Having visited Obsidian Entertainment a mere two months prior to last year's release of Neverwinter Nights 2, I found myself looking forward to this year's visit literally weeks before the release of NWN 2: Mask of the Betrayer, or NWX1 as the developers call it. To my great delight, the Obsidian folks did not disappoint.
The day started at ten o'clock with a Rogue Dao Studios tour of the Purgatorio module currently nearing its beta testing stage. Conducted by studio lead Montgomery Markland, press members were treated to a very recent version of Purgatorio. Press members were well-represented but the room was also packed with Obsidian developers anxious for a look at the module. Markland took the assembled crowd on a tour of The Hive, arguably the "star" of Purgatorio.
There is no question that Rogue Dao has raised the bar considerably for other community created modules and custom content creators with Purgatorio. Already sporting twenty custom creature models, the module, if fully explored, will treat players to twenty hours or so in the gorgeous Sigil environs. There is the main quest and over fifty side quests that players can use as an excuse to completely discover Purgatorio in its entirety.
Planescape source books have been used as the primary creation guides and Rogue Dao Studios has remained faithful to the look and feel of Sigil. Composers have also created a fabulous score that expertly captures the mood of the city. There are over three and a half hours of custom music accompanying the module.
One of the highlights of the module is several NPCs that Rogue Dao forum users submitted. Writers were asked to submit their character biographies early on in the module's creation. Those selected will have their characters immortalized in the Purgatorio module.
The module is nearly ready for beta testing and Markland indicated that the module will be NWN 2 v1.07 compatible. While nearing the beta testing stage, the release of the module will not conflict with the release of NWN 2: Mask of the Betrayer.
"Even we want time to play through Mask", Markland said.
There are not enough good things to say about Rogue Dao Studio and Obsidian's commitment to the modding community. The level of Obsidian's support for projects like this is unprecedented in the gaming world. The developers' enthusiastic response to what Markland showed is testament to the quality of the work that Rogue Dao Studios is producing.
Press was also given the opportunity to see Robinson's Workshop's Deep Earth series. The Deep Earth series is a group of underground tilesets featuring "Deep Halls", "Deep Sewers" and "Deep Chasms". Again, the level of professionalism displayed by "amateur" developers is astounding with RWS. The sewers are impressive, if indeed one is permitted to write such things. *grins* RWS has also produced a great bridge tileset. They are planning a tower tileset and the creation of custom monsters. Their work is top notch and can be seen at The Vault.
Both Rogue Dao and the Robinson's Workshop developers spoke of the difficult initial learning curve with the toolset but indicated that, once mastered, the power and flexibility it presents is unbeatable.
The first hour flew by though there was a short discussion of Mask of the Betrayer with Kevin Saunders and Feargus Urquhart. Here's a bit of what Saunders and Urquhart had to say and a teaser for the next installment:
- MotB is the most polished game Obsidian has produced
- MotB was finished early to allow for extra time to bug-fix and to attain a higher level of polish
- MotB features 25-30 hours of gameplay
- MotB has more choices to make in the story giving it a less linear feel
- MotB camera modes allow players to be right IN the world, not just over it
- MotB allows players to experience the world by being close up and personal
- MotB allows for strategy mode to facilitate larger battles and strategic fights
- MotB allows for marquee selection of party members
- Chants and spell effects
- In short: MORE, MORE and MUCH MORE!
Stay tuned for part two!