Friday, December 14, 2007

Actually, I'm really probably going to stop now!

Being as how I'm happy with where I'm at, I'll be leaving for other parts of the US utnil after the New Year in less than a week, and I've uploaded a backup copy of my campaign to the storage site, I'm probably done until I get back.

But I'm thinking, man, where did the time go?

Just today I ordered a bunch of new books to read as sources for my campaign, mostly novels. Thanks goes out to those for the advice I got at Candlekeep which, though I've only been posting there a day or two but have been reading on and off for quite a while, is a great community of people. They just seem nice, which is really weird for the internet in general, and the fact that the novelists and creators of Forgotten Realms take the time out to actually talk to the fans on an almost daily basis, it's just bizarre in a good way.

But anyway, I picked up the new books and I'll pack up some of my old ones and probably spend a lot of my downtime over the holidays drafting documents and flowcharts for sidequests and the plot; I've got to stay busy.

That made me think of where the time went. Last year I was sick over the holidays and spent a lot of time at my Ma's house, where she doesn't have cable, and my Grandma's house (on my wife's side, she's an old sweetheart and honestly feels like family to me) where she has cable, but it's pretty boring anyway. So last year I spent a lot of time drafting things and such, and though much of it didn't get much use outside of the general concepts, this time should be different because this year I pretty much know the toolset and it's capabilities inside and out and last year I was just getting my feet wet.

I'd say last year I had about half of the first mod done. That included the beginning cave, the road exterior, glarondar itself, and all of the interiors there done. I released that campaign in, what, May? So I got a mod and a half done by May having very little experience with the toolset. Imagine what I'll have done by May this year! Might even be playing the whole thing if I stay on my hustle, which I almost assuredly will.

What else? A couple of interesting topics came up on the NWN2 official boards in the last few days, one of which being my Module of the Day update, which I've been doing every two weeks since that started. So if you read here and not there, you're probably not missing much, but there I focus more on how things work so you might learn something if you check them out.

Not to be stepping on cat's toes, but I was disappointed by this topic for a few reasons. Basically dude wanted to quit his current project and do a different one, which is fine I guess. Do what you want to do, it's your time. I would never do that because to me that's some quitter shit and I don't play that. I'm a nose to the grindstone, get shit done and don't stop until it's done right kind of guy; you give me a 10 page paper to write in a class and I'm writing 15, in MLA format, with sources, end of the story. I've always taken a lot of pride in my work though, and to give up on something to me is to admit defeat. So it was a little disappointing to see so many members of the community all like "yeah, go ahead and quit and pick up another project," know what I mean?

But I said my piece there and I'm not mad at anybody, just a little disappointed.

And you know what? You ever hear of that seven deadly sins? Greed, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Wrath, and...Pride? Why is pride bad? I think pride is one of the things that's helped out through life, ya dig? The other six obviously bring more problems than benefits, but pride is a good motivator. It's having standards, working hard to achive those standards, and looking back on things you did like "yeah, I did that!"

So if you want to talk about what motivates me as a builder, it's basically pride and respect. My goal is to put out the best mod on the Vault. I want the respect of everybody that plays it, and in order to do that it's got to be something I'm proud of doing. I'm in school for game design now, so even if it doesn't lead to other opportunities to make games, still it'd be great if people were playing it and, after it's all said and done, said "you know what, that's the best mod I've played." Tough thing about that is I'm competing with (it's not literally a contest, but figuratively for the goal I set for myself, there's no animosity or anything, I like to think I'm cool with everybody!) teams of professionals and teams of non-professionals, years of experience and pure talent. Like when Chapter 2 is out if people are saying "this is right up there with Purgatorio", that's what I'm looking for. The better everyone else is doing, the harder I'll work. If you want to do something on your own at the same level as professionals, it's going to take a tremendous amount of hard work. That's my edge, my drive. And basically it's all out of pride to do the best I can.

So pride is good? I guess it's somehow mathmatically quantified directly with how well Chapter 2 is recieved. Or something. I don't know, I kind of even lost myself. I'm even kind of debating whether or not I should post this up at the cost of sounding kind of arrogant (maybe that's the bad part about pride? Being kind of annoying?), but it's my blog and my spot to be honest, so it is what it is.

Yeah, so, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I'm out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What's homebase?

Normally in these situations, it would be the swingset or slide, however in the case of my campaign it'll be the run down, ransacked house of your noble ally. Without giving away too many spoilers (though she is present in nearly every screenshot for today), after the banquet you'll be put into a Crossroad Keep-esque rebuilding of a noble house. The scope is smaller as it's just one building, but a little better I think because I didn't include any cornball plot locked doors with the rooms already constructed so you can actually see the changes made to the house itself. Here's an example:

In seconds, with a few days worth of painstakingly placing, recording the tags, and scripting a few hundred placeables to be deleted and othes to spawn, a filthy craphole turns into a modest manor.

There are some more of more rooms in the screens gallery conveniently, and more importantly to me freely, located at photobucket.

I also got the companion swapping working, so you don't need to bring your clunkly plate wearing ally on stealth missions. I fear I may have screwed the pooch about a year ago when I first implemented companions for using the Sunken Flagon GUI method for swapping companions. I didn't really like that way anyway because you had to sit through two loading screens to do level ups and sort through inventories, so it's not all it's cracked up to be. Besides, I recently disabled auto levelling for companions when they're not in the party, so you don't need to worry about that either way! Actually, I'll see how that effects balance later so that might be switched back, but I think the tradeoff of keeping everyone powerful vs. using them when they're best suited and that the player will, over time, become the most powerful and therefore the hero is an interest dynamic.

In any case, that's what's been happening. Next up is a few cutscenes and some other fun previous actions and effects from them stuff dealing with that specific area and I'll be on to actually making the first quest I've done in probably about a month!

So, check back often and leave comments because I like to type things and it's better if I'm addressing them at a person instead of dead internet air.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Good News and Bad News

May as well start with the bad news. Another celebrity died this week, Pimp "Sweet Jones" C of UGK was found dead in a hotel in Hollywood. I wasn't terribly surprised, kind of like Ol' Dirty Bastard died. I mean, the guy ran up into a mall in the middle of Texas no a fur coat with a machine gun. Obviously, Pimp C enjoyed PCP quite a bit and, as far as I know, that stuff isn't very healthy. Having never partaken of PCP myself, I can't say that with 100% certainty, but that is the drug that has people hopping out of windows and, if Friday, the biography of Ice Cube, is accurate to any degree, had Chris Tucker running from a lowrider making chicken noises. But still, it sucks if you're a fan of good Southern rap.

And according to Tiberius209 somebody else died that was apparently of importance. How she measures up to Pimp C in terms of rapping abilities is currently unknown.

What's worse, at least as far as I'm concerned, is I found out I got conned. A few months back when I was sick, on my wife's suggestion, I bought some Zicam. Well, it turns out it comes in wet Q-tip stick up your nose form, and I wasn't about to stick a F-ing Q-tip up my nose so I never actually used it, but it cost me $12. Well, the other day I was reading about homeopathy...which I have been aware of it being a complete sham for some time...when I saw that Zicam was a homeopathic remedy. Of course, I prompty checked the box and there it was, in small print, homeopathy in the bottom right corner of the box (as well as a few other places). So obviously I felt pretty stupid. It's kind of like...well basically anywhere where somebody asks you if you want a free gift and you're all like "sure!" and then you get roped into a six hour timeshare meeting. You know, like you should have seen it coming but it's too late and now you're stuck, and when you finally do get out your gift is just a piece of crap.

So, yeah, be warned, homeopathic remedies are fake and it looks like real medicine. If you took that stuff every time you got a cold, which for most people is probably a few times a year, you're blowing like $50-$100 on sugar pills and wet Q-tips, and it could be a lot worse if you have AIDS in Africa, because then you'll probably die paying a bunch of money for sugar pills.

But on the good news side, there some new screens up of the final exterior, which is now finished. Probably tomorrow I'll be uploading the newest version for the testers that haven't burnt out on it yet (plus it serves as a back up for me in case my computer takes a crap or something). And that's my goals for the year, so anything I get done between now and when I go on vacation for Christmas is bonus as far as I'm concerned.

Oh, and I'm taking a college course that, very lightly, touches on 3dsmax and how to use it. I suck awfully, terribly, badly at making 3d models. But, for fun, here's what I made for my final project with 3dsmax after about 3 weeks of learning the program:

Awful, right?

I'll probably end up playing Harp and Chrystahmaemljalmdalnadfnda a few times in the interim. I picked it up last night for like an hour, and ridiculously hard to spell title aside it's phenomenal. I highly recommend this mod as it's probably the best you'll see for a long time. Until mine is done!

No, but it sucks to have to swallow your ego, but this mod is that good and there are a number of areas where my current work isn't on the same level, mostly visuals and cutscenes are where this mod really shines, and the writing is nearly on a professional author level (better than many, many commercial games even and certainly better than my own), and probably will outclass nearly everything in the future in those regards. I think there are a few weak areas so far, but they don't detract from the mod itself very much, if you notice at all. It's not perfect, but it's really close.

I don't know, I was blown away initially, just a really good mod. Go play it and vote for me because as an author I don't feel it's right to vote but I'm seriously tempted to.

Alright, then.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Probably about that time and also Christmas

So I have some progress to speak of today, and I'm getting nearer to the point where I can start working on something other than areas. First of all I have provided some screens for the docks area, found by clicking here or even here if you missed it the first time. If so, it's a simple matter of going back and clicking one of those two links or trying this one here, all of which lead to the same place.

So that's a small portion of the docks. There's two portions to that area, an upper area on a hill where the temples sit, and the lower section where the docks are. The random spawning is again in effect, and they're clearly seperated by citizens up top and dock workers on the bottom. There's not much happening there aside from that, but the base work for that area is done.

I've also begun working on the final exterior for the city. Since I'm using the same textures as the last two, it's actually gone by pretty quickly since matching the technique is pretty easy. All I have the left in that area now is the buildings, trees, and placeables and setting up the spawn system which actually isn't anything I haven't done twice before in the last week or so.

So that's it there. I'll probably finish up the work on this area within the week and call it a year as Christmas is approaching and, honestly, I haven't done anything. Nah, I'll probably do some more work when I get bored within probably hours of finishing up this area, but I don't have any set goals in mind at this time.

You know, Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. My favorite is obviously the Fourth of July. I don't even really drink alcohol but literally a few times a year. It's not like I've got a problem with drinking or anything, I'm just getting a little too old and a little too married for that scene, plus as a parent you've got to be thinking that driving when you've been drinking with a kid in the car isn't a very good idea, even if it's only just one drink, you know? And what if something happens and we have to run to the hospital in the middle of the night? See what I'm saying?

But anyway, the 4th is great because beer and fireworks is a really good mix of things that are fun. Plus the 5th of July is great because you can go down to the beach in the morning and find duds from the big ones where it failed to ignite and the sizzlers, which are the little balls of the chemicals used to make the colors that fly all over the place when fireworks explode. So if you're lucky from July on you can be blowing things up all summer.

But Christmas is next. I do things a little differently than most people for Christmas. You all probably call people and ask them what they want; I know my family does. Maybe even do a gift exchange or round robin or something. Me, I don't play all that. I go to the store and buy things that I think are cool and that's what you get. For instance, two years back I bought my dad a shrunken head. That thing was creepy, it even stunk, but good luck topping that as the most memorable Christmas gift of all time, ya dig?

The only rule for buying gifts, as far as I'm concerned, is don't buy other people clothes. Nobody wants that stupid K-Mart sweater you bought, Grandma.

I also stay away from the round robin BS for kids especially. I don't know, that's kind of lame to do a gift exchange on kids. For one, they get like no presents then at the family get together. The other thing is you exchange names, then everyone calls and asks what the kids want. Yo, I could have just bought the damn thing myself if that's how it's going to be, know what I mean? What's the point? Like you all can't go ahead and buy all of the kids something small on your own? Damn if they don't "like" it either, that's a spoiled ass kid who gets mad their not even blood relative uncle from out of state didn't get them a Spider Man kung fu grip toy and got them a puzzle book or whatever. Then there's usually a price cap on the stuff so no one gets "outdone" by anyone else like it's a contest.

I don't know, it's just not fun to me.

But I don't have to deal with that with the Fourth. I just put down some beers and blow some stuff up, and everyone is happy that I spent $500 on some dope fireworks, then we head off to the big show. Plus, I don't have to shovel snow.

The thing is this year, since my wife is gone, I'm on my own with Christmas. My family lives in Wisconsin, hers in Chicago, and we live in Tennessee. So I need to do all of the shopping, make the drive with my daughter, my dog, and my cat, and get to all of the Christmas stuff by myself. That's going to be rough. And to top it all off, the pressure is on when you're visiting from out of state. It's crazy to me why this happens, but it does every time I visit family. It's like I'll stay by my Ma's house, where everyone that lives in the area will call and ask you to visit them. They don't want to come out to see you, but they expect you to go and visit them at their I haven't just driven 500 miles to come there for a few days but now I have to spend those days driving around town to visit you. Did your car break down? What's the problem here, you know where I am?

Of course, I'm not going to say that to my Grandma and I always end up driving out there. I'm just saying. Move out of state and come back for the holidays, you'll see what I'm talking about.

But it'll be fun I think regardless. I'm used to all of that and make the best out of it anyway.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's a cold day, a cold, sad day.

Evel Kneivel is dead.

I suppose it's a miracle that the guy was even alive twenty years ago and every day since then has been a blessing, but damned if he wasn't one of the modern heroes of our era. So he'll be missed.

It kind of makes you think, though. Precisely how many days did it take after the first car was invented that somebody went, "you know, if I built a ramp..." For real, it was a marvel of modern technology at the time, but the freaking things went like 7 miles an hour (that's like 50,000 kilometers per cubic metric litre or something to you European cats) so I'd imagine the general public was more like, "yeah, that's great" as they passed by it at walking speed. So who was the first guy that decided putting 15 foot tall tires on it and running over other cars would be a good idea? Or this? It's that kind of reckless ingenuity that has kept the US leading the world in awesome, but we lost out today.

Of course it's not all bad. In other car related news I found this Camborghini on the internet, and if you're familiar with Cam'ron at all you'll probably find this hilarious. I did so much so that I'm seriously considering ordering the T-shirt if I didn't think I'd have to explain it to everyone who sees it and wonders why I have a half retarded looking drawing of a car on my chest, but odds are I will buy it and have to get some new pants (I'm sort of OCD like that, I won't mix and match pants and shirts and I have to buy them in pairs). So the day isn't a total loss, but it's pretty close both emotionally and ultimately financially as I'll end up buying some clothes.

On the NWN2 front, I've made some progress. I'm working on the second and what will actually be the largest exterior area of the city, so call me a liar for saying it wasn't going to be. There's a lot of docks and open water in it, though, so it's not the largest walkable area. Anyway, I'll save the screens on that for next post when it'll be done. I need to do the grass, trees, and details on it, but it's mostly finished.

RIP Evel Knievel & my wallet

Monday, November 26, 2007

What's Really Good?

I was going to go for four in a row, but since I've gotten to the point where I'm adding NPCs to Velprintalar and the general layout of the city is done I thought it'd be a good time to post some screens out this piece. So what's really good?

Basically what's happening is this area is huge, so what you're seeing there is all from the same area in a lot of different corners of it. What you're not seeing is the vast majority of it. The entire exterior of the city will be comprised of three areas, though this is easily the largest of the three.

I devised a simple system of spawning random NPCs (out of a possible 16) at random waypoints throughout the city. I believe there's between 20 and 25 spawned when you enter the area, and all deleted when you exit it (I'm assuming this helps with performance. Whether or not a few NPCs walking around in areas you're not in makes a big impact is up for debate, really, but I figure every little bit helps), and it still feels really empty so I'll need to add some that just stand around with no point. I'm a little loathe to do that, however what's supposed to be the largest city in the country should be a little bit bustling. Maybe I'll just increase the number of random walkers instead and still add fewer that stand around. I haven't decided yet.

But yeah, I think it looks pretty cool. The design is interesting, a lot of hills and height variations, if not unconventional. According to the sourcebook, Velprintalar has a distinct elven flavor to it, which basically translates into I have to throw in a few of those illefarn statues where there's like a dozen variations but they all kind of look the same and a lot of plants. There's really not much to work with in the toolset that's elven, and dwarven is even worse, but I did my best. I have dozens of buildings to add random things in, which I won't utilize every doorway but it's nice to have options. There's not a whole lot of minute details, however there's a lot of color because I made it for the fall season and a ton of plant life (there's like 30 different kinds of trees in there. I stuck to the five seed rule on it, though, so theoretically performance should not be impacted. It hasn't so far, it's actaully getting much better FPS than I would have expected, but we'll see when it's all said and done and all of the NPCs are there...) so that should keep the eyes entertained.

