Neverwinter Exclusive Q&A - First Details on Cryptic's New Dungeons & Dragons Game

Get the exclusive first details on the much-hinted-at Neverwinter, a Dungeons & Dragons-themed massively multiplayer game in development at Cryptic Studios.

For some time, people have heard from a guy who heard from a guy who knows someone that Star Trek Online developer Cryptic Studios was maybe, possibly working on an online Dungeons & Dragons game that might be related to the PC Neverwinter Nights series, somehow. The rumors were only partially right. Kind of. Yes, Cryptic is working on a new fantasy-themed multiplayer game, and yes, it takes place in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting…but while it won't officially be a Neverwinter Nights 3 to follow the previous two games from BioWare and Obsidian, it also won't be a traditional massively multiplayer online game, either. The game will instead focus on cooperative play, requiring players to log into a server to start a session and encouraging players to tackle the adventure together. Neverwinter will give you the option to go solo if you prefer, but this will be a much harder way to play. The game will also feature editing tools that will let you create your own custom content and adventures, and it will offer an all-new story that ties into a new series of novels penned by author R.A. Salvatore. Considering that the game will offer a full storyline, cooperative online play, and a set of editing tools, it'd be fair to say that Neverwinter will be a far cry from Cryptic's usual projects…and that it will also be something of a spiritual successor to the previous Neverwinter Nights games. Cryptic's chief operating officer, Jack Emmert, explains.

The creator of Champions Online and Star Trek Online explores its next new frontier: the Forgotten Realms.

GameSpot: Give us an overview of Neverwinter. What is the game and how will people play it? Will it be a full-on massively multiplayer online role-playing game, like City of Heroes or Champions Online?

Jack Emmert: I wouldn't say MMORPG at all--Neverwinter is a cooperative RPG. You can play with a bunch of friends and experience Neverwinter and D&D in a brand-new way. We're trying to create new sorts of games that we call "OMGs" (online multiplayer games).

In terms of Neverwinter itself, players will find it's a brand-new Forgotten Realms. Years and years have passed, and Neverwinter has fallen into ruins. A brave few are trying to eke out their lives and to rebuild the once great metropolis, but many threats stand in the way. And this is where the players come in…

GS: Since this is an official Dungeons & Dragons product, can you explain how the tabletop game's systems will come into play in the game? Will it use a modified version of D&D rules, or will it use rules from the most recent edition of the tabletop game (4th Edition), and if so, in what aspects of the game: combat, saving throws/difficulty classes…?

JE: We're working hand in hand with Wizards of the Coast to translate 4th Edition into our game.

As far as translating the mechanics, there are, of course, the time-honored D&D attributes (strength, dexterity, etc.). One of the best things about 4th Edition is that poor little charisma is useful (that's a shout-out to any old gamers like me). You'll also find D&D's character classes, at least the fundamental ones, in the game.

In terms of class abilities, we're using the same concept of "recharge," which breaks a player's abilities into three categories: at will, once per encounter, and daily. General abilities like a basic sword attack are at will. Slightly more-powerful abilities can only be used once per encounter, and even-more-powerful abilities can be used only once per day.

Instead of that hard-and-fast division, we're using actual time increments, where at will means usable at all times, a once per encounter is a power designed to be used once every encounter, and dailies are used once every few hours.

I think there are two very unique gameplay elements in 4th Edition that we've done something interesting with: action points and healing surges. In the tabletop game, an action point lets a player perform a reroll or add an additional die to a roll. In our game, action points are earned through combat and spent to power special abilities called "boons." These boons give players special boosts, but only in certain circumstances. Healing surges represent the amount of times a player can heal himself before resting. In D&D and Neverwinter, various abilities let players use a surge immediately or perhaps replenish the number of surges available. It's a precious resource that players will need to husband as they adventure in the brave new world.

Positioning, flanking, tactics, and using powers with your teammates are also all things that come from the 4th Edition that are interesting.

Of course, we're using power names and trying to keep power behavior consistent with the pen-and-paper counterparts. Neverwinter will definitely feel familiar to anyone who has played the 4th Edition.

GS: And along those lines, we understand that the game will let players choose to play as one of five character professions. Can you share which professions these will be? How closely will they approximate the 4th Edition rules? Will we see heroic feats, paragon paths/epic destinies…?

JE: Fighter. Wizard. Rogue. Ranger. Cleric. You'll see the powers, abilities, and spells from the latest Players' Handbook spring to life on the computer screen. Neverwinter is all about the heroic levels; the paragon paths and epic destinies will be something we add.

GS: Cryptic has made a name for itself by making online games with powerful, flexible character customization tools that let players make very distinctive-looking characters. Can you talk about how this will come into play in Neverwinter? For instance, can you share which fantasy races will be playable in the game and to what extent you can customize each?

