Monday, September 22, 2008

Great balls of acid

by E.C.Patterson

No I’m not talking about any hallucinogenic excesses, but about the VFX for the Melf’s Acid Arrow spell. Cool VFX. Doesn’t look anything like an arrow though.

These are pix of a drow wizard unloading his wand of acid arrows on a couple of companions, poor Autamma and Thelvar (PC was long down and out). I thought they were pretty neat (even though the sky color and lighting does not look like any of my settings. Don’t know what’s up with that yet.)

They were taken while I was working this weekend on the largest battle encounter in Trinity (previously called Into the Forgotten Realms, and likely to know at least one other name change before it’s released – latest poll is sort of telling me as much…;) ). It’s a battle to take down a surface drow encampment, which could take place at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the mod, or not at all really, depending on how the player feels about it. There’s no way, I think, the party would be able to succeed on their own. So they’ll have two different options for allies. One of them will involve driders. Enough said. ;)

I started off with at least 60 enemies in the scene, but even with AI tweaks it was too much of a mess to play: there was just too much happening. So I’ve been taking down the number of belligerents to more manageable numbers, while making them a bit tougher. Also using some custom DCR scripts to control when certain groups jump into the fray. Fun stuff do to this battle setup, but hard to get right. Not quite there yet.

One final word about all that: Tony_K. After waffling on the question, I pretty much decided to include his AI into the mod. It really makes creatures behave more intelligently. I just have to get more comfortable with how to tweak it, but for the most part it’s just like the default AI (except there are no X2_L_BEH_* variables).

No surprise here, Trinity building time has been at a high premium these past couple of months. There’s been the 3-week family vacation during which, even though I had my laptop, I wasn’t able to do much. Then there were the last days of summer, just calling me outdoors, do the last bit of gardening, go to the park with the kids etc. And also there’s the Halloween mod project that tricked me into handing it over almost a week-worth of building time. ;)

It’s not just a question of time of course, but of energy too. When 10 p.m. comes around, and the kids have been put to bed, we’ve had our dinner, and the kitchen has been cleaned-up, I don’t always feel like sitting down to write or do some other mod stuff. Sometimes I’d really rather just play (or do something else), which I do. In the past 2 months, I managed to finish MotB (many great, great aspects, but a story that’s a bit too supernatural really for my tastes), Pool of Radiance Remastered and dgraf’s beta of Price of Honor. And I’m now, finally, well into Raith’s Sand of Solvheil I.

All fun stuff. One thing that’s for sure: I’m nowhere near trading in NWN2 for another game.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A word about NHiN2

We’ve been seeing quite a few people recently asking about the status of the sequel to Night Howls in Nestlehaven, or simply expressing their eagerness for its release. It’s wonderful to realize there are so many enthusiastic fans of Jackyo123’s Hall of Fame mod.

It is to be fair to these fans that we are officially announcing that NHiN2’s development is now unfortunately on indefinite hold. This likely comes as no surprise to many, since there has been no news here or elsewhere about the mod for many months now.

We know this might be disappointing to many players. It is disappointing to us as well. After having spent much time and energy on area design, scripting, cutscenes, writing and testing for the mod, few may have been more eager to see the mod come out than us at Gaming Parents.

But of course, none was more devoted to this project than Jackyo himself. His boundless enthusiasm and imagination was impressive and a joy to witness. Before going on hold, NHiN2 was clocking in at somewhere around 14 hours of gameplay and was fast approaching the first stages of beta testing.

Sadly, Jackyo has other obligations these days that prevent him from pursuing the project further. We the remaining active members of GPS hold on to the hope that he will eventually return to the NWN2 scene and that we will all someday be able to complete the mod together as intended. In the meantime, we wish Jackyo and his family the best.

Our other mod projects (A Time to Die and Trinity) are still very much in the pipeline. So stay tuned for more news on those. Thanks.