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Alan Miranda Interviewed at Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Interview - posted by Edward_R_Murrow on Tue 30 June 2009, 23:36:33Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate
The CEO of Ossian Studios, Alan Miranda, did an interview with the folks at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, speaking on the founding of the studio, the development of Mysteries of Westgate, and the response to Mysteries of Westgate.
Coming off the high (well… utter exhaustion, really) of releasing Daggerford, we were soon contacted by Atari. They hadn’t missed noticing how well DoD was doing and were very interested in having the same thing done for NWN2. At the time, we had just received the beta version of the NWN2 game/toolset, so while we experimented with that, we started pitching ideas to Atari about the game we would make for them. By January 2007 we were set to go with MoW.I find that interesting that the response was so divided by geographical location. Interesting to say the least. The interview has a lot more information, so it's worth a read.
Looking back at how things ended up with MoW’s release in April 2009 (over a year and a half after finishing the game), and remembering how Atari initially wanted us to keep the new content in MoW very light in order to finish and release the game before the first expansion (MotB), I am left to wonder what the game would have been like had we been able to add more content with a longer development. Some reviewers have mistakenly compared our adventure pack to an expansion pack and criticized it for not having an expansion amount of content. Budget-wise, they are a very different scale of game. Furthermore, we were contracted to deliver a 12-hour game, whereas we delivered a game that takes most players between 15 and 25 hours to play (75% of players according to a recent poll we did). Just like DoD, we went above and beyond with MoW.
Having decided to set our game in a city, we wanted to make it a place you could explore, with interesting people and places to come across. So exploration was key, but so was making Westgate feel like a city and not simply filler, with empty streets to fill in the space between Plot Point A and Plot Point B.
So we did a lot of planning on how to fill in the city with sidequests, ambient NPCs, encounters (aka fights), and interactive objects. I had seen how popular our sidequests were in Darkness over Daggerford (we don’t do the typical FedEx “Find my potato” variety) and so the gameplay for MoW was given a similar sandbox aspect to DoD, with many sidequests that you could undertake. However, MoW isn’t a complete sandbox style of game, and nor is it a strictly linear one with its core story – it’s somewhere in the middle. I think we did a good job on this aspect.
Perhaps having to hype the game for a year and a half (because we never knew when it would release), also led to expectations that MoW was bigger than it was. It is interesting to note that out of the 8 reviews for MoW on Metacritic (where it received a 73% average), the top 4 reviews are European and the bottom 4 are American. Extract whatever conclusion you like from that.
Spotted at: RPGWatch