Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Or Happy Hanukah, or whatever it is you celebrate. I'll probably post once more before New Year, so I'll hold off on greeting 2008 for another post.

Vote Inflation Comes to NWN2
Let the weeping and gnashing of teeth begin! One recent thread on the Bioboards lamented how people were giving too high a scores to recent mods. My one post on the subject is as follows:

Is the voting system screwed up? Yes. The attempt to restructure it was a noble effort, but because it couldn't be restructured "too much," according to Maximus, the effort was always doomed to failure. Whether or not it's happened yet, the votes will inflate before NWN2 is all said and done. From what I hear, we have a minimum of four more years before NWN3 and maybe five, so we'll have a page of modules all with perfect 10s by 2010.

The way to unhappiness as a builder is to concentrate on votes and scores. The way to near suicide is to concentrate on other author's votes and scores. Happiness is building what you believe in. Some people will think you're the best ever, some will think you're the worst ever, and most will be in-between.

Two paragraphs, two ideas... they're pretty self-explanatory. As for the first paragraph, the causes of vote-inflation were discussed ad-nauseum in the closing days of NWN1, and it is frankly to0 damned boring for me to want to rehash here. Suffice it to say that vote inflation will occur, and those who ever thought otherwise are naive.

The second paragraph is more interesting to me. Honestly, I'm not surprised that people are interested in scores. To assume that they wouldn't be is naive. I will confess that I am not unaffected by scores, but I also know that they are entirely subjective and beyond the author's control; in short, the way to quickly ruining a hobby.

At this point, any author that proves they have the actual ability to pop out a mod will gain some sort of following. Yes, scores and HoF inductions create a momentary high, but that quickly wears off (or is dashed when someone votes you a *gasp* 6!), and then you need another one. On the other hand, if authors would just concentrate on having fun, telling a compelling story, and enjoying the interaction (e-mail for the most part) with their fans, I believe they would have more lasting fun.

And what's the cause of all this wailing and crying...?

Harp & Chrysanthemum
I've said it before, but I'll say it again. It's not often that I actually play NWN2, and it's even rarer for me to play non-"official" stuff. I'm simply too enamored with authoring. But "Harp and Chrysanthemum," by Ossian-mate (?) Maerduin caught my eye the moment it was released. It was only yesterday that I got around to downloading and playing it. Today, my ranger just finished beating that Theophilus ass, and the whole romp was as good as advertised.

I remember in one of my e-mails to Zach, I noted that he was probably the greatest external area designer in the community; I actually think he's better than the professional Obsidian map designers. And while I'm very high on the guys we had doing Westgate, the maps there were almost entirely city-based, and so I don't know if a comparison is valid... yet. Anyway, I'm simply blown away by Zach's visual artistry, and I weep when I think how far behind I am.

As an aside, when he played through Chapter I of TMGS, one of Zach's comments was something to the tune of "It's nice you opted for simple maps... It makes people concentrate on your story!" I think he was trying to actually say something positive with that note, but... well, you just have to laugh sometimes. Yes, I'll study his maps and revise again before release.

Of course, there were many other great aspects of the module too! The sidequests were well-designed, especially the Castle Joyous episode (see picture). They each tended to support the main storyline threads, either the main quest directly, or by exploring different aspects of the module's principle theme, love.

The characterization was first-rate as well, with each of the main townspeople having a distinct personality, never mind the three companions! So all-in-all a very satisfying module.

My one complaint is that there was one battle, the ambush with Marcellas and the Cyranites, that was outright crazy tough. I got to that point still level five, though, so it probably would have been better if I waited for it. But even at level seven, where I finished, it would have been a frickin' bear. You see, I'm wimpy, and if I die more than three times in a battle, I get pissed and just cheat. I was a little... peeved here, but that's it for the negatives.

By the new voting standards, it's definitely in the 9.00 range and probably higher. By the old NWN1 standards, it's undoubtedly a 10.00.

The Maimed God's Saga
Yes, I've done a little more but not much. My aim is to have all the pieces for Act II
(i.e. all the maps, dialogs, blueprints, journals) finished by January 1st with the "glue" (i.e. scripting) starting to be applied for the new year. I'll be honest... I don't think I'll make it. Tomorrow, I leave for the in-laws for four days and will be without the toolset. I still have 20,000 words of dialog to write, all the journals, and one exterior map to make. That's a ton to do, so maybe January 7th or so is a more realistic aim.

Next time, I'll post a picture of TMGS. I haven't done that in a while...

1 comment:

Maerduin said...

Thank you, Russ. It means a lot to me that you had a good time playing H&C (and yeah, that Marcellus battle will get some nerfing). I also appreciated your comments on the forum thread. What you said was very sensible and to-the-point; I'd wanted to contribute something to the discussion but thought better of it--And when I read your post, I felt that you had said pretty conclusively what needed to be said.