Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mass Effect, not much else

The "keep me signed in" checkbox actually worked this time, which kind of threw me for a loop because I like to keep my annoyances consistant. If I can't sit down, hit the "sign in" button, and be annoyed when I have to input my information...well, what can you rely on these days?

So you'd better believe that is going to be getting a nasty email!

Seriously though, having never worked in customer service in any capacity...I take that back, I did briefly work the front desk at Blockbuster video. Shortly after telling a late fee complainer, and you probably know the type, comes in there knowing they have a late fee and get all mad when you tell them they have a late fee and demanding you take it off, that the late fee stands and I don't care if they never come back because they don't pay their bill anyway I was relegated to changing the DVD books to the printed out Blockbuster blue and white ones for eight hours a day.

Oh, in case you were wondering and remember when blockbuster used to have blue and white cases, yes someone does them all by hand and each Tuesday they get the new releases in so they swap them in by the hundreds every week.

Anyway, besides never working in customer service aside from that time, it makes me curious what kind of insane complaints an internet based company recieves via email. I mean, I could take a guess, I've mailed a few dripping-with-sarcasm-thinly-veiled-threats-accusations-of-incompetance-sprinkling-of-F-words myself, but not everyone has such a way with words like one such as me do.

That said, one of the companies I wouldn't email this time around is Bioware. See, I sent my computer in to get some new parts, and it's working much better now thanks to a suggestion from my friend flem who you may, or may not, know from the comments section (in which case you don't, you should probably leave a comment. I get excited about spam down there, an actual person would be awesome! But you heartless google spiders don't care about me, do you?!) about a new power supply, the guy is on his stuff. Anyway, the two days being without my computer gave me some time for some personal reflection, and because that's boring and gay, I put in Mass Effect and finished it. I hadn't touched it since probably January, and surprisingly the controls came back pretty quickly and I was on it. And I was really close to being done with the game.

Anyway, I stick by my assertation that the game is awesome, probably among the best RPGs released in a while. I know the game has taken some heat from some cats who are perpetual haters of anything that was made after the millenium, but those are haters and that's what they do.

But regardless of them, Mass Effect has a lot going for it. Primarily, carrying a gauge that never runs out of ammo makes the FPS part a lot of fun. Call me primitave, but there's nothing better in an FPS than shooting someone in the face with a shotgun. I don't care what the game is, if it has a shotgun that's what I'm carrying. But for some reason, in most FPS games they're either really hard to find or the ammo for them is, which is ridiculous considering how abundant rockets are in them. But in Mass Effect, you never have to use anyting else.

The other thing that's great is the dialogue responses. I saw the early screens where you'd get to say "yeah!", "nah!", or "what?" on that little wheel...but peep this: that's not actually what the dude says. You'd choose "yeah!" and he'd be all "Hells yeah!" and blast somebody in the face with a shotgun. Or not, sometimes he said more, but you get the point. There are times that you may choose the wrong thing because of the shorted responses, but they're pretty few and far between. Also, the much lauded The Witcher pulled the same stunt and didn't catch any flak, so don't believe the non-hype.

Plus, there's a lot of choices you have to make. I don't know if the consequences actually matter in a way that's more than "wow, I sold that guy up the river" and I doubt that'll bite you in the end (but there are some involving your friends, life or death and suchlike), but just on an imaginative scale. That'doesn't really bother me because the last few at the end are pretty huge.

Anyway, it has a few weak spots like the Mako which really sucks to drive and try and shoot things with and the side quests, while interesting, basically take place in boring worlds and all of the building interiors are more or less the same, so it gets repetitive. But there's a good 20 hours of main quest awesomeness, which while probably not worth the $60 box price I paid for it, still worth playing.

But that's all I've got to say on that.

Anyway, I've begun to think about what I'm going to do next after I get Subtlety of Thay Ch 2 done. There's a few themes on the polls there, and since I'm in the forming the basics in my mind stage, thought I'd get some input. So vote! For the Wild West! A Wild West/Horror theme would be awesome!

Anyway, I'll be back soon. Going to pick up where I left off a few days ago now that my computer is up and running.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Some screenshots, Magibon, and...I don't even know, I'm still really confused.

Well, let's get the screenshots out of the way. I've created a beholder's lair, that will also be filled with driders and a new, secret creature never before seen in a D&D game, so take a look:

Click here
Click here
Click here
Clikc here
Click here

Ha! Just messing with you. Those are just some screens of a regular house. You can see a couple of altars, to both Azuth and Velsharoon respectively. This is one of the noble houses, a house of mages. See, the Simbul doesn't take males or non-humans as apprentices, so I figured they'd need somewhere to go. Besides Thay.

Anyway, fun stuff.

Here's something else that's really weird. Normally I'm not one to surf YouTube all day, having being unenlightened enough not to understand the appeal of being "in" on the latest viral crazes out there whereupon I should note that I've never claimed to be more than an American who likes explosions and swear words, or perhaps even punching people who then explode while swearing. In any case I read about this broad on a different blog, so I'm covered there about being aware of this despite it's lack of exploding swear words. Her name is Magibon, and apparently the Japanese like to watch her videos by the millions. If you're not Japanese, you're understandably as confused as I am. Again, this goes right back to my question about what's the appeal, but I digress.

Go ahead and watch the video. I did. Look, this thing already has a few million hits, so your refusal (rightfully so) to watch it on the principal that it's probably pretty stupid is understandable, but it's way too late to do anything about it. Hop on in with us unwashed masses and be as confused as we are.

Nice and confused? Good. In addition to making me feel better (befuddlement loves company, or is that misery? Eh, either way) it should make you curious enough to learn more. That's how she gets you! But don't worry, you don't have to look any further than this site:

Alright, so you're probably even more confused now. That's good, I was too. It puts you in the proper state of mind to accept the reality of this situation:

I just killed you. My bad.

And I'm really sorry about that, but it had to be done. For your own protection! At least I didn't Rick Roll you. In my day that was goatse or tubgirl. This was when movies were scary and all that. Times have changed when this fluff hair fruit is considered to be more horrifying than a woman drinking her own enema. And trust me, once you see goatse it'll be burned into your mind, you won't be able to close your eyes without seeing it. Don't even try to find it if you haven't ever seen it. I've done enough to you by killing you, so try and enjoy your last week.

Anyway, it's really simple. Remember that M. Night Shamylianaire movie where you watch that video and then you get a phone call and a girl climbs out of your TV and you die for some reason, even though it's just a slow moving little girl who you could probably just like kick in the ribs while she slowly crawls at you in stop motion? Yeah, I know that movie wasn't very good, but neither was the one I just linked to you. See where I'm going with this?

And I'm really sorry about that. But just to be straight with you, you'll be getting a phone call pretty soon. Except nothing will happen when you pick it up, because this Magibon is just staring at the phone and blinking being all incapable of speech and whatnot. But you're just going to have to assume, like I did, that you'll die in seven days when you get that call, because of complicated logic, and possibly logistics, that I don't want to waste any more of your little remaining time on. Then basically you'll be doing something around a computer and your browser will go to YouTube, and she'll crawl out of the monitor and somehow you'll die. Brain frying confusion? That's all speculation at this point. But the one thing that is certain is your'e as good as dead, and it's my fault.

Or at least, that's the theory I'm running with.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I had a bad last few days!

So I was thinking, you ever see old pictures? Portraits are probably even worse. Anyway, when you look at them like everyone in it is really pissed off. But you see pictures today, and people are usually happy and smiling, unless they're pissed off I suppose. I think there's two reasons for this. The first is the world has kind of gone soft. The US and Europe I think have kind of turned into the height of the Roman Empire, when they sat around covered in gold eating grapes being all fat, and then they got smashed by the barbarians. I know there's probably a lot of reasons for Rome's fall, but part of it is they turned into some wimps.

But, the other reason is because of the quality of dental care. Seriously. Having rotted out teeth that hurt all the time has to put you in a bad mood. And drinking whiskey all day doesn't help. For real, you tell a guy from 1800's, knowing he's been taking shots of whiskey since he woke up and knowing his teeth hurt really bad because they hadn't invented dental floss and they brush their teeth with a stick with grass tied to it, to sit in front of a camera for an hour because that's how long it takes to take a picture, that guy's not going to be too happy with you. The rest, as they say, is history.

How many wars could have been avoided with proper dental hygeine? I leave that for you to speculate in the comments section.

I know because I just came from the dentists office, again. It was supposed to be my last appointment for the year, but the company that makes the crowns messed up and sent the wrong color. As a smoker, who frankly doesn't take good care of his teeth (I'm using the grassy-stick no floss method in case you were wondering), what am I going to do with a bright white tooth? That doesn't mesh well with my smoke stained yellow ones I've got. Worst part is they didn't notice until after they removed the temp and gave me a shot. Now I have to go back again.

