December 20, 2009

SoZ Holiday Project - who wants a cave entrance?

I may not be very experienced but I thought I should contribute something to this commendable initiative!

For time costraints, I couldn't make a brand new area, but I am glad to give one of the areas I made for LoL: the Nether Mountains! Conveniently rearranged with jungle grass 02 and a nice splashy river instead of the poor dry Rauvin River, so that it can be placed in the Samarach Overland Map!

Now, the thing is that there are 4 cave entrances, and I have time to make 1 dungeon max! The Fred has reserved 1 entrance for the dungeon he is making, but 2 remain empty. Needless to say, the area would feel stupid if 2 out of 4 caves led to nothing, so...

Who wants a cave?

Come one, somebody among my countless followers must be willing to make a little mountain dungeon!!! It is for the community!!! Perhaps an area previously discarded from your mod?

To solicit applications, I post new screenies of the area and of the 4 entrances (the last one is the one I would use myself). The cave with the blood spot is particularly cute and recommended to anyone!

p.s. day/night settings by Ovocean (Exquisite Day Night Settings - normal setting)










November 11, 2009

The mountains and the mastermind masterplan masterbedroom

This weekend I have actually done my homework!

Now the Nether Mountains area is finished! Relatively finished, at least, as I hope to learn better texturing techniques as I progress, so hopefully it can be improved.


Admittedly, this area features certain inconsistencies with the Lore:


- the Nether Mountains are supposed to be "dark". However, I chose a light texture because the PC crosses this part of the mountains from Jalanthar to the Moon Pass Gorge at the very beginning of the mod and has to kill moderately annoying baddies (Tuskers!), so I didn't want it to be excessively foreboding. The darker tones will be used for more dramatic landscapes like the Telkoun Tower, Hellgate Dell (former site of Hellgate Keep) and Dalagar's Daggers / Doomspire where the Morueme's dragon clan dwells (if I have the time, as this would be optional in my plot);


- the flora of the Nether Mountains described in the source books cannot be related to the real life flora supported by the toolset. Therefore, since the maps of this region indicate that south of the range the vegetation is deciduous, I went for it. I just tried to give a very bare and desolated feeling to the poor things.


I post screenies for the experts' advice, and please tell me if it is clear that something is wrong with the water level of the River Rauvin ( a plot devise).


I have also been making my very first interior area! I don't like it as much as making exterior areas ... placeables are a mess! and I never find what I want! I could not find a orizontal pole to hang the tents of the four poster bed, so I had to use the mask exposition rescaled! And I wanted to use some custom content, but it was conflicting with SoZ placeables, and I don't quite feel up to the task of editing 2da numbers, yet, so it will be for another time (pity because that "huge mirror" would have been stunning in the wardrobe/boudoir corner!!! ;-))



Anyway, I am happy with the result as I succeded in making the room as kitch as intended. This will be used for a cutscene hinting at the conceiving of the evil plan setting the plot in motion, and I hope that the obstented lush of the furniture can give an idea of the personality of my villain (definitely NOT an aged austere wizard).


As always, advice appreciated!!!
















November 06, 2009

I really don't feel like working today


Pity I cannot install the NWN2 toolset on the computer at work, but at least the net is full of funny stuff to waste time with.
And tomorrow morning is finally modding time again! :-)
Speaking of which, I am stuck in the same area since July... my production rate is awful. The thing is I just cannot decide what kind of vegetation would grow in the Nether Mountains... the source materials gives conflicting indications!
Then, of course, all the plants I placed on the uneven terrain were floating in mid air (the noob's mark!)
And I hate the mountains, that's it!

October 13, 2009

Legends, Lore and Etiquette

I am kind of annoyed.

Much to my dismay, on Saturday September 26, while checking the news page of the Vault, my eye fell on the entry concerning a NWN Gamewold, apparently thriving since a number of years, which is called... Legends of Luruar.

Cold shower ensues...

