Monday, December 22, 2008
Arabel today is a booming, prosperous center of growth. Both newcomers and young Cormyreans are settling in the lands all around it, making Arabel, as the only practical place where they can hire services, ever richer and busier. It's a city of opportunity that is still lacking many of the sophistications of Suzail but not consumers' appetites for them.
Often referred to as the Caravan City or Overland City of Cormyr, Arabel is dominated by land transport. It is a city of trading costers, warehouses, caravan companies, wagon makers, horse- and bullock-traders and merchant investors. All these are ably governed by ex-adventuress Myrmeen Lhal, the king's lord of Arabel
soon to be available on the vault
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Heh. So after not touching the toolset much in the past few months, I've slowly been getting the bug back, and spent a fair bit of time playing around over the weekend, mainly looking at new SoZ functions and content. That said, I still think Dark Avenger will have to be on hold, as it got too unwieldy, and the time out from it would mean even longer before any kind of resolution came along. I think I need to focus on more managable (more likely to actually finish) projects if I'm going to get back into building. As for what to do, I'm not sure at the moment.
First thing I might try is building a city prefab, as it's an exterior type i've not built before, and i want to test out the limits to which baking can be pushed. Then will see how things take me. Still got SoZ and Fallout 3 to finish - almost at the end of SoZ, and whilst bits have turned into a grind recently, it's still been fun overall. I like the new ambient effects they use like birds and snakes - easy way to get new content into the background of the game. Been nice to see SoZ has stirred up more activity on the forums, even if it is people arguing about the likes/dislikes of the new expansion
Monday, November 24, 2008
It's different, quite different to others in the series, but what I reall yappreciate is how they've focussed on the differences and their execution, and perhaps most importantly on what makes something a game, and pulled it off really well. So many elements of the D&D game mechanic that were only touched on lightly elsewhere have been brough to the fore, with skill checks all over the place - really helping to define the different roles classes have in a party even further (the ranger being an obvious case in point). It does seem like each skill/stat in the system has been looked at and some thought gone into how to build a game around these. The way towns are handled, for example, was a shock at first, but fits well into the game focussed (and without wanting to sound harsh, suprisingly polished compared to some earlier releases)feel.
I quite like the wandering monster/random encounter mechanic - reminds me of playing all those final fantasy games, and I'm half expecting to find a chocobo at some point - although I can see that if I didn't have my ranger I'd be forced into a lot more of these which could get annoying - but not so far (wouyld be nice to have a few more terrains other than all of them being open walkmesh, but still...). Each encounter is prefaced with options to parley, using skills even further to shift the encounter in your favour. Got to admit I'm impressed with the worldmap.
But one thing that I'm actually really enjoying at the moment, is that I have very little cash. Most of it is going on healing kits due to the new bleeding/death mechanic, which also adds a neat dimension to things. My only bugbear here is that potions should be usable on the dying, but I realise this could be tricky to script... the number of times my cleric has been the first to fall, and everyone else if brimming with potions but can't help him... But this is just requiring a shift in how I play. Got to say, even the hamstrung AI is working well, and the battles have been a nice challenge so far. Full party creation was well done. Working towards the new prestige classes, so can't comment on them yet, but I like the swashbuckler style for my main PC.
Areas seem very nicely done at the moment, and lighting settings have been given a bit more attention. Interior design also seems a step up from some parts of OC and MotB - more creative placeable use that you see in some modules. In the toolset there's some nice new placeables and buildings to use. Plus ambient birdies!
So amongst all the glitz, the party interaction is lacking. But I'm a firm believer that player-created PCs can develop a personality through play and dialogue choices, and the party conversation system (and different options each provide based on skill/stat checks) is going a long way to help with this. Some banter would be nice with the cohorts - but after what Mel has done with the Bishop Romance, this should be quite moddable, and I reckon that could be a fun comunity project for the future.
So whilst I love the roleplaying aspects of PS:T, and the story-driven parts such as MotB, I'm also enjoying the tightly constructed adventure game of SoZ so far. Is it for everyone? Probably not. Am I going to miss some developed characters? - you bet. But I think it can hold it's head alongside the other games in the franchise, and bring something new and refreshing to it. I think 'different' is something that was needed.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Wanted to thank all the support I got for DA tho. Was great to read and meant a lot. I will see about bringing it all together if I can.