I'm telling you, the dentist is like the cops. Whenever you talk to them, it's never good news. Usually costs you a grip matter of fact. I can't even remember the last time I had an incident with the police, though. It's been years, probably when I got a ticket for lighting illegal fireworks around the fourth of July, which goes back to my point about being wimps. What kind of society doesn't like lighting off things that explode in your back yard while drinking beer? Screw baseball, that is the American pass time.

But whatever, that's not even it. My daughter had a ballet/tap dancing recital on Saturday, and that was a huge nightmare in the way that nothing went right. First, my camera had a dead battery (even though it spent all night on the charger. I think the "on" switch was in the "on" position when I put the battery in and it died before I got there), then someone stole her leotard (accidentally or not? Makes you wonder who has a grudge...) backstage and I spent much of the second act finding one. I ended up going up to the store that was selling the extra uniforms and taking one from them. After that, I was getting her dressed and the teacher thought it would be a good idea to place me in charge of the room of 5 and below kids. I'm talking about at least 50 kids in this little room that, for who knows what reason, was seemingly designed with the sole intent of echoing sound, highlighted by the little girls in their tap shoes insisting on kicking the sheet metal cover of the heater over, and over, and over...

So that was nice way to spend Saturday night. Especially after telling my wife the camera battery wasn't charged, which you can imagine she was thrilled about!

But you're here to read about Subtlety of Thay. Still working on it. Got some bug reports, trying to fix those and expand the content. I should have a new version up on the download site in a few days. Or not, I've been really unreliable lately about guesstimating things.

Oh, and you all have to read this:

Read it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mysteries of Westgate...what?

I know, I know. I almost forgot about it myself. After the delays a few months back, and the delays after those, I kind of turned off my radar on that. But, the good news is they had a press release, or conference, or something, and the outcome of that is out:

Mysteries of Westgate Podcast-o-rama

Word on the street is a lot of community members were flown out there to attend, including Michelle aka Liso from NWN Podcast, and she picked up some good word on the ongoing trial that is the release of Mysteries of Westgate. I'm going to listen to it shortly myself, and you know how those Neverwinter Nights Podcast people do so it should be full of good information, so you might want to turn that radar back on until June-ish.

I've got to be honest though, much as I like some of these Ossian guys and would like to see them successful, the fact that they're locking the content is a huge turn-off to me. But on the other hand I almost felt bad for them with the flak they were taking on the forums about these delays, however when you're getting paid, well that's the cost to be the boss. The crown weighs heavy and all that.

Should be interesting to see how this all works out for everyone. But anyway, the point is listen to the podcast!

So what else is cracking? Not much, unfortunately. My daughter was sick all weekend, and if you know kids are then you know when they're sick you feel like the guy that had Quato is his gut from Total Recall. That must have been annoying.

But I'm back to work as of now, and have some catching up to do. Go listen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Not a very exciting update, but hopefully some screens will distract you from that fact.

Well, what can I say? I've got a lot of the scripting done for the thieves/thieves/guard quest chains. I actually combined three quests into one, so you can pick which side to take and then it's basically the same quest from three different points of view. Which isn't to say it's any less work, and it required a lot of know, like "what if they do it like this?" type thing that I need to account for. But that's mostly done. Tomorrow I'll be building an area, and doing the final stage of that quest, then I need to backfill some pre-req quests for both thieves guilds that will be rather simple (I already got the guard stuff done!) and that will wrap it up. Then I will finally be on the noble houses, and after that this whole city adventure thing will, thankfully, be behind me.

It's not that I don't like doing it, I'm just running out of steam here, but this close to completion a break wouldn't be prudent. But, man, I don't remember how many quests I've done to date, though I've counted them a while ago, it's just...a lot. And I'll be glad to have this open ended business behind me. Too much to keep track of, and doing the same thing three/four/more different ways, frankly it gets exhausting.

I was talking to my wife today, and I told her I'm just tired in general. I haven't seen her since September, I've been running this house since then by myself. Between trying to keep up with appointments, doing the things everyone needs to do like groceries and laundry (which reminds me, I have a load in the washer now that's going to stink if I don't take care of it. This is a note so I'll remember when I proofread this post.) and mowing the grass, whatever, school, and the full time/over time work hours I've been putting in to getting this project done (which, the one year anniversary of the first Chapter is coming up soon, this month I think), it's mentally tiring. I've just been feeling sluggish lately is all.

And I'm not searching for pity here, you can just chill with that because I don't need it, I've been working harder than ever to get this taken care of and I'm not complaining. Another two months of hard grind on it at the most, which isn't so bad in perspective. Like, this is what it would be like to be a single parent. It's f-ing crazy! I wouldn't want to do that my whole life. Just eight more months of it to go, about half way done with the deployment.

