Sunday, February 24, 2008

Let there be light

Just to prove it wasn't just a black area, I posted yesterday - here's the map ! ;o) Area designed to be darker and need darkvision/torches/lights

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bringing the outside in...

...or getting exterior on my interior.

I needed a break from working on the previous area (which is 95% finished, and in honour of the poll to the right has a small sidequest encounter too). So, I got working on a script system for the camp guards - I want them to defend the camp intelligently, to give the player something to think about. So I've put together a system whereby the guards will ring an alarm to call reinforcements and shut the fort gates on seeing the party. Rogues can try and sneak in to disable the alarm - as well as the companions will suggest other distractions to use. Not tested it all fully, but seems OK so far.

But I needed a change so I moved onto a new area - specifically an old smuggler's cave I'd been planning. With this one I've always planned to handle it slightly differently - namely by using the exterior terrain editor to create an interior area. There are high ceiling placeables out there to do this, but I've gone about it by using one of the custom skydomes I've developed (something I know LadyElvenstar and Amraphael have worked on more extensively). It's great to have more 3-dimensional, varied interiors - 3D combat is something I enjoy, adding a more tactical element too, and the standard caves can feel a little vanilla after a time.

Screenshots are below - they're all pretty dark, but that's intentional being an large dark dank cave. In some you'll see the cave ceiling/sky looming above. On the plus side, having no day/night cycle (so you don't get screwy shadows at different times of days), and using darker lighting covers a multitude of sins! ;)

Final note - the list eligible for Module of the Year is up, and Dark Avenger is on. There's stiff competition tho, so not holding my breath! My vote is torn in two directions at the moment - I appreciate mods differently since I started building (not necessarily a good thing as sometimes I feel too analytical and too often looking behind the story), but there were two that stood out for me in terms having a wow factor and still an air of mystery in them (but I'm keeping tight lipped on which ones for now). I can imagine any of 5 mods winning this from my reading of the list and the player reaction on the vault so should be interesting to see how it goes. Then, of course, there'll be AME...

Monday, February 18, 2008

New buzz

Wow, there's been a spate of amazing artistic area building been showcased recently - on blogs and on the forums with some new project announcements.... I know I'm doing something wrong when others can knock these areas up in 5 hours, and this last one's taken me at least 10 to get it to the state it is so far... I'm strongly thinking about looking for help with area building in later chapters, but many of the ideas I have are quite specific, and the prefabs are great but rarely quite right. But whilst it's humbling/depressing to see the great talent out there, it's great form a player perspective, as there seems to be a sudden buzz in the building community - more new blogs added to the right.

So, we all need more time to build and play, right? With February 29th coming up - a extra day's work this year but we're paid the same for this 29-day month as we were for the 28 days of February last year, maybe I'm justified taking a sicky.... :)

Also added a quick poll about sidequests. I think there was only one real 'quest' in Chapter 1 unrelated to the overall plot (the oozemaster), and that was my intention, due to the story-driven aspects of it (and I didn't want someone driven on a quest for revenge to be ferrying packages, or distracted by petty disputes for fear of diluting the impetus and slowing story proegression). When a mod is focussed on a single story, rather than a band roaming for random adventure, can we get away with fewer sidequests? But what do you think? Feel free to comment here after voting!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Militia base take 2

Man, seems like I've been at this area for ages... when in reality it's only bee the past week and a bit, buit al lthe time on the toolset spent fiddling with it. No matter how many times I tell myself to make smaller exterior areas, and no mattr how much I deliberately underestimate the area I need, I always end up with it a little too open . But. finally feel like it's getting there now - the screenshots early in development at least give me a nice record of how this has come on now. So now it's almost there...

Been an odd area to build as there's very distinct parts - open trail through grassy mountains, open woodland, fortified camp, beach and rocky area. All meant it needed planning - placing cliffs along the tile borders to maximise the number of textures I can use in adjacent tiles.

Needed a break from area building so loaded up Temple of Elemental Evil - man, I'd forgotten how much Iliked that game. It's a pretty amazing recreation of turn-based D&D - which I know is why some people didn;t like it. I'd love to be able to build in the turn based tactical elements from that into NWN2 to make it feel less like an arcade game sometimes..

