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Impressions from live demonstration - lengthy

Discussion in 'Neverwinter Nights 2' started by ion, Jul 24, 2006.

  1. ion Gems: 5/31
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    Yesterday, I attended the never winter nights 2 presentation at ComicCon in San Diego. The Obsidian staff in attendance were Feargus Urquhart, CEO of Obsidian, Josh Sawyer, the lead designer NWN2, Chris Avellone, a designer of PS:T (instant credibility right there), and one of the programmers.

    I went to the presentation hoping to see some in-game footage and was definitely not disappointed. The team had the current version of NWN running through the whole 1.5 hour session, even in the background during the question and answer session. The parts of the game we got to see included character creation, the tool set, multple battles, the new class the warlock, and some of the outdoor environments

    I was only mildly excited about NWN2 before this demonstration, as NWN’s flaws kept the game from really hooking me. However, I have high hopes for NWN2 after the demonstration. Unless NWN2 is either ridiculously buggy, has a terrible AI, or just wont run smoothly on any system, (basically a problem that didn’t up during the demonstration), I just don’t see how this game wont be amazing.

    First, two issues that were particularly important to me because they are my main problems with the first game- the story telling and the henchmen.

    Story- Most people agree NWN1 was not a cinematic masterpiece. The story in the original campaign was horrid, and the text box presentation didn’t really immerse the player in the game. If nothing else, the NWN team seems to recognize the flaws of the original game. I was thrilled when the presentation team described the story of NWN2 as heavily influenced by KotOR2, a game with a truly great story. Although it was hard to get a feel for the story during the demonstration, many elements seem to support this claim. Important dialogues use a similar camera to KotOR, much like watching a movie, and several times during the demo, the crowd noted alignment changes, which Chris confirmed would affect the branching of the story, once again similar to KotOR.

    Party Control – My biggest problem with NWN1 single player is the lack of adequate party management. D&D character creation and game rules are silly and unrewarding for a solo adventure, and henchman that can’t be controlled are often more trouble than they are worth. Although it was difficult to tell exactly how much control the player has over the party, it is at least clear that the system is greatly improved from NWN1. The system slightly resembles KotOR, as the player has the ability to take complete control of other party members. It is also possible to play the game from an isometric perspective, controlling party members similar to BG2. Hopefully, NWN2 finally figures out the difficult balance of 3d action and party control.

    Other areas worth commenting about

    Character creation- This part of the demonstration was amazing. There are more aesthetic options to create distinct characters, as well as more character options in general, such as sub classes, deities, etc. The interface is very similar to NWN1; it just has a ton more content. Characters are definitely more attractive, as well. The game definitely doesn’t suffer from the Oblivion complex, where every female looks like a hermaphrodite. (The females are well endowed too, if that’s your cup of tea J) The deity selection screen was particularly impressive, with huge assortment of possible deities. (I think Josh said 120 deities were available) Each deity had a box containing information such as aliases, alignment, followers, etc. Just fantastic stuff for hardcore role players. Another highlight was the armors. The rigid, symmetrical jester suits from NWN1 have been replaced by clothing that looks straight out of the picture in your 3rd edition players manual. Much of this is due to asymmetrical outfits. For example, the rouge outfit has large pouches on one side of the outfit and several large ornate belts. It may not sound like a big deal, but the effect greatly increases the realism.

    Combat- One of my favorite things about the combat is the inclusion of an area marker for spells and abilities, similar to ToEE. Pausing the game and using this area marker to place a spell allows for much more accurate targeting. Nothing sucks more than dropping a meteor storm on your ally’s head. Mage’s now have a spell interface that can be brought up for quick casting in combat. It is similar to the wheel in ToEE, just much less clunky.

    Graphics- Because of computer limitations, I haven’t been playing many of the latest games, so it’s hard for me to compare NWN2 graphic quality to some of the latest games, such as Oblivion or Fear. However, I can definitely say that the 3d terrain makes a huge difference. In NWN1, I always felt like I was in a game area; in NWN2, it really seems like the party is traversing a fantasy forest. As with NWN1, it is apparent the team used the monster manual to for inspiration on enemy models. With the improved graphic quality, this is even cooler for D&D fans.

    Here are some random answers from the question and answer session. Much of this information has probably been revealed on message boards and stuff.

