So, I was noting earlier that I'm very positive about Neverwinter. I was talking about this on Of Course I'll Play It, and I'd like to expand a bit on that, and in particular, why I'm happier that it's not a full-on MMO.

Neverwinter is going to be using the 4th Edition D&D ruleset. I'm happy with that; 4E is structured and built in such a way that it'll make a very good computer game. Indeed, when it was first released, it was accused of being influenced more by MMOs than previous editions of the tabletop game.

It's going to be a co-op game. That means small groups - I'm guessing up to 8 players, at most - rather than the open worlds of the MMO environment. This is, of course, how D&D is supposed to work. The notion of a 25-man raid in D&D is... well, it's wrong. D&D is a small group game.

Further, in any D&D setting, even in the Forgotten Realms, which are crawling with adventurers, planar travellers, and so forth, the player party should stand out from the peasants. It's nigh-on impossible to get that feeling in a game where everything else that moves is also a maxed-out geared-up adventurer.

And then there's this Forge thing they're talking about, which allows people to write their own content. That notion of rolling your own is an essential part of D&D, and has also been a tradition of the Neverwinter Nights games - to which this is clearly related. All the best D&D campaigns are written not by the professional writers in Wizards of the Coast, but by the individual DMs who are running them.

To be honest, the only thing that really concerns me about Neverwinter is Cryptic; they don't have a good reputation for producing games that start out well. Star Trek Online, for instance, was not really a finished game at launch. However, given this quote from the Gamespot interview with Jack Emmert, Cryptic's COO, I think they know they've done things wrong in the past, and that's the first step toward getting it right this time:

It's not a standard, hundreds-of-hours-grinding MMORPG. Mind you, we've done those in the past. This represents a huge departure from our previous efforts; we're focusing a lot on the quality of each thing we do. We've got constant playtests as well as outside, independent mock reviews. We know that Atari gave us a terrific intellectual property, and we want to do it justice.

Posted by Drew Shiel at August 23, 2010 9:28 PM

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