Read a report that computer game sales are going up in the "current economic climate" (seems to be the buzzphrase at the moment). Really, this should be something Atari use to push NWN2....FREE GAMES!! There's been talk that there isn't enough official word to promote the vault and all it's offerings and I agree (although I can understand why a company might want to distance itself from some content). If they'll be officially adding support for PWs via GrinningFools automatic downloader (which sounds like a great tool), would be nice to see some links - something in the NWN2Launcher that promoted all the free modules and gameplay waiting out there for people.
Finished SoT2, which was very impressive body of work. Now on to FoaC, then Trial and Terror. But probably first, got a wasteland still to explore...
Monday, November 03, 2008
So, I'm officially downgrading from 'Modder' to 'Dabbler'. The game and community still hold a keen interest for me - I had fun doing the BouncyRock Halloween project, and will happily take part in more things like that.
What does this mean for DarkAvenger... well, it's sleeping. The prospect of another 3 chapters worth of content was getting too daunting, and I'd do it a disservice by cramming the story into a smaller effort. It was hard to admit I needed to put it on hold, but I've felt better now I've admitted to myself that I'm not going to be modding as much as before, as it feels the pressure I put myself under is gone.
As I said, I'm not retiring from the NWN2 community - there's too much good stuff due out soon that I want to play. And I want to keep my eye in as a builder - hence helping out Indira taking over Hugie's reins on The Third Sign project, and I'd be happy to help with playtesting, some dialogue/companion work or casting an eye over things for people as/when. I've also got some ideas for a smaller scale project I might dabble on in the toolset, but not commit to anything yet (and you know how it goes -anything small scale can easily suffer from scope creep.... I mean the first draft of DarkAvenger way back when didn't have much more than 20 areas....).
So I'm off to relax, play some Fallout3, finish Subtlety of Thay2, work through the list of modules I've been meaning to get to... then see when the toolset beckons again.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
...just not being very productive. Slowly working on the HalloWyreen entry for the BouncyRock Collective (see screenie), but otherwise not been on the toolset much at all with other things going on. But made a point to start Subtlety of Thay 2, which is looking pretty sweet so far.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Still on a bit of a downer with NWN2 at the moment (not as enthused by it - either playing or building) so not much toolset time the past week, but did make some good progress on the Halloween project. I've finished the cellar part, and am working on an investigation in the upper reaches of the house - which is hopefully good practice for the quests i'll be working on for Dark Avenegr 3. Jclef has put together my exterior building which looks pretty cool. It'll be interesting to see the ideas other have - and how many themes recur across them.
Something that cropped up at the end of the AME chat was a discussion about the future of NWN2, which I couldn't hang around for much of. But I was interested that the overwhelming consensus was that NWN2 would die with the advent of Dragon Age - especially with some big names in the community agreeing with this. There's still an adventure pack, and expansion and many big-time modules from forum/blog celebs to come for NWN2, so I thought there's life in the old dog yet, but maybe things are slowing down? WHat do you guys think? We're quite insular and insulated in the blogging community, but do you sense thigns quietening and the end in sight with Dragon Age?
Friday, September 05, 2008
As you might have guessed, I'm playing more than building at the moment. The toolset doesn't always leave much time for playing, and I'm enjoying the break. Still working on what is now dubbed my HalloWyreen area for the BouncyRock Globetrotter All-Stars, but I'll keep most of that under wraps for now...
.. other than to say "Hail to the King, baby"
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Made a start on my entry for the BouncyRock Halloween Experience (see previous post) before I started taking the old PC apart - going to be one house with two themes 'Trick' and 'Treat'. I couldn't keep my love of the Army of Darkness under wraps, so the Treat section is a homage to that - the other slightly more serious in tone. Should be fun!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
The more astute among you will notice the area hasn't change dmuch from the post a few below. Mainly i've been toying with the lighting settings and finishing up texturing on the swamp. Lighting has such a dramatic change on an area (and can cover a multitude of texturing sins). In many ways, I think there should be a DayNightStage section on the vault for people to share their work and findings - areas are given a new lease of life by merely straying from the standard settings - but finding the right settings for lighting one stage of the cycle e.g. daylight is hard enough, let alone sunrise, moonrise etc... I enjoyed playing with them in DA2 for the abandoned gnomish village and the interior smuggler's cave to get the darker, bleaker feel - two areas that look and fell very different under normal lighting! I'd bet this goes for the Misery Stone guys too.
