Cryptic Studios boss Jack Emmert has admitted the company needs to "dramatically" improve the quality of its output for its new multiplayer RPG, Neverwinter, announced yesterday.
In a frank interview with Massively (via VG247), Emmert admitted that "nothing was polished" in the developer's last two MMOs - Champions Online and Star Trek Online - and that they contained "hundreds of hours of mediocre content".
"From our point of view, we just had to take a look at ourselves and kind of change the way we were doing things... we knew that Neverwinter had to be the highest possible quality, and we had to improve, dramatically, everything that we did," Emmert said.
"The best way to do that was to sort of change the style of gameplay so that the focus wasn't on hundreds of hours of mediocre (some would say even worse than mediocre) content, but instead create a rich story-driven multiplayer game."
Unlike Cryptic's last two games, Neverwinter won't aim for the scope of a full-blown MMO, but instead be a more "focused" multiplayer game for small groups, similar perhaps to Phantasy Star Online or Guild Wars.
"Coming into the launch of STO and Champions, I made sure we had something for everyone. Here was the problem. By following that philosophy, nothing was polished. We ended up having lots of half-done features in some quarters," Emmert said.
Emmert admitted that Cryptic had become known for its efficiency and speed rather than the quality of its games, and said he wanted to change that with Neverwinter.
"Super-fast doesn't mean super-good. And that's what the reviews said, that's what the players said. The type of game that we made before World of Warcraft... City of Heroes was great for its day, but we can't just keep repeating the same methodology over and over - we've got to make stuff that's great."
Champions Online and Star Trek Online both scored 6/10 on Eurogamer.
Cryptic's chief creative officer Bill Roper, formerly of Flagship and Blizzard North, left the studio earlier this month. His departure followed that of Star Trek Online executive producer Craig Zinkievich in July.
Neverwinter will be released in late 2011 for PC, and is based on a new book trilogy by fantasy author R. A. Salvatore, as well as the original Neverwinter Nights games by BioWare and Obsidian and, of course, the Dungeons & Dragons table-top role-playing games.