Sunday, August 17, 2008

Still unsure of Mouth of Song

I admit this area has been giving me fits for some time, it just hasn't come out the way I envisioned. It's still good, but just not quite what I had in mind. More importantly, it's impossible to show overview screenshots of it the way I have with my other areas. The Treecover over the top makes a good overview a little difficult to show. Here's how much I have done (The parts under the Trees)...

Admittedly now that I've added some of the Tree overhead before Placables it appears that the texturing job will be fine, But Frank may be right. I might have to make lighting adjustments instead as it requires full shadows to get the correct view of the forest.

This is what it looks like on the ground before any real placables with the full shadows as intended...

I think this will do, but I've been thinking about what Frank said about it. Perhaps ignoring the full shadows and going with a total lighting adjustment with placed lights. I have looked at the area with full shadows and without and admittedly without shadows and some various placed lights may very well be the ticket.

Full Shadows shot...

No Shadows Shot

Saturday, August 9, 2008

NWN2 Online Gencon of sorts Sept 26th...

By JFoxtail

Hi NWN2 Builders and online friends:

As per my request on your blog(s) and or messages - we would be very interested if you would consider committing to an IRC or Net chat on the above dates for NWNCon 4 - hosted by Neverwinter

We are looking to firm up date, time slots, and participation.

You are all builders of substantial renown

I know that many players at Connections will be familiar with your work and eager to listen in - perhaps submit questions.

Above all - as I indicated we are looking to be inclusive on NWN2 and so have a proper NWNCon online that represents the "larger community" and puts to rest unneccessary division of the game. We have a number of members (i.e. Carlos) active in building (DMFI) in NWN2 and so hope to continue a home at connections for multiplayer.

I would envision you all participating in a Builders corner discussion:
- Ernie has recently been working with NWConnections people on DMFI a particular topic focused on Connections players interests...
- all on areas, toolset use, tips and practices, saving, most useful plug ins, challenges, current state, well just about all the above and what you look forward to.
-Mel - a unique sort of subject on her(his) Bishop Rommance , voice sound recording as she(he) is active in this I believe.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wow... yeah a little side tracked.

On top of being addicted to Mass Effect for the last week, I've admittedly gotten a little behind with regards to building.

You know, you can tell where Mass Effect was dumbed down for the console crew, but at the same time Bioware managed to overcome the limitations of the Console at least to a certain extent, and on top of that, the backstory in the game has a depth and richness I haven't seen in some of their games in a very very long time. The more you explore, the more you find. It's a veritable smorgasbord of story depth all hidden that you can find little by little. The more you find, the richer it becomes.

My addiction level to the game is finally subsiding so I'll be building again, but I'll be honest it's one of the best games I've played over the last year. It tops Bioshock and Crysis as far as sci-fi goes and the depth of the world around it is just unbelievable.

I had meant to build a bit this weekend, but I friend's Bachelor party distracted me this weekend. Wow... I don't think I was sober all weekend. We bumped into a Bachelorette party while we were out there too and I know I ended up with a Bachelorette's garter I remember tongueing it off her leg, and there's pictures of me wearing it like a bandana over the weekend (wow those things stretch, she was a tiny girl), so while a lot of things were a blur, I am pretty sure I had a lot of fun.

Well back to building, I have started on Mouth of Song, but admittedly have only gotten the height map done.

The little speck on the hill is a human.

This area is going to look like Deep forest. The trees here will be huge. In the Forgotten Realms there is a tree called a Shadowtop. Basically they are enormous trees that blot out the sun in a deep forest. I'll be using live oaks scaled up by a factor of 3. They'll actually be taller than the hill. I'll also be turning off the fade for them (which works now by the way).

Mouth of Song is a small shrine to Elistraee, it will have a night and day cycle and if players enter at night they will run into a coven of Ellistraee worshipers here. They will then send you to the Grove of Fangs to hunt for more clues in order to find Claw Hollow.

I may add some encounters here, daytime perhaps some kind of Trolls or perhaps some Wyverns along with a nest nearby. At night perhaps a Drow Raiding party looking to kill some Ellistraee worshipers.

