Saturday, December 12, 2009


It is with some sense of regret that I declare that I am hanging up my NWN2 modding boots, most likely permanently. With Dragon Age: Origins released, I'm planning to switch to using its toolset in order to produce future work. While I've enjoyed NWN2 and there is some half-finished work I'd love to complete, it seems that is has a dwindling player base, which means that my modding efforts might be best expended elsewhere. My sincere apologies to all those who were interested in what I have been working on.

If modding were a job and not a hobby, things might be different... I'd love to come back and complete my NWN2 projects, but I can see myself spending several hundreds of hours (again) attempting to create a really high quality module. And if I'm going to try and find several hours each day to work on modding projects, I'd prefer for that effort to produce a work that might be seen and played by thousands as opposed to hundreds.

As a result, I feel like I should say farewell to this blog, and move to a new home that will be more inclusive of my future work. So from now on, will be my new modding home - though it will likely be more than simply DA:O modding (or even just modding).

I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to those who have provided support, encouragement and criticism on my previous work. I am grateful for all the feedback and advice I have received and hope to use it to make my work better.

I hope that some of you will take an interest in my future work. Rest assured that I will working my hardest to deliver enjoyable creations.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Design: Uniqueness

Every good designer should always make sure they have an answer to one question about their game: "What makes your game unique?" Not having a good answer to this question is often a sign of a boring clone of another game. Ideally, there should be several reasons why a game should be set apart from its peers. In my last post, I spoke about the small details that I feel make a big difference in overall quality, but that is just one of many ways I am trying to make the module special.

One thing that's unique about this current project is the amount and diversity of custom items available for players to use - or have used against them! There are 44 custom weapons currently available for players to pick up, and the diversity means no matter what weapons you would like to use, you'll be able to find some that pack a signficant punch. Of course, given that these are no ordinary weapon, each has it's own detailed backstory and description, not to mention that some feature unique abilities. Some may be able to unleash fearsome effects upon enemies, though powerful magic always has its drawbacks, and some weapons might prove to be equally dangerous to their owners!

But such powerful items would be too much were they not match by equally powerful enemies. Yet the variety of enemies that players will face should provide them with some interesting challenges and strategic decisions. Many creatures will require special tactics to beat, forcing players to pick their attacks and their targets carefully. I am really wanting to provide some unique challenges in the combat arena, and believe that I'm giving enemies some special behaviours and weaknesses that will keep players on their toes.

Another unique thing about the module is its setting, for while it relies heavily on the D&D universe and many characters that players may be familiar with, it will be quite unlike anywhere else in the planes. I'll try to discuss the setting more in the future, though this poses some interesting challenges without providing plot spoilers...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Design: Small Details and Scripting Tales

I'm afraid I don't have any new screenshots to show off, as lately my work on the module has been polishing up some area design and doing some scripting. As a programmer, generally I don't find scripting too taxing, but I do sometimes get hit by issues that take quite a while to nut out. This week has raised two such problems.

The first issue came out as a result of me being sick of fighting a horde of orcs/bugbears/giants/generic enemy X who all come at me with exactly the same appearance and weapon. So I decided to implement a relatively simple script to give creatures a random weapon upon spawning. While the logic for doing so was relatively simple, the script didn't work, and the creatures spawned in weaponless. After a lot of testing, I eventually tracked down the problem to the fact that NPCs can't equip a weapon that isn't identified. Frequently, creatures will have an unidentified magical weapon in their weapon hand, which poses no problem. However, if the item is in their inventory, and they have to equip it, then it must be identified before the equip is attempted, otherwise the attempt will fail, just like it would for a PC.

The second issue was a result of my trying to produce some atmosphere for one of my areas. This involved spawning a creature at a random location near the a PC and then making it move. This worked fine... except for that periodically, the game would crash! Such undesirably behaviour had me stumped until I hit upon the realisation that the creature was spawning in a non-walkable area and attempting to move - causing a crash just like a player trying to move in an unbaked area. After hunting around in the toolset, I found the FindSafeLocation function to solve the problem.

