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2/28/06 -Tuesday:  ANOTHER GOOD, STEADY DAY...
Today was pretty straightforward.  I continued to knock out the issues I had collected in my notebook the other day.  I feel like things are really coming together.  Usually, when I have a lot of things in this notebook, I pass them over and think to myself, "Hmm, I don't want to work on that.  I'll come to it later...".  

Well, as of late, I have just felt the need to really starting closing out all the issues, which is a good thing!  One of these things was the simple task of creating new level 6 blueprints for all party members.  Currently, Aramus would get to level 6 when I am done testing, yet the party members would still be at level 5, and very much weak compared to all other enemies.  In fact, the only annoying thing is picking out which new spells the casters get.  I'm sure these will change as I do more testing, but I am currently happy with what I picked out.

Till tomorrow...

2/27/06 -Monday:  BLESSING IN DISGUISE...
So, today was very interesting.  I ended up staying home from work, and actually knocked out the majority of the issues I wrote down in my notebook yesterday.  I was especially happy because some of these things were issues for the past 3-4 months that I was just too damn lazy to deal with.  For whatever reason, I had the drive today, and I didn't let it go to waste.

One of the 2 interesting issues was with the feat, Disarm.  Now, apparantly the way it works is, it actually knocks the weapon of the hands of the target.  This isn't really news to me, although I didn't realize that some enemies I created had this feat by default.  Anyways, for the past few months, I have noticed that after certain sections of the game, the weapons of some party members would be missing, and I really had no idea why.  Well, I am not sure if this is it, but it has a high %.  The funny thing was, I figured this out while I was reading he download page for Rick Burton's Twilight.  In case you all didn't know, I regularly check the download pages of all the top 100 pages.

Besides keeping me in the loop with what is the hottest things on the vault, I pick up little tidbits just like this Disarm feat situations.  It appears a player kept losing his weapon in this certain area, and someone pointed out that the enemies used Disarm, and that he just had to find it on the ground.

Another issue was even weirder.  So, I have this area with cannons that will fire on you when you are within view.  Well, while I was in a totally unrelated area ( Dematol ), I was shot!  I had no idea why, until I came to a realization.  I was only making a check to see if the PC was with 25 meters of the cannon.  Apparantly, the method, GetDistanceBetween() doesn't differentiate between areas.  So, if the coordinates of the cannon in one area are 80, 80, 0 and the coordinates of the PC are 80, 60, 0 , it will think the 2 objects are 20 meters from each other.  A simple check to make sure the 2 objects are in the same area fixed this.

Another accomplishment was finally getting a new custom ability for Clopon.  It was a long time coming, and even though it is not overpowering, it comes in handy in a tight spot.  Trust, I must have tested the damn thing 6 times today!

Till tomorrow...

2/26/06 -Sunday:  I LOVE NINTENDO!!!
For all of you old school Nintendo people, go to Gamespot for a 20th celebration of sorts.  Make sure to watch the video.  Only people who remembered knowing they would have sold their soul for Mega Man would understand the beginning sequence.  As for the article, I read every page of it, and it brought back some very lovely memories.  Hell, I don't think I will ever have that much fun playing games ever again...Seriously...

I once heard some game designers talk about it, but I didn't think it was true.  They claimed that they had come to a point in their life where they just couldn't enjoy games on the same level that they used to be able to.  Well, I sort of feel the same way, and have been for quite some time, even before I started developing Rose Of Eternity.  Oh well, such is life...I still have my memories:)

So, I played through Cry The Beloved again today.  This time, it took about 5 hours.  Again, this is very good considering I know where everything is, AND I am not done with it.  Add in the replayability factors, and I think I have something good going right now.

As always, I had my handy notebook with me, and filled up about 3 pages.  Luckily, these are mostly 2 minute bug fixes, and nothing major.  Once I take care of all of that (I estimate 2 days), I can shoot it over to the testers who aren't tired of testing (they know who they are), and continue with my work.

If I may contradict myself a bit, I did actually have fun playing one fight sequence today in the game.  I hadn't done it with Clopon yet, but I figured it would be easy.  I was wrong...It was one hell of a fight, and I had to use every tactic I could think of, and finally came out triumph.  This battle sort of reminded me of some of the earlier ones they had in The Coming, like when fighting the Worg Riders in East Shinkara Forest.  I might have to tone down the damage output of the enemies involved however, because I don't want to scare away too many people with the difficulty:)

Till tomorrow...

2/25/06 -Saturday:  VERY GOOD PROGRESS!!!
Today was a very productive day, if I do say so myself.  I did wake up a bit later than usual, and stop development a bit earlier than usual, but I still accomplished much.  In general, even though I haven't been talking about it, I have been setting weekly goals for myself.  All month, I have been very much on target, and as of today, I have reached my weekly goal one day earlier.  So, I guess that means I can take tomorrow off?  Yeah right...

