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Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days: A one-month evaluation

Betas, Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days A onemonth evaluation
It's been a little over a month since Neverwinter soft-launched as a no-wipe open beta. Perhaps some folks are holding off until the "official" launch to play it, but I wager that most anyone who is interested in this game is already leveling up like mad.

I always think that the one-month mark is a good time to pause for evaluation. There's just too much drama and over-excitement and new car smell that goes on during the first week to keep a level head, so first impressions can be tainted by an atmosphere that will soon settle down. But 30 days seems like a good span of time to get a feel for how Neverwinter is doing, how it's being received by the community, and what needs addressing.

I've been playing every day since the soft launch, although two re-rolls because of guild/server conflicts means that I haven't achieved the level cap the way that some players have. Still, there's no shortage to my opinions on what I like and dislike about this title, but I'll see if I can sum up the salient points for you today.

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Neverwinter Days: The great economic collapse of 2013

Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Economy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days The great economic collapse of 2013
So funny story: In planning out in advance what I wanted to talk about in this biweekly Neverwinter column, I had selected something that recently caught my eye about the game and made me happy. That something was the Neverwinter Gateway, a web portal that allows out-of-game players the ability to fiddle with their character sheets, auctions, professions, guilds, and mail. I thought -- and I still do -- that this was a nifty service that deserved a day in the sun.

As I was getting set to write that column, Neverwinter's economy exploded and then imploded over the course of a weekend, thanks to a nasty exploit that involved, yup, the Gateway. Suddenly my topic had to shift from "isn't this a neat tool?" to "check out what the tools are doing with this tool." Seeing the economy effectively destroyed in a matter of hours and how Cryptic Studios dealt with this PR nightmare might be old news at this point, but it's definitely worthy of reflection, analysis, and speculation as to how trust can be rebuilt in this fledgling title.

Let's get cracking -- we have a lot of ground to cover!

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Neverwinter Days: The 14 guides you need to read

Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Guides, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days The 14 guides you need to read
I've had a strange start with Neverwinter, to be honest. While I did get in on the 25th with the early-early crowd, shortly thereafter I had to boogie on off to a vacation that canceled out eight days of soft launch gaming time. So even though I got an early start, I'm probably behind many of you -- even those who started on the 30th.

That's OK; I'm not in a rush. I'm not the type to get into a speed race or feel the compulsion to become an instant expert by the end of week one. My experience so far has been feeling out what Neverwinter has to offer, mostly by going through the solo quest line, participating in skirmishes, and queuing up for dungeon runs when time permits. And I'm enjoying myself so far, although I still have that "slightly lost" feeling that comes with exploring a brand-new MMO. I need to learn how to create Foundry missions and I haven't even touched professions yet.

Maybe you're like me. Maybe you assume that everyone already knows the ins and outs of the game as though he's been playing it for years, while you're an ignorant noob wandering the streets. I don't think you're alone if that's the case, and to help both you and me out, I've done some research to find the top 14 most helpful threads, sites, and articles that all fledgling Neverwinter adventurers should at least skim over.

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Massively's Neverwinter early access launch diary: Day two

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Massively's Neverwinter launch diary Day two
After yesterday's initial foray into Neverwinter, I was eager to get back to it. I was still trying to figure everything out, including frustrating little issues (is there a screenshot key that saves to a folder? Can I keep the little notifications from constantly popping out of the side of the map?). There's that period of acclimation in new games when you're excited but also feel a little lost. I'm guessing it's going to be another day or two before I truly feel comfortable in my Neverwinter home.

From what I can figure out, there are six main options for a typical Neverwinter play session. There are general PvE quests, skirmishes (think instanced public quests), zone-wide events, group dungeon runs, Foundry missions, and PvP fights. There's also playing the auction house, crafting, and making your own Foundry missions.

Yesterday was about the first two, so I decided that the second day would be all about the Foundry. At a certain level or part of the quest line (around level 11), you gain access to daily Foundry quests. These give you astral diamonds as incentive to run player-made content, so I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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Massively's Neverwinter early access launch diary: Day one

Fantasy, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Massively's Neverwinter launch diary Day one
Neverwinter's launch isn't so much a launch as a gradual roll-out that's happening in several phases and operating under the code-name of "open beta." While the doors won't be open for the general public until April 30th, purchasers of the founder's packs are able to get in a few days early. Cryptic's invited the media to join the day one festivities alongside of those who've plunked down $200 for a Hero of the North package, which is how I'm able to bring to you a day-by-day account of the first week of Neverwinter live.

While I've participated in two of the beta weekend events and have been following Neverwinter for a few months now as part of my column coverage, much of the game is virgin territory to me. I like going into a launch relatively unspoiled (or as unspoiled as a writer who covers MMOs can be), so this launch diary isn't going to be the voice of great experience. It's going to be the voice of experiences. See what I did there?

Noon on April 25th finally arrived... and we were off to the D&D races!

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Neverwinter Days: Choosing your first class

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days Choosing your first class
Ready to play some Neverwinter? It looks as though Cryptic is ready to pull the trigger on this bad boy, with a soft launch (open beta with no wipes) starting on April 25th for founders and April 30th for everyone else. While I'm not surprised that the studio is moving ahead with the launch, I still wish that Neverwinter were being held back a few months to get more testing time and to add more classes.

