Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No news is Neverwinter news

Searching for new information on Neverwinter is like looting chests in a Monty Haul CRPG - for every unique item you come across, there's loads and loads of junk you've already found. Since the media blitz began, it seems like every gaming site on the internet has weighed in, giving Cryptic plenty of "news" links to post on the Neverwinter promotional website. Of course, in the best (worst) tradition of the internet, the articles all paraphrase each other. Except when they feature interviews with Cryptic developers, in which case it's the developers paraphrasing themselves as they try to make old news sound fresh.

In reality, there's very little info about Neverwinter out there. We don't know what the official campaign is about, what the gameplay is like, or even what classes are included. That probably explains why posts on the official forums have rapidly dried up - speculation gets old after awhile. I've been heartened by the way Cryptic seems to be emphasizing The Foundry toolset, but perhaps that has less to do with the game's direction and more to do with the fact that there's nothing else they can talk about at this point.

OK, it's not fair to pick on Cryptic here. This is the way the internet works. A few meager nuggets of information spawn numerous posts on websites and blogs, most of which offer no value-add (but plenty of ads). On the internet, content is not king. It's an emperor with no clothes. If I were smart - or more shameless - I might figure out a way to puff up my own blog with Xeroxed material. Maybe then I could make it seem like I'm still pumping out the content, even when I'm on vacation (as I was last week).

But I digress.

On the Neverwinter homepage, there's a link to an article from a site called GamrFeed (damn, gaming domain names must be hard to come by). It features an interview with Cryptic Producer Andy Velasquez, who said this about The Foundry:
When the game comes out, there will be enough content there, between monster packs, environment packs, exteriors, interiors, etc. People will be able to tell a whole bunch of stories, but we absolutely plan on supporting it post launch in terms of tile sets, in terms of monster packs and player classes.
For me, this is a pivotal issue for The Foundry. Based on how the toolset works with Star Trek Online, I'm confident it will be easy to use. As I've said before, I'm thrilled with Cryptic's plans to host UGC on their servers, and deliver it through the game client. And while some are concerned about whether you will be stuck creating one-off quests instead of epic campaigns, I actually think a limitation like that might be a positive because it just might force builders to scale projects to something they can actually complete.

What probably makes or breaks The Foundry for me - aside from the quality of the actual game, of course - is the amount of stuff it gives builders to play with. If The Foundry really does offer builders enough environments, creatures, animations, and scripts for each to create his or her own, truly unique adventure, then Neverwinter could be something special. If, on the other hand, builders are stuck using the same resources over and over, they're going to get bored quick - and so are players.

After all, if all we want is lots of recycled content with little variation, we need look no further than the internet.


  1. Some more news on Neverwinter: