Monday, December 8, 2008

What's become of Middleforest?

I'm not sure how many people had really been interested in this little project of mine, but I guess I owe the few at least a short update on what has happened to it. 
However, it's not easy to put it into words. I think the main reason I stopped working on it (yes, I did) is that I got used to NWN2. Yes, I know, don't remind me about my bitching about the game, most of it is still true. There are about a thousand things I still hate about this game, but there are a few that changed my view a little. The main on the builder's side being artistic freedom where NWN1 limited me too much, and then there's the simple fact that the graphics can be nice if you know how to do it right, and I just love eye candy. The official game and the first modules and PWs I played just didn't give a hint of what can be done when the builder actually spends some time with things like light and shadows, or shows real creativity in the use of the terrain editor or placeables. Hence my impression that the game looks dull and boring. 

I was wrong, it can look awesome.. it's just a tremendous amount of work to get there.  Last but not least, for me as a player it means also that I can have a more immersive world to play in with a character that looks nicer (yes, thanks to custom content and some creativity NWN2 characters don't have to look ugly) and has much more options to advance (new classes, four classes allowed, etc. etc.). So yeah, as a player I got used to the game and don't want to miss it anymore. I miss building Middleforest, but then, why build it if I spend my playing time in NWN2? The logical solution would be rebuilding it as a NWN2 PW, and that's my dream.
But, now to the downside, I just can't get used to building in NWN2's toolset. The whole thing is such a pile of crap, it's unbelievable. Yes, it is powerful, much more powerful than the NWN1 toolset, and yes, I've done the tutorials and know how to build an area now. There are advantages, I like the dialogue and script editors in NWN2's toolset, but the rest is just an unintuitive mess. One could say, the difference between NWN1's to NWN2's toolset is like switching from the Mac to Windows, but that would be an insult for Windows, because compared to NWN2's toolset it's an awesome, stable and secure environment you can work with perfectly. 

NWN2's toolset crashes like mad, it spits out error messages like mad, your module is getting corrupted every second day, you have to micromanage all those plug ins, spend a day alone to get the GUI into an useable state. It's a science for itself to get that thing just into a working state and learn how to avoid the worst errors before you can even start being creative.
Then there's the second problem, that being the options. You have a lot of options, and that's good. You can scale, you can tint, you have uncountable ways and options to change things. But, it's in no way intuitive or easy to get there. Scaling with a simple slider? Na, you have to do it by putting numbers into a text field... you know, things like that. It's made for geeks. Assign a tlk to your mod? No, an "open file" window would be too easy, please type in the name of your tlk. Just two small examples, but examples for the unintuitive way that thing works. 

Plug ins... oh, yes there are some helpful ones, nobody can live without the famous Sin plug-in for example. But after each and every game patch you have to wait a month for all the plug-ins you use to be updated, because every toolset update breaks them... or you have to learn how to edit xml files. Sure, no problem for the average geek, but I'd just like to build and not spend my time with the pain of managing the toolset.
Another usability problem with the too many options is that it simply takes a lot of time to get something done you really didn't want to spend too much time on. A good example is the area lighting, done with the day/night cycle options. Yes, we have... um.. don't let me lie... 8(?) stages now instead of the simple day and night in NWN1's toolset. Of course that's great, you can control how your sunrise looks, how your noon, afternoon, evening hours, nightfall, midnight look, but it takes such a long time to set up just this that you have to ask yourself where to take the time for actual building.

As for building, I have to admit the terrain editor lowered my self-esteem a lot. Theoretically I can do everything I want with it. Practically, I'm never satisfied with anything I do in there, I'm playing around for 8 hours just to get the basic landscape done, look at it in game and trash the whole area because I finally discovered I totally underestimated this one brush size or overestimated the size of that river or whatever, and that before I even placed the first house into the area. I saw wonderful area building where I play, I often walk around thinking what I'd alter or do it better or different if I built it, but once in the toolset I'm getting one blackout after the next. 
To make a long story short, I think the main difference between the two toolsets is that NWN1 rewards you immediately, you start building and really make fast progress, the preview rewards you quite often enough to give you a reason to pat yourself on the shoulder.
NWN2's toolset takes very long to reward you, much more often it kicks and bites you, and sometimes you think you finally got somewhere, then try it out and notice you messed up so badly it's not worth trying to fix it anymore. It can be very frustrating, and I'm not sure f I can ever really start working seriously on a NWN2 version of Middleforest with that in mind. 

However, recently I asked Squatting Monk how our (actually his) little xp system and the other stuff we thought up together is coming along, in contrary to me he has actually made some progress with his mod. I'm not sure if it would help, but it might be a little encouragement if the systems, especially the xp system, could be modified to work with NWN2. I still think they are awesome, and I think a NWN2 version of it would help making a really unique world for those who, as sad as it is, got lost to NWN2 like me. The NWN2 side of things really lacks good RP servers and unique worlds, and I got to the point where I think this game deserves some love too. If it just wasn't so damn hard.

Anyway, that's it for the moment. To make a long story short, instead of building I'm now dreaming of building... something like that. Still trying to change that again.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some progress outside the world

Well, the module gives me some little problems again. At the moment I'm trying to reanimate the DMFI... it stopped working a while ago and I couldn't yet find out why.
Huh, DMFI? Oh yes, that's the set of tools, scripts and nifty stuff from the Dungeon Master-Friendly Initiative , a must for every persistant world that wants to show off a bit. For players the nicest addition is usually the speech command system, you say *sits* and your character sits down... and of course the languages. Well, but that's exactly what doesn't work anymore, and so far I haven't figured out why.
On the positive side of things, Ben sent me some fixes for my haks, which means, no more crashes and incompatibilities with certain haks and tilesets. Finally I can make those interiors I had to put back two weeks ago. Yay.

Outside the mod, you probably noticed the new logo and blog layout (I hope you did, and I hope you like it - I do). Credits must be given to lowfatpretzels who had to look through my dozens of pics and gave some useful tips ( the thin red line! ).

I also opened a forum. Uh huh. I know, it might be way too soon, but who knows how long it'll take me to learn how to run it. It's linked on the right, you can go there and spam the Off topic section so I can delete it or whatever. Or not. It'll take a few more weeks until the forum will have a real use, I guess. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mists Over Middleforest

Nuff said.

It was one of my first thoughts, I now have two A4 sheets full of other names, but a decission has to be made. That's it. Unless there's an outcry from my thousands of readers, I'll use this as the final title.

So, welcome to the Mists over Middleforest.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Finding a name

Now it's getting hard. I've come to the point at which I'm not only annoyed by the fact that my module still shares the name with Michael's (and it's obviously his module name, not mine), but also need a real name to continue the development progress.

