Cryptic’s “Neverwinter”, looking bleak?

Neverwinter Nights EyeI’m gonna come right out and say this, I have some pretty low expectations for the next installation of the Neverwinter PC game series. However it’s not because it’s hard to live up to or come close to standards set by the Bioware/Black Isle folks when it comes to PC RPG’s. Any company can come out of nearly nowhere and blow us all away with an outstanding title, video games a bit less often though because of costs involved in making one. Nevertheless I’d really love to root for the underdog here and hope that Cryptic pulls off a winner, but so far that’s looking to be a dismal prospect.

Cryptic’s past titles have been mediocre at best, and this is where my suspicion lies. It’s also worth mentioning they probably should get their lore right, before they go attempting to win over hardcore FR fans. While I may have started playing D&D when I was 13, I’ve been playing video games since I was 5 – which means I can honestly say “20+ years of experience” when it comes to this subject matter. When the announcement for “Neverwinter” was made, like many of us I was pretty excited at first glance.  I’ve always beeg a huge fan of the series and the Forgotten Realms world, but a lot about this title (so far) seems iffy.

Given a projected quarter for it’s launch date, already having determined it’s 5 classes (via the front page graphic), the creation tools being announced and more, yet they still don’t know what the hell the games core genre will be other than an RPG? It’s advertised as a “Multiplayer RPG” but in an interview their CEO the game is referenced in an MMO-esque light. Talking about pricing schemes and mentioning microtransactions and “pay-by-the-minute” doesn’t sound much like any “Multiplayer RPG” I’ve ever played. On top of sounding asinine, the arrogant “Hey look the Neverwinter IP on a new game, no business model yet but that’s okay! Come and give us your money!” attitude makes it seem like they’re banking on a majority of sales being generated solely from the games name (and perhaps 4e?) and not much else.

They are ready to sell this idea to all of us yet they don’t even know the how they’re going to go about doing it? How does this seem feasible that they’re already planning out classes yet we don’t know if it’s going to be turn based, action (ala Diablo), similar to other bioware engine RPG’s, or a full fledged MMO? Will class synergies and/or balance not matter because it’s the first 4e video game so far and they assume we’ll all just go gobble it up when it hits the shelves?

Perhaps the most boisterously stupid thing I’ve read thus far is from Cryptic CEO Jack Emmert:

We’re trying to create new sorts of games that we call “OMGs” (online multiplayer games)“.

Hello? ‘Online multiplayer game’ isn’t exactly revolutionary idea, and a real stupid use of an internet acronym for a buzz word to boot. Considering ‘online multiplayer gaming’ has existed for decades, I’d say it’s kind of a dickish move on Mr. Emmert’s behalf to even conjure and spread such silly words. Is this game being developed for consoles too, perhaps that’s why the approach is so willy nilly? There’s still a lot of unanswered questions that I have so I guess time is going to be the only cure for that. We’ll have to just wait and see. What are your thoughts on all of this, let me know in the comments section!

9 Comments

  1. I honestly don’t know what to expect from this new venture. I’m not familiar with the games that Cryptic has done in the past, but from the sound of the “Online Multiplayer Game” I think of Phantasy Star Online on Dreamcast. Not a persistent world, choose your class, a bit of customization, a go a hunting for rare drops! I spent a lot of time with PSO and really enjoied it. I also think of those console based looter games: Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, Champions of Norrath, D&D Heroes. I could enjoy something like that. As far as pricing options, I can see a small charge if content (quests, items, ect) keep coming, but only as downloadable add ons (or DLC if you want to use the console term). Pay-by-the-minute has failed. APB tried this method and the company behind it is currently in administration. I see it going the DDO route. Some free quests, pay for add on quests, buy some items you can find in game as a convenience. I really want this game to be good. I want Cryptic to be successful. I want this to be more than a cash grab with the license.

  2. Hmm, I’m gonna say I’m feeling a glass-half-full on this one. Maybe it’s my ignorance of the company designing the game, but I was actually heartened to hear them try so hard not to call the new Neverwinter a MMORPG. In other words, “We’re not going to try to make WoW D&D.” I saw the quote you mention as a poor choice of words, sure, but not at all dickish. The way I read the press release, they’re looking for a new approach to online RPGs, and I see that as a good thing. After so many years of seeing games done the WoW way, I’m hoping we can take him at his words and find Neverwinter 2011 to be a fresh, new approach to online gaming.

    I hope. 🙂

  3. Are they the same cryptic that made the Star Trek MMO? If so, I can guarantee they are the kind to simply cash in a property name.

  4. Yep, bleak indeed. And to be honest, I can’t understand why Neverwinter? I mean I loved NWN (I even got the tattoo!) and the second game was OK (though I feel it didn’t quite have something NWN did) … but I also feel it’s been done to death now. Pick somewhere else in Faerun, or better still do something completely different… A Dark Sun game would rock, for instance.

    • Yeah I agree, there are plenty of D&D settings that could be done, or even re done. I’d kill for another baldurs gate. Dark sun, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, hell even an original setting? It definitely seems overused and it’s going to be hard to wow anyone I think. I also agree NWN2 was missing something, I picked it up day 1 and was disenchanted within 2 weeks – where as with the original I spent an entire summer being a shut in to play it.

  5. Honestly, even if Cryptic weren’t behind it, I wouldn’t have high hopes for this. Cryptic is just there to cash in on the name. I don’t expect any more from them on this than they managed with the Star Trek MMO. That is to say that they’re going to make a game with an amazing character avatar creator and thoroughly mediocre gameplay. That’s just what I expect from them.

    But as I said, even if Cryptic weren’t there, I’d have doubts. The reason being that the last really good and original D&D game was the original Neverwinter Nights. Things since then have been very hit or miss and rarely exceptional.

    What really kind of surprises me is that WotC isn’t pushing for a game more like Final Fantasy Tactics or Ogre Battle. Especially since something like that could easily be put on the DS, which has ridiculous numbers of systems out there. 4th Edition seems tailor made for a game like that, translating tabletop mechanics directly to video game mechanics. I’d love to see something like FFT Advance for 4e. Maybe refine the Scales of War adventure path and make that into a video game.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have a bad feeling this game is gonna suck. But I was never much of a fan of the Neverwinter Night games. The last really great D&D game I played was D&D Tactics which is a direct successor of the Temple of Elemental Evil game. There is a group called Circle of Eight that made their own conversion of Keep on the Borderlands for the ToEE game. Here’s a link to the forum: http://www.co8.org/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=45 . Unfortuantely, there will never be another tactics-style D&D game. The gameplay is too niche. With the budgets required to produce video games these days, game companies can’t afford to produce anything but games with broad appeal and simplified gameplay.

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