Posted Fri, Mar 29, 2013 by gunky
The final closed beta weekend event for Neverwinter has given beta testers - and Cryptic developers - lots to think about. To this end, the development team took to the social media sites, and fielded fan questions in an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit.
The thread was started by Lead Combat Designer Kevin Stocker, who encouraged redditors to "Ask me anything about combat and the development of combat in Cryptic Studios' upcoming game Neverwinter!" The conversation quickly spread beyond combat, and other Cryptic devs joined in on the discussion.
A lot of questions went unanswered by the developers, but here is a summary of what they did have to say.
A lot of bugs were discovered by the beta testers and these are being handled now. One example is the Control Wizard's Conduit of Ice skill, which used a red ground "splash" to indicate its area of effect and was impossible to tell from enemy AOEs.
The Devoted Cleric was bugged during Beta Weekend 3. An adjustment to the class's self-heals resulted in vastly overscaled threat generation from healing. The self-heal twek came as a result from previous beta weekend, where too-powerful self-heals were giving the Devoted Cleric a number of distinct and unbalancing advantages over other classes. According to developer Grant Allen ("Cryptic_LordAzrael") :
Regarding Cleric self heals, they will likely remain fairly minor for the Cleric. This is to help balance the fact that Clerics don't need to use as many health potions as other classes. Before the self heal reduction, Clerics would pretty much always have more gold than all other classes.
It was also creating situations where Clerics would just self heal tank through encounters.
So as unfortunate as the reduction is, it does make you a more concerned with taking damage in combat, which hopefully leads to a more satisfying experience at the end of the day.
The cleric proved to be a figure of distinct controversy. A number of players have complained about the class's limited healing abilities in dungeons and in PvP. Grant Allen defended the Devoted Cleric's current role in the game:
Overall pretty happy with the spot the Cleric is in. In D&D Clerics are more than just heal bots, and I think we've addressed that pretty well.
Given the nature of the game, we didn't want them healing so well that other players would not bother avoiding damage on their own. This also meant that we could up their damage and let players enjoy a more aggressive healer type.
So, in other words, clerics aren't meant to be heal-bots or heal-tanks. They are supposed to be ass-kickers with some healing ability... but not too much. For some players who are used to the standard "MMO Trinity" of Tank-Damage-Heals, this can be a bit confusing. One user addressed this idea directly, and was answered by developer "cryptic_crucial":
The trinity plays a different role in Neverwinter. This is something that has changed a lot over development, and in the end it just wasn't as fun to have a 'dedicated healer.' Being a game based around action combat, having a class that focuses entirely on healing or entirely on aggro management wasn't as fun. The Guardian Fighter still controls the battle and takes a bunch of damage for his team, it is just done in a different way than in more traditional MMOs.
So while the trinity is not wholly abandoned, neither is it the rigidly-defined set of criteria one might find in other games. This can be seen fairly early on in the game, with random queues for dungeon instances like the Cloak Tower, which can be run with non-traditional groups and still have a reasonable chance of success. Having a main tank and main healer helps, but in a pinch a group can often make do without one.
For me, this makes the game feel more D&D-like. I've played in campaigns with no regular healers. Usually, the DM has to compensate for this - make healing potions more readily available, mix in strategy to help the players avoid taking damage, etc. But sometimes that's how the game plays out. Sometimes the group wants to roll an all-Rogue or all-Wizard party, and the game allows for it.
However, that doesn't mean that high-level content should be run with a bizarro unbalanced group. Even the content designers don't stray too far from the standard MMO group when testing their own material. According to "cryptic_crucial":
Our in house playtests of the end game content are always with 1 of each class. There is a pretty big void when you double up, but it is conceivable that someone finds a strategy that doesn't include a tank or healer.
He goes on to say in a later post that they don't use any store-bought items when testing dungeon content, either. This has a couple of different implications:
This is a legitimate concern for many, and has sparked some debate on the official Neverwinter forums and elsewhere, but the dev team had little else to say on the matter. It's clear that the Neverwinter community is excited for the game's future and wants to know more about it, but the tech guys can really only reveal so much. They can talk about technical aspects behind combat animations, spell effects and enemy AI, but they can't reveal future launch plans. Which is unfortunate, because that's a question that comes up regularly, any time a Cryptic official makes any kind of annoucement or forum post.
The Ask Me Anything session is long over, but you can read the rest of the session Here. How was your beta experience in general? Let us know in our comments!