Thursday, December 30, 2010

Path of Evil: Released

To celebrate, a selection of some of my favorite non spoiler screenshots.

Story: You are the villain of the story. This means it's up to you to decide what needs to be done. No Aldanon rambling on, no Nasher to give specific instructions. One companion will provide a very general framework for you, but it's up to you to figure out where to go and what to do. Did anyone tell Ammon Jerro how to defeat the King of Shadows? No, he figured things out himself. You may be told you are looking for an item in a city, and it's up to you to find it.

Because of this, Path of Evil comes off as being "story-lite", that's because you're making the story as you go, becoming the villain. Path of Evil is about the history of a villain before they "threaten the Realms". Once you leave Neverwinter, Path of Evil has an open world.

You are not required to agree with every evil thing in Faerun. For example you can tell people your personal code means people should be free and refuse slaving quests. Similarly, companions can and do have "non evil" traits such as caring for their family. They're not all homocidal maniacs, and you don't have to be either.

30+ hours of gameplay. 11 possible companions. 160+ quests. Your own stronghold a la Crossroads Keep. Nearly 300 areas.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Barring gotchas: Release in 2010

I've rolled up all the fixes since the RC (using the same links as that post, and dropbox will finish uploading in another couple hours). There are a few specific things I want to do more testing on, mostly giving endgame stuff a few more runthroughs trying to break stuff. I'd hate to see a bad bug for someone that far in. I beat my last playthrough with a level 14 party. The bugs coming out of that were almost all inconsistencies, spellings and such things, which was good because I was purposely trying to break things.

Fingers crossed a last run continues to turn up a clean campaign with no broken quests. If all goes well, you should see the release this year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Release Candidate

You can get them from here

Or directly from Dropbox


Files other than modules


Total size of the files is roughly 1 gig of download. Hopefully everything else you might want to know is in the FAQ :-) .

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November Update

Someone on the Social forums was wondering about updates since I hadn't posted on the thread for PoE for awhile. I'm still tweaking things in the stronghold to address the tester concerns from the previous posts. Now mostly fixing bugs with the content I added. Not much worth talking about unless you like to hear the details of bugs I found. So here are some screenshots. Not all from the stronghold module. You've probably seen some of these, or similar shots from the same areas, already. But it's all I have to show right now, unless you want to see screenshots of things that were bugged or a series showing companion conversation.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What's taking so long?

I'm implementing player feedback and getting rid of some larger bugs (see a few posts down). Plus I'm mostly done with my own playthrough and the bugfixing coming from that, having only the stronghold module and the endgame to go.

I've worked through most of the major bugs I listed below. SoZ death is working properly now. That was a biggee, so thanks to Elfinmad whose solution was spot on. Bug 4 on group stuff is 3/4 solved. I have the script working for making a bunch of placeables with the same tag disappear, and the npc's appearing is similar but not quite working yet. Thanks to thurgood and kanbyen from irc, they essentially wrote the script. The tileset issue I was forced to "fix" by just going back to the default texture for the tileset. It doesn't look as good but oh well. The movie issue I havn't looked further into yet.

Building things for the stronghold proved to require a workaround as well. The time units functionality of the OC scripting was apparently not integrating properly with other scripting meant to control when a building upgrade was "finished", this meant that the architect's crew would never finish a building upgrade, so you couldn't enter the building you built, and you couldn't reassign the crew elsewhere. The problem didn't seem fixable, as manually advancing the time units with the debugger wasn't solving the issue when the time units is supposed to control just that. I went back to the stronghold demo I'd released on the Vault and ran into the same problem in that. No idea, the demo worked perfectly when I released it and I don't have anything in the override that would affect its scripting. I worked around it with the good ol' fashioned "pay to unlock doors". Definitely less elegant, but easy to implement.

For implementing feedback, the stronghold and it's module is getting a major makeover to better integrate it. You now are specifically told about it, where it is, and why the city it's in might be important (though not exactly of course) while still in Neverwinter at the beginning of the game. You also get a journal telling you to go there. It's presented as an alternative to going off to the other suggested destination. A few things will be changed to make it easier to get the stronghold. The stronghold itself is no longer "offset" from the city, requiring you to travel through a fairly empty upperclass area and shortening travel. So you exit from the stronghold directly into the main city area. This requires a reworking of the main city map and the upperclass area map. Merchants in the city are getting upgraded to encourage the player to return, and a "recall" item will get implemented to allow the player to teleport back to the city from anywhere, saving travel time.

