Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Couple of Days

It's the 29th today. Should be seeing my wife on the 3rd or so. Apparently it can be quite a process to make it to here from across the world. I don't remember it being that difficult when I came back from deployment. Basically I showed up at the airport in Bagram, Afghanistan, got on a flight and left. Of course, I took a three week detour in Germany, then went to Qatar for a few hours, then left.

See, when you're deployed, you don't pay taxes. So I jerked around for the better part of a month until the 30th on "official" business, went to Qatar for a few hours until the 1st of the month, then left 5 minutes later, netting me a whole month of tax free pay.

So yeah, I kind of scammed you tax payers. My bad.

Now here's something that's always kind of gotten me. Alright, so if you can travel the world in 24 hours, and if you're always going backwards through the time zones, is it the same day when you get back to where you start? You know what I'm saying? Because if you leave like Atlanta at 4, and travel 4 hours to Los Angeles, it'll still be 4 o'clock when you get there, which is kind of weird. So I figure if you leave Atlanta at 4, travel around the world in 24 hours, it'll be 4 in Atlanta. But will it be the same day?

Because Superman may have been right in Superman 2 when he spun the world backwards to reverse time if that's the case. Because if it works that way, you could travel around the world really fast, and get off of a plane like 50 years later and be really old, but it's still the same day! Weird, right? Of course, you'd probably be an idiot for doing that, unless like you really, really need to grow a long, white beard for some reason.

I don't think it works that way though. It's probably the same time the next day, which really offers you no time travel advantages.

So, with all that in mind, I'm going to completely switch topics. The "good" path for the main quest in the city is completely done, and the "bad" quest has a small section to add. I could be done with it tonight if I don't decide to play Civ 4 instead, which is looking likely.

So what does that mean? I'm probably not going to be done in a few days if I do my list and extras. I could just finish up the "bad" way and call it a day, but I'm not going to do that. Probably won't get a good test in that way either, and frankly the section can be failure prone and I'm doing a lot of new things I haven't tested past my computer (which, I learned from Ch 1, doesn't mean it works everywhere. This engine is...not so good I think). I built in some fool proof stuff that's a little cheesy in case it does and all of the journal entries fire regardless instead of being planted into the cutscene, so even if it fails you can still continue. Do you know how hard it is to start a cutscene in the middle of a battle? I've pulled out some stuff, but Chain Lightning, Weird, Circle of Death and a few other spells have a propensity to fail it for some reason...a lot of stupid delays in the damage scripts I think that keeps the player in a combat state despite scripts to clear that state. It's only a handful of classes that can cast these spells, and they may be beyond the level range of the mod, but better to be safe. So I leave them immortal, change their faction instead of dying, so you can talk to them instead of the death script failing and you being stuck, which is corny but a middle ground.

But it's good progress, the end is near.

Anyway, since I won't make my deadline I'll just wait and add another small section like I was talking about and do my list of extras. It's really not much, but with 4 days left, it's not going to happen. Plus there's been some new mods out so it's all good, right?

Monday, July 21, 2008

How many text tags can exist at once?

That's five.

Well, anyway, after pulling my hair out for the better part of the week, I've finally made some progress. As many of you know, or not depending on if you've been paying attention (and really, the literacy rates these days...) I'm on the last leg of the journey that is building a mod too big for one person to build. I expect to have the critical paths "done" by the end of the week. That is, if things go differently than they did this week. Because it was a huge pain the ass.

But, y'all cats will see why. You're going to trip.

In retrospect, I think I'm doing it the stupid way. The final (not really, I'll come back to that) quests of the mod modify the mod so much that I should have just made another mod with duplicate areas and just filled it in. Now I'm paiting hundreds of waypoints and spawning and deleting stuff every other cutscene. But screw it, it's already mostly done.

It's pretty wild though. Hopefully it doesn't suck because getting the thing to work properly has been a huge hassle.

Anyway, now back to what I was talking about two paragraphs ago, the "final" quest. See, the thing is, the city portion is open ended, so you don't necessarily have to do that one last, and when it's done you can keep going with sidequests. What I'm concerned about now is whether that's a sufficient "ending" to the module. There's two quest chains that are required to proceed to the third, and currently non-existant, chapter. So you could do those two first (well, probably not because you'll need a level or two and some gear to have a shot I think), and then do sidequests until it's done, which I don't think is a very satisifying ending.

So I was thinking about adding on the beginning of Chapter 3 as the ending of Chapter 2 instead, so at least it doesn't end on a diretionless sidequest frenzy. What do you all think?

Thing about that is, I got my wife's leave date, the 2nd of August. Which is great for the family here, but not so great for you all. I was originally projected to be the 7th. So I basically lost a week of time to finish this.

So bearing in mind that if I add an extra chunk, it probably wouldn't be out until September. I could probably get that done before she comes, but my list of "extras" wouldn't make the cut, which I want to do at least some of them.

I guess we'll see how much time I have left later this week and take it from there.

