Neverwinter Nights 2 Designer Diary #1 - Welcome to the New Neverwinter

Designer Chris Avellone kicks off our designer diary series for this anticipated role-playing game by laying out some of its new features.


Neverwinter Nights 2

Neverwinter Nights 2 was recently named our Best Role-Playing Game of E3 this year, and for good reason. The sequel to 2002's acclaimed and best-selling Neverwinter Nights will introduce beautiful graphics and a greater emphasis on storytelling. At the same time, all the tools introduced in the first game have been enhanced, so you'll be able to create your own levels and adventures and then share them with friends and strangers alike on the Internet, or download someone else's creation and enjoy that instead. (Unfortunately, existing Neverwinter Nights modules won't be compatible with the sequel.) With the game due out later this year, we'll kick off our designer diary series with designer Chris Avellone, who gives us some insight into what Obsidian Entertainment wants to accomplish.

Role-Playing for the People

By Chris Avellone
Designer, Obsidian Entertainment

Obsidian was excited for the opportunity to do the sequel to Neverwinter Nights. Our first task was to determine exactly how to take this extremely successful franchise and evolve it even further for the casual player and the hardcore fans and mod builders. We didn't want to change it entirely. The first game provided a single-player campaign, multiplayer, and the signature toolset that allowed players to build their own Dungeons & Dragons modules to run for their friends or even release to the public on a variety of sites. Many of those modules have received numerous accolades, and many of those same module builders have used their skills to even land jobs within the game industry, and we hope to continue that trend in the modules we see built for Neverwinter Nights 2.

Neverwinter Nights 2 introduces a new graphics engine, so there's a lot more detail on screen than in the original.
Neverwinter Nights 2 introduces a new graphics engine, so there's a lot more detail on screen than in the original.

It was no easy task, however; not only did we have the high expectations of the first game and the expansions to live up to (easily five to six years of a labor of love by Bioware and company), but we also had to see in what ways we could improve the toolset, the gameplay, and the graphics even further. In the end, we did end up recoding a great deal of the toolset to make changes for the fans and make scripting and layout a bit easier, and I think the mod community will be pretty happy with the end result. The exterior environment changes alone are pretty amazing, with a variety of tinting and layout options allowing you to modify the skybox and the terrain to create cool fantasy locales or even fantastical extraplanar locations such as Baator or the Abyss.

The creatures were no small matter, either. In fact, some of the monsters in the game are not only gruesome and deadly, but they are extremely large as well, such as the red dragon. We received a lot of support and feedback from Wizards of the Coast on making sure the look of the monsters and characters were just right, and the end result is a pretty impressive selection of foes for the player to match swords (and occasionally wits) with.

The creatures aren't the only thing we're showcasing in the game, though. Few models have received the same amount of attention as the player character models themselves, and we allow a broad spectrum of character visual options for you to adjust as you see fit to get the type of character you want. You can select hair color, highlights, skin tone, eyes, and even more with each player character and customize them until they look and feel like your character. But the visual look alone is only half of it. We also allow for a number of new base classes (warlock) and a range of prestige classes (among them Shadow Thief of Amn and Arcane Trickster) to define your character the way you want and choose the career path you want. In addition to the warlock, we have the classic range of D&D professions, such as the fighter, ranger, paladin, rogue, druid, priest, wizard, sorcerer, and more, and even familiars and animal companions to accompany you on your adventures.

The new camera will let you zoom in close in on the action, so it looks more like an action game at times.
The new camera will let you zoom in close in on the action, so it looks more like an action game at times.

The battles you'll have over the course of the game range from epic fights against legions of enemies to up-close and personal, one-on-one combat with a frenzied berserker boss. The camera control really lets you zoom in and see you and your companions in the midst of battle. When the camera's behind your character's shoulder, seeing the towering umber hulk or the swipe of a dragon's tail truly becomes impressive. If you prefer a more tactical feel, we also support the camera jumping to full isometric view, so you can get a feel for more multiopponent tactical battles.

We welcome any comments or suggestions you guys may have, so if you have any thoughts or feedback, or come visit us to chat about other stuff on the Obsidian Entertainment forums. We welcome anything you'd like to share. This isn't the last developer diary and video interview, by any means. We have many more developer video diaries coming up, and we can't wait to reveal some more of the cool stuff we're showcasing in Neverwinter Nights 2. Check back here from time to time, and I hope you're looking forward to Neverwinter Nights 2 as much as we're looking forward to delivering it to you and seeing what modules you can build with it.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

  •   View Comments (0)
    Join the conversation
    There are no comments about this story