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Mod News Neverwinter Nights: Siege of Shadowdale module gets an Enhanced Edition after twenty years

thesheeep

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nwn was not 'early age 3D'
It released in 2002. That's early age 3D.
Anything 95 to 05 is in that field of games that had mostly terrible looking 3D (especially in that 00 to 05 area) because people pushed for techniques (like reflection, bloom, etc.) without understanding what to use them for while simultaneously being limited by how many polys can be put on screen at the same time.

Sure, there are some exceptions from that time, 3D games that still managed to look decent despite low poly 3D.
But they all had really ugly stuff in them. Like Morrowind, generally good atmosphere and world art, but dear lord are those models and animations terrible.
Or games that understood the limitations and did the best within. Like Blade Of Darkness that I'm currently playing - ugly, sure, but not offensively ugly like NWN.

NWN just sticks out even more because almost nothing in that game looks good.
It's at the bottom of the scale, but it's still a scale of shit.
 

Rincewind

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Early age 3D will always be ugly and this game is no exception.
Everything looks too shiny, too polished, too clean, soulless and lifeless, all areas are completely empty because you couldn't have a lot of 3D on the screen for GPUs at the time... it's always been ugly.
Not *too* sure about that. Half-Life with dithered 16-bit rendering on better gfx cards (e.g. Matrox) actually looks quite characterful on real hardware at 640x480, and so do many other early 3D games. Same for Thief, Gothic, and many others.

Same for DOS era 3D, I actually do love how Doom, Daggerfall, Arena, Tomb Raider, etc. look with nearest-neighbour texture mapping and all. Gives them tons of character.

These games actually look a lot worse as rendered by current gen graphics cards at HD resolutions on LCD displays. *That* looks too clean, too sharp, too smooth etc. On real hardware they look a lot more gritty which I prefer.
 

EdgyRightWinger

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Everything looks too shiny, too polished, too clean, soulless and lifeless, all areas are completely empty because you couldn't have a lot of 3D on the screen for GPUs at the time... it's always been ugly.

But everything else is just "coders figured out how to do reflections so every surface now needs to reflect everything" and repeat that for a bunch of other shading effects that were "hot new stuff" at the time

Sounds like problems an enhanced edition could fix.
 

thesheeep

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Same for DOS era 3D, I actually do love how Doom, Daggerfall, Arena, Tomb Raider, etc. look with nearest-neighbour texture mapping and all. Gives them tons of character.
With Doom, Daggerfall and Arena, you're totally right.
Because they use simple 3D where it actually works: environments - and they're too early to put "fancy" effects on them making them look horrible.
The characters, models, animations are beautiful 2D, and that will never look bad - which is why those games age so well.

But Tomb Raider? You gotta be kidding me.
The environments? Look fine, sure.
But all those models look like ass, Lara's pyramid boobs became a meme for a reason.
Honestly, just watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iAd4egX2PA&ab_channel=YouGamersTV
It's not pretty, though I will say the animation quality of the models is a lot better than some later games. Models themselves look like all 3D models did at the time, blocky stick figures. Especially for games that are not heavily stylized, that just doesn't work.

These games actually look a lot worse as rendered by current gen graphics cards at HD resolutions on LCD displays. *That* looks too clean, too sharp, too smooth etc. On real hardware they look a lot more gritty which I prefer.
There is some truth to this, but that's not much of an argument:
"You don't notice how bad it looks if you degrade your hardware to the same level of shit" :lol:
It would be nice if there was a kind of general emulation for older hardware resolution & monitors on modern hardware. As it is now, it would have to be implemented into each game, which of course can't happen.

Sounds like problems an enhanced edition could fix.
Theoretically, maybe.
If they rewrote the renderer completely, improved the textures (and I mean REALLY improve them, not just make them higher res which I think they did already?), improved the models, improved the animations, added more things to each scene, etc.
But that would be so much work, it would be a remake or remaster more than an enhanced edition.
 

