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Neverwinter Nights Put Out To Pasture 70

Right on the heels of the announcement of a new infinite dungeons module, via Broken Toys comes word that Atari has completely pulled support from the first Neverwinter Nights game. From the article: "There hasn't been any official word on all this yet but some of the most credible factors, that have been thrown around, include; the financial stability of Atari, and that they didn't want horses for NWN1 to come out officially before NWN2. This also appears to have affected other premium modules that were in production with other teams and there is probably no chance that Witches Wake 2 will ever get produced. It's hard to expect a publisher like Atari to keep on supporting patches forever, and in fact most games are lucky if they can get a few done. The NWN community has been very lucky to have had so many patches with so much free content. We shouldn't lose sight of that. However killing the premium module program makes no sense."
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Neverwinter Nights Put Out To Pasture

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  • the more things change, the more atari stays the same...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Keep sucking the sweat from their sweaty balls. Buy NWN2! You hafta have it! You gotta have it! Buy NWN2! It's awesome! It r00lzpwner!
  • So? (Score:5, Funny)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @03:57PM (#15421491) Journal
    Did anyone really expect them to continue supporting a game from 1991??

    This is the silliest story I've ever read.
  • However killing the premium module program makes no sense.

    It does kinda makes sense. They want more exciting things to be avaliable for NWN2 only, I imagine.
    • It does kinda makes sense. They want more exciting things to be avaliable for NWN2 only, I imagine.

      Since most likely NWN1 and NWN2 modules will not be compatible (the whole area construction things is completely different), and since many potential premium modules were on the verge of being released, it makes NO sense at all. They are throwing a lot of good work away, and are alienating the mod builders who they depend on for making new mods for NWN2.

      But I agree with TFA that NWN has been one of the bes

      • You don't need the CD in the drive since I think 1.66 anymore, so there is no need to look for nocd patches. BTW: The Linux version could always be played without a CD in the drive.
        • I have 1.67 and it does ask for a CD, FYI (I actually got the game as part of a bundle with a vid card and the installer WAS 1.67, asked for CD).
          • I think you got the Diamond Edition. There was some bug on that edition that reenabled the CD-check. With the critical rebuilt of the current patch this check should go away.
            If that doesn't help, aks in the official forums of the game.
            • "I think you got the Diamond Edition."

              Yah I did, all 3 chapters for 20 or 30 bucks (I think 30) couldn't pass up on the price and i'm glad I didn't, great game.

              I'll check out the rebuild, hopefully it will let me install as I tried to to install the 1.67 patch when i first loaded the game (downloading the patch not through in game option) and it wouldn't let me, then i noticed it came as 1.67 out of the box.

              • It should be a 1.66 that became mangled in the packaging process. This is why the update to the real 1.67 doesn't work and why the CD check is there. After installing the critical rebuild patch you should be ok.
  • horses in NWN (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mistshadow2k4 ( 748958 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @03:59PM (#15421499) Journal
    hey didn't want horses for NWN1 to come out officially before NWN2

    Officially there aren't horses in NWN1, but there have been horses in several modules and more importantly, the CEP (Community Expansion Pack) for, over a year now, so whether or not there are to ever "officially" horses in NWN1 is pretty much irrelevant to most users.

  • by vga_init ( 589198 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @04:12PM (#15421548) Journal

    I'm tempted to look at this as a good thing, actually. As the summary mentioned, we've gotten a lot of content for NWN--more than usual for games of its kind. I think the game has had an excellent run, and there is enough of it to keep me satisfied.

    Depending on how profitable a game is, companies cannot be expected to keep supporting it for more than a few years without creating a sequal or new engine.

    I own NWN, and I absolutely love it. So why am I glad to see support drop? Because deep down inside, there is a hope that Atari will release the source code. It's happened to a lot of classic games in the past, and I hope that this one won't be any different.

    They won't do that, however, until the game has long since lost its support and isn't selling much.

