Neverwinter Nights 2 Designer Diary #4 - The Coolest Things in Neverwinter Nights 2

Lead designer Josh Sawyer introduces us to his favorite features (like arson) in Neverwinter Nights 2, the sequel to 2002's acclaimed fantasy role-playing game.

Role-playing games such as Neverwinter Nights 2 immerse you into another world, and another life. You can take on the role of a warrior, thief, magician, and more, as you pursue a great quest, usually to defeat evil. With Neverwinter Nights 2, however, the focus is on improving the role-playing experience, as you can do lots of activities that you weren't able to do in the original game, like engaging in a little arson on the side for fun. It sounds a bit twisted, but that's how lead designer Josh Sawyer likes it. And in his designer diary, Sawyer tells us what he loves about the game. Neverwinter Nights 2 is scheduled to ship around the end of the month.

10 Things to Do in Neverwinter 2

By Josh Sawyer
Lead Designer, Obsidian Entertainment

When developing a game, it's important for the developers to play the game. This might seem obvious, but it's easy to lose sight of the fact that we're making something that other people are going to use. We're making entertainment appliances, and a user's experience goes beyond what can be imagined, expressed in an area document, or visualized in an editor. It's a series of moments made up of their interactions and reactions to what the game gives them. It can't be expressed as some sort of abstracted arithmetic, despite the fact that it's composed of things that can be easily listed and understood: accessibility, curiosity, wonder, fear, anger, excitement, disappointment, satisfaction, pacing, frustration, amusement, and so on.

There will be lots to see and do in Neverwinter Nights 2, the follow-up to 2002's acclaimed RPG.

To understand why anyone would pick our game up or put it down, I set out on a three-week adventure through the highs and lows of the Neverwinter Nights 2 official campaign. There were, in fact, some lows. But, guess what, this article is meant to entice you to buy the game, so we'll skip the lows and go right to the highs. You should rest assured, though, as Obsidian's bug-fixing gnomes have constructed an antibug golem to automagically fix any and all problems I experienced during the course of my play-through. With that in mind, please join me as I recount my top 10 coolest things in the Neverwinter Nights 2 official campaign.

1. Cool Tutorial - I never get tired of playing our tutorial. Actually, that's a lie. I've played our tutorial about 30 times, and when I start it up now, I long for the sweet release of death. However, I do not want to murder everyone involved in the creation of our tutorial after 30 sessions! That means that if you play through it once or five times, you'll love it! Seriously, it's a lot of fun. You get to help a child engage in theft, and you can expose the fraudulent flimflams of an old man and his pig. What else can you ask for? You might be asking, "But can I beat up some jerks with clubs?" You got it, pal.

2. Role-Playing - When I made my character, Sass Afrass, I gave her the tale-teller background trait. I decided to role-play this by "bluffing" (lying) any time I had the [LIE] or [BLUFF] options in dialogue, regardless of how terrible the results of failure might be. I had a lot of opportunity to do this! Also, I had a lot of opportunity to fail my bluff checks because I didn't put many points into bluff. Often, people got mad at me and attacked me with magic missiles, and my character slowly started telling the truth. I think my character learned a little something about honesty and I learned a little something about life!

Bluffing your way is an option, though you might tick off a lot of people along the way.

3. Guyven of the Road - Who is this dude? Why is he hiding in the grass all over the Sword Coast? What secrets does he know? These are mysteries you can solve if you find this discrete halfling during your travels. Then again, maybe you aren't a cool enough explorer to be Guyven's pal. Find him, before it's too late!

4. Death's Herald +5, Hellbane +3, and Fiendbreaker +4 - I bet these sound like the names of magic items I found in the game. You'd be wrong, my friend! These are magic items I crafted in the game from adamantine ingots and fire beetle glands and a bunch of garnets. Crafting in our game takes a long time, but when you can make a flaming frost cold iron greatsword +3, it's pretty much worth it. Given Dungeon & Dragons 3.5's damage-reduction rules, it's nice to be able to have a full toolset, so to speak. "Sorry, Ms. Werewolf, you're taking the express train to shocking frost alchemical silver greatsword +4 town!" And colors/italics/boldface? Yeah, you can type those in the name field when you enchant items. I tried to make a rainbow staff to celebrate the diversity of my party, but the field wasn't long enough.

