Wednesday, January 27, 2010

b0U/\cYrOc/<: m|sErY sTo/\e

I'm on a break from Dragon Age as it lost a lot of charm for me slogging through the Deep Halls. Story was fun, but too much tedium and repetitiveness in combat meant I needed a break. Which has been good for WPM - an Underdark sidequest nearly finished, and some of the subsystems I implemented later on in development now included in the earlier areas.

So for playtime, I've been venturing into the mists of Misery Stone. Been reassuring for the NWN2 community to see the reception and appetite for this. I've got about as much playtime as I had during testing of this under my belt, and am having fun - the difficulty is toned down significantly from what I recall of my testing, tho. But scenery, atmosphere, custom content and execution are top notch. A few niggles for me in terms of combat variance and companion interaction (and psst! the dryad's animal companion is still nameless ;) ) but nothing to detract from it being a great fun game with bags of character.

But as I stood in the whispering woods area early on in the game I got to thinking. The area is great - looks stunning visually and had buckets of atmosphere. And you know I kinda prefer the areas I've seen here (and from other work e.g. by Anduraga, Azenn, Maerduin and Chaos Wielder, and Amraphael's exteriors for Zork) to anything I've seen so far in Dragon Age. But, DA does have better looking character faces - but hang on, Misery Stone has custom faces for the companions that look amazing... So you know what? Misery Stone, just ended up making me want to play DA but in the NWN2 engine. Three years on, it's shown that the engine has a lot to offer still and look current.

Kudos to the team and all involved, especially Jclef.

edited to include authors I shouldn't have forgotten - thanks Starwars!


Jclef said...

Thank you, Sir! I hope you are tending to your grave now and then. Can't have any of those crows crapping on your Stone! ;)

And yeah, man... if only we could get NWN2 and DA to date for a bit. They're child would be our dream!

Starwars said...

The area design in particular is something that just keeps impressing me with NWN2. Misery Stone is wonderful in this area.

Then you go to something like Live Forever with the very lush forested areas showcased there.

Then check the areas of Purgatorio (just hope that the mod will actually be finished some day of course), which just absolutely floored me in how close their version of Sigil is to how I envisioned when reading the sourcebooks.

Then look at Harp & Crysanthemum with its slightly chilly autumn feel, and those beautifully scaled areas.

Then look at some of the prefabs on the vault like the Ascended City.

While NWN2 still kinda sucks in terms of performance and all that, it really is a very powerful tool in the right hands.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Area designs I have seen of late knock me for six. Without doubt, they are simply excellent. The danger is, however, they are also disheartening for very poor artists like myself, who look at their own areas and feel deflated at the difference.

I know there are prefabs, but there is always the worry that lots of others will use the prefabs and cause repetition.

That said, I do believe that gameplay varies greatly between modules, and I hope my own gameplay may help compensate my own design. ;)

NWN2 does have a great toolset and can have great designed areas, but normally at the hand of an artist.


Amraphael said...

I think that no one should worry about prefabs. The world IR are repeating it self all the time. Think about TV series. Lots of them take place in London or Los Angeles. Okay they are big areas but still the same the viewer even knows which are it is by seening Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, or the LA-landmarks (Where the Capitol Records-building is my favorite). It's the story that matters. The room is just a room where everything happens.

Sorry to fill up your comment thread with my ramblings. This year NWN2 are prettier than ever and I've been playing with lots of new techniques that has not been in earlier modules. This girl has lot and lots of secrets to reveal for us.

Wyrin said...

Gotta agree with Amraphael on the prefab front. Besides, I've tweaked all prefabs all use to some extent, and even just changing lighting gives them enough of a feel specific to your module. At least I hope so - if not the premise for 90% of my mod goes out the window ;)