    Imagine seeing NWN ported to many different platforms; maybe some day in the future it will make a good game for PDA's (the mouse driven interface is just perfect for those types of machines).

    Linux distributions might even distribute binary packages of source builds one day along with free, community-made content.

    Maybe it's just a pipe dream, but every dark cloud should have a silver lining. :)

    • by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @04:36PM (#15421633) Journal
      Does Atari, the current incarnation, have any history of releasing source code?
      They're more comfortable with letting things rot and letting the fans pick up the broken pieces. See Temple of Elemental Evil for example. This engine could have spawned a new Gold Box series of games, easily selling a half dozen hit titles had they bothered to look after it properly. Instead the fans not only fixed the engine, they're going about recreating B2: The Keep on the Borderlands . They've got a whole team there redoing everything. Professional looking maps, dialogue, etc. To me that speaks volumes about the poor decisions Atari makes.

      On the other hand, neverwinter nights is potentially at the end of its life cycle here. With number 2 right around the corner, they do want to shift focus to that. However, I honestly believe its not necessary. Its Neverwinter Nights 2. If you are a fan of the series, or D&D at all, you would have to live under a rock to not know that its coming out. I believe everyone with a system that can handle it and that plays NWN will purchase it, to a certain extent, there always seems to be drop off as a series continues. The only concern I see at this point is, what if they mess up the game?

      From what I've read there are going to be a variety of changes and the way things are handled, like party death for example, that some people aren't happy about. If they drop support for NWN and botch NWN2, not that Atari has ever been at the helm of a botched game, you could see it doing serious damage to the franchise.

      Personally I would like to have seen support continued for about 6 months after the relase of NWN2. This gives the community time to adjust and decide if it likes the new incarnation. If it doesn't and there is a big holder over from the original NWN, it might be worth focusing on some premium modules for the original. Like how Sony did with their monthly EP for Everquest.
      • I, for one, will not be buying NWN2 due to lack of a Linux version. I imagine I am far from alone on this matter.
        • With any luck Atari will completely collapse, and someone with half a brain will get the license:
          http://nwn2forums.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.htm l?topic=482903&forum=95 [bioware.com]
          (if you can view it))
          pertinent text:

          Well, this thread has "Locked" written all over it, but I'll throw in my mostly uninformed two cents.

          My guess is that Atari will stay alive at least long enough to publish NWN2, though that's a little iffy. They'll potentially be delisted from Nasdaq August 30th if they don't get over $1 per share fo
        • No, you won't be alone, but then again, your corner probably won't be too crowded either. What the game publishers have to think of is "Is it worth it for the game to support this platform?" If it won't bring in enough additional sales to justify supporting it, they won't. And lets face it, any hardcore gamer right now pretty much has to use a version of Windows for most of the better games out there. Sad, but true.
    • I wouldn't hold my breath expecting Atari to release the source code. Their behavior in all of this is pretty lousy.

      This was all precipitated when they declared they wouldn't pay for any new premium modules for the game, as recounted by DLA [dladventures.com]. It's unfortunate that all their hard work won't be compensated.
    • Because deep down inside, there is a hope that Atari will release the source code.

      Well, you can forget about that. The source code is not owned by Atari, but by BioWare. And BioWare is guarding its source code very closely. People have been working to get BioWare to release the source code for the Infinity Engine, which is finished for BioWare for over four years now. The Infinity Engine is old, stale, and trashed, but it will not be released. As someone who has worked with (against) the BioWare lawyers,

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @05:24PM (#15421812)
    I was under the impression that Bioware handled their own patches. When I was a lead tester at Atari who infrequently got thrown onto NWN (I know Prelude better than my rear end!) during testing of various "official" patches, Bioware usually released them without telling us. The only way we found out was from a new install and auto-updating to what supposed to be the current "released" version. That was always fun.

