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

Monday, June 8, 2009

News: Two things

Two quick announcements for today after the recent screenshots.

The first is that I received an email from an editor from German gaming magazines PC Games/PC Action a little while ago, about them wanting to write a short article on Fate of a City as part of their monthly articles about game mods! Needless to say, I was happy for them to do so. I believe it should be in this month's edition - if you're in Germany, and you've seen a copy, I'd love to hear about it.

The second is that I've just submitted a new prefab to the vault for approval. It's the area that I used to take the screenshots from the other day, though I've stripped the area down a little to remove anything that's specific to the campaign itself. So if you want to recreate an explosive scene like the one below... you'll need to add in your own action!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

News: Screenshots!

This post provides the first visual preview of my forthcoming project, as I managed to put together an area with a few hours of work today.

The project is currently untitled, though I do have a few potential names. I'll hold off on formally announcing its name until a decision has been made. Which brings me to the news that I've been fortunate enough to secure the talents of dunniteowl and Eguintir Eligard to help me with this project. I'm looking forward to working with them and getting an exciting adventure out to all the players!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Snippet: Keening

Aeryl was an elven wizard who sought to investigate deadly creatures to see if their powers could be used to the benefit of people instead of harming them. Her experiments with banshees were her first attempt at dealing with undead, and she was woefully under-prepared.

The wail of banshee is so fearful that the terrible noise has caused many to die of fright. Fortunately for Aeryl, the first banshee she encountered gave a wail so loud that it made her deaf. With its most dangerous weapon rendered useless, the banshee struggled to harm the elf. Aeryl took advantage of this to bind the creature with magic so she could study it at her leisure.

Aeryl was eventually able to use the banshee to create this mace, imbuing it with a portion of its terrible wail. Unfortunately for her, the research left her with almost no hearing, so this weapon and many other of her subsequent creations were stolen by thieves who took advantage of her weakness.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Snippet: Soul Collector

The scythe named Soul Collector almost emanates darkness, as though it seeks to suck out light and life wherever it can be found. Its blade is deadly sharp, and even looking at it seems to inflict the sharp pain of a cutting wound.

This weapon has only ever been associated with the most evil and dangerous of beings, for its magic is such that others are reviled by its magic. Its first known owner, and supposed creator, was the evil warlock Xarxoz, who used the weapon as fuel for his arts. The weapon allowed him to gather souls of the dead and the living to increase his power, sucking their life away with its fearful magic.

Thus the scythe became known as Soul Collector, in memory of those consumed by it. However, no sooner had the scythe been named than it fell from Xarxoz's possession, for he was tracked and killed by a group of adventurers whose families has been killed by the warlock. From there, the scythe has changed hands frequently, each time being held for only a short time before its owner is killed. Some now wonder whether the weapon collects its souls from its victims, or from its owners.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

News: It's award season

I'm a bit late, but a few days back, the 2008 Module of the Year awards on were announced! In a close fought race for NWN2, two modules tied for first and two tied for second. I was privileged enough to share second place with dirtywick's Subtlety of Thay - Chapter 2. Dark Waters 2 from veteran modder Adam Miller came first, with A Hunt Through the Dark Remastered by Markus "Wayne" Schlegel also sharing the honours.

Congratulations to all the builders who participated, for a few votes either way would have seen very different results. So I'd also like to deliver a very special thank you to all the people who gave Fate of a City their vote.

It would also be remiss of me to neglect the deserving NWN1 modules that also gained recognition. Not to mention the release of the Academy for Modding Excellence has just released a video (produced by the fabulous Qkrch) for the finalists for its Golden Dragon awards for NWN1. It's an exciting time for all NWN1 and NWN2 authors, and I'm sure players will look forward to seeing more content from all module makers!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Snippet: The Price of Power

When compared to the great Netherese empire, our current knowledge of magic appears to be insignificant. Yet, as was proven by their downfall, there comes a time when too much knowledge can actually prove dangerous. There are some streams of magic that we should not attempt to harness, for the effects of doing so are unknown. while we must strive to push the boundaries of our understanding, there are some pieces of lore that are sometimes better left undisturbed.

