Twenty years ago today Neverwinter Nights officially entered our lives. This computer game went on to spawn a dizzying array of different content - modules, community packs, new authors, persistent worlds and even new game studios like Ossian, DLA and RoXidy games. It was remastered and re-released a couple of years ago by Beamdog and still has a vibrant community. But could we have predicted this?
Wind back a little further to the pre-release forums for Neverwinter Nights – clunky, buggy and fuelled by dial up modems… the moment for me when I knew NWN was going to be something amazing was when Bioware were doing a demo of the game, and unexpectedly a deer they had spawned outside walked into the dungeon they had just entered.
This may seem like an odd moment to get excited about, but until then I had been treating NWN with typical scepticism, especially the toolset, which I thought would be heavily prescriptive and complex to use. Then the game came out, and though I found the original campaign to have some bland bits, I could see the story-telling potential, and I was nevertheless excited to get my hands on the toolset, and wonder of wonders, it was easy to use.
I think for many this was what set the game apart and gave it such longevity: so many people could now create games they wanted, worlds they wanted. I set about creating in graphics the worlds that sat in my head. Soon I was doing it professionally, working on the expansion Wyvern Crown of Cormyr. I was soon writing for NWN2 and the Witcher as well, and although that all came to a crashing halt when the publisher Atari ran into financial difficulty and started cancelling projects left, right and centre, NWN itself was still going strong, and still is today.
So thank you and Happy Birthday NWN!
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