Thursday, December 29, 2011

Everyone else is talking about Skyrim, so I will too.

I've been taking some time away from the toolset to play Skyrim. Let me get this out of the way; it's great and the money was well spent. They fixed essentially everything that was wrong with Oblivion. I've played for some 40 hours and totally ignored the main plot in favor of pursuing the backstory I came up with for my character. Also, I'd buy Morrowind again if they remade Morrowind with this engine.

Now, on to the nitpicking. (If you just want to read something very cool, skip down to the last two paragraphs.)


Being told that there's a big conflict between some rebels and the Empire I took a logical (for an adventurer) tack and head for the border. That's where the conflict should be sharp right? Nope. I followed a path and found a border to the empire, and there was a gate marking the end of the gameworld. The gate was unmarked on the main map, meaning it was unimportant. It was also unmanned, I thought there was conflict? Right next to the unimportant, unmanned gate to the empire, and five feet from the road, valuable ore (gold iirc). Was that ore just ignored when they built the gate?

Later I found a map showing where the forces were, and found a number of camps from both sides. The empire's invading force was not near the border with the empire, instead they are all as far away from the border as they can be. The rebels? Close to the border. Shouldn't that be reversed?

I found two dungeons where I could turn off a few of the torches. Presumably this would improve my sneaking. Unfortunately, these were the only dungeons I could do so in the 40-50 I've been in. Either let me turn them off, or don't. 


500 feet underground and it's light as day. Everything natural apparently glows in the world of Skyrim, water, fog etc. The natural world underground is actually brighter than the dungeons.  Yes, I know, gameplay reasons... If you look up, many of those "light beams from the sky" are coming from hard rock. Not all of them though, some come from actual holes in the ceiling, so I know the maps can have holes in the ceiling.

I've entered a number of places where no living creature has been for centuries, and there are torches and candles everywhere lighting the place up? Apparently torches and candles last for hundreds of years in Skyrim, or maybe zombies like them? Also, dust in the air, hundreds of years and it didn't settle.

The sunlight in the various grottoes on the world map does not match the high mountains surrounding them, instead the areas are lit as if there were no mountains, or much lower ones. Daylight reaching the ground in some of these should be an hour long, at best. Some grottoes do not have a day/night cycle, despite even large openings to the surface.


The "cleared" notification for dungeons is a great idea. The game tracks it as a stat. There's a Steam achievement for clearing enough places. So why aren't some places clearable? I'm positive I've emptied out a number of places (Skrim's levels are almost entirely linear), yet not received "cleared" or a notification that a place isn't clearable for some reason. It would also be nice if I got an information message of cleared instead of having to look at my map, though maybe I've just missed that.

Dragons are awesome, except when they stink. The tutorial dragon wrecks an entire town. So when I found my first dragon I thought, "This is going to be epic!" Nope. Three hits and it was dead. It didn't even get a chance to use it's breath on me. Perhaps the game should take note of it being the first time you fight a dragon, and make sure it's difficult.

The random "superboss" mob member. In one area I fought a boss, a master level wizard opponent using ice magic, and learned one of the dragon shouts for my trouble. The level of difficulty was such that I could take 5-6 hits before dying. 15 minutes later I was in another area fighting mobs, and one generic mob member, who also happened to be an ice wizard like the boss I'd just recently fought, kills me in two hits. Repeatedly.

This is a Steam one, and maybe the Xbox/PS3 as well since it's an achievement thing. The "Master Criminal" achievement is when you've got a high bounty everywhere. That's not a "Master Criminal", that's a bad criminal, the good crooks get away with it. Wanted Outlaw maybe, Scourge of Skyrim perhaps?


Dwemer armor is quite valuable, so naturally dwemer scrap (used to make the armor) is fairly valuable too, right? Nope. It's seems to be least valuable type of "ore" for smithing, and it's value to weight ratio is worse that virtually any useful item, even the lowly iron dagger.

Light armor versus heavy armor. The light armors elven, glass, and dragonscale all have a hard plate armor look. This visually groups them with the "heavy" armors. It also would mean in practice that the usage would be more akin to "heavy armor" usage, the hard plates deflecting blows. Except light and heavy armor are different skill trees. I've purposely avoided "upgrading" to these armors just from the look. I'm not playing a melee fighter, I don't want to look like one.