This even applies to some magic that we already possess. Some of the most powerful relics known possess immense power, but power that comes at a great cost. The number of people that have been corrupted by or slain by magical artifacts in their possession is not small. So we must be careful in our investigations of magic and the information that we have been left. There are lessons that are better left unlearned, and treasures that are wiser to leave buried or forgotten. Do we dare tempt an event like Karsus' Folly again in our search for ever more powerful magic?

- Excerpt from "A Treatise on Magic", by Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun

Monday, May 11, 2009

Snippet: The Change of Ages

The ages that have passed within the realms have been defined not only through the happenings within them, but those major events that see us move from one "age" to the next. Upheavals in the order of our world and those of the Gods are continual, but there are periods that define history to such a great extent that we consider that the future will be vastly different from past.

In dealing with these shifts of power, which are frequently defined as catastrophes or incredible boons depending upon the individual providing the account of events, we must be mindful of the ramifications that they present for the future. Just as history has been filled with cataclysms causing tremendous upheavals in the balance of power across Toril, we can expect that the future will hold comparable occurrences.

Knowing this, we must be cautious when we become involved in matters of significance, for it is not unheard of for actions to have consequences far beyond those that are initially foreseen. As the long-lived, elves have a duty to be more cautious than short-lived races, so as to prevent hasty decisions that could have catastrophic effects. This is our duty to ourselves and to all those upon Faerun.

This is the reason we must safeguard ourselves against any decline that might see us dwindle or leave this land. The exodus cannot continue indefinitely, for if trouble goes unchecked for long enough, it could threaten all of Toril, extending to safe havens many consider impregnable bastions. Though our relations with other races and nations are strained at times, we must strive to maintain them, for even the elves cannot stand alone against all the evils of the world.

- Excerpt from 'The Destiny of the Elves', by Alustriel Silverhand

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Snippet: Control

For as long as we have existed, humans have attempted to control our surroundings and master our own destinies. We seek to master our future, to bend nature to our will and protect ourselves from those elements which attempt to harm us most. Over time, we have come to succeed, at least to a degree. But even as we master the nature of the land, we have come to see that some of the greatest threats come from within the nature of our own being.

The desire to maintain control extends to desiring dominion over our fellows, seeking to exercise the same power over them as we have of the land. We seek to impose an order on one another, and the natural ambition inherent in so many means that there is a thin line between imposing order and balance and imposing one's own will.

It is only if we consider that the Gods have their own struggles where we are their pawns, that we can begin to comprehend the true difficulty of our chosen task. Seeking to maintain a balance that is ever threatened by human nature as well as those of the immortal beings that govern us is a daunting task, but one that we as Harpers have vowed to achieve.

- "The Nature of Balance", by Storm Silverhand

Friday, May 8, 2009

Snippet: The Exile's Fate

"Who then, truly, was to blame for The Exile's fall? Did he choose his own fate, by turning his back on his kin and attempting to take the power of the Tree of Life for his own? Were we to blame for casting him out and rejecting him?

I have thought long and hard on the events as they unfolded, and the intricate plots that unravelled as a result. The influence of the Bhaalspawn drew The Exile back to us, and forced the confrontation that nearly destroyed both of them and my city. When I now read the words of Alaundo, I sometimes wonder if those events had already been ordained by The Gods. Was The Exile merely the means to allow the Bhaalspawn to be elevated to their true destiny?"

- Queen Ellesime, ruler of Suldanessellar

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Snippet: Where are the Wendersnaven?

"So I asked where do the Wendersnaven come from if not from our hopes and dreams? We cannot see them yet we know they are there. It is as much as mystery to me as it was to a kobold being hit by a flying invisible cabbage when launched it from my shield-mounted spring vegetable launcher. So I began thinking about where such thoughts and mysteries come from?

