Choose Your Language

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Episode 20: Adventuring Proper!

This last fortnight has seen me delving back into the second module of The Scroll ... and for proper adventuring stuff too! And while module one v1.04E was also released during this time, that was simply as a result of improvements in module two that sorted out some module one AI at the same time. That aside, everything has been about adding new content to the next module, and there were three areas I looked at in particular. Read on ...

CONVERSATIONS

First off, I continued to develop conversations for NPCs to complement both sub-quest and main quest lines. One NPC had quite a number of lines added that works with my newly developed SP/MP handling. i.e. When the conversation required MP (multi-player) handling, it does so, but the minute the content is angled more towards SP (single player), such as purchasing items, then the conversation seamlessly switches to a SP environment, allowing other players to continue with their own actions. Where this system is still quite new (even to me who developed the idea), I am still quite slow while making sure all the variables are being set as I need them to subject to which section of the conversation is taking place. Suffice to say, the ones I have updated so far work well, and include potential companion added comments if the payer has such in their party.

JOURNAL ENTRIES (QUESTS)

Tied closely to the conversations I have written are the (sub) quests that I have also added since last posted. I have managed to start three new quest lines as well as continue to add entries for existing quests. As it currently stands, I have now started around 25% - 33% of the total number of quests I hope to include by the time of release for module two. My goal regarding sub-quests is that they serve to either add more backstory or some form of greater reward for doing them. In this way, I hope such sub quests do not detract from the main story line, but help to give the player something extra to consider as they progress through the main story.

AREA DESIGN

This last week also had me back at area designing ... or rather continuing with an area that I had already started a few months ago, before I was sidetracked with both other material and seeing the Enhanced version of module one released. It's one of four interior designs that are required for the current quest I am writing. (This week's screenshot is from the area.)

For me, area designing is both a "love" and a "hate" thing. The "hate" is due to having to fill an otherwise large empty space with interesting stuff that will keep the player interested in spending time there ... and I do not have a lot of patience when it comes to filling in details like you find in some of the better designed games that can be bought and played. That said, however, I do find that when I start to fill an area with placeables, it can sometimes inspire me for a quest idea, and that is something that happened in the latest area design. This as a definite boon for any would-be player, as these design diversions are what bring an area to life in my experience.

i.e. It's not so much about what an area looks like or the content it has, but what a player can expect their PCs to do while there. A blandly designed area may be a "minus" point, but if the player is too involved with the action/plot/gameplay to notice, then that negative point can, hopefully, be swallowed up in the experience. That is how I find games work for me, and I hope the same applies to others that end up playing my modules. The only downside is I then get side-tracked to work on this new gameplay aspect before finally getting around to finishing off the area design itself. This is what happened this time too. Basically, the area is required for a main quest, but I like to add ideas that make the area interesting in and of itself.

CREATURE VISUALISER

I have also had the opportunity to try out KevL's Creature Visualiser plugin in the last few uses of the toolset, and am please to say that it works well as an alternative viewer to the "Armor Set" tab that a builder may have problems using in the official toolset. KevL says the plugin is still in alpha stage, but if it continues to improve at the rate it has been, then I guess it won't be long before it's good for many others to consider using too. I found it useful even at this stage!

And here on your right is the kitchen!

Monday, 25 November 2019

Episode 19: The Lore of the Land.

Writing for module two of The Scroll is back underway, after the last few weeks of preparing the first module for its "Enhanced" version release has come to an end. Now, at what I believe to be a stable v1.03 E (Enhanced), the first module has been "put aside" to allow me to concentrate on module two once more ...

ANOTHER AREA

I really thought I would not need to design yet another area, but circumstances dictated otherwise. Simply put, I felt reluctant to have a player reach a location where everything took place outside. So, although unscheduled, I designed an area where a player would also learn more about the lore of the land ... a Sanctuary. (This week's screen shot.)

RELIGIOUS TEXTS (LORE)

As a Christian, writing about the lore or religion of the world is something I find quite difficult. Not because I don't have an imagination for it, but because I do not want to write anything that could be taken the wrong way for whatever reason, or do a creation story "injustice". That's all I am going to say on the matter, except that I do think "religion" in a game is an important aspect for any world that wants to become more than something just superficial. Think of Tolkien's world of "Arda" in "Lord of the Rings" and the depth of lore involved in his world design, and you should recognise that is what goes a long way to giving his world depth.

That is the premise I used when I wrote the "history" for Althéa. Even before I wrote the first story or designed my first dungeon, I had much of the lore written down and in place. A complete world map was also drawn up, even though the main thrust of the campaign as it currently stands was only to take place on one continent: In the north-west continent called  Narborantra. I even have a version of the elf language that I use to help name the various places in my world with respect to the elvish names. E.g. Althéa is made from "alt" meaning "land" and "h(éa)" meaning world. So, we get the translation "world of land" from Althéa.

At the time I drew the world map, I also wrote the world history - and I also drew a second world map that showed how Althéa looked before a worldwide catastrophic event in its history known as the Debacle took place. The history written down served to explain what caused the Debacle and the events throughout all time, which included the coming of religions to Althéa. The bottom line: the religions of the world find their roots in this history of Althéa ... and not just from the perspective of what happened, but also from what was believed to have come to pass during that time. These are the "religious texts" I include in my campaign, written from the perspective of those who lived in that time ... and reflect beliefs and attitudes based upon "real" ways of thinking with respect to such. So, careful readers may notice logical arguments being posed around concepts not too dissimilar to our own world ... and not unlike the way Tolkien treated his own work.

However, I live in the age of computers, and while I have written a story about my world in book form, my main aim is to work such background for the world and campaign into the CRPG I am delivering to you in The Scroll for NWN2. And as the main thrust of any CRPG is more about action than cerebral study, these historical information dumps have to be handled in smaller packages than any normal book-reading may get away with. It is some of these parcels of lore/religious texts I have added this week. For those that have played The Scroll (module one), they take a similar format to those found in the Sanctuary of New Edgeton. The text themselves offer a deeper understanding behind the meaning to life in the world of Althéa, and careful readers will begin to see a deeper level of what drives characters in the world to do what they do, beyond the superficial.

I know many players will more than likely skip over these texts. However, I hope they are intriguing or challenging enough in their content to make the odd player or two sit back and think more about life, the universe and everything ... and not just of Althéa!

MOVING FORWARD

I am reaching a difficult point where I need to start bringing some of the plot lines together. At the moment, I have a number of plot lines (which the player may have followed in a number of ways), and I want to now make sure the combinations work. I also still have to finish the mega-dungeon, which is its own plot line, and a major one! I'll see what the days and weeks bring, and keep you updated.


Religious Texts To Study



Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Episode 18: The Scroll, Fixed, Enhanced & Polished!


I have to start with an apology for not bringing you anything "new" with respect to the second module ... although strictly speaking that would not be true, as there is plenty "new" that applies, but it's not so obvious to the player at first reading. It's all to do with improvements that affect the campaign as a whole, and so by default, also impact the second module. So what are these "enhancements" am I speaking about? Well, read on ...

ESSENTIAL FIXES

Let me get this out of the way for module one first: There was at least one game-breaking bug accidentally introduced in an earlier version, and a couple of others that would also break the game if the player took a certain path where the bug would raise its ugly head. The last two had gone under the radar of testing, as they were less likely to manifest. However, it would only take a slight change in direction for a player and they would be unable to continue their game too. So, most importantly, this latest release, called v1.00 ENHANCED, fixes those bugs.

ENHANCED VERSION

But what has been enhanced? This is less obvious to the player, but is certainly one of the biggest changes since earlier versions of The Scroll that the player will experience. It includes such things as:-

1) Repositioning of transitions to prevent "party squeeze" upon arriving at a destination. (Module.)
2) Removal of old scripts and some heartbeat scripts to improve performance.
3) Removed many "minor bugs", which although not game-breaking, did frustrate a player.
4) Updated core files in preparation of additional modules & improved MP support.
5) Update to the way Rules & Lore are first given.
6) Improved monster detection system & AI for more effective combat.
7) Many cosmetic improvements, such as adjusting box sizes to allow text to display correctly.