Since I have read enough flares, both on the Vault and on the NWN2 forums, to understand more or less what kind of behaviour is considered polite and compliant with the "community's etiquette", as soon as I recovered from the surprise, I thought I should address the unnamed authors of the page (indicated as "various" authors) with the following message, entered as a comment:

"Hi All,

I do not play PWs so I didn't know the existence of this one until yesterday's new entry on the Vault's home page jumped to my eye.

I am developing a nwn2 single player module. Although I am just at the very beginning (yep, I am a noob!), I was going to title the mod "Lore of Luruar" because it is based on the lore of the Silver Marches, the North and the Savage Frontier D&D books.

Now I am embarassed because I realise that my prospected title is extremely similar to the one of your gameworld... I think it is just correct on my part to inform you about this and to ask you if you mind that I keep the title... the fact is that I grew affectionate to it and that Ihave even opened a blog with this name, so I would be sorry to change it.

Please, kindly let me know whether this is a problem for you! And if this entry is not the correct place to adress my queries, I would be grateful if you could indicate to me the person(s) to contact directly.

Thank you and best regards,

Nacaal
"

I honestly hoped to get a pat on the shoulder...

Now more than two weeks have elapsed and I have not yet received any kind sign of acknowledgement. The comment has definitely been seen because in the meantime another of the above mentioned "Vault flare" broke out on that very page: a former player dropped a line of criticism and the current players and DMs replied accordingly... the usual stuff where nobody really makes a point. However, Dms must have seen my note.

So, did I do enough? I mean, should consider myself compliant with the community's etiquette, mind my business and keep LOL as a title? Or should I actively seeking formal blessing from the administrators of the PW, perhaps registering in their forum and reiterating my question?

Any feedback appreciated!

July 27, 2009

I hate being a noob

I have read on the Bioware forums this post by Eguintir Eligard, who was explaining ho the choice of having 6 party members (PC + 5 companions) necessarily affected area design:

"you have to design your areas accordingly or they will bunch up/be rendered useless at various pinch points. I avoid entrances that are a single tile wide in a building entrance, and you have to avoid combats right inside a door way as there is a good chance your ranged companions will go in first, and then be stuck because the rest rush in behind them, unable to reach with their weapons but still blocking the doorway. Two tile rule for any combats for the most part, or stick to outdoors."

Well, for the life of me I had not thought about it! And I had better do it, since LoL will feature 4 companions. Don't want them to mess up with one another with the caster ending up in front surrounded by foes and the tank stuck at the back of the group without any possibility to move!

Anyway, reading the above made me think and - after a toast to my noobishness - I went and remade the area I am currently working on, a few WIP pics of which are shown herein below. It is supposedly a ugly spot in the Nether Mountains where many baddies dwell. And the PC's got to clean it up! how innovative... please be impressed! Basically I had to make the paths larger because there was no way a party could walk them without jamming. Now it is still narrow but I am confident that at least they will be able to move, albeit cumbersomely.

Of course, if and when LoL is finished this post will be deleted and I will claim that my mountain areas where thoroughly thought out and cleverly designed in order to provide players with a realistic and immersive feeling of barren and inhospitable lands that could also force them to think strategically in order to implement the best tactics to take care of the above-mentioned baddies in their own environment!






p.s. ooops! What happened to the River Rauvin? Why is this major waterway looking so miserable? Strange, it is spring and its waters should be boosted by the melting... There must be something fishy! ;-)

July 18, 2009

How ugly is this?

Dappled shade... good (at least, I like it)...

Leaf canopy... sucks!

Because it's patently flat and bidimensional, and it doesn't merge at all with the columnar trees!

I have tried to camuflage a bit the 90 digrees merging point with the visual effects of the Ashenwood tree branches, but to no avail, since they are perfectly vertical so they only boost the "squared" effect"!!! :-(
Any advice would be much appreciated...








July 13, 2009

Crowded airways


The last recorded Flight of Dragons occurred in 1356 DR over the Dalelands and the Moonsea.

Once appeased, the dragons have gone back to attend their usual business, however the skies - and lands - of Luruar remain causeways of troubles, as evinced by the tentative map of the wyrms' overlapping dominions drawn up by Volo.