Falmer are blind, so their helmets have no eyeholes. When the player wears a falmer helmet, they can apparently still see despite wearing a helmet with no eyeholes. I know npc's can be blind, see the infamous bucket stealing trick.

Some non-realistic looking weapons. I was granted a unique ghostly sword for completing a quest. That was pretty cool, everything else in skyrim goes for a realistic if sometimes stylized look. So I liked the sword even though I'm not playing a swordsman. Shortly thereafter, I found a dungeon full of lootable ghost weapons. So much for the uniqueness of my quest reward, and the ghost weapons are out of the "look" of the rest of the game.


Oddly inconsistent texture work. The texture work is mostly great, but in a few places it's not nearly the same quality/resolution. Fast travel to the mage college and look at the snowy bridge for an example.

All the jarls have the same "bored slouch" pose, even the ones that take an active interest in things.


Best moment ingame: Fairly early on, I wandered into an archery trainer, who has the player complete several ingame archery tests for training. She gave me a bow for completing them. It was about the same as the bow I already had, but I started to use it anyway since I quite enjoyed the ingame tutorial. I kept using the bow even as I got better one, until I got one that was much better. I still kept the bow out of fondness for the training/trainer, and carried it around since I didn't have a home or anywhere to store it. It even meant having to leave loot in dungeons sometimes.

Much later ingame, I wound up against a boss enemy, who used it's dragonshouts to disarm me of the bow I was using. So I pulled out another bow from my inventory that I'd picked up in order to sell. That too got disarmed. Now what? I looked through my inventory and there it was, the bow from the archery trainer I'd met in the middle of nowhere, and carried around solely because of my fondness for the training. That bow, "obsolete" and carried around solely because of my character's fond memories, saved my character's life. That's a gaming moment that will last.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Dark Host pseudo prc

By making an in-game bargain with an lower plane power, you can gain access to the Dark Host pseudo prc. In return for a significant stat boost (but random as to whether physical or mental stats are boosted) and forced alignment change towards evil, the player loses some control over the pc due to the influence of the being they host. The idea is similar in concept to the story of one community member's adventure (I won't say who since it would kind of spoil if for players of that person's adventure), at least I can say I had the idea independently.

This is an entirely optional bargain, it is not necessary to complete anything in the game, it is not given anywhere the player must go, and the player is warned in-game of the unpredictable nature of the bargain. Lance Botelle has a poll up now on predestination versus free will. Is your pc's answer to the lines below predestined, or free will?

PC: So I become just an empty shell for something. Somehow, that does not sound appealing.
Lower plane power: You do not become an empty shell. You... share, though of course you are strong enough to remain in control.
PC: Of course. Somehow I doubt you are entirely telling the truth.
Lower plane power: How much is truth and how much is lies is for you to decide...

Here are some examples of the loss of control: one quest has the player try to convince some local ruffians to take care of something so the player doesn't. A normal player can use appraise, bluff, or taunt. The Dark Host forces the player to use intimidate, as the being they host overrides the pc and speaks through the character. Another quest sees the Dark Host forcing the player into a fight they'd most likely avoid otherwise. It's not all bad consequences, a murder investigation the player is asked to undertake is instantly solved because the Dark Host "sees" the evil of the murderer, allowing the pc to instantly identify them.

There are currently around 20-25 planned spots for the Dark Host to influence things, eight are implemented so far. Players will generally be given the Dark Host option late in the game, so they probably won't see them all. Exactly how many a player sees will depend on whether they get the physical Dark Host, or the mental one, as the respective beings have different approaches to their evilness. The physical one is more of an intimidating brute personality, while the mental one is more of a conniving knowledge dealer. The Dark Host dialog options are unique, so if a non Dark Host player can use intimidation during conversation, the Dark Host intimidation the player must choose has a different line. The Dark Host dialog lines are umm, appropriate to what happened to the pc. People may not like their lines, but they did make the choice that allowed it. I had complaints about how you could do and say evil things in Path of Evil (yes, I know, I warned people of that in the campaign description, I still had complaints), and Dark Host is worse

I'm torn about giving the player an opportunity to cure themselves of this state. One possibility, the player tries, but the cure automatically fails (predestination!), and the player is stuck with it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Loadscreens for Crimmor

In Path of Evil, I used GIMP to add a painted effect to area screenshots. For Crimmor, I wanted a more personal feeling. I elected to use unedited screenshots, generally from viewing angles the character would have. I added area name to them since the character is a local to the city and would know the name of the area, assuming there is a unique name.