    NWN is a very complex game. I was told it took a programmer 500 hours to test the entire game. A playthrough in QA was never possible when a patch is released every other day. Since I been out of the video game industry for two years, I can finally enjoy playing and trying to play the entire NWN.
  • Atari wants new content coming out for the sequel game, to increase the odds of people shelling out for it. They've already made as much off the main NWN program as they ever will, given that the Diamond Edition (starring the main game, and the two official expansion packs) retails for roughly $20 CDN.

    It's really very much like the console industry: If they can point at KingBonker, PriestWhacker and other cheap modules as reasons to buy NWN2 over NWN, then they don't want buyers pointing at the same titles

    • "Atari wants new content coming out for the sequel game, to increase the odds of people shelling out for it."

      I see.

      So, following this logic you propose to:

      1 - Alienate the team who was at work on reverse engineering Granny3d, key proprietary middleware your developers at Obsidian used which has the effect of preventing the community from creating new animated content for your new game;
      2- Infuriate the same guys who were working on NWmax 2 - so that there would actually BE a means for people to create said
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @06:22PM (#15422017)
    It's hard to expect a publisher like Atari to keep on supporting patches forever, and in fact most games are lucky if they can get a few done. The NWN community has been very lucky to have had so many patches with so much free content. We shouldn't lose sight of that.

    Once upon a time there was this company called Blizzard. They made three games: a fantasy RTS, a sci-fi RTS and a dungeon romp. They also made a bunch of sequels but those three were pretty much it.

    Blizzard supported cool free online match making for their games whilst everyone else was trying to figure out how to charge people a monthly fee for it. They also kept supporting the games with new patches long after every other company in the industry would have given up.

    Strangely, people kept buying their new games, which were really just incremental updates of their old games, because they knew that three years down the line they'd still be able to go online, get the latest patch, play multiplayer, etc. Each of those sequels, whilst great games on their own merit, sold incredible numbers due to customer loyalty - far outstripping just about as good games from companies that had previously screwed their customers and couldn't figure out why their cool new game didn't sell as well (clearly it needed more full motion video, duh!)

    Then Blizzard decided to make an MMO. Up until that point, no monthly fee MMO had cleared even half a million subscribers. Along comes Blizzard, beloved of all the people they haven't screwed every last penny out of in the past, and they clear the million subscribers almost immediately and five million not long after.

    Certainly producing good games has a lot to do with it. But the very best previous MMOs couldn't manage 1/10th the subscriber figures Blizzard got, no matter how good they were. Even if WOW was that much better, the MMO market was relatively tiny at the time. Something changed that meant ten times as many people were willing to give WOW a chance (because, without players giving it a chance, good or not, no game succeeds).

    I'd suggest that was the massive loyalty Blizzard has built up amongst fans over the years precisely by not applying the, "Does this make this year's balance sheet look the very best?" school of business.

    And, now... Blizzard keep having to buy bigger offices with more rooms to stuff all of their cash in as they rake in ~$90m a month in subscriber fees (so vastly much more than the profit they could ever have made from their prior six or eight titles).

    Loyalty, which you get from supporting people even when there's not a quick buck, is worth a fortune in the long run.

    At the same time, publishers who're famous for cutting support of a game once the last copy on store shelves is sold can't figure out why they're making great games but just can't seem to turn the crazy profits Blizzard do.

    So, no, you can't blame or expect different from Atari. But, perhaps, the reason they've fallen on such hard times is because, like most others, they keep playing the short game.
    • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @06:25PM (#15422025)
      Note: I'm acknowledging NWN has had great long term support thus far.

      I'd just argue the very last message you want to give, right before asking people to pay another round of $50/title for your sequel, is, "We'll only support you so long as there's money in it."

      I'd quietly fade out NWN1 support after NWN2 launches in a few months when no one will notice anyway as they're all playing the new title and you've got all of those extra $50s.
      • However, if rumors are true then Atari is in dire enough financial straights that they may not have had that option. Still, why make it official? Just say that you are putting a temporary hiatus on spending money on NWN until you collect some NWN:2 cash. After everyone has NWN:2, then you just never get around to spending money on NWN again.

