Home | Forums | Submit   Haiku Generator | Quotable JLG | The Icon Tarot 


Neverwinter Nights interview with producer Trent Oster

Filed under the:  department.
Posted by:Ryan on Tuesday, 21 Nov, 2000 @ 1:04 AM
 
Playin

When we originally ran our story on Neverwinter Nights continued development on BeOS, we promised more details as soon as we had them. Well, thanks to new BeGroovy reporter Scar, we have them in spades… Read on.

Neverwinter Nights producer Trent Oster gave us a detailed interview about the game, and it’s BeOS version. He has agreed to a follow up interview based on questions in the comments from this one, so post your questions in the comment area, and we will forward the best ones on to Trent for answers soon.

Thanks to Trent and Don from Bioware for taking the time to answer our questions. Now on to the interview!

1. First off, may I congratulate Bioware on Baldur’s Gate 2, it is an excellent game, and the only reason I boot in to Windows these days.

Thanks, we really enjoy hearing about people enjoying the games we make. We are looking forward to delivering more high quality titles in the future for your enjoyment and you won’t even have to boot windows.

2. Neverwinter Nights has to be one of the most highly anticipated RPGs ever. What challenges has the expectations of the masses presented you?

With Baldur’s Gate we had a massive level of fan expectations for the title. Baldur’s Gate II also had a huge level of fan expectation before we finished the game. With Neverwinter Nights again we have fans with high expectations for the game and we look forward to meeting and exceed expectations. At Bioware we expect more from ourselves than anyone else ever could. We are the most critical of our own work and that helps us meet the desires of the gamers who play our titles.

3. When was it decided to do a BeOS version of Neverwinter Nights and what prompted you to take on the task?

I personally have always shared an interest in BeOS as an operating system with the assistant lead programmer on NWN, Don Yakielashek. I was intrigued by the ‘from scratch’ OS design which I felt was long overdue in PC OS arena. When we began developing NWN we focused on developing it mulitplatform from the start, with plans for a Windows, Macintosh and Linux version. After some discussion, Don decided to undertake the BeOS personally as a target platform and within weeks we had the code functional on BeOS.

4. What challenges has BeOS provided you in terms of development issues, and how have you resolved them?

Don:

Luckily there have not been many technical issues to resolve. We designed
NWN to be easily ported by trying to use industry standard API’s as much as
possible. Furthermore, the port was based on the Linux port making the
process even easier since most porting issues were already resolved.

5. How does BeOS compare to other OSs as a development platform?

Don:

The programming API being C++ and object oriented from the start is very
nice to work with. Unfortunately with game development you see a very
small portion of it. I would like to see higher quality development
tools. I miss not having available a development environment on par with
Visual Studio. On the other hand the current development tools are free,
and it would take a commercial involvement of a third party developer to
develop much better tools.

6. From what I’ve seen, NWN seems to be based on some pretty intense 3D and network performance. Have you found BeOS measures up to other OSs? How has it been better/worse?

Don:

I haven’t yet done any specific benchmarking for 3D or network performance.
OpenGL with hardware support is currently under development and is coming
along nicely. Because of the efficiency built into BeOS it has the
potential to be faster than the Windows implementation if the driver support is there.

7. What BeOS user base would there need to be for Bioware to consider
BeOS as a regular alternate OS for future titles?

Unfortunately I can’t really say what the target user base would have to be for us to target our future development for BeOS. Think of NWN as almost a test of the alternative OS marketplace. If we do well on other platforms it would be a mistake for us to not direct future development to all platforms.

8. Does NWN make use of any of the BeOS advanced features? (OpenGL, BONE, SMP, file attributes etc.)

Don:

For portability I am using the standard BSD socket API which is supported
by the new BONE networking environment. I may consider at a later point
using the new networking API introduced by BONE. None of the game
implementation is multi-threaded. On the BeOS port I am using threads to
handle control input and low level networking. This ends up only mimicking
what Windows would be doing anyway at a low level using Direct Input or the
socket library.

As far as BeOS specific features, at this point I am trying to keep the
code as generic as possible between the BeOS and Windows version.

Trent:

We are using Open GL as our standard graphics API across all platforms so, yes we are using Open GL on BeOS.

9. Can the BeOS community look foward to more BeOS titles coming from
Bioware?

I’d have to refer you to the answer for #7 here. We are very interested in supporting different platforms and we will continue to examine every title we work on for viability on alternative OS’s.

