Saturday, January 26, 2008

In case you missed it:

A few days ago I made this post in the NWN 2 official forums, which is pretty much something I'd put in my blog but a little more technical because there's a lot of builders there.

Only reason I'm bringing it up is to save myself some typing. The area I was talking about in that post that was giving me the fps I began to fill it in with npcs and such, it was really pushed to the breaking point. So I spent the better part of a day splitting that single area into six, something I had wanted to avoid because it's a pretty big hassle. But it's done now.

Aside from that, I finished up a few sidequests and will continue finishing up some more. The next two will require another area to be built, but I can squeeze two quest chains into them. I'm starting to get to the point where I can put multiple quest chains into the areas I have with only dialogue modifications, so that's nice. But that will also change soon as I get away from the temples.

In other news, the cheating Patriots have cemeted their path to the Super Bowl...not that there was any doubt that they would or there's any doubt that they'll trash the Giants in the big game even if they didn't cheat. But I think it's a sad season for the NFL when a team of known cheaters goes completely unpenalized to a perfect season. I mean, the coach got fined, but big deal! Most of the victories but to that point were illegitimate. It's a little disrespectful to Dan Marino's legacy, as he's led the only team in NFL history to have an undefeated season decades ago just because they were good, and the first team to match that feat had to cheat to do it. And the sad thing is I don't thik the Patriots would have had to cheat, they were probably good enought to do it straight up.

I know, I know..."everybody's doing it!" Well, y'all got caught.

So, I find this season in the NFL completely meaningless.

You can also draw some strange parallels between the Patriots and the United States. The Patriots stunk for years, probably until they redesigned their stupid olg logo into something a little more cool. Then 9/11 happened and the Patriots took it personally and as their way of showing the US that America rules they dominated the NFL and won the Superbowl...against a bunch of other American teams, but still they were the most patriotic of teams. Then in the following years, everybody kind of got sick of them winning all the time. Tom Brady left his long time girlfriend...who is pregnant...for a brazillian super model. Basically Tom Brady turned out to be a pretty big douche bag. Then they picked up Randy Moss, who is king douche bag. Then they cheated their way to the Super Bowl. So by now everyone does, or if you're a Pats fan you really should, hate what the Patriots have become. I do, screw them!

This is around the time when everyone was like "USA! USA! USA!" on their way to work or whatever, the US messed up really big a few times, and now everyone's kind of hating America. And you can call me a Pats fan in that regard because American is awesome, but I'm just saying it's a strange coincidence.

The Tom Cruise Scientology video was insane. You should check that out. It's like he's a pretty big douche bag in that video, and you could find some more douche bags in other Scientologist videos, like these guys who apparently don't realize jamming your face really close to a camera and mouth breathing is pretty douchey, but the point is this week has been check out these douche bag Scientologists week.

Not that I'm saying anything bad about the Church of Scientology, not a fan myself but I know how Scientology do and don't really want to get into it, just that those particular guys are douche bags.

What else? The Elections? Who cares? If you thought Randy Moss was a douche bag...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Well, you get a lot of screenshots.

I guess that's the nice thing about working primarily on area building for the last few weeks. I have a lot of screen shots to show for it.

Originally, I was going to wait until I completely finished the area I've been working on the last few days, but I'm about due for an update, so here it is:

That's the temple to Umberlee, the second of the five major temples in Velprintalar.

Oh, you thought that was it?

Well, part of the quest chain that originally started way back when I was working on the "homebase" area also requires a trip into the catacombs, a series of tunnels interconnecting the five temples and their basements. So, I had to get cracking on that massive 24x24 interior, and here's some of the results:

So, F it, I'll say, pretty awesome, right?

As for what remains, I'll be working on the tunnels. I'm using the RWS sewer tileset to do those:

What I did there was lay it out like a grid, with shortcut doors. I'm going to be blocking tunnels with debris so it's more mazelike, and getting from point A to point B can be a little tricky, and the catacombs aren't without their dangers:

Whew! Lots of stuff going on in all those screens.

What else is good? I've been emailing back and forth with a friend; actually it was someone who e-mailed me some great feedback from chapter 1 and we've been talking about design philosophies and all kinds of stuff, it's been very informative and it's kind of nice to have somebody to bounce ideas off of and explain why I did certain things the way I did and compare the differences between PnP and cRPG. Good thinkin' stuff or whatever.

Anyway, my point here is that I got this list of item concepts, I don't really know where they came from originally, but there's a lot of really cool ideas in there. Now, a while ago I wrote this script (later to see that one already existed in the toolset; you'd be surprised what you don't know in terms of what scripts already exist, mostly because they're naming conventions are wacky as hell) to give an item when you use a placeable and to get rid of the placeable. I've been using it for some more interesting stuff, but mostly for like scrolls or potions or in conjunction with the item placeables to give out weapons and armor.

But I've also been using it for what the MMO community (used to play WoW for a while, was pretty good at it collecting epic loot, wife got mad, finally realized MMOs are pretty stupid in general anyway, happily ever after) call vendor trash to change things up from gold piles and gems into aged wine and ornate candle sticks.

Anyway again, I got this list of cool items and figured, let's take it a step further from vendor trash to vendor trash that, if you figure out which vendor wants it the most, will give you a great deal! So I've been putting in various places around the city all kinds of items from this list and NPCs who would take an interest in the item and pay nicely for it. Sort of a fun little easter egg hunt thing you can do.

