gamescom 2012: Neverwinter Online Interview with Craig Zinkievich
Through the haze of modern shooters, I’d begrudgingly forgive those who have forgotten where online gaming first found its footing. The early years of MUDs and dice roll powered games were the true pioneers of online gaming, and the Dungeons and Dragons licence was all you needed to make a quick buck. Follow its rich vein of history back towards the present and you’ll find yourself walking past some true blockbusters. Both Baldurs Gate titles are still heralded as the greatest of their time, with the lesser known Icewind Dale franchise still generating plenty of argument within the D&D community over which game deserves more attention. But that was the isometric 2D era, in the 3D generation, there has only ever been one champion.
Neverwinter Nights set a standard that no Dungeons and Dragons title (and most RPG’s for that matter) have been able to follow since. Turbine gave a valiant showing with their entry into the MMORPG arena, but never managed to recapture the online community created four years before it launched with Neverwinter. Following some even poorer showings with some smaller releases on XBLA/PSN and attempt to crack the Facebook market, I’d never have thought that a game bearing the D&D banner could ever hope to rekindle any interest with me. On learning that Cryptic Studios were trying to do just that with Neverwinter Online (a Free to Play return to the lands of Faerun), I’ll admit to being somewhat dubious over the recreation of something I spent the better half of my teenage years playing.
On reflection though, Cryptic Studios have created some strong selling and fun online games, and are responsible for the most successful applications of the F2P model in MMORPG’s. They deserve more time and attention than they get, and my recent exposure to the game has not disappointed. Neverwinter Online looks every bit the contender to the recently released Guild Wars 2, incorporating a rebuilt and refined variant of Star Trek Online’s content creation tool in the form of ‘The Foundry’, and stealing the show with its twitch based action RPG combat.
Hoping that I’ve managed to stir your curiosity, allow me to hand over to Craig Zinkievich, Chief Operations Officer at Cryptic Studios who we caught up with a few weeks ago, to tell you more about the game and what Cryptic are aiming to bring to the table.