Friday, August 31, 2007

Testing and Debugging Tomoachan

I have a long weekend ahead of me and I'd like to really hammer on this mod and get it close to done or with a bit of obsessive work... done completely.

The initial stumbling blocks with the speak trigger stuff has been solved.

I'm hitting show stoppers here and there, but nothing insurmountable. I am very pleased with my rate of progress.

More over I am pleased with how the characters seem to play out. I find after all this testing I am still interested in trying to push a relationship with a character this way or that. Hopefully that's a good sign and others will enjoy this aspect of the game too.

Excellent Excellent start to debugging.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Testing Started

I have run a spell checker on the mod and have started testing. I am able to move through the module ok (I've only testing 1/4). Most of it is working ok for a first pass. It's going to take a while, but I'm underway.

I appear to have two major problems.

1) My alternate speak trigger is not working. I posted code earlier that I was using instead of a speak trigger. I tested the wazoo out of it before doing much building and I couldn't break. Now it works most of the time, but I have found ways to break it. This code has to be rock solid or the module won't work. So... this is a big issue. I'll post on the forums for help and if anyone here has a suggestion let me know.

Maerduin replyed to my earlier post and said:
I'm still curious about the speaktrigger issue you mention because I've never encountered it. I have a speaktrigger in one of my forest areas, for instance, that triggers a conversation with a companion who is not present in the area until you arrive with her in your party. It has never given me any problems. Maybe a patch has fixed the issue?
Perhaps the issue has been fixed. Speak triggers used to cause major problems for myself and other builder, completely corrupting areas. If my script is not fixable, or if it's possible to use speak triggers without corrupting my module I will start replacing most of my 40-50 home grown triggers with speak triggers. YUCK! Time consuming but if it works I'll take it.

Thus far that is the biggest issue.

2) I have to make people stand on an object. I'll play with the walkmesh helper that's included in the toolset. Hopefully this is workable. In Keep on the Borderlands I got guys standing on the keep walls (which is a big placeable) without any fuss. I've been corresponding with a guy who has been fighting this, and I'll dig around for solutions. I'm pretty sure this is fixable, I just don't know how off the top of my head.

3) Items with inventory are not accessible. I have a few items with inventories that are not accessible. They are non-static, have inventory set to true. I'm not sure what's up. I'll have to tinker.

4) Other misc script failures. Lots of my home grown scripts work, some don't. Normal stuff.

With the exception of the home grown speak trigger I am pretty happy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Single Player, Male Character, Tallish Character

Lariam asked a question in response to my last post. My response was so long I decided to copy it and make it a full/formal post.

You've got it. The starting level is around 4 or 5.

There are a few very unusual things (for me) about this module.

1) The module does reference the Forgotten Realms. My modules are often 'general' and can fit in anywhere. I do reference Maztica somewhat frequently, and there is at least one reference to the Sword Coast. I think this helped with the story a bit to put it in a more concrete context.

2) All alignments are supported, but in general I recommend good or neutral.

3) This is not a sequel to Keep on the Borderlands, but picks up right where you character would leave off from an xp/level standpoint. Most characters can be carried over.

4) There is a 'romance' element that factors into the main plot, and thus I'm strongly recommending a male character. Some of the dialog indicates a the player is a male. If a player doesn't mind a few odd references they could play a woman, but the 'romance' would still be with a woman.

5) The 'romance' is with a human female, thus players may opt for a human, half-elf, elf... If players don't mind a 'romance' between a human woman and a short halfling, more power to them. Personally I'd think it's a bit silly looking.

6) I've tried to have very robust interaction with companions. This and the 'romance' have also made it necessary to directly the module for a single player audience. D&D for me is first and foremost a collaborate multiplayer experience, so this represents a big change for me. Dialog starts assuming there is one player, and if different players launch conversations things will look odd, i.e. the 'romance' and other relationship will shift from one player to another with no interruption.

I feel bad about this, but it was the only way to tell the story I wanted. Otherwise the multiplayer experience should work, but the dialog and story will jump about a bit.

Bottom line, single player, male character, tall-ish character you can believe having a 'romance' with a human woman would be ideal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nearly ready to test

I am nearly ready for beta testing.