Additionally, because the player is more likely to reach the city at a lower level, lower level content will get added and some of the higher difficulty content already there will be hidden until the player completes some lesser difficulty content. Also to be added is more content directly related to the stronghold. More visiting "dignitaries" (Shaughn found the previous one), more content that will open up via the stronghold. Basically, use of the stronghold will open more content, ideally encouraging the player to use it more.

Also being considered is moving where the city is in Faerun. It's currently between Chessenta and Turmish, north of the Akanapeaks. I picked that as it was a location that was both remote and near the center of Faerun. I might relocate it to the western Border Kingdoms area. There are pluses and minuses to this. The player is certainly more likely to go there earlier in the game as it would be on the first overland map the player sees and on the path towards another goal on that map. The minus (aside from rewriting/renaming things to reflect this change which is not too large a task) would be that it would make the eastern half of Faerun relatively empty and put most of the campaign content onto the first overland map.

So there is major construction going on in one module. Since this is the first OC style stronghold I'm aware of in a community module, I want it to not be a throwaway. Never be afraid to fix things after playtesting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How many bugs have you squashed?

Shaughn78 (go play his Risen Hero if you haven't already) completed his playtest of Path of Evil. A surprising amount of things went wrong somewhere near the end. These were things I'd already tested. I guess I need better version control. As a result I've started another playthrough of my own. I've already racked up 30 or so bugs and things in the first module, from extra spaces in conversations, actions not be properly identified with colors during conversation,  to an infinite gold exploit. Fixing things is never done (Bliizard is still patching Starcraft 1 and Diablo 2 aren't they?), and the larger the mod the more testing required. In fact PoE has been mostly testing for the past 6-8 months. How many bugs do you think you've squashed in your own work?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fixing Bugs

Since the playtest release, over 400 bugs reported by testers have been fixed. Mostly smaller bugs. The most common one has been that speaktriggers are not properly respecting their OnceOnly setting, so they trigger constantly as companions are entering the triggers. Fairly few quest breaking things, and only two game breakers so far. At least one playtester is pretty close to being done, and he is doing an excellent job of both doing everything that can be done in the game and in being picky (I mean that in the best possible way, playtesters SHOULD be picky!).

Mostly remaining are larger bugs that are more serious and I post them in hopes that someone reading this has encountered and solved them:
     1) Dead party memebers are raised with one hp by any area transition. This happens inside modules, between areas that do not have area entry scripts. I am using SoZ death scripts after the first module, and OC death scripts in the first module. I suspect that has something to do with it, but I have put the scripts in the module folders, not the campaign folder. Party members properly die and stay dead with the "death" avatar as long as I stay in an area. Any area transition raises them.
     2) Probably related, resting does not heal party members who are unconscious but stabilized.
     3) Movies don't play. My opening movie doesn't play when I launch the campaign, only when I launch the first module separately. I've looked at some other campaigns, and haven't seen a difference with how I'm doing it yet. Ending movie doesn't play either.
     4) I want to make a number of npc's with the same tag appear. Similarly, I want to make a number of placeables with the same tag disappear. I expect this is very easy, but my scripting skills stink.
     5) a tile/texture combination renders in the toolset, but not ingame. As a result, ingame everything in the area is neon colored. neon! :-) . The area is spectacular, feedback on the official forums for the area was outstanding, I don't want to redo it.
     6) Building things for your stronghold is not working correctly. The doors don't fire their conversations even though everything should be as it is in the sample stronghold I extracted from the OC, where it works. I expect I'll have to figure this one out myself since I don't think anyone else is using an OC style stronghold. One tester had the upgraded buildings appear, which isn't supposed to happen at all in my campaign, and doesn't happen when I test.

