Sunday, February 21, 2010

Building the Team

With a title like that, you'd think I was about to make my Mass Effect 2 confessions. So what if I sent Jacob to his death in the ventilation shaft. I'm pretty sure he was messing around with Miranda and got snippy with me about it. That and I like to have the weapons room all to myself to roll around on the ground with my sniper rifle. (oh, and as the ultimate in jerk moves, I dropped Miranda for Tali, then Jack after we saved the universe...sheesh, how's that for cold-blooded renegade?)

Besides that little incident and losing Legion somehow (I must have missed a transmission), we all got out alive. If you don't know what I'm talking about, get Mass Effect 2! Also, don't believe the message that has enhancement advertisement to become big like Krogan, that stuff doesn't work!

No, the title refers to the effort to make this latest NWN2 project a more diverse affair. I've had great fortune in the meeting of Jason D Smith aka shmity72, who has agreed to help put this thing together. There is another individual working through some WIN7/Toolset issues who I will announce as soon as I ask his naming preference.

Is the team complete? Heck no! Join up if you get the development itch. The more minds that collaborate on a project, the grander it becomes (to a point of course). I'd love to have a well rounded team who can get their hands dirty on all of the many aspects of building an adventure. There's plenty to go around, I assure you. I also promise not to send you into a ventilation shaft to override a blast door.

RIP Jacob, I just couldn't trust ya after seeing what your dad did on that planet. Why do you think I never left you alone on the ship with Miranda?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pseudo-Science and Companions

Anyone who's thumbed through the in game Tome of Koth knows that I'm a pretty big fan of pseudo-science and trying to attach semi-plausible explanations to certain elements of a fantasy setting. There's a pretty strong 'Unified Field Theory' involved in the gameworld that tries to further tie together matter, energy, gravity, time, magic, sound, etc. Thus the reason that bards can cast spells, or bards + mages = altered boom. Even the reason that the Ruins of Solvheil are a giant divot in the otherwise flat plane of the material world with everything bending around it.

There are a few good shows that also explore some of these "maybe this is why, and, what would happen if" situations. At least one of these has caused me to spit coffee across my desk, curse at my television, and rewrite things midstream because some elements were getting a little too close for comfort lol. Another reason that I'm glad the SoS trilogy is for the most part, done.

I've often thrown things into the story that were asides from my bad habit of watching the History channel (ala the Dwarven Bagdad Battery, or the Nalassian cliffside watermill). So here's another little tid-bit that will feed into the current adventure.

Silver, often revered in ancient times for its healing qualities (true) is the reason that it is a powerful ally against such afflictions such as lycanthropy or the undead. It's pure healing power is a bane to the sicknesses that twist and rot.

Silver was sometimes ingested which in some extreme cases, caused a blue tint to the skin (true). Now here's the rub:

A lycanthrope/undead hunter NPC of a sacred/secret order. This order of hunters ingests silver to purify themselves and cause their very bodies to be toxic to their prey. Naturally they sport the vague blue hue to their skin, and wear a cool looking Van Helsing-ish hat (well, maybe). I envision them using a heavy crossbow with wooden or silver-tipped bolts/stakes as they drop their foul foes. While not clergy, they do employ the divine tools of the temple such as holy-water, symbols, etc.

I've also been toying with the idea of this particular hunter companion to be taking the silver supplements to contain something within themselves as well, perhaps something to reveal late in the module as they utilize this innate ability in combat/cutscene.

This is one of those framed-out ideas that I just haven't had a chance to go flesh out. I figured I'd throw it out there to see if anyone had any suggestions or holes that could be shot in the idea before I get over that way.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tomb of Eldrynn and Mini-Map Lament

This is the Tomb of Eldrynn which lies partially hidden in the Great Forest of Dalreon. Again, this area is far from finished from a detail standpoint, but just getting the tiles in place and a few key objects sets the tone and allows me to feel like a little progress has been made.

The party visits this area pretty late in the adventure after learning that the key to defeating their undead adversary is finding a weapon used to injured them in their mortal life. How's that for semi-spoilertastic?

Now, on to my lament. I will never be able to use a mini-map until I can keep myself from jumping all over hell and half of Georgia. I seem to have this problem with writing stories that require long distance travel, like across the continent long. Maybe I should use the ole Indiana Jones airplane map effect.

Anyhow, I have always wanted to use a mini-map. I even made one long ago for the Isle of Sampeatos, although it just wouldn't work for the kind of location hopping that all of the adventures that I've written require. I will have to make myself the same promise that I've used to cheer myself up before: Next time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jungle Ruins

Have I ever gushed over RWS additions to the NWN2 toolset before? Yes? Well here I go again. These are the jungle ruins that reside beneath the pyramid structures from the Sampeatos Jungle shots earlier.

I used RWS Dungeons for the initial spiral staircase, then switched via stairway to their Dark Ruins tiles. I haven't done much in the way of detail just yet, but I seem to draw satisfaction from these initial rough sketches. Throwing together landscape and placeables, even in the mildest sense to set a tone is one of my greatest thrills in area design. In other words, this may not look like much right now, but serves as a sketched-up placeholder for when the story arrives here.

While I was doing this area, I happened to stumble upon 'Dusk till Dawn' (Clooney's best role evah! Keitel, meh, he's done better) on one of the countless movie channels on TV which really fit the mood perfectly. While the mod doesn't feature a truck stop on top of a pyramid it does connect a certain affliction to an ancient exotic culture.

Hopefully I can convey through the two areas that the blood of the sacrificed is gathered via the large snake statue in the temple structure and dropped upon some soil to be packed up and fed-exed. These shipments serve the main 'paper-trail' followed by the party bringing them to this point.

On a technical note, I am having some trouble with the walkmesh of this tileset. It seems that any offshoot door tile from a hallway tile (with the exception of the one door in the middle variety) has a broken walkmesh, thus rooms cannot be connected. It may be a good thing since I am trying to do something that I've had trouble with my entire NWN life, keeping area size small.

Next up, I'll show off some screens of another crypt that the party explores late in the module before their return to Lontharvia.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hey Man, Got Any Grass?

One area that I've never felt that confident about in area design is setting down grass on a rural area. I'm back to that point in the Shivering Pines since I've finished the trees, placebles, and texturing. This is the part where I make a quick backup erf and just throw caution to the wind.

It always comes down to how much is too much, and whether to use a pattern or subscribe to chaos. Actually, I think it is a combination of both. I normally plop down a humanoid creature to judge height and begin to throw a few patches here and there to see how it blends. I've never been one to use more than one grass type at a time, instead preferring to use the smallest brush possible and the lowest possible pressure to have the ultimate control over placement (I also use the hell out of my cntrl-Z).

Things are coming along nicely! Taking a look, I have quite a few of my main areas framed out nicely.

In Order of Appearance:

-Shivering Pines Forest
-Dra'ithkyrn Family Crypt
-Evertide Sewers
-Sea of Aluun
-Crown Port
-Sampeatos Jungle
-Jungle Ruins
-Crypt of Eldrynn

Now if I could just find someone to handle the NPC designs, dialogue, and scripting....badda-bing badda boom lol. Seriously though, I would like to bring in some additional writing talent to help fill in some of the gaps.

I'll have to work to get the design doc finished so that there exists a little clearer picture of what this adventure is all about. At the moment, the walkthrough reads like a bullet point list which I need to make legible paragraphs out of.

By the way, has anyone had a chance to try out this nice looking Mimic model that was put on the vault by ArtEChoke?

I haven't tried it in the toolset/game yet, but the screenshots look very promising.

Design Documents: