Dec 31, 2011

Out with the Old?

Well the year is almost up. Does anyone care? I guess it's the end of the world this year as well ;) so that's newsworthy.

I've been thinking of what I could fill this blog with and my (currently reduced) spare time. There is certainly enough games to talk about, and I welcome new neverwinter nights 2 modules from my fellows, although this blog will certainly be less centric to that theme.

As I said, spare time is fewer these days, and my career may change again next month. Hopefully towards a job that has nothing to do with computers or sitting so that I can actually use my computer when I come home for games / hobbies. Which is not the current case, with the knife like pain in my left eye from ridiculous amounts of unwavering computer use at work leaving me incapacitated.. So here's hoping.

Some areas my blog may take are the highly fun fields of speculation (is there a new D&D game on the horizon? Toolset? etc) and general game talk, or talking from my rear end on the odd night as I am so doing.

I decided one way I could do a little hobbying without tying myself to any toolset, was to just try my hand at modelling. Of course my models could be made to work in varying sets if I can put in the time and desire to learn the steps of making them compatible. I started a great tutorial for making some anime looking cartoon girl warrior, but after 2 hours I had only gotten as far as the foot. But I read a head a bit and I think I got the basic idea of "cube modelling". Theoretically this technique can make anything. Like most things however, there are different and better ways to do certain things.

For now though you can see how my series of ugly pixelated lego blocks becomes a functional foot.

Now the problem here is I started modifying the girls perfectly formed foot into a large, more beast like foot. Then I added two pincer-like toes. Now the question is what do you do with this?

I had a couple ideas in mind when I began the model. It could become the foot of an ogrillion or flesh golem (explains the missing toes). But then of course adding claws and it quickly becomes a demon foot or dragon like foot if you add a rear claw.

I also considered making it human again and creating a clone of the fatso model from infinity games. And who wouldn't want that?

I suppose I can modularize this model and actually finish it that way without going insane. The foot is done, and it's one project within a project. Next can be the leg.

But I still have to quickly decide what the model is... kind of stupid to not have decided first, I know. Bearing in mind that the foot can still be reformed, toes added, etc, any suggestions? I'm trying to think of a D&D creature that was painfully missed in NWN2.
If I build it it could be ported to varying games I imagine.

Oct 13, 2011

Dead community

Well, like it has been, the NWN2 community is in massive decline.

I feel like you can discuss it more readily here than in a forum full of fan kiddies who put in days of effort to drown you out in a pile of argumentive posts.

Let's look at facts. The early mods of this community cleared 20k downloads in a year. Now they are hard pressed to hit 1k. I can't make it any simpler than that. Typically, something is considered defunct when it reaches it's "half-life". Well for that, even if we ignored the first explosive 6 months of NWN2, that was a solid 3 years ago.

But like I said, when anyone ever pointed out the decline, they caused a sh*tstorm of angry replies from people. Mostly people who never posted or add anything to the forums, but they always appear to rant like lunatics about its never-ending and always growing appeal. And then disappear again, leaving it to near silence as 100 posts per day became 10 per week.

I remember one particular poster who joined about 2 years ago asking if it was viable for him to start in this community, a project he had a long time frame for. It was not an accusation, just a question if the community was still valid. Surprise surprise there was another volley of "this ocmmunity is BETTER than it was before". Except this time it wasn't the old deny-er guard, because they had moved on. The few stragglers continue this denial, and even tried to claim it was the "prime" of the community, because 3 year production mods were coming out and NWN2 was going to steam etc etc.

Now what fuels this furious denials, and sometimes out right bs in the face of facts (claiming a community that is a percentage of it's former size is in it's prime or growing, for example) is beyond me. It's beyond me because I have long agreed the community was in decline, but I ended up staying longer than these blindly angry deny-er types, who today aren't even around to keep up the facade.

