Larian's next game might be Neverwinter Nights 3

Antimatter

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I'm fairly certain it's a possibility now. Let's look at the factors leading to an assumption the next game for Larian Studios is Neverwinter Nights 3.

Before BG3 was released, Swen Vincke gave Eurogamer an interview which had the following parts:

How much do your plans for the future depend on the commercial reaction to Baldur's Gate 3? I'm sure you have things in place now already, but how much does that change depending on if the game sells well, or if it sells phenomenally well?

I know what we want to do - we had six years to sit on other ideas - but we need to see if there's a market large enough to carry this type of game. And if there is, then we can continue innovating in it, and if there's not, then we have to shift gears somewhere. That's something you can't know upfront.

<....>

I'm not going to say what the future plans are going to be; they're going to be defined by the success of BG3, defined by the needs of the next game, because each game has its language that you need to learn to talk it. Maybe we'll make a game like Into the Breach - who knows?


So Larian needed to see the commercial reaction to BG3 first. Well, the success was tremendous.

There has been a lot of talk among gamers about the next game from Larian, with options like BG4 or Divinity: Original Sin 3 mentioned the most. However, there is a sequence of recent events that I think provides a sudden, but actually quite logical choice for them.

1. During the Golden Joystick Awards acceptance speech, Swen said he hadn't prepared for it, so everything he said there came naturally. Closer to the end, he thanked Wizards of the Coast. Might be a hunch, but Larian hasn't mentioned WotC for a long while. And then he mentions it, as if potentially he had some conversations with them just not long ago (and it would have been fair, considering he returned from his vacation and had to discuss all the success BG3 got). Specifically, he praised them for being a good licenser.


2. Usually in big games like BG3 there are hints at future projects that might or might not materialize later. For example, at the end of Divinity: Original Sin II, Tarquin says he's interested in exploring other planes of existence, and that he found one with beings that consume minds. Then the epilogue has him disappearing into another plane. That's obviously a foreshadowing of the main BG3 plot.

And how can we forget Lord Foreshadow from the original Baldur's Gate 1 that mentioned the next BioWare game that was actually in development:

"Oh, I actually hail from Waterdeep. The great City of Splendors has much more in the manner of social luxuries suited towards my particular tastes. I do, however, make a point of keeping in touch with Neverwinter, though I have only visited once previously. It was quite popular in those nights, if I recall correctly. I'm going to make a second trip in the coming year, and I'll wager it will be as popular again."

Now, let's come back to Swen's interview. "I know what we want to do - we had six years to sit on other ideas". There is a real possibility the game has those clues about the next project.

There is a devil domain in BG3 which has portals to other planes.

4177902-baldurs-gate-3-house-of-hope-raphael-boss-guide-1b.jpg


Neverwinter, Waterdeep, Baldur's Gate, Menzoberranzan. You can interact with each portal and see character's reactions (small barks, each character has their own reaction). So ofc I'm aware there are several portals here, and it could be Waterdeep or Menzoberranzan as well, if it's indeed a foreshadowing of what the future holds. Let's go to the next point.

3. As I mentioned, Swen returned from his vacation not long ago. After the Golden Joystick Awards ceremony happened, he tweeted a few times, including these:

3.1.


So it means that they are already working on the next game. I would say it's reasonable to assume discussions about that game happened fairly recently, maybe even the day the tweet happened. In gaming, it's quite common to tweet hints right after a meeting while the feelings are still fresh.

3.2.


Please take a look at the particular interesting choice of words used and their order. It might be just a tweet about the Xbox version timeline, or it might be more. Again, if it's very fresh, if it's actively discussed at the moment, I can see how a small decision to share the joy and excitement kinda goes through. I saw that many times with other developers.

Why would you particularly say "beat winter". It could be anything, e.g. let's release it before the holidays, anything. But it's beating winter now. Rhymes with Neverwinter. And we know how good the studio is with words and dialogues, and also jokes.