All the dialog is done. All the scripting is done. All the layout is done.

I need to run a spell checker first (mentally I'm considering this testing and debugging).

I also need load screens and a few in conversations tga files. I plan to grab the screen shots I need during my first few test passes then add them in.

I have reached the testing phase. I'm sure there is more broken than working but this is a huge step.

I've mentioned before this is an adaptation of the PnP rather than a straight conversion. I'm thinking of releasing it with the title.

"Tamoachan" rather than "C1: The Hidden Shrine of Taomoachan" to reflect this.

* whew *

Time to put the kiddies to bed and rest.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Major Milestone Reached and Stardust

I have hit a major milestone today. I have finished building the dungeon with two exceptions sound and loadscreens. It is untested, but the dungeon represents the converstion or adaptation of the original Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan. My 'wrapper' goes around it and is interspersed with in it.

My to do list before I begin testing is as follows:

  • Write the end scene/battle. (It's finished in my head)
  • Write the epilogue, with 2-3 different outcomes (Also in my head)
  • Set up battles encounters for the wrapper (dialog and area transitions are done, just need the bad guys).
  • Pick load screens for each area.
  • Place sounds for each area.
I may wait and take screen captures during a test run and turn them into load screens.

It is possible I could be ready to be testing by the end of the weekend. If not by the end of the week is very likely.

I have a lot of varied scripting to check so testing could take a while, but that light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger. Burnout is non-existed to not bad. I am eager to be done, but I am happy to continue working at this point.

Next project... I plan to semi-retire and take a good long break. I saw someone put out a modern setting HAK for NWN2 I want to check out. I have always wanted to convert Expedition to Barrier Peaks. It would fit in well (character level wise) after my current mod and give players a set of mods (keep on the borderlands... hidden shrine... barrier peaks) to play with one character. However I am taking a VERY LONG break when I get this puppy out the door. I have some purchased games I'd like to try that are not installed yet and I want to play for a good long while.

* * * *

Last night I took my wife on a date and we watched Stardust. I would whole heartedly recommend this movie. It's whimiscal fairy tale/fantasy adventure. It's fun exciting, captures a bit of that D&D feeling and doesn't take itself too seriously. The airships remind me very much of my NWN1 Hythum modules. It's worth a look!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quick Screen Shot

This is from my upcoming adaptation for Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pool of Radiance Remastered - Part 2 Released

The final version of Pool of Radiance part 2 by Markus "Wayne" Schlegel was released on NWVault. I played the first part and I am very excited that part 2 is out. I'm going to finish my current NWN2 project before playing much but if this is similar to part 1 it's going to be a fun ride.

You can download the mod on NWVault: click here.

or read about the release: click here.

Way to go Mr. Schlegel!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bit o' code

I borrowed a chunk of this from the bioware forums, but a guy I correspond with asked for it. It's code I use to fire off a conversation with a party member. It avoids the speaktrigger issue that occurs if you try to start a conversation with an NPC that's not in the area where the trigger is laid down. I'd give credit to the gentlemen I borrowed from but I didn't bookmark the thread and don't recall who it was. (Sorry and thank you who ever you are)

This could be modified to handle the speaker and conversation name as a variable but I haven't bothered.

#include "ginc_companion"
//void main(string sCompanionRosterName, string sConversation)
void main ()
string sCompanionRosterName= "co_navio";
string sConversation = "test02";

object oPC = GetEnteringObject();
object oTalker = GetObjectByTag(sCompanionRosterName);
if( GetIsPC(oPC) && IsInParty(sCompanionRosterName))
AssignCommand(oTalker, ActionStartConversation(oPC, sConversation, FALSE, FALSE, TRUE, FALSE ));


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Child Guard by Bruce Nielson

Bruce Nielson author of The Light Reborn recently posted a 'Child Guard' override for NWN1 that covers up women in the game making them more modest. Although my current project has some racy imagery in it here and there, I think this is a great addition. I'm the father of 3 and I think it's a great resource for parents. If they don't want it fine, but it's nice to have it around.

It seems is sparked a bit of controversy and you can read more about that on a forum thread on the Online Roleplayers. It's interesting and worth a look.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

NWN2 Custom Music Guide

I've already plugged SirNugz custom music guide once, but he's revised it. It's clearer and he added some nice screen shots. It's quite useful to builders who want to add custom music an may offer some insights if you want to add any custom content.

Take a peak here.

An Operational Pause

Brief break in the action. Real life is intruding.

I'm a wee bit under the weather.

I have a late night at work planned.

I have a few things to help my kids with.

I'll be back at it in no time, I've done at least a little bit almost every day. I'm on room 41 of 52 of the dungeon, which is the next big chunk to be completed. Then...

... other stuff, but I'll really feel like I am in striking distance when I have a version of the dungeon ready for testing.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

4th Edition Ramblings


I've been posting on a few forums about the 4th edition of D&D.

Here are two really good threads on one of my favorite sites, RPGMP3

4th Edition Thread

4th Edition Online Component Thread.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition

It's been announced...

Here's the wizards of the coast page.

34 down and 20 to go

I have 34 rooms in the conversion/adaptation of Hidden Shrine done and 20 to go. Tons of progress, very little testing. My story and areas that largely 'wrap around' the original dungeon remain nearly complete.

I need a break and will try to remain disciplined enough to take one. I am greatly enjoying the work but I want it to be finished. Not so much burnout but definitely excitement and impatience to complete it and share it with people. When... I don't know. It depends on how much and how often I can work and how long testing and debugging takes.

I'm hoping this module is as stable as Keep on the Borderlands. I think Keep was a pretty simple hack and slash mod but it was stable and I was proud of that.

Once again I'm going to say what I always say. This is it. This is the last mod and I'm quitting and giving it up. Maybe I can break the toolset after I release this mod. I'm retiring from mod writing... again... the same way I do after each module.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wayback in 1999

Way back in the late 90's I was still writing games. A good friend of mine, Bruce who has posted occasionally on this blog, and I worked at making DOOM and DOOM2 modules. We posted mods for a number of games including DOOM on my personal web site. I found a copy of that web site using the wayback machine. (if you haven't tried the wayback machine it's a real kick in the pants, take a peak.)

To the left is the logo of our mod writing team, Winter Wolf Knights.
Take a look here to see a page (minus background art) of my DOOM page from 1999. WOW!

This was an icon we used on the web page, but it's also a picture of a winged imp we developed for one of our Doom modules. It really flew...

... memories. Ah....

Here's another link through the wayback machine. Some of the links and subpages work some don't but it's a fun trip down memory lane, at least for me.
Site home page

Anybody play Doom2 still? If so here is a link to two of my late 90's Doom levels.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Complicated Script

I wrote my most complicated NWN2 script so far, complicated for me anyway. I usually try to keep things as simple as possible. I used the getPosition function to grab the vectors of objects and compare their relative positions. I knew there y and z would be constant and only had to deal with the x. Depending upon where the player is in relation to an object the object will move in north or south (by being destroyed and created). It's a lot of work for relatively minor and insignificant bit, but it was interesting to try and write.

I also made a willow-the-wisp using the 'invisible man' model and the will-o-wisp effect. It looks pretty good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Custom Music tutorial by SirNugz

I have corresponded regularly with SirNugz about mod building and music and 2da files. He and I both went through a good deal of pain figuring all out how to add music and add custom content. He has published a guide on NWVault showing the ins and outs of adding customer music to NWN2. Check out SirNugz tutorial here.

* * * Edit 12:39pm * * *
Looks like it's also posted on the bioware forum here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I tested the first chunk of my module, not exhaustively but enough to find the big issue and figure out what I was doing that was working and what was failing miserably. I'll do a little debugging, probably no additional serious (for now) then move on to the next chunk.

* Edit 4:16pm *

Editing and debugging complete. Two things I'm not sure off.

1) I've got guys who are supposed to be in a diaorama. The are 1/4 scale, and I can get them to freeze and look like stone. No problem. I want to place them on an object with dynamic collision on and not have them pop off to the side. I just set height and position lock but haven't tested this. It indicates this will hold them in the toolset (which I assume means not in the game).

2) I have a few extra factions. What's the best way to make someone non-hostile then have them go hostile against you and companions after the conversation. I can get them to attack, but they don't engage my companions, at least not right away. I have 5 or 6 different methods set now for experimentation and I will test this later.

On the whole those are not bad.

I had one mystery but I think I'll track it down with out much fuss. A on inventory distrub script was firing way before the room was even reached. Very odd...

All in all loads of good progress and learning. You know I think this stuff helps me with my work programming from time to time, in terms of thinking about how to code things.

Now for a break.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Progress (10 out of 52 rooms)

Progress on the Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan. The 'Dungeon' portion of the module is the part I'm converting. According to the paper and pencil module there are 52 rooms or areas. I have finished initial efforts on 10 of the 52 rooms, including some that were rather complex. I borrowed a bit of script and writing from NWN1 and cleaned it up or re-wrote it. It's a good chunk of work.

Now my darlin' wife is ill and ran a garage sale and went to my sisters wedding dress fitting today. One of my sons was ill and need attention but was rather subdued. The bottom line, it was an unusual day, but I also spent a LOT of time working on the module. The pace may not be kept up.

Finishing the internal rooms in the dungeon will be my next major milestone. Then I should test them, really I should test them a chunk at at time, but we'll see.

Then there are journal entries, load screens, and a few other odds and ends I have planned (that may get cut).

I am worried about proofreading. I always get knocked for it and I've been in the habit of writing in word then pasting text in. This time I'm just writing, and plan to use an spell checker plug in. I've tested it, but have not used this approach. I'm not sure if it will work well or if it can be done efficiently. Time will tell.

Lots of progress today. Very little burnout. My last mod was stable, but good lord testing it to get it to that point is a bit of pain. I'm not looking forward to testing and debugging.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Early Testing

I finally reached that mental milestone of constructing all of the required areas for the module, and as noted I have a fair amount of dialog done as well. I gave the module a test run and I am able to walk through the module from beginning to end. The conversations I have in place function, and all area transitions are working after a bit of testing and debugging.

The two toughest things to track down were a failing transition triggered during some dialog. The target area was not baked (duh). The other bug it took time to find was a conversation that failed to fire, which worked fine in early testing. Turned out the tag of someone listening and speaking in the conversation was wrong. I have a few copies of this speaker and the wrong one (with the wrong tag) was present.

So, with my very early testing out of the way it's back to building, and it looks like some very fun stuff is ahead. I'm going to pull over a few scripts from my NWN1 version of Tomoachan and polish them up a bit. The NWN1 version of the module was my first public version and I have a few more tricks up my sleeves these days, and NWN2 has new tools to offer too!

I have also taken a few afternoons and evenings off, and will probably continue to take breaks when I can discipline myself to do so. Hopefully I'll stave off burnout. The end of this project is still pretty far away but I can mentally get my head around what's left. The end is a distant light in the tunnel and that's got me pretty excited.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Keep on the Borderlands makes the Hall of Fame

B2 Keep on the Borderlands made the NWVault Hall of Fame. Woo hoo! It's always a thrill to have a module make the Hall of Fame, and I am thrilled to have a NWN2 module make it in.

Night Howls in Nestlehaven by jackyo123 and Dark Waters 1 - Highcastle by Adam Miller, which were much higher rated modules than mine we also inducted. I've played most of Adam Miller's work and highly recommend it. I haven't had a chance to play Night Howls in Nestlehaven yet, but look forward to doing so.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan

Well Lariam got it on the first guess. I am back to working on The Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan. We did a little work on expanding and improving the NWN1 with the Maztican team, but we didn't get very far. I did a conversion for NWN1 as my first public module, and started on a copy for NWN2, but gave up.

At any rate, I've decided to do something based on The Hidden Shirne of Tamoachan rather than a straight conversetion. I have had an elaborate backstory and epilogue for the module floating around my head for a long time. In fact that's what most of my work has been focused on, and in my mind that story is the focal point of the module, rather than the original dungeon crawl.

The original dungeon crawl will factor into the module but will undergo some pretty significant changes, as there are things that are not possible in NWN2, there are no giant hermit crabs for example, nor are there centaur mummies, so I'm doing my own thing here and there, making it more my own.

The big criticism I got on the NWN1 conversation is there was almost no role play and very little plot, which was true, it was a straight conversion of the PNP module.

My adaptation of the module will hopefully be quite the opposite, with some heavy role play opportunities and some very well developed companions that are smack dab in the middle of the story.

I'm not sure what I am going to call the module, I do not want to call it 'C1 Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan', but I want to feature Hidden Shrine or Tamoachan in the title. I'm going to give LOADS and LOADS of credit to Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason who wrote the original, but it will be my own, 're-imagined' module if you will.

So, the cats out of the bag. I'd love to spill the beans about the main plot, but for now it's going to wait.

Great guess Lariam... :-)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Questions: Any one know what I am building?

I've told two people, my son and one community member what I am building right now.

I'm considering revealing it publicly. It's no great secret I suppose, but it's been fun to work away quietly on my own. Any guesses on what I am working on? I've posted a few screen shots, but I have deliberately tried to keep things vague.

Let me know!

A milestone, problems solved.

Ok, I have reached that milestone. All of the areas that are minimally required have been built. Many are only partly decorated, none have scripting or bad guys put in yet. Plot related dialog is nearly done, and most area transitions are in place.

I am going to finish the area transitions, and perhaps at the journal entries then get the module to a point where I can walk it and interact with key NPCs and work through key events to move through the module from beginning to end...then there is lots to add and lots to polish and lots to test.

I did hit a major snag, beyond the one mentioned earlier. There is an issue with build 1.0.6 of NWN2. Water can disappear if someone is using the undo/redo command in the toolset, forcing you to repaint it. If you turn off directional lighting it completely disappears and can't be repainted (or at least it doesn't show up when you paint it). I learned the latter bit of info tonight. You can read about it here.

Almost at a major milestone then an epic crash

I back up my work every few hours, but that wasn't enough for me to avoid loosing approximately 2 hours of work.

I had completed an the final 2 areas for my module, then it crashed while saving and poof my 240MB module was 90MB and nothing was contained within.

I went back to my version from two hours (and two areas) ago. Oh well... I was extremely pleased with how the 2nd to last area looked, and more important that that was it for laying out areas, there is still tons of scripting and populating to do, but the layout and transitions were nearly ready for a run through.

oh well.....

Friday, August 3, 2007

Keep on the Borderlands - The Music Video

After a lengthy thoughtful post from earlier this morning I thought I'd follow it up with something truly... I'll let it speak for itself.

Here is a music video on youtube inspired by and featuring artwork from Keep on the Borderlands - as well as a handful of d20. I don't know the group at all, but as I've recently converted Keep on the Borderlands for NWN2 I felt obligated to post this clip.


I am spending way to much time working on this module, if I don't shelf it soon for a while I'm going experience some burnout. I have to construct 5-8 more additional interior areas, depending upon how I break them up.

I have been working furiously on area layout with some decoration. My plan is to go back through and add more decoration, set sounds, load screens, etc... in another pass. I'm going to get all of the essential dialog in place, which actually is 80% complete. Then I'll take a walk through and see if all the area transitions work and the dialog is ok.

With that the main story will be in place and functional. (minus journal entires)

After that... add the monsters and NPCs. Companions are already in and well developed. There are a fair number of tricks/traps in the game and they need to be scripted. I think I can salvage/borrow a lot of scripts from earlier NWN1 mods, but I'm not quite sure.

Finally... polish and debugging.

I suppose psychologically I have stopped thinking of this project as something I noodle with from time to time and now it's something with a finite to do list and a finish line. It's quite distant but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

That's great I suppose, but it's making me feel a sense of non-existant urgency to complete this module and release it. I have felt some pangs of... "I've had enough of this." Could it be the beginning of burnout? Perhaps. Berliad once commented I seemed to be very all or nothing about writing modules and that pacing myself might be a good idea. He's right, but I don't know if I have the self disciple to do so.

Time will tell. :-)

One of these days I'll have to post about what the project is. It will be for 5th level characters, so anyone who's played Keep On The Borderlands should be able to take the character from that module and continue in this one. Although this project is not a sequel that has been intentionally done to give players a 'set' of modules to run their character through.