JE: We'll be using the same Cryptic technology and philosophy with our Neverwinter characters that we have in all our games. Namely, players can create just about any look they imagine. In our first release, we'll be doing the classic humans, elves, and dwarves--as well as a few special ones that I won't mention just now.

GS: While previous games from Cryptic have taken place in playfields that were, according to the game fiction, huge (such as the many comic-book-themed zones of Champions Online and the deep reaches of space in Star Trek Online), Neverwinter itself is, according to D&D fiction, a city. It's a big city, but it's just one city. Can you discuss the scope of the game and how big the game's overall play area is planned to be?

JE: Right now, players will be adventuring in and around Neverwinter. Not just in the city, but also the environs. But that's just the release; we'll be planning additional content as we move forward that takes players to new places. Just read R.A. Salvatore's upcoming Neverwinter trilogy to get a taste! It begins with Gauntlgrym.

GS: And on a similar note, Cryptic's previous games have made frequent use of instanced playfields to let solo players or small groups have their own private adventure. Can you speak to how instances will be used in Neverwinter? Do you have a rough estimate of how much of the game's content will be instanced versus being open-world/shared space?

JE: This is a tough question, if only because it presupposes an organization along traditional MMORPG lines (that is, a large persistent zone with many instances connected to it). This is a co-op RPG, so comparing it to other RPGs such as the original Neverwinter Nights or Oblivion would be more appropriate. Some locations are public; some are just for teammates. But it isn't quite the setup of a big zone with side instances.

GS: We understand that Neverwinter will use a system codenamed "Forge" that will let players build their own content. Can you explain how this will work in practice? Also, what kind of content will players be able to make?

JE: Forge (tentative name) will enable players to write adventures, to create maps, and to attach their quests to in-game entrances and NPCs. Our key philosophy is that Forge needs to be accessible (i.e. usable to many people) and that user-generated content is an optional form of content. In other words, a player knows that he's playing UGC and not the game.

GS: We also understand that the game is being launched in tandem with Gauntlgrym, the first book in an all-new Neverwinter novel trilogy by author R.A. Salvatore. Tell us about the game's story and how it will evolve alongside the new books.

JE: The game is set a little over 100 years into the future, and Forgotten Realms is recovering from an epic catastrophe: the death of the god of magic triggered a massive "spellplague" that swept across Faerun and changed everything it touched.

The Salvatore trilogy touches on all the events leading up to the game and, most importantly, how Neverwinter fell. Through these great novels, readers will get a taste of the Neverwinter world, characters, and enemies.

At some point, Neverwinter was laid waste. Why? No one really remembers at this point. The players will need to find out what happened and whether it'll reoccur…

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about Neverwinter?

JE: The biggest part of Neverwinter is really our approach to development. It's not a standard, hundreds-of-hours-grinding MMORPG. Mind you, we've done those in the past. This represents a huge departure from our previous efforts; we're focusing a lot on the quality of each thing we do. We've got constant playtests as well as outside, independent mock reviews. We know that Atari gave us a terrific intellectual property, and we want to do it justice.

GS: Thanks, Jack.

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Discussion

207 comments
blackkatrecordi
blackkatrecordi

This game is an awful grind and seems very shallow and uninspired.  

Mertyref
Mertyref

I've played NWN 2 and MOTB a lot! The fighting and build of character was great but what made me play it over and over is the AMAZING story. I hope Cryptic can bring some fresh and cool effects and interesting combat functions into a game with an outstanding atmosphere

HaDenG
HaDenG

"Fighter. Wizard. Rogue. Ranger. Cleric" Really? Where is Paladin, Bard or Sorcerer???

revanknight
revanknight

"Once more, into the breach,my dear friends!"

defilerest
defilerest

they already said its not an mmo so comparing it to one is unfair to the game and cryptic

Mazena86
Mazena86

Kazama, Neverwinter Nights 2 had its faults, but especially the two expansions (Mask of the Betrayer and Storm of Zehir) were a blast to play through. And they added some neat toolset functions and content. Too bad before MotB the toolset was very unstable and there wasn't enough community content to keep the fanbase thriving. But all in all, the toolset is one of the easiest to use while allows a lot of complexity and depth. Dragon Age: Origins toolset of course allows even more, but it has a far too steep learning curve and everything takes time to build. in that way, NWN2 succeeded. And oh the story of MotB...epic.

kazama-1
kazama-1

yeah why someon dont make newerwinter nights 3 because second nevverwinter was a faill but first was a great succes why?

