Neverwinter Nights 2 Designer Diary #2 - Crafting Cinematic Worlds

Obsidian Entertainment executive producer Darren Monahan explains how Neverwinter Nights 2's enhanced graphics engine will add a cinematic quality to the game.

The traditional computer role-playing game usually starts you off as a destitute slob of an adventurer who must fight against dastardly rats until he can gain higher experience levels and start laying claim to fabulous treasures with his party of elves, wizards, and, possibly, skeletons. Obsidian Entertainment's Neverwinter Nights 2 will attempt to go beyond the stereotype by offering a massive single-player campaign, as well as a full set of editing tools that will let players create their own online adventures. In this designer diary, executive producer Darren Monahan explains how the game's enhanced graphics will add a cinematic touch to all that hacking and slashing.

Crafting Cinematic Worlds


By Darren Monahan
Executive Producer, Obsidian Entertainment

The game will allow for cinematic lighting and huge 3D environments.

When we first set out to design Neverwinter Nights 2, we looked to the community as a source for inspiration and ideas. We had found that many users wanted even more options and greater control through the toolset to bring their worlds alive. One of the first big departures from the first game we decided upon was to allow our designers (and you!) the ability to sculpt exterior areas using a system called "height mapping" instead of the tile-based system in the original NWN. We liked this idea because it would make for more organic and natural areas in the game, and would really help distinguish between travel within dungeons and close quarters to a more-expansive, 3D feel for exteriors. Throughout the course of the game, you will scale the sides of mountains, look over deep chasms, and visit cities that sit atop great cliffs overlooking the Sea of Swords.

A major challenge in building our new rendering technology for Neverwinter Nights 2 was to continue the dynamic theme of the first game. We wanted to let you modify everything in real time and have it displayed in game and in the toolset as soon as the change was made. To this end, we implemented several powerful systems with the goal of empowering you to create more-cinematic worlds and experiences.

One of these systems is a fully dynamic day/night cycle. In designing this system, we identified all the key components: Yep, you need a sun, and you need a moon. You need clouds, a sky, some settings for fog, and stars for your nighttime sky. With the next-generation renderer we created, we decided we really needed to go all-out and provide a whole slew of other options. Let's start with what we've done with the skies. In NWN2, you can control the color of both the upper atmosphere (also known as the zenith) as well as the horizon. This allows for beautiful sunrises and sunsets, with mixes of purples and oranges. You can vary cloud density anywhere from sparse clouds to thick overhead cover. You can control the velocity at which clouds move. You can also control the wind, which causes trees in the game to shake. Imagine creating your own module where the skies are dark, clouds roll by with tremendous speed, and the wind blows heavily. You can really set up some dramatic and epic moments with these tools.

SPOILER ALERT: This cemetery may or may not contain skeletons.

For the day/night cycle, we let you customize a handful of stages. As time passes, the game morphs between your stages in realistic ways. In these stages, you can modify how intense the light of the sun or moon is, how much fog is present at that time of day (allowing for foggy mornings that clear up as you approach noon), as well as setting how "bloomy" the world looks. If you love the way Fable looks, for example, and want to have your module convey that same style, you can jack up the bloom settings. If you prefer a more realistic, gritty look to the world, you can tone these down. Sound like too much control? Don't worry--the game comes with a default set of day/night cycles that we use in our campaign. If you just want to use those, you can simply apply them to your modules. But if you want to create the next "time of troubles" or modules that take place in one of the nine hells, you can take advantage of your power to control the skies.

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Discussion

71 comments
Tay_Esh
Tay_Esh

man if i hadn't pre ordered this i think i would never get it!

Link6746
Link6746

......I am glad I pre-ordered this. specially since I plan on making prefab bosses for folks to use. in their own areas. so now I can create demon and devil bosses that have areas with red skies, black clouds, dead trees, dead land, extremely fast winds, and bunches and bunches of lesser demons or devils. Awesome.

SinfulSpikey
SinfulSpikey

Single and multiplayer with editing tools that allow you to customise both.

TheIrishSnipa
TheIrishSnipa

What kind of online play does this game have?

Nulify
Nulify

dunno what to say

SadisticSid
SadisticSid

It doesn't matter how pretty they make NWN2, the sound must also be up to par, especially the voice acting. Someone mentioned Irenicus from BG2, whose sense of power came from the fact that his VA was done by David Warner combined with an interesting background. He wasn't just an Evil Creature of Doom Who Feels Like Destroying the Kingdom +10, like in practically every other D&D game there's been on the PC. Let's hope Obsidian repeat the success in RPGs as they had as Black Isle.

shumaza
shumaza

Do you guys think if i can run doom, half life 2/dark messiah demo without uber lag that i could run this one?

Goombaloo
Goombaloo

Can't wait for this... hope i can run it...

mnmnanu
mnmnanu

i have been waiting for this one. glad to see them get moving on it

AceRampage
AceRampage

Hurrah!!! Can't wait for it to be out!!!

