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

Neverwinter Nights Interview Part Deux

Filed under the:  department.
Posted by:Ryan on Saturday, 06 Jan, 2001 @ 2:02 PM

When we ran the first part of our Neverwinter Nights interview, we promised a follow up. Well, Scar picked some of the best questions from the comments and sent em over, and they have been answered. Enjoy. :)

Interview by Scar

1: Firstly, thanks to yourself and Don for the first interview. The BeOS community values the time people like yourselves spend to keep us informed of what’s going on immensely.

Thanks for the kind words. It takes a lot of energy to work on a project and promote it at the same time. I love to talk about NWN whenever possible and welcome any opportunity to inform people about the game we are creating.

2: You spoke of Don’s and your own interest in BeOS. Do any Bioware staff use BeOS outside of the Neverwinter nights arena?

Previous to the development of NWN Don had been using BeOS as more of a hobby than anything. With the decision to port NWN it has of course become even more than a hobby.

3: One thing many small developers have experienced recently is a lack of communication from Be Inc when it comes to developer support. Have you needed to communicate with Be Inc on the Neverwinter Nights project? If so, how have you found them communications wise?

We communicated with the fine folks at Be when we began NWN development and they were very enthusiastic and helpful.

4: Neverwinter Nights is not a multithreaded game. With Linux, Windows 2000/NT and BeOS all supporting SMP to one degree or another, what was the reason for this choice?

We decided to keep NWN a single threaded app due to the complexity of SMP memory management. With Baldur’s Gate we created the game based around multiple threads and this became a source of many issues and performance problems. We decided early on to keep NWN as simple and clean as possible so SMP support seemed a logical exclusion.


Another reason is that we didn’t want to exclude ourselves from doing potential ports to platforms that did not have multithreading.

5: Rob Bartel stated “We’re aiming for a simultaneous, single-box release”. If this is still the case, what methods will you use to track the success of the BeOS version?

We will be paying attention to the electronic registration results and keeping an eye on the matching service to try and get a feel for how many alternative OS games are running.

6: The BeOS has a very strong and loyal community. Will the Neverwinter Nights server be able to distinguish between Client OSs? (To give BeOS players a bonus to hit vs. other OS users, or to have BeOS only servers, for example) ;)

The experience should be the same on most OS versions. The BeOS version will just be a little more stable. ; )


Uh oh, the pressure is on.

7: You stated that the reason Neverwinter Nights was so easy to port to other platforms was the use of industry standard APIs. This is a change from games such as Baldurs Gate and BG II which were primarily aimed at the Windows market. What prompted this change, and what challenges has it presented?

The change from a windows specific focus to a more platform generic stance came from two fronts. With the development of MDK2 for both the PC and the Dreamcast we were able to find bugs faster and create cleaner code. The second front was more of a company focus. We wanted to support as many people playing our games as we possibly could. With Baldur’s Gate we had to rely on a talented 3rd party developer to port the game so Macintosh enthusiasts could enjoy the game. We thought that with an intelligent multi-platform approach from day one we could make the game much easier to port and even do concurrent development.

8: What hardware are the BeOS test and coding machines at Bioware running? (Processor(s), RAM, Video and Sound)

We typically run the following specs:

Asus Dual Pentium III Motherboard (older BX chipset, but a solid workhorse)

2 Pentium III Processors from 450 mhz up to 700 mhz

NVidia Geforce II 32 mb video card
1 - 256 mb Dimm PC133 SDRAM

Creative Sound Blaster Live Sound card

Editors Note: We asked if the use of GeForce II’s meant that BeOS OpenGL would support Nvidia cards. They stated that they were under NDA’s and could not really say anything. This probably means that they can’t tell us anything about Be’s OpenGL, but it sure is great fodder for discussion.

9: With the intense 3d and networking required, we can only assume that you have your hands on the BONE and OpenGL betas. If so, how have you found them both from a performance and coding perspective?


I still haven’t done any benchmarking of the OpenGL performance, but it looks very good. Be is working hard to make sure it is as fast or faster then the Windows version. Since OpenGL is a standard API, the only differences have to do with initial setup and the few platform dependent things you need to do between frames. I would say the BeOS implementation in these respects is cleaner but that is directly related to the BeOS user interface API.
I have not done any benchmarking of the networking performance either. I haven’t ported to the BONE API so I can’t comment on it from a development standpoint. At this stage of development I want to stay with the standard sockets API to make porting more maintainable.