All in all, I addressed over 100 points with the earlier release of The Scroll to improve it, and as requested by players in some cases.

POLISHED!

Well, I guess builders are forever polishing their work. However, I do think that there will be less polishing of the first module from this ENHANCED version moving forward. I have gone over many scripts where I thought they needed it; my wife has been replaying for about a sixth time testing it, and all in all, I believe between us, we have now covered almost every aspect that needed addressing ... famous last words, I know. The point is, I have now done those things I always considered needed looking at and doing since initial release, and were highligted as issues as I began to work on module two.

MODULE TWO

I have started looking at module two again, as there was some crossover fixes that affected the second module more than the first. So, while new content has been short coming, although I did even add some recently, the important thing is that the campaign files are looking more robust since this latest update to the ENHANCED version.

ENHANCED RELEASE DATE

I am just running over some final transition testing and may allow my wife to reach the end of her latest play through, and then v1.00 of the ENHANCED version of The Scroll should be made available for you to download and enjoy ... I hope.UPDATE: The Scroll v1.00 E (Enhanced) was release on 19.11.19 and there is a link to its download at the top of this post.

New Rule Added To Players Information




Thursday, 17 October 2019

Episode 17: Now Where Did I Put It?

What a fortnight of fixes and updates! For those following the module status, you will know that I have currently withdrawn v2.93 pending some final testing by my wife, which has helped bring my attention to a number of issues that I wanted to iron out. From the simple removal of some debug text to a rewrite of some core scripts. That's why the module has been withdrawn until I have this sorted. At the moment, my wife is replaying the campaign in "hard core" mode, where if a companion dies, then they are removed from the party and replaced by a tombstone. From there, the player must either raise the dead companion with the spell or take them to someone who can raise them. It's been during this play through I have been able to finally track down some of the old issues and even give a little bit of an update with containers. Read on for more information ...

CONTAINER FEEDBACK

Let me start with an interesting update. You may recall that I have feedback given on any recipe book a PC carries if they single left-click on it within their inventory. The code (which required a loop limitation fix) basically checks each of the individual recipe scrolls of the recipe book and gives the player basic info about every recipe the book carries without them having to open and check them individually. So now, as an extension of this idea, I decided to add a single left-click feedback to every container item the PC carries. i.e. Other containers will now (on a single left-click) give named feedback of each item within the container and how many of each there are. This saves the player having to hunt around, opening each bag looking for anything in particular. Now a chat message will simply give you the contents with a single click without having to open the container at all. (Check out this weeks screenshot to see how it looks in-game.)

HARD CORE DEATH SYSTEM

As I say above, the main hold up for v2.93 at the moment is final testing on the hard-core death system, which my wife is currently in the process of doing. So far, all has worked well with respect to companions dying and leaving tombstones since my latest rewrite of the death scripts. (I have now also made any tombstones sparkle gold to make it easier for the player to spot them.) Raising them either by spell or taking the body back to Orechin works fine. Initially there was a problem with odd duplicated items, but I changed the approach and now the system appears solid!

The last hurdle to overcome, which I believe I have now achieved was to ensure any plot items that a dead companion may have been carrying were transferred to the main PC upon the companion's death. This required a rewrite after I realised some players may have stashed an important plot item inside a container on the companion. This had also contributed towards the duplicated items issue mentioned above (with plot items), due to some plot items being left on the dead companion even after they had been transferred to the main PC. This has now been corrected too, and is the final part that requires further testing.

A slight update to the way the system works now, is that if a player chooses to abandon a fallen companion (option given when leaving the area and not picking up their body token), then items left at the tombstone will now still be left available to the player upon their return to it! The body token, however, that had been left on the tombstone will have been destroyed, meaning that companion is gone for good ... or bad. ;)

MODULE ONE UPDATED

The latest version of the campaign will also have an updated module one come out alongside the latest campaign files. This is because I went over a few of the areas that I felt needed their objects checked. Many of the areas had not been checked since their first design and I have learned a bit more about what works best since they first appeared. To this end I did things like remove oddly placed placeables (that were out of view), converted some placeables to environmental objects and removed scripts that were otherwise not being best employed. This included some heartbeat scripts that I felt may be costing more against overall performance than they were delivering in-game. e.g. Door heartbeat scripts simply to automatically close a door, even when not required. Hopefully, these alterations should go a long way to help overall performance for the player.

