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Old 07-02-2002, 09:20 PM   #1
Threshold
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Threshold will become famous soon enough
So Neverwinter Nights is finally out. Now we can see if it lives up to the hype.

NWN is a fun game. I have played it a good bit now, and I have really enjoyed it. Single player is well done. The 3rd edition D&D rules are very well implemented. Unfortunately, those rules are very limiting for a computer game. Because of the 3rd edition rules, you cannot implement cool fancy abilities that really make CRPGs exciting (things like Whirlwind, Zeal, or Multiple Shot in Diablo 2, highly customizeable gear and spells like in Morrowind, etc). But the 3rd edition rules definitely translate better to the computer than 1e or 2e since the feats and skills make things a bit more interesting.

Graphics: The game looks gorgeous and the particle effects on weapons are wonderful. The player models are VERY limited. You only have two choices for player bodies: normal and big fat ass. That's it. You cannot customize height, weight (other than those 2 sizes) muscularity, etc. You cannot be thin and wiry. You cannot be hulking and muscular. Each race has a couple choices of heads, but of the 8-10 heads, only a few are even realistically useable, as the others are outrageously comical (though useful for NPCs I guess).

Sound: The music is decent (you don't really notice it, which generally means it is done well). The ambient sounds are above average. The voices for your PCs, however, are incredibly poor. You have very few choices and again, many of the voice choices are absurd. This is surprising since the voice acting of the single player game is VERY good (especially for main characters like Aribeth).

Interface: For the most part, the interface is excellent. The radial menu system is very easy to learn, very intuitive, and quite fast. The hotkey system is *EXCELLENT*. You have 24 hot keys and you can put pretty much ANY action, spell, effect from a magic item, etc. into a hotkey via drag and drop. There are a few negatives about the interface: you cannot resize windows (the map has 2 or 3 sizes by default, but you cannot do anything in between. Other windows cannot be resized at all), and you cannot move the windows (like if you wanted to put the map in a convenient location to leave it open). The automap works VERY, VERY well however, and the quest journal is superb (Morrowind.... take a memo!.

Camera: The camera is so-so. There is no first person view option, which is a shame but not terrible. The worst thing about the camera is that the lowest you can rotate "down" is to about 45 degrees. This makes the game only slightly more than a pure top down perspective, and it is really hard to see very far in front of your character. Also, you have VERY limited ability to zoom in and circle around your own character to really see what he/she looks like. If anyone here has played Dark Age of Camelot, you've experienced quality camera control (you can rotate and zoom it however you want).

Gameplay: For the most part it is very fun. As mentioned, the 3e rules *really* hamstring the game. Combat is pretty boring actually- especially since you have a turn based system morphed into real time. I have no idea why Bioware insists on doing this game after game. The D&D system works well turn based because you carefully plan each individual movement- cautiously avoiding attacks of opportunity, trying to maximize your movement rate per round while minimizing the ability of the opponents to outmaneuver you, etc. Since combat is very basic (its pretty much swing, swing, swing for melees, and spell casters can do little but toss in an occasional spell), the enhanced TACTICAL aspects of combat in D&D are what make combat exciting. In real time, there is virtually NO tactical planning since it is nearly impossible to predict when the engine will consider your character "in combat mode" for the purpose of establishing a "threatened areas", there is no clearly defined round, and thus no ability to plan your movement, etc.

Combat ends up being very frenetic and mostly just a comparison of your stats and gear vs. the stats and gear of your opponents. As a result, the game pretty much just throws hordes of monsters at you that do not fight with *ANY* strategy whatsoever. It is just one bumrush after another. Further, it is very easy to deal with a huge horde of foes by just running backwards a bit and waiting for the AI to automatically peel off a few bad guys- leaving a handful of poor slobs to slaughter.

The game is EXTRAORDINARILY EASY. I find myself deliberately running into traps I have detected just so I will take damage and make the game more exciting. There is a difficulty slider, but unfortunately it is pretty useless because instead of just making foes smarter or stronger (more hit points, more damage dealt, etc.), the difficulty slider DRAMATICALLY alters the type of game you are playing. Moving the difficulty slider from normal to hard does more than just make the monsters stronger- it enables friendly fire as well, which basically means don't even THINK about bringing along a spell casting henchman at that point (or if YOU are a spell caster, forget about hiring hencman at all). That is a real disappointment. It would really improve the game if you could make the foes tougher without changing the gameplay itself.

MULTIPLAYER: MP is so-so. Considering this was the real "heart and soul" of the game, I'd say this is the biggest disappointment. There is no auto follow in parties (no /follow or /stick commands) so it is a pain to keep your group together. Everyone has to *click* *click* *rotate camera* *click* *click* to move around the world.