I'm happy with it. Over the next week or so I'll be working on the other two parts of the city, and then it's on to actually building the quests, and I'll add interiors as needed until I'm done. Finishing the city will be another huge milestone, then it's the ending areas to wrap up the Chapter. I may make a summer release if things keep along this smoothly.

I'd also like to take a moment again here to thank everyone who has been doing the ongoing testing. They've been really diligent with offering suggestions and pointing out things I missed, and playing the same thing multiple times can be tedious but it's really important to know things are working as you move along and taking the time out to help...I don't know, I appreciate it is all. So thanks.

But, let's talk about the History Channel. There's a few channels on TV that are the "boring" channels, and really the only one worth watching most of the time is Discovery (and maybe the Science Channel), but even they have their fair share of crap like American Chopper or American Hotrod or American Air Compressor (tricking out a compressed air tank with flames = awesome and patriotic!), and I also think How it's Made kind of blows but there's some educational value there if you can stay awake through the boring narrative about how to make a bicycle seat cover. But Mythbusters, Future Weapons, MF-ing Survivorman, and Dirty Jobs are all dope, plus I really like the random specials they have like Planet Earth or the six part series on the ocean. The one on the Abyss, the deep part of the ocean where the sunlight doesn't reach, is an absolute must see. It's better than most movies, there's things down there that range from bizarre to frightening, and it can all kill you. That's why I won't set foot in an ocean, I don't care what I'm missing. I'm not trying to get jellyfished or stringrayed or eaten by a shark, you know what I mean? I'ma stay right here in the midwest, thank you very much.

But the other two, The Learning Channel and The History Channel, are mostly garbage programming. The Learning Channel I have less beef with. It's just it kind of turned into a subsidary of Oxygen and Home and Garden TV, all they play is house remodelling shows and how really, really fat people lose a full person's weight and are still fat and then die from being fat shows. I don't mean to sound non-PC, so if you're a little chunky don't be offended, I'm talking about like 800 pounds+ that can't get out of bed, literally no BS here, without a forklift. I don't understand that, who is feeding these people? It's not them that disgust me; I really can't blame them at that point. If you're bed ridden and somebody keeps bringing you fried chicken, what else are you going to do all day but eat it?

Point is there's not much that's watchable on that channel.

But the History Channel really trips me out. There's a lot more there that's watchable if you're into World War II. Personally, I'm not a big fan of history in general outside of the Roman Empire which I find fascinating, but the rest not so much. I'm also not sure that it should get as much play as it does past middle school. I understand the value of learning from history, but unless you're in a position to really capitalize on it like a world leader or some such, I don't see the value of it in every day life besides winning a game of Trivial Pursuit...which I'm not even sure anyone even plays anymore. I don't even think the Civil War was over when that game was written because the entire medical pie piece is about blood letting with leeches.

It ain't even that though, it's that they air so little that has anything to do with history. For real, like half of the shows are about the Bible, Nostradomus, and the Paranormal, and the other half is World War II documentaries. I just don't get where the first half fits in to all that. I don't buy in to all that, psychics and future predictions and whatnot, mostly because it's entirely fake but partly because even if it was real it'd be explained scientifically in time anyway so it wouldn't be exceptional anyway. For instance, today there was a marathon of this show called Monster Quest, where they get a bunch of otherwise intelligent people to try and prove things like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster are real, where they end up not really doing anything and interviewing assorted "experts" (they're heavy on the kryptozoologist, which is sort of like a zoologist but no formal training is required and it's not actually a field of science...), "witnesses" (which are just people who think bigfoot is real), and actual experts (who disagree with pretty much everyting), and overlay it with creepy music, half assed CGI (because, obviously, they don't have any actual footage of fake things), and ominious narrative for an hour, then a big "alright, we didn't really do anything, but maybe it's real...or is it?" at the end and call it a day.

It's awfully stupid. Not quite as stupid as those ghost hunter shows where they bumble around in the dark with night vision cameras and scare themselves, but very, very close. But shows like that are like half of the History Channel's programming. Or, should I bring up "UFOs in the Bible" as further evidence of what they'll play? They also aired Loose Change once, which I won't link to out of fear of sullying my blog's good name (heh), but you've probably heard of it anyway.

Basically, it's a real disappointment that the History Channel has to sink to that level, you know? I'm assuming that in order to sustain a big enough audience to keep the channel running they have to air Sylvia Browne-esque (I will link to this, I even bought the T shirt! Don't think anyone is going to get the reference, though) shams to the "true believers" at the expense of distributing actual knowledge and truth, which begs the question is there too many people like me? History just does nothing for them? Because it's a shame that their prime time programming is based around a bunch of lies and the real stuff is stuck during soap opera hours.

Alright, till next time, stay with it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Three posts in a row, no screens

That's a little unusual for me, but I'm like half done with what will be a very large and looks to be impressive city area, and I don't want to spoil it.

Yeah, I'm done with the Palace section of the mod. This will probably require some revisions and additons later as the side quests start to come out, however a huge portion of it is done. Came out to 5 areas and over 25,000 words of dialogue, so there's a lot of cutscenes and optional info to advance the story. Perhaps the most fun part about the banquet is that your decisions in Chapter 1 and up until that point, including what you did in the Palace and during will all impact what faction is willing to take you in out of a possible 6 (as well as your reward). Of course, that will remain optional, however it will play a major role in what you'll be doing around town if you decide to stick around and do the open ended sidequest deal. I'm thinking about throwing in an "evil" ending in there as well, that will turn out badly but it's there. Been helping out Red Wizards and generally being a bad guy? Well, Aglarond won't be a big fan, but perhaps one of the more "revolutionary" anti-goverment factions will...

There's a few odd sidequests as well, combat optional in all of them. I don't know, I think it's a cool area. It also needs to be tested thoroughly, so if you're interested in doing that head over to the Citadel and give me a shout out, or here.

So yeah, I started to work on the city itself. It's been a few days in the works but it's coming together. Most of the buildings are in place, the terrain is done, and so are the textures, but I need to do some mad detailing work on it. When it's done, I'll have some screens.

Dude, anyone been following Barry Bonds? I don't really care for, or about for that matter, baseball at all, but man, that guy is getting screwed. He's looking at like 30 years for using steriods! For real, I knew this dude that used to use steriods, except he didn't work out or anything, he just thought he'd get ripped by taking them. I guess it doesn't work like that, I wouldn't know. I took steriods once, but it was in this anti-fungal creme for my foot and I didn't get any bigger or crazier. Just got rid of the athlete's foot, and then it came based on all of my first hand steriods experience I'm not really too keen on the stuff myself, far as I know it doesn't even work, but 30 years in prison is a bit harsh.

It looks like they're just trying to get him to roll on the steriod users in the MLB and turn him snitch. I don't think they're going to go for it, and honestly I don't think they can get a conviction anyway. Try to find a jury that doesn't already know Barry's been juicing for the last decade and you'll have to look in like the Phillipenes or somewhere where they don't even have bed sheets, let alone cable. Even then you know they're walking around in Bonds and Vick jerseys.

Matter of fact though, if they're going to sweat somebody over steriods, why not make it Carrot Top? You seen that guy lately, dude could bench press a mini van. And what's the greater offense? Barry Bonds breaking the home run record, or Carrot Top on stage? Last time I saw Carrot Top was at the Flava Flav roast, and I spent more time figuring out why he was even there than laughing at his clock props, he didn't even roast the guy he just played with some toys for about 15 minutes. And I don't even know when the last time I saw Barry Bonds, because aside from Berliad and my grandpa Stan (who, I kid you not, for my birthday when I was a kid got me a full team roster of the Cubs on Wonderbread trading cards wrapped in celaphane. We didn't even live in Chicago. Of course, year before that he bought me this sweet Pennzoil remote controlled Indy car that I ran into a curb and broke the wheel off within twenty minutes of opening it and my mom was all "don't tell him you did that or he'll hit you on the knuckles with a fork", which he would have so it was good advice.), I'm not even aware that anyone watches baseball, so your guess is as good as mine (about when the last time Barry Bonds was seen, probably forgot what I was talking about). So who cares if he breaks the record? Not me, I attribute it more to a work ethic than anything, steriods can give you an edge, but if I started shooting them in my ass would I be able to even hit a baseball? I'd probably end up freaking out at my keyboard and busting it on my monitor when a script didn't work right and get acne is all that would happen.

