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.