CAMPAIGN LATEST

So, v2.93 is sitting in the background, almost ready for release. Once again, many of the improvements that have gone into the latest campaign release have been driven by the need to get the scripting right for the addition of other modules moving forward. However, this also means I have been able to address quite a few annoying bugs that affect the first module. Example fixes ...

1. PLOT  STATUS: I discovered some plot items could accidentally lose their plot status in certain situations. Not good, but thankfully rare to never seen.

2. ENTRY SCRIPTS: I did a complete overhaul on these scripts due to the checks required for new modules, and then if SP or MP, and then if importing a PC, and then if starting afresh or coming from another module, and then if .... you get the idea I guess. In brief, I believe these scripts have been greatly improved, and I managed to tidy them up quite a bit. E.g. Before, if a player reloaded a game in a certain place, it would incorrectly assume they had just transitioned from somewhere else. Now a check is in place that stops all this kind of erroneous practice.

3. TB PAUSE COMBAT : I noticed a brief pause during my own testing when trying to unpause a TB combat round. I believe I have now removed this issue (which was rare anyway), and also tweaked the code to help the pause kick in on times when it appeared a bit reluctant to do so. Also removed GUI inhibitor to ensure combat GUI always showed when paused. Fixes here were minor and "cosmetic".

4. ITEM TRANSFER: Another nifty tool that I recommend all players to use is the right-click on an item within their inventory and use the Give To option to enable easy and fast transfer of items between their PCs. It really does make item transfer so much easier, especially alongside smaller portraits (if used). However, all this is also to point out that a minor fix was added to ensure container items did transfer on the first attempt. Previously, such items may have required more than one attempt to transfer successfully, even if told such anyway.

5. INVENTORY CLASS: A quick and simple cosmetic fix that ensured class names of a PC (as displayed within the inventory screen above the mannequin) fitted better and no longer had underscores in class names such as Spirit_Shaman > Spirit Shaman.

6. GOLD WEIGHT : An old problem that came back to haunt for a little while due to me missing an official gold script that was being used within conversations. Basically, I have to use my own gold transfer scripts rather than the official campaign ones due to the way gold works in my system.

And examples of campaign updates that module one also gains immediate benefit ...

1. REST/WAIT GUI: An improved rest/wait system that now works on direct button press (when options available) or cancel. Before a player had to potentially make a selection before confirming with OK. This was both confusing and potentially a backdoor to a rest exploit due to the cancel callback returning zero, which still means something other than cancel as it currently stood. This was required because some rest/wait options may not be available in The Scroll, meaning a proper cancel callback was required.

2. PARTY KEYS: Another small but quite useful update is the update that allows a door to be "unlocked" by any party member, as long as somebody in the party has the key required. Caveat: A PC with the Open Locks skill may still try to pick the lock first (if they do not have the key), but will immediately use any key present in the party thereafter.

3. PC SKILL BOOK: The PC skill book (which every PC receives at the start of the game) has had its look changed to help it stand out. It's a minor alteration, but I often confused it with any holy book a cleric may have been carrying too, so it just helps distinguish the book. (Of course, there is always the likelihood another book will clash in the future, but at least it will be less frequent.)

4. AUTO LIGHT : Players of The Scroll may be aware that a PC could auto-equip a light source if they entered an area that was effectively pitch black. This also used to auto enable low light or dark vision if the PC had the ability. Due to some difficulties, I decided to remove the auto-enabling of low light or dark vision, but ensured another light source was auto-equipped if the players controlled PC entered a dark area and had not got any potential low light or dark vision enabled. This is done as a check throughout the party the player controls, so if they do not have an alternative light source, but another member does, then they will auto-light the area. The code now also ensures any lantern equipped has fuel to burn so it is not quickly removed again.

Let Me Check This Container For It!

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Episode 16: Running Away!

It's been a mixed bag of goings on with the campaign over the last couple of weeks. From adding more content, to fixing bugs and more testing! Unfortunately, I made an annoying discovery while testing some encounters with a party without the Companion Protector feat. The "hard core" death system had another bug in it, which is now patched in the current latest v2.92. It came to light as I tried to run away from an encounter that was too tough for my test party ... This weeks screenshot shows the GUI that was not quite doing what it was meant to do and highlighted the issue.

TIDYING CODE

Tracing the issue I discovered back to its origin, I believe it was introduced when I did a fairly large rewrite of the core transition code, which I did last summer. The problem is, with much of my own testing (and I suspect the same with most players), I tend to employ the Companion Protector feat during testing (or playing), which means I do not see the hard-core death system come into play that often. I only noticed it this time because I was testing an encounter which turned out to tough for me, and some of my party died (leaving tombstones) due to playing in a hard-core death system mode.

Basically, the idea is that should a player have an encounter which they deem to be too tough for their party, then if they are able to have a PC run away from the combat and reach the transition point before being killed themselves, then they will be given the option to end the encounter and respawn their party with an XP penalty (negated if they have another specific feat). See screenshot below.

On testing, the GUI ended the encounter, but failed to respawn the dead PCs! This was because these dead PCs were "dead" in a different way to the "normal" way. Closer inspection of the code also highlighted that the same check would have prevented a player from being able to transition their party while carrying dead companions. My heart sank at this discovery, as it meant any player playing The Scroll this way would have had a real difficulty. It had made the system just a little too hard-core, as I had never meant for a player not to be able to carry their dead companions back to Orechin (the priest) to be able to have them raised if they had the gold.

ENCOUNTER FLEEING

Anyway, I believe I have fixed those transitions for a party carrying dead companions now, and furthermore, an encounter that is fled should now raise fallen companions regardless of the death system used. I admit that I have not fully tested this yet, but the testing I have done appears to indicate all is well. However, this is the kind of thing that other players could help test in the field. Therefore, if anybody is playing The Scroll (without the Companion Protector feat), then please let me know how the death system is working for you.

Note: Module one does not have specific overland encounters of the type I mention above, but does still require feedback with respect to general usage, especially when carrying fallen companions back across areas.

CONTINUED WRITING

As for new content for module two, I have been continuing to write the conversations. These can be quite difficult for me, as depending upon my concentration for the day, I may write more or less. The problem is also compounded by the need to keep track of the variables where conversations relate to one another.

So far, however, I have written two more rather lengthy conversations, and have reached a point where I can add to them without having to recall what came before. i.e. The conversations are not fully completed for the NPCs in question, but at least one stage of them is.

CONTINUED SCRIPTING

Not only have I been writing conversations, but I have also been putting together various scripts to work as a whole event. This required some tidying of some more older scripts, but less seriously than the transition ones, and related to resting instead. The problem I am finding now is that some of the older scripts are not as well written as I would like and so I am put in a position where I am tidying them (and improving them) to work with the newer material. I am keeping any alterations to a minimum, but if I see something that is just plain wrong, it is being updated. I am also adding more comments to the scripts where I believe they were lacking from before.

PLAY TESTERS

This may be a strange request ... well perhaps not after this report, but I am looking for somebody (or more) who may like to consider playing The Scroll module one without the Companion Protector feat. The game would be a lot harder, but I am hoping it would also give me some feedback with respect to the latest updates as well as this way of playing. Any play tester would also have priority feedback and help from me if they needed it. Let me know if you are interested.

Abandoning An Encounter Choice To Continue Onwards!

Monday, 23 September 2019

Episode 15: Making Progress!

It's been a little while since I last posted on the progress of module two of "The Scroll", but there is good news: It continues to be written and I am still making progress. One of the reasons I have not had anything to say is because it would involve discussing a lot of spoilers. That said, here is what I can say to bring you up to date ...

ALL SYSTEMS GO!

I finally finished the new GUI that the player will pick up towards the end of module two, designed specifically to add a dimension to the mega-dungeon on which the second module will climax. Well, it may not be quite the end for the module, but close enough that I am currently assuming this to be the last dungeon a player will play through before module three! (God willing.) The GUI itself works like a charm ... well, not literally being a D&D game ;) ... but I mean to say works well.

Now that it is in place and working, I can now refer to it as a game mechanic and start to increase the amount of material that works alongside its inclusion, which means I can start shaping the conversations, items and placeables required in the module to make the whole thing come together. To this end, I have written the first conversation required for Kiri-Dor, of which I took a screenshot for this post.

OVERLAND MAP

Alongside working the new mechanics and conversations for the mega-dungeon, I have been going over the overland map code, ensuring encounters work and general player interaction is intuitive. In testing, I found exploring the map quite fun! For those that don't know (which I guess may be everybody), my own overland map exploration assumes the PC in the party with the best skills when hiding from a creature or searching for something. This means the player is not penalised on an overland map just because their main PC did not have the skills that the overland map makes use of. Basically, as long as somebody in the party has the skills, then the whole party benefit. This is a premise I work to with respect to all party skills. In this way, as I explored the overland with my own party, I discovered various hidden objects and was able to decide (mostly) which encounters I would face. All ran smoothly and made the whole exploration process quite a delight.

Another aspect I have been working on is also to allow players to be able to "shop" at locations they have previously visited without having to enter the areas with them again. For example, the player may click on the object representing New Edgeton to be able to purchase items from there as if they were in the New Edgeton area.

MODULE COMPARISONS

I thought it might be worthwhile to give some comparisons between my first and second module to help explain its current state of development. Module one was very much designed as an introductory module for the world of Althéa and the many new mechanics. A player could join the game either knowing nothing about the campaign or having come from its "pen and paper" background, which was necessary for my own players. The course of the adventures that followed was crucially about removing the barrier from around the village of New Edgeton so the heroes could continue their journey towards Boran, the capitol city.

In the second module, the heroes will learn more about the main story irrespective of their background. Events that have transpired over the last two years are now learned as the heroes are no longer trapped and isolated within New Edgeton. This liberation means a player can run headlong towards the action, all restraints removed, in the hope of either learning more about the world and its influential characters, or simply getting on with the job that needs to be done (subject to the background chosen). Needless to say, in module two, it is not long before all players are brought up to speed with their own destiny within the world of Althéa.

Module one comprised a number of quests, small, medium and large. By comparison, module two will have probably fewer smaller quests, but rather medium, large or much larger ones, simply due to the importance of the quest in which they find themselves involved. However, I am aiming to design the second module in such a way that may break these larger scenarios into more manageable chunks, so that the player does not feel either overwhelmed, nor left wondering what is required of them.

One of the major differences of module two (and the more difficult to design), is that events are more linked than those of module one, or appear to me as such at this point in design. The problem is, they may start off as isolated events, but end up becoming associated with one another as time goes by. This does add a layer of difficulty in the overall design, but one that will play well if I pull it off ... or so I believe anyway. That all said, I still hope to put in the odd independent scenario or two, as I believe they can make for some interesting side events.

What this means in development terms is that I am having to write different sections at the same time, going from one part, then to another. It makes it easier to ensure all variables are correct for each possible path taken by the player. At this time of writing, I have managed to start 75% of the larger dungeons, and completed only one smaller dungeon. Personally, I would like to achieve at least 5-10 small dungeons/quests, but am keeping my options open on that subject to how long the main quests take to write up. For even though I have started 75% of these larger quests, I would say I have probably only written around 10% of each, of which there are at least 4-5 overall. Time will tell.

EXCITING

The one thing I can say with respect to everything to date is that I am finding it all exciting. Especially as I am now working with a new module where I can work from a background of knowing what has worked or not worked in the past. To this end, even module one has benefited from some of the upgrades of module two, including the ability to stack craft items and trap kits. (This is already available in module one since v2.91, which is already out for download.) i.e. Continued work with module two has given improvements to module one where possible.

Module two has the benefit of better area design ... or perhaps I should say, more practical area design. In that I am doing my best to keep areas free of clutter to enable better PC movement, especially when encountering other creatures for combat.

For myself, it is just great to be able to write conversations that develop the story further. It is frustrating knowing how it all ends, and not yet being able to deliver it to the players. I just hope I am around long enough, as well as the NWN2 community, to be able to deliver it!

From Simple Ideas, Great Stories Grow!



Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Episode 14: The Mega-Dungeon (Part 2)

After resolving the issues mentioned in the last blog, I finally got back to looking at my "mega-dungeon" for module two. The frustrating thing, however, is that as excited as I am about telling you all about it, I cannot say too much for fear of revealing spoilers! However, as I have now finally overcome some of the coding and toolset issues I had encountered for my latest ideas, I would at least like to tell you something about the overall progress ... and so if you are interested, read on ...

MEGA THREE DIMENSIONS!

One of my biggest gripes about the NWN toolset is its inability to deal effectively with a z-axis. (Height in areas.) Please note, I am not complaining, but just note that trying to work with any z-axis idea is somewhat restricted/difficult when trying to give a player the feeling of depth in the environment. Having better z-axis control would be in my top ten updates if it were a dream come true.

So, while working within the constraints laid upon me, I decided to go through with an idea I had in mind to help give the illusion of a greater z-axis with respect to the mega-dungeon I am designing ... and I think I may have pulled it off to a degree with an idea I used. I am not saying anything more, except to say that if and when the player experiences it, I hope they get a minor "wow" factor from viewing the experience. I imagine it won't be a long lasting experience, but enough to show I gave the third dimension some thought, and tried to incorporate it it in such a way that adds a new element of play for the player.

MEGA MECHANICS!

I alluded to this in earlier posts, but will now confirm: The mega-dungeon environment will be more interactive with its own themed mechanics. Not only am I trying to give the player a whole new environmental feel to their NWN2 experience, but there will also be another layer of gaming interaction complementing the environment in which the mega-dungeon takes place!

In other words, players will learn more about their existing story tasks through deeper interaction with the gaming environment of the mega-dungeon, which involves whole new abilities and challenges to overcome, alongside the existing mechanics that the player already knows and loves.

As one small example of the kind of thing I am including, which has already been quizzed by readers of this blog, is how the PCs will be able to acquire or replace items in a dungeon where no stores may exist. POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: One of the means by which I have overcome this issue is by the introduction of a special device (which shall remain unnamed) with which the PC can interact (as long as they have learned how to and meet certain criteria), to "acquire" items. Basic interaction is quickly learned, but further interaction requires exploration and extra discoveries by the PCs. It's still work in progress with respect to what items will be available, but this blog's screenshot shows a little of the interaction GUI, which I was finally pleased to get working! (NOTE: The area is not finished.)

I was gratified that I managed to be able to include image icons in the new GUI listings. It required more coding than I first thought would be necessary, but, nevertheless, the end result looked good to me ... and the GUI has been tested as working satisfactorily. It just needs to have all relevant items (and their data) added now. Basically, I had to make a LIST GUI in the same way I made the Bestiary listings in "The Scroll", which means having to add data for every entry! A tedious task.

MEGA DEVELOPMENT!

To further emphasise the new mechanics involved, I am also having to script another GUI that will show after the PCs learn about some of the background behind the latest events of the main story, and grow close to the mega-dungeon environment.This GUI shows party development with the knowledge they acquire while they adventure. It will show a "progression chart", with abilities learned or yet to learn, and any requirements to do so. It currently comprises four paths, (each with a number of steps of their own), which are fully explained in the literature that the PCs will discover in the course of their time in this environment. I have already written one of the readable books that they can come across, which covers more details for them.

Current progress of the latest module is relatively staggered, due to personal circumstances more than lack of ideas. Furthermore, thinking about an exciting aspect to include is one thing, but writing the code to put that idea in place is another. The story I had in mind has also "grown" in stature to support some of those design concepts I wanted to include. i.e. A mega-dungeon, by its very name, implies something of larger proportions than your average dungeon. Therefore, I have needed to add a couple more areas to ensure that scale and gameplay can be maintained without compromising the overall story arc.

On a final note, I can add that I am enjoying the results so far, and hope other players have the same reaction to certain events and gaming aspects as I have had, even in these early stages, as that will mean the idea was successful.

If you have anything you want to ask, comment on, or simply suggest as an idea that might be 
worth considering inclusion, then please add a comment and let me know.

Party Are Presented Items In A New List GUI (WIP)