Interviews

Neverwinter Nights 2

Obsidian Entertainment's Ferret Baudoin talks Neverwinter Nights 2, BioWare and the merits of being a teenage D&D geek

You might know Obsidian Entertainment for their hard work and toil on BioWare hand-me-down Knights of the Old Republic 2. Now, once again, the developer's set to take the reins of another BioWare franchise in the form of Neverwinter Nights 2.

Alongside a superb new graphics engine which truly brings the D&D Forgotten Realms universe to life like never before, Obsidian has incorporated a host of new features designed to make the series more accessible than ever - including a third-person camera and several other elements players of the spectacular KOTOR2 will be instantly familiar with.

To find out what's in store for Neverwinter Nights fans and newcomers alike when the sequel emerges next year, PC Zone chatted to Ferret Baudoin, lead designer on NWN2, and this is what he thunk:

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So what's the relationship like between BioWare and Obsidian? Why is it that they entrust their babies to other companies? It seems quite strange...

Ferret Baudoin: I suppose that if you just look at Obsidian like a new company, and don't think about the people who are in it, then yes, it would seem very odd. But what makes it make sense is when you realise that the principle people of Obsidian are all from Black Isle - people who've been working for BioWare for years and years. I'm not even sure how many years it is, but they worked with them on Baldur's Gate and tons of other stuff.

The roleplay development community seems really small in that respect...

FB: You're right. There's not many companies who make roleplaying games, so there's at most two degrees of separation between everybody that does them.

What have you worked on before?

FB: I worked on KOTOR2 and MechWarrior 4 expansions, plus two projects that were cancelled at Black Isle - sadly.

Were you working on Fallout 3? The 'Van Buren' project?

FB: Yes, and 'Jefferson' as well. (Nerd Ed: 'Jefferson' being an unannounced D&D roleplayer widely expected to be Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound.)

Can you say anything about them?

FB: Well, it was just very sad. There was a lot of love and great ideas the...

You see, Fallout 2 was one of my favourite games...

FB: I can totally relate to that. I was ecstatic when I got onto the Fallout 3 team, and extremely sad that it never saw the light of day.

But we're not here to talk about that. So: Neverwinter Nights...

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FB: Yeah!

What's the main reason to be excited about NWN2?

FB: In a nutshell, it's everything about the first game - but more so in almost every direction. One of the major things we've focused on (having started with the Aurora toolset and the Aurora engine), is that we have this whole new graphics engine which we call Electron - it's fantastic and truly next-generation. We've also been able to start on the story from absolutely the first day, which has meant we've really been able to deliver a top-notch single-player experience, as well as a fantastic toolset and multiplayer experience.

Having seen the game, there seems to be a lot of KOTOR in NWN2 - what with the third-person camera and delivery style of the dialogue...

FB: The thing that was nice about KOTOR, and the thing that we ought to emulate is that it's very cinematic. You could frame shots like a film director and you could really convey emotion with the camera angles and the looks on people's faces; since RPGS are all about the story, it's a great, great tool. We're also trying to make very deep characters - we want to make a story with nuances and not a clear-cut, black-and-white story.

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