Saturday, July 26, 2008

Status: Word spaceflight

The Federation Aeronautique Internationale defines 100,000 metres as the altitude at which spaceflight begins. If each word in my module is worth one metre, I am officially in space. Yes, what I am saying is that I recently hit 100,000 words total in my module (and that doesn't include my design document!), which I'm somewhat pleased about. While it may be an arbitrary number, and quality is more important than quality, it's nice to reach a milestone like that which gives a large round figure to point at.

In celebration, I've decided to post 10 more screenshots for your perusal to give an indication of some of the things I've been working on lately. While I can't go into much detail about the locations depicted here, the mood for these is definitely a lot darker and more foreboding than some of the previous areas I've shown. For all adventures come with danger and grave adversity, and your experiences in Darthall will be no different.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Status: Close Encounters Of The Toolset Kind

Today I'd like to espouse the magical powers of backups. If you don't backup. Start. Right now. Keep several copies of your mod in various places on your hard drive and make sure you have a stable version somewhere at all times. I had two areas go corrupt on me at the same time, for no apparent reason that I could determine.

The result was very strange, as the module would load up perfectly in the toolset, and exhibit zero problems while working on it. But as soon as I attempted to enter one of these areas, the game would crash. What's more, it would cause every subsequent attempt to run to the mod to crash as well. Attempting to remain calm, I mustered what sanity I had left, copied data from a previous backup into a new directory, copied the clean updated files from my working copy to that new directory, and then proceeded to test. A couple of hours later, I was happy that everything was back to normal and I indeed had not lost the entirety of Fate of a City.

That scary encounter aside, things have been quite busy, but I've managed to work a bit more, having finished and carried out playtesting on what is probably the game's largest side quest, clocking in at over 7500 words and 19 possible journal entries, including a few alternate solutions. I performed virtually all the development before testing, and was encouraged to find that it only took a few hours of playtesting to iron out all the bugs. (Or at least all the ones I could find!) I've also worked on and finished another area and a couple of cutscene sequences, which have turned out quite well.

It also appears that custom music is a popular choice according to my poll, so despite the two people who think my music sucks (and I'll love to hear alternate musical suggestions or what you don't like about the tracks), I'll be implementing a number of custom music tracks within Fate of a City. Currently, the music consists of six tracks for a total of 14 minutes music, and hopefully I'll be able to add to that before release.

So, having taken the plunge to include a hakpak, I thought I may as well go the extra mile again, and include custom load screens to add another extra touch. After a lengthy period of producing different load screens with little success (see the unsuccessful and successful ones here), Elharc (from the #NWN2CR irc channel) finally provided me with that nice grey stone border that you can see underneath the rather lacklustre spears in this picture. After giving it a few adjustments, I managed to produce the final loading screen and the border will be the template surrounding all the load screens within Fate of a City. The picture below is for the Rich Quarter of Darthall.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Toolset Tidbit: PC-Less Screenshots

It's time for few more screenshots today, most of which are showing off a new area I finished this evening. While many of the areas haven't been the most well-to-do of locations thus far, the house interior that features in four of these screenshots is most definitely home to some wealthy people.

You'll also note that in a couple of screenshots, I have no player visible, as in this screenshot below!

I am sure some of you may have known how to do this already, but I only discovered how to do it today. Even better is that it is really simple! All you need is a single line script to accomplish it:
SetCreatureAppearanceType(GetFirstPC(), APPEARANCE_TYPE_INVISIBLE_HUMAN_MALE);
You can also make it so you can toggle the invisible state on and off, but this plays havoc with the PC's movement rate for some reason, so I'd advise against it.

I named my script a very descriptive "z_hide". All I need to do to use it, is to go into the game, bring up the console with the ~ key, type in "debugmode 1" (without quotes) to enable debugmode (amazing, huh?). This lets you run scripts by using "rs ". So simply typing "rs z_hide" will allow me to make the PC invisible and take screenshots freely!

I imagine this would work beautifully for taking screenshots for custom load screens...

Also if you haven't already done so - check out the trailer in my previous post, and vote in my poll!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Status: Productivity Streak

I'm back and working on the module in full swing again, after a couple of weeks (mostly) away due to work. But since returning to the module in full force, things have been quite productive! I've finished off four more areas, and have mostly completed four quests, added in a handful of items and creatures, and done some general all-round improvements. My progress tracking tells me that I'm approximately 60% complete, which means I'm (almost) hitting the home stretch.

To celebrate returning to the working on Fate of a City again, I decided to make a little teaser trailer for everyone out there, just to give you a bit more of a feel for the atmosphere and appeal of Darthall. So, here it is!

video

You can also hear snippets from three music tracks that I've produced, which may yet make it into Fate of a City. Which is why I'm asking in my latest poll, would you like custom music in Fate of a City? This is steering away from my original "no hak pak" policy that I'd established when I first envisaged the module, but from what I've seen on the forums, people are somewhat tired of the default music that comes with the game, and also have no issues in using hak paks. I'm here to please and entertain, so let me know your opinion!