Rincewind

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But Tomb Raider? You gotta be kidding me.
The environments? Look fine, sure.
But all those models look like ass, Lara's pyramid boobs became a meme for a reason.
Honestly, just watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iAd4egX2PA&ab_channel=YouGamersTV
It's not pretty, though I will say the animation quality of the models is a lot better than some later games. Models themselves look like all 3D models did at the time, blocky stick figures. Especially for games that are not heavily stylized, that just doesn't work.
I really like it and don't have problems with it that you don't; I was stating my opinion on the subject.
I find those early 3D models endearing, and the animations are indeed very well done.
 
Unwanted
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Early age 3D will always be ugly and this game is no exception.
nwn was not 'early age 3D'

These games released within months of each other:
image.png

image.png
Dis is the gremlin fact check: Neverwinter Nights wasn't fucking early 3D BUT it was an isometric style game and the NOLF series is in another genre and shooters back then had the best graphics mang.

Fact #2: NWN was in development hell for a long ass time. This here is how the game was lookin in 1999 AKA the year Planescape Torment came out, Diablo 2 came out 2000. Icewind Dale 2 came out in 2002, same year as NWN.

HSGmX3Y.jpg


Other RPGs that came out in 2002 like Divine Divinity, Prelude to Darkness, Prince of Qin or Geneforge weren't gonna make your graphics card catch fire either. Meanwhile NWN had real-time shadows and all sorts of shit. Even early jiggle physics baby! Biggest graphics whore RPG game back in 02 was Morrowind but that was a fucking first person walking sim with fog up the ass and the shadows were worse and not even modders could make the tits bounce in that game.
 

Jack Of Owls

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Maybe I should give NWN another chance? I always start with the OC but can't complete it because of boredom so I never get to the good content.
that's where you go wrong... very very wrong. Don't start with the OC and you might actually get interested enough to complete an expansion/module or two. tbh, I haven't felt the desire to get back into NWN. I think I burnt myself out playing so much of it so many years ago and the thought of playing it again fills me with dread now. It can happen..
 
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thesheeep NWN areas could be made to look good, but they took considerable care. You had to skillfully dress it with place-ables, rotating all of them "just so" as to not give a generic look. By removing collision from some of the objects, you could merge them to make other things. I once used boulders to make the appearance of a tar pit. One of the difficulties was to avoid "baked in" objects of the base tileset, like the bench booth style tables in the inn. All the same applies with lighting and use of space. The NWN editor is very powerful and easy to use. There was a massive abundance of placeables from ferns, to stones, to furniture. I made some forests and swamps that absolutely put anything official to shame. I think the creators just didn't have the time left over to actually make use of it all. I imagine they had so many graphical updates over its production that much of it had to be avoided to prevent bugs and aberrations.
 

Zeriel

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Early age 3D will always be ugly and this game is no exception.
Everything looks too shiny, too polished, too clean, soulless and lifeless, all areas are completely empty because you couldn't have a lot of 3D on the screen for GPUs at the time... it's always been ugly.
The only thing adding actual atmosphere to NWN in the graphics department are some occasional setpieces and the portraits. And some of the spell effects do indeed look nice.

But everything else is just "coders figured out how to do reflections so every surface now needs to reflect everything" and repeat that for a bunch of other shading effects that were "hot new stuff" at the time and wowed people easily impressed by tech over actual design.

Comparing the game to its own peers, there's no way a person with eyes in their head would claim it looks better than eg. Baldur's Gate.
Gaming magazines praised the graphics at the time, because they were full of shit and "3D! Much wow! Such progress!" no matter how terrible something actually looked.

It was also out of date by the time it released is my recollection. It was basically N64 era 3D a full generation after that was "current". Certainly didn't help that Infinity Engine games were really pretty for the time. So the step down from that was drastic.
 

thesheeep

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Donut Touch Your "facts" aren't wrong, but they just don't matter.
FPS don't automagically look better, nor do isometric games automagically look worse. It's all just polygon soup with textures and shader effects on top (once they became a thing), no genre gets a pass here.
You cannot compete gameplay between genres, but you can very much compare the quality of the graphics.
Development hell? Maybe, can't remember. Still doesn't matter, though. It might offer an explanation, but won't make the game prettier ;)

and not even modders could make the tits bounce in that game.
Given the other animations in Morrowind, that's probably for the better.
Imagining what Morrowind jiggle physics might have looked like really makes me laugh, though, so thanks for that :lol:
 

Sabotin

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NWN is kinda of an anomaly as it was made primarily as a framework instead of a game itself. The main feature was custom content, specificaly playing through adventures with a group of people and a DM. Most other aspects are subservient to this. It was supposed to be more of a DnD PnP session simulator.

