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.