Thursday, December 11, 2008

Well of Course I had to make an Overland.

I can't resist. I am so weak. I had to try my hand at Overland Maps. This is an early draft of the Isle of Sampeatos. Not nessasarily connected to the Sands of Solvheil series, but a definate location in the setting. I was thinking about turning this into (after I finish SoSIII of course) a seperate adventure, possibly multiplayer. Think Isle of Dread, original orange cover. Yeah, nothing to do with that, but that cover shot...yeah, that's the feeling.

Isle of Sampeatos: Early Overland

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Finished SoZ, sorta

After much adventuring and exploration, I ended up at the final battle a bit too early. All party members were around 13th level and collectively got their tails handed to them by the final encounter.

I really enjoyed SoZ because of the stark differences between it and previous NWN/NWN2 releases. While I have always had the problem of being either completely open ended such as the Cormyr PW I worked on in NWN 1, or very very linear and story driven such as the Solvheil campaign, SoZ seemed to blend these two elements together.

This does present some problems, as evidenced by my untimely demise (and rather one-sided battle). Without the proper controls in place, it is entirely possible to wander into something that your party is not nearly prepared to handle. While many of the adventures required activation from an NPC conversation, the random encounter tables and overall story arc was completely accessible whether you were ready or not.

This did indeed add the danger that was present by wandering monster tables and other elements of traditional PnP. However, it was without the divine intervention, aka DM discretion, that was there to make sure the gameplay was enjoyable.

Again, I know that many were less than pleased with the latest release. I just happended to find it a bit more interesting than previous. I've always had trouble being guided through a main story without much room for deviation (although I design SP modules the complete opposite because I just want to tell a story). This title gave me a blank sheet to make my mark upon, and retire whenever I saw fit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SoZ, or, Christmas comes Early

I really do feel like I'm 10 years old on Christmas morning staring under a tree bursting with wrapped presents whenever a new NWN release comes out. I love looking at the new content, be it appearances, placables, scripting functions, weapons, or whatever. The release of Storm of Zehir was no different.

First of all, I have to say that this expansion is indeed a bit different from previous releases. It is much more strategy based and less hand-holding and guiding story than we are used to. Not everyone will be happy with it, while others will welcome the change. Personally, I think it's rather engaging. Although I am sure the toolset bug will overtake my will to complete.

I'm sure I will hit the 'Retire' button long before the module is finished and dive headfirst into the toolset once again without looking back.

Good thing it's a holiday week around these parts, I have lots of game to plow through. Happy Caravan-ing!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Updates are for Chumps

Alright, maybe they're not. I have been one horrendous slacker as far as updates go lately. Luckily, it took some work on the BouncyRock Halloween module to get my rear kicked into gear. While my contribution wasn't exactly as elaborate as I would have liked, being my favorite holiday and all, it did get me back into the swing of things.

So what have I been doing with the two months it's been since my last post? Mainly taking/teaching classes (which is awesome since my two Software Engineering classes are busy making video games...gotta love those guys). Then of course I HAD to buy a new laptop. HAD to (that's what I told my wife anyway).

It is one sweet sweet machine. The Gateway P-7811FX, which is one hella gaming machine squeezed into a semi-portable shell. This thing is screaming fast, and I'm happy to report that NWN2 runs juuuuuust fine on the Vista 64-bit. Crysis Warhead doesn't run too shabby on it either.

Now I have very few excuses to not get right back into writing some dialogue for SoSIII. I'm starting back in this morning as my work computer is on the frazz and running through checkdisk. Seems a waste to not do a little something productive, right?

Monday, August 18, 2008

That's one spicy cutscene

Oh man, I totally see why I asked for outside assistance with cutscenes. I just saw a rather mundane setup conversation come alive. Great camera work, great gestures, completely changed the whole dynamic. It's very cool to see a conversation become a true scene, because you can better convey mood and atmosphere between characters. JasonNH nailed it on this first one, and I realize I had better get my rear in gear to finish up some more dialogue.

Anyhow, things have been really busy, but as I finish up this 10 page case study for class (and come to the realization that I can't sleepwalk my way through a masters program like I did the undergrad), I think time will start to present itself.

Also, did anyone else swoon when they saw Bouncy Rock's new Yuan-Ti Pureblood model? Perfect texturing really set this thing off. I have no idea if Obsidian plans on including one with SoZ along with Half-Bloods, but if so they really have their work cut out to trump this thing. Y'know, with talent like they have over there, I think one could very well take over the world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Curse You Sharepoint!

Holy Smokes! That's a long time between blog posts!
Things have gotten a might busy between taking masters classes, teaching a Software Engineering class, and this @#$%! move to MOSS 2007 at work. While I have not forgotten the module at hand, I haven't had a free hand to touch it in over a week, bleh!

Anyhow, any Sharepoint Gurus out there know how to ease my pain? Y'know, let a guy get back to his beloved NWN2 module by answering the questions that keep him up at night?


Requirements:
Public Facing MOSS2007 Internet Site for Content Management (with Publishing/WorkFlow) w/o Deployment (no Staging Server). Just want to make sure we begin on the right path before we delve too deeply into content deployment. We will eventually work with the Document Management as well for online forms and such.


Questions:

1.) a.) Which Site Definition should we use to begin with? Collaboration Portal, Team Site, etc.
b.) Should we create a custom Site Definition and if so, which do we base it upon?
c.) Since there will be sites below the top level site (homepage), should their Site Definitions differ from the top?
(IE Collaboration Portal for top level, Team Sites below that).

2.) Since there will be significant CSS changes, as well as multiple MasterPages per site level, should we override the CORE.CSS and what is the preferred method for doing so (Inline, Override Textbox in Site Settings, Custom Function, etc).

3.) Editing Custom MasterPages, there is a place for PlaceHolderMain, yet no breakdown of the Web Part Zones contained within this area. What defines the Web Part Zones and their placement on a given MasterPage?

4.) Calendar and Announcement WebParts only seem to be options in a Team Site. Is there a way to enable these for use in other definitions? Is that done on the MasterPage, the ONET.XML, etc. Basically, how do we select from the Smorgasbord if they are prepackaged into Value Meals?

5.) Assuming that we will eventually be writing custom Web Parts, should we contain the entire Sharepoint Solution on VS2008 as a deployable package, or keep the Web Parts separate within Visual Studio and rely on Sharepoint Designer for the inner workings of Sharepoint.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Elrithorn it is

Elrithorn it is

After a lengthy voting session, the results have determined that the continent be named Elrithorn. Of all of the choices, I also dig this one the most. Lontheria also recieved a decent amount of the votes, so I have decided to assign it to one of the northern uncharted regions (no need to let it go to waste). Of all of the choices, I think Elrithorn fits best with the existing names of some of the areas and longstanding NPCs (mainly the elves due to their elongated lifespan).

I haven't done many updates lately. I suppose the toxic mixture of graduate classes, newborn, and daydreaming has got the better of me. I am still somewhat considering scheduling release of the third module for after I get my hands on SoZ. Not so much for the content that it will provide, as much as the ability to properly pad the 2DA files within the hak. Since the hak also contains material for the fourth module, I didn't want to apply a band-aid hak with it (although if I opt for custom loadscreens/hints, this may be unavoidable).

