Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Beginning

I know I'm slow, very slow. And for a long time I thought building in NWN2's toolset would be just too much for me. And it is slow, much slower than in NWN1. In the old toolset a basic area layout took me a day or so, and the Runghold area as it is now took maybe a week. That means already basic lighting, some working doors, market stands and some NPCs I got excited about (see Anna).
NWN2 is much slower. I started with some interiors, as was suggested to me, and while it's certainly more clumsy than NWN1's toolset, working with tiles isn't totally new and I got used to it soon enough to lose interest and started with exteriors. The first one was a lake in the hills, the basic idea was a cave entrance under the water level a player could "dive into". Quite simple, but for a newbie like me harder than I imagined. The problem is really, with total freedom in forming the landscape the builder actually has to plan ahead, and that's something totally contrary to NWN1 where I used to start somewhere and experimented by clicking and trying wildly until I found something I liked and from where I can work further. NWN2 doesn't leave as much room for experimentation, because mistakes can easily lead to a total startover.
Anyway, during the last few months I was working through some of the basic tutorials available at the vault, and even though I'm one of those persons who hate tutorials, I recommend this to everyone. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the NWN2 toolset is essential for a newbie, another great ressource with further steps into intermediate building is NWNmaster's NWN2 Toolset Guide.
Always a source for inspiration is of course the server I used to play on all the time. Not only does it show wonderful building, it also led me to thinking what I would do different or better if I had the skill.

Fine, after this little introduction now the great (?) news, I started building again with Middleforest in mind. Of course I started with Runghold, and I can only say it's very slow and painful. After a week or so it still looks plain and like Lego in the toolset, and I admit after Five days of building there's actually not much to see, it's far from being impressive or even nice to look at. The reason, besides what I said earlier, is walkmeshes. Walkmesh, the curse of any enthusiastic builder? I can't say, I just know I can't for my life figure out the strange logic of this beast. It's simple in a plain exterior area, you have that nice grid with all the nice triangles in yellow and you can add and erase parts... so far so good. A simple bridge over a small river, all fine. But Balconies, stairs, docks, "selfmade" bridges... it's hell. Two days I was only trying to allow a PC to walk on some walls or on the docks I built, I tried walkmesh helpers, tried to figure out how walkmesh helpers work (a tutorial from Obsidian was no help in my case at all), and came to the conclusion it's just a matter of trial and error, and a lot of luck. If I give up building again, it'll be because of Walkmeshes, that's for sure.
Anyway, last but not least a few clumsy WIP screenies, just to have some screens on my blog again.

My first clumsy exterior...

Basic layout of Rungold in the toolset, not many buildings to see yet

A selfmade bridge - maybe too ambitious, I doubt I'll get the walkmesh thingie done :)

The basic docks

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