Anyway, the village is bordering a desolate swamp and beset by troubles, so I decided against the sunny disposition of the earlier shots and went for more doom and gloom. Which is a bit of depressing theme I seem to be in.... would be nice to write characters that aren;t quite so broken... But then I have always felt you have to be broken to be an adventurer - stomping into sentient creatures homes and slaughtering them...
So speaking of broken characters, the final companion Ruevena is now finalised - after working through many iterations using Elysius' Battle of the Builds, which handily lets you restart the levelling process if somethign goes awry, and gives you the epithet feats for all PrCs. Ruevena will be Ranger 1 / Sorceror 6 / Eldritch Knight 1 / Shadow Thief of Amn 1 - which trust me fits with her backstory quite well. I also like to give enough leeway in the companion's classes that the player can then adapt them to fit into their party in several ways by selecting their level up package. What I'd love to do is give her a themed spelcasting list as a sorceror, which is a fun way of adding personality to them, and explaining what fuels a sorceror's power, but i'll have to stick with defining her selection for now.
Vowing not to touch the toolset until I've done a bit more planning now - I have 4 areas i've been building, and not filled them with any activity yet, so need to get back to that
NOTE: Any players out in Australia... check out the latest copy of Hyper (issue 179) - I was contacted by a journalist who's written a piece on NWN2 modules for that issue, and asked for some DA screenies. Good to see the community being highlighted!
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
quite proud of how retro/tacky I got that to look!
Been meaning to share this on the vault for a while - the foraging system I use in Dark Avenger. It's not what you'd call an amazing feat of scripting, but there ground work is there with 29 different plants/molds/fungi placeables that can be gathered and harvested for their respective produce, and it's really simple to add more. Figure it'd be useful to someone, as an easy add-in or a starting point for their own system. Click on the image to head to the Vault.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
- I've got engaged! Full proposal, down on one knee etc. She cried. We picked out a ring together. I saw the price tag. I cried. Beautiful....
- I'm the next one up for the Podcast treatment! Be sure to check out episode 65 this Friday! Thanks to Liso and the guys for the opportunity
Well, I'm hoping they were diplomatic successes - at least no intentional intimidation involved, but maybe a smattering of bluff.....
...Hmm maybe I could have worked all the 3rd ed skills into my proposal... Sleight of Hand to slip the ring on unnnoticed, appraise to buy the ring cheaply, craft alchemy to slip something in her drink whilst she's not looking.....
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Shrine to Shaundakaul
Gates of Tristor
Temple of Ilmater
Things always look better in the toolset - that's my excuse anyway...
Sunset by the Hanging Tree
Sunset over the marsh
Moonlight on the windmill
Monday, July 14, 2008
Just got back from my planar jaunt with my sanity in tatters... the results are on the vault
The Elemental Plane of Rats - the mother of all 'Rats in the Cellar' quests!
So anyways, I follow the old man through the portal and find myself in an inn. A kindly looking old woman greets me with a smile. Obviously, I needed a drink and some information, but sadly, she informed me that she wasn't able to think about any of that whislt she had this problem in her cellar. Turns out there was a rat problem - big rats, that needed the heroic type to sort out. Eating all her grain, drinking her mead, running a protection racket, polluting the river and turning babies into oil to power their gas-guzzling motorised carriages. I'd never heard of the like! Couldn't resist the moist glistening in her rheumy eyes as she begged for my help, so off I trundled down the stairs....
it was one of those nagging things in the back of my head - an idea I just had to put to rest. I'd even come up with a jingle/theme tune for crissakes... So I figured I'd spend a weekend on it, get it out of my system, and move on. Maybe someone can enjoy a moments distraction with it.
But hey, it offers scalable gameplay to any level, infinite gameplay time... Give the peoples what they want I say! What more can you ask for?!
...apart from asking for the singing to stop....