Greetings Ribsmasher!

5. Take Back the Streets! With Money! And Fire! - One of the routes through the game can be achieved by joining the city watch of Neverwinter. However, you can be a really corrupt watchman, which is pretty sweet. Bribery and graft are awesome! Alternately, you can side with the thugs and burn down the watch headquarters. Arson is awesome! If you're a pyromaniac with a heart of gold, you even have the option of burning down the watch headquarters and going inside to warn the residents so they don't get roasted alive. Merciful criminal torch-jobs are awesome!

Beware! A dragon is a very difficult enemy to battle. And two dragons are even tougher.

6. Ribsmasher - To be honest, Ribsmasher is kind of a "wacky" character, but he's still quite the lovable scamp. Locked up in a goblin fortress, the player can set this crazy monk free! Or kill him. But setting him free has much more hilarious results, as Ribsmasher will smash the ribs of any hostile creature he finds. When he runs out of ribs to smash, he'll smash doors, chests, alchemist's workbenches, etc.

7. Crossroad Keep - In case you haven't been following NWN2's development, you can get a keep in the official campaign. Crossroad Keep starts out as a run-down rubble-littered dump where no one wants to live or work. By directing your staff of cool dudes, you can build it up and make it fancy again. You can recruit folks from all over the place to work at the keep, including a dimensional planes-hopping wizard and an aasimar fighter called Light of Heavens. The latter has a sister who will dance in your tavern if you can find her. What other games let you have aasimar dancers in your personal tavern, huh?! Huh?!

8. Prestige Class Outfits - I was skeptical about this when programmer Anthony Davis brought up the idea, but it turned out great. I even took levels in Neverwinter Nine just so I could wear my sweet Neverwinter Nine tunic whilst patrolling my lands. I saved my eldritch knight chain shirt for "field work." Only people with levels in the appropriate prestige class can wear prestige-class outfits. Except for people with a lot of ranks in the "use magic device" ability. They are dirty, dirty cheaters.

9. Killing a Bunch of Druids - Even though I actually like the idea of druids, they always wind up sassin' off to me when I play RPGs. They're pretty pushy people. "Don't burn down the forest!" this and "You are disrupting the Mere of Dead Men!" that. Well, let me tell you: If you play your cards right, you can waste a whole bunch of these guys in our official campaign. That'll show 'em. However, you will have to watch out for flame strikes and ice storms and myriad other nature spells/druids in animal form.

The role-playing possibilities in Neverwinter Nights 2 sound cool, and we can't wait for the game to ship later this month.

10. Dragon Encounters - There was a time when someone in quality assurance said, "Hey, these dragon fights aren't hard enough." That is no longer spoken. Hopefully, you will enjoy fighting and trying to defeat these colossal foes. The only thing I enjoyed more than defeating them was hauling loot out of the big one's lair down the side of a huge mountain infested with fire giants.

There are a lot of other cool things about our official campaign. And there's also all the toolset and multiplayer stuff, but you've already probably read all about that. I think people will really enjoy our official campaign and be able to make their own lists of cool things they found and did. I certainly know there are many more things to see that I missed and many more ways to play the game. Wheeee!

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Discussion

45 comments
davonas
davonas

let me answer the question now

DarthMuffin
DarthMuffin

@ dibdib: Alignment shifts is the way NWN handles consequences for actions. NWN2 (at least the single player) should be better in that respect since party members will react to what you do and gain or loose influence depending on that (à la KotOR 2).

dibdib
dibdib

The problem is that I've played the previous installment, so I don't doubt the flexibility of the game. The problem with these games is there are never any consequences for your actions. Sure in NWN you could run around town and kill everything in sight, but it didn't make a damn difference because you were still hailed as the hero with people singing you praises. I'm not reading anywhere here that burning down houses will have any repurcussions, just that you can do it which makes the role playing aspect tantamount to make believe. So no matter how often you're allowed to choose from boasting or threats, the single player will still be worthless and they may as well be making an MMO.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I might get it