My development time has been spent less in the toolset itself and instead in various txt and xls files trying to lay down some decent conversation nodes. Now that I have a bit of help in that area, and with cutscenes, I am hesitent to lay anything 'to tape' just yet.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's like Deja Vu all over again

Now THAT'S a shipwreck!
I just find myself thinking back to be fore MotB's release and drooling over certain placables and creatures thinking to myself how much I could have used those in Ruins of Kazatharis. Alas, here we are again. A fresh batch of E3 Screenshots from Storm of Zehir, and taunting me like a jailer dangling keys is what I believe to be a serpent creature model and of course, this beautiful shipwreck you see above. Both of which would serve the current module in development well, however, substitutes will have to be made. Interestingly enough, the substitute in question for the shipwreck is the very Sloop building placable that I coveted in the MotB screenshots (I guess I just have to make my sandy shipwreck an overturned one.

Anyhow, some pretty decent screenshots from Storm of Zehir here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm Batman

OK, I'm not. But if I had a boatload of money, I would certainly try.





On Friday, The Dark Knight hits theaters and I will be there (sans costume, I mean, it's not Star Wars). I'm really looking forward to this as I enjoyed Batman Begins, and found the reimagining of Gotham a darkly beautiful vision. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge Tim Burton fan (when he's on that is) and I was a Michael Keaton supporter since his name was attached to the role. Jack, I mean, don't get me started....it's Jack. He even made Wolf watchable. However, that was the 80's, and as great a decade as that was for its iconic media, it is 20 years away.

The yet unrevealed (or at least I haven't stumbled upon it) is how they well they can pull off Two-Face. By the time Tommy Lee Jones got hold, the franchise had already taken a nosedive into the cheese tray. I'm not familiar with Eckhart, so we'll see. Naturally I hope Maggie Gylanhaal will do a good job filling in for the 'please send help' absent Katie Holmes. After Donnie Darko, how could I not at least give her a chance. Although, it is still a bit odd viewing Gary Oldman as a virtue, but he definately has the Gordon look down. Just slap on some black framed glasses and whiten that hair to a Colonel Sanders sheen.

Anyhow, long story short (too late), here's to hoping this is at least as good as the first one. Anything beyond that is just pure gravy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Eagle has Landed

Audrey Marie came into this world at 5:46 p.m. on 7/11/2008. Her and her mother are doing awesome and taking a well deserved nap. Big sister Brynn Michelle has changed her sentiment from 'can we give the baby away?' to 'can we bring the baby home right now?'

This one's a bit quiet...definately not a bard. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say wizard or monk. Here's to hoping the trend continues.

Thanks to all for the well-wishes, thoughts, and prayers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Be back w/ baby #2

I'll be out like sour kraut tommorow. At the hospital at 7 a.m. (earlier than I get to work, sheesh) with my wife to start the Level 2 Summon Baby spell. I believe it is a targeted effect, duration is about 18 years (not sure of the calculation in rounds), and it summons a 1d4 hp baby henchman that disobeys orders despite your CHA. (I won't get into the material components, although an expensive dinner is one of the reagants). This spell does incur a STR/DEX/ CON ability drain, as well as cost significant gold (275k or so). However, the XP gain is well worth it...because you are in essense rolling up a new character. Now, if only the wife would let you name it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Building Team for Solvheil Series

Repost from the NWN2 Forums

Details (aka The Pitch):

Want to work on a large-scale/short-term module project in a semi-established NWN2 series? I have come to a point in development and life where putting together a small team to help move things from paper to toolset is the only way that I will complete this third module to the level of quality I am seeking and in the relatively short timeframe.

I have just put the finishing touches on the 2nd revision of the Design Document for Sands of Solvheil III: Crusaders of Shalihir, and completed not only the main story path, but a majority of the areas/npcs/adversaries. Now is about the time when my mind starts to wander to what will take place in the module after this, what little tidbits of information can I throw in here or there, maybe this area needs some more detail, etc.

In short, I am not very good from this point to the finish line, and think the time has come to seek some assistance. The first two modules (The Ruins of Kazatharis and Beneath the Hearleforne) suffered because of my rush to finish and solo status. I would really like this third module to shine above the others and display a look and polish that wasn't possible before.

Below I have outlined some of the areas/positions in which I need the most help. While these are rather detailed descriptions, they don't have to match 100% as I have never been a fan of pigeonholing talent into one box (leave that to ILM). If you would like to work on this module, but feel you would be good at X and Y, but not nessasarily Z, feel free to contact me anyway.



Dialog Engineer

With the central plot already outlined, the story needs translated into conversational and descriptive format which will be delivered via various NPCs, Objects, and Triggers. There will be a fair amount of creative latitude for fleshing out both plot pivotal and ancillery information. Aside from the look and actions of an NPC, conversation is where their personalities should really shine through. An extremely important task is breathing life into the character models.

-Basic Conversation Mechanics
-Creative Writing withing given scope/bounds
-Ability to mix Narrative with Descriptive text
-Knowledge of Skill/Ability Checks, Success/Fail nodes




Cutscene Engineer

I've always been a fan of module theatrics, and this third installment will be no different. I would, however, like it to be better. This is where an individual with a talent for cutscenes would come in. They would be responcible for taking a storyboarded scene, the nessassary NPCs, conversations, etc and melding it all together for those dramatic moments where the player lets go of the keyboard/mouse, and watches the screen with their jaw agape.

-Conversation Nodes
-Conditionals
-Use of Static and Mobile Cameras
-Use of Waypoints & IPoint Speakers where applicable
-Blocking Scripts (NPC Actions)
-Play VFX
-Play Sounds
-Play Animations




Encounter Engineer

I have plenty of battles througout the story, however I don't have the numbers in place. How many, how difficult, how much reward, are all aspects of development that are far from my area of expertise. I am hoping to find an individual who possesses the mind of an Accountant and can easily calculate what makes a challenging encounter for any given class, without venturing into either frustrating or yawn-inspiring territory.

-CR Calculation
-Economic and Challenge Balance Configuration
-Basic NWScript AI
-Onspawn/OnUserDef/OnHeartbeat actions

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SOLIII_MOD Design Document Online

Heavy Spoilers, however, I have posted the design document for Crusaders of Shalihir to the vault (attached to part II:Beneath the Hearleforne) and linked it above. It is not a finalized version, but does have a decent list of current areas, companions, as well as a storyline runthrough.

It is always nice to have something like this to look back at, modify, adjust to keep all of the smaller Excel Spreadsheets, Text Files, and MindMaps togather in one place. I think I flesh out the design document at this point in the development because I have all of the areas pretty much finished, and just beginning to procrastinate on dialogue.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lay-Down Before the Cards are Dealt

In my continuous effort to release prefab areas from my modules, I have just uploaded one of the final areas in the upcoming Crusaders of Shalihir to the vault. The Ruins of Solvheil was an attempt to break from the very geometric and euclidean design of Kazatharis. Ruins sunken into the desert sands, this area is dome-tastic and features the remains of man's greatest civilization.

The Ruins of Solvheil sunken into the Shalihir Sands
Between this and Tahamman, I have officially given a glimpse of both the beginning and end of SoS:CoS. So for those who treat modules/adventures like a term paper, you should be satisfied and have no need to download and play it when it's released (everyone knows that the introduction and summary are the most important parts, right?). However, for you more diligent types who like to carry things through, I like to think this will be a rather interesting journey through the arid Shalihir desert and tie up most of the remaining mysteries from previous modules nicely.

The Ruins of Solvheil sunken into the Shalihir Sands

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Name that Continent coming along

Although as of this post, there are only 13 votes, it helps quite a bit to see which of the listed names off to the left fits best. I suppose I should have included a [None of the Above] option for those individuals that think all of the choices are sub-par. 35 days left to vote and thusfar the most popular names seem to be Lontheria (actually a bit suprised with this one) and Elrithorn.

I'll let this poll run it's course and see where it ends up. I normally look at the names and try to see how it fits in with the psuedo-linguistics of the current setting, such as Lyratholln, Elrinne, and Alakanthor. Thanks to all who have voted and those that have yet to, as it defintely helps me narrow down the list.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pro-Tip: FreeMind

I have found a new favorite tool for brainstorming and organizing a module. Alright, I didn't so much FIND it as it was recommended to me by an PnP old-schooler. It is called FreeMind, and it is the right price for the title (free).

http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

It is similar to MS Visio minus the myriad of icons and about 80% of the frustration. You can simply start with a root node and keep inserting child nodes as you work through things. Then, you can move nodes or trees of nodes into whatever hierarchy you desire. It also has some great export features such as HTML, XML, JPG, etc. Copying/Pasting is also a breeze to grab a list of nodes and pasting them into notepad or other text editor.

Breakdown of Module Plot using FreeMind Mindmapping Software

Anyhow, I think this is a great resource for any module developer who wants to throw their ideas down 'on paper' and then rearrange them. I know it has certainly helped me get the plotpoints of SoSIII:CoS worked out nicely. It always helps to have a visual reference and bonus if it is editable.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Few Area Prefabs

While progress is, well, progressing on the third module in the series, I have decided that it was time for some old business. One of the things I promised myself when I started was that I would design several of the areas in these modules to be reusable. While I did release 3 prefab areas from Ruins of Kazatharis, I had not yet done the same with Beneath the Hearleforne.

Last night I did some cleaning on the areas, stripping away anything module dependent, npcs, scripts, etc until there was nothing but one area to pack to an erf. I pulled two areas from Beneath the Hearleforne and one from the upcoming Crusaders of Shalihir and packaged them up for the vault.

1) Keel Street on the Evertide Docks, capital of Dalreon.
2) Storneth in the Kingdom of Harrn.
3) Tahamman in the Shalihir Desert.

I just finished getting the entries filled out and uploaded, and they should be approved pretty soon (even with Maximus out for baby #3, gratz to him btw).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gamechanger

The announcement of the upcoming expansion does indeed change things a bit. For one, it means I have to consider what this does to my release schedule. I have to juggle the pros and cons of delaying production on Crusaders of Shalihir a bit to incorperate the new features of SoZ (Such as the Overland Map and assorted Chult Jungle apparel.

I can see pros and cons to both sides of this one. If I treat this like Ruins of Kazatharis, then I release it just before the release of the expansion pack to give those who don't have the expansion yet something to do. I could also treat it like Beneath the Hearleforne which was tailored around the material contained within the expansion.

One of my biggest concerns is hak compatibility and what may be effected by the expansion. That is the one driving force in my head that tells me to hold off until all the cards are on the table.

If I had to guess (I honestly haven't looked into this one yet), I would put SoZ release late fall/holiday shopping time. Which really wouldn't shift back production that much. I could continue to work on Crusaders of Shalihir, touch-up/test/verify post-expansion, then get to work on part IV (which has already undergone some script changes due to this news).

I'm thinking that may be the best way to go.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir

File this one under 'I told ya so'...

Atari Europe has published news of a new expansion pack for NWN2 titled "Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir"

http://nwvault.ign.com/fullstory.php?id=42139


Pad those 2DA lines well my friends, and batton down the hatches, the waters are about to get stormy.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Little Ducks All in a Row

NPCs

Ahh the fun of making NPCs, they aren't dolls damn you, they are action figures. One of the more interesting aspects of module development outside of area design is crafting the various NPCs. While this is sometimes a time consuming activity having to make sure that factions, skills, feats, names, etc all mesh up, it allows for quite a bit of creative flexibility in designing the look and armor for each. That's right, eat your heart out Vera Wang.

Anyhow, here is a quick glimpse of some of the NPCs that will be featured in Crusaders of Shalihir. Check out that lion shield from Sunsilks Shield pack. I couldn't have asked for a more fitting model.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hak-Tastic

I have made some really good headway putting together the hakpak for Crusaders of Shalihir. Actually, I am including all custom content material for the module after it as well. With bandwidth and storage being less of a concern than it was in the NWN1 days, I decided to just combine the two. Not too mention there is quite a bit of carry over.

Of course, just when you think you have everything you need, something you want arrives. Take for example the new Robinson Workshop creation: RWS Dungeons. Just amazing quality from them once again. I already combined the 2DA entries from it and their All-In-One package and merged it into my existing hak.

I also went ahead and made the once override files of Beneath the Hearleforne into a hakpak so people would no longer have to mess with their override folder. I hope this makes things a bit easier on the players now that I'm pretty sure 2DAs are read from haks correctly.

Monday, May 26, 2008

More Screenshots and a Custom Content Confession

Here are some mock-ups of some additional areas in the Shalihir desert.

In the Age of Burnt Towers, the common people rose against thier magocratic rule, subsequently destroying the places of highest authority, the towers.
The ruins of a giant multi-tiered watermill hint at the innovation of the lost civilization that once occupied it.

Below the dry docks of Kazatharis, you join the crusade as it launches a formal charge.

I have decided, although I do support the concept of the 3C 100%, to move forward with my own little cooked-up hak for the time being. After careful consideration, I decided that I would like to really ramp up production on this module, and there are some very story specific reasons to include Johnny Ree's awesome Beholder and upcoming Drider models (not to mention did anyone catch that the Basilisk and Asp are now viable models again? Cha-Ching!).
In short, I had to make a tough desision on what to do for the time being. While I did use many of the same 2DA lines in case I change my mind, and there's time later, I opted to do some super-paranoid padding of the lines. Hey, who knows, I think that Mysteries of Westgate may just tip the scales toward more adventure packs, and I do expect another expansion from Obsidian (although some call me mad). Here's to hoping, and staying safe in case of.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Alakanthor & Name That Continent

Here is a very early screenshot of Alakanthor. A secluded monestary nestled into the cliffs amongst the ruins of an ancient Solvheilian dock, Alakanthor will serve as the stage of a rather large battle in the later part of the module.

Alakanthor
Also, I have a poll posted in the upper left of this page on potential names for the Continent. While Solvheil has always been the campaign name, it is the name of an ancient civilization, not the name of the giant piece of rock it takes place on. I have come up with a good number of maybes and put them up for public scrutiny. Feel free to pick your pony.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Custom Content and the 3C

Alright, call me crazy. I have been exploring the magical realm of custom content as of late and compiling a list of things that I would like to use in 'Sands of Solvheil III: Crusaders of Shalihir", when I came across the 3C. For those who haven't seen it, the 3C is very much like the CEP of NWN1, except without custom blueprints, tlks, scripts, etc. It is strictly the resources.