But you've got to respect Bonds, it's all green to him. All that guy wants is his paper, and I think that's whey he gets shitted on so badly. He's not the humble "aww, shucks America" guy next door, he's straight business and isn't ashamed to say it.

So that's what I think, they just don't want to see the record broken by a guy that doesn't "love the sport". But the minute you started paying more than I make in a lifetime to a guy that can hit a ball with a stick really well, that's what happens.

Reap what you sow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Explain: Jean Claude Van Damme

First off, the poll is about half way through now. The results aren't too encouraging as to whether or not I'll be using any Mysteries of Westgate content (which depends entirely on how that content is available anyway), because it looks like not too many people will be buying it.

Not as many impulse buyers as I would have thought either. I certainly am, but it's pretty lame to vote on your own poll so I don't count.

Anyway, I finished the large banquet cutscene, weighed in at over 6000 words...and you have to read most of them! So it's pretty long, not Trial in Neverwinter long, but none-the-less pretty long. There's also another lengthy cutscene to follow, not as long, but lengthy, that needs to be finished, and all of the post banquet dialogue needs to be done for everyone in the Palace. But I've made a lot of headway and am nearly ready to move on to the next area.

So that's the news there.

Anyway though, I know I've brought this up several times on my old blog, but for those of you catching up I have the Showtime/Encore movie channel package, which sucks. They get the scraps of HBO/Cinemax/Starz (and if you're doing worse than a network that uses a 'z' in place of an 's', you've got problems), so they basically get the worst movies possible. For instance, they've pretty much been marathoning The Hillz, of which Paris Hilton is the main character. I think. I haven't actually seen this movie, but since there's a 'z' where there should be an 's' there's really no point in even speculation on the possibility that this movie isn't God F-ing awful.

Anyway, point is Showtime and Encore both suck as movie channels. It's saving grace is that they're not really that picky about what they'll play, so a lot of older "classic" movies. I'm using "classic" pretty liberally here, as you probably won't catch any Citizen Kane or anything, but HBO doesn't play those kind of classics either because...alright, as a work of art, yeah, cool, but as an actual entertaining movie that you'd want to sit down and watch, you could do better. Honestly, I thought Stanely Kubrick's 2001: Space Odessey was a pile of crap when I saw it, and said so aloud in my film class, and was publicly scolded. Whatever, have you ever actually watched that movie? It's sucks, I don't care.

Again, anyway, you'll see a lot of classics. I'm talking like the Ghoulies, Puppet Master, Hellraiser, Critters, The Thing, Conan the Destroyer, Gymkata, Master of the Flying Guillotine, Ong Bak (which has an awesome soundtrack btw), well, you get the point. Movies you probably forgot about that were awesome at the time and you still dig. Nah, but you have to wade through monumental piles of crap to find them and their original programming sucks aside from Penn and Teller (incidentally, they also play crappy casinos out in Vegas, what's wrong with them two?), but if you're patient and have an iron will, you will succeed where most have failed.

So that's what I did when I caught Universal Soldier, starring Jean Claude Van Damme, who was huge in the 90's but now probably most famous for beating his wife and going to jail, and Dolph Lundgren most famous for a scene in which Brandon Lee, floudering where his legendary father had infinite success: the Action genre, took a role in which one of his speaking parts was complimenting Dolph's penis and then got killed in The Crow which also wasn't that great of a movie but people love kind of like Scarface. Also he played Ivan Drago and beat the chit out of Stallone for like an hour.

Fun Fact: That entire paragraph consisted of only two sentences, one of which was a blatant run on!

Anyway, JCVD was huge in the 90's, and Universal Soldier is often cited as his best movie, aside from perhaps Bloodsport. After seeing it the other day, I'm wondering how did that dude get so big? It's not that good of a movie! The barely coherent plotline is full of more holes than the giant Germanic barbarian slave in Gladiator in the opening sequence (or, if this is a better reference, the ear necklace Dolph wears throughout the movie), the acting worse than the acting of the giant Germanic barbarian slave in Gladiator, and there's no kung fu or JCVD doing the splits (though he stands around nekkid a few times...ladies! Nah, but every since he beat his wife, I don't even think the gulls like him that much), which is pretty much the entire point of casting the guy.

Nah, that movie is not good. I wouldn't say it sucks, but it's not good. Doesn't matter though, because you could easily call that his best work and still have to explain The Quest (which is just Bloodsport except it sucks), Time Cop (which just sucks), Streetfighter(!), Double Team (which is just that Jackie Chan movie but it sucks. Well, more.), Lionheart (which is just Bloodsport but it sucks), Kickboxer (which is just bloodsport but it not as good, but not sucks) Cyborg (incidentally I also caught Cyborg 2 later that same day which stars a young Angelina Jolie (which I also caught Hackers a few days before, which really deserves it's own post about the portrayal of computers in movies, but also stars a young Angelina in a see through shirt and Goth looking), but doesn't star Rosario Dawson who is, IMO strictly as a married man, way hotter), etc., etc., etc. you've got to wonder, how did this guy get famous? This guy messed up worse than Segal somehow, and yet he never should have had that option because he only made crappy movies whereas Segal was the joint during the same time but much less recognized. Far as I know though, JCVD didn't even get fat so there's really no excuse.

Anyway, all this has given me the inspiration to go to Blockbuster this weekend and rent the entire Hellraiser series and watch them all. Because if I'm going to watch crappy movies, it may as well have Pinhead instead of JCVD's naked ass.

The end.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

You know, sometimes being a parent is hard!

First of all, let me introduce you to my two new new screens. Screens, reader. Reader, screens.

Now that you're acquainted, let me give you a little background. Aglarond needs mounts for it's aerial calvalry for the seemingly inevitable war with Thay, but they can only breed them so fast. So they've turned to less traditional mounts, wyverns. Of course, they're having a tough time cowing them into being ridable. Maybe you could help? Or perhaps screw it up badly and kill all of the young wyverns? It's really up to you.

Yeah, that's the newest sidequest, a little ranger/druid time to shine, but not steal the show. There's like 4 ways to solve it, each with different outcomes, but they're all pretty similar. I don't know, it filled up a room.

Now, I only have one more room to go before I begin the actual banquet sequence, and the in palace post banquet activities before I submit that as an addition to the ongoing beta test. I figure when that's finished, probably about two weeks, I'll be around the 50% mark, which is pretty significant.

Anyway, back to the title of this post. You can tune out now if you don't care about my personal life.

So I went and picked up my daughter from preschool the other day. This is a pretty multiracial area, so she was sitting there at this table playing with some kind of purple goo; sort of like silly putty I guess, but I don't think they make that stuff anymore. But anyway there's a lot of kids there of different ethnic backgrounds. Matter of fact, my wife is half Mexican, and I'm pretty much a white guy (more on that later) so she's...I don't even know.

But anyways, one of the parents comes in to pick up his daughter, a black guy. So my daughter goes "Daddy, that's a black man!"

Ruh Roh!

So I had no idea what I'm supposed to say. You know how some people are sensitive about that stuff, plus I'm sure the last thing the preschool teachers want is for kids running around pointing out each others race. I ended up going with something like "yeah, that's a black guy." I don't know, what are you supposed to say?

The whole race relations thing is kind of awkward to me, because I'm not particularly sensitive about that. When I was a kid, it wasn't all that serious. We knew better than to use racial slurs, and my parents never did either, but we didn't really tip toe around stuff either. Obese was fat, little people were midgets, african americans were black, and crackers were crackers. Pretty simple stuff, and I keep it that way, that's just my philosophy. But I'm not sure if I should be emparting my philosophy onto her or teach her to be really, really PC, you know? Who knows what tomorrow will bring, hopefully it'll just be people chilling the F out.

Like I said, I don't really get all of the racial relations stuff. There's certain words certain people can't be saying, reparations, who stole what a few hundred years ago from who and how we owe their ancestors, and I'll tell you why. I've personally never owned a slave, stolen somebody's land, or massacred a civilization. I was genuinely curious about this so I made a few calls to family members, but it only reaffirmed what I knew before that time: Most of my ancestors came to the US before the civil war and lived in the North and fought for that side, and my great grandpa Felix was a Mohican Indian (which explains my love of gambling and small pox - hey, they're my people!) so not even my traceable ancestry had anything to do with it, at best they were standers by, at worst victims themselves. I guess I owe myself reparations? And my daughter can be traced back to refugees fleeing Nazi Germany from Poland and to an unidentified guy from Mexico, if you want to bring that stuff up she's been persecuted from almost every angle and is owed land in both New York and Texas that was stolen from her. I mean, when you know all of that, who really has the right to point fingers? It's way too confusing to even matter.