4. There is a strong interest in a project like NWN 3 among players.


Even before BG3, players mentioned that Larian's tools they had provided with D:OS 2 were a few steps away from allowing the creation of modules and worlds like the NWN Toolset allowed.

5. NWN used the Aurora engine. Later, this engine was modified by CDPR to create The Witcher 1. Many, many iterations later, probably 0.01% of it still lives in The Witcher 3 or even Cyberpunk 2077 (as part of the Red Engine).

It would be a fair next step for Larian, who enjoyed adding cinematics dialogue to a "niche RPG", to further work on their cinematics and make the game look more impressive visually. So a game like NWN, but modern and upgraded (less isometric, more 3D -- I realize BG3 is already 3D, but I'm talking about inspirations, BG vs NWN), would make sense for them.

6. What about the industry then?


As you can see, discussions about a potential NWN 3 actually do happen. We can't know for sure what WotC would say, but considering the success of BG3, it's not difficult to imagine they would allow Larian to create any DnD-inspired game right now, just because of how well-received BG3 is.

It was clear a game like NWN 3 would require a lot of money, and Larian now has that money.

7. It would be a sweet homage to BioWare, the original developer of Baldur's Gate. There is a sentiment right now that Larian is doing what BioWare was doing in the 2000's. BioWare created NWN after working on BG1 & BG2.

And for Larian, it would be a bit easier to transfer and implement 5E into a video game for a project like NWN 3, because they have already done that for BG3 (at least partially). If it was another studio, imagine just how much time narratively and from the design perspective, it would have taken them to just implement all possible classes and races, etc.

There were more interviews in the past from different people at Larian where they said they always liked DnD (and that the D:OS games were inspired by DnD systems). What could be a better fit than essentially a game that allows you to play your DnD character, but in a video game? That was the whole concept of the original Neverwinter Nights - that you could recreate the tabletop experience.
 

Black Elk

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My first introduction to the Witcher was the NWN1 mod that was floating around in the early aughts hehe. The old NWN PWs were all great and Mask of the Betrayer was legit. The only thing it was missing was the full party tactical combat aspect, but what BG3 has or something like it would totally work for me there. I would just live in that toolset making armor for hours and hours lol.

I would be very very very happy if our next stop was Neverwinter!

One can certainly hope! That would be a rad follow up. I'd be more excited for that than a BG4 even.

ps. Way back when I would spend years just assembling portraits into tgas for NWN. I think I had something like 5000 by the time I was done lol. My old timer handle was Jah Din, and portrait packs were like my total hook in on NWN. I really think that aspect of customization is what sets those early games apart, custom Portraits, custom barks, custom scripts, and then NWN just took that to the next level with module making. If they could do that now, but bring it into cinemascope so the player could actually do some of the direction and set those sorts of scenes, and on the avatar side to have all the same sorts of stuff done for gesture and emote. Where we're at these days, they could rig our portraits to animate like the old Might and Magic, you know where they look drunk, or poisoned, or happy or whatever, and carry that all through into the visualization. I mean just thinking about it gets me excited hehe. That'd be pretty cool
 
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Urdnot_Wrex

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Very interesting insights, theories, speculations.

The room with the various portals made me think "Sigil" and planar travel was already a topic in BG3 too and the next game pushing many boundaries might fit into that too, but a game in the Planescape setting, with interplanar travel or something, is not very likely I guess.

NWN3 sounds more plausible indeed, especially because the topic has been going around for a while, and I agree that Swen's wordplay "to beat winter" sounds deliberate, but then, who knows.

I'm not sure what to think personally about an NWN3, the second game was meh for me. I liked NWN, and am probably one of the very few people who liked the Original Campaign, but what NWN is famous for is the toolkit, the lots of community modules and persistent worlds. If Larian devs want to pick up that heritage, they'd definitely need a different engine and all.

Whatever their next project is going to be though, I'm sure we can be excited.
 

