Monday, December 24, 2007

Foraging for my Christmas supper

I was interested to see in Maerduin's Harp and Crysanthemum how he's implemented a systems to allow players to collect plants and extract medicinal/alchemical properties. Something I've been dipping into whilst I work on chapter 2 was a herbalism system, inspired in part by the work in Masters of the Wild and druidic infusions - but now looks like I was beaten to the punch ;). Whilst the scientist inside me cannot stand the credence given to homeopathy, I do love the science behind some of the medicinal properties of plants, and how they came to have folklore associated with them.

So I've currently got a collection of 21 placeable plants/fungi, with 21 associated herbalism products (snuff, oils, teas, warding brooches) that can be gathered by PCs with the correct skills. I'm basing the herbalism check on a balance of Survival and Craft:Alchemy - some will require more than the other. For example - you find some Goosegrass or Kelp and think that the sticky mass of frond would make a good impromptu tanglefoot bag - gathering them requires a better knowledge in Survival than Alchemy. Knowing that Ginseng can be infused into a draught and heighten the drinker's awareness and insight - that requires more alchemical knowledge.

I've also included the option to coat your weapon in some items - extracts of acidic green slime, oils from frosty brown mold, and spores from fire lichen. These add a temporary elemental damage to a weapon - handy for low magic settings to add some variety.

Some screenshot examples below. I'll likely add more to the 21 as time goes by. Suggestions welcome!

So, just closed the toolset for the last time before Christmas - tomorrow I'm chef and host - got a huge rib of beef to roast. Am hoping to get some more modding done before the new year, and the dreaded return to work. Also, want to finish Lorft's Wintervall mod - from a quick play it's full of the same wry humour as Cry Wolf. I know Nalencer was planning a holiday release too - EDIT - now looks like it's shelved! :(

Wishing all the NWN2 community a very Merry Christmas - may the players get the mods they wish, and may the modders get the inspiration they need!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quick update

Well, I'm due a fortnightly update on the forums so I'll keep this brief (easy as there isn't much to report!)

Wrote my first cutscene in a while as previously been focusing on areas, and scripting - man, i'd forgotten how long they can take, including all the conditionals to get the companion interjections right, adding speaker tags... But think it was worth it - the first key sidequest, and it plays a lot on the companion interactions, so there's lots of opportunities where a player will be winning influence with one, but losing it with another. Which will ultimately change the game experience (I hope!). Got some more conversations sketched out on paper to type up - I tend to type on the fly with only rough thoughts planned, and I know when i do write these up, new ideas will come in to play.
Also been playing with the VFX editor (major kudos to Amraphael who is a major talent in custom content, and has been helping me out). It's more simple than I thought, but part of me wishes i hadn't found a new toy in the toolset to play with when i need to focus on plot! Will post details later.

Played H&C. Wow. Nuff said.

Updated the blogroll - I'd encourage any reader (hello...?) to look around these just to get a feel for the hard work going on out there. The dedication and talent out there is great.

Patch 1.11 up - and like others I'm going to wait before looking into this, given some of the reports on the toolset. I think 1.10 has got the toolset about as functional as I'd like - and unless there's new content, I'm not keen to change it too much right now.

More general news... after Robert Jordan's death, it's now sad to report that Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. My science background is in neurodegneration, so I know a fair bit about this disease. He's never been an author I've gone out of my way to read, but what I have read I enjoyed and he's got an impressive catalogue. I've also played in enough campaigns DM'd by his fans that I've vicariously picked up on all his humour anyway. Great to see he's taking the news with his usual stoic humour.

Right... convinced my girlfriend to go visit her relatives tomorrow, which gives me a day's uninterupted toolset time to get something worhtwhile to report to the forums... >:o)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Companion: Zabados

Not much progress recently, as work has been a nightmare, and on top of everything I've had a nasty bout of flu (boy, do I regret turning down the free vaccinations work offers us...). One thing that has happened is a final decision on the new companion I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about for the past couple of months


Aquatic Half-Elf

Figher/Warlock/Invisible Blade (player can multiclass him freely between these)

Follower of Eldath

Without giving too much away, Zabados is met near the start of Chapter 2 and will join the party is treated correctly. Zabados spends much of his time with his twin sister, a druid named Lashandra, helping her defend her sacred grove of small rock pools on the shoreline. Zabados seeks to avoid fights and confrontation if at all possible, but when threatened he can prove an adept warrior. Rather than fight openly, Zabados prefers to make intelligent calcualted strikes, then retreat; a favoured tactic is to inflict some bleeding wounds on an opponent with his knives, then retreat and wait for the sharks to to sense, and deal with, the threat. In this way, he feels he can still honestly follow the spirit of Eldath's teachings. He does this not so much for his own allegiance to Eldath, but also for his sisters strong faith in the deity.

Zabados will develop into a romance option for female PCs, bringing him into conflict with Seich, a conflict exacerbated by their respective choice of deity. With male PCs, he might prove a rival for Contessa's affections.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"I never win anything"

I remember being at a friends party when i was a kid, and sitting through all these party games where they were giving out prizes, and I got nothin'. After complaining that I never won anything (I was pretty morose as a child too) I was promptly award a prize for the best dancer for shaking my butt in time to Madonna.

Not sure what the moral of that story is. I don't think I've won much since, certainly not on the lottery. Did win runner up prize with a scientific poetry competition based on my PhD, but that's the closest I've come. Anyway, last weekend, I actually won tickets to see Naruto: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow at a special showing in a swanky cinema in the centre of London (it had ice in the urinals! Simple things please simple minds...). I'm a fan of anime, and Naruto is such a great series. It follows a group of young ninja going through training, each with their own abilities (and their own backstory, which usually amounts to them being outcast/ostrcised/ridiculed as a child and struggling for acceptance). Naruto the main character is a bit of a clown but has a nine-tailed fox demon trapped within him, which grants him great endurance to make up for his lack of skill. It's all great fun, and that's what I love about anime.

Watching the film got me thinking. I find a lot of anime is great inspiration for D&D - their heroes and villains often have great abilities that are fun to mimic - and Naruto is full of these. Ninja that control puppets to attack foes, one afflicted with a disease whose bones can grow out of his skin to attack people, a ninja bound to his dog companion who can share a human-dog hybrid form with his pet. All fun to base characters on in D&D, and to provide unique memorable challenges.

Something I've been thinking about is trying to make some of the boss fights in Dark Avenger more distinct along these lines - something to bring in new tactics. Chapter 2 has the PC confront a military fort, where all the best warriors are stationed, so I'm keen to make some memorable enemies with abilities different/beyond that standard class ones. And maybe something to throw a players usual tactics back at them - it's always great when your standard attacks don't work, and there's that little bit of panic as you desperately try something new to counter this.

