Obsidian Entertainment took over where BioWare left off with the release last fall of Neverwinter Nights 2, the sequel to the Dungeons and Dragons based fantasy RPG. Now Obsidian is working hard on their first commercial expansion for the game, Mask Of The Betrayer, that will be published by Atari this fall. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with Obsidian's lead designer Kevin Saunders to find out more about their plans for the expansion pack:
FiringSquad: First, was Obsidian happy with how Neverwinter Nights 2 turned out and how it was received by fans?
Kevin Saunders: Many people did terrific work on NWN2 and the team's accomplishments were pretty amazing. We did not achieve the level of polish with NWN2 that we would have liked. We've since made major improvements with the updates and NX1 will bring more overall improvements on top of the new story and campaign. Fans received NWN2 well and we hope to entertain them further with NX1.
FiringSquad: When the time came to develop the expansion pack, what were the development team's main goals?
Kevin Saunders: From a production perspective, a primary goal was to carefully manage the scope of the project so that we would be able to polish the game as much as we'd like. We pushed ourselves to put as much into the game as possible, but without overreaching. We made quality of greater importance than quantity, despite the fact that our campaign is looking to be about 20 hours of game play.
For programming, the emphasis has been on both supporting the core NX1 design and improving the overall quality of NWN2 and its toolset for the community's use.
From an art perspective, we wanted to leverage our experience with the NWN2 engine to create even more impressive vistas, creatures, and characters than NWN2 had.
From a design perspective, we wanted to provide closure to the story/character from NWN2, add new assets and features that would benefit the NWN2 community, craft an engrossing and personal story with intriguing characters, and accurately and richly portray a relatively unexplored section of Faerыn.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the storyline for Mask of the Betrayer?
Kevin Saunders: We (creative lead designer George Ziets, that is) crafted a story that’s both epic and personal. Even more so than Obsidian's previous products, the story is woven into the game play. It includes Red Wizards of Thay, at least one god, and a lot of major decisions. The story is quite dark, but has its optimistic moments.
FiringSquad: Will there be any new playable characters or races put into the expansion?
Kevin Saunders: We are adding several new classes and races, including the genasi, which are planetouched hailing from the elemental planes. And your assortment of companions will include some very unique and interesting options.
FiringSquad: What sort of new locations and setting will the expansion have?
Kevin Saunders: The primary location of NX1 is Rashemen, in the eastern section of Faerыn and near the border of Thay. But throughout the course of the game, you'll travel to some other exotic locales, including other planes. But the story isn't especially about planar travel.
FiringSquad: What are the development team's favorite new monsters in Mask of the Betrayer?
Kevin Saunders: This isn't a new creature, but everyone loves the chicken's new flying kick attack that animator Andrea Bobick created. Why would a chicken need to be able to do a flying kick, you ask? You'll see... =)
FiringSquad: What other new features will the expansion pack have?
Kevin Saunders: There's one major gameplay system that we've developed with Wizards of the Coast. It's not something from D&D, but it's D&D flavored. This new feature has both combat and conversation implications and is intimately tied into the story and characters. We'll be releasing more information in the near future.
We implemented many other new features, most of which are to further polish the NWN2 experience for both the player and for the content creator using the toolset. For example, we added the ability to use any 2D graphic as a custom portrait for creatures instead of the automatically generated 3D portraits.
And, of course, we added a lot on the gameplay side, including over 50 new spells, over 50 new feats, new items, crafting system enhancements, etc.
FiringSquad: Will there be any graphical improvements made for the expansion pack?
Kevin Saunders: Absolutely. We learned a lot throughout the course of NWN2 and have been able to apply that experience to get even more out of the graphics engine. The environments, creatures - all of it is stunning. NX1 looks like it got a major graphics upgrade over NWN2, but the system requirements are the same. In fact, we completed a lot of optimization in the first couple updates to NWN2, so NX1 will both look better and run more smoothly than NWN2 did at launch. We have made some technical improvements to the graphics engine as well, including improved specularity and more advanced sky boxes.
FiringSquad: What is the current status of the expansion's progress and when will it be released?
Kevin Saunders: We just achieved a full progression of the game. From here on in, it's all about polishing. Atari has announced a release date of Fall, 2007.
FiringSquad: Is there any rumblings at all on Atari publishing a Neverwinter Nights 3?
Kevin Saunders: As you might expect, I'm not permitted to actually answer this question directly. I'd love to work on a Neverwinter Nights 3.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer?
Kevin Saunders: When you're considering games for awards at the end of 2007, please don't group Mask of the Betrayer into the "expansion" category. =) Yeah, I'm pretty sure it will be priced as one and you do need the original game to play. But with both the quality and quantity of the new content, we can contend with the "full" titles for best RPG of 2007.
Взято от сюда.