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E3 2011: Eyes on with Neverwinter's editing tools

When Atari announced that it had sold off its MMO game developer Cryptic Studios to Perfect World Entertainment earlier this month for $50 million, many were wondering what was going to happen to Neverwinter. The Dungeons and Dragons based fantasy RPG was announced last August by Cryptic and Atari. As it turns out, the game is still being made by Cryptic who will soon be developing Neverwinter as a third party team for Atari.

At E3 2011, we didn't really get to see the game in action (that's apparently being saved for later media previews). We have been told that the game's storyline takes place well after the events of BioWare's Neverwinter Nights 2 when a volcano has pretty much devestated the city of Neverwinter. Your character is helping to rebuild the city.

Instead of the game, the E3 2011 demo of Neverwinter concentrated on something that should please old school D&D fans. Neverwinter will come with a full and powerful editor that's based on the Foundry tools that Cryptic created for its MMO Star Trek Online and later released for free for that game's subscribers. Neverwinter's version of the Foundry editor has a number of changes to make it work for a non-MMO game.

The editing tools will allow anyone, from novices to experienced mod makers, to create pretty much anything they want in Neverwinter, In the demo we got to see at E3 2011, we saw a simple dungeon with spider webs created inside a few minutes with the editor. The editor can place in NPCs for players to talk to and/or battle and it's all done with a top down viewpoint, much like making a new classic D&D pen-and-paper dungeon. Much of the dungeon building is of the drag-and-drop variety so it should be pretty easy to use.

Cryptic will let a player-based group review each new user-creator mission for Neverwinter before allowing it to be released to the general player population where it will also be rated. Cryptic also plans to continue to support the editor with extra content packs. There's no word yet if the editor will be released before the game but Cryptic says there will be some kind of beta test at some point.

While the game itself is not yet available for preview, the powerful Foundry editor should allow for Neverwinter to have a long shelf life. We should learn more about the game in the coming months before its release in late 2011.

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