You see, five classes doesn't seem like enough to me, especially in a D&D MMO. Yes, there's plenty of room for growth here, and I'm sure that Cryptic will be charging for each new class rolled out, but five? That's pretty paltry, especially when you read this prospective list.

But I'm not in charge of development and schedules; I'm just a humble gamer and writer. So I'll lift my chin and get excited for the fact that, hey, we're going to be playing non-wipeable Neverwinter soon! That means that we all have just a couple of weeks to make a crucial decision: What class will we roll first? Let's take a look at the big five and see what the options are.

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Neverwinter Days: Can the Foundry succeed?

Betas, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days, Player-Generated Content

Neverwinter Days Can the Foundry succeed
For many gamers, the name "Neverwinter" goes hand-in-hand with player-created content. BioWare's 2002 Neverwinter Nights and the 2006 sequel allowed players to whip up their own story modules for friends and strangers to enjoy. While many RPGs put us on the receiving end of the developer's storytelling, user-generated content (UGC) in Neverwinter Nights and other similar games allowed the common gamer a chance to try his or her hand at making an adventure from scratch.

In my opinion, UGC is the holy grail for MMOs. We all know how developers can never create content faster than the community consumes it, so utilizing the community's creativity, time, and energy to assist in making that content theoretically eliminates a content limit. There's always something to do because people are always, always creating.

But UGC is notoriously tricky to handle in a persistent online world, and it comes with many trouble spots that haven't been fully addressed. Considering just how much Neverwinter is relying on its UGC, via the Foundry, to flesh out the game, I have to wonder: Can the Foundry succeed?

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Neverwinter Days: The DDO connection

Betas, Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days The DDO connection
You know what's something I didn't think I'd be saying about Neverwinter prior to getting my hands on the beta? It shares way more in common with Dungeons & Dragons Online than I'd assumed.

Yeah yeah, they're both D&D games and MMOs, and there's bound to be similarities on a basic level. But what I'm talking about is more than that: an uncanny connection between the games and a deliberate design philosophy that both seem to share. As a player who's done a couple of tours of duty in DDO, I think I have enough experience to claim this.

Besides, everyone's already thinking about "the Dice Duel of 2013" as the papers are calling it. Two D&D MMOs will be facing off against each other, one with a new expansion and the other with a game launch, and both are gunning for the same piece of the pie. So let's deal with this situation now rather than later and look at why DDO and Neverwinter are more than kissing cousins.

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Neverwinter Days: The allure of bite-sized gaming

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days The allure of bitesized gaming
Before we get into the really hectic period of the pre- and post-launch frenzy, I wanted to take a week to discuss both why I'm looking forward to playing Neverwinter and why I decided to take on a column covering the game.

Oddly enough, I've only been following this title very casually since its first announcement. Sometimes I get swept up in all of the pre-launch hype, and sometimes it just passes me by. In this case, I've dipped my toes into the waters of interest from time to time and found it pleasingly warm. Yet it's kind of a no-brainer to be interested in this game for me because I do love Cryptic's titles and free-to-play philosophy (especially for Star Trek Online) and also because I'm at the right point in my life to appreciate some bite-sized gaming.

Bite-sized gaming? Is that just vernacular for "fun size" candy bars that are neither filling nor sized for a party? Nay, I say to you. It's just a good alternative to have in a gaming diet.

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Neverwinter Days: Money and knowledge

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days Ten essential Neverwinter resources
If you've been following Neverwinter's development closely and combing the internet for every scrap of information about it, chances are that this week's column isn't for you. But if Cryptic's newest D&D dungeon crawler has arrested your interest as of late and you're trying to catch up with the rest of the crowd, I think we can be accommodating.

Prior to a game's release, I like to bone up on the basics without crossing over into spoiler-heavy territory (especially guides and extensive video walkthroughs, but that's just me). It's a great time to get into dedicated podcasts on the game as well; I swear that podcasts at pre-launch are always more interesting than afterward.

So this week we'll go over a few essential resources that all Neverwinter fans, current and aspiring, should include in their bookmarks, as well as a brief discussion about the game's monetization plans.

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Neverwinter Days: Beta blitz

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Days

Neverwinter Days Beta blitz
Welcome to Neverwinter Days, a fresh new column that will be pulling on our +1 boots of game exploring while we go tramping through dungeons and fantastic locales. I'm fairly excited about this game and wanted to explore it from top to bottom while bringing you along for company.

Neverwinter is a Cryptic title, and with that comes a laundry list of expectations: Players will be pretty divided on it, it'll skew toward "fun" and "buggy," there'll be a lot of visual customization, and "F" always, always interacts with the world. And it's a Dungeons & Dragons title, so there are even more genre expectations. For example, we're going to be laying the smackdown on Kobolds early and often. Poor buggers.

Usually we begin a column by showcasing the community resources out there, but we're going to put that off until next time in favor of discussing this past weekend's beta event. Yours truly and several other Massively staffers were on the scene to chow through Neverwinter and see how it's shaping up in these final months prior to release. So what did I get out of it? It's going to cost you one click to find out!

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