Dungeons & Dragons designers, writers discuss the future of licensed games

Wizards of the Coast designers and noted writers weigh in on the future of licensed video games now that D&D has turned 30.


Dungeons & Dragons Online
Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone
Neverwinter Nights 2

GameSpot was fortunate enough to meet with several designers and writers at the Gen Con Indy 2004 convention to discuss the 30th anniversary of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game and what this auspicious event means for future video games that will use the license.

"We feel that Dungeons & Dragons is more than just the paper-and-pencil role-playing game," said Wizards of the Coast's special projects manager, Ed Stark. Stark went on to discuss the upcoming licensed Dungeons & Dragons PC and console games, like Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone and Neverwinter Nights 2, which will use the updated 3.5 Edition rules. Several upcoming games will also use the recently unveiled Eberron campaign setting. "Eberron has been created with computer games in mind," said Stark, who went on to explain that Wizards hopes both computer and console game fans and tabletop role-playing fans will be able to find and enjoy common ground in the new setting. "That's the future...more diverse gaming experiences all true to the Dungeons & Dragons property, but all tapping into a different type of gameplay." Stark added his own thoughts that tabletop games and computer and console games should be able to coexist peacefully rather than compete with each other for market share.

Keith Baker, freelance game designer and creator of the Eberron campaign setting, echoed this sentiment. "So far, I'm very pleased by what I've been seeing," said Baker, in reference to the way in which the Dungeons & Dragons license has been used in both current and upcoming games like Dungeons & Dragons Online and Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard. "[In some ways, video] games let you explore a broader scope of things than you can do on a tabletop, so I'm very excited to see where they go with that."

Gen Con was also attended not only by game designers, but also by writers, like TV writer David X. Cohen, whose credits include The Simpsons and Futurama, and fantasy author R.A. "Bob" Salvatore, who wrote the popular Icewind Dale novels, which star Drizzt Do'Urden, as well as the story for Atari's Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone. Salvatore expressed optimism about the ability for different media, such as fantasy novels, tabletop games, and video games to coexist peacefully in the marketplace rather than edging one another out. "I have never sold as many books as I'm selling now," said Salvatore, "and I think that [the 1998 PC game] Baldur's Gate was a big reason for that. Video games have certainly come on in force...they're fun. They're a natural extension, and...I think there's room for both." TV writer David X. Cohen also felt that the properties he worked on have a real future in computer and video games, citing previous games like Futurama for the Xbox and PS2 and suggesting that the two shows he has worked on might lend themselves well to other kinds of games in the future.

This year's Gen Con Indy 2004 is scheduled to run from Thursday, August 19, to Sunday, August 22, in its new home of Indianapolis, Indiana. The game is one of the world's largest conventions for fans of tabletop, pen-and-paper, and collectible card games, but it's also home to various computer and video game publishers who use the show as an opportunity to show their games to a new audience. For more coverage of the computer and video games on hand at the show, consult our Gen Con 2004 show page.

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