Sunday, January 31, 2010

Screenshots: Jungles of Sampeatos

Here are some in-progress shots of a jungle area for BTSP. I know, I know, what the heck is a jungle area doing in a module about classic horror? Well, that's a little twist of the story that I am currently working on getting out of my head and into the design document.

One of the hardest parts of the process is to take the fluid ideas and solidify them on paper so it is easily understandable to someone who isn't privy to telepathy. It also helps me keep things straight as well. While I know I want A, B, and C events to occur and I want to include areas 1, 2, and 3; it helps to keep the critical path of the story organized to help tie it al together.

I'm going to call this area almost finished. While I would like to be done with plopping trees down, I am far from finished with foliage. I am still currently creating the Shivering Pines forest, and have yet to begin a small area in Dalreon's Great Forest.

Oh, did I mention that I still have the overwhelming urge to do an Asian themed mod sometime soon as well? Will I be able to keep my concentration on one thing at a time? Probably not.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Misery Stone... just plain kickass, and I really can't review it any better than that.
The full title of the module should read, "Misery Stone: and THAT'S how it's done".

As soon as I finish it off, I'm going to finally dig into Trinity.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Of Our Elaborate Plans, The End

Granted, the trilogy is done and out, but didn't end exactly like I would have liked to. The original title to III was Chasing the Golden Dragon and was to take place in Orilyn (the Asian/elf inspired eastern empire). This was before MotB got released and I included Beneath the Hearleforne as part II. Crusaders of Shalihir was to be the middle or at least a jumping off point.

The original ending wasn't an ending at all, but had the player stop the chain reaction (which I know I failed to convey it's even existence in the current build) caused by the Sarcophagus of Rel powering/channeling the remaining crystals beneath Solvheil. In doing so, the player is transported through time (because time is an illusion/fluid) to Orilyn long before, arriving naked on a beach completely respecced.

At one point, I tried to think of a reason to include a shipwreck because it's always such a dramatic piece of area design, but couldn't. Although the use of ships and docks have been used pretty liberally throughout the series, sometimes even without water.

That mod, Chasing the Golden Dragon followed the player in their quest to ascend Mount Dramoto and face the worshiped Golden Dragon with full knowledge that it is actually Rel and that all regions basically follow the same creator, calling him by different names. Torrne being a channel to Rel as a combatant of demons and demi-gods.

So getting to Mount Dramoto was going to involve conspiracy in the empire, some Sabaril vs. Zinyari action (read: Half-elf Samarui vs. Dark-Elf Ninjas), as well as a need to travel to the Zhanthul Jungle to acquire rare spices to help make the journey up the mountain.

See, the top of Mount Dramoto is actually a pocket plane, or at least where the veil between the material plane is barely intact. That is the reason Orilyn is such a spirit-infested land is the ease of passing, at least to some degree, into the material plane. So one doesn't exactly "climb" the mountain, although it indeed feels that way.

There was also a bit of a subplot involved with lycanthrope melee fighters (ala Weretiger Kung Fu) and the experimentation of some to create a weredragon. This leads into the premise that both the Orilyn and Zinyari already possess dragon blood in their lineage; Orilyn the Golden Dragon, Zinyari a shadow dragon.

This dragon heritage is responsible for many of the races unique powers such as the Sabarils channeling of their interior power, to the ability of others to use charisma based sorcery instead of traditional casting.

Anyhow, at the end, the player meets the Golden Dragon. They acknowledge each other's true identities and the player is sent on to the next module: "Champions of Rel" to do some extra-planar battle with demons, dragons, and titans (basically this is where epic levels may have kicked in as Chasing the Golden Dragon would have been generous in experience to let the player take Weapon Master prestige).

I was always disappointed in a good Sphinx model for NWN2. In NWN1, I used the Wemic and had it winged. I know there were already androsphinx and gynosphinx models added in Shadows of Undrentide, but the original host of sphinx were much more armed melee combat centaur-ish winged lions with human torsos that kicked ass and left a glowing footprint. So the player would have led an army of them for great justice (with a side order of spaghetti).

These last few mods would have wrapped up the explanation of how Torrne could be exist in multiple places within the same period of time, and how he was indeed Rel's champion selected to stand watch over mankind (from either topside, or ground level). It also would have shed a bit more light on the entire portfolio of pantheon, how Rel was basically the lone deity and merely addressed by different names or through different channels, as well as the limitations of the subdieties who did achieve immortality, but not omnipotence.

Obviously that grandiose plan wasn't going to happen and I had to wrap things up a bit. All in all, it didn't end exactly how I would have liked, but I am quite pleased that it did have an ending. There were several times that I came close to perma-shelving part III and starting fresh. Luckily I have the greatest community of builders/enthusiasts around me, and one uber-talented cutscene guy that was willing to lend a sunbeam engulfed helping hand.

Now I'm toying around with a handful of pretty decent (IMHO) areas that all fit into a separate adventure. I've been considering asking a longtime old school friend of mine to join up with me and ratchet up this romp across the continent. Him and I both had the same enthusiasm for games/gaming/design/3D Modeling, and artistically, he is faaaar superior to myself. However, he has since wandered off and never focused on game design (hasn't even ever played NWN/NWN2/etc). If I could seduce him to the darkside without losing too many midaclorians in some freak severing of limbs, things would look pretty freaking awesome. As soon as I attach that carrot to a stick, I may give this pitch a go.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pea Soup and Docs

One aspect of design that I've never felt 100% at, environmental effects. Fog, shade, sun, etc. Anyhow, the challenge in this are was to have it dark/foggy enough to be forboding and dangerous, yet allow enough visability for certain background objects (like the mill and castle) to be visable from the far side of town. I think it turned out pretty good for just winging it. I will likely revisit it several times and keep fiddling with the settings.

In other woes, I'm learning just how many trees, vines, and canopies it takes to make a 20x20 jungle area, yikes.

I'm starting to consider putting a more formal touch to the storyline. Right now it exists as the normal collection of texts and spreadsheets (along with the stuff in my head). I have moved most of my stuff over to Google Docs to have backedup/accessed, so there is that. The main motivator was my Motorola Droid phone and the ability to access them all from anywhere.

Perhaps writing this out as an old-school adventure mod would be structured. Something like Isle of Dread or Palace of the Silver Princess (the two that I had lol). Where the story, description, stats are all there and seperated by visual dividers as to what was presented to the player(s), and what was for DM knowledge. That may just make it easier to stay focused on the critical path of the adventure while leaving the nessasary tributaries for side-quests (not that I ever have time to go back and add those in as much as I would like anyway).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Crown Port

A little more detail on Crown Port which is admittedly inspired by Port Royal in Jamaica. Crown Port is located on the Isle of Sampeatos and acts as a major trading hub between the kingdom of Dalreon and the Orilyn empire.

Because of the vast amounts of currency and goods that pass through the streets, Crown Port is a constant target for pirates and thieves. Backed into the untamed jungles of Sampeatos, the city walls protect residents from any number of untold dangers that lurk in the lush surroundings.

Design Documents: