The Juggernaut Returns – Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition
— Beamdog (@BeamdogInc) November 21, 2017
I happened across the above Tweet RT’d by the official D&D account, and I stopped breathing. Literally, and I mean that.
While Baldur’s Gate inarguably resurrected the CRPG genre after it had been laid low by the surge of FPS, it wasn’t until Neverwinter Nights that computer RPGs reached their pinnacle. Sure, The Witcher series looks great, and Dragon Age gives you in-depth stories, but NWN had the one thing that has never been replicated in all of CRPGdom: The Aurora Toolset. Yes, it deserves capitalization. No, I am not kidding.
NWN was a great game, and a worthy successor to BG and Icewind Dale, but it was the tools that helped make the leap from a good game to a great game. Authors had access to all of the materials that made up the base game and eventually the expansions. Developers could create mods for the toolset. And while the tools were never designed to create a persistent, online, multi-server game world, people found ways to do that. And at the heart of the tools was the scripting system which allowed users to create entirely new mechanics with relative ease. Many games have tried to approach the altar of the Aurora Toolset, but none have been found worthy, not Sword Coast Legends, not Divinity Original Sin 2, nobody.
Gushing praise aside, I have to credit NWN for helping me practice my programming skills early in my life. My fondest memory was of creating a “forensics kit” that allowed module developers to have players utilize skills to spot or reveal clues, to collect samples, and to perform investigations on materials that could provide information. Obviously, this fits into a module that I had been working on myself, but it was a damned fine system that worked really well. Sadly, I never got around to completing my module, and the code…well, it’s been lost to history.
Beamdog is one of those steady yet below-the-radar houses. I never remember they exist except when they breach the surface with these kinds of announcements. They brought back Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment enhanced editions. They’ve even released an expansion for BG decades after the game was in vogue. The EEs tend to result in games that are better suited for today’s resolutions, and while the graphics are also enhanced as a result, we’re not talking Frostbite Engine-level visuals here: it’s the “enhanced” edition, not the “remastered” edition, so don’t expect the “mitten hands” of the characters to suddenly morph into fully articulated digits. Still, I suspect we will be enjoying some level of improved graphics.
There’s going to be an official announcement on Beamdog’s Twitch channel this afternoon at 12 PDT (3PM EDT for me, and on-demand after the fact no doubt) during which we can hope to see the visuals of the EE, and get word on whether or not the Aurora Toolset will be included. Considering the tools were used to actually create the campaign of Neverwinter Nights, I can’t imagine that they’d be absent; in fact, in looking at the Twitter responses to the original Tweet, I’d expect nothing short of a riot if the tools weren’t included in this.
I am extremely eccstatic.