So a while back, I caught on to a rumor that Atari had given Cryptic a task: create an MMO set in the Dungeons and Dragons setting of Forgotten Realms. There was a rather big stink about it as the only other Dungeons and Dragons MMO at the time was the one set in Eberron being run by Turbine. Turbine had filed suit with Atari over some practices and things were not looking friendly. This one was settled quietly and out of court around the time that Warner Brothers bought out Turbine. Long before it was settled, it was announced that Cryptic was indeed work on a new MMO titled Neverwinter, but it was being billed as something more akin to Guild Wars, a co-operative RPG and not quite an MMO.
Turbine’s new free to play model with Dungeons and Dragons Online has been wildly successful, and while I’ve enjoyed my time in Eberron, Neverwinter is intriguing as both my wife and I love the Forgotten Realms setting where the city of Neverwinter is located. My only gripe would be fourth edition, but seeing as how I thought that version of the rules would lend itself extremely well to a computer game, that has since become a non-issue in a video game setting. I’m not as fond of some of the changes they’ve made to classes and spells in DDO, and while that doesn’t affect me directly as I barely played them, my friends in my guild and my wife do play them, and when my wife is unhappy, I’m not happy. Listening to my friends struggle to correct their builds because the spells and effects were so changed that their characters weren’t capable of what they were designed to do wasn’t helping either. So I was looking forward to Neverwinter as a possible D&D outlet despite it competing with one of my regular online games. The other MMO I frequent right now is also Turbine’s, Lord of the Rings Online.
Since the announcement of Neverwinter, one of Crytpic’s titles, Champions Online, has gone free to play and while Star Trek Online has been holding its own, the ever present rumor of that game adopting the free to play model keeps rearing its ugly (for some), but financially proven, head. Atari has also unloaded Cryptic to Perfect World, a Chinese MMO developer that specializes in the free to play model but hasn’t had much success penetrating the US market. Shortly after that things between Hasbro, who owns Wizards of the Coast, and Atari seem to have finally settled and Hasbro will be getting their digital rights to D&D back while Atari will be allowed to continue with their Facebook game, Heroes of Neverwinter and will continue to publish Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale. This is good news as Atari won’t be squatting on the rights to D&D while they pursue their casual and indie game development leaving us looking for something computer and console related with D&D as the subject matter.
I was a bit put out however, as the first news blurbs I read mentioned nothing of Cryptic’s Neverwinter. Digging further through the news I found a small blurb in the initial press release from Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro, stating that Neverwinter hadn’t been cancelled, but instead of coming out this year it was getting pushed back to late next year, and the big reason apparently was that while Atari was ready to simply push the game out with minimal content and the means for users to make their own, Perfect World wants their first outing with Cryptic to be far more in depth. This is something I’m all for.
While Neverwinter is supposed to come with the Foundry, a utility from Cryptic first introduced in Star Trek Online, this version was supposed to come a bit more expanded from its initial launch in Star Trek Online but would still be somewhat less capable than the one that came with the Bioware and Obisidan developed Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2. Even so, the Foundry has proven to be something I’ve come to really enjoy in Stark Trek Online. There are some hit or miss releases there as with any User Generated Content, but with Neverwinter we’d be able to apply it to the Dungeons and Dragons rules and setting, which I happen to love playing and running on the tabletop so being able to play something new with my other online friends while being able to torture them with my own plots I’ve been subjecting my table-top friends to really appealed. And yes, I know I could go for the Bioware or Obisidian title for that, but I liked the simplicity of the foundry and one click sharing and playing with my friends.
No other details have come forth from either Cryptic or Perfect World, but there have been promises on the Neverwinter forums from the developers that there should be more information further along the way. Right now this is one of my titles to keep a close eye on, especially since it’s an online title my wife and I could both enjoy.