We discuss the future of Neverwinter Nights, and of RPGs in general, with Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk of BioWare.
What more can possibly be said about BioWare's Neverwinter Nights? This remarkable role-playing game was first announced almost three full years ago (and has been in development for even longer than that), and it has since become one of the most highly anticipated role-playing games ever. Neverwinter Nights will be the spiritual successor to SSI's cult-classic online game of the same name, which used Stormfront Studios' gold-box game engine and ran on America Online for about seven years. But Neverwinter Nights is going to have a lot more going for it than a pretty cardboard box--it'll also have a sizeable single-player campaign, online multiplayer play, a dungeon master mode that will let you host your own online sessions, and a powerful, versatile toolkit that will let industrious dungeon masters create their own adventures, monsters, and items. It'll also make use of Wizards of the Coasts' updated 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules, which give players a lot of interesting new options to create and design distinctive characters, especially with the inclusion of heroic feats--special abilities that let players improve the power of their magic spells, perform all sorts of devastating maneuvers in hand-to-hand combat, and much, much more.
But you probably already knew that. After all, Neverwinter Nights has consistently been one of the most talked-about games these past few years. Early on, much of that talk consisted of questions--questions about whether or not such an ambitious project was even possible, even for BioWare, the creator of the Baldur's Gate games, which many fans consider to be the quintessential role-playing game series. But in the past year or so, we've really seen Neverwinter Nights come together, no longer as a collection of lofty ideas, but as a very real (and very playable) game.
But once Neverwinter Nights finally hits store shelves, will that be it? Will BioWare be content to sit back and rest on its laurels, while the game's devoted fan community does all the work of creating new adventures? And what effect will this undoubtedly influential game have on role-playing games in general? We put these questions to BioWare's joint CEOs, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka.
GameSpot: Thanks for taking the time for this interview. Could you discuss your roles in the development of Neverwinter Nights? What specific things is each of you working on right now?
Ray Muzyka: Greg and I are joint CEOs of BioWare, and also co-executive producers on all of our projects here. As such, we try to help Trent Oster, the project director and producer on Neverwinter here at BioWare, and the rest of the development team out in any way we can--testing the game, providing suggestions on functionality, and helping coordinate with our publisher, Infogrames. The team on Neverwinter is very talented, smart, and creative, and everyone is working very hard to get the game done at a high standard of quality.
GS: Now that Neverwinter Nights' development is finally complete, would you say that the game has turned out more or less the way you wanted it to? What's been the most difficult thing about creating it? Has there been a single feature that's been most challenging to implement?
RM: The overall scope of Neverwinter is probably the most challenging aspect of [developing] the game--there is just so much content there, and so many features. All told, we have put about 160 man-years of development work into the game. Playing the single-player game through from start to finish takes about 140 hours or more if you try to do everything (that's how long it took me, in any event). The four pillars of the game--single-player, multiplayer, the module creation toolset, and the dungeon master tools--all represent significant challenges in their own right.
- Release Date: Jun 28, 2002 (EU)
- Release Date: Aug 12, 2003 (US)