Ahead of season two of Neverwinter's Avernus module going live on the 15th, Game Rant was able to speak with Doug Miller, Senior Systems Designer for the game. Avernus is a major expansion to Neverwinter Astral Diamonds, introducing a wide array of new systems and mechanics that are keeping the game fresh and interesting for even the most long-term players. Along with new rooms of the Redeemed Citadel, powerful new artifacts, and more, season 2 will also expand on the episodic content and server-wide goals that are shaking up Neverwinter's gameplay loop.
Miller, also known as Asterdahl on Reddit and other Neverwinter-related forums, was happy to give us the rundown on how all of these features work, and what they hope it all will do for the game. When season 2 of Avernus goes live, the new content won't all go live at once. Players will work together towards personal goals and rewards while also slowly filling a huge, server-wide progress bar. Once that big milestone is reached, a wealth of new content and rewards will be available. There's a lot more to it, but Miller was able to help us dive into the fine details.
One of the first things we wanted to know about was the server-wide goals introduced in Avernus, and how developing larger, community-based objectives was different from putting together stories and milestones for individuals or small parties. The great thing about the server-wide goals included in Avernus is that after the progress bar fills, the new content is instantly available to everyone at once, with no extra waiting or update time. Every contribution helps, and in the end everyone reaps the rewards of their shared effort.
With large scale community goals that take days or even weeks to complete, there also has to be a sense of progression for each individual player. The promise of rewards down the line is great and all, but many players want more immediate gratification. When asked how the team made sure that each individual player feels like they're making progress, Miller explained further:
We have a sort of personal progress track in the campaign window that are your own personal goals, and at each of those milestones you’re going to receive rewards yourself. That’s big. If we had just done a server goal for new content, some people would work towards but plenty of players would say 'what’s in it for me?' and want personal rewards. We want to make sure that people feel their own personal progress is contributed.
Server-wide goals are a fun addition to the game, but the biggest long-term change is certainly the introduction of episodic content. We wanted to get a handle on why, after years of keeping Neverwinter alive with occasional new expansions, the developers decided to introduce another form of adding content. As ever more games start adopting some form of episodic content, we wondered what the benefits of the format are for developers.
That isn't to say that season 2 of Avernus is light on content or activities, as it is introducing plenty of new hunts, a huge expansion to in-game lore resources, and a wealth of unique rewards. What seasonal content excels at is extending the playable content of any given update and making it last longer for those who would normally blow through any new material with their high-level characters and extensive game knowledge. Miller later confided that he is most excited to see how players will react to continued server-wide milestones in future episodes. "I’m definitely looking forward to seeing if players work even faster through the milestones because they know certain rewards are in store, or whether they’ll be happy where they’re at. I want to see how that will change milestone to milestone."
Miller also noted that if any players are confused about how the new server goals, personal progress, and episodic content works, he did an AMA recently that provides plenty of clarification. His handle on the forums and on Reddit is Asterdahl.