In D&D, dragons are a good example of this. You fight through lower critters, where your tactics matter less, and all of a sudden you're faced with a huge monster, with many, varied attacks, that need different resistances. It offers something that toe-to-toeing with a lvl20 fighter doesn't. Prestige Classes go someway to offer the standard humanoid villain something like this. But I'm going to have to look into scripting something....

So - people have their favorite memorable villains - in D&D or in film? Any exciting encounters to regale us (me) with?

EDIT: Woohoo - as I post, just topped 5000 downloads for Dark Avenger - got there eventually!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back from hols

...and very relaxed (or I was until I snuck a peak at my work inbox...). Mexico and the Yucutan peninsula were great fun, and got to visit some amazing Mayan ruins, as well as cycle, abseil, zip-line, and kayak through the jungle and swim in an underground lake or cenote. I loved the latter, as it got me thinking about dungeons and caves in the D&D setting (especially ropers, given the stalagmites there). Particularly as I'm working on a flooded cave section at the moment.

Results of the Companion poll are in:
  • Contessa (14)
  • Black Death (8)
  • Seich (7)
  • Gork (3)
  • Briars (1)

As there's more focus on Contessa in Chapter 1 (and she's a feisty teifling) it's more or less the order i was expecting at the top. Only one vote for Briars is a little sad - true he's not cut of the heroic cloth and he's very deferrential to the PC. Hoping the backstory plot I'm working on now will flesh him out a little and make him more appealing - it will bring in more confrontation with Gork too if he's in the party. I'm thinking about another companion to add (a paladin/fighter) but worried it will bring too much work at this stage. Could be done if I write out one of the existing companions (Gork) for the full version of the campaign.... will need to think on that.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

On holiday for a few days...

Off to Mexico (first time, and somewhere I've wanted to go for a while) for a bit so no building for me. Tho am taking my notebook to sketch out some areas and draft conversations. Hoping to get to Chichen Itza so will see if it compares well with Tomoachan ;)

Module update of the day has kicked off on the forums so looking forward to reading those on my return (have posted a brief update myself in advance that will go up whilst I'm away.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Compromises and companions

When I started on Dark Avenger I wanted to create something that felt like a story with D&D elements rather than a D&D mod with story elements... if you see what I mean. I put the comment 'this is less about killing rats in basements' in the description to try and convey what I intended... the rats in the basement type quest was back in the gorund of Candlekeep and is used in several mods to provide some quest based xp and items usually to get a character on their feet and maybe with an extra level or two. But scripting can do those things too...
You don't get those kind of starts in heroic fantasy - Rand al'Thor isn't driven from his village by rats as a boy, Conan doesn't long to crush some mice, see them driven before him, and to hear the lamentation of the little baby meeces... True, the Dread Pirate Roberts did combat rats, but they were Rodents of Unusual Size, so I think thats the exception to prove the rule*
...But after all that, I do find myself working on a 'Someone's in my fruit cellar!' quest at the moment that is essentially more rats in the basement, but hopefully with enough of a twist to add something different. But it is a departure from the story driven mod I planned and more traditional D&D dungeon adventuring. I'm hoping it will add something for those who found chapter 1 too linear and by tying it in with a companion's back story it shouldn't feel too out of place. It's compromising what I had in mind slightly (as was the H&S bandit approach in chapter 1, which I know I didn;t pull off as well as I'd hoped), but I'm trying to focus on atmosphere to help this feel right in the story.
*(apologies to all those reading who have used rats in basements! I am of course exaggerating the issue here!)

Speaking of companions, thanks to all who've filled in the poll so far. I'd been toying with adding a new companion but an wary of the additional workload it includes. I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on the companions generally, and what could be changed or added. I always think it's a little sad when you read comments on modules, and the companions are referred to as 'the dwarf' or 'the cleric' - it kinda means that the immersion and story telling has lost something, and as a writer, you'd want to have the players thinking of the characters by name. Reading the forums, it's obvious companions are such an important thing to so many players, it's key to get them right.

Off on hols to Mexico at the end of the week. Will post some development screenshots before I go.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hive of activity

Due in part to having surgery at the start of the year, it's now almost November and I have 25 days leave to use up before the end of the year (started with 40(!) days this year as the company were being particularly nice to me!). All this is sounding good for me to build up a head of steam in the toolset again.

Which is what I've been doing so far. I'm focussing on a sidequest based on one of the companions (Briars the gnome), which will allow me to play on a bit of party tension if Gork the goblin is also present. Added in a side-sidequest too to allow casters and crafters to use their skills more to create a temporary henchman they find dismantled in an abandoned temple of Gond. Also managed to get him to explode on death, which is amazing given my scripting talent, or specifically lack thereof!

So chapter 2 is progressing apace - but also not been neglecting Chapter 1. Updated with portraits, I've also now implemented the resting system and interface from MotB after a post from sgt_why (Red Hand of Doom, which I should replay now its come on a long way since I first played it months ago). Pretty simple to do, after cutting out the spirit eater code from some of the k_mod scripts - and resting feels like it actually has meaning now as day passes into night rather than 5 seconds drfiting by. Got a nice vote/comments from Alazander too, which is greatto have feedback from one of the Ossian team.

Other news - I've had a request for a review on A Walk in the Woods, my module contest entry, from the vault. Keen to see what the feedback is. I've also decided to re-use one of the areas (the mine) from that in Dark Avenger, as it will save time. Annoyingly, Unearthed Arcana doesnt work post-MotB, and I can;t see an easy solution as it was a bit of a cheat I used to get bloodlines working in the firstplace. Given the lack of interest, I doubt I'll pursue this one anyway.

So what's next? Haunted mine and the BBEG therein. The haunted village is finished - more accurately, I'm stopping myself from continuously tinkering with the textures, trees and grass, especially as i've set it very dark and misty so you can hardly see half of them anyway...

Good to be more actively building again, and needed the break - although certain announcements from certain Studios make it seem like I'll be distracted again soon...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Evil Dead Halloween tribute

Wyrin is currently preoccupied spending Halloween defending his cabin in the woods from hordes of evil deadites, trusty chainsaw and boomstick in hand. Normal service will be resumed shortly. Hail to the King, baby!

Monday, October 15, 2007

oooOOOoooh shiny!

One of the nice things the new version of the toolset allows you to do is to use custom portraits very simply - so companions can have the images you want - or NPCs for that matter, showing up when you right click on them as a target.
So of course rather than do anything productive with my time on the toolset, I trawled the internet for portaits for all the Dark Avenger companions, just adding a layer of shiny uneccessary baubles that made me feel like I was doing something productive.

