Posted on June 9, 2009,

Can Neverwinter Nights Go Massively Multiplayer?

nwn2-logo.jpgWould a Neverwinter Nights be a viable MMO? Sources at Variety say Atari is betting on it. Supposedly it’s the whole reason Atari bought out Cryptic Studios.

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.

higherground_logoThere 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.

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7 Comments on Can Neverwinter Nights Go Massively Multiplayer?


On June 9, 2009 at 7:45 pm

If they can give players the option to add new content AND make the game a real D&D style game it would probably be a big hit.


On August 4, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I disagree. Why drive players to invest time into another system to create custom content? Why not have Cryptic develop adventure packs, heck, copy them right from the books/magazines, etc. Maybe allow games to be saved by the DM, so you can jump back in at the same point you left off?
I for one would much prefer a combination of a huge world to explore, and the choice to join DM led games that are either adhoc (can be instances of areas that are only for the group involved, and led by the DM), and/or also have adventure packs, or modules if you will, that are premade and a DM can lead you through them.
Then there is choice. And DM’s don’t have to worry about investing all this time creating there worlds, because Forgotten Realms, or parts of it, are already there for you to explore and join adventuring parties on quests.
I think that’s way better then making me create all my own stuff (NPC’s, lands, conversations, quests).
… only a relatively small amount of content on the internet for NWN/NWN2 is really worth playing. So if Cryptic is tasked with creating an MMO on Forgotten Realms, or NWNO, I think bang for the buck would be much greater if they focused on enabling players & DM’s to explore a prebuilt world that they can interact with.
Just my 2cents!


On August 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm

NWNO doesn’t need, nor would I want player made input. That’s why we have NWN/2, any work with a MMO set world needs to be primarily “static” with any changes or world events coming from the Dev Team and them alone imo

There is PLENTY of history, data and lore to draw from for this franchise, Cryptic should have no problem drawing from all the sources available to create a MMO world.


On October 6, 2009 at 5:16 am

The question is why won’t bioware learn from the success of mods like Higher Ground. Higherground is a success despite that it runs on an outdated platform. What that community lacks is the advertisement and marketing that bioware could provide. If the gamer community in general knew something as good as Higher Ground was out there, they’d quickly buy a copy of the game. It’s free and the quality is rivals a pay for play world. Who wouldn’t want that. We live in tough ecomonic times…but people can afford the $15 U.S for loads of fun. The problem is unlike a platform such as Starcraft, the actual NWN out of the box game is terrible. So, in light of that…. market the community. Advertise that aspect of the game, update the graphics. There is gold in them hills if only they could adopt the business model to mine it.


On October 19, 2009 at 9:25 am

I posted something earlier…did it get eaten or something. Anyway Higher ground is totally awesome. The best value you can get for a $15 game (NwN)and no fees whatsoever. I play it far more than any other game for the last several year…I think everybody should at least try it if they online fantasy worlds.


On September 22, 2010 at 7:37 am

I draw the line with MMO’s I have not played an MMO since Ultima Online shat itself out the rear end. While that game brought a fresh prospective for its time it also costed twice over. Now we seem to be living in an age of micro transactions, pay to play, virtual $ for real $, I seriously can’t understand (as a digital artist myself) why anyone in the right mind would pay royalties just to play. The whole idea behind any game is to be fun and an escape from everyday, not a trip to an inward asylum. I think it’s a stupid move on Atari’s part, MMO’s are the height of corporate greed for the gaming world.


On July 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I saw that Higher Ground was mentioned in this. And it is really a mini MMO, I would imagine the only obstacle would be adding more computers and servers, they currently run 15 servers most of the time.

They have a loyal fan base, it is still being very actively played and has players on all the time.

If own, or are thinking about buying Neverwinter Nights 1, I would strongly suggest trying Higher Ground Persistent world.

The quality and sheer scope of the campaign is breathtaking. (And really is a mini MMO)

Most importantly it is still well populated 24/7

And it’s free if you own the game or $10 if you buy it from

I just love hg and if you try it you will too.