Saturday, March 29, 2008

ItFR: The Return

Well, my (foolish) wish of getting a 8800GT video card back from Asus to replace the 8600GT I'd sent in for repairs didn't come true after all, but the next best thing did: a brand new 8600GT came in via Fedex yesterday, all in less than three weeks including shipping forth and back. Thank you Asus. I'm very happy.

Which means I can get back to playing NWN2 and doing visual work for Into the Forgotten Realms. I'm especially eager to test out Daronas' custom content.

Incidentally, did you all see the Unicorn he uploaded lately? Great stuff and I understand it's only going to get better as he polishes it. We'll upload a creature blueprint too to go along with it shortly.

Now here's a little screenshot to celebrate my return to the graphical world of NWN2.

"You dare disturb the one who rules Myth Drannor?" Hey, no dungeon would be complete without a good ol' fashion magic mouth! :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

ItFR: What is magical?

As I reported in my last post, I'm working mostly on dialogues these days. I'm having a fairly good time with that, especially when I get deep into character and I know where I'm going. I enjoy making my NPCs speak, so much so I'm starting to think some of the dialogues may end up being too long. I'll see during play testing what they feel like.

I've also squeezed in time yesterday to script another of the companion's special custom items (scripting is my way to relax... ;) ).

In Into the Forgotten Realms, each of the four companions will have a special item as part of their starting equipment: Rindal the Rogue will have a climbing rope; Thelvar the Cleric, an Amulet of Speak with Dead, and Elmaer the Wizard, a Wand of Detect Magic (I haven't figured out yet what Autamma the mace-wielding Fighter will get).

So last night I was scripting Elmaer's Wand of Detect Magic, and in the script I had to define what objects and items in the game are magical. Since there is no "IsMagical" switch on objects, I had to create some rules. The following is what I came up with:

An object will be flagged in game (with a VFX) as magical if:

(Creature) It has a spell effect applied to it, OR
(Item) It is cursed, OR
(Item) It is NOT identified (which implies the item is magical), OR
(Item) It has special item properties assigned to it, AND
(Item) It is NOT an item equipped in a creature slot (meaning that it would be a creature item)

In addition, objects with a "IsMagical" local int on them would also be included. This I added to catch objects that cannot be covered by any rules (e.g. some placed effects that would be used as magical "objects").

Objects (creatures, containers) with "magical" items in their inventories or in any of their equipment slots would have the VFX applied directly to them.

I recognize these rules are probably not 100% failsafe, but they seem like they could do the trick.

I wonder though if anything else should register as magical. For example, are there creatures that would emit a magical aura detectable with a Detect Magic spell (Constructs?).

If you have any ideas to make these rules better (other rules, adjustment to current rules etc.) , think of something that could potentially make this concept fail, have suggestions on a better way to go about this altogether, or any other thoughts of any kind, I'd much appreciate if you could let me know. Thanks! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ITFR : Forced into dialogue…

Well, it seems my video card fried a couple of weeks ago. There were no actual smoke and flames, just a display that refused to light up and some morse-type error codes emanating from that big beige box under my desk on each boot-up.

So off the card went, making the trip from Montreal to somewhere in Indiana, to spend a couple of weeks in Asus’ world-class spa, for a little R’or’R (Repair or Replacement). I must admit I was pretty pleased to learn of Asus' 3-year, no-questions asked return policy when I called them up about my problems. Hopefully, they won’t wait for that warranty to expire before they return the card to me…

I am actually secretly hoping they won’t be able to do anything about the card and will be left with no other choice than to send me back a brand new 8800 GT for my troubles…

That’s a wish I hold ever since my wife nixed my intentions to buy one of those video cards when my 8600GT left me in the ditch. Somehow she didn’t find it reasonable for me to plop down $350 for a new card, when my old one would come back to me in a month’s time, refreshed and ready to roll once more. Hmmm, she’s right though, as much as I hate to admit it…

Matters would not be so bad if I had a replacement card lying around, ready to slip into my machine. No such luck though. All my old cards are AGP and this motherboard only accepts PCI-E.

So I have had no choice but to go back to my 2-year old rig, which has absolutely no hardware compatibilities with my current, amputated machine. This includes the SATA hard drives on which now sleep ALL my Into the Forgotten Realms files… So I can’t even access my mod files and transfer them to my new-old rig. This is especially irksome with Daronas sending in great custom content for ITFR of late, since I have no way to check it out in-game…

However, impossible to contemplate putting work on Into the Forgotten Realms on hold for 4-5 weeks of course… It’s already bad enough I have to play NWN1, because NWN2 now runs at 5 fps and under… ;)

I’m one to think there are never problems, only opportunities (well, most of the time at least…). So, I thought, what better time to work on dialogues for ITFR: there’s really nothing else I can do right now…

So that’s what I’ve been up to these past couple of weeks, when I’m left with enough energy at the end of the day to start writing.

More than anything, writing for the mod takes a lot out of me. It can be one of the most satisfying part of mod-making when I come up with something good, but getting started on a writing session really can feel like having my teeth pulled sometimes.

Part of it certainly has to do with the fact that I make a good part of my living by writing. Not high fantasy fiction mind you but strategic corporate communications.

So coming home to write some more or trying to write on the weekend (while the little ones watch Cars or Nemo next to me for the 27th time) takes a real effort of will because it can feel so much like work…

Part of it also may be that I’m not wired for a very imaginative and creative writing-style and have had no real precursory aptitude, skill or training for it. So it can require me to make an effort to short-circuit the neurons and jump-start the machine…

All that said, I’m still sometimes pretty pleased with some of my lines, but I’ve long come to the conclusion I will never write like Guy Gavriel Kay, or Zach Holbrook :) . Whether it be in my first language (French), or my second.

Bottom line: no Into the Forgotten Realms screenshots for a little while. Maybe I’ll substitute with a few dialogue lines I’ve written. I could put them in a larger typeface and in color. That could liven things up. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fellow Builders: Are you using the TS Sound Set Selection Menu Fix?

If not, why not give it a try? It may make giving a voice to your NPCs much easier.

If you do use it, I’d love to know if you find it useful and if you have any suggestions for improvements. If you don’t find it useful, I’d be interested in knowing why so I can look into making adjustments.

And if you use it and like it fine, I’d love it too if you could leave some feedback and vote on the Vault download page (if you haven't already) and help take the file out of the "sub-10 votes" lower plane it’s still lingering in. Thanks! :)

TS Sound Set Selection Menu Fix

I see that 1.12 will make some changes to soundset.2da so I’ll check that out when the patch comes out to see if any changes need to be made to the fix at this stage.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Frontpage for Gary Gygax

The countless tributes from past and present D&D players and the many obituaries from specialized and mainstream media that have appeared since Gary Gygax's death testify to the impact he has had on people’s lives and to the influence he exercised directly and indirectly on many facets of the wider entertainment industry (PNP and video gaming, literature, television and cinema etc.)

Gary Gygax’s status as one of our age’s great influential figures across the social spectrum was confirmed in my eyes today when an obituary for him appeared on the first page of our most relevant national newspaper here in Quebec, Le Devoir. As today’s cover page suggests on its own, this is a broadsheet that ranks alongside The Globe and Mail, Le Monde and the NY Times for its seriousness and journalistic integrity.

The headline about his death translates as: "End of the game for Gary Gygax. The creator of Dungeons and Dragons passes away at 69."

The full article can be read here.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Time to Die Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for the campaign, "A Time to Die" (ATtD) for Neverwinter Nights 2. Ladyelvenstar is the head designer in this set of three modules created by Gaming Parents Studios. This video trailer is from Chapter One of ACT I... more to follow from Chapter Two when it is further along.