. It's tough sometimes, you have to cater to different kinds of players without alienating any of them.

FUrquhart: Sometimes that leads to a LCD game (Lowest Common Denominator), or if you did your homework you can please most of the RPG players with what you create.

CGW: *and reviewers ;-)

FUrquhart: That is an ENTIRELY different thing.

CGW: Hey, totally random tangent, but I'm curious: What are your thoughts on the Fallout franchise now that its going over to bethesda?

FUrquhart: Well, a part of me is sad that I won't be involved in creating the next Fallout. I always thought we would get to do it.

FUrquhart: Another part of me is glad not to do it.

FUrquhart: It's sort of a no-win situation with what Interplay has done with the brand and the rabid fans that it has.

FUrquhart: Plus, is the Fallout brand even pertinent anymore. Would it work with players today?

CGW: how far along was fallout 3, anyhow? I know that it was in limbo for some time...

FUrquhart: Well, we made a go at starting it in early 2000, but that team ended up making Icewind Dale instead. Interplay needed a product turned around pretty quickly and Fallout needed a whole new engine.

CGW: and now bethesda is going to scrap whatever's done and start fresh.

CGW: at least Interplay has maintained the MMO rights... ;-)

FUrquhart: As for the next incarnation, after we stopped working FR6, since, ummmm, Interplay lost the D&D license to another publisher; they took that engine and were working on Fallout3.

FUrquhart: I saw the demo fairly recently and thought it looked pretty good. It was a game they could have finished in a year.

CGW: think that they'll use the Morrowind engine and just ship people to the future?

FUrquhart: I'm assuming they'll use the Morrowind engine as well. I wish them all the luck; it's going to be a hard road for them with the fans.

CGW: well, I don't want to hog up any more of your time -- you've been awesome about this already. But I gotta try asking one more time: Anything you can tell us about the plot?

FUrquhart: Sure. We it's about your sex life and call it "Pee Wee's Big Adventure." Brandon can be your body double.

PR Flak Brandon: HEY!!

FUrquhart: Rated A - A--hole to Everyone.

CGW: excellent!

PR Flak Brandon: Feargus, this is all going in print

FUrquhart: He can't print that.

FUrquhart: I've said much worse.

If the stuff with the henchmen happens it could make NWN2 a much better game, I think...