One bug I sorted out would be of serious interest to other modders, I implemented the appearances.2da from Pain's Monster Pack. This broke the appearance of a number of npc's, giving them the n_human (null human) appearance, with strange results. Some npc's insisted on a female appearance, despite manually setting them to male, these I had to delete and replace. Others developed strange appearance bugs (invisible with odd "rays of appearance" stretching off towards other npcs) that made them virtually unselectable in the toolset. Tracking this down it only happened with the some of the halfling appearance models. I have been using scaled up halflings to expand the palette of human faces, and Storyteller's Desert NPC's and the Seahorse Cove prefab area does this as well.

For modders, if you are interested you can see my list of bugs here:
It doesn't include the thousand or so I fixed before making the wiki.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ex Scientia Vera 2

More pictures from Ex Scientia Vera areas I've done. First we have "The Frozen Path", a larger encounter area. I'm quite pleased with it. For some reason it reminds me of a Tibetan monastery even more than one area in Path of Evil that was specifically inspired by a Tibetan monastery.

Below the three shots of "The Frozen Path" are a selection of more of the small random encounter areas. Many of the random encounter areas are just generic areas for theme such as large lake, river etc and aren't particularly notable for anything in particular. Since these areas are 4x8 and purposely generic, I can turn them out quickly. Of course deep jungle and deep forest do look pretty good if I say so myself.
As these areas are built for a PW, there are few placeables, the areas are focused on "feel". Even deep jungle only has about 20 placeables and no trees (everything outside the walkmesh is converted to environmental, those are placeable trees). The biggest thing affecting performance in any of these areas is the trees., but there are less than 10 seeds in any of them.

Ex Scientia Vera

I've been busy while waiting for the bugs to roll in of Path of Evil from my gracious testers. As I've posted before of Social, I was going to do some work on others projects I found interesting. In this case specifically a Lovecraft/Cthulhu PW. It caught my eye a while back because it completely rewrites the DnD ruleset as well as presents a very different world from the standard fantasy world NWN2 operates in. Much of the technical work has been done, though one of the technical people became a daddy recently and dropped off the PW, so they need another scripter type. You can find Zedicius on the irc channel regularly. He hopes for a beta in December.

This map was yatt + L3DT generated. I cleaned things up, made it look proper for it's purpose and reduced it to a usable for PW size. I actually cut it down to nearly a quarter of it's original size while not losing any significant playable area.

These two pics of a snowy fortress are a rough for a specific area by request. We ended up changing it significantly into more of a town, which I don't have pics of.

The rest of the pics are from filling out random encounter areas. Those 4x8 areas you drop into from the overland or for a quick DM encounter. A few things got dropped, like the giant stuff in the dark forest (it didn't fit the lore).

At some point I will pack all these up and release to the Vault.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Path of Evil: Playtest release

Me: Builder of an evil campaign.
You: Opinionated back seat driver with the balance sense of a Russian ballerina. Preferably picky. Must be willing to kick puppies.

Know the secrets of Edinmoor? No longer a mere Wizard's Apprentice? Now a Risen Hero? Turned White Plume Mountain into White Plume Molehill? Well the baddest, evilest, most puppy kickingest campaign on the block needs playtesters. 

More Info here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What has Ol' Kamal been up to?

So what do you do after you module is 100% complete but you don't want to release to testers just yet? Why you add evil ^H^H^H^ I mean you add depth. :-)

I've gone back through all the dialogs adding more race/class/diety specific conversation options. For instance one merchant will give you a discount and has a completely seperate dialog if you are the same race as him. Another npc will only speak his language and refuse to speak common if you're the same race as him (translated with subtitles, see below). Going individually through all the dialogs also turned up some typos and coloring mistakes (if an action is described via conersation, I highlight it with color tags). Even 2 or 3 actual quest bugs turned up, where conversations didn't advance a quest, or accepting it in a certain way didn't start it. It also identified all the merchants where one companion did not have the option to steal from them, there were a fair number of those.

Translation with subtitles. In one place, you can be disguised and among a population that does not speak common. I've used an online source to translate that entire section (probably 1-2 hours of gameplay). So players get the "original", with a common translation below. It's a detail that will hopefully delight players.

