Obsidian Entertainment began planning Mask of the Betrayer, codenamed "NX1" by its developers, before the release of Neverwinter Nights 2. The game was announced in April 2007. Obsidian Entertainment's CEO, Feargus Urquhart, said that Mask of the Betrayer would continue the story of Neverwinter Nights 2, and improvements would be made in character development and the companion system along the lines of a previous Obsidian game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. Lead designer Kevin Saunders described the game as "high-level", and characters would need to be at least level 18 before starting. A character could be imported from the first game, or players could make one from scratch and take advantage of Mask of the Betrayer's new races, classes, and other features. The races consisted of two new types of elf as well as all four basic types of elemental genasi; all of which had been commonly requested by the fan community. New base classes include the favored soul and the spirit shaman, both divine in nature. Prestige classes include the Red Wizard of Thay, the first time the class has appeared in a video game, and the Arcane Scholar of Candlekeep, a new class created by the game's developers. Obsidian stated that the game would also include over 100 new feats and spells, including many epic feats.
A priority for developers was the improvement of the original game's performance. Saunders said "Throughout the course of the project, we fixed many bugs, optimized performance, made better use of the graphics technology, and in general, tied up loose ends. For example, we revamped the camera and party controls, adding an RTS-like strategy mode that makes combat much more enjoyable." Neverwinter Nights 2 programmers made improvements to the engine,. such as the addition of a color desaturation filter that turns almost all colors into shades of black and white. The art team developed new environments for the regions of Rashemen and Thay that they felt would be appealing to the game's modding community, such as snow-covered forests and a magical academy. Mask of the Betrayer is the first time either region has been featured in a Dungeons & Dragons video game; Obsidian stated that one design goal was "to immerse the player in the land of Rashemen. The art, music and characters were chosen and crafted to convey this very intriguing area of the Forgotten Realms."
Modifications were also made to the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset with the intention of giving more options to module creators in the fan community and making it easier for players taking the role of the Dungeon Master. Urquhart said that the additions include "an Appearance editor for humanoids and monsters to make it easier to cloth and color them, the saving and loading of lighting sets, undo functionality for terrain drawing, creating blueprints more easily, adding in more trees to use, refining the texture sculpting tools." Over two dozen monsters were created for Mask of the Betrayer, such as new types of golem, dragons, and hagspawn. New spell effects, character models, and environmental effects were also added; Saunders stated that the genasi models in particular had been a challenge for artists and he had originally opposed the inclusion of the new races because of this.
We want to reach a higher degree of companion reactivity in Mask of the Betrayer.Lead designer Kevin Saunders, Obsidian Entertainment
The design team was focused on making the companion system deeper and contain a sense of accountability with players. Companions who are treated well and who agree with the protagonist's actions bestow certain benefits, such as bonuses in combat. Companions who are treated poorly will not cooperate with the hero and may even abandon the hero. The story, revolving around the hole in the player character's chest and his need to feed on the spirits of others to survive, was described by Obsidian as less all-encompassing than the first game and more personal in nature. Saunders commented "It's an epic story, but it's a very personal one. You awaken in a pool of your own blood. Your immediate goal is survival. The shard of the Sword of Gith has been ripped from your chest and in its place is a dark hunger, a craving that threatens to consume you. The early part of the game involves determining the source and implications of this craving." Saunders also stated that the story, written by creative lead George Ziets, was "very dark" and that the ending would bring some closure to the story of the Shard-Bearer.
Read more about this topic: Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask Of The Betrayer
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