Can Neverwinter Nights Go Massively Multiplayer?
I question whether porting NwN into the massively multiplayer realm is really a sure thing. The most obvious obstacle is taking BioWare and Obsidian out of the equation. However, I believe that taking the modding out of the game which has already spawned many persistent worlds which are essentially mini MMO themselves will take away one of the elements that makes NwN such a fascinating setting.
This classic RPG based on the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons & Dragons has been a popular staple for PC players since BioWare launched it in 2002. Two expansion packs, NwN: Shadows of Undrentide and NwN: Hordes of the Underdark continued the series, expanding the Forgotten Realms and adding to the already extensive tools and utilities that allowed modders to create their own detailed adventures.
The full sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2 developed by Obsidian, was received with slightly less enthusiasm from fans, but has gained a solid following and spawned three official expansions to date. Although the NWN2 tool set is less intuitive than the original, it was just a minor delay for modders. Players have options to add new character races and classes to their games as well as rule and effects tweaks. Modders have also created countless skins, models, textures, and tilesets to forge many new high quality mods for fans to play after they’ve conquered the official releases.
There are also persistent worlds like Silver Spire, World of Talernon, and Higher Ground which has 192 players and 21 DMs. Many of these worlds are constantly changing because of players actions and many have NPCs that react differently to players of different classes or races. The core issue is that in my opinion, pulling a off persistent and dynamic world in an MMO hasn’t successfully been done. Sure you can have a stateful persistent environment but name an MMO where it remembers your actions and changes the world as a result – its somewhat counter to the idea that everyone shares the same game experience if you allow that to happen.
Cryptic is a class act that has shown great promise with its work on Star Trek Online and Champions Online. I don’t doubt that they could create a beautiful rendering of the Neverwinter Nights settings. However, I doubt that adventuring in a static world with content that continues expanded, but doesn’t change, will satisfy many fans of the Neverwinter Nights series.