Monday, November 30, 2009

Going Back to the Beginning.

Having mainly just conversations left to wrap Risen Hero up I had decided to do a play through, mostly just to go through the old companion conversations and maintain the same personalities. I was rather surprised that most of my problems to fix where random descriptions for placeables and creatures of no real importance and a candle that had a flame almost burning off to the side, only like 6 inches from the wick.

Early on in the game the player finds themselves in a kobold's den. You may fight your way through the tunnels and gain all sorts of experience and treasure or one could find a way to confront the chieftain alone and avoid the multiple fights along the obvious route. While doing this play through I realized that a stealth character is really difficult to play. Even the OC sneaking really didn't help against encounters. So I decided that I needed to develope this third route (stealth) through the kobold cave.

I approached this as a trigger based system that would turn on the encounters for hide failures and reward the player for actually hiding so the experience levels should work out fairly close. I need to thank both _knightmare_ and and Lugaid of the Red Stripes for their advice on the making the trigger reset after a certain amount of time.

The idea of the system is the player or companion that enters the trigger must be in stealth mode. The script them cycles through the companions, if they are in stealth mode and within 5 meters of the player they get a chance to help the player. If they succeed either a spot or listen check the DC of the encounter hide is decreased by 1. They character that enters the trigger must make a hide save to avoid the encounter and receive the xp reward.

This script will likely reappear in different areas of the game. The XP rewarded is based on the player's level and number of successful saves in a particular area stored on an ipoint placeable assigned by a local string. I have also included a bonus for the sent feat released with SOZ, it will make it so the player doesn't need to do a spot or listen check.

The script in action

This is the first set of armor the player will find. The second set isn't much better but it is medium armor.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Congrats to the Alphas Out There

It is motivating see others getting ready to move their projects forward and it gives me hope that sometime soon I will hopefully have this out for the community. Since seeing E.C.Patterson and jclef's alpha post I have found myself working a bit more in the toolset, still spending a lot of my free time working on the kitchen and dinning room remodel. The cabinets are on order then it really should just be trimming out the rooms and the flooring.

With the current area I have started to use the coloring tool more. In my past areas I have used it but generally just adding grey shades to define the terrain. I have been experimenting with using much more colors on top of the terrain textures and I am quite happy with the depth it adds. Making mud look wet, trails from run off and just general muck. I am closing in on the end and I am still discovering new ways to do things. Playing this campaign it will be noticeable as I gained more confidence and abilities in area design and scripting. I have gone back a little to touch up here and there so it would be overly blatant as well as improving or just trashing and making all new scripts.

And the area progresses:

A gate to nowhere good.

A bit of wholesome carnage

Part of the fortification.

Wet mud with the stagnant water in front of the wall

More of the same from the opposite angle.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Back to Some Area Design

I have taken a break from conversations and started working on one of the last two area. A mountain fortification filled with an growing army. The bulk of the soldiers are goblinoids and orcs lead by a Grey Dwarf with the help of minotaurs and ogres to help keep the goblins and such in line.

A bunch of the conversations I still need to complete will be your companions advice on how to infiltrate this base so I figured having the area mostly completed would help with those conversations. There will be three ways through the fort and to reach the commander of the army.

The first and perhaps most difficult will be the stealth approach and will include more problem solving stuff to create diversions and remain unseen. Maybe having you necromancer companion raise some of the dead from the the burning piles outside the fort will be one such an option to hop the first wall unseen but then who knows.

The second will be for those of you who just can't get enough of beating things over the head. While you will not be able to assault the fort you will be able to challenge the champions and fight one on one battles up through the various groups of the army. So if you beat the worg riding goblin champion you get to fight the orc champion until you are fighting in the audience of the army's leader and he brings out some half-breed beast of a creature for you to fight.

The final approach will be talking: diplomacy, bluff, intimidation and probably a few other things as well and being able to asking your companions to jump in and help out. A half-fiend bard would probably excel in a situation like that.

For the fort I have been using Barry the Hatchet Watchtowers . A couple of small to medium sized forests were definitely clear cut in the creation but sacrifices must be made. The walk up to the fort I wanted to show the barbaric nature of it's inhabitants and their lack of value for human life. On the NWN forums Chaos Wielder pointed me in the right direction by using visual effect models and I was able to create rotting corpses standing in elevated cages and skeletons on pikes as well as a dead horse. Using the hanging copses and funeral fires included in the MotB and SOZ blueprints I was able to create a rather ghastly entrance.

So here they are the screen shots. The area design is still in it's early stages. Only three textures have been placed with little blending. Also in some of the screen shots the elevated cages are all funky. For some reason when I set the portcullis (what I used for the walls) to static they revert back to their default scale and when I then uncheck the static box they return to me assigned scale.

Elevated corpse cage, uses a zombie VF, no ambient idle animation and no walkmesh issues

Corpse Cage, impaled skeleton and hanging tree all in one screen shot.

The hanging tree. Hag spawns make nice discolored and bloated bodies

The main entrance with corpses and fire pits placed

Final gate to the inner walls and the fort's main hall

Main entrance, no corpses placed, slightly out of order but oh well.

Raven picking any last bit of flesh from the skull

A barricade by the main entrance and a dead horse

Another view of the cage. Zombie's head sticks out of cage so it's shoulders will be resting against the bars.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Just about wrapped up another area. Finished placing the last of the lights and sounds then the walk-mesh cutters. The monastery for the most part has been completed. Still have a dozen or so placeables that need to have descriptions written up. All the conversations excluding the companions are in their initially phase and need a bunch of grammar work and whatnot. There is just a bit of scripting left but nothing too complicated. This single area has taken longer then any other area that I have created, so either I'm slowing down or this area just has more to it then others. If for no other reason I would prefer to choose the second because it makes me feel better but this is also the first area that is actually habitable and has a decent group of NPC living in it. As I wrap up this area I have started working on the final large area, the bad guy fort. It will be a mountain valley fortification based on descriptions of 9th century Saxon Burghs from Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series (I'm patiently waiting till October when the next book in the series is to be released.) The fort will have three tall walls made of made of earth and reinforced with logs. A hall will be placed at the center and the player will need to find some way to get to it without having the entire army descending upon them.

I have also been spending some time working on the dwarven clerc that joins the party. I mentioned his twin axes in a previous post and over the past few days I have been scripting them. As they are blessed by his god so only the dwarf may wield them and he most be using both of them to gain the bonuses. They initially will appear to be normal axes but will grant him two weapon feats, battle axe proficiency feats as well on bonus divine damage and enchantment bonuses. There are seven levels, most of which will never be reached but I figured to go for it and do it up right just in case. Every 5 levels the bonuses improve from lvl1-lvl5 it is a +1 weapon and does 1 bonus point of divine damage and grants the two weapon fighting feat. All of this is currently untested so there is always the posiblity it will do nothing....

The hostility issue from the previous post has been fixed, at some point while updating stuff to patch 1.23 I stuck a repute.FAC with only the standard factions into my HAK. Now that it is removed everything is working again, much to my relief. I have included some screen shots. The top four are from the monastery then the bottom 4 are from a hidden crypt under the monastery.

Dinning/sitting area

Main Entrance

These two are from the quarters of the sorcerer Marick Tannesen, who normally resides in the city of Neverwinter. While he won't join you he offers guidance and will sell you items from his extensive collection.

The dead rest uneasy and will quickly swallow up any intruders.

Red gloomy fog. We all know nothing good can call a place like this home, but here's hoping there is some decent loot.

QK placeable gargoyles and Hellcow's cobwebs

Thursday, July 30, 2009

They're All Attacking Me

It has been about two weeks now since I played Rogue and battled an emu so I feel safe saying that the kick has come to an end. Here's hoping I don't stumble upon another vintage game.

