Friday, April 16, 2010

Stuff NWN2 could use....

Wouldn't it be nice to have all those floors pictured on the right? You'd enable a ton of new interior styles/themes. They are in a NWN1 hak. The hak's original author hasn't signed in to the Vault for 3 years so it's probably abandoned.
That's not the only NWN1 content that could use converting. There's a far chunk of other placeable content, but floor content is flat, so it hopefully shouldn't take a lot of remodelling, just apply these textures to some of the floors already present. Skydome's would be another conversion that would seem to be relatively simple.

A hot lava ground texture and a volcano plume placeable card. You've seen the photos from Iceland. The NWN2 lava placeable is fine, but can only flow horizontally, a ground texture could flow vertically. A smoothed cooled lava ground texture would be good too. A volcano plume placeable card is necessary for when you're not actually on the volcano, it's off in the distance. Placeable cards in general is an area that could use filling in, some cities or other structures in the distance, mountains.

Proper, defined clouds as placeables. Area fogs and smoke don't cut it. I want some poofy clouds to put around floating cities, or underfoot while the players are on high bridges. Cumulus and stratus please. Cumulonimbus would be great as a card placeable.

Actually loud waterfall sounds. I can barely hear "large waterfall" even after I've turned the sound placeable up to max in the toolset. Large waterfalls are loud, they have a roaring sound, they should drown out most everything if you're near the base.

Ability to change some tilesets floor/wall/ceiling textures. RWS Deep Halls comes to mind (Sorry you guys). One or two of the Obsidian tilesets has the same lack of ability to have the textures changed (Shadow Fortress) . I bet Deep Halls would look spectacular with the clean/smooth Sunken Ruins textures on it (good for Drow interiors I'd imagine) instead of the chunky roughhewn look they have now.

Monday, April 5, 2010

When do you toss out an area?

So at what point are you willing to toss out an area and start over? This screnshot is from the rebuilt town of the player stronghold. I tossed out the old town exterior over the weekend and rebuilt everything. The old town just wasn't that good, which is odd because it's one of my most recently built areas.

The town was plain, it had a lot of buildings that were just there taking up space, and I'd made it 32x32 to incorporate some things, so performance was poor. Bad builder, bad. Here's an overhead screenshot. It did extend a bit farther at the bottom outside the walls, those two herizontal paths at the bottom were the borders of walkable space.

I started by making the decision to split the town into two areas. The old town had a stream that seperated the rest of the town from the upper class/stronghold area. I kept the stream, but made it the boundary between the two areas. In the "main town", I kept the church you see at the center, in the center of the new "main town" for two reasons. First the town church is at the geographic center of many historical towns, and second was a plot reason.

I kept the general geographic layout, with the stream running diagonally. But I eliminated the houses between the church and stream. There were plenty of houses that were doing nothing already, they were just there. Then I divided the area around the church into three "districts", merchants to the SE, general housing to the SW, and some buildings the player can unlock to the NW.

It's a tighter, more SoZ style: all buildings have some game purpose and can be entered. It's a contrast from a more realistic style where not every building has something of interest to the player. The main town is now 12x12, and not all of that is used because of the diagonal stream, so it's closer to 12x10. To do this the cliffside gladiator pit had to go, but I didn't have gladiator combat. I still have a spot where I could make a transition to a new gladiator pit area and keep it inside city walls (or just put the pit outside the walls). With the smaller area, I was also freed up to put in more detail with placeables and the like while keeping acceptable performance.

I also built the basics of the other area in even though the player can't reach them. Terracoppa is your friend :-) This allows the adjacent areas to be consistent. Of course once I'd copied the area into the new area I made sure that all the objects from the other area got turned into environmental objects to improve performance.

In the upperclass/stronghold area (East and North of the stream), the upperclass area got compacted so there are no more general buildings that are just there.  The stronghold got it's whole area though, since the stronghold is a prize for the player and I wanted to keep the ability of the player to walk around and admire the grounds and the view. I did make the stronghold entrance closer to the upperclass area, but still gave it some seperation with the "forest grounds" you see. The area wound up 16x20 or so.

Fun with VFX:

Old stuff I never blogged: These screenshots came out of a request on the official forums to see about having custom weapon fx. The idea was to see if it would be possible to put rings on a weapon to make some martial arts weapons that have rings. Actual weapons with rings is basically impossible. Ring vfx would be pretty close to it as well, since you'd need very tight sync between the weapon location and the vfx location.

In our first shot, I applied the force field effect to the weapon. Totally useless, it doesn't make a actual force field that blocks monsters for instance. But this is kind of interesting. If you unequip the weapon (second shot), the effect remains in the place it was when you unequipped it. Turns out all area vfx do this. The force field effect scores a 0/10 for practicality, it's huge, jumps around lots when weilded so it's visually distracting, and doesn't actually make a "blocking effect" like you'd expect from a force field. When re-equipped, the "placed" vfx disappears and the vfx goes back to the weapon location.

Here we have a leaf effect on the weapon. Look closely and you can see the leaves dropping from it, making a trail as the player runs. Good for a druidic weapon I bet. 9/10. Not distracting, gives an indication of weapon use, high on role playing goodness. Druids and other nature lovers might not like the implication of falling leaves though. Maybe leaves in place "growing out of the weapon" would be better.
Close up of the leaves effect.
The mind flayer come effect on a weapon. This follows the weapon around. It looks pretty strange in motion as the effect itself is animated. Not very practical as an effect on a player weapon, it jumps all around when the player is in motion and is distracting. Maybe for an undroppable boss weapon combined with some mind effects OnHit. 3/10
Priests of Auril rejoice! The snow mace! When equipped, it snows. Kind of hard to see in the shot. This is the standard snow vfx, placed on a weapon. An area fx, the snow stays in place when the item is unequipped. 5/10. Better than the force field since it's not very distracting, also it has fairly obvious role playing signifcance. You could probably script this weapon to have some kind of mild aoe cold effect when weilded. People who want cold damage will likely go for the default cold vfx though. And the snow vfx remaining in place would be bad for performance.

This one didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. It's an invisible or shadow vfx (I can't remember which) effect on the mace. I was hoping to make a semi-transparent "shadow weapon". I tried several similar vfx. But no go. 7/10. It looks good, just not what I was trying to achieve. Not visually distracting (when not moving, the vfx is essentially invisible).

I didn't explore using odd vfx on weapons further. It was simply done as an experiment.