I really just find it a mystery what they really accomplished. Rather than paint an at least somewhat unbiased view based on facts, they lie, deny, quit and are never heard from again. Were they trying to trick new modders into joining and wasting their time? Convince others, or just them self? Either way they failed because they are gone, and others are not joining.

Really you have to decide for yourself however, when the community lacks an audience for you, as a modder. For me, my Islander would have done well to be released about a year sooner. Most of my fellow modders who I swapped ideas with in the early days (and by early I mean nearly a year after MOTB as thats when I joined), never saw me complete my campaign, nor play it, nor comment on it.

Everyone who has released a campaign that took more than a year (which is why some argue we are in the prime, because of the "multi-year" projects coming out) has abandoned the community immediately after. Some names?

Harp and Chrys
Trial and Terror
Misery Stone

I'm sure if you're a follower you can fill in the other names.

I get a giggle out of the fact that as I wrote this, it took all of 8 minutes for someone to show up and write a pissy reply to my post on this topic. From the same person who fits the category above, of having nothing to say until his community's glaring emptiness is pointed out.

And there are a lot more visual cues than simply watching your module getting 2 to 3 downloads per month in the top ten list, or my rough math that tells me we are below 2% of our one time popularity with downloads and viewership.

Look at the forums themselves; our moderators have neither posted nor "moderated" a post in months. When the police leave the inmates to guard themselves, you know something less than ideal is going on. The vault fills with more spam than commentary and the ability to even upload has evaporated. People are already speculating where you can release works at this point.

I don't see why this is an issue; life moves on, and a 2006 spec game should not be expected to last into 2012. My only regret is there is no real successor; the dragon age toolset does not offer a decidedly better product so much as just newer, and it's overwhelming difficulty has seen its community misfire and shrink in only one year.

It could also be that people modded at a time in their life when they had too much spare time like myself, and simply had to outgrow it.

Anyway I figured I owed any of my 2 readers an explanation rather than a simply drop off the internet which I saw many of my fellows do and found rather... haunting. Haha it's like they were ashamed of it and wanted to "die to the modding world". Well here is where I went.

Personally I think it's a little sad the community wasn't just "shut down" formally around 2010 rather than see it in the state is has become. Not that I expected something like that, but it would be more humane. You got a handful of persistent hard working talent, and no audience at all, with more and more dysfunctionalities appearing daily.

Should a superior toolset product show it's head I may well be interested in a lesser capacity, but the complexity has really gotten such that it's more than a full time job to even use the full range of tools available.

Sep 25, 2011

What do I know?

Well as some may have figured out, I have paused my icy episodic adventure for the community project, which will actually see a little more work from me than this adventure would have produced.

Unfortunately there has been a big delay as our group hak isn't working. I'm trying to work around it but limiting your tools and variety of items to use also limits your inspiration at times.

I've been looking to maybe partner up with at least one veteran modder and making a decent game of it. I figure this community project would be a sneak preview. I was thinking it could be even more but it seems a lot of my submissions will be much larger than the others, so not quite the same experience.

City Adventure
I'm not quite sure what the NWN2 toolset can do for my city adventure I got cooking in my mind. It may never happen as it is fairly ambitious. On the other hand I have no problem at all chapterizing it and have learned how to build that way. Additionally I'm not sure what toolset I would use. I want real legitimate control over the architecture, and nwn2's collection of "prefab" placeables does nothing to help this, and I (and the population of the vault/forums seem to agree) am simply getting tired of seeing the same tired old models ad nauseaum. But Dragon Age's tool set has all of six monsters. So really, what do you do with that??

And you can rotate placables in all directions, but you cant resize or recolor anything. Puke. It's like having to choose one meal for life, between two essential piles of food, with each one givine only half of what you need to keep from dying of nutrition.

I wonder if there is a new toolset on the horizon...

Jul 2, 2011

1 month episode: Still alive

Yes this thing is going. It's amazing how fast post dates get away from you during the summer.