So I finally figured out how I wanted a particular sequence to play out.  Implementing was a piece of cake really.  As of late, the design aspect has been the hardest part.  The implementation has been getting easier and easier as times goes on, which makes sense, because in 2 months, I will have officially been using the toolset for 2 years!  2 long years...I really can't believe that the time has gone by so fast.  It is really scary to think that I have dedicated my mind, body, and soul to using the toolset for the past 2 years.

Going forward, things can only get better.  For example, I have been working on Cry The Beloved for about 7 months.  It is already longer, and much deeper than The Coming, which took me 15 months to create.  Heh, I remember it taking me literally 2 weeks to implement my party member death system in The Coming.  Making Whirlwind Heal was a nightmare.  Now that I have my manager system for all of my scripting systems, adding new abilities is very seamless.

Then there's my library of utility scripts.  As it continues to grow, I just have to smile when I am constantly using some script from my util.nss file that I created a year ago.  Add to this the fact that I will be able to import all of my scripts to NWN2, and you can see where I am going.  When I start making modules for NWN2, I will already have a history in using the toolset, and hopefully won't go through the same type of growing pains I went through 2 years ago.  I really feel blessed to be where I am.  I can still remember getting my 1st script to actually work.  It was the script that would have the guards in town use torches at night time, and make them put them away during the day.  Now, it seems silly to me to spend so much time on such a trivial thing, but it really was a good way of getting used to NWScript.  Okay, enough memories from me:)

Tomorrow, I will put the finishing touches on the sequence I created, and wipe my hands clean of it.  I will then yet again go through the module, but this time, pick out every little thing.  I want to spend this entire week fixing little bugs/issues, and finally hand off the next version of the ALPHA to the testers (yeah, I know I promised it last week...).  As a general note, going through the module is getting to be a bigger task than it used to be.  I used to be able to whiz through The Coming in 3 hours (hey, I made the game, I know all of the loopholes:)).  Going through Cry The Beloved has been taking like 5-6 hours, and that is without doing everything...I need to come up with a new method of testing...

Till tomorrow...

2/24/06 -Friday:  NOT MUCH TODAY...
So, I didn't get that much done today.  I started some minor dialogs, but that was it.  Well, I did do a little scripting, but I don't remember anything significant.  In general, on days where I don't see a lot of new content created, I feel like I didn't do anything.  This isn't always true, but I still feel that way just the same.

I am at a stopping point right now, because I am not exactly positive on how I want to continue.  In my head, I know how this sequence should play out, but I need a little more time to design how it actually will work.  It is times like this when I should just think of something that needs to be scripted, and do that.  When all else fails, there is always some scripts to write:)

Till tomorrow...

2/23/06 -Thursday:  EXPERIENCE POINTS PART II...
Today was a pretty good day, development wise.  I ended up adding more placeables to one area I created 2 days ago, and more or less finished up creating another area today.  I also was able to create the cut-scene that will run when the player enters this place for the 1st time.  Again, this was one of those cut-scenes that I have had in my head for many years now.  When it came down to actually implementing it however, as always, things changed.  First off, it is a lot shorter than I originally wanted to do.  When it came down to it, I felt as if I could get the effect I wanted, without keeping it drag on and on.  This cut-scene really introduces the player to another one of the main characters of the story, and in general, it should make a really big impact on them.  Now, technically speaking, the cut-scene isn't 100% done.  I have to handle the destruction of used objects, and the movements of all key people to their respective end points.  However, the hard part is all done.  Hopefully, I can finish that up on the train ride tomorrow morning.
So, the other day, I talked about lowering the amount of XP the player gets.  Well, there was another reason for this that I forgot to talk about... Side quests...What I mean is, if I kept the XP rate the way it was, just going and doing a quest in some dungeon could possibly give the player enough XP to gain a level. As things are a bit less linear, this could lead to issues with balancing.  I have to keep things in mind, such as what if the player goes to Dungeon A before Dungeon B.  With the old XP rate, they might gain a level after completing Dungeon A, making some of the stuff in Dungeon B seem to easy.  Then again, they could have finished Dungeon B 1st, making Dungeon A easier.  It's not a big deal with this minor example, but when you start factoring in a lot of other quests/areas, things could get annoying.

Now, if I stick to a low XP rate, the player might not gain a level until after completing Dungeon A & Dungeon B.  With this, I will can predict what types of abilities (that are level based) that the player will have.  Again, it isn't a big deal, but it is just another reason why I want to go with a low XP rate.

In general, things are coming along quite good, and fast.  I did not expect to finish the current cut-scene I worked on today until Sunday, so I am ahead of the game a bit.  Once I finish up another area, I will yet again be back to Dematol for some more building.  This really just includes new NPC's and their respective dialogs.  There is also another side quest that I really wanted to work on, and since I haven't been worked on anything Dematol related in quite some time, I think I might try to knock that out by the middle of next week.  We'll see.

Till tomorrow... 