Zaxares

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Speaking selfishly I would want to be free to explore BG3 in all its nuances for at least 3-4 years. XD But I am TOTALLY on board with a Neverwinter Nights 3, especially if it also comes along with a DM client and the ability for players to construct custom modules and adventures and breathe life into our own homebrewed worlds. :) That's a gap that has never truly been filled since NWN1, and while I think it might be possible for Larian to bolt on a DM client and module builder into BG3, all things considered I think it would be wiser to take what they've learned from BG3 and build a whole new game from the ground-up with multiplayer/DM support and a module builder fully integrated into the design specs from the start.
 

WarChiefZeke

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NWN was my introduction to DnD. I have a supreme amount of love for it for this reason and could probably recite every line of every main campaign.

I despair at the thought of Larian designing this game, even though I generally enjoy their style.

The problem is that they are incapable of *not* making a Larian game. NWN is very much not in their field of expertise, especially since I (and I hope most people) expect any claimed sequel to NWN to come with a well built module toolset.
 

shmity72

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NWN was my introduction to DnD. I have a supreme amount of love for it for this reason and could probably recite every line of every main campaign.

I despair at the thought of Larian designing this game, even though I generally enjoy their style.

The problem is that they are incapable of *not* making a Larian game. NWN is very much not in their field of expertise, especially since I (and I hope most people) expect any claimed sequel to NWN to come with a well built module toolset.
I'll triple down on toolset.
 

Black Elk

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What would excite me most about the possibility is just the idea of somehow taking the cinemascope and animation/gestural stuff they did for the BG3 characters (the origins, but honestly more the bit players right? hehe) and then put all that into the hands of GMs and budding scenario designers. Like just having access to those sorts of materials for staging a scene. It's really hard to imagine how it might be made modular, but I'm sure it could, if they could develop a kind of theatrical lexicon for the NPC presentation. Putting together enough assets to make it feel sufficiently variable would be a massive order, but it's like the holy grail for this sort of game ever since 1991 gold boxes.

I think the key is to make sure they don't forget the single player module too, which to me requires party control to remain compelling. The main issue I had with NWN1 was the lack of SP full party control, which meant that you could only really design a certain type of module - modules for the small party MP, single character, or PW type thing, but you couldn't really make a single player Campaign experience of the sort we saw in BG or Icewind Dale or Planescape. It was very hard to scale a scripted encounter there or to design an interesting combat challenge, cause frankly the combat was a weaker element of the gameplay. It was like super bursty in it's vanilla versions. But give it a year in the oven with everyone who's down making stuff, and suddenly that vault had a lot of cool shit inside! I'd love to see someone get back to that on first principles, but to carry it into the next thing, which is mostly the cinematic stuff and well designed art assets for the starter kit for all the basics, area design, itemization, dress up and facemaking.

A party of 6, with all the bells and whistles in a toolset, and the ability to import custom assets, cause that's like the whole thing.

I didn't see what I wanted out of the BG3 character creator by a long mile, so it would require so much more work, but it's the work I want to see done. Larian is sorta irreverent in way that I think might have them making a really goofy first campaign, but it's down to their engine/tools and how easy they are to pick up for sure.

More important than that even, however, would be to achieve some sort of critical mass of interest. So enough creative-minded people to take it up and enough enthusiasts who can then commit to adding onto it over time. That's the hardest part I'm sure.

NWN1 had a toolset that was relatively simple to grasp compared to NWN2, BG3 I have absolutely no clue how they mod that one hehe. I would have a lot of trepidation, but then perhaps if they took any lessons from their BG3 EA it might be to do a different sort of EA for that one. Like for real, cause it will probably take another 6 years right? Unless it's already been brewing for a while. Hard to imagine, but then it's all speculation at this point. Anyone that got to make it though, now would probably be an alright time to try striking while the iron is still hot and there's a general uptick in peeps wanting to play more D&D. You kinda wish they could just absorb some of the stuff we saw in Solasta and WotR for overall presentation, or like the broader organizational architecture for a more standard type of campaign series. I have no idea what their toolset looks like, but I just want something that's grounded in Faerun and Dungeons & Dragons first and foremost. They'd really have to build out a lot more on their community front I think, but then, once they set up a spot that might find it's own legs.
 