The infamous OC is made simpler and emptier so it has room to be custom ran with a dungeon master and/or with multple people. You remember how old MMOs were very player content driven rather than the modern times theme park style? Sort of like that. Now this doesn't excuse the quality but at least makes it understandable I think.

The design is also a bit generic so that creatures/tiles/placeables can be used for multiple different roles, depending on the module makers intention and immagination. I'd say this is also why they made an emphasis on developing shadows/lighting/reflections; it's easier to cover up and customise things. Put some yellow lights and holy music and it's a temple of Tyr, do some red and evil ambience and it's for Cyric.
It also reminds me a bit of BG with the "game-y" proportions, made rather for recognisability and practicality than realistic looks and beauty. Most of the time you'll be looking at the game fairly zoomed out, where the most noticeable things are again the effects.

I feel they could have improved the non-dynamic shadows a bit though as they really accentuate the blockiness of models. When you view them without area lighting (tab/toolset) they actually look relatively decent. I guess they tried to reduce the number of triangles as much as possible anyway for the game to be able to run on weaker hardware. There's even some best practices for area design regarding this, for example you should avoid putting placeables on tile edges/seams as that means the engine has to calculate shadows/lights/etc on nearby tiles as well as the one it's on.
Anyway I think things improved noticeably with the expansions, model-wise. For example if you compare driders to old generic spiders it's like night and day. The head models also got to a point where they look head shaped.

Let's not even get into custom content. Originally, PWs, cloaks, horses, tails, sloped terrain, effects like SSAO, DOF and whatnot were all hacked together by modders. Even the witcher series started on a chopped up NwN engine.

It's also kinda funny when you look at other games that came later with much more advanced editors and toolsets and higher quality assets, yet never took off on that aspect: NwN2, DA:O, D:OS,... You can dis NwN looks but you gotta admit that a huge ammount of actual content was made for it, while nowadays it's all about editing companions' noses and lips just so.
 
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If they didn't want to be judged as a game they shouldn't have sold it as a game.

Morrowind came with a superior toolkit for single player content yet did not skimp on the campaign.
 
Unwanted
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Baaaah baaah baaaah FPS don't automagically look better, nor do isometric games automagically look worse. baah baaah
Experts rate this statement mostly meh. Scientists agree that RTS unit models will never look as fucking good as the peeps in the next David Cage or Koyimbo movie game. Sheep's """"brain"""" confirmed for retarded AND wrong.
Morrowind came with a superior toolkit for single player content yet did not skimp on the campaign.
Mostly false, there are a fucking lot more and better modules for NWN than there is good content for Morrwind. TES construction kit sucks dwarf cocks for actual content generation and the game is a broken ass walking sim so who gives a shit if you make a new dungeon or not? Dialogue editor is also miles ahead in NWN toolset. It was only with Oblivion and Skyrim modding got gud and they started putting hot women and sex systems into the games rescuing them from being shit tier hiking sims. NWN modules are for RPG game gamers and there's a shitton of them.
 

thesheeep

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Scientists agree that RTS unit models will never look as fucking good as the peeps in the next David Cage or Koyimbo movie game.
We're getting closer, here.
I'm sure we can find those last two brain cells in your skull and rub them together, any minute now!

You are talking about unit models made for very different purposes all viewed up close. That's an inane comparison.
They don't need to look good at the same distance, they need to look good at the distance they are supposed to be viewed at.
And they need to be within the limits of contemporary hardware capabilities.
And then there's of course the question of how much money you want to throw at the looks...

NWN models and textures don't look good from any distance.
Because they are often not well made.
There are very obvious craftsmanship mistakes in most of them that would get any 3D/2D art student a slap with the ruler.
As others have said, there are probably good reasons for this, but those don't change the end result.

As Sabotin said, later expansions and some of the custom modules look a lot better, though I'd still say they never really look good compared to other graphics from the same time.
 
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nwn never got close to rts model density, if anything it typically had less enemies on screen than an FPS.
And Aribeth was viewed up close so that argument is also bullshit. She's the most important npc in the campaign and looks like shit.
 

Elwro

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When I think 'early 3D' I think 'Ecstatica'. NWN looks as it does because it was supposed to be an easily usable construction kit for online worlds, it seems nobody cared about graphics.
 

Gargaune

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thesheeep NWN areas could be made to look good, but they took considerable care. You had to skillfully dress it with place-ables, rotating all of them "just so" as to not give a generic look. By removing collision from some of the objects, you could merge them to make other things. I once used boulders to make the appearance of a tar pit. One of the difficulties was to avoid "baked in" objects of the base tileset, like the bench booth style tables in the inn. All the same applies with lighting and use of space. The NWN editor is very powerful and easy to use. There was a massive abundance of placeables from ferns, to stones, to furniture. I made some forests and swamps that absolutely put anything official to shame. I think the creators just didn't have the time left over to actually make use of it all. I imagine they had so many graphical updates over its production that much of it had to be avoided to prevent bugs and aberrations.
Spot on, NWN's OC didn't underperform its potential just in gameplay terms, but also environmental art. The follow-up expansions made significantly better use of the game's assets and module builders took things farther still even with the original DE material. Some tilesets were better than others - e.g. the old City one was awful, the Crypts were cool - but even today, a patient level designer can squeeze some passably nice visuals out of the editor when you factor in the typical play perspective.

When I think 'early 3D' I think 'Ecstatica'. NWN looks as it does because it was supposed to be an easily usable construction kit for online worlds, it seems nobody cared about graphics.
Not online, per se, PWs took BioWare by surprise, but yes, the segmentation was a worthwhile tradeoff for the sake of content builder aspect which was a core component of NWN, this is something that's getting overlooked in the present graphics whoring. Firstly, of course NWN wasn't going to look as good as Quake 3, it's inane to argue that gameplay genre has no effect on visual fidelity when you think about perspective, actor count, AI routines and pathfinding etc., and secondly, you need to factor in the segmentation required for all the customisation the platform offers.

Frankly, I don't even think character models looked so much worse than other similar 3D titles of the time, not from the typically-intended bird's eye perspective. The reason they've retained this notoriety for ugliness is precisely because the camera can zoom in. There's more recent titles that also did quite poorly with their character models relative to competitors or even other aspects of their own visuals - PoE, PFKM - but they don't get this much crap because their cameras are mostly bolted a mile high.
 

Oberon

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Maybe I should give NWN another chance? I always start with the OC but can't complete it because of boredom so I never get to the good content.
The good content was user created modules like Honor Among Thieves, Tales of Arterra etc. and the multiplayer servers.
I played through the OC because I was a dumb kid who didnt know any better but you should skip it tbh.
SoU and HotU campaigns were a little better but still nowhere near the custom modules.
 

Zed

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Dis is the gremlin fact check: Neverwinter Nights wasn't fucking early 3D BUT it was an isometric style game and the NOLF series is in another genre and shooters back then had the best graphics mang.

Fact #2: NWN was in development hell for a long ass time. This here is how the game was lookin in 1999 AKA the year Planescape Torment came out, Diablo 2 came out 2000. Icewind Dale 2 came out in 2002, same year as NWN.
Also afaik NWN was developed largely by a skeleton crew and interns.
 

luj1

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OC was fine, but SoU was the best. Clean and nicely execututed campaign, has the right amount of everything. HotU is a mess in my opinion. It mixes up too many different themes and playstyles. And I don't like finding +5 Longswords in barrels at every corner.
 

luj1

You're all shills
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Yeah OC was fine. Compared to Fallout 76 and other industrial console garbage you like, it is amazing, even.

It is also far better than anything related to Josh Sawyer's failed experiment called Pillars that Infinitron has been shilling desperately (and unsuccesfully) for several years.
 

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