Known as one of the earliest MUD created games, Neverwinter Nights would be known as one of if not the first inception of the MMO genre. What set it apart from other MUD games was its use of in-game graphics which made it appeal to more people. In 1988, Stormfront started working with SSi on a new Dungeons & Dragons game that use a game engine called the Gold Box. They created a game called Pool of Radiance, but more importantly with that experience they realized that they could create a MUD game with graphics. All previous online role-playing video games were text based only. This game also established AOL as a dominant service as it would eventually co-develop the game with Stormfront and make it exclusive to subscribers of AOL.
Once the game was released on March 1991 it was surely but slowly becoming more popular as more Americans used email for everyday life. It became so popular that all game development on NWN was suspended as the demand for AOL rose steadily. Much of it’s popularity was because of the novelty of having active users in a virtual world. The community set many gaming events online by guilds. The game would remain active until July 1997. The reasons were that other more popular franchises like Ultima were taking away subsrcibers. A disagreement for rights of the franchise between AOL and TSR didn’t help either. Dedicated NWN players attempted to protest the game’s cancelation, but it didn’t work out.
The franchise would eventually be rekindled by BioWare’s non-MMO Neverwinter Nights game in 2002.
Players would begin by creating a character, which lead to mostly text interactions. During combat the gameplay would switch to full screen combat, which showed 2D characters battle in a 2D plain with RPG elements. Players could use magic, weapons, or archery to deal damage while also having the ability to use items. Players could spec in different ways to focus on a key role. The game was famous for having a ranking system known as Ladders, The best known ladder was the World PVP council which players competed in regularly.
NVN would eventually be regarded as an early entry into the MMO genre and the last of MUD. It also made AOL more popular and eventually make it a viable service. While better implementations of graphics in the MMO genre would eventually arise, for a short time NVN will always be known to have done it first. While the NVN franchise would never reach this level of popularity it is still integral to the MMO genre as a whole.