2/22/06 -Wednesday:  I THINK I UNDERSTAND NOW...
Today was very productive, if I do say so myself.  In the morning, I added a new NPC, with full dialog, and scripts intact.  I was proud of myself, because it all came to me literally as I was getting on the train.  At work, I actually got a chance to do some development as well.  It was nothing major, but I started adding placeables, visuals, and sound effects to an area that I created many months ago.  This area really needed to be fleshed out, and I am glad I was able to start that at work.  On the train ride home, I again went to work on adding more content to the area I started working on at the office.  I would say it's about 90% done now.  So again, no major developments today, but I successfully started fleshing the game out a bit more.

So, when I was developing The Coming, there were events that I wanted to be *secret*, but when it came down to implementing, I ended up making it something anyone who played the game would see.  In general, I was always scared that someone would only play the game once, and miss something that I had a lot of pride in making.

After the release of The Coming, I started finding out that people were indeed playing through the game more than once.  I was honestly quite flabbergasted, to tell the truth.  This time around, I am anticipating that people will play through it multiple times, so I have been coming up with a lot of side quests that people will only find if they explore every nook and cranny of the game.  Now, this is not something new to RPG's, but it is definitely something new with Rose Of Eternity.  It was obviously something I should have done the first time, but well, I guess we all learn our lessons:)

Finally, I think I have come to a decision on what I want to show in the opening sequence of the game.  Now, I have known for the past 6-7 months that it has to be something that will be a lot better than the current intro you see when you play The Coming.  In fact, I had an idea for the past 5-6 months, but lately, I have been moving towards a new one.  I currently have the music picked out, so all that is left is actually getting around to implementing it.  Honestly, it is something that I would want to put my all into, since this cut-scene will set the tone for the rest of the game.  As always, my philosophy is, I have to hook the player in the beginning, and hopefully, not let them go until the ending credits.  That said, I think I will work on it while I am in San Jose.  I anticipate that just being around people in the game industry will give me TONS of motivation that week.   And, if I win the award, whatever I create the next day will probably be the best thing I have ever created:)  Here's hoping...

Till tomorrow...

2/21/06 -Tuesday:  WHAT TO DO NEXT???
So, I was able to run through the entire game today on the train ride into, and out of work.  Now, I didn't read through all the dialog and check for typos, or sit through each and every cut-scene.  Well, I did sit through some cut-scenes, and that was because I hadn't seem them in a couple of months, so it still felt a bit new.  Essentially, I wanted to make sure the game was playable from start to finish, with no game breaking bugs.  And, it is a good thing I did this, because as soon as I got to the new areas I created, things broke down.

Long story short, some variable that is supposed to control conversations wasn't set, so when I talked to a specific NPC, that should have started a cut-scene, nothing happened.  I wasn't really surprised, and wasn't that mad that I spent 4 hours of my time rushing through the game.  Maybe because I am just used to it now.

One thing that I did pick up on however was the fact that some enemies are just too damn hard.  Seriously...I had the difficulty on easy to speed things up, and a certain party member must have died at least 3 times in one area.  Add in the fact that I am the damn creator of the game, and that is a big sign I need to change things up a bit.

When I am faced with these decisions, there are always 2 ways I can approach them.  One is to make the enemy easier.  Then other, to make the party member stronger.  In this case, I think I may need to simply make the enemies a bit weaker, perhaps even slow them down.  Lately, I have been staying away from making the party members too strong.  In my opinion, that is something that I think should be earned, albeit very slowly over the course of the game.  From my personal experience, getting too strong too fast makes it so that when I gain another level, I think, "Wow, I gained another level...Big deal...I am sure I will gain another one in a few hours...".

I don't think this was too much of a problem in The Coming.  I believe most people finished the game very close to level 4, or a bit over (hmm, perhaps I should a poll...).  In Cry The Beloved however, it seems that the XP rate has been the same, if not faster, and that is something I am changing.  I am not sure how DnD is (I will check my handy guide later tonight), but in console games, the higher you were in level, the longer it took to gain another level.  In this one area lone, some monsters were giving 196 XP a pop, and you fought at least 10 of them.  So, as I was testing today, I made a note about all enemies that I feel were giving out too much XP, and made a note to lower their CR.  Speaking of CR, this just doesn't work with me at all.  I adjust it only to change XP payout, but the way my enemies are made, it is hard to measure their strength through the DnD system.  So, someone might check the CR of an enemy, and see that it is low (because I don't want it to give out that much XP), but end up getting their ass handed to them if they choose to fight it.  No one has complained so far about it in The Coming , so I won't worry about it too much...

Finally, I have to start making some decisions on how to further implement the various custom abilities ( Last Resorts, Unison Abilities, etc. ).  Again, I don't want to overwhelm the player and give them too much to choose from.  Then again, I want to still have a lot of new content.  One thing I am STAYING away from is giving somebody a new ability just for the hell of it.  For one, it has to make sense within the context of who is using it. Secondly, it has to have a real custom effect that makes it unique.  In other words, I won't give someone 2 Last Resorts, where one deals fire damage, and the other, ice damage.  It's hard to put in words, but everyone really has to be unique.  Fortunately, over at the forums, we have at least 50+ new ideas for special abilities.  So, if things get less hectic at work this week, I should be able to sift through all of them, and choose what will/won't work.