Also, every time you save your character it creates a NEW FILE rather that letting you save over the existing file, so after a couple hours of MP, you will have 10-20 copies of your character, archaically numbered. This makes keeping track of your character a real burden.

The toolset is pretty good and not very hard to use. However, the game only supports a maximum of 64 people at any one time, and there are countless elements of the game that make any possibility of it being used for a persistent world unrealistic. The game gets VERY resource intensive when you have even 4 or 5 people in the same game. It is downright CRIPPLING with 10+. Also, the larger your world, the worst it gets. Communication/chat is harder than in a mud, with no included functionality for things like tells and channels. Perhaps someone will hack them in, but that appears very unlikely. Things people say appear in a "bubble" over their heads that disappears after a few seconds. You can have it duplicate in a text window, but that window is very small and includes a lot of unnecessary line feeds that scrolls it very fast. Can you imagine trying to follow a conversation? It is not a pleasant experience.

Like Vampire: The Masquerade, any MP game will really depend on the quality of the DM, and good DMs are (and will be) very rare.

This game is basically a fun hack n slash implementation of D&D. The single player game is fun, and I am sure that over time some module makers will design (or convert) fun modules for further SP gameplay.

It will also be a fun way to hack n slash with friends through D&D-ish adventures.

It is very poorly suited to any persistent world creation or any long term campaign. It is more like Diablo with D&D rules but instead of being stuck with the same 4 (or 5) Acts to explore, you will be able to play through quests and adventures created by the gaming community. I am sure many of those will be a lot of fun, but at their core, the game will still be just hacking up bad guys to get to the prize.
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Old 07-02-2002, 09:48 PM   #2
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I read your knit-pick about the game...but i have a question to ask. What could be done to make it better for you so that it doesnt get easily picked apart as it did in your post?
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Old 07-02-2002, 10:09 PM   #3
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Nit pick? That's not a nit pick, it's a review (unlike many of the shameless promotions that show up on this page as MUD reviews), and a fairly well-written and balanced one at that. I've never played the game (or any of the other games mentioned), so I can't speak for accuracy or offer my own opinions, but I find it sad that a review that discusses both positive and negative aspects in detail is considered nothing more than "nit picking."

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Old 07-02-2002, 10:27 PM   #4
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i think you took my comments way too personal...but that is your right to be as sensitive as you choose to. if you post a review expect it to be criticized....if you cannot take the heat get out of the kitchen...sorry i offended you...
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Old 07-02-2002, 10:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
I read your knit-pick about the game...but i have a question to ask. What could be done to make it better for you so that it doesnt get easily picked apart as it did in your post?
Quote:
Originally Posted by
i think you took my comments way too personal...but that is your right to be as sensitive as you choose to. if you post a review expect it to be criticized....if you cannot take the heat get out of the kitchen...sorry i offended you...
You, my friend, are barely able to spell. You are completely unable to punctuate, and your grammar "skills" are nonexistant. You attempt to criticize a well-thought out and detailed review (And an overall excellent one, as well, imo. Even if he gave NWN more credit than I personally would.), and yet you insult any reader that possesses a modicum of intellect with your horrendous posts.

Threshold: Great review, bud. Pretty much agree with it, but NWN feels like a D2 clone to me, from what I've observed so far.

-D
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Old 07-02-2002, 10:47 PM   #6
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as i said....taken way too personal
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Old 07-02-2002, 10:50 PM   #7
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oh btw....i still ask the original question what could be done to make it better? or were you so busy trying to smash on me that you forgot that i actually asked a relevant question in the beginning?
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Old 07-02-2002, 10:57 PM   #8
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i guess knit-pick and reviewing dont have any similarities. as far as my spelling it is atrocious at times. i can take the constructive knit....oops...i meant criticism.
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Old 07-02-2002, 11:54 PM   #9
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As I'm not Threshold (last I checked), I don't see how I can take your response to him too "personally." Further, as I've never played the game (as I said), I certainly can't offer my constructive advice for what would make it better.

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Old 07-03-2002, 02:05 AM   #10
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Heh.

If you can't take the heat, Nostrum, get out of the kitchen.

'Fex should comment. I've only played it for a short while on a friends comp, and he's apparently played it quite a bit. (Yeah, I'm getting my warez copy offa 'Fex an' Cam. Shush. ).

-D
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Old 07-03-2002, 10:53 AM   #11
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Been waiting a long time to be able to post that review have'nt you Threashold? Since the game has just hit the stores in the last week or so it seems you were rather anxious to express your opinion. Your review is not too bad really, you make some assumptions that you have not really been able to test yet (like Multiplay and suitablility for Persistant worlds) but your comments on the single player game were not bad at all.

