Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cryptic's Neverwinter Nights

Cryptic Studios announced that their next MMORPG would be Neverwinter Nights, based on 4th edition Dungeon & Dragons rules, and using player-created content. I am having a hard time to understand why the MMO blogosphere exploded in a wave of posts expressing their disappointment.

I did play City of Heroes for a while, and I've played both Champions Online and Star Trek Online in the betas. I would say that Cryptic Studios' games are not among my favorites. But I *do* understand their basic design philosophy of "MMO Redux". Cryptic MMORPGs are developed in shorter time than the MMORPGs of other developers, and usually have a lower degree of complexity and polygon count than other games. But they do listen to what players always say they want in features, and then stick to a simple selection of features which work together reasonably well.

So while their games are often a bit short on content, which results in them being repetitive when played too much, and while their games aren't complex enough for my personal tastes, I would not say that Cryptic games are actually bad. They just target a different MMO demographic than I am in. For players who would be overwhelmed by the complexity of bigger MMORPGs, and who don't spend 20 hours a week in the same game every week, I can totally see the interest in playing a Cryptic game.

And I have to give them credit for experimenting with features, like player-created content. So from what I've seen from them in the past, I think I have a reasonable idea on how their Neverwinter Nights will be. I don't expect fancy graphics, nor a huge world, but we can expect a basic version of a fantasy MMORPG with the added bonus of having an editor for players to create dungeons for other players to run through. What's not to like? It seems to me that the basic complaint is that another company with a different design philosophy and bigger development budgets could have made a fancier and more complex game out of the same basic Neverwinter Nights premise. I would say that Cryptic making Neverwinter Nights *increases* the chance of us seeing a more complex fantasy MMO with player-created content in the future. Lets just play the basic version first and see how it goes. And Cryptic is pretty good at making basic versions of MMORPGs.

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