Seich was a tricky one, but I think I found the right 'troubled-looking dwarf'. Given my old love of wargaming, I've always been more inspired to follow the Warhammer take on goblinoids rather than the by-the-book D&D system - and found a great miniature that summed up Gork. Contessa was easy - I knew exactly the image I wanted for her...

So there is an updated module on the vault - the main thing I got to do is finally make Black Death a horse! Was glad they gave the horse model some decent animations - unlike some of the other wildlife. The attack animations for the horse are pretty good actually, so it seems to work quite well.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

MotB Thoughts

Just finished MotB and very satisfied with the ending. Overall an excellent campaign, with better pace and writing than the OC. Companion interaction here just shows how much it adds to a story and the playing experience.

That said, i's just reaffirmed for me that I'm really not that keen on high level / epic play. I played with my OC character - the original Wyrin D'njargo inspired by a PC from the days of the 2nd Ed D&D Bard kit,the Blade. Finished as a Ftr4/Bard16/DivChamp5/NWNine5, and by the end even the climatic encounters were over by the time I'd unpaused from issuing commands and my poor processor had caught up with the flow of play. The problem for me is balance - critters either become a cakewalk, or have to be twinked out so much it removes the point of being epic, as they are all your equal. Luckily in MotB for me the great story was a welcome distraction form this.

Even in my ongoing pen-and-paper campaigns, I'm not fond of high level play. I'd say levels 3-15 are my favourite, where the character comes into their own, but still have foes to challenge them. But from a long time of playing D&D, its clear for every player, there's a different view on how the game should/preferably be played. I mean, I love Dungeons and Dragons, but would be quite happy never going in an actual dungeon. But that's another rant about distintegrates and vertical dungeoneering...

ANyway, my period of playing rather than building is kinda coming to a close - gotta restart Sands of Solvheil now new versions aare up as my last trek through got a little out of sync, but not much else drawing my attention at the moment

...apart from the Toolset...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

More toolset insights - (beware spoilers?)

Some more previews of the new content in the toolset - hopefully nothing to give the game away much yet. Interesting to see bloodstains and waterfall effects included given the community content available, and also there's lots of snow-covered placeables too. New content all looks really great, and will be cool to add more variety to interiors especially. Great range of new corpses, boulders, banners, statues etc.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

MotB first impressions

Very nice. Graphically a lot smoother for me, and I'm getting less slow-down in fights. AI still a little screwy IMO. But plot intriguing so far, voice acting good, companions interesting.... and lots of nice things I'm seeing that will be great additions to the toolset - waiting for you outside the first town is a horse (woohoo!), which is long-past-due.

Good to hear some new music and will be using that liberally in the future I think.

Here's the new critters - quite exciting to see, and giving me lots of ideas.... and they've only gone and included tentacles!! (see here for my earlier crude attempts).

Friday, September 28, 2007


Well, I'm sitting here at work knowing that Mask of the Betrayer is probably dropping on to my door mat at home about now - preordered it (first time i preordered anything - mainly because I won a £100 amazon voucher through work and had money to burn). Quite looking forward to it.

Really enjoying focussing on playing. Moonshadows was fun, had some really nice ideas, and has picked a a buzz on the vault. Had been geeing myself up to play Sands of Solvheil - especially as it's nice to see a good world-building effort going into this (as a DM of my own homebrew setting, it's nice to see other's ideas). Will try and at least make a start befor the lure of MotB pulls me away, as this looks a great effort.

I released a mini side project i'd been toying with for a while - Unearthed Arcana - new character and roleplaying options based on the book. Fancy being a dwarven warrior with the blood of a gold dragon coursing through your veins? After ironing out a few of the inevitable wrinkles, it seems to be working. But as I suspected, it's a little too unwieldy to be taken up by many players as it requires overides files to work, and I know that scares some off. But the override file does let you use the modifications in any module, which can add something new to the experience.

As I said, playing is helping me enjoy NWN2 more for now, and with the pressure off building for a while, I'm getting more ideas for when i get round to starting work on Dark Avenger Chapter 2 again, which is good. Once I've played with MotB a little, I'll delve back into the toolset and take it from there.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007


Hm. Progress with Dark Avenger is very slow - mainly through lack of time, but i also fear that it's the realisation that the project is probably not going to see the light of day for a VERY long time, making it harder to focus on with real enthusiasm. I've been thinking for a few weeks now about this - and maybe putting aside my own projects to offer help to some of those that are more likely to be finished - much as E.C. Patterson, skilful creator of the Daark Twins has done by putting aside Garden of All Evils to help out Jackyo with NHiN2. I still feel I have lots of ideas, but not enough time to flesh them out as much as they deserve in one go.

Coupled with this, is the fact that MotB has gone gold (got my preorder in, thanks to winning a competition on Amazon), Purgatorio will soon be out, as well as releases from others like Hugie - that's a lot of playtime coming up! And the bar will be pretty high after all that. I've seen some lament the lack of solo builders as more collaborative/joint projects go ahead (Phoenixus had quite a coup getting dirtywick's help for Tragedy 2, at the cost of us not seeing the Thay story developed, I suppose). But i do think it's difficult for one person to build... (especially someone nearing 30 who's meant to have a grown up job an' all...)

So I'm having a short break, whilst I work on a secret mini-project that will hopefully be feasible with only a few weeks work. But I suppose this is also a call out to anyone who might want someone to help with their projects - dodgy scripting skills, abstract area designer, enthusiastic roleplayer and D&D fan! Dark Avenger will lurk in the background... waiting.... calling, no doubt, but I think I need a healthy dose of realism. And the building community is something I only really discovered with NWN2, but enjoy and want to remain a part of if i can.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

More screenshots

Firstly, this screenshot I had to put up as I just think it's cool! Lucky timing with a screen capture as I meteor swarm a guard in a watchtower. Good to see a meteor swarm effect that wasn't just impacting the ground

Secondly, here's an in-game shot of the village I've been building an mentioning in the previous posts. Normally, I've been sticking to the standard day/night lighting settings, but here I've designed my own settings - it's fixed using the Default lighting (Day/Night Cycle false). The ambient lighting settings are actually very powerful, and it takes quite abit of fiddling to understand what they do, but I'm happy with the gloomy aspect so far. Only downside is all the time I spent texturing is wasted as you can hardly make them out in the darkness! But that's fine as it's ,meant to be dark and ominous, and a prelude to a cool bad guy!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Screenshot - Raven's Lake 2

Update on the abandoned gnomish village I'm building. Doesn't look too different than yesterdays or all th time i spent on it! Main as a lot of it was fiddly item placement around some of the gnomish burrows - lots of lining up and placeable resizing.

