Interview With D&D: Heroes of Neverwinter Developer Ed Del Castillo

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on October 5, 2011

D&D Heroes of Neverwinter was released to the general public earlier this week. The game is a great way to get 4e Dungeons & Dragons fun in a short amount of time. Dungeon’s Master was fortunate enough to get 100 Beta Codes to give to our readers early in September. We are following-up on our coverage of Heroes of Neverwinter with an interview with the game’s developer, Ed Del Castillo. Ed took the time to answer some questions about the game and his background with all things D&D.

DM: What projects are you currently working on?

Ed: Right now all hands are on deck for D&D: Heroes of Neverwinter. There are other wonderful things in the works in the background, but Heroes is the focus.

DM: Do you play Dungeons & Dragons or any other RPGs?

Ed: Absolutely. I started with the original Red Box D&D and have been playing the paper game ever since, first as a player and then as a DM. Outside of D&D, I’ve played lots of paper games – Top Secret, Traveller, RoleMasters, Hero Systems, Mechwarrior, etc., etc. Paper games have been a part of my life for 30 years now.

DM: What video game are you currently playing?

Ed: Almost everything I’m playing now is either PC or mobile. On the PC Side, I’m playing League of Legends, D&D: Heroes of Neverwinter, Warstorm (until the end of September when they closed it down), and I’ve dabbled with a large variety of Facebook’s games but none have stuck. It’s hard for me to go back to those other games once I started playing Heroes. I just found it so much more interesting and engaging.

DM: How did Heroes of Neverwinter come to life?

Ed: Wizards of the Coast really wanted to take the next step in the D&D franschise. They figured that at its core, D&D is a deeply social experience so it made sense to them to bring this kind of game to the social networks. We and Atari agreed and off we went. For us, the sky is the limit with regards to what’s possible. We have plans to continue and extend the game until it’s a great replication of the D&D paper experience.

DM: Is there a plan to expand this type of D&D game to other platforms?

Ed: Absolutely! We can’t really talk about it right now, but we want you to be able to play D&D everywhere. For now, Facebook is a pretty ubiquitous but, we also want to move the whole shebang to iOS and android.

DM: What inspired the game design?

Ed: D&D 4th Edition. We wanted to create a game that players of D&D could enjoy in a faster timeframe with fewer people, and a game that could interest gamers who were getting tired of the more casual fare and wanted something deeper to play. So far the response has been great so I think we’re on the right path.

DM: How much input did the folks at Wizards of the Coast have about the storyline of some of the quests?

Ed: All of it. Everything that’s in the game is completely WotC approved and supported. They are very happy with the results and are hoping for a great success with this one. All the quests, the storyline, and the characters all come from the most recent narrative of Neverwinter and the northern regions of Faerûn. We wanted this experience to be as authentic as possible so the narrative runs straight through the stories of what WotC is doing in that area.

DM: Currently when you hit level 10 there isn’t much to do once you finish the level 10 dungeons. Is there any plan to expand the content up to level 20?

Ed: Absolutely. This is only the beginning for us. So far all signs point to a having a great fan base and building on our content. Of course, this is all in the hands of Atari, but we’re ready to grow the content for as long as the players will allow. Also, at 10th level we allow players to create their own dungeons so that’s a great way to contribute to the game and extend the fun.

DM: Will more dungeons be released, maybe filling up the rest of the map?

Ed: Once again, absolutely. Hopefully you’re seeing the pattern. With the permission of Atari, Hasbro, and WotC, we would go to town with this and add content to it from now until the day no one was interested any more. That’s what’s so great about a Facebook game. As long as it has enough supporters, there a great reason to continue to support it and build new stuff for it, just like the paper game world. So really, it’ll be up to the players.

DM: What incentive, other than achievements, is there to create a user dungeon now that they don’t grant experience?

Ed: For now, that’s the main tangible reward, but we should never undersell the intangible reward of building something cool for others to play. We have some pretty amazing plans for this and getting in early will have its advantages.

DM: Is there a plan to expand the amount or type of magic weapons? What about user created items?

Ed: Magic Items – yes. User generated Items – maybe. Magic Items will continue to emerge as time goes on. User generated items are definitely in the plan but coming up with an entire, balanced, crafting system would be a dream come true but will only materialize if there are enough players to support that kind of system. I hope they come, because I would love to do it.

DM: Some of our readers have commented on the lack of friendly fire from area of effect spells? Is there a plan to introduce a harder game mode where considering friendly fire would have to be a tactical decision?

Ed: Yep. The issue of friendly fire is really a matter of room size. With room sizes about where we have them now it’s very hard to get an AOE off without hitting a party member. As a result, AOE spells were becoming too occasional to be useful. It was a tough choice but this way the AOEs are the shotgun blasts we love them to be. As the game grows, room size will grow which will create more interesting tactical situations and more space to spread out the party and effectively use AOE under our friendly fire rules.

DM: Any plans to introduce a hardcore mode?

Ed: Man, would I love that! I think we’ll work on having dialable difficulty so that players of various proficiencies will feel challenged and properly rewarded. Beyond that, I’m thinking that the more hardcore game – at some point – would have to split from this game and become its own entity. The main barrier being the time investment. We want to keep the smallest time chunk for this game at less than 30 minutes but a hardcore mode would want something in the area of an hour or two. We would have to think about that and figure out if it would be ok just to be a switch in the game or if a different presence and message are warranted.

DM: Anything else you would like to add in closing?

Ed: It’s a game for folks that want something a little deeper than the casual fare which currently fills Facebook. As the fans come and play we’ll continue to grow the world, its content, its features, and its story. Isn’t that what you always wanted from an online D&D game? It is for me. 😉

My thanks to Ed for taking the time to answer our questions about the game and providing some insight into where the game may be heading. What are your thoughts and experiences on the game?

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1 skallawag October 7, 2011 at 11:49 am

I love this game. Very fun to play and very in-tune with the RPG. Great interview!

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