Now, while some things that made the cut somewhat raise my eyebrows on the quality tip, the 3C does indeed have all of the resources that I was looking to add. I am seriously (as in test module) considering incorperating it into the rest of the series. I am curious if anyone has any concerns or thoughts on the utilization of the 3C. From what I gather, most of the 2DA files are adequately padded to prevent any foolery from Expansions of Adventure packs, so damage control should be kept at a minimum.

It also has many of the Robinson Workshop compilations, which can only serve to make area design that much more fun and robust. I think to stay on the safe side, I will export all of my areas as ERF and import them into a blank module wired up with 3C to try things out for a few days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tahamman Interiors

Just a quick look at the progress of a few interiors in the desert town of Tahamman in the Shalihir Desert.

The Empty Hump: Interior The Empty Hump: Favorite watering hole of the trade hub.



Armond Alchemy: Interior Armond Alchemy: Last chance to find a variety of flora before a trek across the arid sands.

Monday, May 19, 2008

And now for something completely different...

The minor story is that I finally (10 years after I should have) graduated with my Undergraduate degree this weekend. On a more interesting note, the keynote speaker was Steve Forbes. The Alex P. Keaton in me was very excited about this. Now, mind you, Forbes is an economic mastermind who was able to explain monetary policy with the sort of ease and analogy that would allow a kindergartener to get a grasp of it (now if the Fed could follow suit). Although I couldn't help thinking what I have thought since the first time he ran for president, "My God, this guy looks like Max, the head vampire from the movie The Lost Boys."

One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach...all the damn vampires

That's right, Steve Forbes is indeed none other than the alter-ego of Edward Herrmann, the actor who played in several roles throughout the years, the most prominent in my mind being The Lost Boys. I almost wanted to take a little holy water my wife procured at her recent baptism and sprinkle it his way to see if any scalding occurred.

All jokes aside, the guy was a great speaker. Funny as hell and able to convince a lifelong skeptic that the economy is as good as ever, yet every finely tuned engine needs the right amount of fuel. The fuel in our case would be the amount of money. Too little or too much and you will never get things running correctly. A good indicator of this is the price of gold on the market with 300 being the sweet spot. Above that and strange things start to happen (y'know, like the dollar being worth squat).

In summation, QUIT PRINTING MONEY! Despite the federal plan, no economy has ever been made stronger by making it weaker. Like he said at the address, if that were the case, Argentina and Zimbabwe would rule the world.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Random Desert Area

Probably one of the most difficult things I've had to pull off in area design so far is the generic random desert area. There's only so much that can be done with sand y'know. Although I have been fortunate in some texture/color experimentation to break up the monotony. A Joshua tree here, some aloe there, a few rocks scattered around.

The challenge is keeping things looking like a desert without making the edge of the area inviting to prevent players from hitting the invisible wall. I'll only have a few of these areas that will mainly be used for transition/travel, but I still want to spend the time it takes to make them look just right.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Oasis of Azullain

The Oasis of Azullain in the Shalihir Desert


I've had a chance to do some texture work on the Oasis of Azullain area. The Oasis was discovered by an ancient explorer named Azullain after the Imlan Sea was expelled. It has since become a hub for trade, and waystop for all caravans that pass over the burning sands.

Friday, May 2, 2008

HoF (better late than never)

Ahh yes, about 5 months after I thought I was going to finally break into the NWVault HoF (when I thought it was 2500 downloads opposed to 5k), I did it. Man I love it when a plan comes together. On a similar note, I will be walking with my undergraduate degree in two weeks...just about 10 years behind schedule, lol.

Nothing like a nice easy pace as you slide toward the finish line wearing comfortable shoes.

Things are really great, although I haven't been able to hit the toolset as much as I would have liked. I have really been diving right into the wonderful world of Sharepoint and become a bit immersed. I hope to have it about tackled enough for work purposes (doing a little content management action), and look forward to firing up NWN2 again real soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Solvheil Site/Wiki Sharepoint Style

http://solvheil.webhop.net/default.aspx

Whether or not I move the blogs over to the new Sharepoint site and format will depend on how reliable my DynDNS setting is to circumvent any Verizon FIOS Router Port Foolery. I am still in the process of moving the Wiki over from the old MediaWiki format one page at a time. I had a little trouble restoring the MySql database that drove it and the only table with any information is searchindex (plenty of unformatted text). I am having some good results with careful google searches and access to their cached sites, but at least this gives me a chance to review things as I rescribe.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What Have You Learned Dorothy?

Well, I have learned that Sharepoint Server will NOT install on Windows Server 2008 even if you ask it nicely. This seems a bit odd from Microsoft if they want to keep things moving forward with Sharepoint serving as the cornerstone. So after several hours of locating drivers, switching mouse/keyboard/monitor back and forth (I really need a workbench), I had to return the server back to Windows 2003.

I also learned that even Indiana is not safe from the earthquakes, albeit small ones.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Upgrade Time

Being the good Microsoft lapdog that I am, I will be taking down my server and installing Windows Server 2008 this evening. As a result, the Solvheil Wiki will be offline until I can restore it in the new environment.

I'm going to spend the night backing up quite a bit of data to dvd then shake the etch-a-sketch for the fresh install. When I am done, I should have the full gambit as in Server 2008, SQL 2005, Sharepoint Server 2007, and Office 2007 working harmoniously (shyeah right). I have the sacrificial chicken ready (alright, the sacrificial bucket of chicken from KFC) and confirmed for brawl. Luckily, blogger hosts most of this hoopla so if it all goes South, all is not lost.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

SoSII:BtH v1.4

I've decided to do some touching up on Beneath the Hearleforne with the next upload. I'm adding some additional dialogue for some things that players found were left hanging. While I wanted to address them mainly in SoSIII, they were left feeling undone and too vague for many. While this won't give anything too much away, it will help remind the player that these aspects have not been forgotten.

I'm also going to take a look at moving away from the use of speaktrigger for OnEnter of an area that has a 'cutscene'. While I haven't decided just how, an onenter script with a do once command the leader so far, I can clearly see that the default SpeakTriggers are not too be trusted. This was also quite an aggrevation in the first module, and if I can find an acceptable solution, I may touch it up as well. For some reason, even using an Ipoint speaker to prevent time/space anomolies with the partymember not being in the area yet does not quell the speaktriggers thirst for error. In short....grrrrr.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's Over 5000!

Alright, not quite as dramatic or epic as over 9000, but enough for Ruins of Kazatharis to finally qualify for the Hall of Fame automated process. Mixed emotions on that as happy I will be to slip past the velvet rope, I will also regret losing my sidebar quicklink status in Top Rated Mods. Not being visible on the vault will likely hurt the chances the mod will be discovered and played, but that just encourages me to plow forward.

Had I spent a bit more time on side quests and such in Beneath the Hearleforne, I probably could have fostered some higher votes there to keep at least one entry visible at all times. I just couldn't see putting any diversions into the module as it was rather unplanned and I am anxious to make some headway on Crusaders of Shalihir.

With my wandering mind (see below post for example of tangents), I will really have to get cracking to make progress. I am still taking a look at viable custom content for part III and want to finalize that list to get a good hakpack put together. From nothing, to override, to hakpak...all growns up.

