Looking At and Past Module 4 in Neverwinter (Interview)

NW_Screenshot_ToD_PWT_080114_jpeg14_wm Cryptic Studios has had a busy summer. Not only did the developer polish of Module 4: Tyranny of Dragons for Neverwinter, which we’ve featured as part of Instance Gratification, but it is pushing the title to Xbox One, released a new content patch for Champions Online and will soon do the same for Star Trek Online. You’d think the company would be too busy for some community interviews. You’d be completely wrong!

Who are you and what are your duties in regards to Neverwinter?

I’m Chris Matz, and I’m Lead Designer on Neverwinter. This means I oversee most things on the game, working with the other Leads to create a cohesive vision and direction for the game. I also work very closely with our Content and Systems Designers to plan out what features we work on – from classes and feats and items, to zones and dungeons and story –as well as what our goals are for those features.

Module 4: Tyranny of Dragons was recently released and included a new class and a new playable race. How has the adoption been among the community?

It’s been great! We’ve got a ton of Warlocks in game – including several that have already raced to level 60 – running around Cursing all of our new dragons. The Dragonborn have also been received well, and we’ve got plenty of them using their new fire breath Artifacts to wreak some havoc. I’ve been waiting for us to get Dragonborn in since before launch, and I’ve already race-changed several of my characters over!

It was recently revealed that Artifacts have been a wild success causing the item type to be expanded upon. How did the latest gear-scale incarnation come to fruition? Can we expect addition unique item designs for Artifacts in the future?

We discussed the possibilities of where Artifacts could go with our initial creation of the items, and gear – primarily weapons – was a main additional request of our initial development. Chasing after awesome loot is one of my favorite parts of MMOs, and having awesome loot that I can further upgrade is something I’m really excited about for my characters in Neverwinter.

Getting them into game took a fair amount of work, however. While we had discussed the idea beforehand, reworking the Artifact system to play nicely with our “normal” gear took a fair amount of code magic, and we had a lot of back and forth about how we expected players to interact with the items. There was a  fair amount of iteration on differences between normal Artifact progression and Artifact Gear progression – how many Enchantments are needed versus how many Green Items? How many Ranks of Artifact Gear? How does this work when new Artifact Gear comes out? Many spreadsheets were made, and lots of playing with those numbers to get the feel of ranking them up went into where they are now.

We are planning on further updating our Artifact Gear for upcoming Modules. We also have a few more ideas in mind for them, but… I’m not quite ready to talk about them yet.

Has the player-generating section of the community filled the Foundry with Dragonborn themed missions?

Hmmm, I haven’t personally seen a lot, but they might be hard to catch with all of the Cult of the Dragon and Tyranny focused Foundry missions that have been coming out recently!


Speaking of the Foundry, do you have a few favorite player-generated missions?

Too many to list! The Foundry is an excellent tool for our players. I got my start in the game industry long ago doing level building as a hobby, and have been using UGC tools for many games for a long time, so getting to see what our players can do is totally awesome.

Pricing any item for F2P games can be fickle task. There has been some criticism at the price tag for Dragonborn Legend Pack, which comes in at $74.99. How has the reception been?

Our players are really happy with the Dragonborn Legend Pack. There was definitely some mixed reception at first and we needed to  do a better job explaining everything that was in the pack. The pack also improved following its release. It morphed from its original incarnation to the pack we launched with, and player reception has moved almost entirely to positive once we really spelled out what was in the pack. Pricing for Free To Play is definitely interesting, but one of the things we try to do is to ensure that many different types of players have options for how they can show their interest in the game, and many of our enthusiasts have proven to have great interest in this pack at this price.

How do you defend that price, which is only surpassed by the original Hero of the North Pack, to critics?

The Dragonborn Legend Pack is a great bundle of items, gear, costumes, services and the Dragonborn race and has a terrific value. The players agree that it is a good value and has a lot going for it . The pack comes with a purple Artifact for every character on your account, a 30 slot bag for every character on your account, multiple fashion sets for each character, a race change token, a new character slot… the list goes on. Players that are buying the pack are doing so because they see value in the pack for them, and as with all of our packs, that value comes from the whole package being a great bundle, not just one outstanding piece.

Cryptic Studios now has three games on the Arc platform. More and more are coming from Perfect World partnerships and the parent company’s own development. Have there been conversations regarding crossover items for any combination?

Cryptic and Perfect World are always looking for opportunities to expand our partnerships, but the Neverwinter team is not currently working on any crossover promotions of this nature.

Module 3 helped deal with the level 60 cap by turning previously wasted experience into loot, Power points, enchants and the like. Tyranny of Dragons added new end game content, but kept the cap at level 60. What’s in store for level capped players; more loot opportunities, horizontal progression or can the community expect an eventual increase to the cap?

Players will always see more loot opportunities with each Module – loot is a big part of our game, and we have no plans to change that! As for additional opportunities… we have some plans… but that will have to wait for another time.

Now that we’re on the future of Neverwinter, is Protector’s Enclave anticipated to remain the social hub of the community for the foreseeable future?

It is. While we like expanding the area of influence that players have throughout the Sword Coast (and occasionally beyond), we enjoy bringing the story back to Protector’s Enclave, and the city of Neverwinter, to keep the game focused on its namesake. There are many parts to the Realms, but in Neverwinter, you’ve always got a hand in the dealings of the City.

I’ve personally spent plenty of time participating in Neverwinter without loading the client proper thanks to the Neverwinter Gateway web application. It’s been in beta for quite some time and changed only slightly recently. What’s the status of the project?

Dragon_M4_wm_1The Gateway website has had a large amount of success, and has been received very well by our community for the main features it offers – Auction House access, Professions, and Sword Coast Adventures. We constantly keep Gateway in mind, working to integrate our in-game events with it, from providing Event Professions that can be used online, to unique maps for Sword Coast Adventures while certain events are running. We have several ideas in mind for how we can expand further upon Gateway, but are currently focusing most of our efforts on in-game content for the next couple of modules.

Tyranny of Dragons has most of the community enamored with leveling, raiding, and farming, but gamers love looking to the future. What’s on the horizon for Neverwinter?

Well, just on the horizon looms the conclusion of the Tyranny of Dragons storyline in Module 5, with a visit from a particularly powerful enemy you may have heard of before. Beyond that, we’ve got lots of plans, and have been working closely with Wizards of the Coast to see where we’re going to take the story. We plan to keep adding more gear, more dungeons, more classes, more races, and more adventures. We are planning on something big for Module 6, but we’ll have more news to share on that front later – after the conclusion of Module 5!

Is there anything else you care to add?

Making Neverwinter is an awesome experience. I’ve been a fan of D&D – both online and off – for most of my life, and getting to work in a world I love and getting to interact with a community that loves it as much as I do is truly rewarding. Thanks to all of our fans for helping making Neverwinter what it is today!

Thanks so much for making such an enthralling action-oriented MMORPG and for fielding the community questions. See you in game!

[Editor’s note] And the team also threw in a few hundred NVP keys. Get em while they last!

*Please note, the current Neverwinter key giveaway is for a Neverwinter Vanguard Pack and the Fatespinner title. The key redemption page that describes the package is currently frozen and won’t update. We’re working on it.

1 Comment

  1. Hey Chris — you know why you haven’t seen any Dragonborn foundry quests?

    Because the foundry doesn’t have any Dragonborn assets, encounters or costumes.
    Goose Egg.

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