RPGWatch has interviewed co-lead designer Alan Miranda, lead designer Luke Scull, and writer Mat Job about their upcoming NWN2 adventure pack Mysteries of Westgate.
RPGWatch: Cities can sometimes feel drab with repetitive scenarios and limited scope for real exploration - how much freedom will players have in moving around and making discoveries outside of the critical path and how do you keep the setting fresh and engaging?
Mat Jobe: Players will have a lot of freedom to explore the city and pursue adventures unrelated to the critical path. Players who have played Baldur's Gate 2 may find the experience reminiscent of exploring Athkatla in that game - it's that wide open.
We really wanted to create a "big city" feel, which meant including loads of sidequests and unusual characters that have nothing to do with the main story (or, in some cases, any story). In a bustling city - especially one as diverse as Westgate - you're not going to find everyone focused on one event or series of events, no matter how big they may be. If Lathander himself appeared in Westgate and did a tap dance atop Morningstar Haven, there would still be commoners in the Warrens worrying about the price of fish, and sailors in the docks doing their best to have a good time before shoving off again. In any large population, you'll find people focused on their own day-to-day interests.
We also wanted to make the city seem dynamic. That's one thing that probably makes some cities seem drab - they're missing that sense of constant change that makes them seem alive. In Mysteries of Westgate, we have various triggered events that can happen after the player has already visited a particular district one or more times. In some cases, players may be caught off guard and find themselves scrambling to deal with an unexpected situation.