Before I forget, congratulations to all of the Module of the Year winners and nominees! There were some really great adventures in that lot which stand as a good example of what happens when the tools are made available to good storytellers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Xbox 360 & RPG Conceptual Idea

I have been playing (too much) Mass Effect when it hit me: There are finally enough buttons on modern consoles to pull off an idea I have had since the NES system.

I think I may spend a little bit of time fleshing it out but I want to at least get a brief synopsis posted. While Mass Effect does a beautiful job combining elements of a true RPG game and aspects of a FPS with combat, I have an idea of how to expand upon it a bit for the more Sword & Sorcery genre.

The idea is tied mainly to the concept of spellcasting and making it more of a process than a one-button macro with built-in calculations for failure/damage/range. Most RPG games have various casting tied to a button or rollout menu to select spell and then optional targeting information. What I envision is a more direct control system that requires combinations of input for a successful cast. Think of your 10-Hit Combos or Cheat Code sequences utilized in a more gameplay fashion.

Example: PC Spellcaster has just found a scroll that details the semantic and verbal requirements to cast an offensive spell. If scribed correctly into his roll-out spellbook, he can select to cast it at any given time (granted he has the necessary material component, mana, or whatever control would be set in place). Upon selection, the spellbook menu is put away and a combination of Button/Analog stick/D-Pad commands appears on-screen for the player to successfully complete. This sequence represents whatever individual runes/moves/words that the caster must execute in order.



More difficult spells would of course require more involved sequences, and the speed and accuracy of input would tie directly into the success of the spell, the effect, as well as the range. Concentration would come into play as events like taking damage, being distracted, etc could adversely effect the 'casting process' and thus disrupting the spell.

In this system, there would still be the opportunity to have certain spells tied to a one-button execution as these would likely take the form of 'Quick Cast' selections (similar to PnP rules) which were essentially a macro of casting components completed ahead of time and stored as potential arcane energy to be released on command.

Scrolls would also have their place as they would be easier to use having most of the required components covered by their scribing. Thus a player could either opt to scribe the scroll to their spellbook (menu) for later attempts (aka the long way) or use the scrolls as a one-shot cast where the scroll would be sacrificed as the material component.

Like I said, I have had this idea kicking around since the release of the original Nintendo, however I felt the input controls at the time were far too limited for this to be done successfully (That and I didn't want fireball tied to up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start).

I will probably run with this idea a ways and develop at least the conceptual gameplay and storyline elements. Naturally this would have to be a low-magic setting so the discovery of new magic and combinations would be a supplemental reward system of its own. I would also like to incorporate the need to research certain arcane aspects and the possibility of stumbling across or creating spell combinations that may not be documented elsewhere in the gameworld.



Now I know the chances of a company like Bioware or Obsidian or Big Developer Incorporated swooping along and saying "Hey man, we dig it! Wanna, y'know, help us develop it?" are slim to none. That likely won't deter me from the creation process as this is the kind of thing (conceptual game design) I have been wasting* my time with since grade school (for me, the Atari days). I think it's a rather novel concept that should be explored.

If this has been done somewhere else, please let me know so I don't fall under the impression that I just invented the wheel. Always a kick in the pants when you find out an idea you've had for years got picked up and done by someone else because you were too busy sitting on your hands. For me, it's a long list: Photosensitive Contact Lenses, Solar Panel Roof Shingles, etc etc.

* It's not a waste if it gives you creative outlet and keeps you out of the pub. That's what I tell my wife anyway.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Beauty is in the Eye

I just wet myself
Big thanks to Bouncy Rock Entertainment and more specifically, Jonny Ree for creating one of the most needed and requested adversaries for NWN2. Holy Friholies does this thing look awesome! Dead on to the Monster Manual and watching it move is something to behold (oh yes, I went there).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rough Cuts

Early shots of the Oasis of Azullain and Scarcrag Pass

Here are some early shots of a few areas. I am just now beginning to do some terrain and texture edits to these desert locations, but I am pretty satisfied with their overall size.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Favorite Part

It feels good to be back to my favorite part of making modules, which is area design. I had to spend a little time organizing what material I had for Crusaders of Shalihir before I decided to add another module and shifted focus to Beneath the Hearleforne. Now that I have everything consolidated again, it is back to creating the areas to be explored. Man, am I rusty! I was using the terrain tools to shape Scarcrag Pass which the player will travel pretty early in the module to get into the Shalihir desert and really felt 'out of shape' as far as molding. It may take a little time to get back to where I was. It's a good thing I decided to stay out of the area design contest, because in my current state of fumbling, I'd just undo things in my attempts to polish.

I want to make sure to get the design document near complete before getting too far ahead of myself. I have a pretty good but still rough idea of the areas, npcs, storyline already. I find myself wishing I would have alluded to some of the mysteries in part II just a bit more, but I will have to make sure to tie them in correctly to make up for it. I am quite a ways off from being able to call a release date for this one because there is so much ground to cover. I shudder to think what I will have to leave on the edit room floor due to module size requirements.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hiatus

Well it has been some time since I have made any posting, so I felt I should get something put together. I have really been slacking as far as development goes ever since the release of the second module.

With the release of the latest patch, I will likely take a look at what fixed are needed with the current version and put up a revised build. I do count myself as fortunate that there hasn't been nearly as many problems with this module as there was the first time around. Sure there are always those oddball ones like Speaktriggers deciding whether or not they are going to fire, but I think I have done a decent job of putting in contingencies for that. I haven't had too many reports of game-breakers in quite some time.

I am still working on the third module, just not as gung-ho as before. I will probably return to a more focused development cycle in the not too distant future. You can chalk this lull in progress as 'I gave it up for Lent' heh. So much other craziness to deal with in other aspects that the time has slipped away from me. This is by no means indication that I am growing weary or my attention span has reached its end. I've been in this game since the release of NWN1 and not looking to jump ship just yet.

I don't think I will participate in the area design contest as I had originally pondered. I have seen some really nice areas released to the mod and to even have a shot at taking them on, I would have to divert way too much time to polishing up the few that I had in mind. I would rather spend that time on the story arc and making sure everything lines up nicely. I understand many people felt there were too many unanswered questions after finishing Beneath the Hearleforne and I can promise you those will all be addressed in the Crusaders of Shalihir. While I could have probably done a better job of giving somewhat of a resolution to them instead of leaving them hanging out there, eh, whattya do?

Anyhow, Happy Easter, or whatever you celebrate as we enter hopefully fairer climate. I've finished my last Undergraduate class, doing my churchy type wedding tomorrow (5 years after our initial J.O.P. ceremony...because I'm cheap), and determined that I am about to be the father of a second daughter (oooh man I need a house with more bathrooms and a fortress of solitude). So everything is falling into place and I expect to be back in the swing of module development very soon.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Double Trouble

Uh-Oh, looks like both parts I and II are on the 'TOP NWN2 Modules' list. Everything is coming together nicely, (Muhaha).

Anyhow, I have really been more hands off with this release than I was with Ruins of Kazatharis in which I released a new build every few days. Aside from the very aggravating speaktrigger bugs that had to be corrected, and the Mulsantir Theater door issue that is beyond my control, there is really little that I have to fix.