I'm going to have to decide on the Texturing though, the ones I've tried so far haven't looked the way I wanted it to, so We'll have to see how it comes out.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ok Here's how Dragon's Heart is going to look

Ok I've moved on to laying down placables, the Image you see is the same one you saw in the last two updates. First I layed down the texturing, then layed down grass and placables.

You'll notice I had to keep the middle side of the placables to a minimum as I lay this down as I have to leave space for a very large Dragon to come through. This should give you an Idea of what the area will look like as a total package when it's finished. I will most likely have it done this weekend and then will move on to the Grove of Silk or Mouth of Song, one of the two. One is a shrine to Elistraee, the other is going to be the place they will send you to find another clue to the location of the mysterious Claw Hollow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Finished Texturing Dragon's Heart...

Well I finished texturing Dragon's Heart last night, all that remains is foresting it. Technically that's going to be very easy to do though I have a bit of hinkiness with regards to that. Because the walkway paths have to be clear enough for a large object to move through I'll have to watch how I do things and make sure that I don't block the paths with things. I won't be showing a screenshot of the whole area until it's done... but I suspect that these little pictures I put up will, if you're pretty bright... be able to help you pick up the texturing techniques I use for blending textures while building. I'ts part of the reason I keep posting these unfinished pictures so you can see how it's built as it's built.

I already included a couple of secret things built into it, so it will reward the explorers and those who like to comb the map and see the little things most will miss.

I suspect the area, while beautiful will also impose a sense of danger, especially when the Dragon appears. You will also be able to walk on those middle hill areas and be able to scan down on the area below. I suspect I will hide things up there too.

This whole area will be a search for the clue hidden on the body of the Sky Pony tracker through a dangerous and deadly area where you won't be able to rest, thus heightening the sense of urgency. It will be one of those where people say, "Oh my god this is beautiful" but I can't stop to let my guard down or I'm going to die.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Not as much done as I'd hoped,

Granted I've been playing Mass Effect recently so it's cut into my time a little, but I did get a little more done. Admittedly Mass Effect is a really good game. It kinda reminds me of a combination of KoToR and a very old game about hopping planets and collecting ore while trying to solve the mystery of why the Suns in each system were going super nova. In the end you discover that the fuel you are using... these rocks, are actually a life form that moves at a time rate much slower than ours, so they appear to be normal rocks but are actually alive, and you've been using them as fuel to power the starships. Over the centuries they've come up with a way to stop the elimination of their race after finally discovering they are being killed off in a mass genocide. Cool game about exploration and mystery. Hard though. I can't remember the name of it but I know I played it again recently.

On To Dragon's Heart.

I've textured quite a bit now and only have the bottom half and the ledges left.

The Idea of the Height map was to form the shape of a heart shaped valley. As I get closer to completion I can see that it's achieving it's goal very well. You know what's funny about doing the Infinity Engine style texturing like this? It looks like crap from above, but the closer and closr you get, until you are at the player's level... suddenly it looks spectacular.

This is what that top portion of the map looks like as far as texturing without any placables or grass or anything. This is just what it looks like painting it down.

So it's kinda funny... the worse it looks from the top... the better it looks from the ground. I suspect once I add placables and grass it will be very stunning once I've gotten it all put togather.

But I meant to give a status report for Tuesday and now I have...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Starting on Dragon's Heart

Well I'm starting on a new area today called Dragon's Heart. I'm just starting but I wanted to give a rough idea of how things always start out when I do this.

I was thinking to myself over the last couple days... hmm you know, you never get to see Dragon battles in NWN2 much, and it's not because there aren't any Dragons, in fact there's 5 of them. I suspect it's because they are so high of level most modules aren't made for it.

I had been looking through the toolset trying to decide what I wanted for my second add on area. I knew one of them was going to be a Spider filled forest, but for the second one I kept asking myself what is it's theme going to be? It's going to be the place the Sky Pony tribe sends you for clues to the location of Claw Hollow... but... what is it once you get there?

Well putting all that togather I came up with an idea.

It was called Dragon's Heart...

Now obviously it's just starting, so... given the texturing in the pictures of my other stuff you can see how it's going to turn out. I'm, using the same texturing and forest look as in One Stone.