I've always been uncreative when it comes to names. When I make a NWN character, I usually hit random name until something shows up I can live with, sometimes I alter it a little, but that's it.
The names I chose for my cities are obviously historical names, and I'm incredibly proud that I found at least a name for the village of Niederhoeve. Yes, that's made up! Yay. Took me only a day or two... and I bet there's a real village with that name and I just forgot about it.

Nevertheless, now it's time to make up a name for the module. And that must be final. I can't open a forum with the name "Shadows of Whateveritscalled" and then rename the mod to "Light of Iknowwhatitscalled" later.

Don't think I've run into the problem just now... I was brainstorming since I made my first area, but still haven't come up with anything.

So here are my brainstorming results so far:

First off, avoiding clichées. Clichée words would be... (I'm sorry, SM)... Shadow... Dawn... Darkness... World... Sword... Hammer... Gate... Battle... Words and names from the Forgotten Realms, Words and names from nordic tales and history. Words that sound guttural like a rock (e.g. Rammstein).
Now of course I don't want to use anything that sounds like a pony farm either..., it's a dark world, so I'd avoid words that make you think of sunflowers and little fairies dancing in circles.

Then, of course, I'm trying to set this world apart with more european themes and features, something I also should try to "communicate" in the name.

From the features in my world I can't really use anything that describes the world...there's a huge forest in the center of my mod, but I don't know if it's enough to justify a name with "forest" or "wood" in it. After all a lot of the story happens outside the forest, in urban areas near the coast or in mountain areas... hmm... what about something... misty? Mist over... but no, there's also sunshine. But I like how Mist sounds... of course german players might think my module is Mist and move on... (ha.. ha... use an online translator)... haze... hmm... Mist over Darkwood... no.... Haze over the Black forest... hmm... well, I've been that far 6 months ago.

So.. how about you two additional lurkers who read this blog finally show up and throw in a comment? I need words... soon... I'm already googling for free forums but can't start one before I have a name! Dammit!

Edit: Hey, I just thought... Middle+Forest = Middleforest... is that a name? Does Middleforest sound stupid? "Tales from the Middleforest", "Mist over Middleforest"... something of that kind...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stuck again.

The enthusiasm of my last post didn't last long. Since I wrote it, I made zero progress but ran into too many problems again. Again of technical nature, and I've never been so close to dropping the whole thing. I'm just so sick and tired of being stuck again because of things I simply don't understand and cannot for my life fix myself.

So, whiny Casa, what is it this time?

I think the initial reason for this post is actually that it took me hours again to tell my router to *#%&ing post the testserver to the internet... Lol, yes, that was the last thing in a series of annoyances. Some day I'll have to host this module, and I know that will be the horror. I'll have to take care of a MySQL database. Hell, I still need an hour until I figure out how to log into the MySQL database, and don't ask me what all this geekish shit inside it means. The same could be said about my router... well, not really, I know a little about what a router setting should mean, but that doesn't make the router do it. I'm absolutely sure there's a geekish gnome living inside my router showing me the middle finger each and every time I change a setting. "Not now, a**hole, it's dinner time. I'll change your settings tomorrow".
That's the third gnome house I'm currently using, and all the guys in each of them must have been relatives.

Okay, so much about the things outside of NWN, the small everyday annoyances of digital life.

Inside NWN, I'm currently having bad problems with scripts and custom content again.
SM is working his rear off, but it doesn't make me feel any better hat I can just sit here and watch while he's again doing things for me.
The problem itself is tied to the whole xp system again, NPC and creature behavior, and to make it short, my creatures and NPCs currently stand around and do nothing. Nothing means, I can go to a hostile creature and kick it's shin and it stares at me blankly. NPCs forgot how to talk, and... well, it's highly frustrating when the last thing you worked on was adventuring areas and NPC dialogues. Because at the moment there's absolutely nothing else to do for me than working on encounters and NPC dialogues, but.. sigh... I can't.
What was left to do was a few interiors I planned for a haunted village. But no, NWN shows me he middlefinger, I can't place any doors in any of the tilesets I wanted to use. Back to 2da work? The last thing I want to do right now.

Well, those are the few major annoyances I ran into lately. There's more though, dozens of details like the toolset telling me it's missing scripts I know it shouldn't miss, or that some mystic containers are full and can't accomodate any items anymore (never ever placed or used or looked at a container yet), and so on.

To make a long story short, I'm having a bad headache since my last post, and I'm totally frustrated because I can't just do what I want to do.


To kill some time and frustration, I played a little bit in Dammendrech and finally finished Mass Effect.
Mass Effect left me very disappointed, but it's nevertheless a game I'd recommend to everyone if it hadn't that totally ridiculous DRM scheme with activations.
The storyline is a clichée, mixed together from various sources, some more, some less obvious, and the whole game is again aimed at the US teenager who's dream of life is becoming a hero in the army and saving the world. Blech. However, the presentation of the game is awsome, the cutscenes wonderful, the voice acting and visual quality of the actors totaly sucks you in. I just hope they'll make the storyline more interesting in part two, leave out the horrible sidequests and change the DRM.

7.5/10 for Mass Effect (presentation 10/10).

Now, Dammendrech. That's a NWN2 world I sometimes (or often the last couple of weeks) play on and that has become a temporary refuge for me. It's run by a few people I know back from Vives, first of all lowfatpretzels who I played with quite often and who dragged me there, and the admin and head DM and head builder and whatevernot Vulpina, who's Vives chars I had run into sometimes, but never got to know well.

Now Dammendrech is a RP server that suffers from a lot of the problems I mentioned in older posts, last but not least it has a ridiculously harsh death penalty that would drive me off immediately anywhere else. From the game mechanics, a lot of it is exactly what I'd like to avoid in my module.
Nevertheless, it's a nice server. Why? Well, great attention for detail, very nice building (within the borders of NWN2's ugly graphics of course), a believable and unique setting that avoids stereotypes, very few silly effects and magic and all.

And first of all, the people are nice and relaxed. It's extremely newbie-friendly, DM attention is guaranteed and always positive, and it's constantly changing and being worked on. That's probably what really makes a server worth playing, and of course I'm again stealing ideas and try to learn.
Well, enough of the praise, actually there's still a little lack of content and some flaws and all, and I often found myself not knowing what to do with my char when noone was on. Besides that, if you want to check out a NWN2 world, give that one a try, it deserves a little attention.

Well, now while I wrote this, SM sent me a new mail telling me that my module has definitely other bugs in the system than his test mod, which was very reassuring and of course I can't wait to track this next one down. Yay.

F... it. :(

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Finally some new areas

I finally had some enthusiasm again and made a few areas to be used around the town of Niederhoeve. So here's what players will find on the other side of town:

We follow the road to the farmlands and come across this mill...


