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MMOsite Interview with Cryptic Studios' Lead Designer about Neverwinter: The Maze Engine

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By sainDate: Feb 25 2016 Views:

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Neverwinter: The Maze Engine, the ninth expansion of this Dungeons & Dragons-based MMORPG is coming to PC on March 15. Today MMOsite is honored to have an interview with the lead designer of Neverwinter to talk about this upcoming expansion. If you want to know more about this expansion, just check the interview below:

1. Hello. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Firstly, would you like to introduce yourself to our MMOsiters?

Sure thing! My name is Scott Shicoff and I'm the lead designer on Neverwinter. My day-to-day tends to center around planning expansions/events, reviewing work, or doing all of the managerial/training tasks one might expect. As you'd probably guess, I don't really get to dive in and get my hands dirty building things all that often, but I'm excited that I get to contribute to the project in broad strokes.

2. We know that Neverwinter's next expansion, The Maze Engine, is coming soon. What new content will be brought to the game?

With this expansion, we're paying more attention to solo-based content than we have in a while. At level 60, players will be able to participate in The Maze Engine campaign. Though you can group up to experience it, it's not required. This is fairly different from some of the other campaigns. If you wander into Icewind Dale by yourself as soon as you hit level 70, you're probably going to have a rough go of things. We're also bringing back a number of dungeons that had been turned off with Elemental Evil. You can look forward to four regular dungeons, and one epic dungeon.

3. When will this new expansion be released? Will it be available for both PC and Xbox One?

The release date for PC is March 15th. It will come out for Xbox a little later.

Neverwinter: The Maze Engine

4. Why did you choose The Maze Engine as the title of this expansion? What does it imply?

One of my favorite things about a title like The Maze Engine is the feeling of familiarity (I know what a maze is, and I know what an engine is) while still being shrouded in mystery. Beyond having fun with words, The Maze Engine is the name of a powerful, reality-warping artifact that players are trying to protect in the new campaign.

5. We heard that five dungeons have been reworked in this expansion to offer more content. What are the highlights of the new content in these dungeons?

For the regular dungeons (Cloak Tower, Frozen Heart, Pirate King's Retreat, and Caverns of Karrundax) you'll see a facelift to the art, and a standardization of requirements and time estimates on the design side. This means you only need three players to run through a regular dungeon, and once you've unlocked it (per your level), you can continue to play it without worrying about level bands.

For the revamp of the epic dungeon, Castle Never, we've done a major overhaul to the art, theme, enemies, bosses and rewards. Players will now be fighting through undead adventurers and demons as they make their way towards the demon prince of undeath, Orcus.

Neverwinter: The Maze Engine

6. Do you have any suggestions for the players who want to take on these reworked dungeons?

For the regular dungeons, just queue up and have fun! We don't have grouping restrictions, and the time investment should be reasonable. If you're tackling Castle Never, however, you'll want to make sure you're level 70, have at least the required gear score, and do your best to learn the mechanics of the different boss fights. One cool thing in Castle Never is the way we're teaching mechanics. You'll encounter things prior to the boss fight that will teach you important techniques you'll need for success.

7. Neverwinter has gathered large numbers of hardcore gamers, and they have submitted lots of suggestions. Are there any good ones you have taken and put into practice in this new expansion?

One thing that kept coming up was frustration with mount power and customizability. For example, if you love your Gelatinous Cube, but hate that it's slow, you might never use it, which feels bad. Also, If you really want the bonus movement speed that comes with the Giant Strider, well, I guess that's the mount you have to run. With our upcoming revamp to the mount system, you'll be able to choose the look of your mount, the passive power, the combat power, and the speed, all of which are based on mounts you own.

Players also asked for mounts to stop taking up space in their regular inventory. With this new system, all mounts are being moved into their own special bag.

Neverwinter: The Maze Engine

8. To celebrate the new expansion, what exciting events can our players expect?

Oh man... There's an annual event that we're making some very exciting changes to. We're sure your ears will perk up when we announce it following The Maze Engine's launch. That's all I can say for now...

9. Would you mind telling us some of your future plans for Neverwinter? What do you hope to achieve in 2016?

One of the biggest things we want to make headway on in 2016 is class balance. It's something players have been asking for and we know how important it is. We're in the process of reviewing all of the classes (including feedback from the community), and hope to have some news for folks in the coming months.

Neverwinter: The Maze Engine

10. We're really glad to have this interview with you. Is there anything else that you want to share with our readers? Thanks again for your time.

Other than the new story content, dungeons, and updated mount system, I want to mention a rework of our queue system.

There were a lot of technical limitations under the hood that prevented us from being able to make any real new matchmaking features or quality of life improvements. This new system is being built with future customizability and expandability in mind. At launch, our biggest goal with this queue update was to make sure we were at least matching what people had access to in the old tech. I'm happy to say we were also able to add a few cool new features.

First, we're adding the ability to put together a queue group that consists of more than five people! So if you want to get 24 of your closest friends together and take on Tiamat, you can do that. That's right! You'll now be able to queue for Tiamat! You'll also be able to do so from anywhere. Though you do still have to wait for it to be available based on the in-game timers. Second, we're adding the ability for people to either join a Private or a Public Queue. In a Private Queue, you don't need to worry about role restrictions (like 1 healer/1 tank), but you won't automatically receive reinforcements if people leave.

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