The project will still be a 4 week total effort, I just haven't been able to do anything recently. I've got about 2 weeks into it and really it's just time to ramp ahead. I'll let you know as momentum picks up and anything you can add to my modules forum post for ideas would help fill it in.

For future reference, offering even a slightly circular or branching path to achieve a goal (even if all branches are required, but can be done in random order) adds considerable time to a rapid fire project. A Live Forever style module, as nice and well written as it is, is MUCH quicker to make.

Additionally, I am wondering how to handle party chatter. It will be central to this ongoing series because they are basically your supporting cast. The problem is I don't believe in instant raise deads after battle or for the sake of conversation, so I am trying to get a handle on how I would ensure you spend enough of your time alive to get in on all of them. Ideas?

Skipping the dead companions line isn't really an option here as it was with Islander, as there will hopefully be some pretty intricate comedic exchanges that don't fit the bill with the punch lines missing.

Jun 4, 2011

Concepts introduced for the Adventure Episode

Here is a quick video and breakdown of systems I put in that will hopefully be used in any future campaigns I make. For sure they will debut in this 1 month adventure episode.

I recommend using 720p on youtube and make the screen full to see what is actually going on.

The video

Things to see in the video:
  • Infinity style floating text descriptions on ALL click placeables that have descriptions
  • Custom parka hood (hehe not that big of a deal)
  • Non standard room sizes - check out the inn carefully. Rooms and halls are tight, small and in rectangular, cube, or whatever size and shape I want.
  • Temporary black roof vfxs: note how despite using placeables for non standard room sizes, I can still conceal the contents of the room until the door opens using a black vfx and a destroy nearest black vfx on the room's door scripts. The engine will only hide the contents of the standard rooms.
I find these systems go a great deal toward the more artistic and immersive infinity style that I like. Text descriptions don't open in a window which blocks everything and generally forces you to stop and read rather than read while you continue to observe/play. Also having interiors that don't as much resemble lego land has been great. Being able to tuck little rooms into narrow dark halls seems much more realistic and cluttered. As in real life.

I included pics of the early morning view of parts of the town. I really like how the sun hits it at this time of day, almost gives it a Dragon Age style of realism, with lower res but I think the snow hides it well.

May 23, 2011

1 month challenge

Ok back to modding, so back to blogging (I'm sure many assumed the death of both).

Some of you may have followed my thread here:

Now, never one to chime in with ideas that everybody (but me
) should do, I was definitely planning on implementing.

So that's what I did. I silently took up the 1 month module challenge, and I am 2 weeks in. I adopted the quantam leap style concept for an adventure "episode" of which an entire series could be built. I may give myself one extra week just because of the time spent on the pocket plane which would serve as the lobby for this and any future "leaps" into adventure.

I've decided to give it that kind of "more than one path" capability that was great in BG, and I imagine in a few P&P conversions from what I hear. It's not that complex, basically you can go around town questioning people, or if your theiving and spotting skills are keen enough, you can jump the gun and discover a bad guy in your midst earlier, and force the ensuing town meeting.

Now for this, even with 2 ways to get there and an unlinear method to communicate with the townsfolk to find out the true problem in town, got kind of complicated. So despite the brief "don't think" philosophy of this episode, some planning was in order. There is no way I could do this on the fly in game and keep all the webs stranding together.

Got a little garbled as I ran out of space, but I can figure it out easily.

Biggest challenges I've faced was fighting the urge to redo and over-expand areas, and to add a bunch of custom content one piece at a time. Leads to a lot of conflicts. Future note: check it all out first, and make one full hak, and move forward.

Another thing I really need to stop doing is baking/running areas for no apparent reason. If the area looks good in the toolset I don't need to go through the 3 minute process of getting in game and walking through it.

Here's some shots. I've finally found an excuse to be able to do any terrain I want, and I was itching to do a snow theme.

This is the pocket plane episodes begin in. The safe "home lab" where your gnome boss
sends you on jumps to places on faerun that are "karmacally unbalanced"