A different view from behind the hill...

..and find a small cloister called St. Magnus.


We can also take a different path that leads us to a lake...


Which continues into the Niederhoevean Moor...


... which gets a little darker...



... and eerie the deeper we go in.


I think I have some good ideas about what happens in these areas. First off, I don't follow the rule that every area must contain some quests or encounters. I think for an immersive atmosphere there have to be some "travel areas" that have no other meaning than to give the player an impression of distance. However, I'll try to add as many small quests or things to be found to make it not too boring.

Let's start with the cloister. I was thinking a lot about monks in the module and would like to try making them more like a classical monk (as in christian history). I actually have no idea how to couple that with the FR monk and his mastery of martial arts, but might find a solution.

However, my idea is to make quite a few monasteries all over the module to give monks a reason to travel from one to the other. Some might be like the one in the screenshot, a small cloister in the middle of nowhere, while others might be huge like castles with a small city around it.

Furthermore, I think it would be a nice idea to make monk and nun cloisters, some monasteries will only be open for male while others only open for female monk PCs.

But before I do that, I have to fill those swamp areas with something nasty. No details on that yet.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Wassup?

Well, almost two weeks without an update. Why? Blockade.
At the moment I'm having serious problems doing anything in the toolset, I can't really put my finger on the reason why. I have more than enough time at the moment, not much real life work, not many real life things to worry about, no distractions, but however, I open the toolset, stare at the areas, and most of the time close it after a few minutes again without having done anything.
Yesterday I was at least enthusiastic enough to fill a shop with standard items I modified the look for, but that's it. The last time I really did something was about the same time as my last armor rant, back then I started playing around with ambient animations and NPC jobs. The waitress that aproaches tavern patrons, sailors that hit on female PCs on perception, NPCs that say a random one-liner and so on. My original intention was actually to make day/night schedules for NPCs, but as far as I can tell, it's not that as easy as I hoped it would be. It is possible with heartbeat scripts and raising the AI level of affected NPCs, but it'll eat way too much ressources for a persistant world, the result would be serious lag. So I dropped it for now and the result is some half-finished stuff I don't really feel like I want to continue working on right now.
There's a lot of other stuff I have to do in the city that doesn't really make me too enthsiastic. Shops, to name just one. One I always put at the end of the line is a rogue store.. it reminds me that rogue stuff should always be in a special atmoshere, the usual example is a hideout in the sewers or a dark end of town... I can't think of a right setting at the moment.

Then there's the forest, and some higher fantasy areas. I still have nothing elven in the module, and I planned to make something not too stereotypical. But that's only what I'm not gonna do, as for what I want, no idea.

I got a few Walter Moers Audiobooks, maybe listening to them while staring at the toolset will give me some new ideas, at the moment I guess I just don't feel well...

That's all for now, I hope there'll be more progress again to write about in the next post.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A quick armor rant

I'm usually not the type who'd rant about the poor work of others openly, but sometimes I can't resist.
I sometimes browse the Vault looking for ideas, and now and then I come across a module or world that uses the same stuff I'm building with.

What I just came across is another thing I just don't get... as you've read before, I'm using Valine's ACAG hak which includes a lot of armor parts of the sexier sort. I enjoy making armors with it, combined with the CEP there are great possibilities for sexy, but tasteful stuff. Let me show you a quick example of some armors I threw together in a matter of minutes (I included some plain underwear of the not-so-naughty sort on the right of the screenshot, just to show that those armor parts are in too):


As I said, thrown together in no time. They are not great, one can still argue if they are too open or sexy for NWN, but anyway, they still look like outfits.
What I don't get is, why do people use this hak when they don't even bother to change the standard armors? When you just throw in the armors from the standard palette, the result is at least as bad as this:


And I swear, this looks still much better than what I saw on some screenshots that were meant to advertise a module. I tried to find the armors that look so bad on those screenies, but what you see above is all I could find in the hurry.

I resist to grab screens from the vault or name the mods I'm talking about....

I think the ACAG hak, tasteful or not, nudity or not, still contains some high quality clothing parts, and within a few minutes you can make some really nice outfits with it. I just fail to understand that people don't even try. If you throw a hak like this into your module without changing anything at all, it's no wonder people think it looks ridiculous or silly....

Well, rant is over, just had to let that out.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Doh!

The little secrets of blogger... well, after hearing from two people that they would've left a comment if they just could I looked at the blog preferences again and.. meh. Okay PP, you can leave a comment now. :D

Yesterday I was playing in Nexus again - normally I just sit on the bench for an hour waiting for someone to show up, if noone does, I leave again. The curse of having played on a server for too long. However, yesterday Chakra showed up and we went to an area called "San Simone" - an island with a vampire tower, and the interior of the tower is a huge maze with a lot of fun encounters. I think it's still one of my favourite, if not the favourite area in Nexus and reminded me that some day I'll have to come up with some fun adventuring areas myself.
I'm not very experienced with building adventuring areas actually, but as a player I want a high standard. San Simone is one of those areas I'd already be proud of if I could make something similar.
Of course, there are things I'd do different. In my mod I'd probably make a castle interior and set a different mood, I'd also try to add a little more variation to the encounters, but as for balancing, rewards and keeping the whole thing fun for the player, it's a great example. Not to forget it's maybe the only area in Nexus where death really means something - Chakra's and my PC were reminded of that in the end.
The feeling that death means something is what I want for every area in my mod, even though maybe not with such drastic consequences for your character's appearance. Although, there's Vuldrick's nifty little Vampire PC script... could be a fun addition.

Anyway, there are a few areas in Nexus that, even though maybe aimed at a more H&S-orientated player, were extremely fun and were very well balanced. My favourite might be San Simone, other examples incude a lot of kensail's work, such as Hope Island. All those wouldn't fit into my module, but set an example for the balancing and fun ratio (although, honestly, Hope Island by kensail was mostly fun because the xp rewards were pretty high. ;) ).

Am I starting to ramble again? Oh well.. okay, I'm hiring building slaves now. You'll have absolutely no artistic freedom, need to make things look exactly how I want them, and the skill to make encounters exactly how I love them. Sounds like a fun job? Great!

*looks around*

Oh well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

XP System Beta

Yay, more progress!