The same thing goes for special items.  I want the player to feel as if they really accomplished something when they get a new magic item/weapon.  I want it to be so special, that I can create a nice shiny moment, like when Aramus gets his Left Ring Of Galladoran in The Coming.  As always, I really just have to walk that fine line.

Till tomorrow...

2/20/06 -Monday:  THE REAL DUNGEON & DRAGONS...
In terms of development, I again got a lot of stuff done.  I went through this new area I created various times with various party members.  Everything seems to be working fine.  I now just need to go through it from beginning to end.  The reason for that is to get another version of the ALPHA ready for the testers.  I know I just released one a few weeks ago, but the changes in this version are substantial enough, in my opinion.  Luckily for me, I won't be doing a run through checking for bugs and such.  I will do enough just to make sure there are no show stopping bugs, and that the tester will be able to get to the new areas I created with no problems.

So, just to refer to the title of this update for a minute, I have been leafing through my new Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition: Dungeon Master's Guide.  In retrospect, I might have found the wrong community to instill my type of RPG on...

Just by reading the beginnings of a lot of the major chapters, I am learning that a lot of the common terms and ideas I have been slowly learning are in there, word for word.  For instance, the concept of a henchman is in there.  I honestly just through it was something Bioware came up with because they didn't want to implement full party control.  I did not realize this concept of a henchman is something that DnD players have grown up with.  This may sound silly to anyone else, but hey, remember, I am not from your world.

My plan is to continue to read through this book, but not because I want to change who I am, and what Rose Of Eternity is.  I want to better understand the people who will play my game.  I want to know the common things that tick them off.  Now, I will never compromise my beliefs in how I want my game to turn out, but if I knew the very easy concept that giving Aramus an intelligence of 8 would make him retarded in DnD terms, I wouldn't have done it.  This is just a small example, but it is the type of thing I want to learn more about.

Till tomorrow...

2/19/06 -Sunday:  HA-DOU-KEN!!!
So, what does the title of this update mean?  What is HA-DOU-KEN, you ask?  Well, it is only what Ryu would say after shooting a fireball at someone, most likely Ken .  Okay, am I still rambling, and not making sense?

Well, I am talking about a game called Street Fighter 2.  It was the most popular arcade game of the early 90's, and spawned the entire fighting game craze we have today.  Mere words cannot express my feelings for this game.  Yes, RPG's are my true heart when it comes to video games, but fighting games are a close 2nd.  I have so many fond memories of going to the arcade as a kid, and wasting tons of money over many hours.  It felt so good being 11-13 years old, beating some 20 year old.  The thrill of having 20 people watching you was so good.  Perhaps it is the same thrill kids get when they play Dance Dance Revolution, and a crowd is watching them.

Yes folks, I was obsessed with Street Fighter 2 for a long time.  When I say a long time, I mean from 1991-1997.  Before it came out on the SNES back in 1991, I was immediately hooked upon the couple of times I played it in the arcades.  That summer, before it came out, I bought any & every magazine that had something about it.  I memorized all of the different combos from a Gamepro magazine.  By the time I received it for my birthday in 1991, I was the only kid in my neighborhood that could perform Dragon Punches with Ryu, and Spinning Pile Drivers with Zangief.  I knew the little subtle differences between the arcade and home editions, like the extra but of animation the arcade had when Ryu walked backwards, or the extra set of pilots in orange in Guile's level.  

Then, there was the music.  ***Drools*** The music was one of the best parts of it.  I mean, the developers just got everything right.  I remember being upset when the Genesis version of it came out, as I was a Nintendo fan boy at the time (still am!!!).  Anyways, for whatever reason, even though the SNES had better sound capabilities than the Genesis, the Genesis was able to get the exact soundtrack from the arcade, whereas the SNES had a slight remix.  Well, let me tell you, I traded systems with a friend for a week, just to listen to the music.  They even had a section in the options where you could listen to the music.  It was awesome.

People, Street Fighter 2 was one of the best, and most memorable games of my entire life.  I just don't know how else to say it.  I have now found a reason to get back in the next generation of consoles.  XBOX 360 is releasing Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting Edition , which will have online play. There are already thousands of people forming clans, getting ready to try to be the best team.  It would be so cool if after a hard night of work, or game development, I could pop the game in, and play tons of real players anywhere in the world.  You see, the story I just told you could be repeated by thousands of people around the world.  Now, we will have a chance to relive the best times of our lives, only now, from the comfort of our homes.  In fact, the only reason I have not bought even fighting games is because I don't have any brothers/sisters, or anyone to play with.  Now that they are finally getting this online thing working, all of that will change.  

So in short, I am buying an XBOX 360 in the coming months, not for Halo 3 (couldn't really give a damn about this series), but for Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting Edition.

Till tomorrow...