For the text, in GIMP, add a text box. The font I picked is called killigraphy, a freely downloadable font. You can get it from among other places. You can see from the font map the letters have a sharp look, reminding me of a rogues' typical weaponry. A number of letters have a particularly "weaponlike" look, particularly f, j, and t. It doesn't have capital letters. I used 72 point, centered. To give the written text a more 3d effect of still liquid ink (fluid, smooth, changeable, like a good rogue), after typing in your text, select Filter -> Decor -> Bevel from the GIMP menu. I used default bevel settings.

For the curious, the Auric Commorancy is a the name of the city's temple to Waukeen. I used a thesaurus to come up with some interesting sounding words, auric means pertaining to gold (Bond fans might remember the villain Auric Goldfinger), and commorancy is a dwelling or residence. So it's just a fancy name for "Gold House", fitting for a temple to Waukeen. Most named buildings have their named taken from the Dragon magazine article on Crimmor, written by Ed Greenwood (creator of the Forgotten Realms setting) himself.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Obsidian's next game is South Park?

CNN is reporting on their website that there is going to be a South Park RPG, and it's being developed by Obsidian. That's... unexpected.

I guess I should have seen the parallel between The Nameless One and Kenny. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More games with SLS

Since SLS lets you control lights, I've built up several script systems and a trigger based around lighting that uses SLS functionality. First, I've added the ability to turn lights on/off by doing appropriate damage to the light source. Normally this is fire for on, and ice for off, but "cold lights" would just be a matter of a quick script edit. You can also turn lights on/off via a number of non-damaging spells. Gust of Wind or Darkness etc will turn off a torch for instance. Magical lights are not able to be turned off via gust of wind, but can be dispelled. A variable on the light records the level of the creature that enchanted the light, and the dispel line of spells are very straightforward to implement. And of course some light sources can simply be used to turn them on/off.

So what? Well this is where my trigger comes in. I have a trigger for the lightsphere of a lightsource. The trigger reduces the hide skill of pc's that enter (not npc's as the ai can't deal with that, a sneaky npc doesn't stick to shadows), and restores it on exiting the trigger. But the trigger is also aware of the status of the light, if the light is off, the pc gets no bonus entering the trigger. The scripts that allow turning on and off lights also are aware of the trigger assigned to them, and adjust the hide skill accordingly, so for instance if the player is in the trigger when the light goes on, the hide bonus is immediately removed. This is demonstrated in this trigger awareness video .

Finally, the trigger looks for a local variable named guards_lights on anything that enters, and keeps track of if a guard can use the light source (a variable on the light source). Npc's with the guards_lights variable will move to a light source and turn the light back on if it's off and they can use it. Your average castle guard can light a torch, but not turn on a magical light.

In this youtube video you can see the guarded light function in action. link The pc hits the torch with an ice arrow at the very beginning of the video. You can see the guard enter the trigger (marked by the mushrooms for the demo). As he enters the trigger he notices the light is out, has a speakstring that plays "darn light!", moves to the lightsource, plays a use animation (it should loop until the light turns on but doesn't in this demo video), the light comes back on, and he then continues on his patrol path.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fixing the SLS, light tag bug

Problem: The SLS lighting system relies on the tags of lights. However, saving and reloading the game causes lights to lose their tags, breaking SLS.

Solution: change of the SLS' ginc_sls2 script to reset the tag of the nearest light object when the action to handle placeable lights is called. Solution a bit below.

potential issue: assumes the nearest light object is the one to be used. This is normally the case, but you may want to make a copy of the scripts and use the altered script where you know the closest light will be the right one, such as for usable placeables like torches.

in ginc_sls2, line 352 is:
string sLightTag = GetLocalString(oFitting,"lightTag");

comment that out and replace it with
            //work around tag bug. kamal
            object oLight = GetNearestObject(OBJECT_TYPE_LIGHT, oFitting, 1);
            string sLightTag = GetLocalString(oFitting,"lightTag");
            SetTag(oLight, sLightTag);

This will change the script that controls turning the light on and off, so that it resets the light's tag automatically when the light is used, and then proceeds normally through the script. It does assume the light you want to turn on is the nearest light, but I believe that will be the case in almost all cases.

As an added bonus: If you make this change to ginc_sls2, and save ginc_sls2 to your override folder, it should fix the problem in every single player module that uses the SLS, thanks to the priority of the override (PWs can ignore the override folder).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Testing the main path

Thanks to my test module, I've got the main paths players can proceed through the module fairly well tested. I've succeeded in two paths. There's the test area in the first screenshot.

Still rebuilding things though. Like getting the pickpocket code working again. Rebuilding script systems is a tough slog.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

:\ Some rebuilding required

Somehow my campaign folder got messed up, and the messed up copy was uploaded to my offsite backup before I'd realized. I had to resort to an old archive backup. This has meant spending time recreating campaign level things. It's both annoying and time consuming. While most of my stuff was module level, some key scripts, my journals and many creatures and items were campaign level assets.

Yes, the streetlights in two of these screenshots are not turned on when they should be. Silly bug where lights lose their tag on save/reload, and I'm using SLS, which uses tags. I've already rewritten the portion of SLS that handles that to just use nearest light object. Just don't have screenshots showing that.

I'd like to post some shots of people speaking in Cant, but it's hard to find any that are not spoilerish.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Walk around Crimmor for yourself

Since the last post generated a lot of excitement. Here is the full thing as it stands in it's incomplete and  little tested form.

edited I regularly back up to these locations. Lots of bug fixes, and many placeholder areas now finished/rebuilt. Same links as always


hak file

You can walk around most of the city by default, all the external areas are open by default and many internal areas are either open or a set of lockpicks away, or just open it in toolset. Some aren't complete, but most are. Most conversations are in place, even if they are relatively linear at this point and there's some placeholders. If you're interested in the plot, just talk to the guy you spawn in front of and you can be on your merry way. It will break on you a couple hours in, but should give you a taste for the gameplay.

Don't bother to report any bugs you find. This isn't a beta or anything like that, just a release of a pre-alpha so interested people can do what I said above, walk around and look around. Some quests already work, some don't, most areas have no sound (I plan on doing custom sound). Commoner npc's just stand there (their ai is disabled while it's being tested). If you open it in toolset there's some extra areas (those not named sh_ or shadow_).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back online

Since I figured out how to run the toolset when Steam can't connect. I've got screenshots. Sans distraction from the internet for several weeks, I moved a good chunk of stuff from "needs to be implemented" to "complete". The list of "complete" stuff is now longer than the list of "needs to be implemented", yay! Doesn't mean tested or anything.

Monday, August 8, 2011

So much for Steam offline mode and nwn2

My Internet is currently down, and will be for 10 days, thanks to the incompetence of ATT. Unfortunately Steam will not let me launch the toolset or game when Steam starts in offline mode, it thinks it needs to update (ie download more ads as I have no games with updates), so Steam does not launch and generates an error.

At least I can use the flamewind conversation editor to do some writing.

Edit: I discovered that if you launch nwn2toolsetlauncher.exe you can start the toolset without Steam trying to launch. Still can't start the game (including via the toolset), so there's no way to test your toolset work, but you can at least work on things.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The community's worst news in a while.

Hellfire is retiring from NWN2 projects. It was bound to happen eventually, but still.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Commoner AI Project

Crimmor needs to feel like a big city. And that means not just buildings, but commoners, lots of commoners, behaving in natural ways. Definitely an AI challenge. What I've been doing is combining Uncle FB's npc control scripts with ones used by Lugaid of the Red Stripes in Danaan Unvanquished, and added in my own code.

The goal is to provide an advanced AI for those "unimportant nameless npc" groups that fill out game worlds, while keeping things simple for builders to implement by minimizing the need for things like local variables. This AI is not for any npc that you want to behave in a specific way. The builder places an npc with this AI in their heartbeat, and they will eventually behave depending on their creature tag using substring detection to catch "classes" such as commoner, merchant, noble, bard etc.

Day/Night schedules happen automatically depending on waypoints placed in the area by builder. The schedules have randomization built in, with the randomization controlled via script variables. Common actions such as farming, shopping etc are predefined for builders, so commoners that spawn and move towards waypoints indicating these behaviors will automatically adopt them. For example a builder can place a "farming" waypoint and any commoners who are directed to that area will automatically play farming type animations.