SM sent me a Beta of his XP system last night which I'm currently importing into my mod.
The mod by the way is a whole mess. I'm getting a little too much "missing ressource" errors already when building the module and I have no idea where those come from.
However, testing works still fine. I hope the other mess, being the haks, will get a little better as well since I've been offered some inofficial help by another community member (you know who you are ;) ) who has much more experience with this stuff than I have.
In the end, or at least when 1.69 is final, 'll probably have to rebuild the module from scratch, meaning, exporting and reimporting all I need and trying to keep it a little more organized (which won't last long anyway). For the moment though I guess I have to make more test areas, some with a few rats or goblins to kill for testing the combat xp as well. Goblins.. do I really wan to have those in my mod? I don't know.. maybe I should use them as a base for something else, but I really don't see the classic NWN goblin anywhere in my mod. Okay, scratch that, no goblins. At least not the yellow ones. :D

Not much more to say right now, I've been away for a few days and haven't done any building. I think I had some good ideas while I was on a walk on Sunday, but of course I forgot what it was... I just remember thinking "Wow, that's a great idea for my mod!". Hell.... if I could just remember....

Friday, May 9, 2008

Re: The previous post.

I had a very interesting discussion with SM last night regarding the little hak I use, which reminded me of previous discussions about similar content (for example, mentioning ADWR to someone). This shouldn't be taken as an offence or sound stereotypical, but I noticed that especially mentioned to US players, the reactions are always a little bit more extreme compared to euopeans. It's a thing hard to understand for me, but I think I'm a little bit wiser now.

You can see the same kind of reaction on many boards where games or mods that include adult content are discussed. They usually vary between extreme praise and extreme negative reactions, while I made the observation that a european player much more often shrugs and just says "yes, I like it" or "hmm, it's not that I really need it".

I mentioned the adult content in the Witcher. My guess was that it got the high PG rating because of the language, and always thought the retouching of some nipples in the game was a rather extreme self-censorship by Atari. I laughed at it, said the nude cards in the Witcher are nothing a 12 year old hasn't seen before, and calling it "adult content" is just ridiculous.
Well, I was really shocked when he followed the link, came back and said it's clearly 18+... Everything nipple is 18+. Shocking for someone who sees pictures like that in advertisements, fashion magazines etc. daily. Fine, of course the pictures in the Witcher are shown in a sexual context, and they are more sexual than, say, an advertisement for a body lotion, but still, nothing more is shown, and i'd give it a 16 just for the context and inviting expression. That's extreme, usually, here at least, 16+ means pubic hair is shown.

I don't want to raise the "US = prudish" thing again, I know that of course every society is a mix of everything. But there's always a common standard, the middle way. The standard in most european countries is, you see nipples every day, in every magazine and not in a sexual context. TV movies, cinema movies that are rated 12+. It's just an everyday thing and noone associates it with porn or something to make you horny. Now, the "middle" in the US is 18+, which clearly marks it as adult content and directly associated with sexuality. Of course that explains that the reactions towards content like that are more extreme and doesnt automaticly mean every american is a puritan. It's just a different view because of different standards. I talked to some of he most relaxed american friends I have, but the reaction on it was always.... different than our standards. It's strange. I think to understand it, a european should imagine looking at game content that would clearly be 18+ in most european countries. Some Language in the Witcher would meet our 18+ rating, no doubt, the dialogues in ADWR too, but the pictures and a naked Vampire? Never.

Well, anyway, it was avery insightful chat, but I still see no point in removing such a (for our standards) harmless little hak that just shows some cute cartoonish skin. This is no US mod and it's not directly aimed at a US playerbase. But nevertheless, everyone should play it, and it would just be sad if players from the region automatically associate it with adult/porn/"social" servers just because of some minor details. Rest asured, it won't be anything like that, you an try out the module should it ever see daylight and will never see any extremes. You can play like on every other server, just remember to keep your pants on, that's all. :D

Edit: I wish there was a way to hide the time stamp down there... does everyone have to know that I slept all day, woke up at 1 am and write blog entries at 4? :P

Update May... um... what day is it? Look at the timestamp.

Maybe nothing new to everyone else, but I only saw this today:



Oooooh my god. If I was living in the US, I'd throw my TV out of the window. For everyone who trusts the media: Yes, my mod will be highly pornographic. Your kid's mind will be seriously damaged, and I can't guarantee an adult will not turn into a mass murderer or rapist after having played it. Better run now.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Finally something interesting: About adult content

"So... how did you create a nekkid dryad?"

"Well... there are some bodyparts in the mod that allow me to do that."

"Eeek, will players be able to run around naked?"

"Theoretically, yes. Your basic character wears no loincloth."

"Eek, pervert!"

Well, I don't think I'm a pervert, no. And I don't care much for pixelporn, teenage fantasies and so-called "social roleplay", which basically means roleplaying in a world where the focus is on dating and reproductive activities.
But I'm old enough to admit that I like some erotic content and some innuendo in literature, movies, arts...and games. It can add to the immersion, it's is "realistic" (yes, there IS adult content and a nude patch included in real life), and it's a component in a game that can be enjoyed.
BUT it's not easy to do it right. As much as I want some minor erotic content I want to avoid it to become a major component.

This server will of course be a social server in the sense of meeting up, hanging out together, and there's also nothing to say against some flirting and romances, but hell, I really don't want to watch players roleplaying the act of reproduction 24/7. Or... *cringes*..get the obligatory crowd of goths who only want to roleplay kinky adventures. Sorry, I might piss off a whole lot of potential players now, but there is a certain stereotype that will probably never change, and somehow those all find the way into fantasy worlds that use nude patches, make a char that looks like a vampire/dark fey/whatever looks dark and cool, and play the seductive impersonification (eh, sp?) of sin.
I'm allowed to say that, used to think I'm a goth too in my.. hehe.... younger years. No, I don't hate goths or any other group of people, I actually like most of them, but in RP worlds, it's become a clichée I take the right to make some jokes about. I think a lot of the best roleplayers and friendliest people I met in NWN are kinda... well, black outfit and dark metal... anyway, I still don't want that kinky silly roleplay in my world, it ruins the immersion for me.

So, I'm trying to balance on the edge between erotic content and silly wannabe-adult roleplay,which certainly isn't easy, but I already wrote down a rules draft for it.
To give you an idea where the border is:
There will be prostitutes in the mod, and you'll actually be able to see them in their.. um... working outfit. There will be some dirty words and innuendo in NPC dialogues.

There will be NO animations or emotes to illustrate anything. There will be no detailed dialogue either. Let's say, a PC hires a prostitute... the prostitute will take him into a room... undress, fade to black. Cut. Dialogue continues with something like "you think that gold was well spent" or, maybe the maximum of dirt, "Certain regions of your body start itching", along with a little desease infection ( ;-) ).
Well, that's not in he mod, but I made that up now to give you an idea. If you're european, think maybe age 16+ content (of course, the US would rate it 18, but that's a different topic). There might be a naked dryad or demon showing up here and there, there'll be some dirty words, but not more. See again: The Witcher. I expect roleplay by players to be on the same level.