10. Thanks very much for your time Trent, I look foward to playing NWN
on BeOS.

So do I. I’d love to play with as many BeOS users out there as possible.


Somehow I don’t think that will be a problem. :)



39 Responses to “Neverwinter Nights interview with producer Trent Oster”

  1. Nate Says:

    In Response To David Bruce @ 11/21/2000 09:33:32 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    One thing to keep in mind…

    The 500 MB size of the BeOS PE “partition” is not even big enough to run Civ:CTP (I know there are ways around this, but new users won’t). Since Bioware’s games run over a gig fully installed, a copy of the Personal edition included for use with the game might not be the best idea.

    With any luck, the release of this game will give everyone reason enough to buy the full version. Hell, we might even see OpenGL’s release by then!

    ;b

  2. ThePunisher Says:

    In Response To Zaranthos @ 11/21/2000 11:26:46 AM

    Re: Development hurdles

    To write (or should I say: port) an opengl game does not require any specific/extensive BeOS API knowledge/docs and most certainly the game won’t use any of the Media Kit at all. OpenGL is OpenGL, no matter if it is for BeOS or for Lunix or for Windows. It is just the setting up of the window that is different for each OS. Most of the rest of the stuff, is pretty much the same.
    And as for support, Bioware guys *should* be on the OpenGL beta test team, so I would assume that they got chick-chats with Jason Sams about things.

  3. Zaranthos Says:

    In Response To Nate @ 11/21/2000 12:02:59 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    Well that is simple. A modified PE that installs a 2.5GB BFS image…. :P Sucking up all the space on a Windows partition is good anyhow right? hehe.

  4. Nutcase Says:

    In Response To Nate @ 11/21/2000 12:02:59 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    I would bet on OpenGL by then, seeing as it’s completely needed to run the game. :P

  5. madshi Says:

    In Response To Nutcase @ 11/21/2000 10:05:11 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    If there is only one box for all OSs (did I understand that right?), how can they judge whether it sells well on the non-windows platforms??

  6. Beryllium Says:

    Great Interview, just one question

    Will the game be shipped with support for all platforms in the same package, or will support for each platform come in a separate package (for instance, if I buy the BeOS version, do I get the Linux version free?)

  7. mlk Says:

    [No Subject]

    Hi,
    First, thanks to BeGroovy, Scar & you two for the
    interview.
    You say you have problems with the dev tools on
    BeOS, which feaures would you like too see?
    Also you say you have an intreast in BeOS, do you
    USE it (out side coding NWN)?

    Thanks again

    Mike

  8. DaaT Says:

    In Response To Beryllium @ 11/21/2000 04:08:57 AM

    Re: Great Interview, just one question

    Hi Ber (this is Portu from Undernet’s #BeOS). I think i can answer that one for you. If i remember correctly from an online chat, of which i read the log, someone from Bioware said that the game would ship with all the versions included. I could be wrong, or they could change their minds, but i think that’s what it was said.

    Take care,
    DaaT

  9. Brian Matzon Says:

    Fingers crossed

    This is really going to be an important relase (BeOS wise). If NWN fails on Alt. platforms producers will be “scared” to continue to support these.

    One of the problems with the BeOS version will be if the OpenGL, BONE and drivers are sub windows performance - So let’s hope they’re not!!

  10. David Bruce Says:

    In Response To Brian Matzon @ 11/21/2000 07:18:19 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    Not to sound depressing, but look what happened to Civilization: Call To Power. John Fehr bet his company’s (WildCard Design) future on making the first high-quality commercial BeOS game, and it only sold 500 copies. Now WildCard Design is history (in part because of some unrelated legal issues). I know, I should probably just head over to BeNews if I want to post opinions like this.

    Maybe it will be different if the game is released simultaneously on BeOS and Windows - God, I hope so! OTOH, if I understand correctly, all versions will be included in the same package, so the publisher won’t get any indication of how many people are buying it to run on BeOS.

    What will be really cool is if the BeOS version significantly outperforms the Windows version, which might be the case once BONE and the new OpenGL are available. If so, the company should consider including BeOS PE on the disk or at least including a link to free.be.com in the installation process.

    I guess I’m saying that I agree with you - it IS critical for BeOS users to buy the BeOS products that come out if they want companies to be interested in BeOS development.

  11. Scar Says:

    In Response To Beryllium @ 11/21/2000 04:08:57 AM

    Re: Great Interview, just one question

    Rob Bartel (Lead writer and Designer of NWN) stated:
    ” We’re aiming for a simultaneous, single-box release,”

    Plans may change, however, as we are still some time away from release. (Best guesses place it around late Q2 2001, with Bioware stating it will be released “When it’s done.”)

