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Friday, August 3, 2001

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Neverwinter Nights Project Update
10:23 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

A large project update was recently posted on BioWare's official Neverwinter Nights site, courtesy of BioWare's own Trent Oster, concerning some new features that have been added to NWN since their showing at E3. NWN, for those that are as of yet uninitiated, is a highly-anticipated upcoming single/multiplayer RPG that uses the 3rd edition rules of Dungeons and Dragons as its base.

The first category of updates Oster addresses is that of art. He notes that the textures and modeling of over 170 distinct creatures is nearing completion. The 2D storyboard graphics and modeled cinemas that will accompany module narrations are also coming along nicely. Spell effects, of which there will be many, are also beginning to make their appearance.

The next category remarked upon is programming. Besides the usual memory/bandwidth tweaks that are taking place, BioWare has also been busy updating the toolset, with preliminary door and object placement functionality being made available.

Of particular note in the programming section are two new major features: an updated encounter system and an all-new faction system. The encounter system makes it much easier for senario designers to place random encounters. Rather than having to assemble a group of specific creatures at every point, players can now just place a single enounter point. Each point will have an assigned creature hierarchy that it will select from, adjusting the number of creatures and their difficulty based on the number of players encountered. The system also takes into account the 3rd edition "Challenge Rating" system, where each creature has an assigned challenge rating that determines what level player characters would best match it in a fight. For example, a Troll, having a CR rating of 5, would be best matched up against 5th level characters.

The new faction addition is meant to replace the old reputation system of previous games. Here's Oster's explanation on how it works:

The faction system is composed of two parts: a global faction table for all NPCs and a local faction table for each player character. This system allows us to have a town where half the town is populated by Humans and the other half by Gnomes. If the Humans and Gnomes don't get along we could set up the factions so killing a Gnome commoner angers the Gnomish people and the Gnomish guards, but the human guard don't care or they could even respond more favorably to the player for his or her deeds.

The final category remarked upon is that of design. Oster reiterates that the scripting system, which affects gameworld behavior, is being heavily worked upon. Various tables and lists are being entered into the game on a daily basis, and spell behaviors and special abilities are currently being defined and implemented as well. The modules themselves are coming along nicely, with the critical path conversations for most of them being written and scripted. Once the paths are completed, stores, taverns, and ambient encounters will be added.

Neverwinter Nights just keeps getting better and better. The tweaking of the encounter engine and the addition of the faction system in particular will definitely add some incredible diversity to the game, both in senario construction and in play. There's no set release date as of yet, though the last rumor heard mentioned early 2002. IMG will be sure to let readers know as soon as we nail a solid release date.

BioWare - Neverwinter Nights: What's New
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