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The Battle of the Premium Modules

There's history between me and author Luke Scull!

I have just started a new series of books by the author Luke Scull. Luke is another of the Neverwinter Nights community that have also crossed to the written page. So far I am very much enjoying his work.

Luke works for a studio (Ossian) that at one time were supposed to be our rivals. I say supposed to be because of that peculiar internet obsession of picking sides. We were all responsible for developing premium modules (essentially expansions) for Bioware, Luke was working on Tyrants of the Moonsea, Ossian Studios on their own premium module, and myself with DLA. Many in the community decided that they must pick which one they prefer (even before seeing them). As with all things internet, this was a small yet vocal group, who became even more outraged when all the premium modules were cancelled, except Wyvern Crown of Cormyr (in fact Wyvern Crown was also

cancelled but DLA had a last minute reprieve, essentially because the module was complete). The details of why the premium modules were getting cancelled were never very clear – one of the theories that Wyvern Crown was cancelled was because it had rideable horses, whilst the new sequel Neverwinter Nights 2 did not. Much more likely though was the fact the publisher Atari had run into financial difficulty.

Ossian, now free to release their module without restrictions, released it. It was a great piece of work and of course this triggered that vocal set as to why it wasn’t a premium module. In response the DLA advocates were shrieking that Ossian’s work had been released using DLA content and should have waited until after Wyvern Crown’s release. These two groups were like the Russian rooms that spread spite in modern day news forums; occasionally entertaining, mostly unpleasant.

Inside the studios it was quite different. In DLA we wanted both modules to be premium modules and used what influence we had with Bioware to try and make it so. Ossian were using DLA assets, so the two studios were in happy communication too, but since both were under Non Disclosure Agreements, there really wasn’t much we could say that would shut down the noise – and maybe in the end it helped, as many in the community then felt obliged to play both! Finally, with the 2018 release of the Enhanced Edition of Neverwinter Nights by Beamdog, both Ossian & Luke were able to restore their modules to the premium status they deserved.

Luke and I actually met not long after the original releases at an event organised by Bioware in Canada for Dragon Age. For ‘rivals’ we got on remarkably well! He credits me with introducing him to Joe Abercrombie – another fine author. I’ll be interested to see as I read the Grim Company whether he has influenced Luke!

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Ended up reading the Grim Company over the last weekend - great read. I'll post a review for those who would like to follow up.

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