I would like to give a little more gold or armor to the player at the beginning as there isn't near as many places to earn coin before you are set off beyond Evertide. I wouldn't mind doing a bit more extensive companion dialogue and interludes here and there, but then again, I would like to do that to part I as well. I seriously doubt if I will ever go back and put a final clear coat on these two before at least the third part is complete.

I have heard a few complaints that this one is much more linear than the first, and guilty as charged. I didn't build much in the way of latitude. This is essentially one straight shot of an adventure that is pretty confining as to order of events, where as the first had a few side quests and the Undermill that could be taken at one's own pace.

I've really been doing not much of anything in the way of the toolset lately aside from contemplating entering an area in the design contest. If any, I would imagine it would be the Ruins of Solvheil from part III, but unsure if it would be up to par by then. I will have to see how things pan out. As happy as I am with both Rindleforde, Evertide, and the Kazatharis areas, I don't think they are of the caliber to enter into a contest, and again, I'm not in the mood to touch-up.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

R.I.P. Gary Gygax

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080304/ap_en_ot/obit_gygax

It seems like just yesterday I heard your voice as the guest DM in DDO's Delera's Tomb.
Thanks for everything, you'll be missed.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dirty Filthy Rotten Bugs

POSSIBLE GAME-BREAKING BUG DETECTED: CORRECTED VERSION WILL BE POSTED THIS EVENING:

In the meantime, if you arrive at Storneth and did NOT get a scenic conversation...use your DM Tome to set the quest [Relic Restoration] to Node [11] which enables King Ulivon to give you the proper conversation. This very agrivating bug will be taken out back and shot, repeatedly, for it decided to work juuuuust fine until upload. v1.1 will just move this trigger back so you have to step into it as opposed to being moved to it onenter of the area.

Don't you love the ones that hide until you've released and uploaded. Dirty buggers.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Released! (Sort of)

Well the new entry is up on the vault.
Sands of Solvheil II: Beneath the Hearleforne

Just waiting for the module zip to be linked by Maximus. It is currently sitting in the vault's ftp where only really clever individuals (like Wyrin) can grab it. Man it is such a relief to get that thing uploaded, although I know that I will have plenty of issues to address as more eyes fall on it and more anomolies are discovered. Still feels pretty good to have it tagged as uploaded Feb 29th (just like the whole leap day aspect).

I think this module will fall into the same trap as the first, where the ending just feels a little rushed. Perhaps I should swallow my pride and seek out some guidance on the next one. Get a little help with combat balancing, etc. Although if people play these modules for what they are intended to be (a somewhat interactive fantasy novel) then I think they will be enjoyed.

Anyhow, I'm going to go blow off some steam on the Xbox. That's what consoles are good for I think. I'm really looking forward to Force Powers Unleashed. For some reason, Star Wars games always help me channel any anger I have. You know, release my hatred and let my journey toward the darkside be complete (lol).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wanna Join My Band?

I finally buckled to the pressure (my own mind you), and picked up an XBox 360 this weekend complete with Rock Band. That's right, after years of practicing air guitar, I will finally be taking one step close to the real thing. I'm thinking of naming my virtual band Brannigan's Law, because, as you may know, "Brannigan's Law is like Brannigan's love: hard and fast".

I will admit that it was extremely difficult to get any work on the module done this weekend with the thousands of adoring virtual fans out there. I will really have to avoid the call of the stage and put those last little touches on things for when I release it to the vault this Friday.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

2007 Module of the Year Nomination

Sands of Solvheil I: The Ruins of Kazatharis is on the list of nominees for 2007 module of the year. I'm caught between feeling honored and being realistic. Still, it is very nice to be among some great pieces of work and very talented developers. Naturally, I will have to abstain from voting as I rarely ‘play’ enough to make a fair judgment, and I am of the camp that believes voting for one’s self is…well….cheesy. I can't let myself get too distracted as I am in the homestretch. I have a bit more spit and polish to do before releasing Sands of Solvheil II on the 29th.

Things are really getting busy all-around. I started my last Undergrad class last night (Corperate Finance...blah!), scoping out a potential smartphone to get when my contract comes up in April, Baby 2.0 still on course for a late July arrival, and I still haven't talked my wife into letting me by an XBox 360/Rock Band. You would think arguments like "You do want your children to grow up around music don't you?" would sway her iron grip on my manhood, but alas.

I'll break her down, just have to be clever about it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Spellcasting in Conversation

Well I'm not sure if this is something that I had forgotten or a concept that I never grasped in the first place. When casting a spell in conversation, it cannot be the conversation owner casting it. Even with ActionPauseConversation() and ActionResumeConversation(), the owner of the conversation ends any further transaction if forced to cast.

That should save quite a few head-scratching moments moving forward. The workaround is to of course use an IPoint Speaker object as the owner and use careful camera placement on each node. On the upside, I think I have nailed the concept of a blocking script. That will be nice to have moving into the third module.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Leap Year approaches

Had a good time at the NWNPodcast Builders Roundtable, everyone was really cool. While the Lords of Skype tried to smite us, we prevailed and put forth some pretty cool discussion about development technique, troubles, and philosophy. I think without the initial frustration of technical difficulties, we would had much more to talk about. Just goes to show that 97% of all NWN2 builders are cool people, and 82% of people make up statistics on the spot.


Seeing as I only have a little less than 2 weeks before Leap Year and my release date, I decided to quick twinking around with area design for III: Crusaders of Shalihir. I left II: Beneath the Hearleforne in pretty good shape all around. The only thing unfinished is the final confrontation and then any possible encounter balancing (which I never nail until it has been played a few times anyhow).

So as I throw myself back into the Mines of Mount Stoneclef and decide how hard the party will have to fight for their lives after restoring the Anvil's Eye to the Shrine of Pulenthor...I supposed I can throw up a look at my headstart. I'd call these semi-finished.

A Head Start


On a side note, I did finally finish the nwn2dieties.2da entries to allow setting specific choices on character creation and level up. This should be a little more 'realistic' than in the first module where I couldn't reveal any dieties until the end.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tahamman with Index


Tahamman 2.0

Just adding in the remaining buildings of Tahamman. Now I'll begin to try and match up the best road/pathway texture, and add in the scenary to let this stand out as a commercial hub of desert transport. This will be the first major town of module III, much like Rindleforde and Evertide before it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

They MUST Be Giants!

The defeat of the New England Patriots just goes to show that there are no sure things. That, and apparently Belichick either doesn't watch a game clock, or doesn't know how to lose gracefully.

Gratz to all of New York and the Giants! Talk about a big win that stunned the sports world.

It all proves that no one is infallible, nothing is impossible, and reality can always be altered.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Tahamman: Toolset Shot

Tahamman in the Shalihir Desert


This is an early shot of Tahamman, which is the closest town to Dalreon in the Shalihir Desert. It resides just on the other side of Scarcrag Pass which separates it from Albrynn. Taken from an early area prefab that I had constructed back when my goal was to create several setting-specific towns and adjacent dungeons for release as quick adventure sets. That was the origin of Rindleforde and the Undermill/Marathorl Keep. It was originally supposed to be a multiplayer option open-design setup. I later scrapped that idea in favor of writing/developing the now in-progress storyline instead of blindly throwing areas out to the world.

While this is far from a finished work (it isn't even tinted or sculpted), it does give a bit of sense of how towns will look in the third module which takes place primarily in the Shalihir desert.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dome da dome dome



Now, if I can get some more 'onion-shaped' dome placables, we'd be talking. Although, then I'd have open the floodgates on custom content and probably would not stop there.

