Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm Back!

Yes, it's been a while since I posted. That's partially due to a couple real life emergencies, but mostly due to my wanting to complete a particular task before updating, and complete it I have. Yes, ladies and gents, I have finally finished... *drum roll*... the "chair" conversation!

Doesn't that sound exciting?

Something I conceived of was that, if I could pursuade the player to view the day/night cycle as the normal cycle of activity (or purposely campaign at night in certain cases), then it would make sense to have a "wind down at the end of the day" kind of conversation. If these conversations took place regularly, then it would be a natural way of developing the relationship between the PC and the companion over subsequent nights. I have visions of having the talks in letterbox format in the darkened room with the firelight dancing about... hopefully, it will turn out to be fun because, while there's not a whole lot of plot development in the chair dialog, there's a ton of character development.

I'm also using it as a means of allowing the player to "input" their character's past into the module without making it obvious. In the "Saleron's Gambit" series, which started at level 1, I invented that past for the character, but this campaign starts at level 5, so the characters could be coming from almost anywhere. The screenshot of the chair conversation included shows that, in this particular point in the dialog, the companion has asked, literally, where the player "comes from" and you can see the sheer number of responses I have allowed for. Subsequently, in Act III, which transfers from Navatranaasu to Waterdeep, there may be a character that says, "Hey, don't you remember me from XXXX" or "I knew your sister in XXXX!" And yes, there is another point where the companion asks about the player's family as well, so if a sister isn't applicable, it may be brother, cousin, friend, etc. And, of course, the companions also tell quite a bit about themselves during these fireside chats.

So the chair dialog is massive. On the dialog editor screenshot, take a look at the circled number. Yes, that's 15,000 words in the one dialog alone. That's what I had estimated originally, and what do you know? I was exactly right! OK, I really only came to 14,999 words originally, so I found a place to insert one more to make it even.

The chair dialog, for what it's worth, brings the total words of dialog in Act II to just under 77,000 thus far, and I estimate about 7,000 more to come. And then there's journals, etc. on top of that.

The second screenshot is a toolset-level view of the player's suite on the upper floor of the VanGhaunt mansion. The chairs in front of the fireplace are seen as is the map detailed in my last post. You can also see the two bedrooms in the suite, the nearby Tyran chapel, and the mansion library (not to be confused with the town archives), all of which will be pivotal in the adventure.

More later...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Let Me Show You My Map!

First... Farewell, Berliad
Some of you may have noticed that I link a few other NWN2 blogs on the left. For the most part, these are blogs operated by my Ossian-mates. However, there is one that isn't. That one would be Berliad's. Now, I've known for a while that Berliad's updates were... well, less than regular, but he had promised to return when he felt the urge again. Apparently, that urge will not be coming. He announced on his blog a couple days ago that he is effectively retiring from the NWN community.

I will miss Berliad. He was a tireless contributer to the community back in the closing days of NWN1 and the beginning of the NWN2 era. For me, personally, he was also important because he was the member of the Reviewers' Guild who reviewed "Saleron's Gambit: Part 3." When that review hit the Vault at the end of 2005, shortly before the release of Part 4, all hell broke loose. Though I was known in small circles prior to that, the download count really exploded afterwards, e-mails started coming in rapidly, and I never looked back. So though I credit Lebowski with pushing my modules from the very earliest days and giving me a minor amount of notoriety, it was Berliad's article that created quite a bit of buzz as I was finishing the series up.

So, Berliad, thanks for everything, and good luck in whatever you do next.

The Maimed God's Saga
As I have mentioned before, I have a little side business that I run (OK, it's not so little, but I digress...), and this past weekend was taken up with writing a major business proposal. What little time was left was devoted to making some small bit of progress on TMGS.

I can't believe it, but in all my previous updates, including my progress matrices, I had actually forgotten about a major puzzle I had planned for the VanGhaunt library! So I spent this weekend "writing" 24 books that will, in part, be the pieces of the puzzle. This actually wasn't easy because the wording in each must be exact in order for the puzzle to work... PLUS I had to write several other "normal" books for the library. And now there's actually another dialog that I need to write to implement the puzzle mechanics.

So in short, I actually blew my toolset time this weekend doing something that, for some ungodly reason, I had actually forgotten to include in all my tracking charts, spreadsheets, etc., but is nevertheless a major piece of the mystery!

Yes, this is a screenshot from the common room of the player's suite in the VanGhaunt mansion illustrating the map. I don't have any scripting implemented in the conversation, so you can see most of the possible dialog options. I haven't looked too much into the scripting, but I'm hoping to be able to access the world map from here. If this isn't possible, then the player will be able to move to any part of the area they have thus far discovered from this point. This is part of my attempt to make it easy for the players to regularly utilize their "home base," which is otherwise located in the back of the upper floor of the mansion. In addition, it serves as a point where the player will be able to discuss the overall tactical situation with the companion; there is a lot of Tancred and Verona dialog attached to this map.

Rest assured that it's not the only interesting item in the player's suite... But I'll wait on talking about the other stuff in future updates.

These past couple nights, I grabbed a little time to cruise through the hakpaks available on the Vault again, as I do every three months or so looking for new content that might be useful. I found a group of 25 additional paintings that I merged into the campaign hak that I'm using. It just took me an hour or so formatting the 2da files. Boring work, really, but the in-game results should be worth it, as there are now several new, non-standard paintings to look at. Some of them actually inspired me to write small additional dialogs.