As this is a project for the benefit of the community, feel free to take, fix, and improve, as long as you contribute back so others can benefit.

Social Thread.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hacking trap code

I've located the default code that handles traps (in go figure...). Now that I can access the trap code I can inject my own code into the trap process and package that up into the campaign. This allows me to do all kinds of fun things, like make non-conductive thieves tools to avoid electric damage and extra long tools so the rogue can work at a distance and avoid spike traps. This allows me to create a new category of item, thieves tools specialized for handling specific trap types. Since the tools still get used up it allows a one time "bypass" if the rogue has a set that matches the trap type. Tools that do not get used up versus traps are also now doable, so our rogues can now have a favorite set of tools instead of the disposables. This makes the thieves tool a much more significant item, both from a gameplay standpoint and from a role playing standpoint since you can now invest time in giving a set a story. ("You found the personal tool set of the Guildmaster!") Purposed tool sets are now also possible, such as a set that is +5, but only versus fire traps.

The other good thing about finding the trap code is that I can now use it in conjunction with the pickpocket system I have, so npcs will be able to trap their pockets to guard against thieves. Theoretically, the system could also be used to allow a pc to trap their own pockets for multiplayer or a PW, but I don't need that functionality for Crimmor.

I can't say I've done anything with the trap code yet. I've been working on another unrelated scripting project for Crimmor that's much more complicated but promises far greater results.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Powering up pickpocket

Ok, I'm old school. I think pickpocket instead of "sleight of hand". Anyway, sleight of hand in NWN2 is pretty much useless. The amount of times it can be used in most content is generally around zero, and it's not really any fun when you can.

I'm trying to fix that. Crimmor is getting a custom pickpocket loot system to handle pickpocketing the random commoners, nobles etc you see in the city. Instead of just giving a few npcs bits of loot marked as pp-able, I'm overwriting the default OnInventoryDisturbed code for npcs. What is happening is that it will look at the npc tag and if the subtag matches one of the categories I define (commoner,merchant etc), the player will pp something from a random loot table. As it currently stands you can pp a useless item, a random amount of gold, or a useful item from a loot table. Since things are categorized I alter the percent chance of each outcome for each group. Commoners have the greatest chance of the pp result being something useless, and the player will get the least gold off them, plus only 1 in 100 will have a useful item. Merchants have fewer useless items, more likelihood of gold (and more gold), and a 5% useful item chance. Nobles have the most gold and a 10% useful chance. Npcs are marked on successful pickpocket, so you can't just repeatedly pp the same npc. One success per npc.

I plan on implementing trapped pockets as well, to add some risk to things. There will be a random chance that the victim has somehow trapped/locked his pocket. A sensible precaution in a time when thieves ply their trades so openly! Standard trap picking chances will be applied automatically, with the trap type and strength being determined via percentages. I hope to expand things to cause the thief other problems, like auto-summoning the guard (after all, someones bag just exploded in flames). Presumably the use of trapped pockets would mean using traps designed to function away from their owner, so the owner will not be damaged by their own trap.

For useless items I just give the player a text string popup "You have stolen a copy of 'Mobile Vegetable Peddling' by Jan Jansen." these strings draw from over a hundred useless items. The player doesn't actually receive a junk item. Gold is also done randomly, with a chance for greater or lesser amounts. And useful items draw from over 400 low level useful items. You might get one of the non magical books that comes with the toolset, you might get a bit of crafting material, or a potion, minor magic item (typically less than 1000gp full value) or scroll up to level 3.

Like all my custom work, I plan on making this available to the community at release time.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wheel Ward

The only thing remaining in this external area is placing sounds and connecting any new areas. The monastery of Naw Bahar can be seen to the right in the first shot, with the Cowled Wizard  Enclave in the background. In the second we look from the Enclave back towards the monastery, Getting this detail level in a city takes lots of time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

More infilling

After a good period of putting in things via placeholder, working out quest states ans such, I needed to fill in things I'd been doing to allow Crimmor to take on more life of it's own, and match the visions I had for these areas and quests.

