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June 19th, 2017, 05:19
It is the 15th anniversary of Neverwinter Nights. The Neverwinter Vault decided to talk to Trent Oster to commemorate the game.

Learn the story behind one of the true RPG legends' creation.

Bernhard "niv" Stoeckner and other members of the Neverwinter Vault community put together this in-depth interview with the game's Project Director/Producer Tent Oster.

If you're interested in learning about the creation of a legend, you're in for a real treat.

Nowadays, when most people hear the name Trent Oster, they think of him as the CEO of Beamdog and the Enhanced Editions of Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate II, Icewind Dale, and Planespace: Torment released on GOG and elsewhere.

But fans of Neverwinter Nights will remember Trent as the Project Director/Producer (and other roles) of the game they love so much. I've had the opportunity to reach out to Trent with a few questions about the development of NWN and how it changed in the last fifteen years.
Fifteen years later, Neverwinter Nights is still going strong with thousands of online players every day. What do you think about what the NWN community has done since NWN took flight? What surprised you the most?

Trent:
I think the community has done awesome work. The volume of really cool adventures even in the early days was amazing. I've probably been most surprised at the longevity of some of the online worlds and the lengths the operators have gone through to enhance and improve their worlds.

What are the key elements for a pen & paper campaign? Was there ever an adventure you'd wanted to play in? How does that translate to a video game?


Trent:
The key elements of a pen and paper game are a fun group, a flexible DM who can tell a great story, and enough snacks to last till the wee hours. When I was younger I would occasionally buy a module and want to play it, but our group was typically too low level. Lost caverns of Tsojcanth comes to mind as one such adventure. I think playing with friends in a video game can translate well, it removes all the logistics management and simulation load from the players and the DM, but computer games impose some hard limitations in what a player can do. Having a live DM and some powerful tools can help mitigate that a bit, but you still don't have the full freedom of pen and paper.

NWN is sometimes considered as a self-owned, self-hosted mini-MMO toolkit. This model might not be profitable in modern times which could be why we haven't seen other games following it. What do you think about the online gaming landscape in 2017?

Trent: I think we really focused on a simple plan: to give players value for their money. Anyone who buys Neverwinter Nights gets a fun game, the tools to tell their own stories, and the potential to run their own server. When we launched new content, players got an expansion with a new single player story, some new tilesets, new monsters, and new items. I think today the cost/value is still a good metric and some companies are doing well while others are not.
[…]
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June 19th, 2017, 05:34
Interesting read, thanks. Especially like the "never say never" response to the NWN EE query.
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June 19th, 2017, 07:18
People still run PWs to this day, even CEP is still updated. What a longevous game, modern devs could learn a thing or two.
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June 19th, 2017, 09:30
Originally Posted by luj1 View Post
People still run PWs to this day, even CEP is still updated. What a longevous game, modern devs could learn a thing or two.
The only reason NWN is longevous (great word btw) is because it had the toolset. The actual gameplay and campaign was below average, at best. So the lesson to be learned is…make a good toolset? Works for Bethesda too, I guess.
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June 19th, 2017, 10:53
I'd add a good ruleset. Building in 3.5ED is a big part of it imo.
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June 19th, 2017, 14:45
I'm still discovering interesting modules for NWN. I would be very happy if a competent developer made NWN3. Or better yet a turn-based D&D game with a user-friendly toolset and a decent OC.
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June 19th, 2017, 15:17
Originally Posted by KaosWarMonk View Post
Interesting read, thanks. Especially like the "never say never" response to the NWN EE query.
Beamdog has the source code so…

