Neverwinter Previews and Interview

As the release of Perfect World and Cryptic's Neverwinter draws ever-closer, we're starting to see some hands-on previews and other coverage for the multiplayer RPG surfacing on the Internet.

Channel Massive interviews COO Craig Zincievich, lead designer Zeke Sparkes, and others:
PMOSGIOTD: What challenges does the DnD audience bring that the normal MMO crowd doesn't?

Lindsay Haven: The need for an excellent [user generated content] system, depth in customization and character builds, as well as a high level in lore accuracy. Making systems that are compelling and get players excited about logging in. You are definitely right. We consulted the CO and STO teams frequently to try and pull in the best elements. And, it's important that we find what works for D & D pen and paper players as well. So that had a big hand in our development direction.


Eric: Companions! Companions! I've had a crew in STO and devices that act like sidekicks in CO. How are companions different? Do I get to personalize them as much as my character?

Lindsay Haven: Companions! :) That's one of the systems I work on. [A] crew in STO and Sidekicks in Champions are completely different technology than what we use for Companions They are customizable. You can equip items and Runestones in them. They come with a selection of different skins. That's about all I can say. There is more depth, but you'll have to wait for the official release on that.

Wisdom: Cryptic Studios has been making games like Neverwinter since 2000, starting with City of Heroes, moving to Champions Online after selling the property to NCsoft, and eventually warping its way to Star Trek Online. The developer understands big-name geek properties and has experience translating pen-and-paper role-playing games into interactive electronic form.

Charisma: Neverwinter's environments are its most attractive feature. Wandering through the game's various dungeons, overland and city areas made me achingly nostalgic for my dice-rolling days. They feel as if they were torn from the pages of a D&D module and brought to life. The characters are a bit bland for my tastes==I've never been overly fond of Cyptic's avatars==but in this case the generic-feeling digital representations make it easier to imagine that it's me in the thick of battle instead of a female Halfling rogue.

User Generated content is hardly new, but it all matters what you do with it. Thinking about the Foundry is what finally brought it home for me. Do you just want to kick back with four other friends and go beat seven shades of you know what out of a dungeon? There'll be one for you. Heck, if there isn't, you can make one. Hop on the Guardian Fighter you love so much, chat with friends over the built in Voice Chat and let rip with the mayhem. Fight till the pansy Elves can't keep up.

Even better, do you want to craft a story? Do you want to give those selfsame friends a treat and spin a tale for them that will draw them in and reward you all for it?

That's what got me. I have never played Dungeons and Dragons, but now I can. I can be the DM over my own personal Foundry born story. I can be part of an adventuring group out to conquer anything the Devs and the players can throw at me. I can just be a random Halfling stabbing my way through the world. Barring some 5-man dungeons, anything you want to do is there for you to solo or tackle with friends. In the end it all got me because it wasn't a question if Neverwinter was right for me personally.

And MMOHut does the video preview thing, with this accompanying description:
So I'm going about it in a video series starting with an overview of the game's introduction and explanation of the combat system, traps, active dodging, and the quest system. I'll also take you on a nice tour through the awe inspiring city of Protector's Enclave. But this is only the beginning.

And if you want some new imagery to look at, I just uploaded a few dozen recently released screenshots to our image gallery for the game.