The grass will look greener - that's as I've chosen my two core crass teextures for the area. IT's good to fix these from the start to know that all tiles will have 2 textures accounted for in their total 6. I use a practive area to test overlaying the grasses at different percentages to see which go well together. I'm using grass34 (mossy) and grass12 - first placing both down at 50% on the background texture, and then I'' go back and make patches slightly stronger
Place down the cobbled road too - first off at a base 20% - this is because I'll want to strenghten some areas later but keep other more green from the grass, where the path has become overgrown.
Started choosing the trees for the area - much like textures its good to get a core and stick with them (although you can play with the tree seeds to get more variety. Biggest tip I think there is for trees is to remmeber that a) they can be sized and scaled to get variety, and b) they can be lowered under the ground so the trunk isnt visible - this can create some nice undergrowth effects.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Screenshot - Raven's Lake

Early stages of developing an abandoned gnomish village, complete with burrows ;)

Friday, August 31, 2007


In designing more exterior areas, it's reminded me of something I noticed a while back when playing in the toolset - namely the different way that the exteriors in the OC were designed compared to how we're seeing them in community modules - namely, how they are textured.

The OC area tend to have a lot of textures painted down at 100%, and it's the use of complimentary textures that help them to blend. From what I've seen in other modules, and for me when designing an area, The only texture used at 100% tends to be base texture you start the area with - everything else is blended in. I thought I'd have a quick play:

The top image shows two overgrown paths I quickly threw together. The left path (below) uses blended textures - the path is first painted down at 30%, then a smaller path within that at 50-70%, and patches are strengthened at 80-90%. Overgrown areas are first painted in a wider brush at 20-30%, and then gradually strengthened with smaller and smaller brushes with increasing pressure. The aim here for me is to try and blend things together - the muddy path slowly gives way to the surrounding grass. It's not the best choice of textures and there's no colouring, but it should get the point across. Personally when want a grassy plain, I never use one texture - I use 3-4 grasses blended at different percentages. Somehow two grasses painted over each other give a much smoother appearance - and you notice the repeating patterns in the underlying textures less.

Below is the same path painted as how I understand the artists from the OC do it. What surprised me was that it wasn't as bad as I thought. The path is painted straight down at 100%, and patches of grass overgrowing it are also at 100%. Much quicker. And to be honest the effect is OK

SO as a little test to myself, I'm not sure what it proved. One issue that I find tricky is knowing where to start when painting textures, and combining that with shaping the landscape. But I'm now wondering if my slow blending approach might not actually be better as a quick 100% approach, with touching up left til the last. There's definitely an art to this - and when an area is going great, it's a lot of fun. I'm building an area very different to one I've built before at the moment, and it's almost as though a new set of rules needs to be applied for a different environment - e.g. grassy vs mountainous - compare the wilderness and Mountain areas in DA Chapter 1. But now I'm building Raven's lake, an abandoned gnomish village, which has many new things to think about in terms of darker textures and how they look in different lighting. Screenshots to come later.

On a slightly different note - my other project this week has involved tentacles. Or me trying to model them in game. I takes me back to playing things like Shining Force - when you boat would be attacked by a giant octopus / kraken and you had to fight off each tentacle and the head. Would love to do a Shining Force conversion.. Anyway, below is a poor attempt - only problem is getting them to face the right way...and I lack any sort of modelling skills (computer graphics or catwalk). back to the drawing board...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

1st area done

OK, despite a crash whilst baking, the first area is done, scripted and dialogued. Good to have mini-milestones like this to chalk off. The crash was really frustrating - and quite bizarre. There was no temp folder left for me to pilfer/recover from, and there was no area corruption - the main gripe was that I'd lost a full conversation (as well as the Hound Archon blueprint I was designing). In many ways I'd rather lose an area than a conversation. Writing something again, without notes, I find that once the inspiration has gone, it's hard to get it back. THe first conversation I wrote flowed really nicely, but now with me rewriting it from scratch, it's definitely not as good. Might have to come back to it.

So on to the next area... well, it was going to be the hidden military stronghold, but I've decided instead to incorporate a side quest based around one of the companions, Briars. There have been comments about the linearity of Chapter 1, which I'm not too put out by as I will openly admit that I didn't include countless pointless sidequest (as I think they would have detracted from the impetus). But I do want to expand on Briars and this is a good opportunity for his character development, and to explore other aspects of 'revenge'

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Three quick screenshots to show progress from last weeks toolset images - wasnt sure how it was going until I opened it up in game - and quite pleased with it. First image shows sunken path with (working) rope slide across it. Second image shows a watchtower actually being manned (shock, horror!) by a arcane archer with a longbow. Given him an increased AC to reflect the cover up there, but reduced his reflex save - you get fireballed and there's nowhere to hide! Final shot shows the view from the clifftops onto the sea. I have to say its the sounds of the seagulls that really makes the area. Now all thats left is to script the encounters and cutscenes, and I can chalk of the first area for chapter 2!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Chapter 2 underway

...albeit slowly. After only debugging, spell checking and stat-tweaking in the toolset for the past few weeks, I actually got down to building again last weekend. It's been a while since I sat down with a blank canvas in front of me, and I'd forgotten how daunting that is in area creation - despite my pages of notes and scribbles.

The first area leads the players to the coast, in search of the hidden militia training camp. I did a lot of grassy plains and cliffs/mountains in chapter 1, and it's moreof the same - trying to add in some differences tho - I think that it'll be the sounds that make the real difference

I'm by no means the fastest area builder, but i thought I'd post some shots every few steps along the way - to show things taking shape.

I'm going to use some 3D combat again - there's two main encounter in this area, and the first will involved the party being pinned down. I think the one thing missing from the many RPGs is an appreciation of the way buildings/areas can be made defensible, and tricks that were used by medieval craftsmen to acheive this - funnelling the enemy through a tight gap so archers can concentrate their fire, etc. I think these sorts of things can be just as fun in D&D as the standard dungeon - form both sides. As a player its fun to plan attack and defence strategies.

Most of my time so far was spent trying to come up with tricks to have players be able to walk under bridges that they can also walk over - the walkmesh doesn't allow this in exteriors as far as I can tell, so I've played with several options. IN the end they all got a bit messy/convoluted, and it would have detracted from the play, so I've opted for a rope slide/zip-line instead - simple = good

Monday, August 13, 2007


Wow, it's strange - I've not been on the toolset to build (other than some fixes to Chapter 1) for a 3-4 weeks now. Been spending more time letting real life catch up with me, but have found some time for playing NWN2.

