Apr 23, 2010

new levels of customization

Man I should have changed the UI long ago. Would have prevented me having to fit every speech into ridiculously small 3 lines or less chunks. Which would mean a lot more fluid typing and less work in the conversation editor.

At first I tried the Overland map UI as others recommended and fooled with the width to make it bigger. But even at its default size, its too big for those of you using the old 5:4 or 4:3 monitors. I want the player to at least be able to see their avatar, plus a small amount of space, even on narrow screen monitors which most of you seem to still have.

I then realized that I didn't need all that width if I just add more height, the text can wrap. I have a lot of space now, but by changing the graphic I have a smaller footprint (only 440 wide). Obviously microsoft paint is all I had, but for now its a template. But with my plainer template, I was able to go wider and longer in all boxes without it looking bad / overlapping the frame edges. So it's smaller, but bigger :)

These screens are all in 1280x720 format, as close to the 1280x1024 format everyone seems to use, as my laptop would get. It's the width that is the concern, so its completely comparable to ensure the UI is not oversized.

Even those borderline specs where people play at 1024x768 should be able to see their avatar nicely.

Since as we've discovered in my last post that blogspot no longer accepts my imageshack pictures (or any perhaps) here are links, I guess:

OLD UI (overland default)


heres a bit of a view of the scene from the prior post below. Its the gold titan, the final wave before all hell breaks loose and you die. Im saving the actual visuals (such as a giant eruption of green ectoplasm) for testers and players.


EDIT: And apparently I can't even use links, so if someone knows why the hell they all turned to blank whitespace after I post I'm all ears. All HTML I enter doesnt display and the image upload doesnt place it inside once i click done.

In the mean time I hope you don't minde triple clicking to copy these for a peek.

Apr 18, 2010

All the Colours of the Rainbow (at the end)

So as I said, I only had the two final combats to do. I decided, as it seems I always do, to do things out of order. The final combat... well it's more of a combat marathon. It could probably be it's own chapter (not quite ) time wise.

I spent the whole weekend on it and it really only functions in crude form. It works, and the unexpected VFX creations are there, but I have to give it a little more script work and polish so it plays better.

Picture if you will:

A giant wizard spires at the center of a toxic forest full of resident gaths, and evil humans and ogres arriving regularly through said spires.

On your discovery of the spires, you set up a force, as your guardian arrives with the town guard to attempt to somehow disable the spires, and until then, hold back the waves.

Before you can even begin to examine them, they snap to life, bolts of electricity crackle and flash between them and focus on the pad in the center. A massive magical hum shakes the area and an explosive portal blasts open and out marches a dozen troops. Defeat them quickly as they will be followed by more, with wizards, Dragon Age style ogres that take a full group to tackle, in 8 waves.

Then at last, your antagonist arrives. He protects himself with a chromatic field, and molds the earth using his theurgic powers. Unfortunately for you, your own mountains are rich in rare metals, and only server to make this man unbeatable. He sends metallic creations after you, that get large and more devastating with each wave.

Finally, he creates a giant titan of gold that all but devastates you, leaving most of your party dying on the ground.

Your guardian declares this antagonist cannot be stopped. But you managed to defeat his titan and rush to him, still held back by his chromatic shield.

"That was one of my pets", he states flatly. "Already your party is dying. And I have many more", and with that he summons 2 golden titans equal to the first that was all but unstoppable.

As timing has it, the portal, which had been relatively quiet, activates again, and more troops arrive...

And this is where the actual true final battle starts... :)

This is how it will (does) work and now I just have to put in the pre-amble chatter as the party sets up for the spire activation, rathern than how it is now where u just step on a trigger to make the next wave come.

Whatever shortcomings my campaign has, hopefully the ending will overcome them. I think it's a good formula really, to put your best work (where you go above your normal tolerance for polish) at the front and end.

The strong start will get people to at least play the campaign, and the big finish will be the freshest thing in their mind as they leave the experience behind. Throw a couple neat things at chapter ends, and you've got a decent reward system, where playing the game leads to great cut scenes and revelations.

Apr 11, 2010

Omptimizing Areas

Everyone has a thing or two that bothers them. For me, one of the worst is when people start sounding off on something they don't actually know. I am thoroughly convinced that 99% of the internet is based on this kind of content. So I want to clarify the issue of how to handle walkable/non walkable areas and objects in NWN2 toolset.

First of all... if you convert everything u can to environment objects and use walk-mesh cutters, you have obviously read on some optimizations and good for you.

I've heard in the past a pseudo expert tell people to cut down their walk-mesh cutter use because it slows down the game. Well imagine that, something that was designed to reduce hit detection calculations and "speed things up" slows down the game. Well it doesn't. This is what happens with a walk mesh cutter:

It is calculated during baking (which does add BAKE time) and then made into the overall mesh of "walk/don't walk" on the map. It is never calculated again in-game, it simple becomes a simple walkable/not walkable check just like the rest of the non walkable area in the map.

When to use walk-meshes:
-INTERIOR: when an object does not need to be used or hold scripts, but should still block movement, after converting it to an environment object.

I've opened many prefabs, and I'm startled to see the great, far beyond my talents, span of artwork, that is just full of 50+ walk mesh cutters in an exterior area.
While this is fine in-game, when baking these mammoth exteriors, the walk-mesh cutter calculations take longer than the final "tile" part at the end.

Using the walk-mesh cutter outside is not a good idea. They were designed for use in the interior, where you cannot alter the walk-mesh in any way, as it's all tiles.

In terrain editing, in the terrain painter tab we have two options to do this: walk and non walk. And you can paint them right down to a triangular sliver this way.

Some may say they are using walk-meshes to fit the "Exact" shape of a rather detailed object. This isn't a valid reason as objects that are more precise than a triangle on the surface-mesh, are too small for the player to walk into anyway. That is, you are being more precise than the engine recognizes.

Lastly some shadow commentary: Most of you probably know to turn off casts shadows to gains some efficiency. But in the spirit of gaining as much "loss-less" shadow reduction as possible, always turn these options off for smaller items that are already in the shadow of a larger item. Example, some rocks that are directly beneath a tree. Their shadow won't be seen anyway, so by shutting these types of shadows off, you may not have to shut off any visible ones. And thus you preserve the realism.

Generally you will keep "receive shadows on" and remove the casts shadows, and there should be no difference in the visuals. Turning receives shadows off can be dicy, as to the trained eye certain objects will look completely phony.

Once again I'd just like to say these prefabs are extreeemely artistically great and will be used well in my campaign.

Campaign Update

Well I am basically down to two areas, which are done except the two boss fights. So I guess that means I am two (major) battles from being a finished alpha test, where someone can play it to the end. After that, I just want to redo the writing because I rushed it all and am not at all satisfied with it, and add some voice acting.

Apr 7, 2010

Can anyone help?

I have a simple request. Any recommendations for software you have personally used to sucessfully recover lost nwn2 work via delete/format?