Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I also aim to expand a few avenues, like expanding the story on the Catch of the Day quest. I want to put some cameras in the wagon to have a bit more visual control over the subtext, as well as add a few sounds in the conversation to better convey the feeling of being ambushed.
I seem to have located where Lip Flappers begins to break down. If you play straight through, things seem to work fine. If you save a game and load it, then the conversation wavs that are stored in the MOD file seem to stay unloaded and have them fly by. I guess we will have to play it safe and include these for the override folder instead.
Well, the holiday season (opposed to the shopping season) has kicked off. I'm staring down the barrel of a week of vacation with only the minor tripup of New Years Eve as a distraction. Things look really good for a Leap Year Release as long as I get good feedback from the beta tests that I release. Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The beta results are coming in and I must say I am a bit upset that it appears the Lip Flappers will have to be placed in the override folder, since the ones contained within the module file seem to take a dive after a while. Small price to pay I suppose, but I still wanted to keep things as nice and clean as possible.
There have been numerous reports of some places where gender pronouns were hard-coded toward the masculine, so I will have to go through the conversations and place in some
As the end of the year draws to a close, it is a time of both reflection and new beginnings. While I am having a blast developing this independent series, I cannot help but think back to the good old days of PW development. With that thought in mind, I figured I'd post an image that I threw together back when Cormyr and NWN2 were still on the table together.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Solvheil II: Beneath the Hearleforne Beta Test
Here is a link to download a beta module of the upcoming installment of the series: Download Beta
While this isn't the complete adventure, it does take you rather far into the story. It is designed for a human character and will set your experience to the non-ecl level of 6. I am trying to discover bugs, hang-ups, confusion, weak dialogue, or other elements that need work before I continue on with the remaining areas.
Feel free to do your worse in trying to buck the system. Tell me if a line of dialogue is too ambiguous, or if you notice something that needs further development.
This module uses Lip Flappers to enable NPCs to lipsync the dialogue. If this isn't working properly and conversations are flying by at an alarming rate, please let me know. I tried to include the wav files within the module file and while it has worked well for me, I want to make sure it is consistent for everyone.
This is a direct continuation of the first module in the series:
Sands of Solvheil I: Ruins of Kazatharis
While completion of the first module isn't required, there are several elements from it mentioned within this story.
Many thanks to anyone who gives this a whirl and provides me with their feedback. Only though beta tests such as this can I deliver the best possible end result.
Feedback can be provided either via PM on the NWN2 Forums, or within the above linked forum thread.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I am so very thankful for the walkmesh helper that has really made so much possible. From guards posted atop walls, to actually using the dirt mounds as a dias, it's really handy to be able to manipulate your NPC placement. I've done more baking this weekend then a grandmother on thanksgiving morning.
I did quite a bit of area light tweaking as well. It all started with adjustment of fog levels to get the correct visibilty in the forest areas. I then started to play around with the ground and skylight values as well to create, what I think, are more realistic looking areas. I may just go back and do some additional adjustments in the city areas of Evertide as well, but I will shelf for that later.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Very cool stuff, but a bit different from the biped method of 3D Studio Max's Character Studio which I am more familiar. However, I do think that I will sway my favor toward Maya overall. The ease with which I modeled this, slapped some hull textures on, set up materials and lights for the spotlight effect, and rendered an animation, it's just sick.
With that somewhat out of my system, I suppose getting back to the Solvheil modules is in order.
What's that you say? Does it REALLY walk? Would I lie to you? I feel called out here...the gauntlet is down. Fine, have it your way:
Click here to download a 12 second avi.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The good news? The module is very playable/testable (whoah, gotta be careful with THAT word) in both Evertide and the Great Forest. The trick will be merging these two areas together without delving too deeply into some of the sidequest action planned for Evertide.
I am about 1 or 2 areas shy of a total, only about 1/3 of the conversations, and the module is still approaching SoS:tRoK size very rapidly. Needless to say, for a throwaway middle adventure, this thing is turning into a behemoth. Not that I'm complaining, it is just funny how quickly things can snowball, even when adhering to a predefined scope.
I had originally planned ending this module with a little romp through some dwarven mines. I may cut that portion depending on size/time limitations (and the fact that I can't easily integrate RWS Deep Tilsets). Not that I couldn't make do with the default tiles, RWS has just done such a stellar job that it really pains me to leave it by the wayside. I'll have to see how the flow of things goes to judge how far to take the ending.
One of the most lacking portions of the first module seemed to be the relationship building with the companions. While they all had their own agendas and motivations pretty well laid out and diversified, there seemed to lack the casual conversation and comradery aside from the speaktrigger huddles that took place from time to time. While I'd really like to expand on that in this module, I'm not sure if I will have the time to do so. The upcoming few weeks will determine how much I can get done before the close of 2007, and how much room for improvement and time to do so remains. It's not that I'm necessarily looking for talented individuals to step up and take care of some of the more intimate portions of dialogue...however if one were to fall in my lap (figuratively speaking of course).
In the back of my mind, I am slowly developing some finer detail for the third (formerly second) module, Crusaders of Shalihir. I am going to make sure that this module completes its intended purpose of setting things up nicely for the remainder of the story. I really dislike the idea of going back and retrofitting in clues and nods to things that will become relevant later, so I want to make sure I have it right the first time. I also like some of the rough layouts I had done up for a few areas in part III, and cannot wait to get back to them.
By the close of this coming weekend, I'd like to have a playable module all the way up to the druid grove. I'd also like one million dollars so I can work on NWN fulltime, but eh, whattyado?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Looking at the file size, I decided that the toolset must be lying to me so I closed it down and reopened one of the main module files. There stood the docks in all its glory, however upon attempting to open it outside of the module such as from an ERF, it would not be displayed in the area. It was still there, listed under placables. The walkmesh was still present, but the dock itself couldn't be seen. This took a good two hours of constant opening, looking, swearing, closing, and repeat before I decided to call it a night.
Oh well, after all of the progress that I made over the Thanksgiving weekend, it is only fitting that there's a few bumps in the road to balance things out.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I'm pretty stoked to see it fall in place like that, and knowing the areas that I have ready, very excited to get to the rest of the adventure.
I even set the foundations for a few sidequests in Evertide since I'm so pleased with the way it turned out.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I have to be careful to not make it too slow, or else it could prove rather annoying. Also playing with the look of the adversaries for this area, which should look pretty cool if I can pull it off.
The Design Document also underwent several changes and additions, and version 1.2 was uploaded to the vault today.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I've learned, and already kind of known, that different players prefer different play styles. Some think combat was too easy, for others, too difficult. Some enjoy the more freeform parts of the module, while yet others prefer the story based second half. What I take away from all of this is don't change a thing. I will continue much of the good points in the next module and attempting to mix these various tastes and play styles together to create an experience that is enjoyable to almost everyone at some point during the adventure.
I have also learned to not base changes on a single piece of feedback alone, aside from obvious bug fixes, as the desires of one player don't always translate across the board. All I can do is take every piece of advice to heart and consideration and make an educated guess based on the feedback as a whole.
Anyhow, one vote to go!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Some may call it 'Completion Anxiety', some may even dub it as 'Attention Deficit Disorder', while others would argue it was a result of bad things my parents did in the 70's. The truth, though, is that I enjoy behind the camera more. I guess that makes me the Michael Nesmeth of the NWN world. Although my mother did not invent white-out (nor sniff it despite my earlier comment), and I've never been in any musical ensemble. I normally play just enough to catch a glimpse of the new building resources before I tear into the toolset to see how much has been added to the palette.
To me the NWN toolset is nothing more than a giant glorified Colorform set, and nothing makes me happier than peeling the reusable sticky creatures off of the pad and slapping them down in the landscape. I realize this is an over generalization for one of the most revolutionary concepts of disturbed development. It is just my way of explaining it to the outside world without sounding crazy(er).
Friday, November 9, 2007
One thing that really brought it all together, aside from Adam Millers bubble VFX, was the use of the Aqua Area Fog that I raised just slightly above the Player's head on the Z-Axis. While it looks a little blurry in this screenshot, from PC level it looks quite amazing.
This is a huge load off of my mind as I was really worried about creating a realistic looking underwater area. Now I can spend my time worrying about more important things.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This completely destroys the look I was going for when I designed the character and his respective armor set. Granted, his look will change in subsequent modules, but for Ruins of Kazatharis, his appearance is ruined. Not a happy camper with the rampant retro-censorship at work here.
On a lighter note, I have set a hard release deadline for myself for Sands of Solvheil II: Beneath the Hearleforne. I am aiming to get this module finished, tested, and ready for release by February 2008. This will allow me ample time to continue work on the third module and have it complete well before the two year anniversary of the NWN2 release.
I began importing most of the content from the mini-modules I use for development into a master module, and can now see the entire project taking form. Again, I could spend years on Evertide alone and the endless adventure opportunities yielded by such a medieval metropolis. For the sake of the story though I will have to narrow my focus as there is quite a bit of ground to cover with this module and hanging about town just won't do.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I then went to work filling in some missing NPCs from Evertide. I definitely skipped around the whole module and made some key names first, but it is time to start fleshing out the named shop owners and other notable people. The screenshot shows the core creatures of Evertide as well as some from Lyritholln. Just the ones that I considered 'ready'.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
The flooded area beneath the giant tree and elven capitol is going to be a rather significant area of action occurring about midway through the module. I want this area to look just right and will spend some time on the lighting. This shot is a quick look at the terrain before finer details area added.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Just uploaded (the hopefully final) version 1.8 to the vaults FTP. As always, Maximus is the true Deus Ex sweeping in and linking it to the listing. If NWN were to ever honor a patron saint, I have a nomination card ready.