Also, if you're curious as to how I found all of this out, my method was to call my sister who plotted out the family history. If you don't have a sister who did that, I'd suggest getting one, thought it may be too late.

So, obviously, I don't really get the point in bringing all this ancient history up and being all worried about it, because you could probably literally point to anyone and say "your people did something to my people a really long time ago!", but where does that get us? And half of the people doing the pointing probably don't even know the truth about themselves, let alone who they're pointing at.

Which is why I'm pretty sure just saying "yeah, he's a black guy" was the right answer.

Whatever though.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Been on my Hustle

I guess that would be the best way to put it. I have to tell you in all honesty that it can be tough when working on a project this ambitious it's hard to keep on your hustle with it. Sometimes, you just don't feel like sitting down for a few hours to chip away at a boulder, so to speak. But every time you don't, that's those extra hours on the back end which adds up. I think that's my motivator, though. Like if you don't sit down and get things done, it's not going to get done, period.

I'm also not the type to sit around and think about things. Thankfully, my thoughts frequently come on the fly while I'm working. So really, the harder I work at this the better it comes out in the end. Seems kind of obvious when you see it written out, right? But I know that some cats have spreadsheets and extensive design docs and months of planning, which is good for them. Me, I keep a rough outline and wing the details, and work with inspiration when it strikes.

Case and point: For the last couple of weeks I've been working on The Simbuls Palace. As of earlier today, I have two floors completely done pre-banquet. They were supposed to be small with a few fun diversions. Well, I got a few ideas when I was working on it and it's probably turned into a good hour (or more, depending on how much time you're willing to experiment with one quest if you don't get it immediately from the clues! Or I suppose technically much less if you skip it all.) 2 extensive sidequests (one has two solutions, the other five) and one smaller one (technically two. I scripted in preparation of another quest that takes place in the castle, but I need to lay a lot of the groundwork for it in other areas first so that doesn't it wasn't that hard to do) that can lead to a quest chain (if I decide to even include it at all, no guarantee, but it's nice to have options and, let's face it, I probably will) depending on how you choose to handle it, all with non combat solutions, and 16,000+ words of dialogue. And I've still got two floors left.

And that's all just on the fly. That's why I like to run with things when I get the idea, that's a pretty significant addition to the module and only diverted a few days time, mostly due to me testing the scripting for them. All three had some scripting, but the two extensive ones had quite a bit, mostly visual effects for cutscenes. Because really, what's the point in closing a portal to the elemental plane of fire if there's no boom?

But I think the most challenging part of this particular segment is the writing. I've got no illusions that I'm some type of master wordsmith, I can barely talk coherently, but I'm good enough to get by. Which is the problem here. Basically what I've got going on is there's a banquet of nobles who are there to congratulate you on saving Glarondar from the attack that took place in the first chapter, among other things. However, they've all got their own agendas and they want to use you to their own ends, some good, some bad, some in the middle, but they're too polite to say it out loud. It's some classic politic stuff, you have to read in between the lines to see what's really going on. Thing is, I don't know that my writing ability is up to the task there.

I gave it a shot, though. I wrote a little dialogue where a somewhat important female NPC gets "forward" with you (aka she's hitting on you), but it's all in the subtext. Is she hitting on you, or isn't she? That kind of thing. You get to play along, or not, if you say the right things (and if you don't a dialogue skill might bail you out if you make the DC, or you can completely blow it on purpose). Then it's explained she was testing you, but that's the kind of subtext and subtlety you need to use if you're to be successful in impressing the nobles at the banquet. What you say and what you mean are two different things. Like a really weird tutorial.

I think that one came out OK, but this banquet is going to be challenging. It's going to be one of those things that people will either love or hate, I think.

Well, that's about all I got. No crap this time.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Up yours, Obsidian

Not really, I like them cats. Most of them, anyway. There's been a dev post or two that have rubbed me the wrong way, especially if you bring up Atari. They don't like you bad mouthing Atari, that's for sure. I don't know why, I mean, can they really be happy with them as a publisher?

That's what I'm saying. Blizzard has it right, you know? They do it all from the ground up, so if something's not ready they don't hesistate to push back release. One one hand, I suppose that, in a way, has got to be ticking off players. Look at how long we (well, you, I could give a F) have been waiting for Starcraft II? What, like a decade thereabouts? But I guarantee you when Starcraft drops, it's going to be hot (well, for you. Again, remember the afforementioned F). On the other hand, though, they don't have anyone to share the blame when the bugs start crawling out. I mean, like when people hated the ending of NWN 2 OC (which I still haven't seen because much of the middle is pretty tedious) Obsidian is just, if you read between the lines, holding their hands out and saying "Atari." Or how no skin from neck to the wrists and how they changed the Warlock outfit, again, they're pointing a finger.

Speaking of censorship, I just ordered by copy of The Witcher, which looks pretty hot (and like MotB, has been post release betaed by Europe already so I don't have to deal with the BS). Unfortunately, I found out later that there is a censored US version headed my way instead of the real game, which is a kick in the teeth. Now look, you might have noticed that I kept Subtlety of Thay pretty PG. I don't necessarily think that a bunch of nudity is appropriate for every game out there, and mine was one of them. I working on tackling some mature subject manner, like racism and politics, but none of that requires a bare breast hanging out. I don't know, one thing is I'm getting awfully tired of using the same clothes over, and over, and over, and over...

Of course, that doesn't mean I'm against that either, which is why I was disappointed by my ordering the wrong copy. I wanted to play that joint like it's meant to be played. I'm an adult, so whatever.

Funny thing is a lot of cats are blaming America (or AmeriKKKa if you prefer. Also, stop reading my blog if you spell it that way, please.) for that. And to a certain extent, they're right, because there's no other weird cersored copies floating about. Basically the gyst is people think that Americans love violence but fear sex. Patently untrue, we love our guns and ammo as much as our hookers and strippers. But seriously, y'all cats have to understand that it's not us, ol' average American guy just trying to get by, but old Republicans and Christians we've never even met, and Walmart, that are making us all look like bloodthirsty prudes. I swear on my life, I don't know anyone who even knows what the Witcher is, let alone if it does or does not have nudey collectors cards in the game. It's the Jack Thompson, Hillary Clinton, Al Sharptons, uh, Sam Walmart(?)s of the US that are behind all that. But I didn't vote for none of them, and prolly come next year only one of the listed will have public support of any kind. I don't really know the specifics behind it all, but for some reason those people are allowed to make decisions about video game imports.

So, yeah, just so we're clear: It's the F out of our hands what gets censored and what doesn't. I'm kind of sick of it too, but I don't even know who you're supposed to vote for and where to stop that from happening, and I have a feeling no one else does either. Besides, the government is all messed up anyway (oh, you all foreigners aren't any better off, real talk), so for the forseeable future that's life.

So, you've forgotten why I said "up yours, Obsidian" by now I'm sure. I'm in Act III of MotB. This may just be an ego stroke, but my area design is better than theirs across the board, and that's real. Of course, I think they have a better writing staff and I was impressed with many other aspects of the game, but I beat them out there no question. In two places it realy dawned on me: The first is where you fight the Ice Hag, that area is terrible, easily the worst in the game. The second is the Thayan Academy, which was really bare and non-sensical. I also thought the puzzle quests there were uninspired as well. That area was just really disappointing overall, which is unfortunate because it's the only time you get to explore Thay in MotB and I think a lot of people are going to walk away from that one with the wrong impression of Thay.

Say what you want, that's real talk. Want proof? Alright, go check out the Thayan academy that uses the estate tileset, and mine own for a couple of screens.

Alright then, I'm back to it. I've got insignificant NPC dialogue to write and sidequests to script!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

And this freaking thing won't keep me logged in!

I don't understand that. Why go to the trouble of having a "remember me" button of the freaking thing doesn't work? The only times I come to this site are for reasons that require me to be logged in. Seems like a lot of hassle for no good reason if you ask me.

Which you probably didn't. I mean, what are the odds that you'd think the same thing and say "I wonder if dirtywick feels the same way and happened to have made a post about that topic. Let's see!" Probably pretty slim.