Screenshots of conversations aren't exactly interesting, but people always like area screens. Here in the first screenshot is one of the things I've been experimenting with, non-square areas. In the second we see Barmy Ben's Barreltorium, famous Crimmor-wide, one guess what Barmy Ben sells :-) . In the third is see some preliminary work I'm doing in one of the city Wards, dramatically lit at sunset. And finally a warehouse (every good rogue needs to sneak around in one, avoiding guards :-) ).

One of my Crimmor systems is a trigger that reduces hide in shadows skill while you are in it, placed where things are lit. So those lights in the warehouse a functional ingame purpose. I hope to get it expanded to allow a rogue to put out lights where relevant in order to preserve their ability to hide, but haven't done any work towards this yet.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dwarves: Inveterate Beekeepers

 I had these in as placeholder areas before, but now they are fleshed out.

The first screen is Naw Bahar monastery. Depending on your choices, it may be a main plot location, or it may not.

The second screen is Rinif Honey and Pollen. Bet you didn't know dwarves are inveterate beekeepers, did you? Well they are. Honey is the main ingredient in mead. Visit Rinif and learn all about apiary.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Toolset open again

I finally started opening up the toolset the other day after having it closed for the better part of two months. This work was done before I closed the toolset a while back. Right now I'm working on filling in the main plot. Since I had initially made Crimmor a smaller concept module I had to expand the plot.

Initially it was just a "find and get the item" plot, without explaining why you would want it. A fairly straightforward plot designed to drive something that was just a proof of the gameplay concepts. 
Developing the reasoning behind things and expanding the plot proved a challenge.

As an urban module, many of the traditional villains one might find in an adventure were out. No orc tribes, drow, dragons etc. No imposing temples of evil dominating the landscape either. With the player being an employee of the Shadow Thieves, I wanted to play up the intrigue that the Shadow Thieves are known for, but of course couldn't use a thieves guild as an enemy, since the Shadow Thieves already run things and you work for them.

Don't worry, I found some things. ;-)

Monday, March 21, 2011

RL the game

After 10 years of co-op, my game of RL is going back to single player. :-(

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Crimmor: Hidden Weaponry

I put a stop to writing, area and quest design until I got some lower level systems things done and troubleshot. It's still building the module, but doing the under the hood things that go on behind the scenes.

Hidden weapons: If you played Assassin's Creed you'll know what I mean. The player has instant access to a weapon that the npc's do not see, like the Assassin's Creed pc had the daggers that popped out.

In the first picture you can see the hidden weapon system in action. Our intrepid thief has picked up a hidden weapon, equipped and been caught pickpocketing. The weapon is visible to the player, but the npc simply does not "see" the weapon. Our player only takes the standard reputation penalty of -20, as if he was unarmed.

Then he picks up a spear, equips it, and tries again. Caught this time, the npc can "see" the weapon, and so thinks they are getting mugged. As a result, the player takes the -20 rep penalty for pickpocketing, and an extra -20 for using a weapon! What about dual wielding? The system catches that too. It doesn't identify two visible weapons as more threatening than one (I don't think it should), but if you have a hidden weapon in your main hand, and a visible one in the left, the npc sees the weapon in the left hand. So no tricking the system.

In addition to the custom hidden weaponry, some weapon types are always considered to be hidden, as they are designed to be hidden on the body for surprise use anyway, or unanticipated weapons. So darts and shuriken are "hidden", and unarmed and torches also qualify since they are unexpected.

The same weapon detection code is going to run when you talk to npc's. They will not be friendly if you're pointing a weapon they can see at them, in fact you will lose a few points of reputation with them, Crimmor is civilized!

The system relies on detecting substrings of weapon tags and item types, and comparing the substring with the predefined prefix for the tags for all hidden weaponry then comparing the weapon type for the weapon types that are "hideable by definition" like shuriken. So for me, the code detects if the tag begins "sh_hidden_", the remainder of the tag does not matter.

I had to get this code down and set, as substring detection forms the basis not only of weapon detection, but several other system things I'm putting in place such as clothing with hidden pockets.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crimmor: From Proof to Depth

As I developed Shadow Thief Crimmor I began to like it more and more as a setting. The main city area took on more and more flavor and developed a personality of it's own, a large city, gritty and urban. Climb up on the roofs and look around and it feels bigger than Neverwinter, city as far as you can see. 