But what do you all think? Weird non-ending now, or a month delay for another 15-20 minutes for a better ending?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vacation != Me

A little comparison operator humor in the title. Could be my lamest joke to date. Determing that may be my next poll.

In any case I'm back, fully fingered, mostly because I didn't actually light any fireworks this year, with the rest of that because being I'm not an idiot. See, last few years the cops have been hammering down on illegal fireworks, and in Wisconsin the legal ones basically are either snakes, sparklers, marigolds (kind of like sparklers, used to light better fireworks mostly), and 3 inch tall fountains.

So there's really no point in even bothering with that, I'm not going to lower myself to lighting sparklers just for the sake of lighting fireworks. I like to think I'm a better man than that. A man who appreciates a good mortar or finding a dud from the 4th on the beach and throwing it into a campfire.

Speaking of Wisconsin, and again bringing up brats, where I'm from there we have a brat fry basically every Sunday year round. Not "we" as in my family, but like going to the parking lot of basically any business establishment anywhere and finding a group of people cooking brats. Which nobody else in the country does, and I find that bizarre. I mean, they're good as hell and an any time of day type meal. Although here in Tennessee, they seem to like to sell either pit bulls or shoes in all of the parking lots. I'll leave that to you to decide which is better (hint: a brat fry).

I also managed to golf for the second time this year, which was a lot of fun. Not that I'm any good at it, ignoring that I did hit this beautiful 250 yard drive that split the fairway. I'm almost at the point where I can hit the ball every time without messing up and rolling it 50 feet because I topped it, but not quite past hitting 3-4 putts every hole.

In any case, I got back a few days ago, and rather than putting up a blog post like all "I'm back" and then talking about nonsense and then people are like "welcome back I guess" or "I like your blog follow this link to some kind of money scam I can't read because the site's in Spanish", I waited a few days so I could say something about my NWN2 campaign. Yeah I know, even I forget sometimes that's what this blog is really about.

Anyway, I've now finished all of the noble house quests, which basically leaves the last section of the main quest and I'm, more or less, done. I have a list of "extras" I want to add, like more companion interjections, some item hunt crap, maybe a pick pocket system and some consequence encounters from how you treat NPCs, but none of that is really critical and I'll do it as long as time permits. Because my wife is coming back for 18 days from Iraq in August, and this WILL be on the Vault before then (thank you again to everyone who's tested throughout, it's really because of that I can pop it out a week or two after the content is done). How much extra is directly related to how much time I have left after finishing the main quest.

Which should be quite a bit, even with an alternate "evil" ending I'm adding. There's one, possibly two areas to build depending on how far I want to take the main quest sequence, but most of it is spawning things and a few cutscenes, I expect to be "done" by the end of this week if things go well.

So that's pretty much that.

Really Late EDIT!!!!

I almost forgot about this.

So anway, I usually have a TV series I like to kick back and watch from time to time. Having seen Oz, Rome, Deadwood, The Shield, and waiting on The Wire, I'm in between shows now. I remember when I was a bit younger, they used to play anime on the Sci Fi channel Saturday mornings, so I've seen like a handful of them. I always thought they were kind of cool, but I don't even know what's good and what's not besides Ninja Scroll.

So I went on a little digging expedition to see what's what, and here's what I came up with. If you all have seen these joints, let me know what's good:

Boogiepop Phantom: The name is awful in pretty much every way imagineable, but these Japanese, evidenced by their RPGs, wouldn't know something cool if I kicked them in their collective asses (still mad I haven't gotten a letter from them like all: Hey Dirty, you're cool!"). It's supposed to be some Twilight Zone type horror stuff, though.

Elfen Lied: Another awfully named horror type joint. Not sure who exactly Elfen is, but he (or she, it's a bit androgenous) is apparently full of it. Um, not sure what to say here. There's a half naked broad on the box?

Gantz: See what I'm saying? Boogiepop, Elfen, Gantz, it's like they pulled their titles out of a Shining Force game. This is supposed to be like ultra nasty horror/action, which works for me. One of the things I discovered about anime is that they are big on using all of their blood red colored ink.

Gungrave: Well, this one comes in a blood red cube instead of a box, which again attests that they Japanese really like their cartoons bloody, or just have an affinity towards red. This one is about a guy that comes back from the dead to kill, which is awesome. However, they kind of dropped the ball by naming the hero "Brandon" instead of "John H. Gungrave" or something like that.

Hellsing: Well, this has nothing to do with Hugh Jackman, Andrew Jackson, Action Jackson, nor "Downtown" Willie Brown, though those last three may come as no surprise. Pretty similar though, guy fights vampires and whatnot. Looks a bit dull, but who knows?

Noir: This looks a little on the artsy side to me, but there's supposed to be a lot of killing popping off. Whatever, I don't know.

Serial Experiments Lain: Again awfully titled. Also about a 13 year old girl. However, it's supposed to be more horror themed and weird, which could be fun. What can I say, the Japanese even like their animated horror stars young. And there's also probably a lot of blood and other weird crap.

So, any input? I know somebody who reads this likes anime, don't be shy now.