As for he hak itself, it's of course Valine's ACAG in a stripped down version (haha...). It's the only one I know that doesn't look plain silly, probably because it was made by an adult girl and not by a male teenager. Actually, the naked body parts are much less silly than the barely clothed ones in the CEP (think spiders). Also, the hak contains some wonderful clothing parts, I couldn't live without those for my custom armors.
Just to mention it, the usual hak many social servers seem to use is JenX. It's almost a CEP replacement wen it comes to clothing (or the lack of it), a huge beast, but in there you really have the silly stuff I don't want to use on my server. Well, maybe by not using it I can keep the clientel of players out as well.
Since we're at adult content, I should mention Valine's "A dance with rogues" too. I know, either you love or you hate that one with a passion. I loved it. No no, don't get excited, there'll be nothing like that story in my mod. :)
However, Valine deserves a lot of credit for making an 18+ mod that actually has a really great storyline, a great atmosphere and fantastic ideas. I got a lot of ideas from it that have nothing to do with adult content. Hell, I could rip off every 2nd script in that module. If you don't mind (highly) explicit content, go play it if you haven't already, and if it's just to get some ideas for building.

Phew, now that this topic has been talked about, what's the next thing I can shock you with?
Ah, maybe I should make new screenies, this time at daylight, of the areas I'm least satisfied with.



Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Horror

Now the horror begins: CEP 2.1 is out. I expect it to break pretty much everything I made, and I'll probably have to redo my top hak from scratch. I'm really NOT looking forward to it.... hell, 2da conflicts, a new tlk.... it took me months to get the current ones working.

Oh well, but I have to, better now than later. I'm also looking forward to the actual fixes... finally being able to use all the new 1.69 placables... crossing fingers now.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Nightwalk

Here are some new screenies, a walk in and around Rungholdt at night. I'm slowly getting the atmosphere right, I think. The areas are still missing a lot of content, but I think one can already see where it's going... well, here we go.


A view over Rungholdt's marketplace

Anna, my new love. She makes me grin every time I test the area. All she does is dancing, but I think at this she's extremely talented.

The cathedral with small alleys around it.

One of those dozens of small alleys - Rungholdt is a maze.

Top view on Rungholdt's Redlight district - it's a part of he docks of course.

The redlight district from a different angle

The bridge to the city gate

The road to Rungholdt

Niederhoeve: The tavern

And finally, a view on a misty river in the early morning hours.

On a sidenote, I just realize that Safari seems to have problems with Blogger... meh, back to Firefox.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Progress


Just a little screenshot of something that happened by accident when I tried to connect two parts of a river made with different water tiles.

Although I cannot use it in this area, I will definately rebuild it somewhere else... I think it looks awsome (much better ingame than on the screenshot).

What else? Oh, I finally got CNR to work, and some other scripting stuff. Now I'm connecting areas, make some "in between" ones (like the one on the screenshot) and have some new energy.

SM pointed me to a tileset I currently rebuild Rungholdt with, it's much darker now than on the old screenshots. A litle too dark for my taste actually, but better than the standard, and I don't want to use CC City Exterior until it's updated, which might take too long.

More later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Re: The Top Ten

Yay, a lot of the top ten issues are solved now!

  1. The Wildshape issue: The solution was much easier than I thought. No feat changes, that would've been the more elegant but much trickier solution. No, just a simple item, you use it, a dialogue comes up and you can decide if your Level 12+ druid shapechages into the new, or into the old unimproved shapes. It was so easy to make it I actually wonder why I haven't seen that on any server I played on yet.
  2. The Blackguard's Succubus summon works pretty much the same way as the Druid wildhapes: At level 8 you get an item that you can use to decide whether to use the succubus or the Vrock.
  3. Summons have the HotU dialogue now, it was actually a simple matter of changing one line in a script.
  4. Summoned creatures can easily be customized, the hard thing is just finding the original summons so you can customize them. Ben_WH at the NWN forums pointed me to this excellent little package at the vault, so that problem is solved too. I already changed some of the more silly looking summons like some vampires. And no, the succubus still looks the same, hehe. Might work on some Enryes though. ;)
  5. SM is currently reworking the xp system for his module, and if I like it, I'll just bribe him to give it to me (or use more efficient methods like a knife, kidnapping his dog or whatever. Killing him and taking his laptop is not an option, I'll need him for future bugfixes).
  6. I already removed or reduced quite a few of the visual spell effects... for some reason clarity/mind blank didn't work, but I'm working on that.
Now I have some more things on my To-do list again though. One of the more pressing ones is the druid spellbook which should contain some additional cleric spells and so on. That'll require some tlk and 2da changes, but I remember having it done before, so I'm positive I'll get it done again.
And then of course... areas. If I want to put up an alpha version some day, I should at least connect the few I have and add some very basic ones like the still unfinished starting area, a basic item shop and so on.
That's it for now, back to the toolset.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

And here she is...

Since I had nothing better to do, here's a (half-) naked dryad for your viewing pleasure.




Don't get too excited, as you've probably learned in The Witcher, plants reproduce differently...


... or at least they say so...

Top Ten of the most pressing things still to do

Here's my quick To-do list, please send Aspirin via email.

  • Database related: The decrease of killing XP
  • Database related: a more reliable system for persistant locations, without cluttering up the servervault
  • Database related: Persistant chests and a room renting system
  • Death system
  • The DMFI emote commands are still not reliable enough, need to change it to an external application w/o the need of listener NPCs and such.
  • Feat changes, especially Druid wild shape. I tried to get help on the NWN1 board, but no replies... is it really that hard? What I want is that a high level druid still has the option to use the non-improved shapes, eg. normal wolf instead of dire wolf.
  • Sounds easy, but haven't had any success yet: Dialogues for summoned creatures (e.g. "I need you to cast a spell", "I want you to change your tactics" etc). I know it can be done, it's done in Vives, but my attempts have been fruitless (I'm such a n00b).
  • Spell changes! Especially the visual effects, e.g. make spells that effect the mind invisible or remove the sparkling of protection from elements etc.
  • I'd like to change the appearance for some standard summons, e.g. a dire rat that has the CEP rat appearance (smaller) etc.
  • More work on summons (and other spells), esp. increase the duration. In a "slower" RP environment it can be frustrating having to rest and resummon your "roleplay-toy" every 5 minutes.

Wel that's my to-do list for now. I'm feeling dumb again, a skilled builder might do that in no time, and I have not even an idea where to start. Until I find out, I guess I'll try to make some generic house interiors and some naked dryads...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Aim, expectations and some other ramblings

SM asked me to update my blog, and so I do, even though I'm still waiting for the darn patches and haven't gotten a single thing done since my last update.
However, I'm currently in the state of a "Roleplay server depression" again which gave me some ideas about what to do and what to avoid in my own module.
So here's some stuff I definately want to do different, it's about the main rules and game mechanics.

