Neverwinter - Interview @ GamesReviews
GamesReviews has an interviw with Systems Designer Lindsay Haven of the F2P MMO Neverwinter.
Some of the biggest MMOs are dropping subscription fees but are taking on a single upfront cost. Can the free-to-play market continue to deliver AAA MMORPGs with no guarantee of money per person? Is there a better way of getting cash coming in?
We at Cryptic feel that free to play games are the future of MMOs, we wouldn’t have released Neverwinter as free to play and free to download if we didn’t feel that way. We also feel that free to play games can be AAA titles, we are looking to prove that with Neverwinter. It’s still too early to tell to if we succeeded or not, but we have a lot of faith in the model.
The battle system in Neverwinter seems so comfortable and intuitive. It seems crazy that it took so long for a developer to get rid of the more traditional 1-0 control system. Was it a big decision to go for something less traditional?
Yes, it was a big decision. We tried a lot of different control schemes, even developing multiple systems at the same time, knowing that some of the work wouldn’t ship with the game. But we don’t consider it a waste. It was important to explore all the options we had because there were many strong and valid pulls in different directions. It would have been easy for us to do the typical MMO style system, but with D&D a top down click systems seems so right, but we’ve been seeing the market move towards this action style combat for a while so it seemed right to explore that as well. In the end we went with what with action combat because we felt that made for a more visceral experience, which is something that players don’t get when playing table top D&D. To us it seemed the more innovative and wish fulfilment option we could take, and those things are a big part of the desire to play an MMO.
Were there things you wanted to do but couldn’t? How limited were you by the Dungeons and Dragons IP?
During development we didn’t feel very limited by Dungeons & Dragons. Like I said before, most of us are big fans of Dungeons & Dragons and so we were happy to work with the IP. If anything, there were things from Dungeons & Dragons we wanted to put in the game, but couldn’t because it didn’t transfer over to an MMO, real time combat, game well. For instance we couldn’t include a lot of the player power triggers and conditions, or use just the ability scores at a D&D scale. Those kinds are the kinds of things we struggled to get in the game, but eventually we felt like it just wasn’t going to work. Overall though, we are very happy with how the game came together.
I felt that the biggest fault of the beta was that the gameplay could become a little repetitive over time. Are you looking to try to eventually capture more general players, or is this one specifically for the folks that love dungeon running and loot?
While I do think that combat specifically shines in group content (both dungeons and PvP), many people find combat fun for PvE content as well. At lower levels can it feel a little slow because we wanted to give players enough time to get the hang of combat before putting out too many tough challenges, but as you gain levels monsters begin to challenge your reaction skills more and more.