Actually finished the OC. I'd not got through this very quickly as soon after I bought the game I started playing with the toolset, and that leaves little time to get through the OC. Plus, after I'd seen the Elanee nighttime cutscene in Crossroads Keep, I felt so dirty and disgusted, I needed a bit of a break - seriously, after somethign like Aerie in BG2, where it built up as a romance, this was crude horny-teen goth slash-fiction by comparison. *shudder* Felt like i needed to disinfect my keyboard and mouse after seeing that. But apart form that, I liked the OC, despite a few niggles in the story and how it was handled... I actually liked Shandra and felt much more could have been made of her, and her death. It was maybe too long and unwieldy - but it didnt help that I played in stops and starts so the story lost its flow. The ending was a disappointment - it needed a big cutscene so the tga stills were a big anticlimax.
I always use my character Wyrin as the first play through, and it's a testament to the game that I felt he was captured well y the mechanics and the engine - finished as a Bard11/Fighter4/DivineChampion5 - two weapon fighting, foci in rapier and short sword. If I play again, I'll go with my Wizard/EK/Duelist or Ranger/Wiz/ArcaneArcher/Assassin builds, but that won't be for a while.

Also played some mods. I've been trying to make sure I vote and give better feedback. I find this tricky Finished Subtlety of Thay. I voted it 8.75 - slightly lower than its vault rating. I think there's an issue of vote inflation still on the vault (that I've benefitted from, I can't deny), and it never ceases to amaze me the rationale behind some people's scores. I think this is the highest vote I've given a mod - I prefered it to Tragedy in Tragidor, and I've only played 90% of an early build of Night Howls in Nestlehaven. The latter I'd vote highly, but i do have some issues with it - mainly in terms of the combat difficulty, and for me, too many sidequests and things going on in a little town. But it is an amazingly built module that shows the builders story and understanding of the toolset as exceptional - no doubt in my next toolset break, I'll dive back in with a new PC and finish it properly.

But they are personal issues that occur to me more as a builder when I play. I also played The Chronicles of Azaeleus 1. and voted that 6.25. I found I played it a lot whilst thinking 'I'd have done that differently, or developed that more...'. I worry with the vote inflation that 6.25 is seen as a bad vote; I'd I'd not want to discourage a new builder as there were many positives about this - a vote of 6 is still good. But then it's got 2 votes of 9 already and it's not up to that IMO. I won't retype my comments - they're on the vault. But it's a fun little mod to give a go - and I think this builder could have some good stuff in him for the future.

As a side note, i did build a mini maze to showcase the toolset to a friend of mine. He works on rehabilitating people after brain injury to inprove their cognitive function, and uses the DOOM engine to devise environments for them to explore - he seems pretty buzzed about the toolset and what it can do now, so eager to see where this goes.

Next weekend - Chapter 2 starts in earnest!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Chapter 2

Despite feeling my creativity sapped by work stress and lack of sleep, I'd had some ideas for Chapter 2 development and execution. This chapter was always going to be more heavily H&S - you're trying to pin down the head of the militia, a military leader surrounded by his men.

I liked the H&S segments in chapter 1 - breaking the pace nicely, was my intention. But I'm wary of Chapter 2 becoming less focussed on my intention - and losing some of my 'philosophy' behind it. So I've been working up ways to add in roleplay. Seich will have a lot more to say as his character develops, as will Contessa. I've also come up with ways to add more variety to how a stronghold is stormed. Traditional in RPGs it's a case of finidng a disused secret entrance and storming form the bottom up - but I'd like to build a bit more colour and originality into that.

That said, the combat when it happens needs to be fast, frenetic and furious - high drama. Personally, I don't like mods where fights that arent showdowns with villains or pushing the plot forward get too hard - you lose realism if you have to leave a house to rest, then go back in to finish killing off the guys you just attacked - you would be hunted down and slaughter whilst you rested. So when you storm a stronghold - you shouldn't expect to be able to rest up after each level ready to face a new one. But this is going to be difficult to pull off effectively.

Some commented on the linearity of Chapter 1 - thing is I'm loathe to add in side quests just for the hell of adding sidequests. and to me side quests don't make something non linear - they just add variety, which is different. And too much can get silly- there's only so much that can happen in one place. Also, why someone with the motivation and goals in Dark Avenger - distracitons shouldnt matter as much. But i'm hoping to offer the player different approaches to storming the stronghold that will get that variety in there.

Psychology (another moan sorry!) and Subtlety of Thay

From my own experience and seeing it mentioned/hinted at in the posts by others, there's a definite psychology to building with the NWN2 toolset. Builders are committing such a large amount of time, that I suppose this is inevitable. And many of those that built form the early days of the toolset (and some still) do so with a toolset that gives them little love in return through crashes and corruption. I've found I definitely go through periods when I'm so focussed on working o nthe toolset and the mod, it occupies a lot of my time and thoughts. Right now, and it seems to be a pattern after releasing somehting for it happened after Walk in the Woods too, I hit a slump, when I can't gee up the enthusiasm to hit the toolset and start working. I think currently it might also be due to work and toher real life issues - general stress/tiredness stifling creativity. I so need a holiday. Sorry, I seem to moan too much on this blog about it all, but at least it seems a comon issue!

So I'm on a little break. I fully intend to get an update to Dark Avenger out this weekend, but I can't see much work being done apart from that. I am putting mor etime into playing - the OC and also Subtlety of Thay - I'd started this not long afte it came out, and whilst I was impressed with several aspects, the way I found my goody barbarian character going through the plot after an hour or so's play didn't inspire me. So I stopped. Retried now as a more mercenary warlock (firsttime tried the class and its not bad), and I have to say I'm enjoying it a lot more. Some vey nice technical aspects to the mod - mine cart was very well done - nice setup and execution. I'd like some more character interaction and development, but what's there is good. Looking to finish soon, then will get a vote up. Not eto self - must vote more

On a more positive note, =now all the Hall of Fame mods have been moved out of the top 15 list, I've got 3 entries up there! OK, OK its nothting to be too proud of givne they had to make way of all the 8+voted older mods, but it raised a wry smile when i saw it ;)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chapter 1 released

OK, after umm-ing and ahh-ing about how to release this, I've put a final release of Chapter 1 up on the vault. It's one way of getting more feedback (hopefully), and it's pretty close to finished (I might try and inject more life in ot the village, but I'll probably come back to do that in Chapter 3 when it's more relevant). I was really pleased with the feedback I got, affirming my ideas, so it's a great shot-in-the-arm for me to get cracking on the rrest of the campaign. Plan now is to work on Chapters 2-4, and hopefully release around Christmas (so add on a months or so and look for late January).

Seems pretty daunting, sitting here in mid-July... It'll be interesting t osee what the state of the community is like by then - Granny released and more content available, Mask of the Betrayer will be out, the big community projects like Purgatorio will be out - the bar will be higher and much things could be quite amazing. I just hope it does scare off the humble modder who wants to dabble - that was me back in January. Never played a NWN1 player module, but avid player of the NWN/BG series - with NWN2 I had some time off work, played a few modules that were released, saw that I could work out how to do 90% of what I saw in the toolset, and now I've got 4 modules out there. And I still look at the other guys producing stuff and think I've a long way to go. It's be sad to think that if I'd come to the community a year later, then I'd have felt too daunted - and likely not have found out how much i enjoy the toolset and building, for myself as much as anything.