On the remodel front I have discovered that I am actually a decent electrician. The wiring is now complete and everything is working like its suppose to. Now I just have to wait for an extra hot and muggy day then I can start insulating the walls.

I have updated to 1.23, was looking forward to some of the script additions especially set base ability. With the update I have had some frustrating behavior from my NPC with custom factions. All module factions behave as if they are hostile regardless of their settings. This is a major problem for me and I assume many others. It is almost as if the game is no longer checking the module factions but from what I could find their is no place for campaign factions nor could I find the a faction 2da to add my customs to. I have a post on the bioware boards as does loudent2 but no no solutions or explanations have been offered so far. I haven't had a lot of time to really go and look into it either.

The past week I have had a bit of dialog explosion when I'm not worried about neutral NPC attacking me in a fit of rage. Finished a number of conversations for some NPC that the PC will interact with, just need to do a little more scripting and check that all the conditions are right.

On area design I have gone and hidden Ree's Homage to Grinning Fool in the game. The player will need to have some decent spot skill to discover it and receive a little reward. So that is it now, no new screen shots unless people want to see crazed NPCs attacking....

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Very little to report on Risen Hero. My nighttime toolset time has been dwindling down. Just too tired after working on the remodel all day to do anything really productive at night. I ended up having to remove all three exterior walls on the dining room,one at a time of course. Now the framing is mostly done and the new windows are in. The past few days I spent wiring the kitchen and dining room and waiting for the plumber, insulation and sheet rock are next.

When I am working on Risen Hero I have been making blueprint. Easier then conversations and area design and they are something that you can usually complete in one sitting. Created all the NPC for the final battle and I been making a bunch of items. One of which is the Lyre of Orpheus

On another note I have found yet another way to waste my time. I have downloaded a classic game that as a kid I played way too much. ROGUE. What other game can you battle Emus as well as dragons. Other then running out of rations and starving to death or being killed by griffins and the Letter U (Ur-Vile), it is it is a great game. Random dungeons, dangerous monsters A-Z (excluding E, how dangerous can a emu be?), a yellow face for an avatar and it even makes a beep when you step on a trap. Well that is it for now, back to building and exploring the Dungeon of Doom.

Monday, June 15, 2009

So I lied.... And here is what I'm working on.

The remodel is going along, and I am glad to report that I am still finding time to work in the toolset at night. I forgot I wouldn't be able to use nail guns and power saws after the kids bed time so at night I have been sitting down with Risen Hero and a beer. I have been listening to a lot of Boiled in Lead while at my computer, putting their album The Gypsy on a random loop and just typing away at conversations.

While avoiding any spoilers I figured I would give a run down of the available companions. In the last post I mentioned how each companion has something unique that they bring to the party and can help shape the story. The player will be limited to a certain number that will change depending on the current task. But I figure there will be three main task type. The numbers below are approximates and all changes will focus on maintaining balance.

Exploration: 4 companions (majority of game play)

Stealth: 2 companions

Large Battle: 6+

As the game development progresses the companions continue to evolve. Back in one of the first post I hinted towards betrayal and some companions may betray the player and the party. This will happen but which companions betray the player will remain a mystery. I have spent a lot of time writing and scripting the cutscenes so hopefully even if the player sees it coming it will still be interesting or it maybe a complete surprise. I have tried to write all the companion conversations like they are going to be with the player for the duration.

For the companions I have been trying to take advantage of NPC heads from the OC and 2 expansions. Right now 5 of the eight companions have unique heads and I have been watching the vault for a male half-orc, female gnome and a female tielfing/half-fiend.

The first companion encounter will be temporarily forced on the player. This is done for balancing and at the time I was learning the toolset and it was easier with interjections and completing that first quest without having to figure with or without the companion. Once the quest is done the player can boot him if they want. He is a CG human hunter. It is a custom class I created for him, a hybrid fighter/ranger. The idea is he is a skilled woodsman who is both proficient with weapons and tracking and has the skill progression of a ranger but has no divine connection, spells or animal companions. His feat progression is similar to the fighter for lvl2, lvl4 and lvl6 he is given specific feats to improve his survival and fighting abilities then he continues to get a bonus feat every other level like a fighter.