I took a glance at the initial release date, 09-24-2007, a little over a month ago. Then that tiny voice in the back of reminded me of the rules for entering the NWN2 Hall of Fame. The last of which was being at least 3 months old. The slowhead gene kicked in and said, no problem, I'm 31. Then I realized a greater revelation that it will be eligible (assuming it gets 5 more votes and the score doesn't tank) on Christmas Eve. Santa, if you're listening…
It's not that I need the fame, fortune, and glamorous groupies that come with having your module on the Hall of Fame list. It's not even that I want to feel justified, because, Nobody with a GOOD car needs to be justified, you understand? Me, I drive a '96 Honda Civic to serve as a suburban sled. The truth is I want to be in the Hall of Fame because I'm a narcissistic media whore. No, that can't be it either, else I'd have voted for myself already. I've never believed in padding the results, spoils the whole experiment, and it's cheesy.
Every time I open the module to make an update I am tempted to add/change/revise certain things. What stops me (besides the fact that I am mostly focused on part II) is the belief that the module should stand on its original merits. I don't think I could in good conscience revise too much without relisting because that would again spoil the entire process in some small fashion.
I won't put too much stock into it, just something to think about. Not like I'll flip out if I don't make it. *Staring blankly at my Pew-36 Explosive Space modulator*
Monday, October 29, 2007
So far, attempts to correct this have been fruitless, and searches for a solution have yielded nothing. I've made a last ditch effort with a post to the NWN2 Forums in hopes that someone out there knows how to rid the Shadow Fortress areas of this nasty graphical glitch. Far from a deal-breaker, it's an eyesore whose time has come. On the upside, the bright red ceilings of the Castle Tiles were corrected in 1.10/MotB.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I'm using a bit more of a modular design with this project, much like I did back in the NWNOnline: Kingdom of Cormyr PW days. It allows the mini-mods to remain smaller and easier to work with, and keeps the integrity of the master module. I just have to be mindful of which I am working on when I go to save-as (I keep multiple copies for just such emergencies).
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thanks to NWN2 Warcry for posting the second half of the Ossian Studios Interview. Here are the words articulated just as I wanted to read them:
14. Will any of the custom content be available to the modding community to use in their modules?
Larry Liberty: Yes, making new content available to the modding community is central to the Adventure Pack program. It represents another avenue for Atari to seed the community with high quality content (beyond expansion packs).
Good to know there is far more to the new resources than a one shot, albeit professionaly produced, campaign. No word on whether those who want to play a mod that utilizes said content will have to also purchase the adventure pack. It's a very limiting move for a community builder as far as audience, but opens alot of doors as to diversity and quality.
I'd like to have this looked over with someone who is really good at number-crunching at games. I need an Encounter/CR/Experience Statistician or something. I'd like the combat in this module to be a little more intense with more close calls than before without stacking the deck too high.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Now, of COURSE I'm going to shell out whatever funds necessary to take a peek at this. The question then becomes...do I incorporate the new toolset content into my modules. Really on the fence with this decision, but screenshots like the following from the NWVault are leaning me in a particular direction.
Now I ask you, is that not one of the coolest creature models you've seen in awhile? As much as I don't want to limit the audience of the Sands of Solvheil series (that's a lot of S's), I will have a very hard time passing up on content like this. Time will tell.
Check out this interview with Ossian Studios about the project.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
While I feel custom VFX creation is something I could really sink my teeth into, I don't really have the time to get too into it. His effect will work nicely to add to the ambiance of the flooded roots of the Hearleforne. While this isn't an area I've gotten too far into molding, I do have the top portion of the elven capital somewhat fleshed out.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Formerly titled Crusaders of Shalihir, the second module has instead been split into two pieces. The first of which is now titled Beneath the Hearleforne and will deal with the immediate ramifications of the events from Ruins of Kazatharis. The adventure will start the player off in Evertide, the capital of Dalreon, working on the assignment given to them by King Jorlaan at the end of the first module.
From there it will a whirlwind adventure carrying them from the Elven kingdom of Lyritholln to the frozen reaches of Harrn as they delve into the beliefs and relationships of both human and demihuman alike. This adventure thrusts the player into the foreground more than the predecessor, as they are now of a respectable and survivable level.
Sands of Solvheil Series
Design Document for Sands of Solvheil I: The Ruins of Kazatharis
Design Document for Sands of Solvheil II: Beneath the Hearleforne
Design Document for Sands of Solvheil III: Crusaders of Shalihir