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One of the best things about Neverwinter Nights is the inclusion of a special piece of software, called the DM Client, that allows a player to become the organiser of a Neverwinter Nights module and campaign. This position is called the Dungeon Master (DM) in D&D terms. He or she controls all other aspects of the game except for the other players' characters: the monsters, the encounters, and all the non-player characters in the adventure are under the DM's command, just like in a pen & paper campaign.
The DM client, used in conjunction with the toolset, enables players to experience a dynamic story in a different way than most other single-player or even multiplayer games. It is an entirely different kind of adventure when you find yourself within a story or environment that is being brought to life by another person (not a program) who is moving things behind the scenes in reaction to your character’s actions and choices. And if you are the kind of person who likes to create fun for other people, to co-write a narrative with others ‘on the fly’ within the parameters set by the module and setting of your choice, you will thrive in the DM-side of the game.
And then we'll move on to the Q&A:
NWN is sometimes considered as a self-owned, self-hosted mini-MMO toolkit. This model might not be profitable in modern times which could be why we haven’t seen other games following it. What do you think about the online gaming landscape in 2017?
Trent: I think we really focused on a simple plan: to give players value for their money. Anyone who buys Neverwinter Nights gets a fun game, the tools to tell their own stories, and the potential to run their own server. When we launched new content, players got an expansion with a new single player story, some new tilesets, new monsters, and new items. I think today the cost/value is still a good metric and some companies are doing well while others are not.
People have imported Witcher 1 and 2 assets, even whole areas, into their NWN game worlds. How did CD Projekt come to use the Aurora engine? Do you have any great stories to share there?
Trent: We had known the CD Projekt fellows from the BG1 days when they translated Baldur's Gate without external support. They basically reverse engineered the text system and injected their localization.
We later met with the CD Projekt team as they started on the Witcher series. They were interested in licensing the Aurora engine and tools as the starting point for the Witcher game. They pulled together a really impressive internal demo and without much further discussion we licensed the team the engine, which they did a ton of work on before shipping the first Witcher game. I'm certain some of the ideas behind Neverwinter Nights and the Aurora engine live on in their team and their products.