As I've searched for stories, I have forgotten many others I learned, which is such a disappointment, because then I have far fewer tales to tell people. While I've tried to write my stories and songs down, some things never seem to stay in my mind long enough for me to scribe them. Where do those thoughts go, and what becomes of them? Is there some place we could go to find all these lost thoughts, or would it be filled with so many strange things that we would never return? Perhaps that is what happened to the Wendersnaven?"

- Grobnar Gnomehands, Wendersnaven conference, 1373DR

Sunday, May 3, 2009

News: MotY, MoW and HoF!

Yes, it's a triple acronym title for today's post.

The module of the year contest at the NWVault has opened recently and Fate of a City is one of the 2008 modules up for consideration along with a number of other excellent submissions. I'd urge all players to voice their support of module authors by casting their vote in the poll. Players are what keeps module builders going, and as long as you're still keen to play of new material, builders will still keep working to produce it. So if you haven't already done so, head over to the vault and make the very difficult choice of voting for the best module of 2008!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to urge people to go out and get Mysteries of Westgate if they haven't already done so. I've read some opposition to it due to the DRM that Atari has chosen to use for this adventure pack, but not supporting MoW only hurts the NWN2 community, not to mention all the fabulous people at Ossian Studios. The price of the expansion is more than warranted by the quality of the product that Ossian has created, and if you add in the fact that you're supporting a deserving studio and a great gaming community, I'd say that any decision not to buy MoW would be a great tragedy.

In a final note, I've been fortunate enough for Fate of a City to be inducted into the NWN2 Hall of Fame this month! I'm happy to see that many players have enjoyed it as a gaming experience!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Snippet: The Warrior's Judgement

So tall, so tall, she stands,
the warrior, the law, embodied in flesh.
She judges, her verdict final,
finality for those aware of their place.
Her servants fall, one by one,
but again and again they stand.
Divided they fall, but together they rise,
driven by her unfailing cause,
her unflinching duty from the Gods.

- Ravings of Aphril, inmate of Spellhold

Snippet: The Planes

As a renowned travelling scholar, I can assure you that the Realms are home to more mysteries and oddities than most can imagine. Yet that strangeness pales in comparison to the near infinite possibilities of the planes that make up existence as we know it. While only a few unique (and highly unusual) individuals could claim to have visited a substantial number of these, I will attempt in this guide to present what information I can on them.

Of course, not even I could provide a definitive and exhaustive guide on this subject, for their are many realms that have never been visited, or that visitors do not truly understand. I have heard many scholars argue evenings away over the existence of planes comprised of all sorts of things, from magic or dust to dreams and pure emptiness.

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

Snippet: Meddling or ignorance?

Despite everything that has happened, I still doubt my role in the events that transpired. I was freed from my curse, but ever dwelt in the shadow of a struggle far greater than my own. I was drawn into the power well of a magic older and more powerful than the curse of my family, and many times I feared that it might destroy me entirely.

The stakes resolved themselves to be far higher than I had ever dreamed, and most certainly far beyond what I had hoped. Some may revel in taking part in such climatic events, but I never had such desires. A simple life offers far fewer questions, and certain does not raise any so troubling as those that sometimes still plague me. Did I meddle in the affairs of the Gods, or was I merely drawn along for the ride, playing in a realm of magic and fate of which I was totally ignorant? And what consequences have those actions caused, or might still be causing even to this day?

- Diary of Valygar Corthala, a hero of the Bhaalspawn war

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Snippet: The Nature of Magic

Yesterday was the first post in a series of snippets I'm going to be releasing as teasers for my new project. These are little pieces of lore that relate the events and characters within, each small fragments of a puzzle that players will come to unravel and understand through their journey...


Throughout all my research into the nature of magic and use of it, I have come to know the truth of how little of it I truly understand. There are so many branches of magic of which we have limited knowledge. The ability of sorcerors to draw upon their heritage to harness magical power or wild mages with the untamed control of the weave are not well understood by most scholars.

