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Neverwinter Nights Retrospective Interview at RPGWatch

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Neverwinter Nights Retrospective Interview at RPGWatch

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 18 April 2013, 09:41:57

Tags: BioWare; Bob McCabe; Neverwinter Nights

RPGWatch's Lucky Day has interviewed Bob McCabe, one of the designers on BioWare's Neverwinter Nights (2002). Here's a snippet:

Lucky Day: Tell us who you are and what your role was on Neverwinter Nights.

Bob McCabe: My name is Bob McCabe and I was the first designer BioWare hired onto the Neverwinter Nights project. I was the first new designer, but of course Rob Bartel was already in place as the lead designer, and there was also a core design team who had laid down the foundation and which was comprised of such people as Trent Oster (producer), James Ohlen (design director), Scott Grieg (lead programmer), and Marc Holmes (art director). Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk were also always involved, and probably some others. But hopefully I'm not forgetting too many of those others.

LD: What did you work on with Neverwinter Nights?

Bob: Being on a small design team - the senior guys were all getting Baldur's Gate II finished - meant that I did a lot of different things. I worked on the design document, helped concept and develop systems and missions and characters, wrote item descriptions and dialogue, worked with Marketing/PR to edit interviews, demo at E3, and write content like the Fenthick Moss Adventure Creation Guides that were over at GameSpy, and worked with the tools team to ensure the design team had everything it needed from the various editors like the dialogue editor. I was also on the QA team at the end of the project. But I would say the majority of my time was spent designing modules for the game, as well as implementing content once the tools were available. I think I wrote half of the implementation plans for chapters 1 and 2, and close to all of them for chapters 3 and 4.

LD: How did you feel when the story was cut?

Bob: From memory, I think it was in the fall of the last year of development when it was "scrapped". October? November? And I remember being really disappointed at the change. Was it scrapped as part of a settlement? Again, I'm not completely sure. I know there were internal expectations of quality that I believe we may not have been meeting, and there may have been publisher/legal-related issues, too. I can't say one way or the other, because I don't fully know. And I don't remember too many people at that time wanting to talk about it. It was a fair bit of uncertainty. I was surprised by the chaos, but I was learning a lot as we went through the process.

LD: What do you mean expectations of quality?

Bob: The majority of the design team was very junior - though I felt very comfortably surrounded by talented people. Like I said, Rob was the lead, and he had experience with stuff like Tales of the Sword Coast, and maybe some BG1/BG2/MDK2. After I was hired, BioWare brought on two more designers. A month after me, the studio hired Preston Watamaniuk, and a month after him they hired Aidan Scanlan. People probably know their names much better than mine; Preston was the lead designer for Mass Effect, and Aidan is the assistant design director at the Edmonton studio.

While the team was fairly young, and while we may not have done everything the way we'd have done it now, I remain very proud of the final product. I know we all do. And I want to emphasize that we weren't working in a vacuum. As Baldur's Gate II wound down, guys like Kevin Martens and Brent Knowles and Lukas Kristjanson all came aboard to help and push the design. We all put our stamps on the game.​

Read the full interview here.

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