Friday, September 17, 2010

What's Next?

That's the question I've been asking myself recently. Since the main focus of this blog the last three years has been released, now what?

In the immediate future, the game's been played and commented on enough for me to have a pretty complete list of the remaining bugs and minor issues, and so I know a version 1.02 is coming. After that I confess I don't know.

I have a four to five page outline for TMGS II, and I spent quite a bit of TMGS I setting up some of the structure for that campaign, but I think I'm at peace with the fact that TMGS II will never see the light of day.

I spent basically three years and hundreds (probably thousands) of hours on TMGS I. That's longer than I took for all five parts of Saleron's Gambit... combined! Looking back on that fact, I have two thoughts. First, if I had known it would take that long, I would have never started. Second, it's painful thinking how much useful stuff I could have done with that time. Maybe that sounds more harsh than I intended it to; it's just that I occasionally get a bit reotrospective on what I'm doing with my life and that represents a lot of time I could have given to my family, friends, dogs, etc. It's a choice I simply will not make again.

So does that mean I'm "retiring" from modding? I'm not prepared to say that. In fact, I enjoy it too much to abandon it anymore than I would abandon any other hobby. It just means my projects - should I choose to engage in them - will be much smaller in nature.

So goodbye TMGS II. It would have been an epic continuation of the saga. Maybe one day I'll post a summary of my thoughts on where part II would have gone. Or maybe not.

So that's what's not next. But what is next?

Well, I'm sure many in the community have heard the news of Ossian's upcoming release. I've known about this for several months, but I now only know probably 1% more of the details of this than the average fan, and that only because I had a brief conversation about the history of certain technologies with Alan Miranda around the beginning of the year. I've no idea if anything we talked about made it into the game. While some fans have expressed disappointment with the game being limited to the iPhone, I am 100% sure that Ossian wants to port the world to a PC format. If they do, I'm willing to help. Indeed, there are some indications that I may have a small project for them in the near future, but everything is still very much up in the air regarding that.

In the absence of Ossian, I've found myself tossing around the idea of another group project - something similar to the Bouncy Rock Holloween module released a couple years ago - if only because that would limit my time commitment. There are a few ideas floating around the community, but all of them are moving in directions that restrict the imagination of the individual modder - as most group projects must do to be successful - but which ultimately dampers my enthusiasm.

So my best idea is to maybe release only very small modules, maybe something akin to a sidequest in one of my larger efforts, but that doesn't entirely satisfy me either. After the massive 15-hour campaign that is TMGS, how could I "settle" for a 1-2 hour module? But that doesn't make sense as a criticism because I started with the notion that I don't want another project the size of TMGS.

Then, of course, comes the nagging thought that there is only a very limited NWN2 community at this point anyway. And while that doesn't negate the enjoyment I get from modding, sharing those creations with others is kind of the point. So I've considered whether it makes more sense to switch to another toolset (say, Dragon Age)? I'm not sure there's much more audience there, although I would have to think that there is if for no other reason than DA2 is in development.

So I guess I'm saying I'm confused which direction to go... but then I've always thought that indecision is a kind of decision in its own right.


Hoegbo said...

I'm guessing once I release I will be in your shoes. not wanting to jump on a big project again as it may leave you burned out. Ihonestly think I won't mod anything but smaler mods /help out on other pojects.

I've been fidling with the dragon age toolset myself. the time to complete projects in that toolset seems to be a little to long for my taste. though I am pretty sure you will learn or have learned that toolset 10xfaster thn I ever could:P

regardless, I have been trying out TMGS now and I love it. it has becoma major inspiration for me. and raises the bar in the community. whatever you decide to do I'm gonna keep my out for it:)

owever if you do want to do more nwn2 stuff I am pretty sure lance botelle could use some help with his "better the demon" mod he posted something at the nwn2 module forums. and lastly thansk for making this awesome module.

Corey Holcomb-Hockin said...

I wish some of people that work on modules would end up with jobs working on games. You'd have a excuse to get even better and more people would see the games hopefully.

Personally I think the DA toolset is a pain in the ass step down compared to the nwn2 toolset but thats just me. :(

Anonymous said...

I love all of your mods and am really thankful that you shared such great stories with so many people. Would I like to see a continuation of TMGS or Saleron's Gambit? Of course, but they are complete stories in their own right (unlike a lot of mods that don't really have endings, like the abandoned Paladin Trilogy and even A Dance with Rogues) and leaving them as is works, too.

To be completely honest, I prefer NWN1 mods to NWN2 ones. NWN2 is harder on my computer, for one, and for two the toolset seems a lot more difficult, which is perhaps why the NWN2 modding community didn't really take off like NWN1's did. TMGS is one of the only NWN2 mods that I've finished, and definitely my favorite.

I don't know much about Dragon Age's toolset; it looks like it can do some cool stuff, but only time will tell if it creates a community as good as NWN1's or even NWN2's. It still seems sort of up in the air.

Whatever you do, I hope you feel that the mods you made were at least somewhat worthwhile. I also hope that you will still find some creative outlet, whether it be modding, writing, etc. because I really enjoy your style.

Thanks again.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Tiberius,

I don't get the time to play as many modules as I would want to, but your latest in the MGS series is one that I have played a little - I have currently got as far as opening the locked door in the library. :) (I did follow your blog prior to release - and obviously still do drop in from time to time.)

Other modules I am also dipping in and out of include "The Wizard's Apprentice" by M. Rieder and "Live Forever" by Azenn, as well as trying LoWPM by Wyrin in MP mode with a friend.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am drawn towards certain styles of game, and if you are interested (as I note Hoegbo mentioned above), you would be welcome to help with my own module, "Better The Demon" if you like. :) I am looking for area designers ... :)

No obligation, but if you want to check out my blog, then please do, and let me know ...



nicethugbert said...

Why did TMGS take so long? What tasks consumed the most time?

Tiberius209 said...

Sorry, thugbert, didn't see your comment until now.

There are literally over 200,000 words of dialog in TMGS. That's the equivalent of a 400 page book, assuming 500 words per page. Thattakes a long time to write, edit, proofread, and so forth.

There were around 55 maps for the entire campaign, and the majority were exterior maps. Each exterior map can take a good two days of solid work to put together. That's two weekend days, not days where I just work a couple hours after my day job.

Testing and troubleshooting took a good six months. Each complete playthrough takes 20 hours including note-taking, replays to confirm, etc. And then you have to implement changes, do scenario testing, and so forth. Player choices early on really do filter through the rest of the campaign, and I'm not sure a player can really appreciate the extent of this on just one play-through.

nicethugbert said...

Does NWN2 make any of this difficult? What I'm driving at is the quality of NWN2 as a tool.

Obviously, a 400 page book is a problem in itself and a modern word processor would be more help than obstacle.

Tiberius209 said...

All I've worked with are the NWN1 and NWN2 toolsets. As far as exteriors go, NWN1 was far easier, but it also allowed far less customization of the area. I actually think the dialog editor is much better in NWN2 and allows for reduced numbers of overall scripts.

I do use a word processor for the first draft of almost everything I write. It's still a laborious process.