The Sky Pony Tribe calls this place Dragon's Heart, both for the shape of the valley and what lurks there. They tell you one of their trackers was lost there while attempting to track the Lycanthropes to Claw Hollow.

Well do you see all those little valleys? A Black Dragon named Ix'chidgit Monlaesus lets her Wyrmlings loose here to hunt and practice their skills on the local Troll population. Needless to say the Trolls are terrified of them. Now if Trolls weren't so stupid they'd probably ask you for help, but it's doubtful they could even communicate with you let alone ask for help. Besides, they're hungry too and would like nothing better than to have yo for dinner as well. So this Valley is going to be populated by Trolls and the Black Dragon Wyrmlings hunting them. The Wyrmlings will be on little patrol paths around the valley. And you'll most likely run into Trolls as well.

Here's the catch... if you kill too many of the Wyrmlings, Ix'chidgit is going to show up and start hunting YOU. Now, being Chaotic Evil she doesn't really give a damn about the Wyrmlings that much and figures if they aren't strong enough to survive it's their own fault for dying. But if she sniffs some stronger prey in the area... the game is on...

Given that the party will likely be 10th level at most... and that an Adult Black Dragon is 19th level... she's probably going to chew you up and spit you out faster than you can say boo. So if you don't run you're going to die unless you're really really good. It will be a fight you won't soon forget.

But you don't have to beat the Black Dragon to clear the area, all you have to do is make it out alive with the clue that is on the body of the Sky Pony tracker who was on the trail of Claw Hollow.

If you actually succeed though in killing Ix'chidgit, it will open up another area on the map... her lair.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pretty happy about the way One Stone turned out.

I'm finished with it and it's looking even better than I had hoped for. This will probably be a really stunning area in the module for people who play.

When I went into this and started looking around in game it was better than I thought it was in the toolset. Here's a view of the forest from the One Stone area.

On a side note, why is the Default character you have to use when launch the game from the toolset a Drow. Isn't that insulting to other elves? Someone at Obsidian has a drow fetish.

Anyway, here's an in game shot of that Sky Pony camp again including the area where Black Bloods will attack from. I can say this because chances are no one is going to remember the things I say right now when this will be done.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Camp of the Sky Pony Tribe

As Promised I'll be updating a lot this week to make up for not keeping up with postings for a couple weeks. So here's the most recent area I'm doing up.

Well after finishing One Stone I started in on the camp of the Sky Pony tribe. It's coming out well, I'll have some better shots tomorrow as I will have finished blending the valley area into the forest and then I'll show the hillside where the Black Bloods will come pouring out of the forest to attack the Sky Pony tribe and the players, if they have succeeded in making friends up to that point will have a pitch battle to save the Sky Pony tribe from the Black Bloods.

Granted this scene will probably take place at night so you won't get to see this as well, but after the battle I may set it up so the party can converse again with the Sky Pony chief and then rest until morning where I can fast forward the time and force rest the party. When they wake up they will be able to see the full camp and move out of the area so at least the visuals aren't wasted on a night scene.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One Stone portion finished.

As I promised I'll try to make several blog posts this week since I really hadn't made many updates over the last week.

While I may go back and add more to it, I'm pretty much finished with the One Stone area. This is a close up picture of some of the texturing when you see some of the mounds up close.

It's actually 2 areas in one. The One Stone actual portion, then a little ways away is the Uthgart Tribe camp which I'll be designing over the next day or two.

Basically, if you succeed in convincing them you're not one of the People of the Black Blood. They'll take you to their camp and you can talk to them. They'll ask you to stay for a guest fest on a recently successful Hunt. Where the leader will provide you with a place one of them last tracked one of the Black Bloods and it will open another area for you to investigate and find clues to Claw Hollow.

This is kind of a sneak peak at the forest around Claw Hollow...

Unfortunately the Lighting I'll be using kind of Mutes it, and I may have to work on it to get the normal mapping out a bit...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Finished Claw Hollow and Working on One Stone

Well I actually have all the screenshots for the tutorial ready to go for the making of Claw Hollow, unfortunately I haven't the slightest idea of where to post them.

I was going to do it here, but the screenshots and work is so extensive that it would scroll all the way down the page. There's a good 20 screenshots of how I did the area. That said, I'll at least throw out a few completed screenshots.

