Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor is currently in the pre-alpha stage. The character models all look fairly final, and many spell effects are already in the game, but the interface has yet to be finalized and as yet is not implemented. Moreover, the game's wide range of monsters, non-player characters, locations, and animations are still being developed. However, things are looking good, and Ruins of Myth Drannor looks promising even now, despite the fact that the ship date is still almost ten months away. The official release date is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2000.
The big draw for role-playing game fans will be that Ruins of Myth Drannor will mark SSI's return to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons computer game franchise that they used to control exclusively. During the '80s, only SSI produced AD&D-licensed computer role-playing games, such as the original Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Secret of the Silver Blades. Although SSI's reign over the computer AD&D RPG market ended with the failed Deathkeep game, the publisher plans on a triumphant return with Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. It will be aided in that endeavor by Wizards of the Coast (the owner of the AD&D license), which has ordained that Ruins of Myth Drannor will be the first computer game to feature the upcoming 3rd Edition AD&D rules set.
Although AD&D has been around for over twenty years, it is only on its second edition of rules. The 3rd Edition rules, which will become available in August, will feature major revisions and updates to the game. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor will employ all the new rules to create a computer game that should have all the traditional AD&D nuances and details, without some of the more questionable rules. For instance, the new skills and heroic feats system will give players the opportunity to customize their characters even further than was possible in games such as Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment, and the new character races, classes, and spells will make it uniquely different than any other AD&D game before it. While specific details about the 3rd Edition rules are still unavailable for release, it has already been revealed that half-orcs, barbarians, and eighth-level cleric spells are a part of the new rules and will appear in Ruins of Myth Drannor.
SSI has taken a different approach with Ruins of Myth Drannor than Interplay did with Baldur's Gate. While Baldur's Gate was more like an AD&D campaign with many different areas and individual "modules" to explore, Ruins of Myth Drannor will be like one massive, action-packed module. The entire game starts and ends in Myth Drannor, a once prosperous elven kingdom that has lain in ruin for over one thousand years. Your party of characters is sent in to help rid the ruins of a mysterious and malevolent magical influence that has corrupted the once-pristine sylvan setting. Although it's surprising that the game takes place in a single setting, SSI is confident that Ruins of Myth Drannor will have plenty of gameplay. The current estimate is that the game will be at least 70 to 80 hours long. There will be up to eight separate "zones" within Myth Drannor itself, and within each zone, there will be multiple dungeons that span the zone and connect to different areas. In addition, each zone is large enough that it stretches over a dozen screen lengths in width and height. So while the game's scale might seem less grand than Baldur's Gate, SSI has promised that players will rarely take a step without encountering some challenge or monster.
In the coming weeks, GameSpot will post an extended preview of the game that explores the different zones, the monsters, and the NPCs in the game, as well as the classes, new heroic feats and skills, and the spells. In the meantime, here are some screenshots.