50 MMOs in 50 Days #33: Neverwinter

Last played: 2013
Experience: Extensive

I like some games. I don’t like others. Neverwinter is probably as close as I come to feeling neutral about a game. It’s all right but it’s not special, to me, at least, but it’s also got nothing going for it that really offends me and puts it in that “never again!” pile. I’d play it again if I had a reason. I just don’t.

Even the things I can claim to like and dislike about it don’t really evoke major feelings one way or the other. I like the action combat, but it doesn’t do it for me the same way Guild Wars 2 or DC Universe Online does. The questing is pretty standard “kill 10 rats” variety, but for some reason, putting it in the individual city zones makes it feel a little more fluid and accessible than in a typical MMO that has you running halfway across the continent. But hey, I’d like to have a big open world, so that’s bad! Maybe?

NWLightningThe one thing about Neverwinter that does set it apart is the Foundry. (OK, it doesn’t set it apart from the Foundry in Star Trek Online, but I’ve never used that and hey, N before S!) But as with the rest of the game, it’s got both good and bad. When I was creating my own Foundry quest, I realized just how time-consuming it was to create even simple content. I know, we all harp on developers for screwing up this or that, but this shit is hard, and especially hard to get 100% right.

And that lack of polish often drives me batty. More often than not, when I did a Foundry quest, it might have been moving along just fine, doot-dee-doo, and then… something would happen to make me realize, “Hey, this wasn’t made by a professional with a degree in Computer Science and 10 years of experience who does this for eight hours a day, it was done by an amateur.” It might have been a talented amateur, and I may have liked the quest, but it invariably snapped me out of my immersion and belief that it was just as good as what the devs could do. It might have been something small, like a spelling error in quest text or it might have been something more significant, like an unclear objective. And that’s not getting into the Foundry quests that abused the system and were just designed for fast leveling and/or loot.

As such, I’m a little wary of “mass user-generated content” (UGC) as a template for how games can stay fresh longer without the developers needing to create everything. I certainly think that UGC (and mods) can produce a few, stellar items, but systems like the Foundry emphasize quantity over quality. Of course, sometimes you need that quantity to get to the few good ideas, but wading through an ocean of mediocrity to get to the good stuff isn’t my idea of fun.

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2 Responses to 50 MMOs in 50 Days #33: Neverwinter

  1. Neverwinter is a game I have somewhat mixed feelings on.

    Generally speaking, I enjoy it. The combat is a lot of fun, the hunter ranger may be my favourite MMO class to date, and I really enjoy the Foundry content. By focusing on highly reviewed quests and exercising some basic due diligence (if the description doesn’t have punctuation, it probably won’t be a good quest), I’ve had almost universally positive experiences with it. In fact, I enjoy the player-made quests far more than the pro ones.

    However, I find the business model grating. It doesn’t take long to reach a point in that game where your progress towards even the simplest of goals will be glacially slow unless you pay money — lots of it. For this reason, I find it hard to set goals for myself in that game, and I often struggle to find the motivation to log in. Which is a shame because it is very fun if you can look past the hiccups.

    • jasonwinter says:

      I did just that, only going for the top-listed Foundry stuff. And like I said, they were 99% fine… and then there was that one thing, and I knew it wasn’t a professional job. Because I know from my programming days, it takes about 10% of the work to do 90% of a job, and 90% of the work to finish that last 10%.

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