P.S. I did a LOT of development today.  Unfortunately, it was stuff I can't talk about...

2/18/06 -Saturday:  WHAT A LONG DAY!!!
Well, I am definitely getting better.  For the 1st half of the time I spent developing today, I didn't have the TV on.  I was really able to focus today, and accomplish a lot.  First and foremost, I put to use some custom content a certain Hall Of Famer.  As always, I can't go into great detail, but the funny thing is, I actually received this work from him back in September.  Back then, I knew what I would use it for, and I finally got around to getting it in.  I have to say, I am very much pleased with the results, and I think many of the regular NWN players will be shocked when they see it.  

Getting the content itself working was not as easy as I had original anticipated, but since I had a long time to work with it, it finally came out okay.  As always, lots of tricky scripting was involved.  In general, I am about to put the finishing touches on the current segment of the module I have been working on for the past 10 days.  I just have to fiddle around with some dialogs, adjust some stats on a boss, and I can wipe my hands clean of the entire phase. 

So, as you all know, I am a finalist in the 2006 Independent Games Festival, which will be held at this year's Game Developer's Conference in San Jose.  Well, for those that don't know, I live in New York.  More specifically, San Jose is a very long way from me.  Now, when I went to Toronto on business this past fall, I took the train for 2 reasons.  One was, it was very relaxing, and gave me a lot of time to get some development done.  The other reason was, simply put, I am scared to death to fly...

Now, I don't really know why I am scared.  Granted, I haven't been on a plane is damn near 10 years, but that isn't any reason why I should be nervous.  Anyways, I attempted to see how long it would take by train.  Boy, I can tell you I was very pissed off to see 70 HOURS!  Damn near 3 days to get to San Jose?  At this point, I realized I would HAVE to take a plane.  Well, at least I have a month to worry about it now:)

Till tomorrow...

2/17/06 -Friday:  I THINK I OWE AN EXPLANATION...
So, anyone following these updates for the past few days (anyone still out there???) must have noticed how short they have been.  So, I thought I should give an explanation.

First and foremost, things at my company are continuing to change.  I am now officially the last programmer from the old company.  This has pros and cons.  The pros are that I received a very generous bonus and raise, as the company no doubt wants to make sure they still have people on the team that know some of the system.  The cons are that every little problem someone has will not come to me.  For example, whenever QA had an issue, they would go to Jesse (he was the last to quit).  So, he was our buffer, so to speak, from all of the annoying people.  Well, it appears that I am now that buffer.  Yeah, responsibility is a good thing, and it can lead to my advancement in the company, but let's not forget my ultimate goal.  Get a job in the game industry...All of that said, I will just have to deal with it.  I know I will get used to it, it will just take some time.

At any rate, the reason my updates have been so short is that I just can't find the time to write the damn things every night.  By the time I have been getting home, I am too tired to do anything but sleep.  I anticipate things will get better as I go through this transition period.  Having this next Monday off from work because of President's Day will definitely help the situation.

Till tomorrow...

2/16/06 -Thursday:  EVEN MORE DIALOG...
Hmm, let's see what I did...Oh yeah, more dialog crap...Sigh...Even worse, the only time I got to develop was on the train in the morning, as a lot of my co-workers and I went out for drinks to celebrate yet another person quitting...

Till tomorrow...

2/15/06 -Wednesday:  MORE DIALOG...
As I have been doing for the past few days, I again implemented a bunch of conversations.  In general, I think it is decent, but it might get redone at some other time.  In fact, a lot of the times I am writing dialogs, I know in the back of my head that it will get revisited once the module is in BETA, and all I am worrying about is polishing.

Tomorrow, I will start the scripting of a new event that occurs.  I don't expect it to be difficult, so I might be able to start on another boss fight, and in particular, the custom special abilities they will have.  Again, I don't expect it to be difficult, just time consuming.

Till tomorrow...

2/14/06 -Tuesday:  I AM SO STUPID...
I really have nothing to say.  I left my laptop charger at work, therefore, I couldn't do any development.  Furthermore, since I had no power for my laptop, I am just writing this update on Wednesday, 2-15-2006.

All of that said, I don't have anything new to report.  Sorry.

Till tomorrow...

2/13/06 -Monday:  THIS COMMUNITY REALLY IMPRESSES ME...
So, I wanted to talk about something that happened a while back, but I wanted to have the permission of the person that it involved 1st.  At any rate, a while back, a man named Todd , and his son named Cameron joined the team as ALPHA testers.  They were one of the 1st set of steady testers, and for whatever reason, had no qualms about going through Cry The Beloved countless times.

Well, as everyone knows, I no about .0001% about DnD, so I am always asking lots of questions, and in general, trying to understand how 90% of the people who play my games think.  Well, Todd was hinting at one time that I had a "gift" that should be arriving in the mail.  When I finally got the "gift", I was amazed to find a Advanced Dungeon & Dragons Guide:)  Now, perhaps everyone else out there is used to this, but I have never seen anything like this.  This book is HUGE, and I honestly don't ever think I will be able to soak in all that knowledge...Well, I would just like to publicly thank Todd & Cameron for everything they have done for me.  You guys are the best:)

Till tomorrow...