Saying that, I think Beamdog wants to make their own games now. They didn't hire David Gaider and Brent Knowles to make revamps.
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June 19th, 2017, 15:56
Brent Knowles went to Beamdog as well? I missed that. Genuinely looking forward to seeing what they do next. (…*crosses fingers for a decent D&D game, preferably not set in the Forgotten Realms…*)
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June 19th, 2017, 16:07
Originally Posted by Pongo View Post
Brent Knowles went to Beamdog as well? I missed that.
Yup.
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June 20th, 2017, 15:34
I honestly don't know what the point of a NWN EE would be, though. The CEP has basically made NWN look as nice as I think it's going to get in modern resolutions; it's a bit of a pain in the ass to install w/ all the different versions. The OC seems beyond redemption; you'd have to cut or rebuild huge portions of it to make what I (or I think most) CRPG fans would consider a great game. And if they changed anything signficantly, it would probably carry the huge potential downside of all existing NWN mods not working with the EE.
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June 20th, 2017, 15:48
If they did a NWN that had better textures built in and worked on tablets I'd buy it immediately. Maybe it would encourage more folk to build new modules.
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June 20th, 2017, 15:55
Same here, Pongo.

Also, the UI needs to be rebuilt for higher resolution. It seems the UI items don't scale at high res, so playing in 4K or even 1080p is a huge hassle as the UI becomes either incredibly tiny or just really, really tiny, respectively.
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June 20th, 2017, 16:29
Originally Posted by daveyd View Post
The CEP has basically made NWN look as nice as I think it's going to get in modern resolutions.
Actually CEP is just the tip of the iceberg. There are loads of texture packs, mesh improvements and even shaders for Nwn.
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June 20th, 2017, 19:23
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
Same here, Pongo.

Also, the UI needs to be rebuilt for higher resolution. It seems the UI items don't scale at high res, so playing in 4K or even 1080p is a huge hassle as the UI becomes either incredibly tiny or just really, really tiny, respectively.
I don't have any issue with the UI in 1080p. Only thing is I wish the font was a bit bigger when I'm reading dialogue. The "high resolution font" ain't big enough.

I mean, hey if it meant more people creating new NWN modules I'd hardly complain about an EE, but I'd much rather see a new sequel or successor at this point.
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June 20th, 2017, 19:27
It's playable in 1080p, but the text size meant I had to be right up on the screen pretty much, and I wanted to sit back with the Steam Controller. Also, it just didn't make for great readability for the text in my videos for the game. I ended up turning the resolution way down, which looked terrible, but made the size of the UI and text a whole lot better.

So yes, I'd love to see them give widescreen, high resolution support up to 4K. Enhanced, high resolution textures and whatever other improved graphics options would be wonderful, too. As long as the content and mods could all be used, there's not much reason to touch any of the content except maybe to make improved modding tools or enhancements to the tools for modern development of modules. Make them easier/faster/whatever they can.

Oh, and NWN on tablet would also be amazing. It's kind of a dream of mine, to have access to all of those modules right there on the tablet. Yaowza.

Originally Posted by daveyd View Post
I mean, hey if it meant more people creating new NWN modules I'd hardly complain about an EE, but I'd much rather see a new sequel or successor at this point.
But that's risky as well. There's no guarantee it would capture the hearts of modders like NWN did. Sword Coast Legends tried to a smaller extent, got lambasted due to their tools and promptly departed from gaming. Granted, their tools were viewed as woefully insufficient, but even something like Divinity: Original Sin, which supposedly has some decent modding tools and is an overall quality, modern CRPG, didn't seem to garner much modder attention. Yet, anyway. So if they pour a lot into a sequel/successor and it doesn't capture the modder's hearts, then it's going to be short-lived.

The strength of NWN is still all the excellent modules made for it. It seems like that may have been lightning in a bottle, dunno. But the best move might be to just bolster the original some more at this point, maybe encourage some new modules and modders as well, if they can.
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June 20th, 2017, 21:39
Would the current modules still be usable in a NWN EE though? As I understand it, even official patches from Bioware broke scripts in older mods. And I believe mods for BG 1 & 2 didn't work with their EEs (at least not w/o fixing them). If Beamdog can make an EE that still allows you to play all the existing mods, then bring it on. I'm just not sure if it's possible.
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