Bitmob caught up with Ossian Studios' Alan Miranda for a lengthy interview about the company's history, their Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate adventure pack, and much more.
Bitmob: BioWare had six premium modules for the first Neverwinter Nights. What are the chances of Ossian working on another adventure pack for Neverwinter Nights 2?
AM: There are lots of ideas that work really well for a NWN2 adventure pack, especially in 3rd edition [of D&D and the Forgotten Realms] before the Spellplague. Apart from that, I'm going to have to answer "no comment" on this question.
Bitmob: Ossian's two games have plenty of sidequests, which reminds me of another game series that you worked on while at BioWare: Baldur's Gate 2. How important are sidequests to your games?
AM: What made me want to work at BioWare were the Baldur's Gate games and the fun I had exploring their worlds. Part of what makes exploration interesting are the situations you come across as a player, meeting new characters, uncovering new locations, landing in the middle of a strange side-adventure. That's what makes a world so much more believable for me, rather than relatively empty areas with some monsters to fight, which is why I find sidequests so important. Most players of Daggerford and Westgate really loved the sidequests, so I believe many people place an equally high value on them.
Bitmob: Do sidequests muddle the main story?
AM: If you're out to convince a player of the believability of a living world, then sidequests are an absolute necessity. If you have people or sentient creatures inhabiting the world, then you're bound to have "people troubles" -- i.e., side stories. Otherwise, those characters might as well be cardboard cutouts standing around. With the need for sidequests, all that can vary is their complexity, and I think complexity is what you're referring to when asking if they muddle the main story.
My feeling is that as long as a sidequest's story doesn't get as grandiose in its complexity and length as the main story, then it's good to have. I like side stories to have interesting flavors that players can enjoy, and prefer to stay away from the kind of filler sidequests with no depth, like "find my potato" -- yes, that's an actual sidequest from a game.