    - the dm client can not be confirmed for release. It seems like the team is starting to hit that crunch period and doesn’t want to make any promises
    - in multiplayer, alignment changes are not communal, although the tool set can change this. So your thief’s wandering fingers won’t ruin your paladin’s life J
    - only new base class is the warlock, a character with a really limited number of spells, but the ability to cast them almost a limitless number of times.
    - While the engine is technically 3d, over/under, for example on a bridge, will not be possible
    - Water is no longer an impenetrable wall, so levels can be created where characters can wade through water
    - There will be cameo’s from several NWN1 npc’s
    - They were running the game cleanly on a 2.8, 1gb of ram, 6800GS
    - Although a card with a Pixel shader 2 will run the game, the team recommended a card with a pixel shader 3
    - The tutorial is a county fair, in which the player gets points for using their skills
    - Scripting language is similar to c++ (I imagine this is the same in NWN1)
    - The game starts several years after the original NWN, so the city of NWN is still unstable
     
  2. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Great stuff, thanks for that! It sounds exciting. 120 deities? Do they influence the character's abilities in any way? Well endowed females? I'm there!
     
  3. ion Gems: 5/31
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    I assume deities atleast influence the domain spells of a cleric
     
  4. Marceror

    Marceror Chaos Shall Be Sown In Their Footsteps Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Appreciate the write up Ion. October simply won't get here quickly enough!

    I haven't been this charged up about a game since the release of BG 2. I even waited 3 - 4 months to pick up NWN 1--to give some time for bug squashing. But the concept of a party coming back in NWN2, and what promises to be an engaging storyline... coupled with the fact that NWN2 has long been referred to as a "spiritual successor" to the BG series... well, it's safe to say that I'll be taking a little time off work to indulge myself in this bad boy, perhaps will even send the wife and kid to spend a few days with her sister. Then the gluttony will begin, just like I was in college again! :p
     
  5. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Boy, those sound like extreme measures, Marceror! You are keen!
     
  6. khaavern Gems: 14/31
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    Sounds quite great... time to look for a computer upgrade :)
     
  7. Marceror

    Marceror Chaos Shall Be Sown In Their Footsteps Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Well, let's see, how long has it been since BG II was released?--at least 5 - 6 years?

    In that time I've gotten married, had a son, lost another child to miscarriage, earned 4 promotions at work, lost 3 close family members, most of my friends have started their own families, the WTC was destroyed, USA "removed" Saddam Hussien from office, American troops have seemingly become indefinitely stuck in Iraq... in short, life has happened! And dammit, I could use a few days to escape and do some mindless gaming!

    And NWN2 is just the excuse I need!
     
  8. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    That is the first time I have ever heard Saddam Hussein used as an excuse for playing computer games.
     
  9. Marceror

    Marceror Chaos Shall Be Sown In Their Footsteps Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    You know, I think it's the first time I've heard it too!

    Perhaps I went a little over the top there... :nuts:
     
  10. Rotku

    Rotku I believe I can fly Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Thanks for that summary, Ion!

    Seems that the devs are contradicting themselves, a few times. Last I heard they confirmed that the DM client would be released as a download the same day the game goes live. Not the first time they've changed their mind or given across false information though :)
     
  11. ion Gems: 5/31
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    Keep in mind the person speaking about the release of the dm client was the CEO. I'm sure he is much more careful about making promises than the typical dev staff. I think the game will ship with some form the the dm client, as the staff definitely recognized how important the client is to persistent worlds. However, I get the sense that the dm client is one of the last aspects of the game Obsidian is tackling, and they just dont want to make any promises. Also, if the initial release doesnt contain the dm client, I got the sense that a patch would.
     
  12. Sir Fink Gems: 13/31
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    My only reservation at this point is the bit about KOTOR2.

    I know I'm not the only one who thought that game's story was convulated, confusing and loaded with loose-ends.
     
  13. Philonious Gems: 2/31
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    I think KOTOR2 would have worked okay if it hadn't been rushed to store shelves. I actually liked the beginning way better than the first, but as someone pointed out recently, you hit the four planets and BAM it's time to kill the baddies... No explanation. No conclusion. And the Empire Strikes Back excuse is as weak as it is lame.

    Chances of this happening again are probably pretty good given how Atari has been doing business wise... Then again they have delayed shipping so maybe they realise shipping a solid product is better than shipping an incomplete one (Temple of Elemental Evil).

    I REALLY don't want Obsidian to pull a Troika though. Being pressured to ship was repeatedly used as an excuse at Troika... And each time it became less believable. All their games were okay, but they all had the potential to be great. Hopefully Obsidian will give us another Fallout ot Planescape instead of a Temple... I mean with all the gimmies Bioware has given them they had better not blow it... For all of our sakes.
     
