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.


“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


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

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

Featured Modules:

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.


Take THAT Sylvester Stallone and Philadelphia!


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: