GamesBeat: Now that the new rules are set, are you going to be changing any of the mechanics for the MMO in any way?

Uh, oh.

Above: Uh, oh.

Image Credit: Perfect World/Cryptic Studios

Overmeyer: I’ll have to give you a softball answer, but it’s a real answer. Any time things change in the D&D rule set, if there’s anything that makes sense for the MMO — some mechanics for the tabletop just seem to fit and work in the MMO. But we’re probably not going to make a bunch of changes that might not fit in the MMO. It’s always something to consider. But in the grand scheme, it’s a partnership. If there are mechanics that need to change based on changes to the rules, we look into those on an individual basis.

There are definitely a lot of cool changes that are giving us opportunities to make cooler gameplay. There’s also some stuff coming out that gives us more interplay with factions. There’s a broad arena of directions that we can go that we hadn’t explored before. As far as content and stories, it opens us up. We can take some of the stuff that’s coming out in the new campaigns and get that right in.

Stewart: In the broader video game realm, the role for us is to put the rules under the hood, if you will. Guys like Rob and his team, they should never be focused on, “Is this 5th Edition or 4th Edition?” They should be answering questions like, “Is this true to D&D or not? Does it deliver the right essence?”


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One example: if you played Baldur’s Gate, that’s very much based on 2nd Edition rules. If you’ve played both, that’s right in your face. When you play Neverwinter, there’s a lot of 4th Edition components in there — encounters, spells daily, actions — but as we move forward and solidify the future in this evolving storyline we’re doing, our goal is to put as much of that under the hood as possible, and leave those decisions to the individual game developer and publisher based on the fun of the game. Rob says it’s a case by case basis, but on the business side of that, he’s not getting any pressure from us saying, “Put 5E in there!”

We want to make sure that when you’re playing Neverwinter, it feels as much like D&D as if you’re playing another video game or playing the tabletop game or even playing a board game, which is a very light D&D experience. Is Magic Missile or Fireball involved? When you talk about a Cleric, does that have the same meaning?

Warlock add a more darker flair to Neverwinter in the from the Scourge of the Warlock expansion.

Above: Warlocks add a darker flair to Neverwinter in the from the Scourge of the Warlock expansion.

Image Credit: Perfect World

The trick on this, especially with the new rules coming out, is that we’ve made these distinctions within them. When I say “Warlock,” I don’t mean a Wizard or a Magic-User. That type of magic and where that magic comes from and how a Warlock feels like a Warlock, that’s what’s important for Neverwinter and any of our partners to get right based on the new rules. Not whether the damage is a d12 for this or a d10 for that. That should be under the hood. But warlocks should feel like warlocks.

Overmeyer: Absolutely. When we were putting together the Warlock for Neverwinter, we went back and forth and went over the overviews. Things were changing in 5th Edition, definitely, and we said, “Well, these changes we could make. They don’t change the essence of the warlock.” But had some good conversations about what a Warlock is and the role they fill in the party and how they should feel, even down to the details of who they should pact with and what pacts they should pick and how it would make sense for that to work going forward.

Although I cautiously say it’s a case-by-case basis, it’s all about having a fun D&D experience, having it be true to that feel, whether it’s in Neverwinter or on the tabletop.

GamesBeat: What new terminology, if anything, from 5th Edition is going to carry over to Neverwinter? Or is that not going to be much of a problem for you?

Overmeyer: I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. I’m not completely fluent in all the new terms for 5th Edition, but from what I’ve seen it won’t be that different.

Stewart: Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. I’m looking into my crystal ball here, but I don’t think there’s going to be much in the way of terminology changes so much as which things in the game world are most important — which factions, which groups. You talked about how we haven’t seen the Cult of the Dragon play a major role in Neverwinter. The Harpers are a big part of Neverwinter now, but what other factions and groups within the Realms are going to be playing larger roles? That’s going to be more of what changes. Who are the important groups and how do they affect the story?

GamesBeat: How is the MMO going to promote the new edition, beyond the Cult of the Dragon expansion? Will there be regular events as stuff rolls out from Wizards?

Overmeyer: We’re definitely excited about being able to have that partnership, to have the new modules and content that come out for the tabletop and get as much of that as we can. We’re working on some stuff now that’s very close to what’s been released. We want Neverwinter to be the place to go experience the latest from D&D in the digital space, to get that D&D feel, to get those modules that you play with your friends on the tabletop in the multiplayer online environment.

As more comes out, we’re always working together and looking for a way into the future. I have to be a bit cagey here, but I know a lot of what’s out there. All I can say is that we’re really excited about continued growth and being the place to have the D&D experience.

Warlocks control arcane powers that feel different than those of any other spellcaster.

Above: Warlocks control arcane powers that feel different than those of any other spellcaster.

Image Credit: Perfect World

Stewart: First and foremost, we keep referencing the new rules, fifth edition and so forth, but that discussion almost goes away soon. When you talk about promoting the new edition, really, they’re not going to do anything to promote it. What’s going to happen is that we’re just working tighter than ever on a consistent story roll-out. We have a great partner that’s built this fantastic world for digital players. When we’re rolling out our major new story arcs, Perfect World and Cryptic will work with us to continue to bring those stories to life.

Those adventures are going to be crafted on the tabletop side to work with the new edition of the rules, but as we’re telling these big stories, it’s not going to be like, “This is a 5th Edition adventure and this isn’t.” We’re going to be telling these connected stories in the Forgotten Realms. For the foreseeable future, Rob and his team are connected at the hip with my team when it comes to crafting those future stories.

We’re talking about the next three, four, five stories together. We have great confidence that some of them are going to come out when we think they’re going to come out, and with some of them we’re going to be fluid and say, “Oh, maybe we can change this.” But we’re going to be doing all of that in lockstep with each other.

GamesBeat: When did Wizards and Cryptic first start working on 5th Edition material for Neverwinter?

Stewart: On the adventures coming out that are going to fuel a lot of the new-edition play, we’ve been talking in earnest about the new story and a lot of those components for a year or a year and a half. We meet a couple of times a year in person as a bigger group and talk about the big story stuff, but Rob and his team have a weekly conversation with the story folks and with the lorekeepers on our side. We’ve been partnered very tightly for a long time.

Part 2 runs tomorrow.

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