People keep focusing on the 64 player limit, that is online at one time, a single server can hold 256 player profiles which is not a bad player base. To run a large server for NWN is going to require a powerful machine, and something better than a personal connection. However there will be a massive re-optimization with the patch that should help with this problem.

There are also a number of things that have to be addresses to really get NWN ready to handle all the Persistant World projects that are already underweigh. BioWare has consistantly pledged to work with the community to address those issues. Building a game to handle single play, multiplay and PWs is not exactly a simple thing and no one with any understanding of that expected the game to be perfect right out of the box. But we have a pledge to make it so and that is more than we have had before.

Tell you what Threashold, when some of the current PW projects get going I will be sure to let you know. I have great faith in the Creators in the game community and I think you are going to find some impressive games being created out of the raw materials that NWN provides.

A.T
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Old 07-03-2002, 01:52 PM   #12
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Mmm. Sloppy design, Tau. Sloppy design.

I don't suppose you've heard my rants on that. A good design can make up for almost any deficit you can imagine, in the code or otherwise. However, a bad design is a bad design, no matter how much you try to make it into a good system.

Also, I find it vaguely amusing that you won't even give Threshold the respect of spelling his name correctly. Very amusing.

(And a sidenote: NWN appears to be rather sloppily balanced. WTF is this, friendly fire can hit you if you raise the difficulty? If your a spellcaster, you CANNOT have any hirelings, period that way really. And if you aren't, you sure as hell better not have a spellcaster in your party. Good lord. That is a terrible, terrible design for a MP game.)

-D
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Old 07-03-2002, 03:12 PM   #13
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*shrug* In that respect this game seems to take a cue from Nox. Nox has the option of friendly fire, which definitely makes it more interesting.

Guess the wusses just can't handle having to be careful, instead of firing off wildly.

Like the others, never played it. I may, later... dunno yet.

Added:
Also, I like the idea of changing the rules of the game rather than beefing up the monster, to make it harder. It's a new style of difficulty adjustment that has been a long time coming. The possibilities are endless... you want the game to be harder? Ok, how about we set all the mobs in the game to 75% more likely to hate you and want to disembowel you?
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Old 07-04-2002, 06:24 AM   #14
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I think most of us knew that NWN wasn't going to be some "silver bullet" solution, however I still think it's another step forward.  I think it's important to remember how long it's taken text-based muds to get as far as they have.  Just like text-based muds, graphical muds will have to evolve, and that's going to take time.

And as an aside, isn't that "friendly fire" difficulty thing the same as is used in Baldor's Gate?
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Old 07-04-2002, 08:54 AM   #15
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Multiplayer supports 96 players total, and you can set your options to pause the game each round to make your "tactical" decisions...

There are also several wonderful feats available in 3rd edition, my favorite fighting ones being whirlwind attack and cleave - whirlwind letting you hit anything in the 8 squares around you, and cleave allowing you to successively hit nearby opponents, as long as they keep dying when you hit them  

I think NWN is wonderful, and I absolutely disagree that the "limited" camera rotation, or your small pieves like not being able to make your character mindlessly tag along behind some party leader, etc to be damaging to the overall enjoyability of the game.

And I would also like to add that friendly fire has/was ALWAYS supposed to hit you in PnP, so there's no reason why it shouldn't in a computer version. It might make you think twice before casting stinking cloud in the middle of your melee fight. (Heavy HTH is why there are things like magic missile....)
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Old 07-04-2002, 03:36 PM   #16
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Mmm. Good point, KaVir. However, you do sum up it best - it is an evolution and not a revolution as some people here swore.

As that gets rubbed into certain people's faces, they get rather...aggressive about it. Heh. Amusing to watch them.

-D
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Old 07-05-2002, 10:20 AM   #17
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Do not play this game until it becomes more stable. I repeat: Do not play this game until it's more stable!

I'm using version 1.19 (the latest as of this writing), and I've lost nearly 9 hours of work in the game due to savefile corruption. The game was fairly solid for about 20 hours, but then a crash took out my quicksave. The next closest save I had was 2.5 hours away -- it crashed on loadup, going corrupt as well!

Others have had worse stability problems than I, though. If anyone is interested in this game, at least wait until it's in a usable state. Remember: The game was perfectly fine for me for 20 hours, but one bug can destroy a great deal of work. This sort of thing leaves a very bad taste in my mouth; the last time this happened, I abandoned the game altogether. (Damn you Phantasy Star Online!)
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Old 07-05-2002, 11:04 AM   #18
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Ok, that being said, I might as well throw my thoughts of the game (when I could actually play it :/) into the mix =). This game gets a few things right, and a few things wrong. I haven't done any multiplayer (and I don't know if I will), so I'll concentrate on the singleplayer game.