The rogue of the party will be a NG gnome. She will also be able to level as an illusionist and with enough influence as an arcane trickster. She follows the player and often interject with little rambles and off topic comments during conversations. I have tried to keep her from being a foolish and ridiculous character while still using her to add some energy and maybe some laughs.

A LN female elven ranger joins the party as a guide. She has a task of helping the player reach a point and will often discourage the player from taking side quest that do not move towards that point. She will be impressed with any one who has skills equal to her or better but has little tolerance for any type of criticism. I have created a lot of banter between her and the hunter. He has a strong dislike for elves after numerous bad encounters with elven druids while on hunting excursions. These two were the reason that I created the inter party relationship system. So you as the player can either encourage their bickering and have them develop a mutual hatred of each other or help them see through their differences.

During the start of the game the player is in the wake of a goblinoid army that has destroyed most everything in their path. A group of refugees can be found and a LE human fighter will join the party. If the player agrees with his ideals he will also level as a black guard. He will encourage the player to give into their self serving desires. He believes in a strict pecking order were the strong and powerful rule with an iron fist and all those below them serve and those that can offer nothing are without worth.

A CN half fiend will also join the party. She is a bard and claims to follow the changing winds that blow with no reason or purpose, randomly effecting all they encounter for good or ill.

Schemes are twisted and ideas are lost when the winds blow and when they truly howl through the night the planes themselves might be up heaved and torn asunder.

She seeks adventure and thrives on the unknown and chaos and will quickly become bored and voice her displeasure when the player chooses to follow the rules and play it safe. She gains racial abilities every other level. MoTB had it easy with their half-celestial since she was already lvl20 when she joined and they didn't have to worry about having her be overly powerful with her summon and resurrect abilities at lower levels. The half-fiend won't be able to do it right away but eventually she will gain the summon Hezrou spell-like ability.

For a while avoided creating a half-orc companion in order to prevent from creating an overdone cliché. He is CE and full of hatred, only knowing prosecution and bigotry, an outcast from both of his parent's races. He sees fear as respect and will assert himself in most every situation in a show of physical dominance. He is a barbarian and thug (Kaedrin's PrC Pack), using his rage and dirty fighting tactics to win at all cost. He will not step down from a battle no matter the odds and will often drag the player into battle. A player who relies on conversation skills will most likely not get along with this character. He also has some special ability feats that are modified taunts and are gained either by being in the party at certain points or through influence.

The party's healer will be a dwarven cleric. He will duel wield magical battle axes blessed by his god. These axes will have an on equipped script and when they are both equipped he will gain two weapon bonuses that increase with his level. His conversations have not been started but he is LG and he can level as a divine champion or paladin.This character is taken from the character I used to play through Baulder's gate I and II.

The final companion is a necromancer. Currently there are no plans for additional classes but that could change. He will have several unique spells that he will gain and if the player has enough influence they will also be able to use the spells. The unfortunate thing I have discovered is that wizard spells can not require certain feats to learn, so once the player reaches the required level they will be able to add these spells to their spell book. I have required a certain apprentice feat to cast the spell so if the player doesn't have the feat the spell will fail when cast. He is still in development so his personality is still growing and changing.

I have found that when creating these companions I had an idea for each one but as their conversations were put together and the interjections added in plot and side quest conversations there was an evolution and deepening of their character. My hope is that each character is interesting and adds something to the story even if their alignment and ideals don't match that of the player.

This is a rather long post but it still could use a few screen shots. These are older taken from my last play through.

And the adventure begins...

A barren land, all the vegetation is dead or dying and it is mostly devoid of life.

A dark ritual to Bane

The party walked in at the wrong time. These priest don't seem too understanding either.