2/12/06 -Sunday:  ANOTHER GOOD, STEADY DAY...
Seeing as we head a severe blizzard here in New York, it gave me the perfect excuse to sit home, and develop all day:)  Now, any other time, I would attempt to work all day, but sit around and watch the History Channel.  Today, I was strong, and actually kept the TV off, which I have to tell you, was very difficult.

As I have been mentioning for the past months, it has been increasingly more difficult to talk about what I have worked on, without giving away any spoilers.  Hell, even my screenshot selection takes a bit longer now:)  So, here goes my very vague update...

I implemented a new boss fight, along with some new music, a short cut scene (short as in 10 seconds), and some dialog.  Once I am done with that, I will start working on some conversations, which will really move the plot along.  I don't actually want to write the conversations cough*writers*cough, but we'll see.

Till tomorrow...

At any rate, the reason my updates have been so short is that I just can't find the time to write the damn things every night.  By the time I have been getting home, I am too tired to do anything but sleep.  I anticipate things will get better as I go through this transition period.  Having this next Monday off from work because of President's Day will definitely help the situation.

Till tomorrow...

2/11/06 -Saturday:  PRETTY GOOD DAY...
Nothing spectacular happened today, but I did get a bunch of stuff done.  First and foremost, I completed the entire layout of the new area, right down to the transitions.  I even added a lot of CEP placeables.  I also took the 2 new enemies I created, and mixed them throughout to make some pretty interesting combat situations.  Being the perfectionist I am, I must have played through this area at least 16 different times today, just to make sure the balancing was just right.  Of course, the ALPHA testers will be the judge of that:)

I also created 2 new custom items that I have been thinking of doing for quite some time.  As always, there were some tricky scripts attached to them, and I have to admit, I had to ask a question or 2 at the Bioware Scripting Forums.  Oh well, can't figure out everything on my own:)  Lastly, I put in the new custom music for the area.  Barring whatever issues come up during polish time, this area is now complete.

Till tomorrow...

2/10/06 -Friday:  NOT A LAZY DAY!!!
So, last night, if you read my update, I said I wasn't feeling too particularly inspired.  Well, after making the update, I watched the trailer for Neverwinter Nights 2 Lets just say that I was inspired big time right after watching it.  Besides imagining what I could do with the new toolset, it gave me the urge to try to really wrap up Cry The Beloved, as at the end of the trailer, it says it is coming out in Spring 2006.  Yeah, time does fly when you're having fun...

Anyways, I made the finishing touches on the 2 new enemies today.  I even more or less finished the layout of the new area.  All I have to do now is get the right music in, and it should be more or less complete.

Till tomorrow...

2/9/06 -Thursday:  LAZY DAY!!!
I cannot say it any other way.  Today was a very lazy day for me.  More specifically, I just didn't want to really work on the game today.  I didn't feel inspired, or anything like that.  Now, don't get scared...I am not giving up on the module, but about couple of  months, I go through a couple of days where I just don't want to do anything.

I have to admit that the first couple of times this happened to me, I was scared that I was losing my drive.  Fortunately, it has happened enough times for me to realize that this feeling will simply pass.  

However, I did find a new track that I can use as the main theme for a particular character in the game.  I probably won't convert it until I need it, as I may find something else later.

Till tomorrow...

2/8/06 -Wednesday:  FRUSTRATING REALIZATION...
Everyday at work that passes makes me realize one thing.  I really I am not a technical person.  For instance, I will walk in the room, and people in my office will be talking about the latest rendering technology, or some new company that Google bought.  Is is readily becoming apparent to me that I just don't give a damn.  I just don't fit the mold of the stereotypical programmer.  I simply don't care.  I am also not that good either...

Now, some of you maybe be wondering how I could say I am not that good, but it is true.  Yes, I have scripted some things for Rose Of Eternity that still to this day make me smile.  But if a conversation comes up about what is the best technology to use to properly scale line drawn images so that the lines don't break up, I have no clue, nor do I care (this is an actual project I am working on).  

Which brings me to my next point.  Anytime someone at work finds out what I do, I either get 1 of 2 reactions:

The first is, "Oh, you make modules?  Big deal...".  Some people really don't know what the NWN community is all about, and if they don't, then it is very hard to explain it to them.  They simply don't care.  The 2nd reaction is actually the more annoying, though I can't blame the person for saying it.  It is, "Wow, what technology did you use?  How do you render the cape on that guy's back?".  When they find out that the toolset handles all of that for you, I get the "Oh, so you just paint enemies in an area".  Sigh, some people just really don't know how serious this NWN thing is...

I guess the point to all of this ranting is, I really need to be in an environment surrounded by people who like video games.  Don't get me wrong, I love to program.  Long term however, well, I don't know if I could make it.  If there is one thing I wish I could just scream out loud, it would be (excuse the following curses...), "I am not a Video Game Programmer goddammit, I am a Video Game Designer".  I guess in the field I am in, they wouldn't care anyways...