10: What are the chances of us seeing some screenshots of Neverwinter Nights on BeOS? Please?

Right now the game is running in full screen mode and the BeOS version looks identical to the Windows version. I’ll see if we can get a windowed screenshot in the future.

11: Other companies (None as cool as Bioware, obviously!) have shied away from developing for BeOS and other OSs, citing the old “Not enough users to justify the cost of development” argument. This chicken and egg argument is one of the main reasons new OSs never achieve mainstream acceptance, and we thank Bioware for including BeOS in the Neverwinter Nights project.

Why did Bioware decide to step up to the plate and cater for such a wide platform base, when simply aiming at the mainstream would have still made Bioware a killing?

We felt NWN was such a solid game concept that we would be porting the game over to other platforms after completion. We decided to do the game portable from day one and make it work across the various platforms. Our thought was any costs incurred while under development would be easily made up for with the ease of porting.


Many companies have people in them that are interested in doing such things as ports to other platforms. So there is a lot of interest, but typically various reasons like the ones you mention get in the way. Since we intended from the start to make NWN portable the effort required to port to BeOS is very small. For instance I am spending my full time working on the Windows versions and I work on the BeOS port in my spare time or when I am blocked. If we decided to port the game after we shipped the Windows version, the BeOS port wouldn’t be feasible.

12: What features would you like to see in the Development Tools in BeOS to make your job easier?


Better project management. Integrated debugger/editor/compiler. Improved visual debugger.

13: Which an initial partition of 500MB, can we assume you are targeting Neverwinter Nights at BeOS 5 Pro? Or will Neverwinter Nights ship with a modified BeOS 5 Personal installer?


BeOS personal users will have to create another larger partition. I would suspect this will be left up to the user to accomplish, but nothing has been decided yet.

Once again, I’d like to thank all the staff at Bioware for taking the time to answer these questions, and I look forward to playing Neverwinter Nights on BeOS.

32 Responses to “Neverwinter Nights Interview Part Deux”

  1. mAmACK Says:

    NWN kick ass : )

    I just wanted to say than i buy only BeOS applications, not Windows(tm) programs/games anymore..
    We will show than they’re an alternative market ; )

  2. Technix : Chris Simmons Says:

    [No Subject]

    Nice… very nice.

    I’m looking forward to comparison tests of this game running on BeOS and Windoze side-by-side.

    Did they mention anywhere a release date? I think I recall the standard, “When it’s done.” statement… my memory is hazy.

  3. Zaranthos Says:

    Suuuuweeet :)

    How sweet it is. Oh, how sweet it is. :^)

    “the BeOS version will be more stable” I like that. :^) :^)

  4. georges Says:

    [No Subject]

    Here’s what I like THE MOST: NVidia OpenGL.
    It doesn’t make any sense for them to be using a GeForce in the testbed if it isn’t supported!! YESS!

    Also, they seem very enthusiastic about the BeOS. Excellent. More games will come from BioWare I believe.


  5. Nutcase Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/06/2001 6:34:26 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    I admit to adding the editors note, cause i thought the same thing, but note they say “typically” - they may change the system for the Be version……

  6. mario Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/06/2001 6:34:26 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    I wouldn’t read too much into that, Georges. In fact, I really doubt NVIDIA would make BeOS drivers just because of NWN.

  7. georges Says:

    In Response To mario @ 01/06/2001 8:06:09 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    I didn’t say they made it just for NWN. I said they made them, but we don’t know about it yet.


  8. georges Says:

    In Response To Nutcase @ 01/06/2001 7:06:41 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    True, but the question specifically states “BeOS” machines… not Windows or Linux… and he answered GeForce.

  9. Funk Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/06/2001 6:34:26 PM

    Don’t do this

    Pleas, please don’t do this. I want to stop this conversation before it gets out of hand. Until there is new news from either nVidia or Be the officail word stands - nVidia has not released the specs and has not written drivers for the BeOS. Evry time something like this is brought up it becomes a serious sore spot in the community when the next version of the BeOS is released and the “promised” (assumed from constant discussion in forum posts) feature is not present. Let this one alone until we see an actual peice of real information - I beg of you.