First of all, I want a roleplay world and an immersive world with a lot of realism. Yes, powergamers, that means totally uncool stuff like resting restrictions, being expected to stash your sword while talking to friendly NPCs, not running around in town without a reason and all that. I know some people already call that kind of behaviour crazy, but it's the least you should expect from a roleplay world.

However, there are a lot of things common in average roleplay worlds I can't agree with, and with those mechanics or philosophies I'll start.

First: Gaining xp is bad, action is bad, levelling is bad.
I totally disagree with this. Roleplay does NOT mean sitting in a tavern all day, and the greatest roleplay situations I've been in have often been in a battle. Adventuring is fun, exploring is fun, making some xp from baddies is fun and it's a thrill to get that big boss down. This is how games like NWN work and I'm not gonna cut that part out. Exploring and adventuring is of course allowed and encouraged.
However, staying in character all the time should be obligatory.

This brings me to game mechanics, usually aimed at keeping the level of roleplay high, the level of immersion higher and the level of levelling low. Death penalty is one of the very good examples, and one thing I'm still not sure how to implement. Let's say, the usual action mod uses Bioware's standard and has raise dead scrolls, resurrection scrolls and all that all over the place. The average xp rewards are high, powerbuilding common, okay, that's what I don't want. Death should mean something, the penalty should be harsh enough to make a player think twice about going into a fierce battle.
What I absolutely dislike: Penalties that cut your xp in half and strip off half of your levels. Permadeath. That's where the fun ends. You want realism? Go out and ejoy real life, here you got it, it can be fun but it's for sure permadeath. Okay, fine, the general answer in RP worlds is: Party up, never go witout a cleric. A cleric will be able to raise you for only xxx xp or xxxxx gold, so where's the problem?
The problem is, your server might not be as well populated as you wish. And if you make it impossible to level up, there will be for sure no midlevel cleric who can actually cast a raise dead.
In a perfect world you might log into your favourite persistant world and your whole party will be waiting for you. The dwarf in front, the rogue in the shadow, the mage and the archer in the back, the cleric nearby with a number of resurrection spells ready.
Oh, but what if nobody's heard of your world yet? What if there are only 4 people playing at peak times, all at low level? What if the player is in a different timezone than the base? Yup, he's screwed. He might log in at 4 am next week to get a raise from a cleric, or cry on IRC or whatever. But that's for sure no fun and the result is players who are scared to make a weak character and go for powerbuilds. It's simple like that, if I'm scared to die I try to avoid it, and that means I'd rather go out with a tough tank than a weak bard.
So here's my aim for death penalties: Enough that it really hurts, but not so much that it can't be regained in, say, one day or two. Furthermore, players should get a little kickstart at the very low levels to create the plateau I mentioned in an earlier post. Kickstart does not mean, instant level 4 from one quest, but it should be straightforward and not too painful to overcome he state of "too weak to kill a rat".

Now to the resting limitations. A lot of action players hate those with a passion, but in my opinion resting limitations are essential for balance, furthermore, they encourage roleplay and add to the immersion. However, it can be overdone, and it's overdone a lot. Carrying a whole backpack full of items just to be able to rest is just ridiculous. I also don't think rations should really be required, noone needs to eat to be able to sleep (although it might help). Not every rest must be considered a nap either. But however it's implemented, the real proble is the time. How many RL minutes are required between rests to keep mages from the usual cast-rest-cast rampage, but to not annoy any players who just accidently essed up their spellbook during preparations?
I guess it should not exceed ten minutes, even 5 might be enough. Furthermore, there should be areas like Inns without any resting restrictions. As for the required items, I think a blanket and a nearby campfire is not too much to ask from a player, once you get used to it it won't be too much trouble. Water canteen, rations, a tent, bedroll, campfire kit, flint and all that... um... let's keep it simple, a game should be fun.

To make a long story short: My aim is building a world with a lot of roleplay and opportunities to socialise, but I'm realistic enough to know that there might be people playing alone, and for those I want to make it fun too.

Enough rambling, I think I'll go back to haks and building in my next post...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Waiting... (haks part 2)

I hate waiting. I love letting others wait for me though, but I demand immediate attention and satisfaction as soon as I want something. I think I've never waited for something as long as for that stupid 1.69 patch. Yes, I know I could use the Beta, but... yes, the whole community is waiting for that darn patch, there's no update to the CEP, no update for the seasonal forest and no update for all the other haks I plan to use until that darn final 1.69 patch is out!

Seasonal forest is no biggie, I'm sure it'll be backwards compatible so I just started playing around with it. CEP is one thing I'm not sure about yet... it will be backwards compatible with itself, yes, but it might screw up all the stuff I tried to squeeze into the tight gaps between the 2da lines of CEP 2.0... I'd hate to do all that stuff again. But now I'm facing the problem of building the main city... or better, the center of merchandise, the place every player needs and will visit regulary, the place where you get your gear and so on. Yes, every module should have a place like this, noone wants to travel the world for hours just to get his first armor, shortsword and shortbow. Fine, so I started building that city long ago with the 169 beta. I tried various tilesets for giving it a more medieval feeling than the standard city.

The only one that really satisfied me was the
CC City Exterior tileset by s030363l & sixesthrice. Ah, of course it has a nasty bug that crashes the game and toolset, also it's all blown up by TNO textures that will become obsolete with the 1.69 patch. I kept watching the site but there was no update, so I finally decided to try other tilesets and, well... ended up with the standard one. Now I'm halfway done and totally not satisfied - the city looks just too modern, whatever dirt I throw at it, and see... there's life on the CC City exterior vault entry again... update will come, but when? No idea. I decided I need it, so the city development won't continue any further. Um.. but that's the base, so what should I be working on now? All my ideas are focused on the basics at the moment, and being forced to concentrate on something else now makes me kinda stuck... I want to work on the stuff I already have ideas for first, not being forced to come up with new ones. Oh well. Well, that's one example.

The other one is my plan for a huge polar region. Think vikings, iceland, scandinavia. I love
this longship hak and always wanted to make use of it. And I did. All of sudden when I was building the docks for Rungholt, it occured to me that there were too few standard bioware ships in the palette.... meh, the longships replaced all of them. I could've gone through that painful hak editing process again (which means, learning by doing) and blowing up my custom hak even further, or... throw them out, which I did. The last update for the longships has been somewhere in 2003, so I don't hold my breath anything will happen to them anymore.

Then there's the Barbaric North. Don't let the rather plain looking screens at the vault fool you, there's a lot of potential in this tileset, and it has longships! So even though I won't be able to add them to my Rungholt docks, I can at least use them up there in the north.
Here's a quick example... I have no idea why weather effects only fire when I start up the mod with NWNX, so... just imagine snowflakes.





