I've actually had the results of my Neverwinter interview with Cryptic Studios COO Jack Emmert and PR manager Ivan Sulic back for a week now, but it wasn't until today that I had a chance to take a break from organizing our ten-year anniversary giveaway to get it published. Enjoy!
How long has Neverwinter been in development and what were your primary goals coming into the project? What was the reasoning behind dropping "Nights" from the title instead of using a subtitle? I was kind of hoping that Jack would be more talkative about specific features, but I suppose the game has a long way to go yet. I'll have to ping him again early next year.
Jack: The possibility of Neverwinter came up when we were first talking to Atari about acquisition. We strongly believed in the future of user generated content and were actively working on a title at that point which featured it. It seemed natural that we'd change that title into Neverwinter.
As for the title change, I think marketing made that call! Honestly, it makes sense. I'm a simple gamer guy. I like games that tell me precisely what the game is. Champions? It's a game about superheroes. Neverwinter? It's a game about the location Neverwinter.
Ivan: What Jack said. Plus... I pitched Neverwinter as a title for a few reasons. First, I'm a huge fan of simplicity (I still believe DOOM is the absolute greatest title for a videogame, ever). I also didn't want online or some other superfluous differentiator included in the title (because those remind me of days when our industry embarrassingly bragged about "3D" and "Xtreme" every chance it got). Of course, there's also the R.A. Salvatore trilogy we had to think about. And, finally, our Neverwinter is not a direct sequel to Neverwinter Nights 2, so it made sense.
Neverwinter Nights 2 shipped with 12 base classes and 17 prestige classes, and Dungeons & Dragons Online even had 7 when it launched. Are you worried that Neverwinter's five character classes won't offer enough diversity for veteran D&D players at launch? In particular, the absence of the barbarian, paladin, and bard seems like it might be a bit of an obstacle for some.
Jack: Neverwinter is an online game that will continue to grow. We plan to add classes continually as time passes based on fan feedback. We wanted to make the fundamental, classic classes first and then build on that. Focus is our mantra. We're not going to be subjected to the pitfalls of feature overload.