  10. georges Says:

    In Response To Funk @ 01/07/2001 01:12:00 AM

    Re: Don’t do this


    I’m just having fun with rumors….

    That’s all they are… rumors.


  11. euan Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/07/2001 01:18:29 AM

    Re: Don’t do this

    heart rate 150
    blood pressure: way to high


  12. h_ank Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/06/2001 6:34:26 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    The system specs that they quoted also mention dual PIIIs in addition to stating that the game itself will not support SMP.
    I don’t think the article gives enough information to start generating rumours…

  13. MToth Says:

    What about others..

    other OSes, I mean. are the any QNX/Linux/CE-devices announced by now?!

  14. MToth Says:

    In Response To MToth @ 01/07/2001 03:40:14 AM

    Ops.. wrong subject..

    This wasn’t meant to end up here…

  15. Wade Majors Says:

    In Response To h_ank @ 01/07/2001 02:23:42 AM

    Re: [No Subject]

    Just because the core game engine isn’t multithreaded, doesnt mean the developers don’t want to take advantage of faster compile times and a generally faster development system.

  16. mario Says:

    In Response To MToth @ 01/07/2001 03:40:14 AM

    Re: What about others..

    I know where you wanted to put this.. so, I wonder .. did they actually mention other OSes for the evilla??? I thoughtit’s BeIA only.

  17. georges Says:

    In Response To h_ank @ 01/07/2001 02:23:42 AM

    Re: [No Subject]

    Doesn’t every BeOS app automatically get 2 threads anyways?

    But yeah, they probably want it for faster compiles and a generally sweet box. :)


  18. Feylen Says:

    In Response To euan @ 01/07/2001 02:09:38 AM

    Re: Don’t do this

    How’s your cholesterol?

  19. Feylen Says:

    In Response To Funk @ 01/07/2001 01:12:00 AM

    Re: Don’t do this

    On the other hand, Be employees monitor these forums and that is a perfect opportunity for the Be community to voice what THEY WANT in the operating system. Not to say that Be doesn’t know already, but there is nothing wrong with these discussions. Who knows, it may light a spark under their ass and make them rearrange certain priorities with a little community input :) After all, why else have a community forum?
    I hope that OpenGL comes out soon however, I’m jonesin hardcore!!

  20. Feylen Says:

    Look at more than just hardware support…

    One of the most interesting points about this game to me is the fact that a heavy-weight game developer has chosen to develop a major game on a multi platform model. In the comments I noticed alot of speculation about OpenGL for this and that, as well as BONE. These things are coming no matter what (we just don’t know exactly when). However, these additions won’t be meaningful without the software to run on it. Who cares if BeOS has OpenGL if it has no games to run on it? The shear fact that a major development company has chosen the multi-platform model to develop on suggests more excitment to me than anything else. If BioWare does it - maybe Id will be next - Sierra - Lionhead - on and on. This is the beginning of a change at the industry level that will bring viability and power to all alternative OS’s. In my opinion, Be will benefit more from this alone than any other single event.
    Thank you BioWare for your Prometheus thinking.

  21. Scar Says:

    In Response To Feylen @ 01/07/2001 5:49:34 PM

    good point…

    but notice how Don stated that if the BeoS version was not being developed in conjunction with all the other versions, it would not be viable. This is a very interesting point. BeOS is at this stage still a small market, and the expense of porting a game post-release is not really recoverable, as we have seen in the past. However Bioware, a leader in the entertainment software sector has shown that it is viable to *Co-Develop* for BeOS. perhaps this is an area we should be exploring woth other software companies.

  22. georges Says:

    In Response To Scar @ 01/07/2001 6:38:30 PM

    Re: good point…

    They aren’t really *co-developing* though.
    He said he is doing it in his spare time and when is stuck or bored with the windows version.

    I understood his answers as saying that he is developing it in his spare time. That the company hasn’t “officially” put money or resources into it, but they are letting them do it anyways.