    Cheers,

    Scar

  12. Big Al Says:

    In Response To David Bruce @ 11/21/2000 09:33:32 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    What we need to push for (but I don’t know if this would be viable) is to have BeOS PE on the CD with the BeOS version of NWN. *If* the BeOS version has a higher framerate, and we (as BeOS users) make sure everyone knows this (via postings in forums and news groups) I can guarantee many users will load BeOS PE just to eek out the better framerates. Once we have them using Be, we’ll hopefully pick up a few more users.

    And if anyone doesn’t think a user will load another operating system just to get better frame rates then they don’t understand the video card market. Gamers will do whatever it takes to get the best performance out of their games…

  13. Nutcase Says:

    In Response To David Bruce @ 11/21/2000 09:33:32 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    They said in the interview that it will be a single box release for all platforms, and that if it sells well on the non-windows platforms (all of them combined that is), then it wouldn’t make sense to stop supporting ANY of those platforms.

    In other words, if Linux and MacOS sell well, they will probably continue to develop the BeOS versions of games too. If it only took a week or two, they may as well get the extra sales.

    This is really a great stance they are taking on the alternative OS market, and I think we should all support them as much as we possibly can. They may prove to be a GREAT ally to the community. :)

  14. Zaranthos Says:

    Development hurdles

    I have heard some people complain that the BeOS API and the media kit in general lack good documentation. Has Bioware encountered any problems like this or do they have direct support from Be, Inc.?

  15. Zaranthos Says:

    OpenGL and BONE

    I don’t know about the rest of you but it was not hard to read “OpenGL/BONE are very good” from the comments from Bioware.

  16. David Bruce Says:

    In Response To Brian Matzon @ 11/21/2000 07:18:19 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    Not to sound depressing, but look what happened to Civilization: Call To Power. John Fehr bet his company’s (WildCard Design) future on making the first high-quality commercial BeOS game, and it only sold 500 copies. Now WildCard Design is history (in part because of some unrelated legal issues). I know, I should probably just head over to BeNews if I want to post opinions like this.

    Maybe it will be different if the game is released simultaneously on BeOS and Windows - God, I hope so! OTOH, if I understand correctly, all versions will be included in the same package, so the publisher won’t get any indication of how many people are buying it to run on BeOS.

    What will be really cool is if the BeOS version significantly outperforms the Windows version, which might be the case once BONE and the new OpenGL are available. If so, the company should consider including BeOS PE on the disk or at least including a link to free.be.com in the installation process.

    I guess I’m saying that I agree with you - it IS critical for BeOS users to buy the BeOS products that come out if they want companies to be interested in BeOS development.

  17. Peter Schultz Says:

    In Response To Zaranthos @ 11/21/2000 11:26:46 AM

    Re: Development hurdles

    I don’t understand why someone who is not a developer would be asking such a question. :-) Zaranthos, you are a discussion list junkie!

    The Media Kit API was not finalized at the time of release, so there is no documentation for certain elements. However, anyone who talks about a “general lack
    good documentation” is just not a good programmer, or they’re extremely lazy.

  18. rgering Says:

    In Response To David Bruce @ 11/21/2000 1:05:03 PM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    Oh…I agree, but by the time that Civ call to power came out it was already “old” game by game standards.
    I think John said somthing about this too. This game will be (hopefully) released at the same time, side by side
    compaisons…the whole ball of wax. People will buy it for the system that they use or like. I have windows
    but you can bet I will be buying it to use on BeOS.

  19. James Says:

    In Response To Zaranthos @ 11/21/2000 12:45:45 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    Amen Bro
    that would be ideal
    but I have a quick lamer question
    if PE is used as a virtual partition under NTFS (or does it have to be FAT32?), would the performance really gain much compared to the Windows version?

  20. Big Al Says:

    In Response To James @ 11/21/2000 1:52:07 PM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    The gain wouldn’t be from reading/writing data to a filesystem - the gains would be from BeOS’s optimal OpenGL implementation.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    In Response To madshi @ 11/21/2000 12:56:05 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    Exactly what I thought!

  22. MrEntropy Says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 11/21/2000 3:00:13 PM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    On the other hand, how can you say that it didn’t do well? This would be good for a company (or portion of a company) that wanted to continue working on non-MS OS’, even if the first couple of projects aren’t stellar sellers.

    If they were all sold in different boxes, it would be much easier to point out low sales.