      • I'd quietly fade out NWN1 support after NWN2 launches in a few months when no one will notice anyway as they're all playing the new title and you've got all of those extra $50s.

        Except some of us *will* notice as they didn't release the new title for our platform, and we are perfectly happy playing the old one.
    • There are a few misconceptions in your post. Unfortunately, lots of people make them.

      First, WoW does not make $90 million per month. A large portion of those 6 million subscriptions Blizzard claims are in China, and Chinese players pay US$0.06/hour. They would have to play more than 8 hours per day to reach $15/month, and China has restrictions on how long minors can play these types of games. (I made a post on my professional blog [psychochild.org] with more details and links to references.)

      Second, the 6 million subscription figure is worldwide. As I said above, most of those players are in China, a market that was not available to most of the previous games one might consider. The half-million figure you state is for North American subscriptions for previous games. Comparing this to Blizzard's last press release claiming 1 million North American subscriptions, we get a figure of 2x rather than 10x as you state.

      Don't get me wrong, Blizzard certainly has done very well and surpassed the "old guard" quite handily. They also proved all the naysayers wrong that said the fantasy online game market was oversaturated and no new game could possibly do as well. But, it is best to keep the figures in proper perspective when discussing this topic.

      All that said, I do agree with your central point: the Blizzard and Warcraft brands were well-loved for being great games from a pretty honest company. This definitely helped them make an online RPG that surpassed all previous records.

      On the other hand, the Atari situation is different. I suspect most of the income goes to Bioware, so Atari doesn't make much off the premium modules; they likely expect to make more from sales of NWN2 and want as little competition as possible. Some people that won't get getting the newest patches and content might look to the sequel for an upgrade. Is it the smartest move? Not sure. But, the decision did not totally come out of left field.

      Some thoughts from a game developer,
      • Anyone who has played WoW will have to admit that Blizzard raised the bar quite a bit with this game. That alone could be responsible for at least part of the massive subscriber base.

        I played L2 just before that, and while it had its own unique quality (I still miss it in some ways), you just couldn't help but be be overwhelmed by the vastness and artistic detail of the WoW environment (Undercity and Darnassus, for example).

      • Some people that won't get getting the newest patches and content might look to the sequel for an upgrade.

        See, here's the thing: from the looks of things, NWN2 isn't coming out for my platform (Linux). I'm still playing NWN1 because it's such a great game. I still *buy* every premium module they come out with, then download the Linux version to send a clear signal (or two): 1) I love this game 2) I run Linux.

        Now, I know I'm not your typical gamer; I'd almost call myself a casual gamer. Part of that is

    • Then Blizzard decided to make an MMO. Up until that point, no monthly fee MMO had cleared even half a million subscribers.

      Almost, but not entirely accurate. No western MMOG before WoW has cleared 1M subscribers. EQ, FFXI and Runescape cleared 500k subscribers. Lineage had in excess of 3M, and Lineage 2 over 2M subscribers. No clear numbers exist for Ragnarok Online, because each country/region is treated as a separate unit. >250k in Japan, >150k in the Philippines, >700 in Thailand... I'd estima

      • Important point. Another flaw...

        "Even if WOW was that much better, the MMO market was relatively tiny at the time. Something changed that meant ten times as many people were willing to give WOW a chance"

        MMORPG's are strange beasts. Despite all attempts the *play* doesn't hold people over time/levels. Many (definitely not all) WoW subscribers are surely cannibalized from other games. WoW ate all the other games' players. They sloshed into WoW, sloshed out, will slosh back in with the expansion.

        WoW is a very
      • Guild Wars?