Just another friendly dwarf to meet along the way....

A ruined fortress

These are just a set of dark tunnels. I included it for the companion pictures

I know it's a fire newt, just pretend it's a really big kobold.

A flooded cave with lots of vegetation and brown skunky water

This is the cave tileset using the SOZ walls and ceiling. The floor is either the illefarn or sunken ruins, can't remember right now . For the walls I also used the dead-end placeable and pillars for the corners. The hope is it looks like an old passage crumbling away after centeries of neglect.

I may of posted her before but here is one of my ghost

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Conversations, Companions and the Summer

After a quiet month I figured it was about time for an update post. I have spent a bunch of time writing conversations, which is admittedly my weakest point. Over the past few weeks I have written a little shy of 10,000 words but it seems to be a faction of what I need. I have been working on a large plot area with a number of NPC as well as companion dialect specific to this area. This part has turned into a bit of a chore unfortunately but I continue to plug away, if nothing else I at least open the toolset most days and read through the most current conversation correcting grammar and adding lines here and there.

In between working the conversations I have been working on the companions as well. They have turned into a bit of a drug for me. I really enjoy creating them and their personalities. For this campaign I have a total of 8 companions all of which are optional, excluding a small 2 level cave area were one companion is forced. They are found throughout the game and only 2 of them will approach every player. One of my early post talked about companions and using them as a tool to tell the story. Each companion has a in depth back story and will offer something unique to the party. That something varies between the companions, some will have access to special abilities, open different parts of the game or directly effect the plot. Most of the companions will need to either be in the party at specific times or have certain levels of influence with the player to unlock these bonuses.

My addiction to companions has made my conversations that much more difficult. They will often jump into conversation offering their opinion to either the player or the NPC that is being talked to. Many of these interjections are random. In some instances a specific companion will talk but in most one of the companions will randomly be chosen to speak. Now there are eight companions but some will have different responses based on their influence with the player or if their unique ability/or whatever has been unlocked. So eight quickly multiplies especially when companions will also have banter with each other with multiple lines based on inter-party relationships. So it quickly becomes a spiderweb of conversation lines.

On a different note when I should have been writing conversations I was working on a spell that a necromancer companion will have. The end result of the spell is a powerful zombie in advanced rot. Looking through the models available I didn't want to use the zombie appearance as it just seemed too mundane. I have already used the ghast for several creatures so I was left with little other choices. I have been looking at the drowned since I got SoZ and trying to figure out what I could do with it. For most of my custom monsters I have modified visual effects or created glow/tint maps but the lack of feet cause me to look at the diffuse map. With a little copy and paste I was able to take his arm texture and add it to his missing legs and feet. Below is a screen shot of that creation.

I have been considering giving him a visual effect of a green cloud him as he is off gassing. A brownish green cloud just a little bigger then the cloud with the mummy dust effect.

This will likely be my last post for the next several months, but since I am on a once every month or so schedule it may not make much difference. I will be breaking out my old tool belt and doing a remodel on my kitchen and dinning room (the dinning room also happens to hold the computer). So instead of working on Risen Hero I will be banging nails for the first half of summer.

So there it is, my update. And to anyone reading this have a good summer.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

WHAT?! Why is this broken now?

Play testing. . .

With the completion of 3 out of 4 modules I had begun play testing. Had to start from the beginning again to check everything with SOZ. I Added and changed some things and wanted to make sure everything was still working right.

Most everything seemed to be going how it should until it came to leveling up my companions. I sat their confused when I discovered that I could not use their custom packages and they were all set as either a bard or a monk. After two days of changing, resetting and double checking I came across an post in the archives on Keadrin's site. Apparently the game only reads up to line 255 and mine started at 300, which I assumed would work since Keadrin's start his packages at line 407. So a quick 2da change, update several blueprints and scripts and I was back on track.