More custom items. There are some in every town now. The fanciest one gives the player faux psionics via a "psionic focuser" item that allows them to cast some illusion school spells once or twice a day. They can train with the npc that grants the focuser to achieve new "abilities". However this has a non-monetary evil cost, innocent npcs will die, and unlocking the full power requires the death of important ally npc's including player minions. I don't know how many people will find this during a game though since the player must do a number of things to get this. While there is a logical chain to get it, you have to do about 5-6 different things to get it over the course of probably 5-6 levels for the player, you're not told you are going to get it, and it's not offered to you, you have to ask. I'll probably put info on it in a walkthrough for the campaign. Anyway the "psionic focuser" item allows the player to be one of the many villain stereotypes.

Reworking on things I was not happy with. The player stronghold I had felt was underdeveloped. Now you can receive emmisaries (who depends on what you do elsewhere, it's possible to receive none), it has several ways to do research on the overarching game goal, and you can have minions carry out some orders. In fact, with a sargent to lead them, you can now have your minions do the entire item collecting main plot. Yes you read that right, you can have your minions carry out 80% of the entire plot without you. After all, once you have a stronghold, you are an evil overlord, so now you can act like one and have minions carry out your wishes. You can now have your soldiers standing guard and patrolling the local area. Lastly, you can now buy slaves for the stronghold, they don't serve any game purpose but just provide fluff detail. I also changed the location of a few things in the stronghold module to be more logical. There's a bit left to do here to flesh out the stronghold module, but nothing major.

Feat buying. You can now pay to receive various feats. For example, you can pay a blacksmith to temporarily shut down his shop and train you. In return you receive Skill Focus: Armor Crafting or Skill Focus: Weapon Crafting, depending on which you paid him for. I know this makes a character illegal to use elsewhere, since they will have too many feats, but the villain of the story is always exceptional, and Path of Evil has you as the "villain". Some more exotic feats can be aquired, including racial feats, which of course have exotic ways of getting them. You can also buy feats for your companions. I put in checks to make sure the player/companions have the normal prereqs if the feat has them, so no buying "Craft Wonderous Items" for fighters. Not all feats can be aquired (of course not, there are more than a thousand), and not all can be purchased for gold.

"Holy poop Kamal, that all sounds awesome!" I think so too :-) I can hardly wait to make the official call for testers.

There's not much left to add, just a few feat trainers and a bit more detail in the stronghold module. Then to test the new stuff. Don't want to ask for testers with anything not having received at least some testing. The official call for testers will probably go out sometime in the next two weeks.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On heroes determining monster CR.

Our intrepid heroes are in a dungeon, when they enounter a giant alien blob from the Outer Planes, something they've never seen before. The player clicks to examine the blob and discovers "Ahah! It's only a moderate threat!"

Tell me again how the heroes knew a giant blob from another plane was only a moderate threat? The accuracy of the CR information is a situation where there can be a lot of work can done. Getting the CR info could include some familiarity/skill checking.

Our heroes are probably able to make a fair gauge of the threat of creatures that are similar to them, but probably less so for alien blobs. So one aspect of the difficulty of getting accurate CR information should be the similarity of the monster to the player racial type, outsiders are going to be difficult to determine if the party is human/elven etc, humanoid monsters our heroes would likely have less difficulty with, and plain old humans the heroes should be pretty accurate on for this aspect.

Skills can play an aspect here as well. Spot, survival would be pretty obvious. Maybe spellcraft for more exotic creatures where it might be relevant (nishruu, monsters that can be summoned). Craft alchemy ("Hmmm, that smells like a terrible acid!"). A lot of skills could grant insight into different types of creatures.

I could see a system where the player can get multiple levels of information about a monster's CR when they click examine the monster.
None: the creature is too strange for the hero to make a determination.
Some: "dangerous/non dangerous". The hero is able to make a determination, but it may not be that accurate.
Normal: As it works now ingame.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stat checks are useless

Let's just call them build checks and be done with it. They make sense from a game perspective, but the 3E/3.5E point buy rules make them useless as stat checks.

Let's say I have a puzzle. I want an intelligent character to be able to figure out this puzzle in-game without the the player needing to resort to player knowledge instead of character knowledge. Also, I don't want a level 1 wizard to be able to do it. Even lowly hedge wizards are going to have 14/15 intelligence; however a sorcerer never will. Other than wizard, only a rogue has a realistic chance as they may have put some points into intelligence to get more skills. So you either have to make the check so low anyone can succeed, or so high only specific classes/builds can. Has anyone in history ever made a 15 intelligence fighter, or paladin?