His pamphlet "A bloodthirsty adventurer's guide to dragons" is sold throughout the North, notwithstanding Elminster's attempts to talk Volo into aborting the project.

July 08, 2009

Time will be a turning wheel we shove or retard...


...time will be a toy...

...time we will enjoy...


so say Helloween.


However, I haven't enjoied it.
And I haven't been touching the toolset for a month, now. Which makes me think there's a long way to go. I barely remember the keyboard commands to rotate the view :-( !!!!


I will just post some screens of my only almost-but-not-quite completed area to remind myself that there is a whole little world of imagery demanding my attention!








June 14, 2009

Olothontor, the minstrel wyrm

"Oh, come let me sing of
Olothontor the Old.
Music in thrall this lone
wyrm doth hold.
If you would live to see
sunrise again,
Sing long of love, and
loss, and pain.
Sing as you've never
sung before,
And alive you may be
gently shown the door."
- Stanza from "Oh, Come, Let Me Sing," a Harper drinking ballad.

Olothontor is a kind, old, reclusive wyrm.
Well, he is as kind as a lawful evil blue dragon may accomplish to be.

The fact is that he has developed an unwavering love for (lore: addiction to) fine music and has only three goals in life:

1) find a singer female blue dragon: once he mated Ingeireirautha, a blue female from Anauroch, but she did not meet his standards and things didn't work out very well and the two no longer get along. Olothontor once suggested to an emissary of the Cult of the Dragon that he might consider joining the cult and become a dracolich if that may somehow magically empower a female blue dragon to sing;

2) find and hear the music of the finest minstrels of Faerun. If they second this desire to his satisfaction, Olothontor might even let them survive the encounter. Harpers and other bards often attend his lair on Mount Araddyn. Otherwise, Olothontor just wants to be left alone by other dragons, creatures or adventurers who do not love music;

3) collect items and spells that enhance his exploration of music. Since he is really only concerned with riches relating to music, he will gladly trade even more valuable items for musical stuff.

"Continue just as before, and all will be well"
- Olothontor to a unknown Harper.

June 12, 2009

Jalanthar

The town is far from completed, but since upkeeping this blog is far easier (and less time-consuming) than modding, I will ego-stroke myself with a few screens of the rye, orchard, fields and cemetery in its outskirts, as well as of the druid grove inside the town. And if anyone is wondering... yes, there will be druids in the mod! Next time, I will post a selection of pictures of Tall Trees.















June 05, 2009

The logarithmic spiral



Tall Trees was once Teuveamanthaar, the capital tree-city of the Eaerlann elves. This powerful kingdom is now dissolved, and few remnants of its former glory scatter the lands between the Turnstone Pass, in the Nether Mountains, and the High Forest. After the the Fall of Eaerlann and the departure for Evermeet of most of the moon elves (the Fair Folk of Eaerlann), the city was abandoned amidst the towering trees that are peculiar to this spot of the High Forest.



The inner centre of Tall Trees, however, has not been overcome by the wild growth, and is currently inhabited by a handful of Druids of the North, mainly of the Mielikkian faith. Among them are Uthgang Jyarl, Great Druid of the North and appointed Regent of Teuveamanthaar, Sinklayr Greenstroke, former Grand Druid of the North and currently Hierophant Adept, and Vaeros Fireshield, a mysterious man rumoured to be the next Great Druid of the North. The gigantic trees, considered the most ancient of the forest, are held sacred by the Druids, who wish to preserve the ancient Eaerlanni settlement, and on more than one occasion protected the trees from the attacks of the demonic horde risen from Hellgate Keep.



Provided that anything “elven” in the toolset is hardly pretty, and that there is no placeable fitting a tree-top city (in this respect, I have high expectations for a future delivery of RWS, mentioned in their forum), I focused my attention to the ground, and particularly to the shape of Tall Trees. I wanted to find a solution that could mediate between the harmony of the natural environment and a supposedly sophisticated architecture.



