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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer - Interview #1 @ RPG Vault

Default NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer - Interview #1 @ RPG Vault

August 11th, 2007, 03:16
RPG Vault's Jonric talks to Kevin Saunders from Obsidian about NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer. Here's an early question to set the tone:
Jonric: How will Mask of the Betrayer build upon the base game, its strengths and your initial goals for it? What aspects have you focused on improving?

Kevin Saunders:
Our goal with Mask of the Betrayer was to get it right, to build upon what we learned on NWN2 in order to craft and convey a rich story and a compelling RPG experience. One of our difficulties with it was an initial scope that was unrealistic. So from its conception, Mask's focus was to emphasize quality above all else. We were highly conservative in many respects, and quite a few cool ideas were discarded because they were too risky. We considered how much any specific idea would really add to the players' entertainment, and chose our battles carefully. We didn't try to reinvent what NWN2 was - we built upon the design and decisions of the original game and concentrated on polishing it.

Thus, the Mask team has placed emphasis on strengthening the core NWN2 product. Throughout the course of the project, we fixed many bugs, optimized performance, made better use of the graphics technology, and in general, tied up loose ends. For example, we revamped the camera and party controls, adding an RTS-like strategy mode that makes combat much more enjoyable.

We greatly improved upon the Dungeon Master client (courtesy of programmer Anthony Davis), making it easier for players to run their own NWN2 games as a virtual DM. We made numerous improvements to the toolset, thanks to the efforts of programmer Josh Verrall. When possible, we've included these general improvements in updates (patches) to NWN2, but these enhancements have been part of Mask's development. Our goal is that when gamers pick up Mask, they view the overall NWN2 product as one of the best computer role-playing experiences created.

In all respects - graphics, gameplay, story, characters, audio, performance - Mask is a much more polished product. We built upon all of the amazing work that had been done on NWN2 and tapped into the experience of the team to show what we're really capable of achieving.
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August 11th, 2007, 03:16
Maybe I'm just buying into the hype too much. Maybe it's because I'm really enjoying replaying through NWN2 for the second and third times now that 1.06 has come out. Maybe it's because NWN2 was a game that, at times, was one of the greatest I have ever played; while at others one of the most frustrating. In any case, I'm really starting to look forward to MotB. The last few interviews have sounded really good.

Four different endings with dozens of variations depending on your choices (and you can't just choose the ultimate evil ending if you've been doing good all game - good). It sounds like they're doing Fallout/Arcanum-style sub-endings for different places/people, I loved that.

'Stratergy Mode' sounds like a nice hybrid of Top Down and Free Cam, which just happens to be exactly what I've always wanted. If it's implemented sort of like I've laways imagined it, then it'll make the game much more playable.

The Scholar of Candlekeep sounds interesting, but Sorcs can already use metamagic with ease. Have to wait to see details on that one.

More non-epic spells, he mentioned Druid ones specifically, but hopefully there are some more Pally and Bard specific spells so those classes' spell lists don't overlap so much with clerics/mages. Druids already have a lot that other divine casters don't (like Barkskin!)

I can't let myself buy into the 'it's teh best story since torment!!!11!1' stuff. I'm glad they think it's great, and I hope it is, but we'll have to wait and see. The last interview said that they had focused on alternate advancement throughout, this time he's saying it's basically linear, but there are lots of side-quests, including an entire module that's completely optional. With the numbero f endings and sub-endings, I guess there has to be a lot of choices to make through the game. Maybe they're mostly JE-style choices (that have no affect on the game, just the fate of an area only after you're ready to leave it for good). We'll have to wait and see what all this actually means.

The more developped companions have more to say in this than the most developped from the OC. That's great news, playing the OC I always wished my party was more like it was in BGII. I loved how those guys were always piping up with something to say, they always felt alive. The would speak to me, to each other, and they felt like unique personaltities. The NPCs in NWN2 were decent, and I enjoyed Sand a lot. MCA suggested that one of the companions had twice as much to say as them ost developped from the OC. This campaign is half the length of the OC, so this sounds great. Also the fact that they are optional!

The Astral Plane sounds promising as well.

The trick is to seperate the facts from the opinion. It's pleasing ot hear J.E. Sawyer post that he thinks the game has good role-playing, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. I think Josh is an honourable guy, and I value his opinion. He could just as easily have said nothing if he thought it was crap. It's also good to hear they think it has a great story, but you hear this kind of thing about all games, so I prefer to focus on the facts. That there are four ending with multiple variations is a fact, and that there is a module's worth of optional content (at least) is a fact. From those facts we can conclude that we get to make plenty of meaningful choices, which will determine which options we have at the end, and how everything turns out. I get the impression that although the game will be linear, I will usually have alternate paths, choices of what to do when, how to complete quests etc. For me, personally, the game being linear overall is a fair trade off to make if the story is really well written and compelling. I have no doubt that MCA has at least written some great companions ofr us to adventure with.