...And don't get me started on the haters who don't think I have a chance in hell of achieving my dreams (yeah, you know who you all are).  Well, in fact, I won't get started on it, as my blood pressure is rising by the second.

Till tomorrow..

2/7/06 -Tuesday:  THE ART KEEPS COMING!!!
...And so begins development on some new areas.  These new areas will of course incorporate yet more custom enemies, custom abilities, etc.  You know, the usual:)

As always, I have had ideas in my mind for quite a while regarding what enemies I wanted to create.  Well, on the train ride this morning, I began to bring those ideas to life.  It is always interesting when I am creating new enemies, as I am always trying to come up with things that are unique, so much to the point, where people will know they haven't seen it in a game before.  

By the end of the train ride, I had successfully created 1 new custom enemy, although I didn't refine everything, like the CR, and other such stats.  But, it was a beginning:)  On the train ride home, I began to work on another custom enemy that would accompany the 1st one I created in the morning.  Sadly, sleep overtook me, and I did not get as much done as I wanted to...

After eating dinner at home, I got back to work trying to finish up the 2nd enemy.  Once I was happy with what I had, I began to go through my rigorous testing, which essentially comes down to fighting different combinations of the enemy, over and over again, until I felt like things were balanced.  I didn't do it too much however, because I know tomorrow, I will be adding a Unison Ability for these 2 enemies.

This will mark the 1st time (that I can remember that is...) that the player will face enemies that perform Unison Abilities.  Hopefully, this will spice up the combat a bit, and make things more interesting.

Once I am done with these 2 enemies, I think I will continue the layout work of the new area, by adding placeables, and making it large enough to seem vast, but small enough so it doesn't slow down the game play.  As always, it is a fine line I am treading.

Lastly, to your left, you will see another sketch of Aramus.  It's funny, because this is how I always envisioned Aramus, yet it was always so hard for me to explain it to people.  I mean, the NWN model could never do him justice:)  So, just like Bruno did with Kain, Olaia really took my descriptions, and made them come to life.

So, just to bring everyone up to speed, we now have concept art for Aramus, Clopon, & Kain.  I hope I can someday get some work of Challseus, and possibly Castias...

Till tomorrow...

2/6/06 -Monday:  MORE CONCEPT ART!!!
Well, I have to say, I am a very lucky man.  One day after I get some wonderful artwork for Kain, which was done by Bruno Hübscher , Olaia Ferrando, another artists that did concept art of Clopon, e-mails me with some new stuff.  As always, I am constantly amazed at the stuff people produce in this community.  And for free!  The best I can do regarding artwork is some simple stick figures:)  How people such as Olaia & Bruno can do this is beyond belief.  So, I just want to give a public thank you to them!

It's so funny, because on the train ride into work this morning, I began to put together a new Concept Art page.  I stopped about half way through, as I didn't think I had enough.  Well, factor in the stuff that Olaia just sent me, and I think I can finally give it a go.  I am not sure what the format will be, but I think Bruno's & Olaia's beautiful work should be known to the public.  If I get their permission, I will also provide links to their respective website where they host more of their work.

 

Needless to say, the picture to the left is of Aramus.  On this sketch, and the other ones she sent me, there were various sword models used, to get an idea of what we can make the Sword Of Galladoran look like.  Right now, I like the one that is shown in the bottom picture.  As this is all concept stuff that probably took her 30 minutes to do, I am sure the final product will have changed a bit.  *Shrug*  I am no art critic, but this stuff already looks good.  In fact, every time I think something already looks good, the artists goes and makes it look 5 times as good:)  So, who knows what we will get out of this...

Finally, I want to talk about a poll I set up a couple of weeks ago.  Basically, I wanted to gauge how long it took people to complete The Coming.  I have to admit that I thought more people would have voted by now (there are only 47...), but from those that did, it seems that (at the moment), 34% finished it in 5 hours.  That number actually seems about right, although with only 47 votes, I would need a lot more to have a more concrete analysis.  You can view the results here. If you want to vote *cough*cough*, you can find the poll along the left border of the website.  In fact, if you are reading this update on Tuesday, 2/7/2005, you can most likely see it as you are reading this:)

Well, tomorrow, I hope to get back into the swing of things, as I more or less took today off.  I mean, I did create a new area, and fiddle with some new music, but I didn't do anything substantial.

Till tomorrow...

2/5/06 -Sunday:  MORE CONCEPT ART!!!
Well, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief, as I successfully have another ALPHA release under my belt.  Besides on little issue where a file was incorrect (which I just fixed a minute ago), the upload went smoothly.  I even took the time to write out all of the changes I made (well, most of them), as well as some other things, in a sort of quasi-release notes post.  I am not sure how often people visit the forum, but next time they do, they will see the new version.  As I am too tired, and about to fall asleep, I will e-mail them personally tomorrow morning at work.