Accordingly, I resorted to the concept of fractals. To make it simple: self-similar recursive geometrical patterns available in nature. Basically, I have built the city as a revolving convolution based on the logarithmic spiral, a binary fractal that is represented, mathematically, by the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence and, geometrically, by the golden ratio or divine proportion, a irrational mathematical constant applied by certain major architects in ancient Greece and, more widely, during the Renaissance in order to achieve aesthetically pleasing results. A very good example of the logarithmic spiral is found in nature in the seashell whose English name I do not know, but a self-explanatory picture is posted above.



So, I have built Tall Trees as a logarithmic spiral, with trees growing at regular intervals on a revolving hill and connected to the inner line of the spiral (a path whose shape is enhanced by a row of torches) by wooden terraces intended to resemble the cells inside the seashell. The terraces become smaller as they get closer to the centre of the spiral, where they merge in a sort of natural amphitheatre where the Druids congregate. Actually, I wanted to put fences around the steps of the terraces, but the placeables of the toolset are too sturdy and ugly for what I have in mind… I will have to surf the Vault to find something better. I already owe to the Exquisite Day and Night Cycles posted there by Ovocean, which brilliantly overcome the problem of excessive darkness that I was experiencing under the leaf canopy placed all over the area.




June 04, 2009

Hello World

And so it was, that Nacaal got herself a blog.

Worse, a NWN2 blog, a place to write down my progresses in developing a module. I am not completely sure about the reason why I am doing it, mainly because I have been reading other modders' blogs and I like them, so now I want to try too. But also because I think that keeping this up may urge me to focus on this little module project of mine. In fact, I am a bit volatile in my hobbies - let's just say that passions wax and wane - and I need a little discipline in order to accomplish anything.

In the worst case scenario, I will learn a new thing and practice my English language writing something that is not work-related. For a living, I am a lawyer. It is not as well paid as it would seem in movies and tv series (especially if you are young and don't have a big name to spend), but it is an interesting job. Of course it has its drawbacks, for instance certain nasty rejection crisis that can tear your psyche apart - the risk is particularly high on those sunny days when you would die to be at the sea, while you are in fact, only half-way your 14 hours daily working routine.

But I have a remedy against the detrimental effects of such cruel Real Life: I atone and redeem myself by playing obnoxious holier-than-thou paladins! If during the day I am the dedicated caretaker of the greedy interests of evil corporations, at night (well, when I don't crash on the couch, of course!) I sit before my NWN2 game and turn myself into that shining beacon of goodness and hope that only my grandmother still believes I am!

So, that is why I like playing CRPG (now: when I was 15 things were much more simple).

Now I should probably state why I like modding. The point is, I have not quite found it out yet. I am still learning why. Admittedly, I am still a bit overwhelmed.

I have recently read a post on the Bioware forum suggesting another beginner builder that the three things to learn in order make a decent module are writing, area designing and scripting... warning that learning all of them from scratch would be though.

Well, what can I say for myself? That the acronym LoL was not a random choice! Learning is proving painful, yet engrossing. As with other things in life, humility and commitment will make the deal, I guess.

I had never written anything in my life, but most of the story and setting is now decided, and it's coming out nice and smooth (at least, the main story: I have difficulties with the side-quests, but there is time for them). The module is set in the Silver Marches (aka Luruar), in year 1369 (or 1370, still have to decide!) D.R., just after its founding. And of course, the future of the young confederation will be threatened from within and without - where will the struggle for power lead a twisted mind who is not afraid to uncover and abuse a secret buried beneath the dust of time?

I am slowly getting the grip on area designing, at least exteriors. Well, so far I only have two areas - LoL!!!! One is a city and it admittedly sucks, but I abandoned it for a while and created another one, the sacred grove of Tall Trees in the High Forest, and I am pretty satisfied with it. With what I learned, I went back to the city - Jalanthar, an outpost of rangers and trackers in perpetual war with the orcs, which is now starting to take shape.

Scripting still gives me a migraine, but if I learned "legal English", I do not see why I should not be able to learn such a simpler language!

Ok, enough ramble for now. This was really just a test post, so next time I will write about the module! In the meantime, let's see if I can establish a slideshow of my Tall Trees pics...