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