Did you know adult dragons start at 23 strength (adult black and brass)? That's right, your fighter is stronger than an adult dragon! That should be impossible.

Similarly, why are 1st level neophyte clerics wiser than grizzled epic rogues who have 20+ levels of experience to draw on? Maybe classes should get a wisdom bonus as they advance in levels.

Anyway I do see a way around it. Limit character abilities to an unmodified 16 to 18 pre-epic. That way people would throw some points into alternate stats. Then we'd occasionally see a smart paladin.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Path of Evil: 100% complete

Since the 98% post, all the rest has been completed. The companion conversations were the biggie, somewhere around 15,000 to 20,000 words combined. They're complete fluff (irrelevant to gameplay but good "color") but they were important for me. The areas I added still need testing, but they are straightforward dungeon crawling you can do once you have your stronghold.

Other than the fact I'd like to test those new areas a bit, I could give the old "TESTERS, ASSEMBLE!!!" anytime now. Someone posted a two bugs the other day on the wiki. It showed that they had gotten through the entirety of two modules with just two bugs. I knew my months of bugtesting and fixing time had been paying dividends. :-)

Anyway, why not give the ol' "TESTERS, ASSEMBLE!!!" ? In case you've been living under a brick, The Maimed God's Saga and The Wizard's Apprentice were just released, and White Plume Mountain is supposed to be on the Vault by the end of the month. I wouldn't want to compete with them for attention. The community doesn't have so many adventures coming out that we should compete for players attention with releases very close together.

There are still things I'd like to add, but they are fluff. The joke items I talked about a few posts ago. Add unique descriptions to some generic items in stores so they're not selling so many "This is a +1 sword" weapons. More joke graves in the old Black Isle tradition. More alternate ways to say the same thing, to give the player the ability to give more personality to their pc. But since everyone should be busy enjoying Maimed God's Saga, The Wizard's Apprentice, and White Plume Mountain for the next couple of weeks, I can take some extra time to add some of this fluff/polish to a project that is "100% complete".  Besides, everyone complains when a game gets rushed out the door, I can always look for more bugs.

If you're reading this and you'd like to test, or just a builder who'd like to look around.
Wiki with file downloads

Builders, you might find this a good laugh. The list of bugs that have been fixed. There were about a thousand fixed before this list was even started. Obviously this can be spoiler full.
Fixed bug list

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Path of Evil does Youtube, part 2.

The following three areas are based on prefabs I've altered, extensively. Sometimes you'll be fighting the elements as much as the monsters.
desert town

The following are my own.
unusual town
Temple of Old Night
Calimport Muzad

vid 1
vid 2
vid 3
vid 4
vid 5

Not going to be able to get much work done this weekend, as the air conditioning is dead and the repairguy can only be back with the necessary part Monday. The weather today is supposed to be 90 (that's 32C for everyone else in the world) and thunderstorms so very humid as well. Not conducive to putting work in. Probably going to go find somewhere with air conditioning.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Path of Evil does youtube

Near final video from the area I've been showing on the official forums. (there's a tile that doesn't quite match, I know). It's in multiple parts because fraps on my pc is limited to 30 seconds. I should buy the full version I guess. Youtube uploads are incredibly slow for me for some reason, I stuck the same clips on dropbox in about 5 miutes, but had to let the youtube uploader run overnight.


part 2

part 3

a different dungeon

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Path of Evil now 98% complete

An estimate. Really there's not a whole lot left to be done. I have two interiors to finish (see one to the right). I have to finish the companion's ability to comment on quest. I have to make a few more loadscreens for some areas I added to flesh out one module (including the one for the rest of the screenshots, which is not related to the first shot). Get the companion hangouts working. A couple more weekends I think. Probably not much longer than that since I'm being laid off and will suddenly have lots of modding time :-) .

Virtually everything has been fully tested already. I've been testing and fixing since January. I'm not saying there are zero bugs. But you should find very few. I've fixed around 2000.

There are of course some color things I'd like to add, like the joke items from my previous post, but those can be done after the playtest release.

Yes, the building in the screenshots floats in the air.