But, of course... incompatibilities again. Gah! Why does everyone have to use the same 2da lines or whatever it is?
Figured it must be the doortypes conflicting with either seasonal forest or Sigil or whatever... oh damn, I don't have the energy to fix (learn how to fix) that right now... no further working on the north until I decided if I want to fix it or just throw that tileset out too.

You see where this is leading.. everything I have ideas for either needs updates or fixes or I'm scared to work on it because I fear 1.69 (and it's tail) will screw up everything I do. I don't even dare to make any more armors because I see incompatibilities between the CEP and the other custom stuff coming. GAH! Where's that stupid Witcher toolset, I need something to do.

Oh, because screenshots always lighten posts up, here's one of a dock construction I played around with... those siege placeables make great construction equipment. I hope I can rebuild something like this with the CC City Exterior tileset.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Aim

A little more on the aim for this world. Who should enjoy this server, who should better go elsewhere, what should be known before making a character.
Basically, the NWN crowd is usually devided into categories like Roleplayer, Powergamer, Munchkin, Roleplay Purists, Action Gamer and so on. Basically, I don't like any extremes. Munchkins are utterly annoying, as are Roleplayers who have to throw a dice for every single fart they do and consider reaching level 2 powergaming.
I do not like powerbuilds that are only good for making a character as strong as possible, but I do understand the wish to make a character who does good in battle and knows how to survive.
I do understand the fun in making a roleplay character who does nothing else in his life than sitting in a tavern telling stories, but I do not like an elitist roleplayer attitude towards the rest and forcing an hour-long dicerolling orgy on someone who just wants a little fun after a hard working day.

Experience (and the making of it) should not be a forbidden word or thought, but it shouldn't be the main goal either. Everyone likes levelling up, granted, so it shouldn't be too hard to get somewhere into the low-mid levels. Playing should be fun after all, shouldn't it?
On the other hand, this world should be all about atmosphere and immersion, so levelling up is and should be considered a bonus, not more. The main goal in a multiplayer world should always be the interaction of characters, and on a roleplay server, this should be in character and by thinking up nice stories and backrounds for a PC. Roleplay is the focus, but action is by no means forbidden.

Now, as for building a PC: I don't like too many rules, I don't like spoiling a player's fun, but I also don't like obvious munchkin and powergame characters only built for strenght without any "clue" for a class choice in the player's roleplay. That's why I'll go with the Vives rule regarding character builds: At least 3 levels per chosen class have to be taken. That means, no Rogue 19/SD 1, no Fighter 9/wiz 1/AA 10 and so on. I'm really sorry for that, but my personal opinion is that a class should have at least a little meaning and not just be treated as a brick in the building.
On the other hand though, I won't ever ask a player to play along the clichées and stereotypes of a class. Let's say, a player wants to make a character that resembles Connor MacLeod, Emma Peel or James Bond and for achieving that goal, has to choose a class mix that would be considered "illegal" by the classic DnD player. I say, go ahead - mix your CoT with an Assassin or whatever as long as it makes sense and is not just a cheap excuse to build up a ridiculous "über" powerbuild. Usually, I'd consider a Paladin/Blackguard at least "some sort of weird" because obviously, there are a lot of things that stack in such a build and make this a very powerful PC after all. BUT there have been cases of astonishing roleplay of a class mix like that, not to forget that the "fallen Paladin" is even somewhat "legal". This would be an example for a case-by-case decission. If there's a rotten "powerbuild" stench around the PC, I'd call it munchkin, if there's a chance for an interesting character, I'd call it a great addition.

In my opinion, common sense should be the judge, not any rulebooks. The fallen Paladin, fallen Angels and so on make perfect sense to me, so that option will be open, although maybe a case-by-case DM decission.
Assassins have never been truely evil in my opinion, if I'd make a James Bond or any kind of spy character, there'd surely be assassin in the class mix.
Blackguards on the other hand should be evil, Paladins should be good, but there's always the chance for a fallen Paladin or a Blackguard who uses evil means to aid the good (may it be pressed, may it be for an egoistic reason, it all depends on the character's motivation and roleplay). A good Blackguard doesn't make sense, a cooperative evil one does.

I could go on with monks, bards and so on, but these are the most common ad extreme examples. As you can see, alignments are the DnD rules I respect the least, they've always been too black and white for me, support stereotypes and hinder creativity. They will still function as basic guidelines, but will never be treated as main rules.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A few more toolset scribbles

I call these toolset scribbles... a quick area idea, not perfect yet, but something I can keep for future use.

This one is a simple church interior for a village church. Wooden, not too fancy, the priest at the altar is called Father Hein (Hein is a typical name from Germany's northern coast)


The church from the outside. The village it belongs to is called Niederhoeve, a name I made up but doesn't sound too far off for the setting.

And this is an old cemetary, hidden in the forest behind the church. Of course there's something bad in that tomb, I already have an idea what it might be...



Ideas for the setting (influences part 2)

Finding a good setting is much harder than I thought. As mentioned before, existing settings like the Forgotten Realms or anything based on someone else's work are no real options. I have way too many wild ideas and don't want to rule anything out because it might not fit. However, of course there are a lot of ideas based on other people's work, and I hope to find a way to stir them all up in a huge cooking pot and make a good soup of it.

There's the basic atmosphere of the game world, which could be anything from "completely out of there" fantasy (FR, different planes, high magic) to a more realistic, simple setting. At one point I thought about just making an uncivilized forest and nothing else, and players would slowly develop their civilization and build the whole world up on their own. But that'd require players, and I'd have to hold back all the other ideas in the back of my mind.
Anyway, I never liked high magic. I don't like it when only items make a good character, I don't like senseless use of magic, everyone running around buffed up as if there was some sort of neverending archmage congress going on, so the decission to go with a low magic setting was quickly made.

Low does not mean no though and I'm not the type of player who wants to run around with a basic shortsword at level 20. It's not even the item properties that I have the most problems with, it's more the usage of magic, the overdone effects and that the base of a character can be anything as long as there are cool items to make up for all the weaknesses.
So the goal is to have magic at a level where it's still the character that counts and not the items he has. No surprise for anyone who has played on the servers I have played on - there won't be many differences. Expect magical effects to be toned down though.

As for the world's atmosphere I want to go with a setting that resembles medieval Europe without having to be too accurate, but evolves into a more fantastic world the deeper you explore. The setting should be dirty, no rainbow-colored kitsch with knights on white stallions and cities that smell like roses.

