Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Solvheil Site/Wiki Sharepoint Style

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.
Design Documents: