Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New GPS Mod: Ed Greenwood’s Into the Forgotten Realms

A new threat has come to Faerun’s heartland, one that recalls the tragic events of a not so distant past…

Back in 1356 DR, Lashan Aumersair, Lord of Scardale, launched a series of lightning attacks against his neighbours, guided by a foul dream of rulership over all Dalelands.

Fortunately, the tyrant was stopped just in time.

But one man has now surfaced, who apparently seeks to succeed where Lashan failed.

You, along with a few other adventurers, have been selected to hunt down the man behind this new threat and put a stop to his frightening plans.

This chase will take you under the dark canopy of Cormanthor forest, to the outskirts of the legendary elven city of Myth Drannor, to plunge far underground, in what remains of the fabled School of Wizardry.

An adventure that will take you deep… Into the Forgotten Realms.

Welcome to Ed Greenwood’s Into the Forgotten Realms, a new NWN2 mod that I am producing with the help of the rest of the Gaming Parents Studios team.

The mod is based on the classic AD&D adventure of the same name written by Ed Greenwood and published in Dragon Magazine #95 in March 1985 (back when I used to DM PnP a bit…). The original adventure is being complemented with additional content and the storyline has been updated to fit into present-day Forgotten Realms.

Some of the mod’s key features:

  • Around 4 hours of gameplay
  • Starting level in the 6-8 range, with about 2 levels gained in game
  • 4 companions to make up a well-rounded adventuring party
  • Play with your favourite character: no class, race or alignment restrictions
  • Extensive use of community-made custom content, from armor to VFX, as well as tilesets and weapons (including work by GPS)
  • Single-player, with plans for multiplayer compatibility
  • Complete, standalone adventure

I hope to be able to release in late spring-early summer 2008.

This is currently project #3 for Gaming Parents Studios. Our priority remains getting NHIN2 ready for release and then completing A Time to Die – Act 1. Of course, since we are not all working exclusively on any one project, ItFR will continue to evolve alongside these two projects.

Like other GPS mods, this one will also be a team effort:

  • Daronas has already started making some great custom content for the mod,
  • Xandurpein will be writing a good part of the companion convos,
  • SirChet will edit all text and be the lead beta tester,
  • LadyElvenstar and Jackyo, once A Time to Die, Act 1 and NHIN2 – the projects they respectively lead – are out the door, will also lend their talent to the production,
  • And everyone is providing great ideas and advice to make the mod as authentic and fun an experience as possible.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know at this stage, please do leave a comment here, by all means. I’ll do my best to respond, without giving too, too much away of course! ; )

Thanks for your interest! I’ll try to report back once in a while on progress made and to post more screenshots.



Wyrin said...

wow. looks gorgeous ! ;)

E.C.Patterson said...

Thanks Wyrin. I’m putting as much care as I can into making the areas, as well as the creature bps and companions. The forest area is a modified version of Registerdebakel’s beautiful Forest Prefab XXL (Part A). The land shape and vegetation layout of that area really gives the feel of the real thing.

Ernie Noa said...

Wow. Where did you get the bridge from the second picture. Looks great.

E.C.Patterson said...

Thanks Ernie. The bridge I put together using one of RWS' bridges, pieces from Nytir's BCK and some of Camb's vines and moss VFX. And we all know where them dolphins come from.

It is one of the few intact elven structures in this part of Cormanthor forest. It was built and is maintained by elven families who stayed behind during the exodus to Evermeet, as a symbol of the link that endures between the elven realms of past and present.

Plus it does look nice, I think, and offers a great bottleneck for a tough fight ;).

Jclef said...

Visually stunning!

I love these screenshots - great use of textures, lighting, placeables, etc...


Jclef said...

Follow Up: I tore my eyes away from the pictures and finally started reading about the project.

I'm very excited about this one - GPS is FTW!! :)

E.C.Patterson said...

Thanks j! Thanks for your confidence in GPS too! We try to do our best, and to have fun while we give it a shot :).

Amraphael said...

Great update! Beautiful screen shots!
By just reading of it I believe this mod will rock!

If you are using Forest Prefab XXL, how's the performance. While working on my own forest area I encountered performance problems when using many different tree types. Having a look at different forests a noticed that the prefab uses more than five tree types and several seeds. Have you scaled it down? How does the navigation through it work?

Registerdebakel’s work is great looking though.

Anayway, awsome and inspiring!

E.C.Patterson said...

