Remember when the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons came out, and a lot of old school tabletop players criticized it for being geared toward videogames? That was three years ago, and funnily enough, there still hasn't been a new videogame release that fully implements those videogame-ish 4th edition rules. In fact, until last week, there hadn't been a new D&D video game of any kind in the last four years.
These are dark days for fans of D&D computer games, and it doesn't look like things are going to get better any time soon. Three news items popped up recently to remind us of how bad things have gotten.
- The D&D title that was recently released is Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale, and it appears to suck badly. It's also not an RPG. It's more of an action game along the lines of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Except that game was actually good.
- Atari has "divested of its interest" in Cryptic Studios, the developer of Neverwinter (not to mention the superhero MMO Champions Online). While the Gamasutra article linked here says Cryptic is continuing to work on Neverwinter "for the time being," this can't be good. I was not particularly looking forward to playing an MMO set in the Forgotten Realms, but the plans to incorporate mods seemed promising.
- Responding to an inquiry from GameBanshee, Chris Avellone shot down idle chatter about the potential for a Planescape 2. He did leave open the possibility of working with the Planescape setting again, but all this public spitballing from Obsidian suggests to me that there's nothing actually in the works.
Clearly we are a long way from the golden age of CRPGs. Consider this run:
1998: Baldur’s Gate
1999: Tales of the Sword Coast, Planescape: Torment
2000: Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate 2
2001: Heart of Winter, Throne of Bhaal, Pool of Radiance
2002: Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale 2
Yes, much of this is thanks to the extraordinarily successful Infinity Engine. But not all. In the years immediately after this, we also got two NWN expansions, Premium Modules, Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansions, and oodles of highly-polished (some professional quality) user-created modules.
And then things started to dry up.
2007: Mask of the Betrayer
2008: Storm of Zehir
2009: Mysteries of Westgate
2011: Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale
In other words, two expansions, one Adventure Pack, and one poorly reviewed action game. On the bright side, the Neverwinter Nights community has continued to produce high quality modules all this time, though even that has tapered off of late.
The worst part is, there's nothing even on the horizon (that I'm aware of) for fans of D&D computer games. At a time when so many classic RPG franchises are getting updates, the tabletop game that started it all is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Such is life after the Spellplague, I guess.