In my studies and writing, I have sought to shed light on some of the rarer and more unusual aspects of magic such as these. I have come across people who claim to have the ability to draw upon their dreams, or to draw power through others around them who have no aptitude for magic. When arcane power can be drawn from so many sources, I wonder how much magic pervades our life in unknown ways. If dreams can provide the means for casting spells of great power, what other secrets might they hold?

- Excerpt from 'A Treatise on Magic', by Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Snippet: Choice

Throughout the ages, we have been told that our destiny is ours to decide. Given I have the blessing of our most benevolent Mystra, I know that I have been chosen for a role which I happily and gracious accept. Some measure of my own destiny must have been bound to this choice, but I know I have am both blessed and cursed with a position that will see me affect all of Faerun.

Yet I wonder from my own experience whether the lore passed down from our elders is entirely accurate. How many of our brethren are doomed my actions or those of my sisters? How will our choices affect us, or more importantly, those for whom we are allocated as caretakers? Will our actions doom our race? Will they doom other races? And do our choices preclude others being able to determine their own destiny? These are questions I fear I cannot answer, or questions that have already been answered by the choices of the Gods themselves.

- Excerpt from 'The Destiny of the Elves', by Alustriel Silverhand.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Status: On hold

I'd just thought I'd post a quick update letting people know that Fate of an Empire is on hold for the time being. I'm currently without a computer that can run the toolset, and will likely be that way for some time, as I'm on my way back to Australia.

However, it's likely that development will remain on hold indefinitely. The most significant problem is the scope of the project. In order to follow on from Fate of a City and retain the strong narrative and focus on choice and consequences, the amount of work required to fit into the fairly epic storyline would require a large cohesive development team - or my undivided attention for quite a number of months. Since neither of those options are feasible, I don't see any way it would be finished in any reasonble time period. There are a couple of builders that have offered their support, and I'm keen to work with them, which is why I have an alternative plan in the works.

While this project is currently unnamed, it is planned as an epic level party adventure, perhaps something that a party having finished Storm of Zehir would tackle. It will be far more heavily focused on combat and other gameplay aspects rather than dramatic roleplay, moral choices and consequences. Your party will need to coordinate its attacks and fight strategically in order to succeed against a variety of dangerous and powerful menagerie of enemies. You can also expect the story to be suitably epic, and that your choices may have very far reaching consequences across the planes...

Apologies to those who were awaiting news of FoaE, as I don't like having to shelve it, but I simply don't see it getting finished in a reasonable timeframe, and would rather focus my efforts on projects that I know can be completed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Status: Fate of a City 1.11

In what I foresee as the final release for Fate of a City, I've uploaded version 1.11 of the mod onto the vault. Featuring a few more tweaks to combat difficulty, area and sound design, and a few miscellaneous script fixes and typo corrections, it should make the module about as unbreakable and polished as is possible barring some weird and unforeseen circumstances. That said, if future patches break things, I will come back to it and find the solutions.

So, if you haven't done so already, or you want to kill some time before Mysteries of Westgate is released, play through Fate of a City - it will get your character to the perfect level to start playing the new adventure pack.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Status: Breaking the silence

Yes, it's been quite a while since I've last posted an update, but life has provided me with precious little time to work on NWN2 lately. I must confess that is in part due to catching up on a few gaming titles from 2008 that I missed out of playing due to my modding. That's not to say that I haven't been doing any modding, however. :)

In news, Fate of a City has been reviewed on nwvault! I'd like to thank 'The Unbalanced' and the nwvault reviewers for their hard work in producing it! The review has provided a few more details for me to fix and improve for the forthcoming 1.11 release. This is in addition to all the suggestions and comments I've had from other players on the vault.

I'd like to thank everyone who has played and commented for their support and opinions. It's constructive feedback that allows modders to fine tune their creations to make them so enjoyable.

And the other massive piece of news is that Mysteries of Westgate has gone gold! I can't wait to get my hands on it. Everything points to it being a fantastic addition to the NWN2 family, and I'm sure it will mean great things for NWN2 and for Ossian Studios.