I am about to dig into the ole deities.2da to see if I can correct the level-up selection to be more inline with the setting. It's been since NWN1 that I did 2da edits, which is the easy part. It always seemed getting the most current patched version and keeping up with it was the pain in the rear.

Anyhow, here's some domes; regular and stone-washed.

Anonymous


“Just because I write (good) fiction, does not give me the right to peddle it as religion.” -me
^ I have to keep reminding myself that starting a pyramid-scheme is bad.

Or better yet:

"If you want to start a religion, all you have to do is edit the 2DA."

which leads to

"...and that's when the big bucks start rolling in."
-Louie Anderson, Coming to America

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wiki Wickedness

Well this evening was spent doing some revamping of the ole' Solvheil Wiki. I had really neglected it throughout the development of the first and second module, and pretty much after the first draft of the original design document.

I really wanted to breathe some new life into it, as it is one of the best ways to keep things organized and scalable. If I can get the content up to current, I would like to use this as a final reference to keep consistency throughout development, as well as offer it as a resource for anyone who may wish to help expand the campaign world itself.

I've done a bit of reorganizing in there, as well as added some fresh images. Things aren't quite where I would like them to be, but good enough to let me sleep it off. Eventually, I would like to compile this information into a pseudo Campaign Reference manual.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

NWN Podcast Builder's Roundtable


Builder's Roundtable

When:

February 10th at 8:30 pm or 20:30 Eastern Standard time -05.00 (US & Canada)

Topic:
Modules In Development Live!

Listeners will have to use skype cast and log in. There will be a chat window as well.
This private link once logged in will take you to the discussion room
https://skypecasts.skype.com/skypecasts/skypecast/detailed.html?id_talk=3814349&hash=62f48a276cd0162263f9

Featured Modules:
http://nalencer.blogspot.com/
http://enoa4rpg.blogspot.com/
http://nwn2-zork.blogspot.com/
http://solvheil.blogspot.com/
http://wyrind.blogspot.com/
http://ladyelvenstar.blogspot.com/
http://stygius.com/blog/
http://delaksblog.blogspot.com/

Ruins of Kazatharis v2.0

Nothing groundbreaking, I just spent last evening implementing all of the identified misspellings and grammar errors that were abound in it. Feels good to throw another coat of polish on it, y'know?

I've also received a few more sets of eyes to scan the beta of Beneath the Hearleforne. I call that the pre-rinse cycle; give things a nice little bug-hunt before the main quest is complete (although it's very very close).

One thing that I knew was going to be an issue is the Sunken Ruins tileset with areas that take place both above and below the waterline. The problem is that you have to be in character mode in an almost MMO like view to not be clipped by the painted water. I can't get rid of the water though, because of the areas that are 'dry-land' and overlook the sunken areas. Alas, I might just have to put a disclaimer on that one 'little' interior (no interior with me is ever small if you have noticed, although I try to stray from a Dr. Who mentality and keep some semblance of scale).

Hopefully the main underwater area, Flooded Roots of the Hearleforne, have a high enough water level that this becomes a non-point there (I believe it is like that now). I still want to adjust the encounters in that area as it seems like a bit of a cakewalk in that regard.

Friday, January 25, 2008

File THIS under "It's about damn time!"


That's right, they finally have the funds. The Bronze the Fonz campaign has enough money to erect a bronze statue of Fonzie in Milwaukee.

http://promo.onmilwaukee.com/bronzethefonz/

Take THAT Sylvester Stallone and Philadelphia!

AAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Sharepoint 2007

In an effort to uptrain myself, I've let Sharepoint take control of the horizontal and the vertical on my webserver. Thus, the download for the Sands of Solvheil II beta is temporarily suspended. I have to uptrain myself a bit as to how site/webparts/permissions/etc work under this new regime.

Life used to be so simple. Just drop the file in the wwwroot folder and dish out an address for download. Ahh, those were simple times.

My ultimate goal is to explore the idea of Enterprise Web Content Management (one small yet undocumented slice of the Sharepoint pie). If anyone out there is using MOSS 2007 for just such a venture, let me know!

Anyhow, I think the most recent version of the beta test is in the hands of the testers who need it. If not, please let me know and I will make arrangements to get it to you. Like Bartles and James used to say in slinging their wine coolers: Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Death of the Joker

Dark night for the Dark Knight. R.I.P. Heath Ledger

Too bad to, I had early predictions that he would make one hell of a role out of it. Perhaps that was my faith in Christopher Nolan, but I really thought early teasers proved Ledger could make a go of it. I guess it doesn't matter much (from a franchise prospective) now.

No memorial, no youtube video ala 'Britney Fan', no tears really. It's sad, sure. Human element, kid, etc. However, as a greedy faceless consumer, all I can think is: "Well, so much for Batman, sonofabitch."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Painting in the Details

Not a whole lot to really write about. Just a little more detail added to this final ruins area.
I placed in some color with light pressure to deepen the folds in the sand a bit. It's rather challenging getting this to look like a city that has sunk into the sand, creating almost a crater, but I think it is coming across nicely in-game.

Ever get that sinking feeling?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Playing in the Sandbox

That's pretty much how it feels doing terrain changes to this area. I had to make sure to lock position and height of the buildings so they wouldn't pop-up on me as I raised/lowered/smoothed the ground around them.

A testament to my ass-backwardness, here I go again creating the final area(s) first. What can I say, I need to have these as the proverbial carrot to keep me driving the module toward them. It was the same way with Ruins of Kazatharis.

Makes you want to break out the Tonka trucks, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

First shots of Solvheilian Ruins


The Ruins of Solvheil

Surrounded by the sands of antiquity stand the remains of the birthplace of man.


Even though this area is far from done, and won't even be seen until SoSIII, I wanted to throw it up there to see how it looked. I kinda like it.

Anyhow, this is a little motivation to myself to get SoSII released so I can dedicate some more time toward Crusaders of Shalihir. It's been fun and all, but this interlude module has run its course with my interest. That sand looks so flat, I'll have to get out the ole terrain shovel and do a little excavating.



Western Ruins of Kazatharis; noticeably different style.
Western ruins of Kazatharis for regional comparison.


Oh, and by the way; When in the 9 hells did THIS go up?

Electron Microscope
The official NWN2 Builder Wiki


I can't believe I just now stumbled across this. Bookmarked now!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Oh where, oh where have my Cormytes gone?

Oh where, oh where could they be? I was just thinking as I clack away at the keyboard, 'I wonder where the old NWNO crew are?'

To bring the past crashing back, throughout the NWN1 (and early NWN2) days, I was involved in NWNOnline in developing a seamless area transition, massive, scaled Cormyr PW.
(better imagemap here; Arabel and Eveningstar are good hotspots to click on).

Anyhow, over the years of tireless hours of area creation (and tweaking, and tweaking, ahahand tweaking!), finding more Realmslore and making sure things matched, there were some areas that weren't covered, not canon, ripe for the picking. In those areas of creative latitude, I wanted to make sure certain plot dependent names weren't 'rip-offs' that were referenced somewhere else.