Yeah, I'm in a bad mood. Thing is, I'm taking these college courses online, and the due date for the final was yesterday. Three days earlier than any other semester. For some arbitrary reason, they changed the due dates for finals leaving me high and dry, and they didn't even have the courtesy to send out a simple mass e-mail saying "hey, we moved the due dates for finals to a different day than what we have been using the last few years!" Not the end of the world, though. They're usually pretty cool about stuff like that and make ups. Even if they're not, it'll get sorted out. Normally I'm probably the most laid back guy you'd know, but when somebody goes off and does something stupid like that that will turn my $1200 A into a wasted $1200 D, best believe I'm going to break my foot off in somebody's ass.

But enough about that. You're probably wondering what's going on with my mod. Well, I just so happen to have a few screens with what's what on them.

Basically, I've been working on The Simbul's Palace. Seeing as how she's one of the most prolific and probably among the top 5 most powerful spellcasters in all of Faerun, I figured she need a laboratory to, I don't know, do wizard stuff in. And what happens when there's an unattended laboratory and an apprentice too big for her britches? Heavily scripted and multiple ending sidequest mischief!

Speaking of laboratory, I was typing that word out when I had one of those "You know, that doesn't look right..." moments. You know what I'm talking about, when you write out a word that you know is spelled right, but it just doesn't feel like it's right. So I looked up "labratory" online instead to cross check my crossed t's and dotted...lower case j's (props if you caught the reference, because it's party time, excellent! Woo woo woo woo!) Apparently, I would have been the 275,001st person to make that mistake, but I caught it. Most notably is the second link down on the page, a company that sells "labratory" equipment. That's got to hurt sales seeing as how your site only shows up if you spell the word wrong.

But yeah, basically the next few weeks will be occupied with building The Simbul's Palace. It's 5 areas deep, most of them double digits by double digits, so it's massive. Figure in all the NPCs that need dialogue and the huge banquet cutscene that will be influenced by the previous actions throughout the first three mods, your conduct inside the palace, and your conduct during the banquet, and all of the various sidequests/exploration opportunities in the palace, and you've got a lot of work to do. Well, I have a lot of work to do.

But it's going to be fun, this is one of the things I've been looking forward to doing.

Alright, then.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Did you catch Southpark tonight?

It was hilarious, for real, mostly because I get to sit back and see all those stupid characters from cartoons over the years. Not as good as last weeks, but still you don't want to not catch that. But I'm sitting here wondering what the preachy point is going to be at the end of this three part episode.

So, yeah, I'm still going through this testing thing. It's coming along, the people that volunteered to beta test have been really helpful, especially dude and his brother been e-mailing me and flem. Lot of good ideas and squashed bugs have come of it, which is great.

Thing is though, I'm-a be totally honest here, beta testing is probably my least favorite part of building. Well, the post release fixes are also a hassle. Keeping with my honesty, I'm pretty lazy so I don't like to do things more than once. Get it done right the first time around has always been one of my philosophies of life, ya dig? So obviously going back and digging through things I had done months ago and trying to figure out what's wrong is, I don't know, grating? Yeah, I guess that's a good word for it. The other thing is I get a lot of "why didn't I think of that?"'s and "how did I miss that!?"'s throughout too, and most of the time it's something really simple that makes you feel like an idiot, you know?

That ain't to say I'm unappreciative of these cats because, like last time, their ideas and bug reports are a great contribution that I wouldn't want to go without. But, you know, if I can't be honest about what's going on then there's a problem festering there anyway.

Point here is next time you're playing a mod for, well, anything (not a professionally done one, though, they get paid for that! I mean, unless you want to give props to everyone who does their job adequately, go 'head.) and you're leaving a vote or comment or whatever the system that respective game uses to rate user made stuff, just remember the beta testers. I'm telling you, if it wasn't for them your enjoyment of that mod would have suffered in a big way.

Right on. In other news, I'll be putting up a new poll soon about the new "Adventure Pack" for NWN 2. I mean, it looks cool, but I'm a little tentative about buying it for a few reasons. What I'll tell you now is MotB was a bit of a headache (not even close enough to make me regret the purchase) in the way that it messed up my custom content and problems from it are still surfacing in other areas. It's all good though, they'll be worked out. But once you have that installed, it's not really an optional thing. Like I can't build for just vanilla NWN2 now, it's MotB required because it's that integrated into the toolset, which is much of a problem because most of the folks playing the community stuff will have it. But this Adventure Pack? That remains to be seen. How integrated will it be with the toolset? As much so as MotB? And will I even be able to use the stuff they're making with it? Like can I just yank some stuff out of their hak or whatever and slap it into mine? Their music?

See what I mean? Or is it going to be like MotB where a mod I make using it simply won't work unless the player also owns it. Because on the real, I could just pull things out of my MotB files and put them in a hak and you could play it with vanilla...I'm not going to because the hak would be huge and Obsidian would probably have a seizure at me. I'm just saying.

That's the kind of stuff that will influence whether or not I install the Adventure Pack. Yeah, I said install. I'll buy it regardless, Ossian is an indie studio employing (do y'all get paid cash or just a stamp on your resume?) people I e-know, so supporting both the indie studio scene and some cats I like/respect on a personal level is something I'm in favor of. So I'm all over that.

But how useful it will be to me is another story.

Finally, I have been making progress on the next mod. I have a cool cutscene finished, and have begun work on the next "area" (which is actually five areas split apart), The Simbul's Palace interior. It's coming along, it's just really, really big.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Things are going well.

Ran into a few snags with the beta testing thus far, but that's to be expected. But overall it seems to be going a lot better than the first time around with Chapter 1. That's good news, mostly because I don't like this phase of the building process because it usually involves pinning down bugs and exhaustively testing the fixes.

But I've got to say, thanks to everyone who has volunteered to help. Multiple pairs of eyes makes things so much easier, and I can't even stress how much I appreciate the help.

But yeah, this week has been busy. Well, not so much busy but not having time to work on building. My cousin came out to visit for a few days, and I spent most of that time playing the Wii. I don't know about that console, hopefully it will get better. For one thing, the developers that work on that platform seem too obsessed with the ability to flail your arms seizurically and the character on the screen does stuff, so they tend to go that route when, perhaps, pushing a button would be better.

That's not really the case in all games. Obviously games like Tiger Woods golf are better when you're swinging the thing, and Zelda and Paper Mario use the remote effectively. Mario Party is a lot of fun too. But take Prince of Persia, I can't even play that game. There's too much flailing and too many buttons to learn. I'm looking like an idiot flopping my arms everywhere while my character is getting beat down by every enemy I run into while I'm running up a wall and falling to my death. Likewise, Red Steel sucks because it's ungodly difficult and relies too heavily on the remote which, for whatever reason, they made ultra sensitive and the camera movement really fast.

I would say that, on average, at least half of the games for the Wii I've played end up with me dying dozens of times in the tutorial section before the real game begins before giving up for better pastures.

The best joints on the Wii you can get is Scarface just to play the beginning, and probably the Wii Sports that comes along with it.

I also found a few minutes to play MotB. Anybody know at what point you're supposed to get the Spirit Eater ability? I'm about to go into the Death God's Vault and I'm feeling like I should be eating some souls by this point. I heard about a bug where you can miss the event where you pick it up.

Don't forget that the quest idea contest is still running and any and all beta applications, which is just you asking and not a real application, will be accepted!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Download the Beta!

Just holla at me here if you want Beta test this motha!

I'm always pretty excited about a real milestone. This is a bulky third of Chapter 2. I play tested it myself, took a little longer because I hit a few snags (none game breaking, though, just oddities), but overall I'm pretty satisfied with what came out of it. The story is a lot more tight so far, the combat is pretty intense, and the companions and RP elements are a lot more varied and alive.

I was going to write about this last time, as my keen sense of observance usually gives me plenty to talk about (most of it stupid, but that's a given), but the last post was a lot longer than I intended it to be.

The other day I caught this anime called "The Fist of the North Star" on Showtime. Now I'm not a big anime fan by any means, but I like some of it. Ninja Scroll is probably the best of all time, Akira was good, Vampire Hunter D, Robotech, about every third or fourth epidsode of Dragon Ball Z, Afro Samurai, I don't know, there's probably some more I've seen and liked. There's also a lot of garbage too, more often than not.

