Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
 
Cryptic's Neverwinter Nights

Cryptic Studios announced that their next MMORPG would be Neverwinter Nights, based on 4th edition Dungeon & Dragons rules, and using player-created content. I am having a hard time to understand why the MMO blogosphere exploded in a wave of posts expressing their disappointment.

I did play City of Heroes for a while, and I've played both Champions Online and Star Trek Online in the betas. I would say that Cryptic Studios' games are not among my favorites. But I *do* understand their basic design philosophy of "MMO Redux". Cryptic MMORPGs are developed in shorter time than the MMORPGs of other developers, and usually have a lower degree of complexity and polygon count than other games. But they do listen to what players always say they want in features, and then stick to a simple selection of features which work together reasonably well.

So while their games are often a bit short on content, which results in them being repetitive when played too much, and while their games aren't complex enough for my personal tastes, I would not say that Cryptic games are actually bad. They just target a different MMO demographic than I am in. For players who would be overwhelmed by the complexity of bigger MMORPGs, and who don't spend 20 hours a week in the same game every week, I can totally see the interest in playing a Cryptic game.

And I have to give them credit for experimenting with features, like player-created content. So from what I've seen from them in the past, I think I have a reasonable idea on how their Neverwinter Nights will be. I don't expect fancy graphics, nor a huge world, but we can expect a basic version of a fantasy MMORPG with the added bonus of having an editor for players to create dungeons for other players to run through. What's not to like? It seems to me that the basic complaint is that another company with a different design philosophy and bigger development budgets could have made a fancier and more complex game out of the same basic Neverwinter Nights premise. I would say that Cryptic making Neverwinter Nights *increases* the chance of us seeing a more complex fantasy MMO with player-created content in the future. Lets just play the basic version first and see how it goes. And Cryptic is pretty good at making basic versions of MMORPGs.
Comments:
The strong points of Neverwinter Nights (2) were

1) A reasonably good story that is told exceptionally well. Especially "Mask of the Betrayer", the first addon for NWN 2, is very good at this. And even more so if you play the dark side. I was blown away!

For example, the voice acting of Kaelyn_the_Dove" was simply brilliant. The character was tragic, lovely, demanding, naive, zealous and above all: inapproachable. Something I miss with beautiful female characters in, let's say, Dragon Age: Origins. There all beautiful female characters are very appoachable.


2) The D&D world. The world, the gods, the whole setting is marvelous.

This makes up for the fact that the D&D rulebooks were never translated well for a computer game. But it was good enough.


Cryptic.. ..
STO was a joke. For me, at least, it seems that a small MMO is like a 5 min epic story. It just fails at being what it is supposed to be. And since it doesn't claim to be anything else it is not enjoyable.

I fear that they will not invest the right amount of talent (that often is money and time) on story telling.

Neverwinter Nights remade as a superficial game that you play for 20 minutes every few weeks doesn't work. These games have stories that you will want to experience in long over-night sessions. If Neverwinter by Cryptic cannot deliver that, they can deliver nothing.

At this point I am carefully optimistic. :)
It's good that somebody makes another D&D RPG. Online or not.
 
Hmm, I could see them doing a pretty okay job with this. I'll have to keep an eye open for it.

I think its interesting that I may be one of the few people that honestly enjoys CO. I'm not saying it doesn't have flaws, or that it can't improve, but I happen to enjoy how the game plays for the most part. Funny how some of my favorite things from CO are showing up in WoW (casting while moving, being one of them).
 
For me, at least, it seems that a small MMO is like a 5 min epic story. It just fails at being what it is supposed to be.

Quote Jack Emmert from Cryptic: "I wouldn't say MMORPG at all -- Neverwinter is a cooperative RPG." He even coined the horrible pun acronym OMG for Online Multiplayer Game.

So I have to question your "what it is supposed to be". Who determines what a game is supposed to be? If the devs say already when announcing the game that it isn't a full epic MMORPG, but rather something like an "MMO lite", then I would say an "MMO lite" is what this game is supposed to be.

I'd sure complain if it says epic game on the box and inside is a much more small and basic game than promised. But if they announce a simple game and then deliver it, why not?

Worst case scenario is that you already know you won't like it for not being epic, and thus don't buy it. No harm, no foul.
 
It is indeed strange that the media call it MMORPG, when he repeatedly said that it won't be.

As far as I understood it, the game will feature a small lobby (Neverwinter) from which you can chose what game to play with whom. Perhaps you can even meet other people in the lobby, but that isn't the focus.

It seems you can also play the game solo or solo with NPC companions. (And there won't be a DF !!! ;)

Except for the lobby that is identical to Neverwinter Nights 1/2.

I think to call it MMO lite is wrong. There isn't anything massive about doing adventures with 4-6 people.



But if they announce a simple game and then deliver it, why not?

Worst case scenario is that you already know you won't like it for not being epic, and thus don't buy it. No harm, no foul.


I agree.

By the way: Games can be 'epic' even if they are no MMO. ..
Works also the other way round. WoW certainly isn't epic (anymore). At least that is the way I feel about it.
 
makes me wonder how DDO is faring since they got F2P? isn't it the same game niche? (apart from the graphics, can't be uglier than ddo)
 
"makes me wonder how DDO is faring since they got F2P?"

They're doing extremely well with it. It's why LotRo is going free to play as well.
 
Cryptic produced some very shallow mmos that became boring after about 2 weeks of very casual gameplay. I guess that's why people were disappointed ;).
 
You sire...WINS

I am inm agreement with everything you wrote.

Can't wait.
 
Left 4 Dead 1&2 offer some excellent (non-massively) multiplayer action.

Sometimes a persistent world is used to cover up for dull core mechanics and unpolishing level grinding.

That said, I would rather see Cryptic make successes of their existing IPs than launch a new one. It feels like they have mastered the business case of the 3 year MMO.
 
So I have to question your "what it is supposed to be". Who determines what a game is supposed to be?

I would take this one step further, and say "why is the game 'supposed to be' anything?" You are defining the game first, and then making sure it fits with your definition.

Don't get me wrong, I know you are willing to try new things. But once you have selected your new "box," you seem to want your thinking firmly inside it.
 
If this gave anyone the idea to reinstall NWN2, I totally recommend doing so. The game is alive and well, and great time can be had playing it online.

Most NWN2 multiplayer occurs on persistent worlds, which are esssentially mini-MMORPGs. These offer something WoW-like games do not, like actual roleplaying and a very rich character development system (D&D 3.5).

One persistent world, set on the Sword Coast around Baldur's Gate, particularly stands out, with many players and quality content. Recommended.
 
I've been playing STO for 3-4 weeks now and find it to be an extremely enjoyable MMO. As a combat oriented MMO STO is very satisfying and the graphics engine is gorgeous. It certainly makes a pleasant change from "yet another fantasy oriented" MMO. A NWN MMO does not excite me at all.
 

One persistent world, set on the Sword Coast around Baldur's Gate, particularly stands out, with many players and quality content. Recommended.


@Tomasz:

I just reinstalled NWN2. Could you tell me the name of the PW you described ?
 
@Nils and anyone who reinstalled NWN2. ;)

The server is called "Baldur's Gate: The Sword Coast Chronicles", and is located under "role play" in the server browser. File downloads are handled by the game client now, so you can just connect with a fresh install. Website here.
 
This sounds like a good idea to me. I like cryptic studio games, though I like fantasy genre the most, and I like D&D 4th edition. When is it scheduled to be released, or the beta coming out??
 
All I know is I can't wait. Cryptic or not, you can't judge the book before reading.

I know this blog from a while back and I read it frequently since then. Funny hing is, I just wanted to look up how's Neverwinter doing so I typed "playneverwinter mmo" in Google and guess what - it pointed me at this post. How about that?
 
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