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Kevin Saunders interview at Iron Tower

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Kevin Saunders interview at Iron Tower

Interview - posted by Elwro on Wed 27 August 2008, 23:58:51

Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir; Obsidian Entertainment

Vince D. Weller has interviewed Kevin Saunders, lead designer of the first NWN 2 expansion, Mask of the Betrayer, and producer of the upcoming second expansion called Storms of Zehir. Some bits:

Second, when you focus your energies, you can see what is and isn't really important to the core experience. So you can cut back in ways that save resources without greatly impacting your quality. For example, as NWN modders can attest to, complicated cut scenes can be very time consuming to get right with the NWN engine. You won't find many such scenes in MotB, especially when compared to NWN2. Hopefully, you didn't miss them much. We saved a lot of time by not creating them and spent that energy elsewhere. (We took this even further with SoZ.)​
Great; I always got the expression that the lauded cinematic factor of cut scenes does not improve the game at all; at least not in the way well-written dialogue does.

5. How did the spirit meter experience affect Obsidian in general and you in particular?

It was a little sad that, as much as "people" say they would like to see more innovation, when we try something that doesn't quite match their expectations, we get a lot of complaints about it. The negative reaction from some suggests that we're better off just playing it safe and iterating on derivative gameplay.

This might sound terrible, but I've learned to not worry very much about complaints from the online public. The first 3+ years of my career in game design was invested in working on MMOGs (Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds and Shattered Galaxy - both of which are still out there). I learned a lot about online communities through those experiences. I would love to spend more time with our community - I really mean that - but I found that I could give people what they really wanted - entertainment - when I concentrated more on the games themselves.

Also, frankly, the negativity you can see in online communities can crush your soul. There are a lot of great people, but the criticism can be so much louder and can deflate one's spirit much more than the praise lifts it. So while I'm aware of some of the negative response by some to the spirit meter, I've shielded myself from a lot of the details. I'd rather make the next game the best I can than worry about such things.​
This reminds me of a Jeff Vogel rant about how he tried to innovate with Nethergate, low sales of which lead him to not experiment too much for three years, doing "basic fantasy" stuff which sold much better. So does this mean MotB sales were immune to the shit-flinging about the spirit meter?

Read the whole thing; you'll learn more about how Kaelyn almost got cut and why combat in MotB was easy.

Thanks, VD!

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