Neverwinter Nights is a game that's just got a massive following. It wasn't the first time you could create new content or DM a game live but it was the most successful one. A second iteration is about to be set forth and the anticipation for the game is off the charts in the RPG world. Can the folks at Obsidian create a worthy follow up? John talks with Senior Producer and one time Virgin Interactive interviewee Ryan Rucinski about Neverwinter Nights 2, the pressure of living up the the first game, and how the game has improved.
GamingNexus: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us about a highly anticipated game for rabid RPG fans. Let's start off with a little introduction on who you are and what's your part in the game. How did you get into the gaming industry?
My name is Ryan Rucinski and I am the Senior Producer on the game. How I got into the industry was sheer luck actually. While looking for a new job I I had a few friends at Virgin Interactive (Yes, I am old) and took an interview over there. On the way coming back from Virgin I passed by Interplay which was on the same street. I shrugged, dropped off an application, and went back home to play more Secret of Mana (late ’93). The next day I got a call from Interplay asking for me to come in for an interview. I showed up in my suit and tie, got mocked by the existing QA folks, and filled out my test. I apparently answered it well enough and started there a day later. Although it was awesome to be working in the industry I never did get to beat Secret of Mana…
GamingNexus: Neverwinter Nights has such a great following since it's release. How much pressure do you feel to live up to all the expectations of NWN fans out there who are anxiously awaiting the release of the game?
Ryan Rucinski: The pressure is always there. Obsidian is doing a heck of a job trying to make sure that we are active with the online community, going to conventions, and responding to inquiries as well as we can. We are making a game that is a sequel to a game that has had an avid fan-base for five years so we also know that we have to try and address as many of their needs as well as the new potential fans.
GamingNexus: You have some very experienced RPG developers on the team. How much of a benefit is that when tackling such large project in Neverwinter Nights 2?
Ryan Rucinski: It has been indispensable. Having such a rich knowledge of both the history Dungeons & Dragons and all the past RPGs done by the team is an incredible asset. Without the team all working together and using their past experiences over the course of the many years there is no way this game (or any game for that matter)to even get made.
GamingNexus: I've talked to many fans who really enjoy the interface when playing the game Has the interface changed much for the player and if so what are some of the changes? Will those that played NWN 1 be able to just jump right into the 2nd one? What enhancements have you made to the user interface?
Ryan Rucinski: We did make some improvements to the interface and camera. You will be able to choose which style of play you prefer. Anyone can jump into the game and just start clicking around to move or use their WASD keys if they are familiar with that kind of movement.
I do think that one of our biggest improvements is the streamlining of how the player gets access to their spells and abilities. We got there by taking out the Radial Menu. Instead of potentially having to go through six clicks to cast a spell, at most you only have to do two now.
GamingNexus: Graphically, the game looks to coming along really well. Did you start from scratch for the graphics or did you take the NWN engine and modify it?
Ryan Rucinski: It started with the NWN engine and then grew and grew and grew. Basically just about everything was rewritten barring some Gameplay mechanics and how the Network game play.
GamingNexus: Besides the usual polygon increase and texture improvements, can you talk about what other improvements made to the graphics over the previous game?
Ryan Rucinski: You will notice almost immediately that a lot about the characters and models in the game that we have an asymmetrical look: Bandoleers, one shoulder spikier than another, a hip bag on one side. This was all done to help make the character really be customizable to the player and helps it follow the look and feel that D&D has become.
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