Friday, March 6, 2015

Sword Coast Legends by N-Space Announced

Wizards of the Coast recently announced Sword Coast Legends.  Here's the trailer video:

As someone who loves the Infinity engine games, not to mention NWN1/2, this is really exciting footage.  But I found it a bit hard to ge ta lot of detail about what exactly the game is.  But having read this interview, this part grabbed me:

GamesBeat: So Sword Coast Legends itself is almost like an old-fashioned Forgotten Realms boxed set? You’ll have other material coming out that builds on that set in the future? Is this right? 
Tudge: Yeah, it’s pretty close. We’ve often talked about — we hope that fans love this so much and play this so much that it becomes the Sword Coast saga in a lot of respects. We have a lot of stories to tell and a lot of places we’d like to visit, a lot of people we’d like to meet. I can see this going for as long as people keep playing. 
Stewart: I’d definitely like that. My ambition for this title from the beginning is for a new group of D&D players, when they talk about getting together and playing D&D this weekend and whatever campaign they’re doing, they’re talking about Sword Coast Legends. D&D is just the shorthand. It still has the DM and the player interaction and the crazy fun joking. But really capturing that essence and spirit. That kind of base set and then the modules that add on top of it and shape it, I love that analogy, because that’s what I see this game becoming, just a different version of that.
The interview is a little all over the place, but this is the basic breakdown as I understand it for the game's pitch:
  • 1-4 player, isometric, real time tactical combat with pause.
  • Modular, single player adventures will be released and available for purchase.
  • Some of these adventures may mirror the thematic story that is current with D&D Adventurer's League, like the recent Tyranny of Dragons and the current Elemental Evil storyline.  
  • Some future expansions will also include new races and classes.
  • A DM mode by which you can stage your own adventures.
  • Built upon 5e rules (I think!).  I'm not sure that they're going to show dice rolls and be that rooted in the rules.  But perhaps closer, I hope, that Neverwinter was to 4e rules?
All of that is pretty freaking exciting.  Here's more on the toolset:
GamesBeat: Are these going to be easier to use than the tools from the Neverwinter Nights games?
Tudge: I’m happy to say, absolutely yes. For me, the promise of what Neverwinter Nights offered was really exciting as a fan of D&D and a person who enjoys being a DM. Even before I worked at BioWare, I got in there and started working with those. I was a little disappointed. I come from an art background. I got in there and learned it, but I was a little — I was looking forward to something far more accessible, something that could get me creating adventures much quicker.
Right from the start, we’ve talked and made sure that is the case, that you can get together at 7 on a Friday night with your friends for a session and you can start in the lobby at the same time as the players and be DMing right away. You don’t have to spend a week preparing for the adventure. You certainly don’t have to be writing any complex scripting.
Stewart: Another point, you remember months ago now, you guys came out and we set up stations here at Wizards. We let everybody at Wizards who wanted to come in and play, whether they worked on Magic or Duel Masters or D&D, whether or not they were a DM. People who knew D&D but were not big video game people, definitely not any kind of technical people, jumped on and were DMing and having fun in five minutes. The whole team here was so impressed at how cool it was to be a DM, but also how you could really DM on the fly without having to have all kinds of crazy knowledge from the outside world.
Tudge: It was interesting, because initially, when you volunteer — when you have a group you’re demoing with and you let them play, nobody volunteers to be DM. Almost every time, one of the dev team ends up DMing. There’s this immediate intimidation. DMing has to be really complex, right? It has to be a lot of work. But I don’t even think the first dungeon run is even done before everyone is fighting over who gets to DM.
That's awesome.  Look at how successful the Neverwinter Nights games were!  Their toolsets were incredibly powerful, but there's no question that they required a massive time commitment to produce something suitable for play.  NWN2, in particular, with its terrain editing system, required incredible commitment to produce even a small module, even after one had mastered the toolset and scripting language.  Module authors have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours producing content.  What they can do is amazing, but I definitely think there is a big market for something that is easier to use.

The game, so far, reminds me a lot of a blend between Neverwinter (the MMO), the Neverwinter Nights series, and the Baldur's Gate games.  Neverwinter has the ongoing content releases that mirror current storylines.  It also has the Forge, a simplified toolset that allows users to build adventures for other users.  But it's set in an MMO world, which doesn't appeal to everyone--myself certainly included.  Here, we have a game that takes those good ideas, but converts them into a modern, isometric, single or multiplayer experience.

So, we have TONS of promise.  This is exciting.  It's right up my alley, and exactly the kind of game that I could go gaga over for years.  If they execute and deliver on what they're talking about, I am going to be desperate to give them all of my money.

The question, of course, will be how well the entire package is executed.  I'll be watching this one closely...but I'm old and jaded enough that I will most likely be waiting for the first reviews to come in before I purchase it.

Update: More Links
Article on PCGamesn - Excellent preview that helps flesh out some of the basic principles behind the game, though doesn't get into the plan for the future.

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