Neverwinter: Getting It Right And Wrong

I was watching a Nightline piece tonight about Pixar studios, and an exec (I missed his name) said that Pixar has developed great technology, but their main goal has never been for the audience to be interested in their technology. They’re all about story and characters.

And those things are how Pixar gets people of all ages to watch their movies–the story and characters. Can PC MMOs strive to do the same thing, luring new players with great stories as well as mindless sparkle trails with console game controls?

I’ve come to believe that this current trend is just a reset, establishing a new, wider baseline to build on. Players will get bored, and the bar will be raised again. In the meantime, while the difficulty and complexity strive to accommodate all ages and tastes (and the next gen consoles, probably), it seems like a perfect time to double down on great stories and memorable characters.

The essential components of fiction and immersion are so often are lost with the focus on graphics and gameplay. Not even a lot of bloggers talk about characters and story. This is one reason I like watching Angry Joe. He appreciates characterization as an important aspect of a good game.

I’ve only played one installment of Devil May Cry a long time ago, but I watched Joe’s entire review of “DMC” because I was intrigued by his criticism and analysis of how Capcom rebooted their main character, Dante.

I didn’t necessarily agree that it was a horrible thing, but I’m not a fan. I can understand getting bent out of shape over seeing a beloved character turned into something else that might appeal more to the next generation.

I do think Neverwinter needs more focus on their story and less on combat and crotch shots. I’m not even going to get started on that video. We’ve come a long way from the Neverwinter Nights 2 days, when players complained in the forums at release about the overly conservative, silly-looking Star Trek underwear.

Earlier tonight I was watching Youtube videos of the Neverwinter beta, and I was thinking that no one is talking much about the story of Neverwinter or the characters. One exception was the video on Massively last week that talked about story and lore in the form of Mount Hotenow, which actually focused only 30% on clips of players fighting.

That video pulled me in like no other. Fire Giants are classic. I want to level up, go to the volcano, and fight a war against the fire giants.

Anyway. I’ve linked my favorite video below of the ones I watched. Ghost has a smooth, easygoing voice (overly aggressive, egotistical voice in videos kind of turns me off). He also seems to have a higher opinion of the character creation than some I’ve heard, which is encouraging.

Neverwinter seems to be getting the character creation right. It’s critical to allow players make a likeable, viable character to start the game, if you want to hook them.

This is in contrast to my experiences with DDO (you don’t get full attribute points to make your character unless you pay at the start of the game) and SWTOR’s blunder (only a few races available.) So that’s my opinion on that. Here’s the video, and a direct link.


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One response to “Neverwinter: Getting It Right And Wrong

  • wumpus

    “This is in contrast to my experiences with DDO (you don’t get full attribute points to make your character unless you pay at the start of the game)”

    – sorry, but you hit a sore point for me. I liked my time with DDO (and right now am waiting for my reinstall to finish updating), but Turbine puts a lot of barricades between new players and effective characters (the one you noticed isn’t even a big one). This is mostly so that if anyone is disappointed with neverwinter, they can hopefully start on the right foot in DDO.

    Here is where I put my oft-repeated claim that while Turbine appears committed to making sure players don’t make their first character remotely viable, it has nothing to do with 28pt vs. 32pt builds. 28 point builds encourage certain classes (namely sorcerer, wizard, barbarian, and fighter) as the extra points often get wasted in a dump stat (although fighters and barbarians might get away with taking an 18 constitution and dumping *everything* but strength, that doesn’t seem to be the smartest thing anymore. Casters can get into serious trouble if they follow a similar plan and completely dump strength.

    Here is a discussion of what real DDO players think of Turbine’s suggestions for character building:
    Also note those pre-built “paths” tend to follow the official suggestions. Come to think of it, WotC pre-builts were probably equally bad. Copy a real build from below (and print it out if you need it) and forget about any prebuilt paths.

    What actually happens is that your actual options for the full array of possible builds is limited. I strongly suggest following builds here I will admit that one build I made (a hagglebard: a character made largely for getting good prices when buying and selling goods with vendors) failed utterly as a 28 pt. build and worked well as 32 pt. build (although it would have worked almost as well if I lowered dexterity a little bit instead of all but dumping constitution. I was still new when I made that build). Lastly, I would point out that the worst players for making gimps are 3.x D&D players. Knowing the d20SRD backwards and forwards gives you barely any advantage once you know the game. Before you know the game all it does is tricks you into building a complete gimp. Hint: the toughness feat is mandatory on all characters, and keep bumping up constitution until you are paying at least two build points for one CON point (i.e. at least 14 for a human), and more for wizards and sorcerers.

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