I did finish Claw Hollow, and then started on One Stone. This is just the rough draft and it's not complete, but it gives a good idea of what it will look like.

One Stone

Here's the section from the design doc with regards to this location...

* Here is a brief encounter with Barbarians, the party will have one chance to convince them they are not Lycanthropes (not sure how I'll accomplish this) but it will be some kind of tough persuade check. Success means they will be able to avoid the fight and also find out that the Barbarian tribe is also suffering the same depredations and attacks as Quaervarr. May extend this as an invitation to meet with the tribal leader and set up a mass battle with Lycanthropes attacking the Barbarian camp and the Party helping defend the camp.

Basically here's the description of One Stone from the Silver Marches sourcebook.

Silver Marches Sourcebook:
Once three great Uthgart Tribes worshipped at this ancestral mound -- the Sky Pony, Golden Eagle, and Red Pony Tribes. Now only the Sky Pony tribe remains. One Stone is a single massive boulder 12 feet high and engraved with faint tracery whos meaning is long lost with the dead tribes. A ring of stone cairns surrounds the site at a distance of 100 yards.

Well I thought 100 yards was much too far for my needs so I shrunk it down a bit. But I think I've managed to at least keep the essence of what was talked about.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Claw Hollow

Still working on it, but I've actually started over on it once becaase the area was just too big. To give you a guage on it, Quaervarr was 16x16. The first draft of Claw Hollow was 20x20. Eventually I shrunk it down to 16x16 and it still left a lot of forest to wander around in before finding the fort.

I already posted these on the main forums, but I'll repost them here...

This is for the dryier part of the forest..

And this is for the muddier parts that are less dry...

I had a request for a "How to" type description of how I texture an area. That part is really easy, just takes a lot of it to "fill" an area and it's incredibly detailed. But in a nutshell, I lay down some Grass_40 (dry grass), then take some Grass_10 (aka leaves), and then sprinkle a light mix of Mud_03 into it. This goes on a base texture of Grass_37 which is a muddy type of ground with grass sprouts and sometimes I use Mud_01 over the middle of it to change the texture slightly.

For areas that are dry-er, I cover over the base texture of Grass_37 which turns the Grass_40 slightly green in places giving it a mixed dead/living composition. Obviously for the areas that are muddy, I leave a section of the Grass_37 open and then dust the middle of it with Mud_01.

On a side note the "Twigs" texture in the toolset just blows chunks for what it's actually called. It looks nothing like twigs, in fact it's closer bleached bones than to twigs. I was originally going to use it but decided against it because it completely did not fit what it said it was.

That's how you achieve that look.

On a side note,

The entry into Quaervar kinda goes like this...

* When the Party enters the town, everyone in town is in arms in the Center asking Geth where the protection from Silverymoon is, telling tales about people's bodies found horribly mutilated with Notes of Jarthon pinned to them.

* The mayor tries to calm the town, saying he's sent 3 requests for aid but has not recieved any response, he begs the people to be patient. Some of the crowd begins to question Silverymoon's concern for those who live in the Silver Marches.

* Give players the opportunity to step in now. The crowd will try to argue them down, but give players the opportunity to speak up about Tragidor, this will increase their leverage greatly and show the town that they do truly care and do not wish to see Quaervarr fall.

* After this exchange the crowd will disperse, and the Players can speak with the mayor and get the lay of the land on this situation. They will be given a house and all potential henchmen the party has succeeded in meeting will be in that house (or Potentially around town) so the player can grab whichever henchmen they choose to form parties with when exiting Quaervar.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

On to Quaervarr

Ok after the cutscene where Lady Alustriel begs your assistence to save Quaervarr, which coincidently fits right into your goals because of the things that have happened since you arrive in Silverymoon. Though what happened in Tragidor is known to few, Lady Alustriel is one who knows.

So after the sewers and the audience with Alustriel, I needed to build Quaervarr. So I spent the weekend turning Red's Wilderness prefab into Quaervarr...

Red did a really good job of portraying a wilderness village...
Red Wildvill

But it had some things that didn't fit so I made a few changes...