        You really think it's the markets they reached that gave them those numbers? And not the fact that they don't chage a monthly fee?
    • Once upon a time, there was a little company called Blizzard. They had a loyal customer in me due to game quality, because I could be certain when I plunked my money down that I was going to get my value. Then, they released a science-fiction RTS that phoned home with personal information in some misguided anti-piracy effort and were sued for it. Yes, they released a patch to said game that eliminated this, but with that action, they made certain that myself and a number of other people never gave dime o
  • by Anonymous Coward
    NWN1, IMHO, is one of the best PC RPGs to date. Not for the original campaign and the two expansions, but for three reasons:

    1: Bioware kept the updates coming. Far past a typical game's lifetime, Bioware has kept NWN alive fixing bugs and hackable exploits. Bioware has also added lots of content that is free.

    2: Bioware's module editor is excellent.

    3: Put the two together, and you also have hundreds upon hundreds of top-notch single player as well as persistant worlds as modules.

    For the buck per hour e
    • I would go even further and argue that persistent worlds are the best thing there is about NWN. And there we have a problem... Obsidian has introduced a fair few design decisions which make the life of PW builders much more difficult - much stricter limit on the number of areas, for example. When asked about it, they made it rather clear that PWs are not on their priority list for NWN2. The fact that DM client is not going to ship with the game either more than anything shows how SP-centric NWN2 is going to
  • Support.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @07:05PM (#15422202)
    Atari's involvement with ongoing support for NWN was minimal, basically all the patch support for NWN for the last year was BioWare driven and funded and had little Atari involvement. The premium modules program was used to fund continued support for NWN, including the recent 1.67 patch which added a large amount of new functionality and content to the game.

    However, the focus of this discussion should not be on the patch support (which we planned to stop sometime this year anyway), but on the fact that several premium modules developed by very hard working groups of the community were cancelled litterally weeks before the finish line, robbing these people of their chance to get professional credit and reward for projects they had worked on for years in some cases.

    Some more info:
    http://nwn.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.html?topic =482695&forum=42 [bioware.com]

    • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:31PM (#15422980)
      That is indeed the harshest aspect of the whole thing. I remember a year ago chatting with Bioware and getting ready to sign a contract to create some modules. My daughter had recently been born and I was fretting about turning my hobby into a paying gig, so I ended up deciding not to. I feel like I narrowly missed being hit by a bus.

      I've heard similar negative things from other module builders. Working with Atari has been a nightmare for many, I think. Initially the modules were supposed to be non-Forgotten Realms, and then later that was switched to only Forgotten Realms. Because of that, the highest ranked module ended up being released for free.

      I think Bioware meant well with their Digital Download project and in many ways it has been a success. It subsidized the support for NWN far beyond that of a normal game. As a bonus, many of the coding changes will make it into NWN2, as Bioware and Obsidian share their code. The unfortunate part is that Bioware and Obsidian are simply developers, and Atari and WotC must approve every little thing along the way. Sadly this leads to a situation where the developer means well, but doesn't really control the situation. In some ways I'm hoping this triggers a move away from licensed IPs and we'll see more original IP coming out. I'm guessing the mod teams will follow along to safer pastures.

      As I watch Atari struggle financially, I worry about the future of NWN2, which I've invested a lot of time planning for. Yet in a sense I'm secretly happy to see them feel the consequences of their actions over the years.
  • by Trash ( 3895 ) on Monday May 29, 2006 @05:00AM (#15423698)
    The worst part of this is that Bioware is not allowed to support NWN even if they want to. Atari have said that Bioware can't suppport it anymore. Probably becaouse Atari wants people to leave the NWN community for the NWN2 community. But I can't as I'm an all Linux user I can't join the NWN2 comunity as it won't run in Linux. So sadly I have to say farwell to the great community around NWN.

  • Atary is acualy creating an anti-brand in the game industry... One of the first thing I look before buying a game is if it has something to do with atary...

    When I saw a Bioware + Lucas Arts game (starwars) I knew it was good. I don't even have to play to recomend it to my friends.

    But when I see anything + Atary... Well.. I won't recomend for anyone.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.