Something i touched on in the Dark Avenger ReadME, I wanted to stress here - a big thanks must go to the other modders out there - not so much for hands on help, although the forums are great, but for providing scripts/ideas to cannabilise, and inspiration. The wilderness area I did for Chapter 1 was on the back of me seeing other peoples screenshots and thinking "Right, I want to do an exterior I can be proud of" - two days solid texturing on and building, which was pretty exhausting and I think I made a step forward over my other areas. There's a definite art to it, tho, and moving up from a amateur rank to a Constable landscape will take quite a few more steps I think. But back on track, it's seeing other people creativity that can really spark your own, so I'd like to thank the other builders for doing what they do. It's just a pity I dont get time to play through all their stuff out there all the way through as much as I'd like.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dark Avenger Alpha released

Late sunday I suprised myself and managed to get an Alpha release of chapter one up on the Vault. It lacks the journal entries I've been procrastinating over, a couple of conversations, and the polish (background NPCs etc), but it's playable. Feedback trickling in already has been positive, which is great to hear. Lots of little things I need to go back to sort out - its amazing how different people with different playstyles throw up all these issues! Big one is that thigns will runs very differently depending on who is in the party - lots of content could be missed. Maybe I need to make the journal entries hurry the player along to specific areas first, but I do like to leave the choices open.

It's been good to get some motivation and encouragement, - i think everyone gets toolset fatigue at some point. Still toying with how to release this - whether as separate chapters or all in one campaign - my gut says go with the latter, but I fear that will take some time to complete, and might never see the light of day, whereas separate chapters keeps it ticking over. We'll see; Chapter 2 is quite brief, and I'm wary of it being a bit too hack and slash for the feel of the campaign. Chapter 3 sees the party head to the city - and I'm dreading the amount of work that will take!

I'm juts releived people feel intrigued and drawn in tothe story - so they might be hungry to track down these Elders and get some payback! ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Inspiration and Journals

Whew, took me whole day yesterday to get one monologue done. Fairly key in terms of advancing the plot, and is the showdown to Chapter 1. As always my scribbled conversation notes changes completely as I actually started typing, and it went in a new direction i hadn't considered, but I quite like it. There's a quote i nthe nmovie Labyrinth from Jared the goblin king (Bowie), and I keep coming back to it as I write the dialogue for this mod.

"Just let me rule you and you can have everything that you want.... Just fear me, love me, do as i say and i will be your slave"
I love the contradiction in that -and have been inspired with it at several places, and for seveal NPCs. It reminds moe of a scene in another of my favourite films, Spartacus. There, having escaped from their slavery, Spartacus and his love meet in a field, excited at being free and together. Spartacus says "We're free, no one can ever tell us what to do again"; his love agrees, but then says "Forbid me ever to leave you" - it's the freedom from slavery, but the willingness to be a 'slave to love'. No one beleives me when i say I think Spartacus has some great romantic moments in it, but maybe it's just me...
I'm coming to a sticking point with the journal entries. I think because I've approached this mod as i would do an PnP game, its difficult - different NPCs know different things, and the PC can talk to them at any point, and do things in any order. But ultimately the PC starts knowing where the chapter will end. This makes the journa tricker to handle well. To be honest, as its a story driven mod, I'd rather not use the journal at all, but I know I'd be flamed for it. And I know how bad my memory is - especially when playing mods/the OC - as I'm largely on the toolset, it can be weeks before I pick up a mod or the OC again, and I do get sketchy on details. Will just have to bite the bullet.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Slowly, slowly....

Most of my time I get on the toolset is at the weekends - early mornings and late night around spending time with my s.o. However, this weekend, I didn;t get much modding time in at all - needed to pick up car from garage, meet s.o.'s parents, shop for clothes that i can be vaguely seen in public in, sort out the overgrown garden... normal life things... I enjoyed it, as have spent a lot of my recent spare time on the toolset. But I was suprised how I've woken up Monday feeling a bit down, like I've acheived little, and there's this niggling urge to find some more time during the week... (but that might also be due to the fact i didnt feed my caffeine addiction at all for 2 days...)

Don't get me wrong. The time I did spend on the toolset, I got 3 of the companion conversations done (at least as fleshed out as I intend for chapter 1), with back-story and different level-up options (Thanks to FRW - pinched script from Thay, as it was much tidier than my effort). I'd been puttig those off for ages. I'm really pleased with Seich's back-story - dwarven cleric of Umberlee. I'm suprised how much he's grown on me as I write him, more so than Contessa, the tiefling bard, who I thought would be more fun.

However, I also made another rash last-minute extra content decison, and decided to do an epilogue - so that needed a new area (1/3 finished), and conversation (written but untested).

Current word-count ~40k. Might reach 45k by the end of chapter 1. I'm really concerned about some conversations, as I think, when reading them back, its obvious where I get tired/uninspired, and rush some parts. but conversations are tricky to edit and reshape once written rather than start from scratch. I might have to go back and put in some more roleplaying options at certain points, which shouldn't be too difficult.

Thinking about putting out request for testers later this week... maybe next.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Progress of a kind

Using up some of my leave from work to spend a few days on the toolset, especially as the weather's turned so poor here.
Making fair progress with Chapter One. On a whim, I've added an additional exterior area, with nothing plot-critical in it, and even with the likelihood that the player will never see it. I've done that a few times now, and wondering if its my way of putting off doing other things such as companion conversations and journal entries, which I've been avoiding so far. That said it's been a good experience - a 24x26 area built from scratch, and I think looking pretty good, with encounters, conversations, sounds etc all put in a about 2.5 days of me on the toolset, not sure how many hours that works out as. But I'd been a little worried about later chapters and how long they'd take to build with their exteriors, but this one went pretty well i think. I'm not in the league of some of the 'artists' out there, but I'm happy with it - the amount of extra time i could try and sepnd making it look better would be better spent elsewhere i think. Small sneak:

Minimap shows what I was trying to acheive - a good wilderness area a la BG1 to roam in.
Will be leaving some things like commoners/villagers out of the alpha for now, So I make it 9 conversation, then journal entries, until I'm done. Got a feeling they'll take longer than I think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Modding Injury!

Well, that makes it sound more than it is - but think my little finger is getting problems from how i hold my mouse when modding - not a great sign of how long I'm on the toolset! I think its also from how i sit when typing. But on a toolset free break for a few days so see how it goes.

