Cryptic Studios may have started out strong with City of Heroes, but it went on to create the lackluster Champions Online and equally mediocre Star Trek Online.
The company has since then become a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese publisher Perfect World, and acquired the Dungeons & Dragons license to produce Neverwinter, an action RPG for the PC.
However, a decision was made to change Neverwinter into an MMO last month. According to the game's lead producer Andy Velasquez, the title was almost ready to ship before the call came down to steer it in a different direction.
"The change from CORPG to a full action RPG F2P MMO is a change that just made sense for us," said Velasquez in an interview with MMORPG dot com.
"Perfect World wanted to go big. Expand everything. Do more. Do better. Take your time. Really blow it out," he continued. "Pushing into 2012 allows us to make these changes. Transitioning into a full-featured action RPG, free-to-play MMO allows us to reach a whole new audience of people. Never underestimate barriers to entry. With a free client, anyone can play. Try it. Where's the harm? It's better for the game, better for us, better for D&D and infinitely better for fans and gamers. With Neverwinter, we're going to prove that F2P does not describe a type of gameplay — it only describes the fundamentals of a business model."
Despite being an MMO, the game will follow in the footsteps of Bioware's Neverwinter Nights, and will be released with a content creator called The Foundry, allowing players to create their own adventures and review other players' custom adventures.
"The Foundry is seamlessly integrated into the client and quests created within The Foundry can be seamlessly integrated into the world," he said.
Velasquez says that players can expect to get an "authentic" D&D experience with Neverwinter.
Neverwinter is set for a 2012 release and uses the 4th Edition ruleset.