I decided that every name I injected into larger storylines as NPC's, areas, etc, had to be original. I did quite a few Yahoo!, and Google, and Ask, and other searches to make sure things were unpublished. Now, I had quite a few of these that I had held for some time when I was planning my own persistent world after the announcement of the then upcoming breakthrough game Neverwinter Nights. I decided since I had shelved that whole project to work on a crazy, distributed server, to scale Cormyr (which was never to the level of grandness as the original paper idea as far as infrastructure, but morphed into something slightly cooler IMO), those names/terms were fair game.


Then NWN2 drew closer and I was slapped in the face, "What do you mean walkmesh files have to be downloaded on every exterior edit?" It seemed as if my days of constant changing and shaping hadn't gained a new set of wings, it had instead had their wings clipped. I just couldn't foresee forcing players to constantly download new files just because of my endless editing, "Great, twinkles toes must have done some texture brush adjustments...again. Looks like another download."

So I decided to blow the dust off my early early notes on my own planned PW from before I fell in with the then NWNO crew (on the IGN boards which were the original defacto meeting place thanks to the vault which has always been there like a beacon of hope) and take another look. There was a lot there, plenty of gaming world diversity in the half-done setting, but the stage hadn't been set. Since Persistent Worlds didn't seem like a viable option for the moment, and I had no idea what it felt like to stamp something finished (actually, although I haven't updated part I in awhile, I still somewhat see it as a WIP), I decided to try my hand at a single player adventure.

Perhaps I should have started out small. One little self contained adventure, a tutorial one-shot if you will. Time just wasn't on my side I suppose, I just thought of the early work on NWN2 Cormyr and the time that would be chalked up as 'lost', uploaded a few areas to the vault as prefabs, and went for the jugular.

Anyhow, in the re-invention/re-invigoration of a long forgotten idea, I decided to reclaim certain names. Names that had been reserved for a time for Cormyr, but had since faded to antiquity. I had plagiarized myself, stolen my old unique intellectual property, and I wanted it back!

My point is, if any of those old NWNO Cormyr players are still out there, and were privy to the larger plot elements, you are totally not allowed to tell others:

"Ruins of Kazatharis? That was the name of the Half-Ogre Mage tyrant that was leading the goblinkin of the slain devil-dragon against Arabel? Dude, WTF?"

All I have to say to that is:

"Oh, no no, it's cool, I'm taking it back." -Randal Graves

Yeah, that's right. It's coming back to where it started. Don't you mess this up for me! No squealing about the vagrant plagiarism that goes on between me, myself, and I.

I, back then, wrote it for this, before I took it for the middle. So I am reclaiming from myself, for myself, to vindicate myself once and for all.

Why you ask? Because linear time is an illusion. Because taking immediate gains in a 'pay-later because that person later really isn't the me that's now' mentality just doesn't work. Because I'm clearing my self-karma. Mainly, because I can't sue myself (probably because nobody has ever tried it).

Let's just pretend that like Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane, it just never happened.

Enough rambling, it's friday night, big-ups to Cormyr, but I have some old-old business to attend to. *fires up toolset*

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Holy lost jump drive, Batman!

Nothing induces temporary fits of obscenities like losing your USB Jump Drive. Not that it set me back that much as far as data, nor did it have any particularly sensitive information on it, it's the physics of the whole thing. You see, it poofed out of existence in the commute between work and home (10 minutes opposed to the 1.5 hours I USED to drive to work before moving back to Fort Wayne from Muncie). You see, there aren't that many places it could be. The Bermuda Triangle aspect of it has me baffled.

Anyhow, all I really lost was some dialogue texts that I will have to rewrite, which somewhat tweaks me off as the rewrite rarely holds a candle to the original stream of consciousness. I'm much better off the cuff and find that the more I edit, the more diluted things become.

It just wouldn't be a test of my ability to stop smoking without a heaping helping of unexplainable stress now would it?

Perhaps I can complete some of these rewrites as I sit in class this evening (one of my last two before becoming a 'real boy' with a degree). I find that without these side distractions, class is unbearably boring and my brain cells begin to commit mass suicide. I am quite thankful for laptops and grid paper to help me maintain my sanity in these very trying few hours once a week. Without you, my inanimate friends, class would have surely driven me mad.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Counting flowers on the wall

Well, not actually on the wall. I did find myself zoning out on the background pattern of this blog and counting the designs in one thread of my mind. I think my brain is having temporary meltdowns as a side-effect of this whole quitting smoking New Year resolution thing.

Quitting smoking is an odd thing, in some ways it’s the easiest process in the world, in others, the most challenging. I'm wearing what I refer to (being an IT guy) as the 'Critical Patch' which does a nice job of pumping the nicotine in my system. For me, though, it was never about the substance as much as the practice. I feel like I should be doing more movement which sometimes causes me to stop all movement of my body and 'zone'. Thus, the counting flowers.

As an aside, kudos to fellow NWN Dev Jclef for booting the smoky treats. I can really see how this process can slow down progress on the toolset as your mind seems occupied with higher battles. With all the places my mind is going, as well as the ultra-vivid dreams the Nicotene Patch gives a person, I may be ready to jump over to Ravenloft right along with ya man, lol.

Anyhow, I'm not sure if it's the raging addiction, or the spirit of the political season, but I demand a recount lol. I've been spending the last non-productive hour trying to count up my votes/downloads/etc and see how exactly I missed the Hall of Fame. Not sure if I feel like Pete Rose or Faith Hill (both semi-famous 'didn't make the grade' references), but to quote an old Mountain Dew commercial: "We got hosed Tommy, we got hosed." On the upside, the two entries that did get listed for this month were both pretty kickass from the peeks I took, though there wasn't a third. Is it that big of a deal? Naa. Did the whole nico-fit timing not mesh well with events of mathematical calculation? You betcha! Good thing tax time is right around the corner, I'd hate for any stress to be piled on muhahaha.

Ah well, Ub La Dee or whatever keeps ya trucking.

[EDIT: I found it! NWN2 Modules require 5k downloads (double that of NWN Modules). Might as well kick back and relax, it's going to be quite a while.]

Now, if I can only muster the focus to keep up the spit and polish on SoS:BtH, things will be good. I'm at the point where I have a few things to really tie up with the final scenes (aka getting my cutscene groove on for the final battle), as well as adding in the token magic item artifacts. I plan to only feature a few per module as it is a low-magic world. I want to keep a decent control over the magic items and their availability. Naturally, most of the time, I keep them out of the way.

So here's to bitchslapping my brain back into shape, without the proverbial cheatsheet like a Nintendo DS loaded with Brain Age. I'm tired of feeling like a racehorse chewing grass and staring at the finish line a few feet from my nose.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

1 New Year / 2 Months to Release

Well another year closer to whatever fate awaits. 2008 has come crashing in (actually, it was a mild new year's at my house), and I now have less than two months before my leap year release date. Will I hit it? Most definately. I'm already in my yawn/click stage of waiting on beta results, taking my sweet time with ending areas, and general polishing.

I'm on my way back to work tommorow, and it couldn't come soon enough. I'm getting way to comfortable not having any daily requirements on places to be.

In the meantime, there's a version 7 posted of the beta. Hopefully I get some really good looks from testers. I know of my ace in the hole tester who goes through things with a fine-tooth comb. It's those guys that make sure things that go on the vault aren't crap.
Design Documents: