Interview of Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark (PC)
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UK RELEASE: 05-Dec-2003 (Released)  | NORDIC RELEASE: 05-Dec-2003 (Released) |  US RELEASE: 02-Dec-2003 (Released)
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  Interview of: Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark | By: Justin Fenico
27 Oct-2003
 

One of the most successful games to grace our presence is now coming out with it’s second expansion pack. What makes Hordes of the Underdark a bigger better deal than Shadows of the Undrentide? I had the chance to ask some questions and find out.

  QUESTIONS  
Q: Let’s get a quick introduction of who’s answering the questions. How long have you been on the Bioware team and have you been involved with either of the other two NWN games?

A: Darcy: I’m Darcy Pajak, and I’m the Assistant Producer on Hordes of the Underdark. I started at BioWare a year ago and I have worked on both expansion packs. My only involvement with the original Neverwinter Nights was the days and days I played it at home.

Sydney Tang: Sydney has been with BioWare for almost three years. He is the lead toolset programmer for Shadows of Undrentide and for Hordes of the Underdark. He was part of the programming team on the original Neverwinter.


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Q: Shadows of Undrentide took place away from Neverwinter. Can we expect the same for Hordes of the Underdark? What type of background can you give us on its story?

A: Darcy: The story of Hordes of the Underdark starts off in Waterdeep, one of the more famous cities in the Forgotten Realms world. An army of Drow (dark elves), beholders and Mind Flayers are about to attack the city and the player is tasked with stopping the attacks.

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Q: This being the 3rd story from NWN and the 2nd expansion pack, what new additions can we look forward to this time around? Any new game mechanics or AI tweaks?

A: Darcy: Among the many changes we have added are: the ability to have up to two henchmen in the party; a new level cap of 40, in accordance with D&D Epic-level rules; more than 50 new feats and 40 new spells; increased polycounts in all the new tilesets and creatures; 16 amazing new monsters; and some new visual elements. There are also new scripting functions for the large community of module builders.

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Q: When Neverwinter Nights first came out the graphics were definitely eye pleasing. Fast forward to today and we can start to see the age. Is anything being done to give Underdark a little facelift?

A: Darcy: We think the amazing new look in detail and texture in the new Underdark tileset will show that we have added to the graphics for Hordes of the Underdark. Each building, door, tunnel, and staircase has been carefully crafted and painted. We also have unlocked the camera, so the player can zoom it right to 3rd-person eye level so they can take it all in. We anticipate many people will enjoy the other surprises we have in store.

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Q: In terms of sheer size, new monsters, spells, classes, and feats, would you say Hordes of the Underdark is bigger than its predecessor?

A: Darcy: Hordes of the Underdark is all about being Epic. Epic monsters, epic feats, epic story, epic spells. Epic levels alone constitute a huge increase in the game. Each original class has spells, skills and feats that extend into the epic levels. We’ve touched almost every feature in the game and either added more to it, or improved it in some way.

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Q: Underdark will allow characters to surpass level 20. Is there any worry that certain characters might be too powerful, possibly causing some balancing issues? Will gamers be able to move there level 21+ character between Underdark, Undrentide and the original Neverwinter Nights?

A: Darcy: One thing we have noticed playing through Hordes is that combat with epic-level characters is immensely fun. The designers are balancing each encounter for the adventures through the Underdark so players will find it challenging and fun. A few people who have played it have commented that it plays much like Baldur’s Gate 2.

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Q: There are six new classes Hordes will bring to the table. As of now only two have been released on Bioware’s site (Shifter and Weapon Master). How bout letting us in on some others… pretty please with a cherry on top

A: Darcy: The six new prestige classes that are included with Hordes of the Underdark are the Dwarven Defender, a mighty fighting class for Dwarf players; the Weapon Master, a class that focuses on developing great skill with a specific weapon; the Shifter, a person who can take the shape and abilities of a large range of animals and monsters; the Pale Master, a class that can control and take on abilities of the undead; and the Champion of Torm, which is a holy fighter for the god Torm. The sixth—and most unique—new prestige class is the Red Dragon Disciple. This class allows the player to take on some characteristics of a dragon. The can develop a breath weapon, natural armor, strength, and even grow wings like that of a Red Dragon.

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Q: Some of the mods made from the Aurora Toolset have been extremely detailed and creative. Hordes of the Underdark is supposed to offer some new toolset functionality. Any word on what our builders can expect?

A: Sydney: There will be several new toolset features. For one, we allow content creators to set the fog-clipping distance on their areas. You can push the fog's clipping plane out far enough that it is basically eliminated entirely, but keep in mind, of course, that doing so entails a tradeoff in frame rate.
We’ve also added the ability to add wings and tails to certain NPC models, including all of the playable races. Thus, you could create Avariels with wings or Tieflings with tails.


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Q: What has been your favorite part in developing this expansion pack for a game that so many role playing fans love?

A: Darcy: My favorite part in developing Hordes of the Underdark is seeing all the new features and improvements going into the game. We have an amazing team at BioWare. Everyone is highly skilled and very committed to fantasy role-playing games, and they want this expansion pack to be remembered for some time to come.

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Q: Are there any plans in the future to expand on the Neverwinter Saga, or is Hordes of the Underdark the last chapter?

A: Darcy: At this time we have not announced any future direction for Neverwinter Nights. We have some really cool ideas floating around, and we want to make sure we continue to support the BioWare community as they have supported us.

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Hordes of the Underdark comes out sooner than you expect. Check back for more impressions and the all powerful REVIEW.

 
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