I'm looking forward to this one. I think more so than The Witcher now.
Last edited by Badesumofu; August 11th, 2007 at 05:00.
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August 11th, 2007, 04:55
Not more than the Witcher, but I agree. NWN2 was frustrating as hell but they seem to have addressed many design issues (forced companions, for example) and the extra year will have done wonders for the engine and control.

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August 11th, 2007, 05:40
I think it's because I expect every RPG to be released buggy and messed up, with all kinds of flaws, stupid mistakes (worst of all, screwing things up that ten year old games got right, 3D was like 5 stpes back and 1 step forward, now they're just astarting to get back to where they were a decade ago) etc.

I have NWN2 open right now, playing it through for the third time. As of patch 1.6 it works nicely, it plays pretty well. The things they got wrong seem to have been corrected for MotB. So I kind of know it's going to be pretty good. With The Witcher I can't help but feel that I'm just as likely to be horribly dissapointed (again). I do hold out hope that it will be great, but I can't let myself get too excited. MotB feels 'safer' I guess.

Also, in the post-troika era, the 4 games I've had the most enjoyment out of have been WoW, Civ4, KOTOR2, and NWN2. Half of them, and the only RPGs (my true love), are by Obsidian. Two games which, while playing, alternately felt like the best games I'd ever played and the most frustrating. K2 was brilliant at times, you could tell MCA had been involved in the writting. There were times when I kinda felt like it was the spiritual succsessor to Torment. Other times I wanted to smash the DVD into lots of little pieces. Somehow I get the feeling the might have finally gotten it right with MotB.

Bah, maybe I'm just faling into the same trap I'm trying to avoid by not getting over-hyped about The Twitcher.
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August 11th, 2007, 06:01
I've quit listening to hype. Now I plan to wait and see with very limited expectations. That way, at least, I won't be too disappointed ig they don't measure up!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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August 13th, 2007, 02:33
Personally I don't see the hype, at least not in Germany. There are more complaints than praises. Complaints about control, complaints about the toolset, complaints about multiplayer, complaints about technical issues and performance, complaints that Obsidian made the game instead of Bioware. That's the majority. It's always difficult to follow Bioware in a franchise. Obsidian did it twice and in the most cases players of the prequel have been disappointed. Personally I think, Obsidian (or BIS) had the more interesting story and design concepts but failed to get their games finished and polished until release. NWN2 is no exception, but I like it more than its prequel, since this one was boring me to death.

I know that MotB will be the addon that I'm looking for. Imho in these days most RPGs are not very promising. NWN2 is not a perfect product, but the most perfect product in this segment of RPGs I'm looking for. I can accept its failures and had much fun while playing NWN2. Something I can't say for the prequel. MotB will be a straight AddOn to the official campaign and for me that's enough reason to buy this addon, because even without their improvements, Electron toolset is still a great tool to create interesting RPG storylines.

@strategy mode: I think this is only another description for the marquee select mode that is included since 1.04 or 1.05.

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August 13th, 2007, 05:03
Strategy Mode and the other mode (which is basically Driving Cam) have replaced the 4 camera modes. Each mode has a substantially different control scheme. Strategy mode is for controlling a party in combat. There were some details on the two in Obsidian's Community Blog at some point, screenshots included. You can set it so that dragging a box along the ground defaults to a drag 'n' select thing (rather than have to press control) you'll also be able to open things and disable traps with a group selected (like in BG2). There is also an option to determine whether the camera moves when you switch from one party-member to another (without having to switch between top down and free cam all the time). Overall it sounds very much like Infinity Engine (the reason why it's taken them this long to get back to where they were a decade ago eludes me).

I feel much the same way about NWN2. I'm willing to accept its short-comings because it's about the best thing released post-troika, and does do a lot of the things I like well. MotB sounds like it will do nearly all the things I like well.
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August 13th, 2007, 11:05
The Witcher still places much higher than this for me, but I do hope that this so called emphasis on quality counts for something. NWN2 showed hints of a marvelous game, but it really needed a lot more polish to win me over completely.

More features won't do it for me, NWN2 actually has more than enough of them already. But if MOTB polishes up nicely I'll be happy.
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August 13th, 2007, 14:14
I really liked NWN2, more than most, but due to continued console dominance I tend to see games going more and more the way of movies.

What I mean is this: when Star Wars came out I was able to see it a dozen times in theaters over the course of a year, and now this summer we have missed out on several movies that our family wanted to see in theaters because we failed to make it in the 3-4 week opening window.

So while only 5 years ago we could wait while NWN matured and the toolset got itself together and a community formed and the game went on to have amazing longevity, now I think the window might have passed for NWN2 - this expansion is *really* important! If they don't have a first-rate toolkit delivered with it, the game is all but dead.

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August 14th, 2007, 05:27
I agree, the pitiful state of the DM client, the difficulty of the toolset as originally released, and the paucity of decent mods is quickly relegating my NWN2 DVD to the file and forget shelf!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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