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Jonric: During the course of the plot, will the player be able to make decisions that lead to different possible endings?

Kevin Saunders: Without giving away the endings, I can say that there are four distinct ones, with dozens of specific variations depending upon the choices you made throughout the game. And you can't just get to the end of the game and choose what happens; your possibilities at the finale are dependent upon the path you've taken over the course of the entire adventure. I think we've been very successful in creating a high degree of reactivity to the player's choices.
But fortunately for you all, the less cowardly minds prevailed. The genasi were a lot of work, but they did turn out awesome, and the game is definitely cooler for having them.
Jonric: What new player character choices are you implementing, especially with respect to additional races and classes?

Kevin Saunders:
For new races, we've got a couple of popular elven variations (half-drow and wild elves), but the real highlight is the genasi, which are a sub-race of planetouched specific to the Forgotten Realms universe. They are humans intermixed with elemental outsiders, so there are earth, air, fire and water varieties. Visually, they have the coolest player appearances in the game, though we did also polish some of the heads from NWN2 as well. We chose the genasi because of their popularity with the community, their importance to the Forgotten Realms setting, and because they let us show off some new graphics tricks we've learned.

We've added two new base classes and five prestige ones. I won't go over all of them, but one prestige class, the one we designed ourselves, is the Arcane Scholar of Candlekeep, which revolves around easier use of metamagic, feats that enhance spells in exchange for increasing their spell level.

Jonric: What considerations were most important when you selected these possibilities instead of the many others that were potentially available?

Kevin Saunders:
Why did we make the specific choices we did? Well, of course, we chose what we felt would be most entertaining and interesting for the players. But I want to be completely honest with you here. Many of our choices we made for the scope reasons I mentioned earlier. And it definitely paid off, in my opinion. So, if you're curious why we created the Arcane Scholar of Candlekeep instead of implementing the archmage, it's in part because we do think it's a pretty cool class since it makes all of the metamagic options much more viable. But the bigger reason is that Andy was able to implement this in less than three days as opposed to the two to three months - or more - it might have taken to properly implement the archmage.

Everything's a trade-off in game development. We're always trying to maximize what we can provide to the players. With NWN2 products, we're bound by what the engine was already designed to do, and some things that feel like they should be easy just aren't. So, we risk disappointing some fans by not doing them so that we can please more players with the overall package.

Continuing with the self-disclosure, I actually opposed implementing the genasi. So thank Obsidian owners Darren Monahan, Chris Avellone and Feargus Urquhart, along with several others, such as Aliens lead designer Josh Sawyer, if you like them. I thought the genasi were too risky, too much work. I was concerned that they'd become a huge time sink and not pay off, preventing us from reaching the quality bar that I felt was so important. They weren't a key focus of Mask of the Betrayer's design, and I didn't want to invest so many resources into something that wasn't a core part of the gameplay and story.

So what new player race did I want to implement? Hagspawn. They would've been easy. =) They also tied in very well with the setting. But fortunately for you all, the less cowardly minds prevailed. The genasi were a lot of work, but they did turn out awesome, and the game is definitely cooler for having them.

It seems pretty safe to expect that Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer will have a number of elements that will help make it cool, with the genasi being just one of them. Here at RPG Vault, we're certainly keen to know lots more about them, both in the continuation of this edifying interview with Obsidian's Lead Designer and Producer on the upcoming expansion pack, Kevin Saunders, whom we thank for this initial segment, and in further coverage as development moves forward.

Neverwinter Nights 2 Minute View
Obsidian's keenly awaited sequel combining a Forgotten Realms adventure and the tools to let you create your own
Neverwinter Nights 2 E3 View
Following its well received appearance at the show last week, some observations and thoughts on Obsidian's sequel
Neverwinter Nights 2 Team Q&A #2
Favorite locations, memorable moments and personal points of pride in Obsidian's widely praised role-playing game
Neverwinter Nights 2 Team Q&A #1
Three Obsidian staff members offer their opinions on key elements including player characters, enemies and magic
Neverwinter Nights 2 Peek #3
The team at Obsidian introduces us to Crossroad Keep, a decrepit ruin that was once the site of a famous battle
Neverwinter Nights 2 Peek #2
In Obsidian's impending game, we'll visit Old Owl Well, the only source of water along part of a major trade route
Neverwinter Nights 2 Peek #1
Obsidian takes us to an important location in the game, the city of Arvahn, which is said to hold unspeakable secrets
Neverwinter Nights 2 Interview - Part 3
Enemies, quests, multiplayer, the tools and more as we finish our edifying interrogation of Obsidian's Lead Designer
Neverwinter Nights 2 Interview, Part 2
Continuing our query session with Obsidian's Lead Designer, we ask about various topics related to the protagonist
Neverwinter Nights 2 Interview, Part 1
We begin an extensive examination of Obsidian's upcoming sequel with the team's Lead Designer, Ferret Baudoin

Related Articles:

- Neverwinter Nights 2 Minute View
- Neverwinter Nights 2 E3 View
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Team Q&A #2
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Team Q&A #1
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Peek #3
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Peek #2
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Peek #1
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Interview - Part 3
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Interview, Part 2
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Interview, Part 1

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