Madbane
Madbane

@Tylmarande => Because Cryptic Studios is not Bioware, Obsidian or Bethesda. This game going to be another looser MMO, I don't think I will try it either.

fzd88
fzd88

CoH was produced with funding and direction of NCsoft. After the Marvel lawsuits and departure from NC, this company has been developing nothing but crap. I hope Atari's investors are reading these posts and realize that they are dumping millions into a deep hole. Atari: re-direct your funding and invest this IP with a different studio. Do it before "Neverwinter" turns into another failure. Listen to your audience...they are the ones paying for your games, and how many thread pages does it take for you to realize that we don't want Cryptic to make this game?!?!

Tylmarande
Tylmarande

HELL, WHY DONT YOU JUST MAKE BALDURS GATE 3 or NEVERWINTER NIGHTS 3 or ICEWIND DALE 3!!!..cmon,..

pmor
pmor

Sadly the Cryptic that made CoH long died, this new Cryptic seems to be after the money, no player retention. It's obvious when a MMO Developer releases a MMO months after their last one (STO after CO), and now about a year or so later are trying to make another MMO instead of fixing what they have. It's sad, but they just want the initial hype pre-order money.

Synther33
Synther33

"One of the best things about 4th Edition is that poor little charisma is useful (that's a shout-out to any old gamers like me)." It is statements like this that sicken me. If he was such an old gamer, he'd realize that Charisma was important in previous editions of D&D too. Like everything Cryptic does, this is likely to be laden with bugs and isn't going to work right. This statement already makes the game wreak of fail. "Instead of that hard-and-fast division, we're using actual time increments, where at will means usable at all times, a once per encounter is a power designed to be used once every encounter, and dailies are used once every few hours." So, basically they didn't like the current system and they're changing it. There's absolutely no reason the current system wouldn't work in a video game environment. Here comes Cryptics standard failure scenerio. And how much garbage am I going to be forced to pay extra for off the money-grab C-Store in order to make this game half-way presentable as a D&D product? No...I doubt I'll bother with this at all.

vorkosigan97
vorkosigan97

While I hated STO and Champs as much as everybody else, remember that these guys also made CoH. They once had the ability to make solid games. But yeah, this is probably my last time giving Cryptic a chance. And what's wrong with Obsidian? They're no Bioware, but they still make a decent game.

Glass_Dragon
Glass_Dragon

Warning! Cryptic produces 'shovel-ware'. You could get greater entertainment value for your money by going out in the backyard, and burning it, one dollar at a time.

Vect0r
Vect0r

"The creator of Champions Online and Star Trek Online explores its next new frontier" .... LOL yea I think I'll pass if these fools are behind it.

Darkbringer
Darkbringer

I thought that the D&D 4th Edition computer translation is called World of Warcraft...

esayan
esayan

cant you just make Baldur's Gate 3? I dont believe ppl quit wow for NWN online... i am only hopefull for Starwars online...but not this one..

BossMass
BossMass

When i think of forgotten realms i think of the legend of drizzt. I would love it if they put Menzoberranzan and Tier Breche into this game.

Custodian405
Custodian405

Can't wait for R. A. Salvatore's new book. This game, however, already looks like it's gonna crap out. I've been waiting for ever to have a good Forgotten Realms game get made, but it doesn't look like this will be the case. I honestly hope that someone from Cryptic is reading all these comments. Maybe this will help the studio pull its head out of its own ass.

kuzgerfslerg
kuzgerfslerg

I had high hopes for an other NWN or BG game, but now i'm totally disappointed and lost interest. If this one will be free then maybe, just maybe I'll try it. I'm sure that this won't worth a monthly fee

hsmgaye
hsmgaye

Cryptic is suck like hell.

titloco
titloco

conpañia que no gasta dinero en equipos en graficas no tiene futuro

WTF2000
WTF2000

Maybe cryptic should worry about making their current mmo's better rather than trying to make another one that is half a game. Doesn't it bother anyone else that they already have 2 mmo's going and are making a third? Hey how about this, you take all the man hours of building a new game and put it into making the games you have better for the ones who are actually paying a monthly subscription These guys use the same stupid game engine on every game they make and they think that it gives them an advantage because they have used it before. Well it dosent it just makes it look like the last 3 mmo's you made and that makes it less original... Character creation can only take you so far sooner or later you have to have a original idea in order to make a good game This article totally pissed me off. I am cancelling my subscription of STO and am never buying a cryptic game again. THANKS FOR DOING THE INTERVIEW.

WTF2000
WTF2000

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

WTF2000
WTF2000

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

bmwz4y
bmwz4y

Why do they still try when they can't make a decent RPG look for another genre maybe u won't suck at it.