Well, let's close this off with some reader feedback: The "problem" I'm having here is I'm going to be putting realism on the back burner for the most part in the city in a very specific way: there's going to be a lot to do for the industrious player. For instance, every temple is going to have at least one sidequest. The two I have done have more than one already and that's likely to continue. All of the temples are on the same hill. So, what are the odds that all of the major temples in the city all have some kind of major problem(s) all at the same time? Slim to none in real life. There's going to be dozens of sidequests in and around the city within walking distance. I already know what's going to happen, it's going to seem like every named NPC in the city has some kind of major problem that needs to be resolved and will be asking a total stranger to help. But, that's the way things have got to be! Or I'm wasting a whole lot of time detailing dozens of buildings if there's nothing to do but look around and hear some random NPC pointless dialog, right? I mean, we are playing these things to hear a cool story, solve some quests, gain some XP and collect some cool loot, right?

I don't know, what do you guys think?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lack of Updates Lately?

Yeah, I know. I'm usually more on it than this. I just haven't updated here is all. If you're interested, check out this:

Bi-Weekly Update

I've been doing that for a while, and I had just done one a few days ago that was rather lengthy which left me little to discuss here that wasn't redundant.

Additionally, I wrote this little tutorial on how to merge 2das and change model numbers, which you can find here, if you're interested in that kind of thing.

In any case, it's about that time. So, let's talk about what I've been working on. I think some screenshots will suffice to show the last area I did, so let's go with that route.

Find more here.

So I made a temple to the Triad, Tyr, Torm, and Illmater. I think it came out pretty cool. I actually did a lot of writing for this section, as there's a large bookcase in the upper level featuring ~4000 words of text on the Planes and Deities in Faerun. Not particularly exciting to take screens of, but it'll give you a good picture of what's happening. I also am in the middle of a sidequest involving that temple and the Shadow Thieves where you can pull off a triple cross! That's a double cross followed by a double cross, or keeping your word to one of the two. Or not, that's just one of the solutions to this particular sidequest. The other solution is going to require two areas to be built.

Again I have to reiterate, more for my benefit, that things are going slowly now, and I know it, but since I'll be using the area for multiple quests each, well as much as I can, things should speed up as I progress as I'll have less areas to build. I'm currently building 2-4 per quest chain, which means filling it in with NPCs with full dialogue as well, and will be for a while, but not long after it'll be 0 and just writing a lot of dialogue and scripts with the many conditionals (like, what if he's dead, but he's not dead? Need to acknowledge that because it won't make sense if he's saying this...) into existing dialogue files. I'm not really looking forward to that time to be honest, makes building areas seem easy. But the end results so far for the quests I have are awesome, you really have a ton of options to fit your character. Unfortunately, I can't really show that through screens nor do I want to give away the possibilities, it's half the fun of playing Subtlety of Thay.

Well, let's end this with a screen:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Back for the first time again

So, how was everybody's Christmas/Hanukkah/Chinese New Year/holidays? My best guess was my Kwanzaa was good. But being as how I really don't know what Kwanzaa is or how to celebrate it, I'm taking the optimistic route.

Yeah, my wife ordered from Iraq and Xbox 360 and a handful of games, so I spent a lot of my holiday break drinking beer at night and 'boxing off a hangover. I don't know if anyone else says that in reference to playing an Xbox, 'boxin' off, because I'm kind of new at being an Xbox owner, but they should. I will start a trend of it if necessary. Anyway, I was mad impressed with the Xbox as a whole, it's pretty awesome, and as a result I came to a few realizations:

1. If you say you don't care about graphics, you're either lying to me or to yourself. After all, when's the last time you played a choose your own adventure book? Case closed.

2. Guitar Hero is pretty cool on easy.

3. Having locked content in games is stupid. I ain't paying by the month and I suck at playing the guitar, so I only get 10 songs? Guitar Hero sucks.

4. Mass Effect is awesome.

So I spent a lot of time playing Mass Effect, like 13 hours into it, and it's pretty awesome. I read a lot of haters talking down on this game, but don't listen to them. There are a few legitimate complaints about it, like the controls for the Mako are pretty ass backwards and the planetary exploration is bad and the inventory would be cumbersome on a PC but isn't too bad on a console, and the text is really, really small on anything but a huge TV. If you can get past that you'll actually have to aim to hit things and dodge things like an FPS, it's a lot of fun; at least, as of now it is.

First, there's the dialogue wheel you've no doubt seen in some screen shots where there's some two or three word responses...but that's not what the character actually says, it's just the general idea of what the character says. I think it works really well.

Plus, a lot of things happen where you have to make choices about what to do. I'm not sure at this point to what extent these choices matter because I haven't gotten around to reloading and testing the differences, assuming they would be apparent immediately anyway, but it's fun. Pretty minor spoiler to follow: After a while, this reporter will ask you a few questions and, barring the nonsensical "I'll kill you!" option (why in the world would you threaten to kill a reporter? Classic Bioware "evil"!) you get a few ways of answering the questions, then later you get a transmission telling you how you made everyone look bad (if you're me) or whatever. I don't know if it's like this huge part of the game, but it happens pretty frequently. Also they masked the load screens mostly with other activities, like being decontaminated before you enter your ship or riding in an elevator, and in these scenes sometimes your characters will talk about things or, more importantly, you can hear about what you did on your latest mission over a loudspeaker. I thought that was pretty cool way of integrating the choices you made to make the world more immersive.

Also, there's a ton of sidequests, and some of them are picked up during the load screen elevators when you listen to the news and such. I think that's a pretty efficient use of loading, and riding the the elevator listening to one liners is more interesting than a stupid tip and a little bar filling up!

The companions also seem to have a lot to say and the writing and voice acting are top notch ('course, what did you expect? They hired Keith MF-ing David!) and the combat is fun. I recommend this game.

Well anyway, I just got back to the house today, so I've got a few things to get in order like unpacking and laundry and such, but I'm more or less back in the saddle, folks.