DarthMuffin
DarthMuffin

To get back on the Oblivion vs NWN2 piece, I must say that I am very optimistic. NWN2 has the big modules & multiplayer advantage, which I believe is better than the TES editor. Oblivion is a great game, but it fails on a few key aspects. From what I have seen of NWN2 (which is not much, I admit) and my experience with NWN1, I believe that NWN2 will be at least as good as Oblivion, but it will undoubtedly have a better replay value. As an almost-pure action game, Oblivion offers little novelty with different characters. Although different skill matches do create different characters, you either hit people with a sword or with boring spells. In both cases, it's button mashing. NWN (and the other DnD CRPGs for that matter) offer more than this. Oblivion will most likely have the upper hand on the setting/world department; the tileset system used in the NWNs and having the story broken up in different modules breaks the immersion. Overall, while both are great games, I expect to have more fun with NWN2. @ Bagge87: While playing a DnD CRPGs does require more attention than playing Diablo, I must say that many people underestimate the Diablo games. If you really take the time to think about what skill combos are available, the simple 2 button game can become much more complex than you think. But yeah, I too think it's a bad comparison.

Bagge87
Bagge87

There is a big diffrent on Diablo and NWN2 Diablo... is more of a hackin slasch game... NWN2 is a rp game... where you need to use your mind... you dont need a brain to play diablo mate...

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

I like RPGes (Diablo 2 is one of my favourite games) so this is a must have for me. The question is: Will NWN2 be better thar Oblivion? (yes, they are different but their both fantasy RPGes, aren't they?)

iDShaDoW
iDShaDoW

If you're willing to not play the game based on a single article... well... enjoy playing something else. I'm still playing this regardless.

lime05
lime05

Errr, am i the only one who sense's a overwelming aura of desperation in this man's voice ? Im really sorry , but you have first handly just put me right-off NWN 2. You list of "10" exciting things, im afraid were anything but. ! I smell a lemon ! *YAWN*

MartyredShadow
MartyredShadow

Aasimar dancer! Yay! Is she hot? Seriously though, this sounds like an amazing game.

Spandia
Spandia

did you guys read the articile? bio-ware has nothing to do with this game, when they said they were talking to the lead designer of obsidian entertainment , they ment OBSIDIAN ENTERTAINMENT , not bioware. On a side note NWN II will rock

Shalkash
Shalkash

For those of you taking this too seriously, there was an earlier article on role-playing and politics worth checking out. Also, the game looks great!

narutoramen
narutoramen

the new crafting system seems cool i don't know if they're gonna have it for nwn2 or not, but i would like them to bring back random encounters like baldur's gate. nwn1 was so barren after you killed all the enemies.

FoodThing00
FoodThing00

Nothing about a storyline...sigh..I hope it ateast will be acceptable, unlike NWN1, but..bioware. 'nuff said. I'll still propably buy this though, the gameplay sounds fun, well..besides the fact that they seem to put alot of emphasis on dragon and druid killing.Seriously, a game needs more than killing. I realise that obsidian is developing the game, but aslong as bioware even got it's filthy name associated with this title, i'll stay catious. Sigh...BLACK ISLE, I SUMMON THY SPIRIT TO CREATE GAMES AGAIN...AOUMMMMM..... *chants*

AL13NK1LL3R
AL13NK1LL3R

to all people thinks bioware is makin this game, u are stupid, it not bioware and if u dont belive me then go to summary and it says right there.... nw2 looks sweet but i need new graphic card, crap lol !

Objulen
Objulen

I'm really looking forward to NWN 2. I haven't played an RPG of this type (as opposed to Morrowind/Oblivion, which were really good but in a different way) that really impressed me since the days of BG/Fallout/PS:T. KotOR II came close, but we can thank Lucas and Co. (more of the Co. than Lucas, I'd imagine) for mucking the ending of that up. Hopefully, Obsidian has managed to get the time they need to make this game right, and we'll have a very satisfying RP'ing experiance all the way through.