    Also, there’s a lot of money being saved by not seperate packaging each version, so it’s a bit more money to spend on other OS’.

  23. georges Says:

    In Response To Zaranthos @ 11/21/2000 11:31:28 AM

    Re: OpenGL and BONE

    I noticed this too. They were hinting at the framerates being better in BeOS than Windows.

    It’s a shame they didn’t do any multi-threading though.

  24. deej Says:

    In Response To Peter Schultz @ 11/21/2000 1:11:08 PM

    Re: Development hurdles

    I agree, most any documentation I’ve needed to find has been there, sometimes I’ve had to dig a bit. Granted, I don’t code anything nearly as complicated, but documentation seems adequate if I, a very junior-level programmer can figure it out. :P

    BTW, posted from a webtablet. ;)

    Deej

  25. tom6789 Says:

    In Response To MrEntropy @ 11/21/2000 3:06:22 PM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    I *really* hope all versions are in the same box. That will put a serious message out to the users and industry:

    WE WANT AN OS THAT PERFORMS/BEHAVES BETTER THAN WINDOWS.

    There is not a huge financial incentive to publish on proper OS’s, but it is being done despite that.

    This will also be good advertisement two fold:

    1. All the game freaks will *have* to test drive every version to see wich is best. The “OS wars” could get even stickier. Not mention, a lot curious gamers may just see the “beos” folder on their new CD and explore.

    2. All the discussions this will create will = more advertising for the company and game than Bioware could afford (not that they don’t have $$, you just can’t buy hype - - you create it).

    If it’s all packaged seperate, no one talks about it but the bean counters . . .and thats just not very exciting.

  26. MrEntropy Says:

    In Response To rgering @ 11/21/2000 1:22:34 PM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    One of the reasons I didn’t get Civ:CTP for BeOS when it came out was because I had already had it for Windows. And had played it quite a bit until I got bored with it. And I didn’t really like it all that much anyway.

    On the other hand, I’ve been playing the damn thing nearly non-stop ever since I got it. There’s something to be said for being able to play a game on one workspace, and switching over to another one to read your email without having to worry about the system crashing.

  27. Ruthrauff Says:

    In Response To georges @ 11/21/2000 4:50:18 PM

    Re: OpenGL and BONE

    That my friend is where you are wrong. They did say the used muliti-threading…

    [i]”None of the game implementation is multi-threaded. On the BeOS port I am using threads to handle control input and low level networking.”[/i]

    The main game code isn’t mulit-threaded, however there will be other threads for handling input & some networking. This may not seem like a lot, but it will help people like me with two CPUs. It should move all the low level stuff onto the secondary CPU.

  28. Duffahtolla Says:

    In Response To madshi @ 11/21/2000 12:56:05 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    Maybe they’ll keep track of registrations..

    Online or on a card:

    Whats your CPU?
    How much Mem?
    Whats your OS?

    I’m sure they’ll have something like that.

  29. Scar Says:

    OK, the list of questions…

    OK folks, alot of you have emailed me questions directly, and the best of those will be included in the follow up interview.

    If you have any more, please post them under this message, or email them to me direct.

    Cheers,

    Scar.

  30. tpv Says:

    Ob nit-pick

    “and it’s BeOS version.”

    That should be “its” not “it’s” :P

    Anyone want to write a grammar checker for BeOS??

  31. georges Says:

    In Response To Ruthrauff @ 11/21/2000 6:46:24 PM

    Re: OpenGL and BONE

    Yeah, you left out some key parts of that quote though.

    [quote]
    This ends up only mimicking what Windows would be doing anyway at a low level using Direct Input or the socket library.[/quote]

    They did it that way to keep the code bases similar I’m guessing. I meant they didn’t do any special multithreading to take advantage of the BeOS.

    This is kind of a tangential quesion, but why didn’t they just multithread the Windows version from the beginning? Would it somehow slow the game down in a uniprocessor Windows(98 only sees one proc, but 2k can see two) box? I know the Linux kernel can be set to SMP so I know there is already support for multithreading there.

    I’m just wondering if one would get a gain in speed if he multithreaded an app where the OS and processor configuration don’t specifically take advantage of it?

    Georges

  32. georges Says:

    In Response To Scar @ 11/21/2000 8:37:37 PM

    Re: OK, the list of questions…

    Are they going to keep track of hoe much each OS version gets used, if so how?