Mad_Alien
Mad_Alien

How about the story line gose is it related to the old nwn ?

rez22
rez22

im going to love this one....and a message to iDShaDoW:there is no such thing as a game thats too open ended........

iDShaDoW
iDShaDoW

Yup, I'm definitely looking forward to this one too. Been awhile since a good single-player RPG has been released. Oblivion was good, but it was a bit too-open ended for my liking.

earthnuggets
earthnuggets

Judging from the scenes in the new movie, I must say the map editor intrigues me more than anything else. It looks far more intuitive than the original's and seems very reminiscent of Stronghold 2's. With that said, I hope the base game is very not reminiscent of Stronghold 2's.

Matt7895
Matt7895

Looking forward to NWN2, got the Limited Edition pre-ordered already.

Thanos_of_MW
Thanos_of_MW

I'm with lumfan :D If there is a wizard class, I'll buy the game.

bo_geddes
bo_geddes

apple intel support will get my disposable income.

lumfan
lumfan

As long as they keep the Wizard class character, i'm there. Give it up for the Wizards! Who's with me!

toxicmog
toxicmog

I cant wait to jump into this game. Never winter nights games are always good.

alexpheno
alexpheno

The first one was a great game, this one looks promicing also but to me right now the graphics look kind of sterile, i hope they will be able to put more accent on the characters. One of my favourite villain in RPGs is Jon Irenicus from baldur's gate, if they can recreate a similar character they will be my idols for the rest of my days :)

death5ter
death5ter

Hoping it will be a Total Difference to Oblivion's Gameplay... NVM the graphics....

bstaaden
bstaaden

I've heard that the minimum requirements will be 2.2GHz P4 with 512MB of RAM and an NVidia 5600Ultra or ATI 9500pro or better. Of course, a lot of the effects mentioned probably require much better than minimum to take advantage of. We're also still a couple months out, too, so not sure if they've actually released official specs.

Andraste65
Andraste65

Yea, I can't wait either. But I'll be a bit busy with school so I don't know how much time I'll have.

perk-user
perk-user

Wow... just wow... Can't wait for the game to be released.

MartyredShadow
MartyredShadow

Two words. Oh. Wow. We really need more RPGs like this.

Da1ShrpSh0trGrl
Da1ShrpSh0trGrl

Thats pretty sweet!!! It also looks very addictive. Does anyone knows the hardware requirements???

caveturd
caveturd

looks awesome...really doubt my comp can handle this...it stinks to high heaven

stevenscott14
stevenscott14

Fingers crossed that this game will be as good as the first, I guess. Hold on tight people, this is going to be one hell of a ride.

jonathanseese
jonathanseese

Sure it will look great, but do we need the top of the line CPU + video card to run it smoothly? Probably not.

arterberry
arterberry

NWN kept me sane - when all I had was my PC. No TV, not even dial-up Internet - I was in the middle of Delaware - on a job. Well - all of that has changed - and I am looking forward to NWN2. I don't have as much times on my hands as I used to, but I think I wili make time for this!

Andraste65
Andraste65

This will be one of the few game I buy when it first come out.

kasertia
kasertia

Wait a second ... that's a round bale of hay. Can I drive the baler?

Nuclear_Kernel
Nuclear_Kernel

The article starts with The traditional computer role-playing game usually starts you off as a destitute slob of an adventurer who must fight against dastardly rats until he can gain higher experience levels and start laying claim to fabulous treasures ... and continues with day/night cycle and how wonderfull that is. SUCH A C***K BLOCK. I play RPG for the story, the characters in it not for the wonderfull graphics or what powerfull weapon I' ll get if I kil a X boss.

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

really good stuff ... *looks at my PC* ... need to upgrade this crap I call a PC.

Karjah
Karjah

looks great. We may have a classic in the making. :) The quality of design is deffinatly up there.

Juggernaut
Juggernaut

Age of Conan will do that Kirtai. You develop your character in a single player game then go on into the MMORGP. Maybe you knew that already but just thought I would mention it anyway.

Kirtai
Kirtai

They need to take the model for this game, and make a MMORPG from it, where you develop your character in a single player game, then take it online into the multiplayer portion...

supersonic97
supersonic97

Wooo! I can't wait. Wanna design...WANNA DESIGN!! >.

Fallout_red
Fallout_red

Crazy, this is really crazy. If they really pull off this right, this will become a classic like Baldurs Gate.

iljandir
iljandir

This game is gonna rock! I know there are some who complain about the fighting style here but you gotta consider the fact that every single hit and slash you do are based on a dice roll + your characters abilities + your enemies ability to defend itself. That's a lot of things to consider at the same time. So why have this system? Well because it makes for a much more varied character system and every hit is based halfly on luck and ablities. In many other rpg's it gets really boring after awhile because you play in the same world with the same characters and no matter how many times you take a warrior class you get the feeling your playing the same character over and over again. That feeling isn't here, hopefully! Here you can make a truly unique character in a truly unique world that you may aswell make yourself! If you want to that is. And this game is good because it's based on a ruleset that has been tested all over and under. The D&D 3,5 D20 system is the best flowing roleplaying system in the world.

Hikiera
Hikiera

I wonder what other settings they've added for modding...

eiru
eiru

spankin'

robybaggio
robybaggio

I'm guessing this will be better than oblivion