Thomasskins
Thomasskins

Maybe just me but it looks a little rough & diddnt exactly have an exiting report pluss the bad points (which there were) we never stated, there could be more bad points than good, i think i'll tag this 1 & watch a little more before i make my mind up.

audioust
audioust

this looks, umm, very never wintery. cool.

Matt7895
Matt7895

Will people STOP saying Bioware are making this game? Obsidian are the developers, not Bioware!

jazztrumpet5
jazztrumpet5

"Thanks Bioware, for giving us another piece of garbage"........ Wow, I actually didn't know Bioware EVER gave us a piece of garbage. Personally, I can't freaking wait for this game. I think it'll be well-done, like all the other "garbage BW has produced.

lumin_4
lumin_4

Every one of those 10 "Coolest Things" could be done in Neverwinter NIghts 1. If killing druids and dragons is among the top 10, I'll pass on this one. Thanks Bioware, for giving us another piece of garbage.

jubblerbug
jubblerbug

I've been looking forward to playing this game for a while now... i'm so glad that they decided to put more effort into the single player campaign. The single player campaign in the original neverwinter nights story (not the expansions) was ok, but i need more character interaction dammit!

megadisc
megadisc

I've always been a super huge fan of never winter... so let me know as soon as it comes out ... if you have any beta releases please feel free to let me try it . . thanks . . .

alijib
alijib

One Can never have all of the Neverwinter Nights! But, I will wait and play my cards right to conquer it. Again!

Georgezzz
Georgezzz

Those are the Graphics I wanted ! Great work.. We will all love NWN2

directfromhell
directfromhell

One of the good things about neverwinter nights are the modules. Even if the original game sucks, I am sure someone will come up with great modules that makes the game worth all the money. Frankly, I have heard a lot about the game already. I would be glad if they just gave us the game and let us decide it for ourselves.

kasco
kasco

All of it sounds cool and excellent, especially the Crossroad Keep. Hopefully they give more information about the keep, its role in the main campaign. Reminds me of 'Suikoden'. Cant wait to get this game in 3weeks time.

mintcar
mintcar

Mutated_Nantuko: So amusing, no I mean irritating, with all this talk about nerfs and big reactions based on some gut reaction from forum drama queens over at wow's official site. Your hunter is not being nerfed, quiet the opposite.

EdwardX2
EdwardX2

This game is going to be so p0wnage...

Mutated_Nantuko
Mutated_Nantuko

Goodbye WoW. I just read that my hunter is gonna get nerfed, so on to NWN. And oh, what a glorious game it will be.

Atomic_Mutant
Atomic_Mutant

I'm raring to play the game, but the graphics sort of look wonderfully horrendous. I really hope that the game will be as complete as they seem to let on, although what with their KOTOR2 debacle, I'd say wait for the general reception at the Bioware forums before purchasing it. Because as intriguing and wonderful the myriad of choices seems from the outset, any number of bugs may considerably short change the gameplay in the end. BTW, interface seems to be improved a lot...good work there.

CyphenX
CyphenX

Must... Have... Game... too bad... PC... can't even run... counterstrike...

JefHol15
JefHol15

I can't wait for this game! as much anticipation as i have for NWN 2, i am equal in my want of the first expansion. And the work of the fan based community. I'm waiting for the day when i can play as a lizardfolk. and not have the game glitch up on me...wood elves for now.

myrllellei
myrllellei

Looks & sounds like Obsidian really created a great game here... but then, who doubted them? Maybe even the hard core role-players will be happy with it (for a few days anyway). With the custom made magic items and pumped up dragons, a power gamer like me will be happy all the way through (and again, and again).

BlitzTiger
BlitzTiger

SWEET..... can't wait anymore...

doolies
doolies

I cannot wait for this game. Goodbye DDO, hello NWN2!

VegetaMaelstrom
VegetaMaelstrom

This is a definite must buy. And my monk won't be warning the bloody city watch guards when he torches their headquarters. Die you scallywags, die!

xBALOx
xBALOx

i want it now! buuuaaaaaa *cryes* NOW! :P

mrbass208
mrbass208

Sounds like fun. Too bad we have to wait 3 more weeks