    I could be wrong though… it has happened before :)

  23. Scar Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/07/2001 7:30:34 PM

    Re: good point…

    No, you are right georges. He is doing it in his “spare” time. How much spare time the Bioware team has can probably be viewed under an electron microscope on a good day. They are *very* busy.
    So the amount of time spent on it can’t be that much. NWN is being designed with cross platform portability in mind, and tracking changes as they happen is far less time consuming than porting the app from scratch.

  24. Feylen Says:

    In Response To Scar @ 01/07/2001 6:38:30 PM

    Re: good point…

    To expound on that point…
    It is true that BeOS is still a small market, but BeOS QNX AtheOS(someday) IRIX Linux(all dist.) Amiga represent a significantly bigger market. Unto itself this market is STILL small in comparision to the Windows or MAC platforms. However, Linux (in particular) has caught the eye of public perception. This is a very powerful tool - hell the Presidency is bent on polls, which is nothing more than a measure of public perception. With that weapon in the arsenal of “alternative operating systems”, I think we will see more companies develop their products with NO platform in mind - only a route sketched out for porting a core program. The biggest problem with that is brought out in the interview - NO MULTITHREADING or further catering to the strengths of BeOS. Well, give a little, get a little. I’ll take the programs for now. We as a community need the cumulative power and voice of ALL alternative OS’s to set the stage for an industry wide change in thinking. When that happens, THEN BeOS/BeIA will be in a better position to break out of that pack and rely on it’s own uniqueness and versatilty to become a main stream operating system and attract developers to make major BeOS specific applications. I think the next two years we will see a major shift in the operating system market. I only hope Be can guide that shift into it’s (and our) benefit.

    And so ends the pontification. Shit - I sound like my Father.

  25. Nutcase Says:

    In Response To Scar @ 01/07/2001 7:49:28 PM

    Re: good point…

    True, but the company IS supporting the port officially, with interviews, etc., so thats a good sign.

  26. Nutcase Says:

    In Response To Feylen @ 01/07/2001 9:35:45 PM

    Re: good point…

    No multithreading in THEIR code… BeOS iteself is multithreaded, so the low level stuff will be faster… thus it will still gain from the advanced OpenGL, etc… just the game stuff is single threaded. I think we will see a huge difference.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    In Response To Feylen @ 01/07/2001 5:33:01 PM

    Re: Don’t do this

    be employees do read this, but be knows very well from other resources exactly what the users want. however, there are some things they can’t do anything about. Nvidia being a shitty ass company is one of them. Be can appear just as shitty-ass in some respects (like any company) but if you really want something to happen, stop commenting on rumors and start emailing Nvidia. they are the ONLY ones who can do anything about this. i seriously doubt that Be has the specs on the cards for Opengl and until enough users complain i doubt there ever will be.

  28. mlk Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/06/2001 6:34:26 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    Nope, they have 5fps….

    nV cards will never be supported !


  29. bememe Says:

    Best way to buy this game?

    I’m wondering if there’s a “best” way to buy this game in terms of supporting Bioware? I suppose “early and register it as a BeOS user” is it, but it would be cool if I could ensure that as many of my dollars as possible went to Bioware, just to show my appreciation. Do they sell direct?

  30. Brent P. Newhall Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/07/2001 2:25:28 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    BeOS apps don’t automatically get two threads, necessarily. However, each application has a BApplication which runs in its own thread, then within that, there is usually at least one BWindow, and each BWindow runs in its own thread. As a result, it’s rather difficult to write a BeOS app that is single-threaded. Bioware might have found a way, though, to keep the game portable. Dunno

    (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong on the above; I’m not absolutely sure that the BApplication gets a separate thread.)

  31. David Aquilina Says:

    In Response To georges @ 01/06/2001 6:34:26 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    They very well could have both a software mode for NWN that they’re using on the nVidia card. That machine appears beefy enough, especially with the dual processors, to be able to handle it decently.

    And more games will only come from Bioware IF we all buy NWN.

  32. bequick Says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 01/08/2001 04:13:46 AM

    Re: Don’t do this

    how about using the linux nvidia binaries (as far as i remember they do exist) and wrap them for beos,if thats possible…
    who knows


[powered by WordPress.]

Random Haiku:

Bless the Cotton Squares
Sweet melody to my ears
How my BeBox sings!

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

search BeGroovy:

BeGroovy Archives:


42 queries. 0.060 seconds

[powered by WordPress.]