You know what's interesting about anime? It was and, to a certain degree, still is ahead of it's time. It's catching on in the US, but so far the only cartoons that I know of made for adults are comedies. Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, etc. Afro Samurai was pretty recent (and awesome, should be listed above. Matter of fact I'll edit that in right now...) and was great. I'm not sure why the US needed like a 20 year post-Simpsons adjustment period for it to become "OK" for adults to watch cartoons made for adults. But the simple fact is it did, and now-a-days Showtime is playin' them joints on the daily.

But anyway I was watching "Fist of the North Star", and I had seen that before in high school back in the 90's but completely forgotten about it, and Jiminey MFing Crickets! That show is crazy. The basic premise is this guy knows Fist of the North Star style which is like the greatest kung fu style ever, and he wanders a post apocalyptic world doing good deeds using his martial arts. Pretty much a direct port of David Carradine's Kung Fu, except while they both travel the world offering sagely, Kung Fu advice to solve problems, David Carridine doesn't explode people when he punches them.

And that video is the old school tame version. The stuff they're showing these days doesn't leave a black body/red background to the imagination.

That's not even the crazy part. During the opening credits, the writers of the show were given their due. One of them was responsible for the Fist of the North Star novelization. Really, how much could you possibly write about a guy who walks around exploding people with punches? More of a visual thing, though that's obviously trumped by the fact that this must be a stupid book.

Then again, in high school I did a book report about the novelization of "The Golden Child" starring Eddie Murphy. Maybe the Japanese and Americans aren't that different.

Monday, October 15, 2007

33% of Chapter 2 enters internal beta...

...later today. I have one thing I have to do still, which is finish a companion dialogue file up. But that shouldn't take more than a few hours, and we're on to internal beta, which is a fancy way of saying I'll play through it beginning to end. There's two paths through this, and one is already internally betaed, but I need to do the other half, which I'll have done by the end of the day. I've already tested the path multiple times by itself, but I just need to run through it as a whole. Then I'll be opening it up to a wider audience.

But remember, this is just a third of the whole chapter 2, so there's a lot of work to be done yet. I like to split it up into manageable chunks, though, makes the testing faster and easier. But I need help! If there's one thing I learned from last time around, it's that I didn't test it adequately. But I'm only one guy and can only do so much, so if you want to help me out either message me here, at the official boards, on the SoT download page, or by e-mail and I'll get you hooked up.

Just to make this short, here's a few bonus screens!

And a number count:

Areas: 17
Words: 50,000+
Monster Blueprints: 30 - 20 with uniquely scripted special abilities
Items: 600+
Scripts: 175
Conversations: 137

Add that together with the first chapter and so far I've got over 50 areas, over 110,000 words of dialogue (which is full novel size), over 40 custom creatures, over 600 custom items! That kind of puts it into perspective for me how much work this really is. I've designed more maps than an FPS, written a full length novel, and coded probably over 100,000 lines of code.

Anyway, now the ranty part that a blog post of mine wouldn't be complete without:

So yesterday, after watching the "Sunday night line-up" (which is literally what I call what I watch every Sunday) consisting of The Simpsons, skipping King of the Hill and catching half of a bad movie on Showtime, Family Guy which is great, and American Dad which I can't help but feel the jokes that weren't funny enough for Family Guy get shoved into, I did a little internet surfing. I was supposed to be working on the campaign, but got distracted by something else (shiny!) I saw on the internet and led into a wikipedia journey through all kinds of topics that eventually landed on Cannibal Corpse, the death metal band.

You long time Google spiders may remember that I listen, nearly exclusively, to rap. You also might remember the Don Imus incident not long ago where he called the women of the Rutgers basketball team "nappy headed hos" and was promptly nominated for the head of the neo nazi KKK coalition. Well, I guess if you're European you might not have heard about it, so basically the guy had a radio show on some major network (honestly, I'd never even heard of the guy before that) and did a sports broadcast and said that, and basically everyone remotely involved with civil rights for African Americans thought he was racist. I didn't really catch it. Nappy is a reference to when your hair looks like you just woke up from a nap (hence, nappy) and is messed up looking, and ho is a shorter term for the word "whore". Basically, he called them ugly sluts.

I'll admit, he probably didn't mean it that way and there was some racial undertones there. This is further accentuated by his actions after the incident when he went on Al Sharpton's radio show to apologize, which Al accepted and still went on to try and destroy the man (moving him to XM radio where he's probably making more money than ever) and blamed rap music for coining the term. Basically, aside from the fact that I can count on my hand the number of times I've heard the term "nappy headed ho" on my hand in rap lyrics, he said (paraphrased from reading in between the lines) "you all can do it, why can't I?", at which point Al Sharpton set his sights on hip hop. But the aftermath of that is a story for another day.

What's my point here is what you're probably wondering. Well, this isn't really my point but we're getting there: Hip hop has been a scapegoat for the countries problems for too long while heavy metal gets a free pass. Let me just start out that I think the whole blaming any kind of media for influencing people is BS. Like when Steve-O from Jackass straps meat to his balls and wades through crocodile pits, you don't sue jackass when your junk gets bit off, he's an idiot and so are you, you know what I mean? Likewise, when you start selling crack (which the real reality is most drug dealers dont' make a whole lot of money anyway, just saying) and beating women because Jeezy "told" you too, you're also an idiot, and when you commit suicide "from" listening to heavy metal, you're still an idiot. Just had to get that out there.

We straight? Good. Now, if you want to blame some kind of media for messing up idiots, take a look at some song titles and album covers from Cannibal Corpse. I mean, if you're the type of person that likes to d-ride musicians over their music, focusing on the guy that talks about a 9 and selling dope on the corner hardly seems worth the time when there's a ton of metal groups out there with disembowled bodies talking about (and I probably wouldn't click on this link) raping corpses and such. Know what I mean? A little bit of crack and a gun hardly seems like it should be worth it to them when it's next to that.

But again, this isn't a criticism of Cannibal Corpse (that's coming up), but a dig at those jokers who are trying to shut these musicians down.

But, I've got to hand it to Cannibal Corpse. In a time when the music industry is taking a crap, these guys can keep the seats filled. I watched a (eh, go ahead and click that one. You won't understand a word the dude is saying unless you're specially tuned to understand growling and if you are probably won't care because you listen to death metal)YouTube video or two of them live (and honestly I was expecting something more along the lines of a Gwar show, but nastier) but it was pretty standard fare for a metal band: long haired dudes moving their hair around and playing instruments.

But here's where it gets fun. Now, I've been on this side of the table before, probably a lot more than you have if you like death metal, but my ultimate point here is being in Cannibal Corpse can't require a whole lot of talent. There, I said it. Obviously, it's a lot more skill than many of us possess, and by the stadiums they play in a lot of people like it (good for them), but I'm talking about relative to similar groups. Like in the way that Jay-Z is simply better in every aspect of rapping than Mike Jones, I'd say there's a lot of metal bands that are a lot better than Cannibal Corpse.

Now, like I just told a black joke, I'm going to say this: Some of my best friends listen to Cannibal Corpse. Personally, it grates on me after a few minutes and I'd rather listen to dozens of other metal bands, none of which I particularly like anyway so I suppose it's a moot point. Usually I just say "What is this, White Snake? Gay." when I hear them playing it.

And I don't even think it's because these dudes aren't talented or skilled, it's just the genre. Death metal pretty much is a dude growling unintelligably about nasty with a drummer hammering away as quickly as possible and repetitive guitar riffs. That's all I hear when I hear this stuff, as opposed to, say, Pantera, where at least they change things up.

I don't know. Probably put too much thought into a 2 minute YouTube clip.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Probably about a week now

Yeah, so the last of the area design for this mod is finished, and I also took the liberty of designing five new troll blueprints to spice things up. Took a while to test them out, though, as several of them don't die from fire and acid, but other types of damage, as well as a few other scripts for them. After it's all set to go, I have one side project for my bud Anduraga, and I might actually get a chance to play MotB while the testing is happening.

Either I'm really disciplined at holding off, or I'm terrible at time management. Or some combination of the two.

But, here's 6 new screens for you to take a gander at whilst I whittle away at the last of the work that needs to be done, such as the plot events and encounters. Then I need to balance it against the alternate path in terms of XP and loot (I wasn't an idiot this time around a wrote down all that information as opposed to just winging it). But it might be done by this weekend if I stay on my hustle.

Speaking of whittle, has anyone ever done that before? It's been probably a decade since I last heard that word spoken aloud, and technically since I wrote it (twice) that doesn't count. Probably wouldn't know what that is unless you were either a boyscout or have camped before, so here's a rundown: Basically, you grab a piece of wood and a knife, then you carve the wood into something for hours. Usually you end up with a smaller piece of wood if you lack the skill, or just a branch with some bark missing if you lack the patience.