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Black Elk

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Quick follow up thought, more to do with my memories of the NWN1 vault I suppose.

To pull this off I think it would require a couple big picture concepts that they need to really nail, but first and foremost for me is the character creator, and that starter flagship module, to make it engaging enough that it can retain players while the rest is being built out.

I have a simple metric that I wish they'd adopt, which is to always provide at least 6 times more (for whatever the thing is) than they think they'd need hehe.

So if you think 6 voices or 6 phenotypes are needed, the real number would be closer to 36.

Or for heads if you think 20 per race is enough for a starter set, the real number is closer to 120, and just try to hold to that basic of rule of aiming way high.

To me even x6 is a lowball number, but the goal I think should be very broad strokes. I have memories of NWN1 waiting on Snow and Desert tiles, and various standard models, the MM, and itemization/dress options that really held back the sort of story one could tell or what sort of scene could be set.

Rather than steady drip it, they need to come out the gate swinging really hard on the front end initially, cause my most salient memory of NWN (after being so enamored with the game and it's potential), was just the sheer amount of time it took for the user created content to become readily available. Like by the time that stuff was ready, they were already on to trying to release a sequel, using a different engine and a different developer. Having some modules ready to roll, so the lead time can be very long, since players will invariably play at a much more accelerated rate than scenario creators will be able to provide materials for.

This is why we need a big, hot-ticket/hot-shit company that's popular to be in the drivers seat on it, and not overly reliant on their nascent DOS/BG3 modding community as it exists currently, but to start really pulling people in from all over. Like basically anyone making a BG3 mod right now should just get put on payroll, so they can help the developer to understand what is most needed. Anything that they said publicly was "too hard" or "too challenging" to pull off in BG3, they need to be able to do that for NWN3, so Day/Night and a 6 person party, dispel magic, shorties, every trick in the book there. Just to make sure it has the right stuff.

Ideally what I'd want is an engine that's capable of porting a game like BG3 straight over as a module bonus. Meaning one could just plug in the assets from a BG3 using NWN3, or to port the old gold boxes but with new sounds and visuals, that sorta angle. No clue there what sort of licensing constraints exist, but that whole idea of connected adventure modules and a vault for your hall of heroes.

Obviously the average user wouldn't have access to professional actors and model designers, so they need to create the conditions where amateurs and enthusiasts trying to break into those industries come to see this as a viable foot in the door. Or to summon the peeps who just love so much that they're willing to put in the time and energy even if they're not in industries, but just love this hobby. NWN did that pretty well I thought for peeps who liked 3d modelling and audio recording and scripting, but it needs some way to get the goods out in a way that's curated more towards users who aren't super familiar with navigating say a Nexus.

One big thing I've been trying to puzzle out for a long time, is how to establish a library of cinematic concepts that could be modular for something like this, but based more conventions from animation, shadow-puppetry, stop motion, and the painted minis or mats of yesteryear, basically to borrow from that more than cinema per se. Like basically the background stuff that goes into making a movie, and somehow make a game out of that. Like where each department has it's own sort of flourish, casting, hair and makeup, wardrobe, the writers room, all that stuff, cause if you want to make NWN1 but cinematic that's sort of what would be needed right?

The reason is because we are all very saturated with cinema and have such a deep familiarity with it's conventions, and so setting up the tropes that would actually be needed to make something interesting would require almost the entire backcatalog of 20th century film-making highlights, or else people will just think it's kinda weak sauce. Similarly you have to do the same with music/sound/voice, just so that there's enough there for a proper skeleton to clay out the whole experience. Even if you can't get what you want right away, to somehow strongarm it anyway, if you're willing to noodle around enough via custom asset import.