On the shiny side of things, it has a pretty interesting story while still having a non-linear feel to it. Although it's got nothing on Morrowind in that regard, it still beats out Dungeon Siege by giving you a reason for killing so many monsters. Overall, the game is mostly fun if you like killing endless waves of monsters.

The AI is good sometimes, and atrocious othertimes. My little pixie familiar automagically disarms traps for my inept wizard. But she'll automagically disarm the first trap she sees, flying right through the trap I detect immediately afterwards to get to the first trap! She also has a great deal of difficulty orienting herself to pick locks. I have to click on the thing I want her to pick, then quickly move away so she can get in there and unlock it. Forget about pathfinding in this game: It's nonexistant. My pixie often gets caught on the most ridiculous obstacles, and you can easily "lose" monsters by running around a corner. My own character often fails to acquire a target in the middle of a battle, so I'll kill one monster only to have her sit around until I click on the next guy. Monster AI is horrible: They just rush you and swing. I find it a little nonconvincing for one mugger to charge so unnervingly when I've just reduced the rest of his troupe to ashes with a fireball.

The interface is rather nice in some areas: I've liked radial menu systems ever since they made their debut in the Secret of Mana. I wish the game would autopause whenever I enter the menu, although that's a minor annoyance. The graphical interface, as Threshold noted, is severely lacking: You can't move the windows around!

I really wish that we could have the graphical engine of Dungeon Siege for this game. Trees and caves are laughable compared to that excellent engine. Overall, the graphical quality of the game is not very high (but I don't care about this much ;)).

They seem to do a good job of providing varied circumstances with which to have tens of monsters rush at you with murderous intent, and it's certainly appreciated. And there are certain special areas that I always love, like the gauntlet in chapter one. This game definately needs more scripted events, and I beseech future module designers to concentrate on quality of area over quantity (something the original game designers have forgotten in many places).

Battle is... strange. I knew nothing about the "Attack of Opportunity" in D&D3 until this game. It makes wizards nigh useless in battle, which is a serious problem for my character. I have to force my pixie to engage my foes (who are of course happy to futilely slice at my nimble pixie) while I obliterate them. It makes for very frustrating play at times with a wizard, although this may be a problem with D&D3 and not with Neverwinter Nights. Maybe I'm just a masochist, but I don't like hiring henchmen either: I very much prefer to be the only person in the game. That the difficulty settings "assumes" I will hire a henchmen is somewhat poor planning on their part. Back to Attacks of Opportunity: It seems to be very very broken. Because of the "losing" of targets I mentioned earlier, enemies often get more Attacks of Opportunity than they should. Threat ranges also seem to be calculated strangely, because I get an incredible number of Attacks of Opportunity while polymorphed into a giant spider: It seems that the enemies have to stay just outside of my threat range (which is the center of my character?), and because my form is so large, they go in and out of it while fighting, giving me tons of these opportunistic attacks.

Overall, the problems I've noted could likely be fixed with a little elbow grease from the programmers. I'm disappointed in a few areas, but I'm sure the game will provide adequate entertainment. The only thing I've not mentioned is that the game is pretty addicting for me, and despite its flaws, I find it pretty fun.
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Old 07-07-2002, 11:32 AM   #19
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the biggest prob about NW for me is simple :
D&D rules

I hate them

Too few skills, classes arent very well balanced, and so on and so on
they were using these rules for FAAAAR too much time already !
The only black isle's good game on D&D rules was Planescape, and just because they changed these rules a lot for it..
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Old 07-07-2002, 04:53 PM   #20
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I understand the comments about the graphics but you really need to realize two things. The first is that the game is intended to be accessable to more than just people with cutting edge hardware, this was a specific design decision with a point. The second is that a year of legal battles put the whole existance of the game in doubt so rather than reworking them from the ground up they just went forward. When you combine those two things you get NWN graphic.

Dulan it is the height of Twitdom to comment on another's spelling, grammer, or typos. That was all I did, mis-spell a name, it was not an insult as you suggest. When I insult someone it is clear and very obvious. Threas, if you were indeed in any way insulted by my mistake you have my most sincere apologies.

The biggest thing I am currently focused on with NWN is a real persistant data solution. But my Guild has a whole Forum site dedicated to that and any other fundamental script needs. It is called the Foundation project and open to the public. There are problems, we will help to solve them.


A.T
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