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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer - Design Interview #2 @ Iron Tower

Default NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer - Design Interview #2 @ Iron Tower

August 28th, 2008, 10:41
Vince D. Weller has a second Mask of the Betrayer design interview, this time with lead designer Kevin Saunders:
3. George mentioned that Kaelyn was almost cut. I don't think the game would have been the same without her, so I'm curious whether you realized her importance during the development and what's involved in creating an NPC like Kaelyn for a game like MotB?
This might sound strange, but at least to some degree, she's as important as she is purely because she is in the game. Sometimes a character (or gameplay feature or whatever) will really come together and then you'll place a greater focus on it and its importance grows into something you can't envision doing without. Surely some aspects of the game and story evolved as they did because Kaelyn did exist.
With Kaelyn, and I think George mentioned this, we were planning to cut her early on. Chris Avellone, who wasn't officially assigned to the project, said something to the effect of "if I make the time to write her, can we keep her?" He did an excellent job (of course) and we also lucked out with casting the perfect actress for the role - her lines are superbly read.
At the risk of going on too much of a tangent, a similar phenomenon occurs with people on a development team. For example, if George were working on Storm of Zehir, it would be a different game than it has become. A better game? That's hard to judge objectively. Because instead we've got various aspects of George's role on MotB being filled primarily by Annie Carlson and Tony Evans. They've got their own styles, their own strengths. As another example, Tony Evans is the Lead Designer for SoZ. If I had been, it also would have turned out to be a different game. But not a better one.
Without Kaelyn, something else would have taken her place, at least to some degree. That said, we definitely made the right decision in keeping her and I am very thankful to Chris for his contribution.
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August 28th, 2008, 10:41
I hate it when this happens, but… I'm starting to get seriously hyped about Storm of Zehir.

Death as more than a minor inconvenience? The possibility of stumbling into challenges too tough for you to handle? Focus on content rather than cutscenes? Man, what's the world coming to? It's like the 1990's all over again!
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August 28th, 2008, 11:24
Been excited about SoZ ever since I read that I would be able to create my own party from scratch, but still be able to recruit NPCs and mix'n match back and forth. Already planning my first party (making sure I have all needed skills etc).

A whole new campaign, a whole new setting, starting over from level 1, creating my own party, map travelling.. yes indeed, I am very much looking forward to SoZ.
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August 28th, 2008, 14:28
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
The possibility of stumbling into challenges too tough for you to handle?
I thought from your BG2 that you didn't like that?

I'm looking forward to SoZ as well, though I'm not 100% sure why. As much as I loved NWN, I still haven't played MotB yet!

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August 28th, 2008, 14:52
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I thought from your BG2 that you didn't like that?
Not quite. Emphasis on "possibility" and "stumble."

Gothic 2, for example, did it really well. There was nothing to stop you from stepping off the road and bumping into a shadow beast that would proceed to bite your head off. But the direction the game gently nudged you — the "critical path" in design terms — was always more or less scaled to your level.

My beef with BG2 was that the game gently nudged you into the jaws of a dragon — sometimes literally: one of the first quests offered to you involves one, and you're offered it the first time you step into the Copper Coronet. You know the one I'm talking about, I'm sure: even if you don't actually have to fight the dragon at that time, the waves of vampires, golems, and wolfweres that come before it are way too tough to handle until you're a fair bit more experienced.

Whereas the relatively easy, low-level quests that are essential to build up your character require you to wander into areas with no particular reason to do so. I'm talking about the circus tent and the back rooms of the Copper Coronet for the slaver quest, for example.

It should have been exactly the other way around: the game should be proactive about nudging you towards the easy stuff, while letting you find the hard stuff by yourself, if you're so inclined.

MotB does this rather well, although in a much more "closed" setting. The critical path is fairly easy, especially if you're good at building characters, but there are some real bastards to fight out there, if you poke around looking for them.
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August 28th, 2008, 15:21
I see what you are saying.

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August 28th, 2008, 15:28
Have to agree with that - I have experienced being "pushed" into quests that were far too difficult, and instead of just turning around and doing something else, I felt the quest "should be possible to do" because of the way I got the quest, and ended up reloading to the point where it's frustrating.

Both Gothic 1 and 2 did this very well - the "urgent quests" are all fairly easy, but you can still go into the wilds and get butchered if you so desire. There are places in the game that feels dangerous, that you look forward to exploring because you've seen the creatures that live there (and the potential loot that must be present).
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August 29th, 2008, 13:47
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I hate it when this happens, but… I'm starting to get seriously hyped about Storm of Zehir.

Death as more than a minor inconvenience? The possibility of stumbling into challenges too tough for you to handle? Focus on content rather than cutscenes? Man, what's the world coming to? It's like the 1990's all over again!
The below quote is from Neverwinter Vault Interview to Tony Evans, the lead designer of SoZ (http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view….Detail&id=333).

The concept of a party of adventurers is at the core of the Dungeons and Dragons experience. Though of course we considered how party management worked in Baldurís Gate and Icewind Dale, we were also inspired by other party-based CRPGs including the Wizardry and Might and Magic series. One of our goals has been to incorporate old school, party-focused gameplay into a modern RPG.
So, if you like these old school games, you may as well feel like to keep an eye on this expansion.

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August 31st, 2008, 03:21
I sure am glad they didn't cut Kaelyn - she was the ONLY character in MotB that I actually liked. Heh.

Personally, I'm hyped for SoZ already - I have been since its announcement. ANY party-based RPG that comes out has my support, considering how few there are these days.
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September 1st, 2008, 09:30
Kaelyn is very interesting, and extremely powerful. Her race, half-celestial, is fairly overpowered to say the least.
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