One of the things I needed to do to get the proper rogue feel was get the city lights to turn on at night and off during the day, and give our rogue a penalty to hide if he was standing in the light. This meant scripting the lights.

I also wanted to put in disguises. Which meant customizing some npc perception scripts. If you're not disguised, they're hostile. Wear your disguise, and people will assume you're one of them.

The I needed to make pickpocketing interesting. So I added in Vendalus' PRR system. No more trying to pick the lock with the merchant standing right there, at least not without potential consequences.

Then I got ahold of the lockpicking minigame from RWS. Makes roguery so much more interesting. Then I added Uncle FB's npc control system to get my npc's keeping daily schedules.

With all the things needing to go in to make a proper rogue module from a gameplay perspective, and liking the city more and more, I decided to make Crimmor a more proper module, and have added the second goal of bringing the city of Crimmor alive.

Shadow Thief: Crimmor as a proof of concept version was complete and releasable several weeks ago. It had generically named cities and just used place and npc names from the prefabs I'd picked. 

Now it has custom npc perception scripting with npc's that will refuse to talk to you if they can see a weapon equipped, a customized weapon equipping system that adds a delay to equipping and switching weapons unless you use custom weaponry for advantage. If you're caught pickpocketing, there's a worse penalty if you have a weapon visible because the npc thinks you're mugging them. Hidden weaponry that you can have equipped but npc's will ignore because they can't see it (think of Altair's wrist daggers from Assassin's Creed). Customized scripted buying and selling from the stores. Custom "pseudo" feats and PRC's. And things like lead lined clothing with hidden pockets, so you can hide stuff on yourself and not have it magically detected.

Another word on pseudo feats and PRC's. These are gotten by getting special training doing other special things. They don't take feat/class slots but provide feat/classlike benefits and come with pre-requisites like normal feats/PRC's. 

The Hidden Theurge PRC lets you cast hostile spells on npc's during conversation without them realizing via skillcheck. The Master of Masks can craft a number of masks (obviously) giving her different bonuses allowing her to take on aspects of different classes, and can be immune to alignment detection. The Merchant Intimidation pseudo feat allows you to use Intimidate instead of Appraise for shop pricing.

This is turning into a very interesting module.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crimmor's filled to the lip with goblin bashers.

PC: "Crimmor's filled to the lip with goblin bashers. Heard any bone boxes rattlin'?"

NPC: "Some flesh tinker on about a Talisman. But really, any prime score turns up, the Cowled Wizards are going to make it their ken. And you know the flash tellers get what they want."
NPC: "Two guardswords at the Alandor Gate is new. Don't know the score yet, might even be culls. Give 'em an oration on account a more beneficial arrangement. Here be some yellow tin ta make amends."
NPC: "Been havin' a disputed point recently. A cove and his mot that I puzzled are Harpers came to Crimmor. Been givin' me tha skip when I drag 'em lookin' fer their dive. Puzzle their dive and lead 'em out. Keep it smooth, no need ta have a chat with 'em."

Ah the joys of thieves cant, Planar cant, and a good old thesaurus.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shadow Thief: Crimmor

Shadow Thief: Crimmor will provide typically 3 hours of gameplay focused on solo non-combat rogue play. The module is completable without any combat and face to face combat is purposely made extremely difficult to impossible. No xp is awarded for combat, only quest completion and exploration.

Use your skills as a Shadow Thief in the streets of the Amnian caravan capital of Crimmor. The module assumes you are a Shadow Thief, but would play fine if you wanted to pretend you were a Harper Agent infiltrating them. Players start at level 8 (may change). You can level up ingame. Rogue class is not forced but the game will likely be uncompletable if you are not at least primarily a rogue class as the module is all about skill usage.

The lockpicking GUI is courtesy Hellfire and KC of RWS. PRR controls chest ownership and pickpocketing.

As a proof of the concept of non-combat play and rogue play, Shadow Thief: Crimmor is almost entirely composed of prefabs and recycles some quests from my Path of Evil campaign. Because of this, it's already reached internal testing.

Friday, January 14, 2011


The "patch hak" is working wonderfully. So thanks to Lance Botelle and Shaughn for that. I'm mostly focused on doing the support for the release right now, answering questions and of course fixing those pesky post-release bugs. Eventually I might write up all the little easter eggs I stuck in the game.