Neverwinter Previews

We have a few more previews for Cryptic Studios' Neverwinter from the last E3, which give us a better overview of what we're going to get from the 4th edition-based online title's toolset, but don't say much about the actual gameplay.

While at first you're presented with a series of pull-down menus, but as you begin to build your encounters and understand how robust the tools are. It's a much more accessible layout than any other UGC system I've ever seen, and it includes the ability to dive into what you've been working on at any moment. They've also included pre-made maps and simple tools so that you can take the quick and easy approach if you want to churn out something quickly, or you can drill-down deep and spend a lot of time making a masterpiece.

Our demo was about 15 minutes long, and by the end, one of the developers had built a medium-sized grouping of rooms complete with pathing and NPCs who had dialogue and were able to send us on a quest. He was using the pre-fab group of items from the enormous Library that is available to Foundry users, and it's very impressive to see how intuitive the level building is. Line up corridors and rooms, and Foundry figures our where the doors should be, or you can place them manually and even decide which way they swing open.

The Foundry best resembles tabletop D&D in the customizable NPC conversations. Players can easily adjust and direct dialogue, including different answer trees that arrive at different conclusions. Even the angle at which conversations are viewed can be adjusted for dramatic effect. If it gets too complicated, you can always run through the conversation yourself in an easy test mode.

Using this tool, the designers showed us how simple it was to quickly design a dungeon. In fact, Cryptic told us that instead of using their own tools; their team is actually using the Foundry to design the campaign. Once fans build a map, they can submit it for review and if it's approved it will be published for anyone to play for free.

Marooner's Rock:
I'll make my way around to the out-of-the-box campaign, which can be played online with your friends, again. What I want to talk about now is the real bread and butter of the Neverwinter franchise: dungeon mastering. The Foundry is Cryptic's campaign creation tool, and it is the best user-content-creation tool I have seen (take into account that I, obviously, have not seen EVERY user-content creator out there). Anybody can pick this up and start creating anything. Using the Foundry, you can even go so far as to insert custom made side-quests into the out-of-the-box campaign for you and your friends to play. A side-quest can be built in less than 15 minutes using the massive library of pre-fabricated assets, with a creator wizard (software, not magical) to help make sure you get every necessary piece completed and connected properly. Want to go more in depth? Modify the pre-fabricated assets to create your own versions and start building from there. Still not enough? Do the whole damn thing from scratch, using the spectacularly large asset library! Build an entire campaign from the ground up, if you feel like it!