PredatorRules
PredatorRules

the creator of Champions Online - sweet - I think it'll be a good MMO

dogders
dogders

I agree that this could be Cryptic's last chance at redemption. Looking at 5 character classes is not cool, but a world editor would be huge. Not gonna get hyped for this though.

wnng3
wnng3

So which is worse for the franchise? Cryptic or Obsidian?

fzd88
fzd88

Cryptic is the Uwe Boll of games - somehow get their hands on great IPs, and the completely ruins them beyond all human imagination. What a waste of time, IP, and gamer's hopes....even this article.

tawnybaka
tawnybaka

It's unfortunate that it's Cryptic. They really didn't do well with STO - I quit after a week and I'd been looking forward to that one. And Champions? 'Nuff said. Don't see any chance of them doing better with this one.

Sarxass
Sarxass

Yeah, I couldn't agree more kguy!! Give the AD&D license to BioWare, Bethesda, Obsidian or a similar company with a huge wonderful RPG history and then we may have great Forgotten Realms RPG's again. I started to grow a disdain for Wizards of the Coast for this... They revoked the license from BioWare / Black Isle (now Obsidian) and production of Baldur's Gate 3 ceased!! Come on, guys!! Let people who know how to make RPG's make RPG's... Well; still let's wait and see; but this may be Cryptic's last chance to make something right!!

kguy
kguy

OH! please why Cryptic? This has to be the absolute worst game developer out there right now. Loved Neverwinter Nights. But sorry will never touch this game since it is being made by cryptic I refuse to ever contribute one more dollar to that company after what they have done with Champions and StarTrek online. This company should just be allowed to fold. Wizards of the Coast needs to find some way to revoke this liscense and now.

oflow
oflow

cryptic is slowly morphing into failcom...

tiggerlu
tiggerlu

Seriously...Cryptic? I played and loved STO for about 1 month...i wanted to love it and play it for a LONG time, but there was nothing left to do. There won't be another STO game for another 20 years as a result...*hang your head in shame*.

SrTVBR
SrTVBR

Created by Cryptic Studios? Noooo!!!

airshocker
airshocker

@soto_setari Well, considering Champions Online wasn't finished, and STO blew(and wasn't finished) all evidence points to Cryptic being a lousy MMORPG developer. Maybe we just have standards that all MMORPGs must meet. Not even high standards.

aireoth
aireoth

Just lost interest, cryptic sucks.

shamashayde
shamashayde

damn I really loved the neverwinter nights game's and all of bioware's epic RPG's such as the baldur's gate's, planescape torment, and even ice-wind dale wasn't too bad. I know its not a sequal but it would be great if Cryptic could pull off something with that great feeling and depth that bioware gave to these title's... Unfortunately I doubt Cryptic will get it right.

artmonster
artmonster

CO and STO are so light in content compared the the huge monitary investment needed to play ( both can reach level cap within a month very very easily). The content is so lacking ( so lacking that Lack Emmert himself even admitted that STO was a failed venture compared to thier expectations ). These are not MMO's, but single player games requiring login subscription and monthly fees ( and even c-store fees ). CO has never really evolved past the initial offering that was playable in the first month, STO is the same, fast to reach level cap, then dead end...... but yet Craptic still keeps sucking money from thier players, by adding to C-Store rather than fixes and game updates (STOP has had the same bugs since launch, but htey add c-store items before fixing them ).... the piddly season releases give players maybe a few hours of play, then dead again (Klingon faction is STILL just a laughable shell ). STO is still miserably unfinished. They are even sweeping the forums now and perma-banning anyone who is posting negative feedback or calling thier bluff. Never again Cryptic, you will ruin this version of a Neverwinter genre.

Darksigil
Darksigil

damn you people are negative... seriously don't say the game is bad UNTIL it actually is out. And Champions is way funnier to play than many mmo's where you have a few quests/lvl and after they are done the only way to lvl is to grind monsters... only... as well as the character customization and the different ways to combine powers. So even how much you are complaining they will still develop the game. Hope you won't get any children cause you will probably decimate them by your "inspiring" speeches on how useless they are and how they never will make anything good.C'mon flame me now trolls.

IceCold_83
IceCold_83

I'll definitely be a halfling rogue :D

robin77
robin77

GOD!dont let Cryptic transform Forgotten Realms and the Great city of Neverwinter into a grind fest and ruin the most Beautiful RP world ever created!

reddog00
reddog00

This does not sound good at all. Forcing you to count on other players to enhance your game experience!!! Epic fail!

TsingTaoBeer
TsingTaoBeer

@Mertyref I WAS excited about Neverwinter.  That was until I discovered the game is published by PERFECT WORLD ENTERTAINMENT.  A US subsidiary of a Chinese MMO company known to defraud its consumers and uses paid sponsored players in their titles to cheat them.  Their BBB grade is an (F) which means DANGER.  Go checkout this guys Facebook Page "Neverwinter Alert" it has all the evidence right there. 

DO NOT PLAY or PURCHASE anything from Perfect World Entertainment unless you want to be defrauded and be cheated against by their sponsored players.