Speaking of strategy, has anyone played much with the variables to change how enemies act - e.g. using stealth, or preparing ambushes etc? Not something I've delved into beyond setting their magic usage to 100% - anyone have experience with this? Does the Ranged variable work well - which sets their behavious to use ranged weapons by preference, and to find postions to fire from 'intelligently'?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Round table Round up

Michele did a great job at organising the round table discussion - and keeping it together with the glitches and relocation! Thanks to all for an interesting few hours. I always knew I had the face for radio, but there's something about the north american accent that'll record better i think - blame the movies for giving british accents to goons or villains...

Pity Amraphael couldn't make it - particularly for the custom content question that came up. Was interesting to hear other people's take on things, and trying to offer my sleep-deprived thoughts when I could. The whole thing finished about 3.30 am UK time and didn't get to sleep til 4.30 - can feel it all catching up with me. Man, back in Uni, I'd think nothing of that, several nights in a row...

Was great that some players (and other builders) were in the audience. I do thin it a shame sometimes that the blogs attract more interaction between the builders (not that that's a bad thing) than players - its a valuable input to have. I know since i started building, I play very differently (and more analytically) - sometimes it'd be nice to play without the toolset knowledge (like being able to read a great book or see a classic film again for the first time)

I had one question in my list of 3 that there wasn't time for in the end, but as I left I thought it might be interesting to ask here: Ideas that have been dropped - any big ideas that just became unworkable? Many, i think, have aborted old modules to work on current projects too - what and why? Looking back are the old dropped ideas something you were right to drop, or will you come back to them? Have people started out with a quest or set piece in mind, but had to drop it because the implementation was too tricky, or it became unfeasible? Any big grand ideas that needed that certain something eluding you to pull them off?

Module update 11/2/08

OK recovering from the lack of sleep after staying up for the NWN Podcast Rountable last night, which was good fun.
Finally made a start on the militia base areas - the climax to this chapter. The exterior base area is proving pretty large and complex, so is taking quite a bit of time to play with (taking a few crashes into account too). Some VERY early toolset screenshots are below.
When you enter the area, depending who you have in your party, you will get different suggestions on how to make the assault on the militia base easier - each involving a mini-sidequest to gather resources. Some options will appeal to some PCs more than others - all or none can be taken. When assaulting the base, there's the possiblity of taking the hidden entrance - which is going to prove complex to account for which route you take through the base and who is encountered in which order.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Custom content and the campaign folder

Seeing E.Noa's post about working with custom content prompted me to think of an isue I'd been having - namely with the use of custom content from within the camapign folder

I'd been using the cobweb fx which works fine in the toolset and in game by simply placing the folder within the campaign folder. Sky textures seem to work fine too. But I'm having issues with some of the other VFX I've been working on - which seem to appear in the toolset, but if i save, quit and reload, they have to be manually reset to make them appear again.

Another issues came with the cliff pack which is a great add on to make cliffs using the core cliff textures in the toolset, but not have them look too stretched. THe beach and the area I'm now working on needed good cliffs and this seemed like a good solution. Having no experience with 2da editing, I played around, got the MotB placeables 2da, added the relevant lines from the clif pack 2da to it, imported them into the game with the data files in the campaign folder - found they all had the wrong appearance (I'm guessing because the 2da entry lines were different), so manually altered the appearance to the correct ones which were in the drop down menu - et voila - i had cliffs in the toolset! .... but not in the game.

So has anyone experience with using the campaign folder for CC? I wanted to keep the install simple i.e. mod file and camapign folder if possible, but I guess override/hak is an option. But anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Surfin' Safari

Finally finished playing with a new beach area - tinting a sea bed to get it looking right was actually a lot trickier than I thought. Also been working a lot with fleshing out conversations, and working in journal updates to tie things together. But I hadn't done much area design for a while and enjoyed getting back into it. The first area in chapter 2 I'm really not happy with looking back at it, but i don't know if I have the heart to redo it. Something I might come back to during bug hunting when I'm also trying to add some polish. But in a lot of ways I think it can be easier to scrap an area and build from scratch, rather than be tied into bad ideas hanging over from the old design.