Monday, July 27, 2009

Mysterious Church screenies - ooooohhhh mysterious!

RWS Pocket Cathedrals is the tileset show, and it is great :-)
Here are five screenshots from the area I'm working on, a church interior. In the last you can see our intrepid game testing drow for scale. I've got to fix some things, the lighting isn't showing up ingame like the toolset shows. Maybe because there's a metric ton of lights and effects in the area.

(Yes, the ship is floating on purpose)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A feature area is complete.

It is going up on the vault as well (I just submitted it). What are the Red Wizards doing in Samarach? Well, there's only so many non western european style buildings available. This area is neither in Thay nor in Samarach. So when you want an exotic city in NWN2 you're pretty limited. The game really needs a greater variety of unusual building placables that aren't ruins.

Anyway I'd like to encourage other builders to release their areas as prefabs. You know how long area building takes, this area took something like 15-20 hours to make. When my campagin is complete I plan on releasing all the areas I designed in a pack onto the vault. I've already released somewhere between 15-20 (my arabic town prefab contains over something like 10-15 areas by itself).

Anway, releasing areas as prefabs does two things. First it helps promote your module work and promotes you in general in the community (just look at SGK73's abundant excellent work). The second thing is it makes it easier for new builders to get in the game. Having a stock of quality areas makes it easy for new module builders to concentrate on their story. The more prefab solutions (areas, scripts etc) out there the easier it becomes for new builders. And that means more modules for us to enjoy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's going to be DARK.

Go underground and it will be dark. I mean pitch black. In dungeons and caves you'll be glad if there happen to be some glowstones or a brazier. A cave entrance will be lit with the outside light, but venture further in and you better hope you can see in the dark.

Here's three screenshots from the toolset. In the first, a few glowstones light your path. In the second it's welcome back to the light of the cave entrance. And the third.... the view from the cave entrance, off into the darkness you go.

You might want a torch or some other form of light. Official campaigns have to be nice about lighting up underground interiors for players so people don't complain about not being able to see. I don't. Naturally lit caves and dungeons for all! :-)

Friday, July 10, 2009


A few exterior shots of Al-Qasr Al-Kabir, a town in the deserts of Calimshan. This area has actually been complete for awhile but isn't tested yet. People like screenshots right?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

When will Path of Evil 2 be ready?

After taking some time away from the toolset, things are going steadily. I just finished up a series of 5-6 quests the other night. They are the "main plotline" in an area, though not part of the main plot of the campaign itself. Still, it's rather a lot of dialog, a fair amount of scripting, and a lot of skillchecks.

Some of the quests kept braching out. As I was implementing a quest, I kept thinking "Well, the pc might want to do this..." Once quest wound up with six possible solutions, and one single conversation turned out to be longer than anything in Path of Evil 1, clocking in at nearly 2500 words.

On player recently emailed me said they were anxious for a sequel and wondered when it would be ready? Unfortunately I can't estimate that. Path of Evil 2 is much larger than the first. As it currently stands there are more quests than all the questpaths of Path of Evil 1 combined, and it's only about halfway done. First I'm not a veteran author, so I don't really have a good estimate of how long it's going to take to implement some things because I don't have the experience some authors do. Second, things tend to grow (like my example above).

The third thing is polish. Getting something workable takes time, but polishing takes almost as much time as getting the basics up and running. There's putting together a quest, and there's putting in more dialog options, companion talks, the extra oxcart here or there in the area to make it look better, adding/changing music as appropriate for an area.

Finally there's bug testing. Bug testing takes time. I learned a lot from the first module about what works, and initial testing in some areas of POE2 has seen the payout of that, some quests even worked right the very first time! :-) Plus I learned a few tricks to speed testing like putting doppleganger npc's in one area to save the running around, and a special npc capable of advancing the quest to test further into a quest if something is broken earlier in it.

So my building has multiple passes. I lay out the basics: build the area, write up the basic quests/dialog/journals, do scripting. Then comes a polish pass, adding more conversation options to allow pc personality, adding companion conversation, putting in extra detail in the area, deciding music/area titles etc. Then comes bugtesting. here I add in the testing dopplegangers and try to run through various things. I get a huge list of stuff that's broken and then go back to fix it. Then test again... and again.... and again.... Then finally everything "works" and I release it.

Then the bugfixing starts again as others find bugs. :-)