We at NWO:Unblogged recently learned that there’s something called the “Developer Appreciation Week 2017“. It’s a pretty cool event in which blogs are encouraged to step back from their critical coverage of a game and focus on the positive things companies and their devs do. Although this years’ edition is already wrapped up, we’d like to submit a late entry about Cryptic Studios. We simply missed the week because we didn’t know, and being positive can’t hurt anyway.
Map design and story telling
When I think about the strength of this game, I always come back to map design and story telling. Although we run an excellent series about map design by JayAgeDee, I still think it’s highly underappreciated. The reason is quite simple: A good map seamlessly merges into the user experience, it does not necessarily attract attention. So if you’re running new content and do not think “what the eff it THIS”, you probably appreciate the map design without actively thinking about it.
Neverwinter has tons of strong maps. From the campaigns I like Sharandar the most, but the additions of Storm Kings Thunder and the Cloaked Ascendancy are great as well, especially the Sea of Moving Ice. And what about the original adventure maps? These often get lost in the process of leveling yet another alt. Pirates’ Skyhold, Vellosk, the Whispering Caverns? Generally it’s hard to find a map that’s visually unappealing, or misses an update thematically.
Same goes for the story. Since Underdark we really got great updates there as well. Granted, those are not epic chapters that you play for weeks and months throughout a module. But their little gimmicks, extra achievements and general smartness are a thing of beauty. I personally hope this will continue even though losing “Commander Ander” hurts in that regard.
Amount of content
What stands out when browsing through Neverwinter coverage and all these end of the years toplists is that many people rave about the amount of content Cryptic is able to put out for all of their games. And it’s actually hard to challenge that. Given the size of the team, a major update every three months is insane. No matter whether you have two or two million players, you need to keep them busy. Of course a title with two million subs has much more devs to work with, and essentially accomplish the same task.
Let’s be honest: Have you experienced one content drought? I sure have not. It’s actually quite the opposite. I personally warmly appreciate the Cloaked Ascendancy as sort of catch-up module in which I can switch focus to my alts a little more. Yes, a lot of mechanics and systems are grind, yes a lot of people would rather see more dungeons, but the amount of content is still one of the main selling points. Running my Lowbie Diaries I know what it feels to get to 70 on your “first char”. There’s just so much to do and to explore!
And it’s not only that they add content quite frequently, Cryptic also constantly works on the backend to deliver new mechanics, different boss fights and systems.
Julia and Thomas
That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the work of the other team members, it’s actually quite the opposite. But Mimic King does his job as Lead Designer quite well in my opinion. Since he is in the house Neverwinter feels like it has some sort of direction and I get the old D&D vibe back that I missed the last few years. Even though the shutdown of the gateway hurt, I think now it was the best decision he could make to focus on to produce content instead of clinging on a dying feature.
It feels like Neverwinter is more than the “next job” for him and I hope he will stay much longer with us.MinMax Fortytwo
I can only agree with MinMax’s sentiment here. The game and its development have taken major steps forward under Thomas, and Community Manager Julia. This by no means is a silent bash of StrumSlinger, I think it’s more that the studio actively wanted to change course with a CM that directly works at Cryptic. And it already pays dividends as the overall level of activity and engagement has clearly risen. With these two, and the other members of the team, the game seems to be on the right path.
This was our entry to the “Developer Appreciation Week 2017”! What are your favorite aspects of the game or the devs? Share them in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board! To honor the spirit of the event, we will step back from our Uncensored theme this time and only allow positive feedback.
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