Namely I changed the lighting to my normal default lighting, and retextured the entire thing. These are the textures I used. This is the town square area giving a good glance at them...
town square

I also added some more cabins to the upper right side, being that Quaervar is very similar to Tragidor...
extra houses

Then added the druid grove for Amera Clearwater who is a notable NPC in the area.
druid grove

All in all it was very productive and should suit my needs very well. I had been meaning to begin supporting other authors by using prefabs. Granted when I say I'm using a prefab it means It's probably not going to look anything like it was. But I have to thank Red. He had an excellent basis for what I needed and did a really good area to start with.

So now I just have to start the opening cutscene of the arrival in Quaervarr that highlights the danger the town is in.

Technically Quaervar is a lumber town of around 900 people with 68% human, 27% Half elf, and then whatever is left is Dwarven. But obviously there's no need to design that much and no way I could. But this should give a good basis and a feel for Quaervar.

Notable NPCs
Geth Stonar: Village Elder or Mayor
Amera Clearwater: Leader of the local druid circle

Geth and Amera have a relatively good relationship, and the town of Quaervarr often turns to the Druids when in need of guidance when in trouble. In this case the attacks from Claw Hollow have stepped up and the town is in fear for it's existence.

Your arrival heralds the turning point.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Getting away from Silverymoon.

Ok in the Interests of just moving forward again...

I am now forgoing the rest of the Silverymoon Adventure. I only added on to it back when I had a dev team thinking that with a full team I could actually populate that many city areas. Well, due to my own fault I lost my team. But for some reason kept going on the "expanded Silverymoon" Idea when i should have just dropped it.

The design doc only has the Sewers capture portion, then off to Quaervar where the Lycanthropes are attacking from a hidden base in the forest.

And as I look back on it I was reminded recently of where my strengths in design really lay and why the Original Design doc moves everything to the quint little town of Quaervarr. My strengths were in the developement of characters/characterizations, and some really intense action and dungeon crawling, as well as some really good area design.

Moving the players out of Silverymoon and away from my weakness in design (aka city adventures) It allows me to concentrate on my biggest strengths. I am keeping what I've designed up to this point in Silverymoon and then following the original design to move into the action of the story and a place where I can design characters I can relate to better. Granted this may extend the adventure, but to be honest it also jumps into the action and the storyline faster. Also It allows me to showcase my outdoor area creation skills a bit better than a City adventure does.

I'll also followup with the release of the City Areas I won't be using as prefabs on the Vault. Quite frankly I am pretty sure people are going to be very impressed... they look a lot better than this nowadays.

EDIT: Have now uploaded to the vault, pictures are there now.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tale of the Asberdies... opens...

Well I've decided to break down and get myself one of these. I've been glancing at Dirtywick's and even Ladyelvenstar's for a while and have been meaning to do it, but never got around to it. Since no one knows about this currently I'm pretty much posting just to say I did. It's kind of a test.

My thoughts on Asberdies...

In reality this first part of Tale of the Asberdies is the hardest for me. I can make things like Tragedy in Tragidor with it's small town mentality and dungeons as well as charming and quint personalities any day of the week without even breaking a sweat. I can do outdoor areas and even make them look semi-professional these days... I can throw in plot twists without even breaking a sweat...

But my biggest weakness and the hardest thing for me to do is... a City Adventure. It's just not in me. While I've spent quite a bit of time in larger Cities I've never really truly felt them as well as I do the smaller towns. I think this is the major lag behind Tale of the Asberdies currently.

I jammed up in the middle of the plotline.

Basically here's the basics of where I made it to...

Step 1 is set.
1. Travel to Silverymoon while picking up Bjorn/Selmia/Merina
2. The caravan ambush
3. Arrival at Silverymoon and meeting with Trent
4. Head to Wilkers to find out about being hunted.
5. Captured
6. Escape from the Sewers
7. Battle with Ik'Zaelid and hints of Shar's Temple
8. Hunt for Shar's Temple
9. Battle for the Pool of Shar
10. Follow the clues to the Island in the Mists...

Now... I have already said this would take place here...

This is where it gets scrambled. I have to send the players to the Old city... and to the docks, and they have to find someone in order to get the information. I want that person to be a kind of telepath that will tell them the final steps to get to the Island of Mists. This person will exist in a kind of dream world.