Neverwinter Nights 2, the follow-up to 2002's hit fantasy role-playing game, arrives in stores this week. But before you rush out and get a copy so you can create an adventurer to quest around in Dungeons & Dragons' popular Forgotten Realms campaign setting, executive producer Darren Monahan has a few more things to say about the game, which was developed by Obsidian Entertainment. In this final edition of our designer diary series for Neverwinter Nights 2, he tells us about the first patch, as well as some interesting new ways to take advantage of the game's toolset to create your very own D&D adventures.
One More Thing...By Darren Monahan
Executive Producer, Obsidian Entertainment
Hi folks! First off, thank you for taking the time to read the final developer diary for Neverwinter Nights 2--at least the last one before the game is available in stores (which is tomorrow morning at the time of this writing!). We're wrapping up our first patch, which goes live in a few hours for a same-day release with the game.
This first patch has a number of new goodies in it. First up is our initial release of the new Dungeon Master Client (DMC). The DMC is a powerful tool BioWare created in the original Neverwinter Nights that allows one or more players to act as a dungeon master, or DM. As a DM, a suite of tools are available for you to rapidly change content in a game, all while players are busy adventuring. The DMC being one of the multiplayer and persistent-world communities' most popular features, we're planning to continue to add more to it over the next couple patches, including interface refinements and even a few new features. With this patch, we've also included some new druid spells and fixed up a lot of things our community beta testers and quality-assurance folks have discovered along the way. For those of you picking up the game in the next few days, I highly recommend nabbing the patch.
Enough about the patch, though. In this last diary, I wanted to focus on a little bit of the new toolset, which allows you to create your own role-playing adventures and worlds. When we set off to rewrite the original toolset from scratch, we looked at other successful products to see what truly sets them apart. One of my favorite features of Mozilla's Firefox browser, for example, is the hundreds of small applets, many written by fans of the software, that can make a good user experience an exceptional one. When designing the new user interface and toolset for Neverwinter Nights 2, we wanted to give the builder community more hooks into the game to do what it wants, which ultimately empowers you to do more on top of any future content released by Obsidian or Atari.
To demonstrate this effectively, though, I really have to turn to the incredibly talented people in our toolset beta test. While I only focus on a few of the things they've turned out with little help, I want to say that there have been a lot of really impressive and innovative ideas coming from such a relatively small group in such a short period of time. I am so excited by the potential for what we'll see out in the community in a few weeks when everyone has had access to the game.
OK, enough of my blabbering. Let's check out some of these cool plug-ins people have created so far!
sidefx's Yet Another Terrain Tool: One of Neverwinter Nights 2's strengths (but something that does take up quite a bit of time) is the ability to create very organic-looking environments using a set of fairly simple brushes within the toolset. When you're a DM on the run and want to generate a bunch of new maps quickly, you can use this plug-in to simply do a Web search for "height map," take any qualifying height map out there that suits you, and easily import it into the toolset.
GuS' M4C Land & Tree Generator: If you don't have a height map handy, take a look at this generator. One new feature of the toolset is a brush that allows you to paint trees in your levels. The game ships with a fairly wide variety of different types of trees, including seasonal sets for spring and fall. The process for placing trees is a manual one: You must paint them down one at a time...until now. GuS' M4C land and tree generator allows you to randomly generate the terrain, choose the season of trees you'd like to place down, select your new forest's tree density, and randomize the overall size of the individual trees to create a very convincing, natural-looking forest in a few seconds.
Vordan's Shop Wizard: On the design side of things, Vordan's shop wizard is a fantastic plug-in that makes it easy to generate new in-game shops quickly. It uses a very simple category system with a clean interface to make creating shops a snap. It also lets you create a new conversation for the shopkeeper and review the script before it's finished, all within one easy-to-use wizard.
Lazjen's Suite of Plug-Ins: Last in this article, but certainly not the least, is Lazjen's suite of plug-ins. He provides a very simple viewer for searching and displaying the thousands of icons in the game, as well as an improved viewer for looking at the various sky rings available, wrapping it up with a really nice store tool.
Whether you're thinking about dabbling in building your own modules or are a hardcore builder, I highly recommend heading over to the official Neverwinter Nights 2 forums and taking a look at what some of the other very talented folks are doing. Some really great stuff is either already out now or close on the horizon.
I focused our last diary on toolset customization and cool plug-ins, but if you're not planning to fire up the toolset or play online anytime soon, don't worry--Neverwinter Nights 2 still has plenty for you. We put a tremendous amount of effort into making a fun single-player Dungeons & Dragons game with all the bells and whistles. If you've been missing that "old-school" feel of the Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale series of role-playing games, but still want some of the luxuries of what a modern game can give you, Neverwinter Nights 2 awaits!