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Quick poll to the left - the first half of Chapter 3 will be a standalone sidequest (much like the Raven's Lake area in CHapter 2) and be based on a pen-and-paper module. So I was wondering if there's any interest in converting it as a standalone SP/MP module in parallel. If people aren't sick of me already of course :p
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The second half of the screenshots are form an area I needed to make myself. I've kinda got to the stage I often find myself in with area building - all the terrain sculpted and key placables fitted... but now I just stare at the texture pallette and try to work out what to do next. It's this first leap into texturing I find the hardest bit.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Well, thanks for the support in the last post. Very much appreciated. I was doing a quick email check before I left the hotel and spotted on the Bioware forums that the AME Golden Dragon winners for NWN2 had been announced. Links to the right, and in the other blogs that have posted already. I'm the very proud recipient of the Best Roleplaying Module. Winning, especially in this category, means a lot. Roleplaying is what I enjoy, and what I wanted to achieve. Plus my two favorite modes were up against me! - Subtlety of Thay and H&C. When I started DA, I did wonder if people would 'get it', and I'm glad so many did. So thanks again, to players, community and the AME. Cue me crying like Gwynneth Paltrow....
If you havent already, check out the AME forums and the NWN Podcast ceremony, completely trouser free!
- Cloverfield - not great to watch in turbulence due to camcorder filming (bleurgh!) but OK film. Aliens level Manhattan overnight
- No Country for Old Men - love Coen brothers movies, and loved this. Lived up to the press. Fun with an Air-Gun
- There will be Blood - I'm fascinated in history by the period of time, 19th through to very early 20th century American - how the growing frontier was explored and settled. Grew from my love of westerns when i was young. I found this film fascinating if slightly uncomfortable viewing. Daniel Day-Lewis shows what acting is about. Worth checking out. Oil man's slippery downfall
- Persopolis - I'm a big fan of animation - especially Japanese anime, and comics/graphic novels. I'd heard good things about this film based on an autobiographical graphic novel about a young girl growing up in Iran, moving to the west, then returning. Enjoyed it a lot. Ran from Iran, returned
Also saw Semi-Pro and AvP2 but stopped half way through. Pity as I'm usually up for some Alien vs predator cheesy action, but wasn't taken with it. Watched some TV comedy - mainly Family Guy, old Red Dwarf. Also saw some more of Flight of the Conchords, which is great stuff. Didn't get much of a chance to read some of the Salvatore books I took with me - but did find a copy of a graphic novel version of the early Drizzt stuff, which I picked up.
OK, enough of the self-indulgent blog stuff. OK, one more quick thing - I got 4th edition D&D books - waiting for me when I got home. Really not sure what to make of it yet. I always hated the old school D&Ders who refused to even look at later editions just because it represented change. But I find myself falling into that a little with 4e. Some changes I think make sense, but others leaving me a little cold. For a new system it seems interesting. But I don't think they've achieved the goal of making D&D more simple. More on that some other time.
Basically, there's nothing to report with DA3. Coupla early stage screenies from the opening area. Going to be doing exterior work for the next few weeks I think as I lay some of the ground work.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Flying out to San Diego for a weeklong conference on Saturday (Arnie Schwartzenneger and Colin Powell are talking! Will have to stop myself heckling with Conan and Red Sonja quotes (for Arnie, not Colin...). Work building up to this has been a nightmare. I find that stress at work saps my creativity generally, which is a pain, as it means my refuge of the toolset doesn't welcome me. I've made a very crude start on the first 2 areas of chapter 3 - one modifying a prefab swamp in part of my drive to use more pre-built content. Actually, i've made major changes to water and lighting (which can alsmot create the effect of a new area in itself), and quite happy with the result.
The second area is a hamlet on the edge of the swamp. It's my chance to build a village properly, as I Like to think my areas have improved form my first starting village in chapter 1 all those many moons ago, so keen to do his one myself.
But work is crazy and not had much time to get things underway. Might be good to have a break for a bit - although I do have 2 11-hour flights to fill in whilst I'm travelling...
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
As I mentioned, Chapter 3 will bring in the final companion. Ruevena, CE human female Ranger/Sorceress/EldritchKnight/Assassin. She's a 'feral mage' as i've dubbed it - a child of the outdoors with a strong talent for magic she doesn't fully understand. I'll leave more personailty traits to be revealed in game - although I'm not really planning on her being a romance option. I'm trying to pick a good portrait for her, and here are some on my current shortlist, in rough order of preference from left to right. None of them quite right so might have to do a bit more searching. . .