I suppose the last time I heard that word was when I saw the movie "Son in Law" featuring Paulie Shore, which was incidentally probably the last time I ever heard the words Paulie Shore. But anyway, there was a scene where he sees the old, grumpy, and presumably racist homophobe, grandpa whittling a stick, and I believe he uses the word "whittle" when describing to Paulie Shore who minces up to the grandpa asking what he's doing with his ass cheeks hanging out of his pants like he thinks he's Prince.

Yeah but, I don't know, kind of an odd word.

Still moving along, here's some community mods and reasons why you should play them from a builder's perspective:

Night Howls in Nestlehaven

I'm going to be honest here: If you give me a choice between a pure exploration mod and a linear story mod, I'll choose the linear story. But if you're into open exploration, this is the joint you need to play. I didn't finish this because of time constraints and focusing on building over playing, but with this there's so much to do just poking around in the various houses and seeing some oddball stuff that I thought it was really fun. I'll be picking this up again soon because word on the street is the sequel is going to be dope.

Also, throw in cutscenes here, those were also really well done.

Tragedy in Tragidor

I know you all probably already played this, but this is a prime example of how a technically simple mod can convey a great story. The dialogue choices are simple and almost universally superficial in terms of consequence, there's no custom special script systems, etc. But the writing really carries this whole thing onto another level. I don't know, I thought it was immersive and memorable, and off of memory when I cracked it open in the toolset, I think there was very little scripting in there. That's mostly highlighting what you can do with what Obsidian gave you, which is ultimately make a great mod.


This is basically, to me, a breakdown of how to do sidequests. Hugie really did a good job with that, I think that's the highlight of the mod. Again, didn't finish this one because of the summon/strip buffs/die bug in the later parts (which I've read was since fixed and I'll have to play it again), but the point here most of the mod is doing sidequests in the parts I played. Thing is though, they weren't the typical "go here, kill that, and I'll pay you" format. The setting and narrative, and the details especially, was enough where you probably could have built another mod around each one. That was the most exceptional part of this mod, and you've got to give dude props there.


Little sidebar here: in the classic SNES game Lufia II there was this dungeon mini-game where you start from level 1 and move through 100 floors to the end, which obviously takes a long time and you're forced to really manage resources and make smart tactical was one of my favorite things in RPG history, an actual challenge.

That's what I liked about this, not that it was gruesomely challenging in comparison to the Lufia II dungeon, but that you're on a no resting policy for most of the dungeon and hit with status afflictions, resource management, and tactical decisions to protect your potentially limited and draining resources. This aspect of D&D, and really RPGs in general, is too often ignored. Making the wizard with low strength having to ditch loot because you don't know where the next shop is, make hard decisions about where to use that last potion of restoration, skipping killing the vampires because of the threat of level drain, do I use my spell on this guy or save it in case something worse is around the corner, that kind of stuff is all an aspect of what can happen in a dungeon, but with unlimited resting abound and clearing buffs when you die...whatever. Thankfully, from what I've seen of MotB when a companion is killed and comes back, the status afflictions stick around! Awesome!

Anyway, good job in that regard. That should be the kind of stuff dungeon design uses over wading through hordes of enemies (though that's fine too, just make them a horde of wights with level drain!)

Well, that's about all I got for now. Enough to keep ya thinking anyway.

Don't forget the contest, and if you want in on the beta test come on and holla at me.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MotB Edition Up

Or will be soon, at any rate. Technically, as I write this, it's still uploading.

So go play that joint, if you haven't already. The changes were mostly cosmetic, and the rest was fixes to make some room for the new base classes, as well as slapping some new bugs in the face.

It's also about 100 MB larger because of the model override...who knew that could get so big? So, yeah, ouch to those who don't have a broadband connection. But you know what? Another 100 MB isn't that big of a deal if you're on dial up, either way you're putting on download and coming back in the morning, and either way it'll be done by that time.

Good news is it was a lot easier fitting the expansion into my existing hak than I thought it would be. Took about 15 minutes and I was rolling like nothing happened. I haven't checked out everything yet, I want to play it before I start figuring out what everything is and ruining the surprises in the campaign itself, but what I saw was great! There's a ton of new item models, a handful of monsters, a lot of new faces/races and classes, and the placeables! Picking this joint up was worth the money. Plus I hear the campaign itself is awesome, so that's good.

Anyways, I tested it with a Favored Soul...I wasn't terribly impressed with that class. Maybe it slaps everyone around at high levels, but try that joker at level 3 and it's pretty weak. You can cast a handful of buff spells and basically that's the only way you're going to survive. From what I've seen, at high levels they'll make great "melee clerics" with a ton of divine mights and such to go around, but wearing medium armor and being able to cast a couple of crappy first level buffs a few times a day (and you'll have to forego the healing spells if you want to fight) and not being able to turn the undead hurts. I don't even know how you'd handle playing a full caster either; either you're not going to have a whole lot of spells to cast (and a poor selection at that), or your DCs are going to be low enough where it'll take multiple casts to land a spell. In a group though, they have more than enough buffs to go around, which is really nice (stoneskin all around!), and you can basically have persistant divine favor at early levels.

Maybe I'll spend some more time with it and I'll change my mind, or find a better way to work it. But right now I'd rather stick with a cleric, they're a lot more vesatile and turn undead is nothing to sneeze at.

Also, check the post at the bottom of the page. The contest is still going on! When does it end? I haven't really set a date. If you're one of those guys that has a lot of ideas, but no experience with the toolset, here's your chance to see a quest of yours in a mod! On the other hand, if you're a builder and are going to use that idea yourself, eh, probably shouldn't say anything. Hi Hugie!

Enter, the more entries there are the more fun this is!

Alright, until next time!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Coming at you from an all new location!

That's right, I moved over to blogger dot com. Why? Well turns out what I thought were Google spiders were actually people reading my blog. That, under certain unnamed conditions, may have left a comment. Whether or not they wanted to sell me x4n4x or v14Gr/\ remains to be seen.

Seeing as how I'm pretty lazy, I was going to put this off until tomorrow. If you'll recall from my last post at the old spot, I was awaiting MotB to continue any further. Well, I got an e-mail confirmation that it shipped, and it's estimated to arrive tomorrow. So rather than cut into the time I'll spend messing with that, I'll be messing with this, uh, right now.

First thing's first though, Happy Columbus Day!

For real, I wish somebody would have told me that it was a holiday today. I might have mentioned at some point that I have a three year old that I'm, for all intents and purposes, completely responsible for. Now I don't know if any of you all Google Spiders searching this for topless Britany Spears pics (I guess that was early turn of the century...Jessica Alba?) have kids, but to get a three year old to do something you want as opposed to running around the house screaming and jumping on the bed is a little tricky. My basic method is to bribe her with promises of ice cream, candy, or things to do that are fun (my daughter is actually a bit of a nerd thanks to me, because I can say "I'll read you the Big Book of Snakes and Other Reptiles!" and she loves that ish). So anyways, I had to get her ready for preschool, which includes brushing her teeth, getting her out of pajamas and into clothes, and tieing up a "dad ponytail", which ends up being a tangled mess of rubberband and knotted hair. Obviously, easier said than done. But I struggle with it three times a week.

Point here is that it's a holiday, so the preschool wasn't open. Apparently, every other parent knew that. So I'm standing around in the parking lot, mostly leaning on my decade old Pontiac Sunfire with the dent in the front, smoking cigarettes and wondering why no one else is there. Just so you're not confused, Tenessee is going through the same October heat wave as the rest of the country, but my AC doesn't work so it didn't make much difference whether I smoked in or out of the car. Only took about 15 minutes for me to look at the door with the big "We're closed on Columbus Day" sign...which they didn't even have the decency to add "sorry of the inconvenience!" at the bottom in small print (I checked).

So, yeah, not a real big Columbus fan.

Anyways, on to the NWN2 mod related content of this post:

Nothing new to add.

But, to kick off this new "I get to read comments, yay!" thing I got going, I'm hosting a contest. Check it: Give me a premise for a city based quest you'd like to see. I'll pick one and put it in the mod. I'm putting a few sidequests in the upcoming city area, but I thought I'd have some fun with it and make this a little more interactive than my last spot.

Now I guess I've got to add links to the sidebar and whatnot, maybe a picture of me staring away from the camera?

Alright, so that's all I got.