I don't know, I don't really have people to talk to, whatever, feels good to get stuff off your chest from time to time though.

Moving on, I promised the screens. These areas you've already seen, but this is what it looks like with characters in them. Actually, a year ago, whatever, when I started out adding custom content there wasn't really a whole lot out there, and it's grown considerably in terms of item models and such for NPCs. Most of the NPCs I create now have custom weapons, like I'll take a +1 sword and give it a different model so it looks different. I've created several "sets" of items, like +1 chainmail, +1 shields, +1 silver longsword, etc., about three or four for each + for each piece of equipment I have a handful of models for. Varies things a little bit. I'm tempted to go and redo a ton of NPCs so they all have custom stuff, because honestly I find a lot of the models Obsidian did a little ridiculous, or a little ugly, with some exceptions, but man, I might just save that for another project, go through and put together a new override with some of the better models and weed out the early ones that, no offense to anyone, aren't so hot. For instance, I've got this cloak override that has like 80 cloaks for each race which just bloats the hell out of everything (I used some of them, but not nearly all of them), and this huge shield one that I don't use much of now because there have been a ton of quality shields on the vault recently. A lot of that would have to go.

Also in there is the Shadow Dragon, a little surprise for those of you who like to steal things! I wrote a post about the AI and some tricks about it here if you want to learn the very basics of custom AI and some 2da editing tricks.

Whatever, I'm rambling.






Thursday, May 1, 2008

Only 4% of you think I'm a jerk

Which is good news, as far as I'm concerned. When I take my daughter to pre-school, I need to swipe her in using a card. There's a lady that works the computer there, takes payments, I guess clicks something when we swipe...I don't know, it looks like an easy job. Anyway, I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm a jerk. I just get that vibe. So I kind of act like a jerk to her, because I'm getting a "this guy's a jerk" vibe. So I don't really blame her, to be honest.

Anyway, good to see so many people replay these things. I do rarely myself. I wish there was more mods out there though, because I can't mess with the original NWN anymore, the UI is too awful in comparison (and you can't even mod it!) and the henchmen's just a headache to try and play that. Maybe super story driven ones I might mess with because of the above the combat compared to NWN2 is too sucky, but I think I'm about done with that game. I did go through a massive "uninstall old games" thing the other day, but I left it on there. You never know.

What else? I watched Cloverfield the other day. My disclaimer here is simple: It was a bootleg. One of the perks, of the very, very few, of being (or in my case, having a wife) overseas is that those guys bootleg like a mug, you can get whatever for like $2. Alright, so that said, this bootleg wasn't a very good seeing people stand up in the theater, hearing laughter, arabic subtitles, and worst of all terrible video quality. I mean, it's debatable...with the way that movie is, all from a camcorder point of view, perhaps a crappy bootleg made it a lot more "authentic" in that if you got stuck trying to escape from a giant monster in Manhatten and recorded the whole thing with a crappy camcorder what I saw is probably a lot more realistic of what the picture on the camcorder would look like than what you saw with a legit copy of the movie. The bad thing, though, is that with a movie like that, sharp picture quality is a plus because all I saw was blurry crap moving all over the place. I still have no idea what the monster looks like aside from it's big, dark, and blurry. Hopefully 10,000 BC will be better (oh, did I forget to mention they bootleg stuff before it's even in the theaters? Yeah, they've got that down to a science in the Middle East! I think 10,000 BC is in the theaters though, I'm just saying when I was over there I had Terminator 3 a few weeks early...)

Far as NWN2 goes, the big project I've been working on, Driders, is going to be both a playable race and a PRC for Drow. Gives you enough to work with where if you're playing a SP mod you can just pick up a full strength drider and have a super character from the beginning, but if you run a PW you can have a special "drider" "quest" (RP wise you probably don't want to become a drider, min/max wise they're better than any race if you can make it out of the +4 LA, you're going to have HP in the teens for a long time), give the transformation feat which changes your appearance, and take 10 levels of "Drider" and slowly earn your powers and stat adjustments with no LA. But that's all done and working as far as I can tell, probably have to tweak a few things later, so that's a big project out of the way.

Far as Subtelty of Thay is concerned, this kind of set me back a bit. However, I've done a lot of the scripting for the quests I was talking about last time, and have just a little bit to go in that regard and write a few non-quest conversations, then I'll build the quests. After that, on to other things.

Alright then.