I don't know how you teach people how to do this in a gameful way, but essentially they need to give the DM/Module Maker all the tools of the B rate director, from the classic age of the silver screen. That section at the old Hollywood Video that used to be called "Epic" where they kept all the double VHS sets hehe. Main genres to make sure they include on top of that would would be monty python and camp horror pastiche. I think comedy and B-rate is just a better fit for this company, all around - levity over gravity - to keep it light hearted at first, but then allow the community to take up the mantle of making it sublime and weighty and sentimental.

I think they should use Time Travel and the stage play as a kind of organizing theme, like for the narrative structure of the base campaign itself, so that the campaign can sort of create the conditions for modularity and iteration, and stake that out as an overarching vibe.

What makes me encouraged is that they already have a pretty solid network built-in and a lot of people clearly hyped up on the game they just put out. Their best asset right now would be all the people who actually put it together, then teaching their general user base how to do the same sorts of things using the starter kit. The visual artists, the model designers, the actors, directors, writers, to somehow make that process feel like gameplay rather than work when using the thing. For as much love as I've always had for BG, NWN is the true sacred cow, cause that one was the forever game. Needs like a x6 years plan and 6th edition D&D, d6 high roll! hehe

Feels very much like wishful thinking, sure, but gotta wish all the same!

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Black Elk

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Wow talk about trash timing. And just when D&D is having a bit of a moment too. Of course Hasbro would go and sour it by shit-canning a 5th of their workforce in December? Not to be outdone at year's end.

Its absurd how they can 'own' all these billion dollar franchises, and yet somehow they barely have 4,000 human beings on payroll? I mean I'm sure they fired like everyone that they hired during the plague times, you know like Kobold press peeps or whoever. Probably like every 5th person who saved their corpo asses when it actually mattered these past years, cause the whole world was shuttered and looking for ways to entertain themselves. I bet they all got pink slipped. So lame! Totally grinch mc'scrooged. Like why not wait until January when everyone is depressed already anyway? Oh wait, that's right, cause they're bastards! lol

If they're carving holiday hams, how about firing whichever dumbass decided that we didn't need a 6th edition branding? I haven't been this engaged with D&D in decades. I probably swooped more sourcebooks and random related paraphernalia in the past 6-12 months than I have in as many years. It reminds me of when TSR imploded right as BG1 was saving D&D writ large, and they just ceded all that ground, but I guess that's when the Wizards were riding high. Such nonsense though. It's too bad we don't live in a universe where growth obsessed investors don't just invest in peeps when they're hiring instead of firing. They got it all backwards somehow, alas!

I'd still like to see a NWN3
 
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Black Elk

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Some of the stuff coming out of the rumor mill today regarding Hasbro and Tencet does lend some credence to the original speculation.

From what I was able to scrounge up, the big news is that Hasbro was shopping the IP around. Seems to have blown up into a click bait-y convo now though and a little alarmist, but it's interesting to see how people are reacting to even the idea of the license changing hands again.

Provided it's just licensing the rights to video games, I'm not sure how it's all that different than the current situation. If the endgame there is Larian gets the rights to produce stuff in the Forgotten Realms or other classic D&D settings, cause Tencet has deep enough pockets to make that happen, but then honestly kinda hard to parse.

I do think Larian has done more to revivify D&D in the popular consciousness, than probably anyone has, at least since Bioware dropped that first BG1 game and prevented the candle from snuffing out way back when. I wouldn't mind some consistency for a spell, where they don't change their flagship studio every other year, but instead stick with something/someone so they can build out an actual catalog of adventure campaigns within the same basic framework. You know instead of splitting their player base constantly, as tends to happen when you get those sorts of studio switches. Say BG4 or NWN3 by a totally different set of peeps and a different game engine or concept, doing it all over again but with somebody else, just to save a couple bucks. I'd much prefer them to build on what's working and stick with it for few years so it can build a following and a critical mass.
 
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