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Thursday, 30 October 2008

Show Me The Way

I have been busy sorting out buying a new car this week, which has distracted me somewhat from working with the toolset. However, in the time I have had, I have been trying to work on a system that would enable players to use their own map pins with NWN2. But, after a few hours trial and error, I have failed to produce anything that works. (SEE UPDATE BELOW.)

I thought I might be able to add waypoints at the player's location and use an input GUI to alter the text used for the map pin description. However, you cannot (a) Add map text after a pin has been added, and more importantly (b) You cannot see newly created waypoints (as map pins) that are added dynamically during the game. I had a couple of other ideas, but both fail in a big way: For the first idea I was hoping I might be able to "copy" existing waypoints already placed on a map to the players location, but you can only copy creatures or items. The second idea involved placing a number of waypoints to form a kind of matrix across the map and then use code to locate the closest one when searched for by the player who would then be able to enable it. Unfortunately, both of these ideas also fail to be able to update the map text in any way. I also wondered if it was possible to add a small "pin texture" somehow that could be hovered over and allow a tool tip to be displayed. Unfortunately, I don't believe my knowledge of XML coding is up to the job, nor do I know if it is even possible. And so .... I ask any readers if they have any idea how I might be able to approach this problem, or if they know the problem has already been solved by someone else or can confirm if it is a fruitless task.

The new car ... A Kia Rio 1.4 Chill in Midnight Black.

UPDATE (31/10/08):

I managed to build a system that I believe works well enough! :) After researching earlier work done with map pins back in NWN1, I found this by Mad Andrew and this by Jassper. After trying similar code in my module for NWN2, I was able to create map pins that (a) Showed as small placeables immediately, but also (b) Recorded "proper" map pins that would be updated whenever the player left and re-entered the area. To help with this, I added a button to the PC Options menu that allows the Main PC to quickly exit and re-enter the area if they wish to recall the location of their map pins. As the area I jump the player to is very small, the transition is only as long as it takes to load the area they are currently in, which in most cases is only a few seconds. However, as the player already has immediate "placeable" pins within the area, then this procedure to update the "proper" pins is only required on rare occasions.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Stormy Considerations: Zehir Style

I have finally started to get some energy again and back into the mood for using the toolset. It's a bit of a slow return, but at least I have returned! Part of the encouragement came from hearing how many aspects of Storm of Zehir expansion actually reflects quite a few of my own ideas, and may mean I will have less coding (or coding made easier) in the future.

In particular, it seems they may have made customised crafting easier to include, which was going to be one of those headaches that I was not looking forward to. And while they have included a means for different PCs of a party to take part in a conversation, I had already coded that part for my module, and so it will be interesting to see if the two are interchangeable.

I have also been doing more work on the "map system", including designing an item for players to be able to examine the world map without actually being able to travel anywhere. The idea is so a player or players can make reference to the world map if they find something mentioned that might be worth looking up. It is still a work in progress at the moment, and I may adjust it slightly to show "destination icons" rather than not (which it does at the moment), but simply disable the travel function for them. Everything works well, including the ability to switch world maps, which I specifically designed early in the process, and so I am quite pleased with this new map item to date. And then there is, of course, the question of how the new map system will also interact with this one. I think a number of these map ideas may have to wait to see exactly how the new map system works, and whether I wish to adapt a number of the older ones to work in different ways to my first plan.

Another section of the module I have decided to look at now is "ambient life" for things like villages, towns and cities. Originally, I was not going to do as much in this area, and simply place the odd NPC around the place. However, even though I still think this should be something that would be sufficient in principle, when it comes to playing the mod, it just seems lacking. Now, I still don't want to spend too much time with an ambient life system with respect to locals (commoners, nobles and peasants sort of thing), but have decided to spend some time looking at it, but in a way that may work as a generic system for any future settings as well. Then any work I now put into it will be worthwhile for future projects as well.

I have already discovered that, unfortunately, there is no easy way to change the "appearance" between human types (as I thought was possible) because the NWN2 constants don't work; the constants are a leftover from NWN1 code. However, I have managed to find a way to help randomize their clothing. The plan is to make generic waypoints that will logically handle spawn points and then randomly produce appropriate NPCs. This is in the early stages as of yet, but if I can knock something up that will handle the situation to make it look reasonably intelligent, then I will do so.

Finally, another area I want to look at is how players will interact with fallen (killed) companions. At the moment, the fallen companion can be raised, but the part I need to address is whether a surviving PC can pick up their body and/or equipment as well. I need to consider this as a PC may not have the power to raise the PC themselves, and may, therefore, decide to take the companion's dead body (and/or equipment) to the nearest healer who can. I could not find any easy combination of tick boxes in the properties to manage this; therefore it looks like another coding issue to ensure a killed companion can be interacted with in a number of ways. Unless, of course, anybody who is reading this knows any better way to handle it. :)

Monday, 13 October 2008

As Sweet As Honey (Yet Another Family Member!)

I am still going through a rough patch with M.E. at the moment and have been unable to do anything constructive at all for the last few weeks. It's hard to shake anxieties and easy to slip into depression when I am like this, so I have to take it easy and not overdo it.

However, some good things have happened during this time, which have helped me to remain relatively optimistic. For instance, my wife and I have adopted a third rabbit! She is a female lop, named Honey and we took her in when a neighbour admitted that they were not looking after her properly.

Initially, we had intended to simply "foster" her for a short while as we tried to find her a new home, but she has become so attached to us since her "rescue", that it would be too difficult for us to part with her now. Within a day of her coming to stay with us, she became a "new" rabbit, jumping into the air and running circles around us with pure joy. Find more photos of Honey here.

I have told my wife, however, that this really must be the last one we have, as we now have three rabbits, and we had not intended to have any more after we lost Anakin earlier this year. At the moment, Honey appears to have a sneezing issue. It does not appear to be anything serious (she has seen the vet), and she is full of life and eats well. However, to be on the safe side, she stays in our third bedroom away from Bunny and Daisy for the time being, and may well stay that way as bonding three rabbits can be difficult.

As far as any modding, that is having to take a bit of a back seat for the time being as I try to recuperate some energies.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Building New Website

I have not been too well over the last week or so, and consequently have not been very motivated with the tool set. (It requires all my concentration at the best of times.) Instead, I was able to attend a couple of IRC for the NWCon4, which were fun. And, over the last day or so, I have been putting together the first few pages of my new website to complement the next set of modules for the Althéa Campaign.

Its Home Page will now link to this blog, but there will be a header with various links to different sections explaining various aspects of the campaign, including a History section, a House Rule section and an Adventure section. Each of these sections follow a similar colour format to the Blog page, and each has its own contents bar for easy navigation when trying to find information regarding the campaign. Basically, the web pages will have further information about the campaign as a whole and will help give the player a greater background about the World of Althéa and any modules they eventually play.

I felt this was the best time for a face lift to the website, as all new modules are being written in NWN2 (as opposed to NWN1) and they start in a new era from 1st level. Therefore, players can choose to research some background from the History and/or Adventure sections if they wish to enhance their gaming experience. Or, they may find the House Rules section beneficial to help explain some of the unique aspects of the campaign.

There is still quite a bit to transfer from pages that go back many years (from PnP), as well as information from old and recent posts alike. Hopefully, however, it will be something that I can continue to work on in between designing modules. As soon as there is sufficient material to make the website worth uploading, I will do so. I will announce it when done.