RPGWatch has chatted with ex-BioWare Bob McCabe, who worked on Neverwinter Nights as a writer/designer. Here's a couple of questions (and answers, of course) to get you started:
LD: What did you work on with Neverwinter Nights?
Bob: Being on a small design team - the senior guys were all getting Baldur's Gate II finished - meant that I did a lot of different things. I worked on the design document, helped concept and develop systems and missions and characters, wrote item descriptions and dialogue, worked with Marketing/PR to edit interviews, demo at E3, and write content like the Fenthick Moss Adventure Creation Guides that were over at GameSpy, and worked with the tools team to ensure the design team had everything it needed from the various editors like the dialogue editor. I was also on the QA team at the end of the project. But I would say the majority of my time was spent designing modules for the game, as well as implementing content once the tools were available. I think I wrote half of the implementation plans for chapters 1 and 2, and close to all of them for chapters 3 and 4.
LD: You had to scrap the original plot as well as a lot of content, like tilesets, as part of the settlement with Interplay. And there were a lot of people shocked when the original Interplay story got leaked. What can you say about that?
Bob: I don't know what did or didn't get cut as part of a settlement. I didn't think any of the tiles had been cut, to be honest. But I can't really say more than that.
The original plot's release caught me off guard. In a way I was glad. I thought it was a fantastic story, very polished, and I was glad it got put out there as a novelty of sorts. I really liked the politics and sense of betrayal and twists, on and on. I thought it was a very well done epic, such a fun story. And I'm glad fans can look at that and peek behind the curtain a little. I know I've enjoyed looking at stuff like that with the Ultima series, or some of the various other docs that have popped out over time. But I never expected it to see the light of day. That it did get released was also disappointing. I was proud of the final team effort, that the entire team was able to get such a huge project (DM Client, tools, multiplayer, and a full campaign) out, and pointing to an alternate story partially diminishes some of what we accomplished.
Let me put it this way: I'm playing through Fallout: New Vegas (again, because it's that good) and I came across a fan patch that puts a bunch of cut content back into the game. But sometimes that content was cut for a reason, and its release creates room for people to second-guess the creative process. If that's intentional (i.e. a movie released with multiple endings or deleted scenes), so be it, but I don't think that was the case here.