  14. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    ion, check http://www.sorcerers.net/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/27/2019.html

    In my opinion, the only reason why Atari would delay NWN2 for even such a short period is because it must be so awfully bug-ridden that it doesn't pass even Atari's nearly non-existent quality standards in this department. In short, Obsidian was given another month to attempt to make the game playable for at least a couple of hours without major crashing or bugs (or to tie up a few loose ends they had to leave open, because the game was obviously still not done even after all the previous delays). And even this final generous extension only happened because Atari is on the brink of death, and if NWN2 started off as another typical Atari-published bug-fest, it might not sell well enough to offset the production costs in a timely fashion and bring in an influx of cash to keep Atari afloat. The hype surrounding the release of the original NWN resulted in mountains of hyped and worthless reviews praising the game, but NWN2 won't have this benefit, since the hype level for NWN2 is about as low as it gets after all the cut features. So any obvious sloppiness this time might actually be noticed by reviewers not blinded by hype.

    Call me a cynic, but before the release of the original NWN, I was one of the beta testers. The only problem was that the mountain of bugs we've discovered in the beta for the most part shipped along with the game shortly afterwards. Back then BioWare knew that any bugs we'd discover could not be fixed prior to the release of the game without Atari giving them an extension, but that didn't happen. So NWN shipped buggy as hell, and pretty much all of us who've beta tested it agreed that it shouldn't ship in its obviously unpolished state. Yet the release went ahead as scheduled, and bug-fixing NWN was on BioWare's agenda from day one. They've been busy working on a patch even before the release of the game, so if I remember right, the first patch followed only days after the release of the game. The rest is (patch-notes) history. ;)

    However, NWN had this benefit of years of subsequent patching, so if you play it today, the majority of the serious bugs have been corrected (though there's still plenty of bugs and text errors left that are never going to be fixed). I'm afraid that NWN2 is not going to have the luxury of years of subsequent regular patching. So if it's released very buggy, it'll stay buggy, even after the obligatory patch or three. That's the real problem. Especially if Atari folds in a year or two.
     
  15. ion Gems: 5/31
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    That's kind of a depressing viewpoint, but you're probably right. It is atari, afterall.

    I wish I was a real estate mogul, so I could open a publishing company, similar to the way business owners have sports teams as side projects. Then, I could give design teams all the resources and time they needed to create games and not have to worry about the bottom line. After listening to the dev team at comic con answer question after question about their previous games, I'm sure they would love to create a fallout 3 or planescape 2 if they could get past the business side of the industry.

    Also, if the doom and gloom scenario materializes, my hope is that a private group would rescue the game, similar to the amazing work the co8 team has done with ToEE.
     
  16. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    I think that NWN2 would be way too complex to patch in the manner that Co8 has been patching ToEE. Not to mention that without source access to some of the core files, most of the fixes that could be made would be rather small, but any serious bugs would stay there. Actually, depending on how/if Obsidian encrypts the files to prevent tinkering (there's been lots of talk about that after the Hot Coffee fiasco), such fan fixes could be pretty much impossible altogether.
     
  17. ion Gems: 5/31
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    [​IMG] lol, tal
    you really are doing your best to ruin my post comic con high arent you
     
  18. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Yea, though unfortunately pretty much all of my gloomy game predictions over the last 7 years turned out to be true...
     
  19. Rotku

    Rotku I believe I can fly Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    The great thing about NWN, is that even if the original campaign is completely bug-ridden, as long as there is a toolset and an actaul game engine that can work, the community will certainly provide. I guess we just have to hope that an expansion is planned, that will give them an insentive to update NWN2 after the initial release.
     
  20. Marceror

    Marceror Chaos Shall Be Sown In Their Footsteps Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    It would be simply TRAGIC if this game falls to the wayside due to putting it to market before it's ready.

    I'm okay with the DM client coming out as a patch, honestly, because I'd rather that Obsidian get the game right first. Supporting components have to take a secondary priority, as we only exacerbate the issue by polishing tools that support a buggy, unfinished backend game.

    But if they are going to delay components in favor of polishing the game itself, and the game itself is unacceptably bug ridden, game buyers are most definitely going to be up and arms. And sales will most definitely be stunted.

    As I've said previously, I'm buying regardless... the first time in a long time I plan to buy a game on day 1.

    As a side note, the gaming industry really bums me out. So obviously driven by dollar signs, with creativity far too low down on the priority list for my taste. At least I know I'll always have BG and PS:T, games that made it to market when creativity and inspiration still reigned supreme in the CRPG industry.
     
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