Thanks Amraphael! I’ve tweaked the Forest XXL (Part A) prefab quite a bit to improve gameplay: I’ve reduced the number of tree varieties, removed most tree shadows, and, most importantly, reduced the number of total seeds to 4 (from what I saw originally, it seemed like Registerdebakel used practically a unique seed for each of his one thousand trees). I’ve also reduced the area size to just the part I need (to 32*24), and made the paths a little more evident, especially in the area map.

This beautiful area is now totally playable on my machine, at the settings I usually play NWN2 at.

Raith Veldrin said...

These screens look awesome! The bridge scene especially. I've always been a sucker for Greenwood's creations as he has a knack for oodles of detail right off the cuff. This should be pretty cool indeed.

Briesence said...

Wow, I need to get out of Photoshop long enough to play this once it's released.

dirtywick said...

I think the vines make it myself.

Hey, not trying to hijack your post here, but how's jackyo doing? I haven't heard from that guy in a while.

Anonymous said...

It's quite courageous to design Myth Drannor, but as far as I can see you're doing an incredible job with the forest of Cormanthyr.
I can only say that I'm very enthusiastic about your project and can't wait to hunt this new threat.

E.C.Patterson said...

Thanks Raith, Briesence, dirtywick and Anonymous. Your enthusiasm gives me great motivation.

@Raith: SoS1 is next on my playlist. I’m excited about your progress with Chapter 2. Who, knows, I may just be able to play them back to back!

@Briesence: Don’t pull away too long from your work! ;) From what I saw, you’re new heads look great and will be much appreciated by builders and players alike.

@Dirtywick: I agree, the details are often very important. As for Jackyo, he’s doing well by all evidence, even though professional and family responsibilities have cut into his NWN2 time quite a bit these past few months. It must be said, though, that his previous dedication to NHIN1 and 2, and to the builder and player communities was really out of this world. It’s something that would have been hard for anyone to keep up, IMHO. That said, NHIN2 is nearing its first beta phase.

@Anonymous: The adventure will actually take you to the “outskirts of Myth Drannor”, a kind of suburb if you will of the legendary forest city. I looked at first into building the city itself, but felt it would have asked too much of me to do it justice, and to meet player expectations. The area of Cormanthor around the School of Wizardry has quite uneven terrain, less appropriate for large settlements and was therefore more sparsely populated. A few ruins dot the area today.

Maerduin said...

Yep, these shots are super, and the concept sounds great too. Keep at it!

Michael said...

The pics look nice.

Why did you not choose to allow one to make up their own party?

If this is indeed supposed to be in the name of Ed Greenwood, then that would suggest PnP style FR play - and that to me means running one's own party (much like ToEE does it).

NWN2 introduces the unique ability to make up and run one's own party for NWN style play. It would sure be nice to see a good adventure built on this concept.

E.C.Patterson said...

@Maerduin : Thanks for the encouraging words. I appreciate it.

@Michael: You’ve put your finger right on it: my intention is in fact to give this mod the feel, as much as is possible, of a good ol’ PnP gaming session. Situational dialogue with companions will be key to this. To achieve this, it is necessary, from the standpoint of mechanics and storytelling, for the mod to include pre-defined party members. Your four companions, incidentally, are based on four of the ten character sheets that Greenwood developed for the original adventure.

That said, it will be entirely possible for the player to dismiss any or all of the companions. While the player may miss out on banter, possible gameplay hints and companion-specific plot elements, it will allow the player to make up his own party using the available Universal Companion Database.

ITFR will also include built-in support for persistent companions, like Xandurpein’s Tanithiel.

Anonymous said...

I remember Lady.Elvenstar asking me for cutting Part_B into pieces because the toolset refused to open. I will upload the "splitted" pieces in few hours. May be you have some use of it. I am happy to see that even its reduced and modified my work was not useless at all :)


E.C.Patterson said...

Thanks for dropping by Registerdebakel! Your work is beautiful and I'm proud to make use of it.

I've had the same issue as LadyElvenStar with opening Part B, though Part A opened fine for me. I'm glad you are posting smaller versions of your areas, it's a good idea.

I hope you keep making and sharing prefab areas. You have a lot of talent.

Anonymous said...

No its my pleasure to see it build into other modules :) The highest reward to gain for a mapper.

The splitted Parts are up. Toolset annoyed me with several crahes again - however the splitting is done(2x 16x32).

I realy hope this will help.


Michael said...

I was thinking more along the lines of http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view=NWN2Other.Detail&id=118

Truly allowing one to create ones own party, as they see fit.

One could still include NPCs that still do dialog, of course, but the main aim of the Mod would be Party style play, and not Main Character with Companions.

Then one can devout more resources to the main plot, etc.