Speaking of typing, I downloaded PowerBar plugin for the first time the other day - i've always been a little wary of plug-ins in case of becoming too reliant, and patch issues, but this is pretty good. And the typing link? It has a feature that performs a word count on the module, breaking it into journals/conversations etc. This was interesting; given i have only 2 small journal entries done, and 99% of the text is from conversations, I'm on a word count of 25,000. Interesting, but given that thisis chapter 1 only, and that its a small, scene-setting chapter, i'm not sure if this is over-the-top. I know Thay has >35,000, but is a longer playtime beast than this chapter, so I'm wary of swamping the player with too much text. I always knew the campaign (and chapter 1 specifically) would have a lot of dialogue, but i might have to watch this. That said, the kind of player that doesn't like reading too much isn't going to be the kind of player i'm aiming this mod at...

Anyway I hope things will come out of a pre-alpha I'm planning on chapter 1 soon - aimed more at getting feedback/comments than bug-hunting specifically. I suppose its a bit like the census that hollywood studios do for films to gauge the public reception, before selling out and rewriting the ending to include buxom beauties that need rescuing from their skimpy outfits in the hope that it pulls in more audiences. Not that i'd sink that low.... although now i mention it.....

Monday, June 18, 2007

Weekend progress

Managed to get a fair bit of time on the toolset this weekend, due to my understanding S.O. Got a sidequest scripted, dialogued and journaled. Made some new items too - grafts. THese seem to have come into D&D with 3rd ed. - I dont recall seeing them before. But represent pieces of alien anatomy, particularly form aberrations, that can be grafted on to the PC and grant bonuses. I like the idea - more detail in the Lords of Madness supplement with the Fleshwarper PrC; but also see the pale master PrC in game. I also like the idea of items that have downsides as well as benefits. For example, one graft in question was an ooze graft - smeared on the face it give a penalty to CHA, but bonus to intimidate, susceptibility to fire, but bonus vs poison. In pen-and-paper grafts are a great way to add a twist to your villains.

Spent a lot of time building commoner housing interiors. Man, if i never have to place a bed/fireplace/dining table again.... some discussion on the forum sabout the use of prefabs - I'd love a load of prefab commoner/noble homes - would make things so much easier!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Module contest

The top 3 of the Grimm Fairy Tales contest have been announced: 1. Grimm Brigade, 2. The Birthday, 3. Rampion Champion. Of course, this kicked off a lot of fuss; whilst the internet's great, it does allow too many people to voice an opinion sometimes. Played all 3 of those mods myself, and enjoyed them all. Personally i think the Rampion Champion was fun and hard-done-by in the vault voting, but I have issues with that anyway - just look at the comparative number of downloads the different entries got. More showcasing was needed.

I wont reiterate the comments from other blogs suffice to say congrats to the top 3, and well done to all who managed to get an entry in. I PM'd Rob for some feedback on my entry but didn't get a reply... bit annoying but the I understand he's been inundated by complaints about the contest, so I can forgive mine slipping under the radar. Bit disappointed in the reception A Walk inthe Woods got, myself, and not too clear why; apart from people complaining about my spelling there's not much else there! Thining about requesting some more thorough reviews from either the vault or some of the more vocal reviewers. I know my exterior area design needs a lot of work, and hopefully that will come on in my next mod.

Speaking of which, bandit camp now populated, and very tough, but winnable with some tactics. Working o nthe villagers homes - this is when i long for prefab homes/tiles for interiors..!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Ran through the encounter - worked like a charm. Feels so good when it comes together. One thing I am noticcing however, is that the playtests are too much of a breeze - the Marut encounter is really meant to be life-or-death, but none of the party, even Briars with the lowest level, was scratched. So might need to add mutliattack and some other nifty abilities to beef them up. But that's minor tweaking - the cutscene was good and how I envisaged it

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Coming out of the mire

Week's kinda been good. And not been on the toolset much, but the time I have its been productive, which is a good thing. Managed to get an update to Walk in the Woods, that SHOULD fix the damned on death conversations. So that's one niggling thing I can cross off.

On Dark Avenger, well only had today to work on it, but I've

  1. Put together a scripting system to control my companion influence - its clunky (i could use switch/case if i knew more about it, but I dont so I went the less elegant route, and that seems to work. Feel good as i wrote it from scratch, so maybe a (small) sign i'm getting the hang of this scripting thing

  2. Completed the first encounter with a recurring foe - happy with the dialogue too, and this leads on to

  3. finished introduction of a new companion. Writing this let me flesh out the background of the other companions too, finding stuff I didnt know, and its pretty good

  4. run a quick play-through, which apart from one dodgy trigger, went pretty smoothly
So, Chapter One is getting there, and feeling a lot more positive about it. Might need to up the difficulty - as its story based, fights are more part of the flow of the tale, but some seem too easy so far - but that might also be due to a certain companions uber-ness. He's meant to be uber, but progress slowly so he's out-ubered later on. But somethign I can adress in final stages

Some new screenies (more in the album):

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Having a minor crisis of faith about the module at the moment. It's due to several reasons. I'm finding getting back to building slow and quite difficult - and working on long conversations that ultimately only take up a minutes gameplay makes it difficult to feel like things have progressed much. Take yesterday - all i got done were two speak triggers and two-and-a-half conversations, and two group scripts. Oh, and an hour playing with an NPC stats until just ending up deciding they were best as they were before i changed them. For a days work, thats a bit depressing. However, its part of the problem of the story-based mod....

Another issue is my nature to question what I've done and to be quite critical of it. I'm worried these confusions are coming across, particularly as I write the conversations - some I'm worried don't flow too well and maybe my confusion is coming across in them. And all this leads on to me worrying that I'm wasting time (a considerable amount of time given how long developing takes) on somethign that wont be well received or match the vision I have.

But that's enough emo-angst from me for now; build through it, publish and be damned! Now on to Maruts. They are inevitables, creatures of logic hailing from the Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus. Fantasy robots with specific missions. The Maruts punish those who cheat death - their motto is 'Everything must die eventually'. And as you have just risen from the dead, you've popped up on their radar! I've made Marut Alpha and Marut Omega using a tinted/scaled iron golem as the base, and given them their fists of thunder and lightning weapons. I plan on these being recurring 'villains' - retreating back to Mechanus to plan a new attack. I'll pop up some screenshots later. I've always like dth econcept of inevitables as the ultimate planar lawkeepers, and am looking forward to scripting the encounters

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

World Map

Completed a world map for modules 1-4 of he Dark Avenger campaign.

