Adventure & RPG
BioWare needs no introduction. They're the people who developed the critically-acclaimed role-playing game Baldur's Gate, its expansion pack Tales of the Sword Coast, as well as the huge (and hugely-popular) Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Based on the 3rd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, the Baldur's Gate series is largely responsible for the recent resurgence in role-playing games.
Baldur's Gate and its expansion pack are both available on the Mac, and Baldur's Gate II is due to arrive in the near future, but the guys at BioWare are already hard at work on their next title, the highly-anticipated Neverwinter Nights.
BioWare is based in Edmonton, Alberta, which is just a few hours north of IMG's headquarters in Calgary. We recently went on a little road trip to visit BioWare, and were lucky enough to see a full presentation of Neverwinter Nights. We had a chance to speak at length with Trent Oster, NWN project leader, as well as Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, joint CEOs of BioWare.
Whither Winter?Neverwinter is a city located elsewhere in Faerun, the fantasy world of TSR's Forgotten Realms that is also host to the city of Baldur's Gate. In that sense, Neverwinter Nights is related to BioWare's Baldur's Gate titles, but the story is completely separate; it is another story that takes place elsewhere in the same world.
Neverwinter Nights represents a departure from the Baldur's Gate series in a couple of other significant ways as well. It is the first game based on the newer, 3rd Edition AD&D rules; the 2nd edition was penned in 1989, and this latest revision represents a significant step forward. Trent Oster, the product leader, told us that the new rule set is vastly improved and is largely responsible for the different gameplay mechanics employed in Neverwinter Nights.
At the heart of the game is Aurora, BioWare's first RPG engine to feature full-motion 3D graphics. We've seen the game in action, and let me tell you it looks GOOD. The game features a 3/4 perspective, and you can zoom or rotate the camera at will. Not only do the environments have more of an interactive feel (it's more like actually being there), the 3D perspective adds other realism as well; for example, characters are now rendered proportionally depending on their class--some are tall and bulky, others are short and scrawny (which is how I'd appear in the game!).