I don't need to describe it any further, because while I was planning the setting, another game was released that pretty much did exactly what I want - The Witcher
No need to say that I enjoyed that game very much, it gave me a lot of ideas for what I want to do in my own little world. By the way, it's one of my favourite games of all times already.

There's a quest in Act IV of the game that resembles the basic idea of what I'd like to do, that's the "In the heat of the day" quest based on a novel or folk tale. And we have a lot of old medieval folk tales in Europe, the Grimm Brothers alone could fill quite a few game worlds with quests and ideas. So there's a great source.

European folk tales and legends are also a great source for settings and creatures. Away with the stereotypes, why use a dragon for the thousandth time if you can easily make it a Lindworm instead? Why not think about creating a Wolpertinger?

Ah, the Wolpertinger... of course it's almost impossible to create the "historical accurate" one, but here's another idea giver who played a lot with all kinds of folk tales to create his own, unique wild mix - Walter Moers. His vision of a Wolpertinger has not much to do with the bavarian folk tales anymore, as you can read in the wonderful book Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures.
As great as the ideas in Moers books might be, his world is not a good base for a serious module - his stories are so full of fantasy, wild ideas and ridiculous creatures that it's impossible to merge it with a dark, medieval setting. Imagine The Witcher with a fluffy, cute dog as a protagonist. But as a basic idea or even just a source for names the book works great, and for my module, even more another book of his, Ensel and Krete (not translated yet). Even though as a novel, it's not as good as Rumo or The City of Dreaming Books, it gave me the idea of making a huge dark forest the center of the world, as well as a lot of ideas for creatures that roam it.

Another inspiration for settings are legendary places and sunken cities. In Germany there's Rungholdt, the French have their Ys, just two examples for perfect cities you can create with a lot of creative freedom.

Well, these are examples for lighthearted content, but after all, this shouldn't become a Disney-like, childsafe module, so let's hunt for crime stories, murder, prostitution, blood, deseases, drug abuse, racism and all the adult stuff next...

Haks part 1 (or the shortcomings of the CEP)

When it comes to customization, I think the CEP is inavoidable these days. Actually, I couldn't live without it anymore, and worlds that don't make use of it or at least an equally good solution for character customization are of no interest for me anymore.
Of course there's no need for a whole CEP if you just want a nice looking head on your character or NPC, but if there's ever the need for a special placeable, armor, item that doesn't come with the standard Bioware game, there's a good chance the CEP has it, and it's of course much easier just to grab this package than to hunt down each and every little placeable you need at the vault and stuff it into your own hak.
But that said, there are a few things definitely missing in the CEP. Like some of the best heads from the vault. The CEP comes with a huge load of custom heads for your characters and NPCs, but why, oh why did they include the most ugly heads ever made - tattoed faces in open helmets and such, but left out some of the prettiest "normal" heads available (and well known)?

Well, that's where the work on a custom hak starts. Hunt down the best head haks and add them to the mod. Of course, it's not that easy. Hunt down the head haks, export the model and texture files, add them to your new custom hak, place that one at the top of the hak list.
Still not that easy. Of course you only want to replace the ugly CEP heads, not the good ones... renaming model and texture files alone won't do, the models won't find their texture anymore... *sigh* It's a lot of stupid work, and strangely enough there was no mentioning of it anywhere on the vault, I had to find out all this basic stuff myself... open the model file of each head in a text editor, find and replace the names of the texture files inside the file with the name of the renamed texture... the basics of hak editing I guess, every builder will yawn now, but it's really a pain, especially until you find out how it's done. Every corner of my desk was full of sheets with notes about what files to rename, replace, leave out, etc. pp. It took me days to get something that simple finally done.
However, my module has it's first custom hak and a wonderful selection of heads for each race and gender now...


Of course the heads were only the first step, much more had and still has to be done with that stupid top-hak. Just when I thought I knew how things work I had to learn about 2da editing....

The Base (influences part 1)

That much I have learned already: The hardest thing in the whole module making process is creating a base. The basic module that contains the main systems, haks and so on. Of course I developed an idea of what I want, but I had no idea what a pain it is to get it done. Although I'm already creating some areas, the base is still far from finished, it's just in an alpha stage where it's possible to play around a little.

What I definitely wanted is a system that doesn't force the player into stupid mob killing sprees for making xp, and therefore, making powerful characters in order to get xp. I'd like people to experiment with chars, trying out weaker classes and class combinations without having a huge xp penalty for it.
Well, one server I played on has done that part right, and that's Vives. Of course their system has it's flaws too, but it's still the fairest solution I've seen so far.
XP rewards are devided into:
  1. Combat XP
  2. Questing XP
  3. Crafting XP
  4. Discovery XP: xp granted everytime the player discovers something new or enters a new area.
  5. Ability Usage XP: For picking locks, untrapping, successful skill checks and so on.
  6. Magic-Harnessing XP
  7. Roleplaying XP
Each class has it's own xp modifiers. A fighter will always get 100% xp for killing something, because that's his job. But fighters don't seem to be interested in sightseeing, that's why their exploring modifier is fairly low.
A bard on the other hand doesn't get as much xp for killing as the fighter, but a bard has her eyes wide open and soaks in everything new, that's why her discovery modifier is at 100%.
Bards are jacks of all trades, so even though they can cast a few spells, spellcasting is not their main job, that's why their modifier for magic harnessing is medium. A pure wizard or sorcerer would get 100%.
Furthermore, The XP rewards are not static, the more you do the same thing again, the less you learn. The first time you kil a rat you get a huge load of xp, while the tenth rat is rather boring for your now "seasoned warrior" and will give you just a basic reward.

Well, that's the basic system, for more insight I'd suggest reading the Essential information on the Vives forum.

The problem: That system is an in-house development, and there's nothing at the vault that comes close to it. Solution: Copy, steal, rip off. Well, that'd be a solution for someone who knows what he's doing, and that's definitely not me. Also, this system requires a database. Setting up a database is definitely not a hobby of mine, and reading the NWNX forums is enough to scare me away from the most basic idea of building.

So what are the alternatives? Base mods from the Vault. I tried a lot of them and the most interesting I found was Vuldrick's Base Module. A lot of interesting goodies in there, all very well polished and easy to configure. But sadly, there was not one of the things that I really wanted in any mod.

Well, to make a long story short, while playing in Nexus (requires login) I talked about my plans and frustration to Squatting Monk, and this selfless being of a player made it all happen. Learned MySQL, built an xp system, reputation system, hunger/thirst/fatigue system, spiced it up with DMFI, CNR and HCR, listened to all my ideas and found solutions, and sent me a base module I could adjust to my needs. Phew. But hey, at least I've set up MySQL all on my own!

Well, that leaves almost no more excuses for not starting to build right away, it might seeem. But oh no, there are the haks. The 2nd pain in the a**.