Obsidian developing Neverwinter Nights 2

Atari and BioWare tap the KOTOR II developers to create the next version of the popular D&D RPG.

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For a company that is barely a year old, Obsidian Entertainment is awfully busy. In May, the fledgling studio inked a deal to develop the sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare's award-winning Xbox and role-playing game. Today, Obsidian announced it is taking the reigns of another of BioWare's flagship RPG series, Neverwinter Nights. As with its predecessor, Neverwinter Nights 2 will be published by Atari, with BioWare providing its Aurora Toolset and creative consulting.

In a statement, Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart expressed his gratitude at taking over the venerated franchise. “BioWare and Atari created an immense community of players attracted by both the immersion of an interactive gaming experience and the ability to create their own pen-and-paper-styled modules. Neverwinter Nights changed the very nature of role-playing games,” he said. Atari executive producer John Hight was also excited, saying, “Feargus and his team at Obsidian Entertainment are the best people on the planet to take up where BioWare left off and bring this great game to new level."

Veteran RPG fans will also be excited by the Neverwinter Nights 2 deal, since it reunites the parties behind some of the most celebrated RPG series. As president of Interplay's Black Isle Studios, Urquhart oversaw the publishing of the BioWare-developed Baldur’s Gate and Baldur's Gate 2 series, as well as the first console version of the game, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. He also developed the Icewind Dale franchise, which was based on the Baldur's Gate engine. Urquhart also worked on the celebrated postapocalyptic RPG Fallout and its sequel before leaving Black Isle last year and forming Obsidian with several luminaries from the studio.

Obsidian is already at work on Neverwinter Nights 2, which, like its forebear, will be set in the Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms universe. (Obsidian is also hiring for several positions for its "upcoming RPG products," presumably NWN2). So far, the game is (naturally) set for release for the PC, but Atari reps said a next-generation console version is a possibility. Unfortunately, gamers won't be playing it any time soon; Neverwinter Nights 2's release date has been set for 2006. Until then, Atari has opened a bare-bones Web site for the game.

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