I continued on till the screen turned black the died when entering a new area. Originally it was a area transition to a speak trigger but had already been upgraded to an on client enter. I spent way too time picking apart the script then the conversation, assuming that it had to be the problem. I was stuck on the conversation because there were two ways into the area the first triggered the conversation and crashed the second had no conversation and worked fine. It was finally this morning I discovered that the conversation had nothing to do with the crash it was a bad custom visual effect. At a certain distance to the effect the game crashed it just happened that the first entrance was close enough to crash while the second was not.

Using Lance's patch HAK I was able to export the corrected area as a erf then with NWN2Packer I took the area information from the erf and stuck it into the patch HAK and the area worked perfectly with no crashes! When the time comes to release this I will definitely be including the patch hak.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Just a Bit of Blood and Gore

I have been working on one of my interior areas and have started creating a makeshift infirmary for a handful of refugees. They are severely to mortally injured and are being cared for in their last few hours of life. Thanks to Camb's Placed FX Factory the floor is covered in the blood of the injured and dead. When I went to place the NPC I was very disappointed. They looked healthy, happy and no where near dying. So. . .

My initial attempt was to create some type of visual effect to make the NPC bloddy. After spending way too much time I have discovered while I can change or combined effects, creating them is something entirely different. So cutting my loses and ditching what I had been working on I took another approach. The next thing to try would be making MDB. I would have less options then with the visual effect but I felt confident that I could pull this one off. I took the player heads #1 for the male and female model and the cloth armor #2 for both sexes. I made copies of the MDBs and their associated diffuse textures to modify. Using MoTB blood placeable DDS I was able to create a horrific set of blood splattered MDBs. Placing the blood took several attempts, the biggest issue, especially with the faces, was to avoid too much blood near or along the center line because it created a perfectly symmetrical blood splatter that just looked wrong.

During play testing I was happy with the look. By using the player heads I was able to give each NPC a different hair so I didn't have a massacred group of twins and triplets. For the hair I used a base of dark red to create the look that it was matted down with blood. I am very happy with the proneb animation. The breathing while I assume was done for a sleeping looks to be agonal breathing as the NPC lays there covered in blood. For sound sets I could not use the usual choices so I created a male and female set. Clicking on one and their greeting is "Don't have much time left. . ." and the other is "I've life in me yet. . .I think." The rest of the sounds are all pain grunts and groans.

Here are several of the screen shots.

Another thing that I did unintentionally was that since I copied a player MDB the bloodied heads are available at character creation. Initially I was going to look into changing them but who am I to say you can't play with a beat up and bloodied hero if you want to.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The making of a sword

I am working on one of the three final areas that I need to complete. Below I have a blacksmith who will be an important NPC to the story. What started out as a simple walkpath turned into a something a bit more. I wanted to show the smith creating a weapon and have him actually moving the weapon through the process where the player could see the NPC moving from step to step with the appropriate animation with sounds happened at each step. The final part of the process was adding the sword. I had three placeable swords, one for the fire being heated, one for the anvil and the final being cooled in water. I also had two swords in the blacksmiths inventory, one with a heated blade and the other cooled. The blacksmith equips the appropriate blade as he walks between the waypoints then a the sword placeable appears and disappears at each waypoint. So between the five swords only one is visible at a time.

For the placeable swords I was hoping for a function similar SetScriptHidden() for placeables but that doesn't exist. So after several different tries I set local locations on the area and used those to create the swords on and then would destroy them. First I was using an on client enter to set the local location but then I was concerned that walk paths may run even when the area was not loaded like heartbeats so at the start of the walkpoint script I identified the three swords objects, if the object was valid I had the script assign the location to the area as alocal location.

Here is the start with the blade heating in the fire
While the blade is heating the smith shovels more coal to feed the fire

The heated blade is removed from the heat and carried to the anvil

Time for some hammering. The smith equips a light hammer for this.

The sword is removed from the anvil and the still hot blade is move to the water basin

The sword appears in the water basin in the upper corner with some nice hissing sounds

The cooled blade is carried back to start over again.