I had the chance to catch up with Feargus Urquhart at GenCon Indy ’06. As I was about to ask my first question, Feargus goes “So what has changed since we saw each other at E3?” I commented that was exactly what I was about to ask. We both laughed at the question, and Feargus was like so let me show the changes.
First we started off in the character creator. An area, I think they have already done an impressive amount of work in. Looking at the character screen, Feargus showed me the enhancement changes they have been working for the visual aspects of the character. Since E3, the devs felt that the looks of some of the characters were not quite right, so they went back and worked on the art and have put some serious time and effort in to making them look much better, but of course Feargus being the perfectionist he is said “we still have a bit more to-do”. I was surprised as I sure thought they looked great, but then again I write code and articles for a living, so I don’t catch the little details of art. We continued on through the character creation screen when I noticed the feats tab was a bit different. Instead of an alphabetical hunt and seek list of feats, there was a nice tabbed listing by type. So you expand and minimize the different lists such as general feats, proficiencies, and meta feats to name a few. Very nice to seeing what meta feats I needed with my wizard instead of scrolling up and down a list.
Continuing on we stopped at the behavior page on the character creator. Feargus pointed out the new features of being able to select individual aspects of a character. So being a NWN1 player, I immediately start thinking of how cool this is. No longer do I have to choose behavior script A because it has most of the features I want for the AI to handle. Now I can say, follow me, but go disarm traps and not charge into battle.
After creating our character we head on into an area of the map where it is normally a tough walk for those that like to use pathfinding. Standing up at the top of a trail that has a couple of curves as it makes it way down to the valley. Feargus goes watch this and clicks down far into the valley. I am like you are going to get stuck at the second bend. Boy was I wrong, all the way down and around the party goes straight into the valley where he clicked. To further show the improvements made in pathfinding he goes into a bar scene where not much room. Our nice full party is following us everywhere we walk. So Feargus goes and clicks from one end of the room to the other end in the small section of the room. Basically causing the party leader to walk right into the group of followers. In the old days of NWN1, guaranteed getting stuck in the crowd. In NWN2, smooth sailing our followers easily get pushed to the side.
Next I get the tour of the different camera angles, most of which where already in but a couple where new. The most noticeable was one that allowed you to click and move a character in a room without bouncing to the default view behind the character as you currently do. This allowed for a more zoomed view of the room and ability to move and plan your characters.
We then went into battle where Feargus pointed out the Mode Bar. Here in the right hand corner of the screen are the special abilities of a character such as bard skills or rogue’s stealthing. Spell casting effects were looking amazing, especially those of a few area of affect spells such as fireball and ice storm (I believe that was what it was). Druids and the shapeshifting ability was a feature I had not seen before and was quite cool. I really do believe I would consider running from a Druid that came in looking like one mean Dire Wolf.
Lastly we talked a bit about the changes coming, Feargus told me that most of the “new” features were in now and that as they are preparing for the gold version of the game here in the next month, that most of the time well be spent finishing up areas that they have planned improvements on, bug fixes, and art changes.
As for the DM client, he commented that the plan was still the same as they have been discussing all along.