Used Hexmapper - a nice little utility that can be used to give maps the old school feel. Trying to decide if I should try and set the mod in FR or not... debate is happening on the forums

Thursday, May 24, 2007


OK, taken a bit of time off building since the rush of the contest and generally being busy. Also spent a bit of time playing jackyo123's Night Howls in Nestlehaven beta release - full version will be up soon and likely get into the top list. Great to see a very fleshed out module&plot and impressive amount of work has gone into it - evven with all the niggling little issues that beta testing throws up but are hard to get the motivation to bother with. It's also been open beta'd via the NWN2 forums, which has been good to see people pulling together to see it released. Good luck to him with it.
But have got back to Dark Avenger in the past week. Found it hard to dive in and sat with the toolset open but not acheiving much sometimes. Had one scare crash during a conversation (huge dialog). Lost 2 hours work but fortunatly doesnt seem to have corrupted anythign else
OK, Flashbacks. As I mentioned this is how I'm planning on opening up the roleplaying experience. You start as someone returned from the dead and due to where your soul went when you died (The plane of Hades - from D&D canon - strips souls of emotion, ambition and memories). And what I want to do in the game is give the player the chance to customise his experience - build his relationship and motivation for the whole adventure, by selecting a series of flashbacks during conversations.

These flashbacks define your personality, how you treat toehrs, and ultimately define why you have been raised formthe dead and why you were killed. THis way, each player will have his own impetus and drive to complete the quest. I think its a fun way to do this, enriches the roleplaying experience and hopefully it will work out well. Just means a lot of dialogue writing.
Posted a discussion about companions on the NWN2 forums - upshot is that I'm going to have to add an extra companion, and rejig the skills/feats of an existing one. Nothing too major, but good food for thought in that discussion.
Next time, I'll post some screen shopts of work so far, and outline a recurring encounter - the Maruts!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dark Avenger 1

OK, so first test module out of the way, toe dipped in the water, a few bites, ego suitably stroked, it was time for the next project. My own story. Although i'd enjoyed following a 'script' with PotSP in that i could follow the written module, I'd become keen to try from a blank canvas, and towards the end of building PotSP, several ideas were circling round my head. And thus Dark Avenger was born.

To be honest, even now I still have doubts about the idea; mainly as it hints at what a sad old wannabe-rocker I am. Dark Avenger is a song by the band ManOwaR, a heavy/power metal band who often used to be pictured in animal furs and with swords. Bit of a joke to some, but I do love many of their songs - they do good battle metal such as their retelling of the fall of Troy. And they also hold the title of loudest band in the world.... but enough rambling...

Dark Avenger opens, as all good epic metal songs do, with a slow narration, by the great actor Orson Welles. It tells of a man wronged and murdered, spurned by the Underworld and sent back to seek revenge. It's something that has always captured my imagination. In doing the introductory sequence to PotSP, I'd seen some of the cinematic feel you can give a module. So I decided to use the narrative from Dark Avenger as the introduction to my new module. A bare bones from which I could build a great story about revenge. A dark feel, playing a little with tones such as inner battles between good and evil; revenge brings out the darker side of the personality, and can the PC keep that in check? Revenge can affect more people than those immediately involved, creating a cycle of revenge. All great themes to play with.

Next time, I'll post on my Flashback idea - how the player can create his own story.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Obsidian Entertainment module contest

So, as I was starting my first major project that wasn't tinkering wioth the toolset, and that had some sort of thought/overall strategy behind it, a module contest was announced on the NWN2 forums. The theme; "Grimm Fairy Tales". The catch; one month to finish it in.

At first, I wasn't too interested - I'd started something else, and I was no way experienced anough to try this. But then I allowed myself one day playing with the toolset and seeing what ideas I came up with based on this theme. And I found one I actually quite liked - one that would be linear enough to be done in the time. And thus, A Walk in the Woods was born.

The module chose a selection of fairy tales, each to be encountered and played out in turn, amid the back drop of a race to save Prince Charming from an evil spell. As a kid, I'd seen so many Disney films so many times, I was quite influenced by them; the evil witch Melificent is from Sleeping Beauty, and the finale to the mod was (intended to be) similar to that cartoon

I was quite happy with the mod - annoyingly, some changes werent saved or fully ironed out i nthe final version for the contest deadline, so there aree some bugs with the ending. But the flow, the mix of adventure and hack-and-slash, and the writing I was pleased with. I think I've got the nack of doing interiors, but my exterior areas still lack something... I've not used any of the NWN2 plugins to help with these and might have to investigate . I'd learnt somethings from doing the contest too - things about the way I build, so I've taken something from it at least

I was suprised how many contest entries there were. And all seem to be good work (being new to the modding scene, I wasnt sure if 70% would be some 13 year olds effforts at cramming in as much l33t-speak and b00b1es!!1!! as possible), and all have strong plus points. Not really proper ettiquette to comment specifics about other contest entrants (although i think the winner was clear after only a few days...), so I'll leave detailed thoughts for now. Apart from, one thing I noticed was sometimes an underappreciation of people playing non-optimal or non melee builds. I like to try wierd builds and mods are the perfect place to do it. But some don't cater to this. Not just contest entries, but also existing modules. Maybe this is just a personal thing...

Next update - I'll introduce Dark Avenger, my work-in-progress, with maybve some screenshots

Friday, May 04, 2007

First post

Welcome to my blog
Been lurking on a few other NWN2 builder's blogs and seen it as a good way to keep diaries of their work. So with the module contest ofver and the dust settling, I thouhgt I'd start keeping an account of my thoughts as I build my next module, "Dark Avenger"

I'd played with the toolset in NWN1 a little, mainly to sketch out places for my online D&D campaign "Vanfein's Crossing". But it was only with the NWN2 toolset, I really tried to make something playable.
  • Palace of the Silver Princess - this was my first attempt. I chose to do a conversion of a pen-and-paper module for the main reason that everything was ready prepared; all I had to do was translate it to the game. Having since started working on my own ideas, from a blank canvas, I've only just realised how much help it is having something written down ion front of you. In terms of acheivement too - doing a module conversion of a dungeon, you can cross of each room as you go.
  • Sadly, POSP got the dreaded corruption as I neared completion. All in all I was quite happy with is as my first attempt, and on the whole, the reviews have been positive and fair (perhaps generous, but i won't complain). The cutscenes generally worked as i wanted, and give it a nice feel, I think. But my biggest lesson from doing POSP was that I needed to learn how to script if i wanted to really take things further...
  • What's Bugging Costen - when i first started building, I had grand schemes for converting years worth of DMing D&D into a campaign for NWN2. My biggest lesson from this was definitely; limit your scope. As I started, it quickly dawned o nme just how big and complex it can get. Putting in non-linear quests, keeping a decent cast, writing engaging converations. All took much longer than expects. I released a small setion of the work I'd done as a mini-module - to showcase my ideas, and the campaign. Sadly, it's only a small reflection of what could have been.

So having learnt about limiting my scope, and the need for notes/preparation, and buoyed by some positive reviews, I set about my current project Dark Avenger.

And then the Obsidian module contest was announced...