    If they can track this will they use it to gauge whether they will continue making versions of their games for that OS or will they just use the revenue from the game (presumably mostly Windows sales) to fund the continued development for lesser known OS’es?
    I’m wondering about what kind of development funding model they have for lesser known OS’es.

    Also,

    The interviewees mentioned they were interested in the BeOS. Does this mean they USE it regularly?
    Just wondering.

    Oh, and thanks BioWare.

    Georges

  33. CJ Says:

    In Response To David Bruce @ 11/21/2000 09:33:32 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    It is possible that their timing of this game could not be any better. Open hardware platforms for consoles, ASP, Peer to Peer, increasing bandwidth, European one-rate billing, a maturing multi-player gaming market and countless other positives.

  34. CJ Says:

    HTML, JAVA, XML, MPEG, BioWare?

    Really great software concepts are what drives the market. When someone writes down a bit of text they really don’t care if it’s read from a book, recited from a tape recorder or seen on screen - it still gets the message across. Some lumberjack or resin salesman is always going to try to lock you into one medium or another. It doesn’t really matter - both plastic and paper sell like crazy. It seems obvious that there will always be room for a number of OS’s. Consider the potential resurgence of Amiga. BioWare may demonstrate that it’s not cost prohibitive to develop for multi-platforms - sort of like writing a book and making a movie. I trust BioWares’ ability to deliver and I think it’s really up to Be Inc to accommodate BioWare at this point.

  35. boo.. Says:

    In Response To Scar @ 11/21/2000 8:37:37 PM

    Re: OK, the list of questions…

    There are a lot of ‘BeOS is dead’ groups out there
    and resently some big names in BeOS have left, or
    gone multi-platform (null point I guess there :) ,
    but where do you (bioware) see BeOS in 1 or 2
    years, note the question here is Be_OS_ not Be Inc
    as I think we can all agree, Be Inc will do well with BeIA.

    Also, how well does BeOS cope with a moden 3D game, running under an AGP card, as i belive the only reason Q2 runs faster under BeOS than windows, is it does not use AGP (nor does BeOS).

  36. Brent P. Newhall Says:

    In Response To Zaranthos @ 11/21/2000 11:26:46 AM

    Re: Development hurdles

    I honestly don’t nkow why people have trouble with BeOS developer documentation. The entire API is documented, in some detail. No, not every little detail is selled out, but what OS maker does spell out every little detail?

    And if one wants a set of introductory programming tutorials, that’s really not Be’s job.

  37. LeftTurn Says:

    In Response To madshi @ 11/21/2000 12:56:05 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    I’m sure the registration process will help them figure out how many of each OS version is being used. The single box idea is actually quite good, because it saves a ton of money just in advertising and packaging alone. Also, if you were to change operating systems, such as going from Windows to BeOS :) , you wouldn’t have to buy the game again as you already have the other version.

    NWN doesn’t sound like a game I want to play, unfortunately, but I may buy it anyway just to register it under BeOS so they may have the incentive to make other BeOS games I may be interested in :)

  38. 0dB Says:

    In Response To Nutcase @ 11/21/2000 10:05:11 AM

    Re: Fingers crossed

    “In other words, if Linux and MacOS sell well, they will probably continue to develop the BeOS versions of games too. If it only took a week or two, they may as well get the extra sales.”

    Now that just don’t add up - if Linux and MacOS sell well, they will probably continue to develop the Linux and MacOS versions! What you say could still hold true, I guess - we’ll have to make a point of giving positive feedback.

    And if it performs better on a BeOS platform… Big Al’s right, getting PE onto the CD could be an excellent ad for Be, especially if they can combine the two installs into one.

  39. Zaranthos Says:

    In Response To Peter Schultz @ 11/21/2000 1:11:08 PM

    Re: Development hurdles

    I’m a wannabe developer, does that count? Hehe. Posting junkie? Nah, couldn’t be me, I can quit any time I want to. :^)

    Well my main reason for the question was a dissagreement I had with another BeOS user on another forum (names left out to protect the guilty). They claimed the BeOS Media Kit was so poorly documented it was very hard to get anything done. I never agreed with that so I figured I would ask some people here. I’m convinced by the answers that the level of intelligence on BeGroovy is much higher than the other forum (unamed to protect my own arse). ;^)

[powered by WordPress.]

Random Haiku:

As beauty sinks in
Be users slowly grok grace
With love, warts and all

Since 1998 - Until the Last User Leaves...
BeGroovy, established 1998

search BeGroovy:

BeGroovy Archives:

October 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jan    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

other:

23 queries. 0.074 seconds

[powered by WordPress.]