The reason I spent so much time fighting these bugs is because I feel it is small aspects like this that makes games special. I want players to have a unique experience while playing this module, and it's these small things that I feel go a long way to providing atmosphere and polish, even if the majority of players don't notice it. I'm reminded of a note in the Readme for Maerduin's Harp & Chrysanthemum, begging players to read at least one item description. I appreciate that dedication, and it's wonderful to see when players enjoy those small things. Trust me, every time a player notices those little details and smiles, the designer gets a real kick out of it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Snippet: Allies and Enemies

Where we must be truly careful is when dealing with others who become involved in our struggles. Too often have we jumped to quick conclusions that those we face are our enemies, when they may instead be open to providing assistance. Even those races considered brainless and violent by nature can be reasoned with in the right circumstances. Not all beasts are evil, just as not all civilized races behave with courtesy.

But as nature herself demonstrates, that which can be an aid to us may also prove in an instant to become our adversary, and the serene can soon give way to torment. These things we must keep in check, and see where our allegiances should lie for each given conflict. Some may consider this to be a fickle approach, but if we ignore an imbalance of power, either good or evil, the results could be catastrophic indeed. We cannot stand by idly and let such things happen as could destroy the entire land and other treasures we have been given.

- Excerpt from "The Nature of Balance", by Storm Silverhand

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Snippet: Relentless

Yet another danger not be trifled with is the warriors of the Githyanki. Many have fallen to their ceaseless feuds, for when one makes an enemy of their race, it is not an enemy easily lost. Their battle with the Illithid shows no end in sight, and will likely continue for as long as both races exist.

Should their ire be raised to the point of battle, they will not stop until they or their quarry is defeated, for negotiation is not an option for those deemed a foe except in extreme circumstances. Be on your guard to not offend such creatures, for they will demand penance not only for any wrong committed, but revenge for any Githyanki killed as a result.

- Excerpt from 'Volo's Brief Guide to the Planes'

Monday, June 22, 2009

Snippet: Broken Adventurers

The number of adventurers lost in battle is almost equal to those lost in mysterious circumstances. Many have disappeared off the face of planes searching for treasure, an ancient relic, a deadly adversary, or simply fame and fortune. Some are found years later, blubbering shells of the adventurers they once were, tortured by some unspeakable horror or ordeal. Most consider this just another danger of an already treacherous occupation. Yet death would be kinder than the punishment delivered to these unfortunate souls, for their minds and bodies are shattered beyond redemption. Those that are still able to make coherent speech talk of an unending prison, though the only prison they seem to be held in is one created of their own mind and twisted dreams.

- Excerpt from "Dangers of the Planes" by Elminster Aumar

In other news, vote in my current poll on the left to put in your suggestion for your favorite name for this forthcoming project...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Snippet: The Dark Awakening

"There are many cases where dreams are the cause of the problems for deviants. This frequently makes the inmate delusional, making them believe that they have special powers or other delusions of grandeur. The gnome Tiax suffers from one of the most acute cases of this ever recorded. He has been caught out of his cell several times, each time attempt some sort of bizarre and grandiose conjuration. Fortunately, whatever clerical skills he once possessed seem to have been lost, though retrieving him from the darker bowels of the asylum has resulted in several injuries to workers.

"The most dangerous case was a deviant whose dreams were so real that they were brought to life by some strange magic. When they would awake, their dreams would carry with them and become reality within the asylum itself. The results ranged from benign cases where the individual summoned food or gems from thin air, to the final, most deadly cases where several violent beasts were summoned into their chamber. The beasts killed the deviant, and wreaked havoc within the asylum before being killed. While the loss of such and interesting subject is regrettable, I am thankful that the deviant did not dream of something more dangerous. Such strange circumstances suggest that magic may be present even in things normally considered harmless."

- Records of Spellhold Asylum