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.