So, I have to admit, I did not do much today.  It took a while to package up all of the files for the ALPHA, so that's what I did in the morning.  In the afternoon, I went out for Super Bowl parties, and I didn't get back until 10:00 pm.  Speaking of which, I did want the Seattle Seahawks to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, but oh well...

While I packaged up the ALPHA however, I was as always, listening to some music.  So, I have a couple pieces by a particular author, and I went searching on iTunes for other tracks from the same soundtrack.  Well, even though I couldn't find the original, I found a new version that was recorded in 2000, by a different orchestra.  After listening to a few tracks, I thought, "What the hell, it's only $9.99.  I'll just buy the damn thing...".  I have to say that I am very impressed by the reworking of a few tracks, and as usual, while listening to a particular piece, I came up with a new scenario in my head.  It already works perfectly with the area I will be creating this coming week.  I'm sure I will have to think it out a bit more, but I think the players will like it.  

Finally, as you can see to your left, I have some concept art of Kain, the leader of the Ministry Of Justice.  So, on Thursday, a very nice gentleman sent me an e-mail inquiring about my need for artists.  He gave me a link to some of his prior work, and I saw a picture that reminded me of Kain.  In the picture, the figure was sitting on a horse, and didn't have a sword, yet the dark black hood immediately made me think of Kain.  So, when I replied to him, I told him that it would be cool if he could do a sketch of Kain.  Interestingly enough, he had never even played The Coming, so all he had to go by was a picture on the Cast page of this website.  I was amazed at how fast he came up with this, and I really cannot wait until I get more versions.  In fact, he said there were about 3 more versions he had to show me, so I am awaiting them with bated breath:)

Till tomorrow...

2/4/06 -Saturday:  VERY LONG DAY...
Today was a very long day, where I actually focused about 95% of the time.  I took advantage of the time I had, and did some things I had wanted to do for a long time.  First and foremost, I had almost 100 scripts to clean up/delete.  You see, when I started working on Cry The Beloved, I simply took the same module file I used for The Coming, and began adding to it.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  One, I wanted to be able to refer to previously written scripts.  Another was because I was going to use a lot of the same enemy/item blueprints, and I didn't feel like importing them.

Well, as the module has been getting bigger, I have been realizing that I need to get rid of some excess stuff.  So, I spent about an hour just deleting old scripts I didn't need, as well as some other blueprints and such.  I also finally put the finishing touches on ALPHA V0.40.  As I had previously mentioned, this release has 3 additional areas, as well as new enemies, abilities, etc.  In other words, I really need to get it to the testers.  I will hopefully either upload it tonight, or tomorrow morning, depending on how tired I am...

Till tomorrow...

2/3/06 -Friday:  WOW!!!
So, this morning, I had an idea of what I wanted to do.  I wanted to implement the last custom system.  Yeah, that's right...The last system...Anyways, I knew what needed to be done, and I got a lot of opinions from people on the forums.  All that was left was to do the actual work.

Well, by the time I arrived at Grand Central Station in Manhattan, I had already written about half of the new system!  I was really surprised at how fast it came out.  In my head, I was thinking "Sigh, now I have to spend another couple of days writing yet another new system."  So, as you can imagine, I was quite pleased with my results.  It only got better later in the day.

On the train ride home, I more or less finished the system.  When I got home, I put the finishing touches, and went to sleep, very happy.  All in all, it was a very productive day.

Till tomorrow...

2/2/06 -Thursday:  MONTHLY STATUS REPORT...
So, lets talk about what I have accomplished so far.  First and foremost, I wanted to have more done, but in the back of my head, I knew other things would come up, that would slow me down.  Nevertheless, I am confident I can get Cry The Beloved out before no one even cares anymore...

So, at this point, Cry The Beloved is longer than The Coming.  This is a good thing.  In my eyes, the pacing of the current parts is very good, with a nice mixture of story telling (SKIPABLE) cut-scene, combat, etc.  I am definitely pushing my own boundaries, as I am doing stuff I would have never imagined possible with The Coming.

As far as the main characters go, their own stories are slowly being discovered as the game goes on.  At this point, all the party members have their own story (even if a little at this point), and 2 NPC's have branched out stories as well.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I just put in my 1st new Unison Ability in over a year.  That said, the fighting system continues to grow, and I will definitely be focusing the majority of my time on it in the coming weeks.  I will be creating new Unison Abilities, Last Resorts, and other special abilities for other systems the general public does not know about.  At times, it seems daunting...I mean, I don't want to overwhelm the player with too many options.  I have to walk that fine line of trying to keep everything balanced.  In other words, don't expect to see Aramus receive 10 new Last Resorts... I will not just make a new ability for the sake of making a new ability....

Moving on...At the current point in the story, the player has a choice to make, which will at the very least add to the replayability of the game.  This choice is not the biggest choice in the world (hopefully more of those will come), but it will be something the player will think about for at least 4-5 minutes (I hope:)). In general, I can't wait to get the feedback of the ALPHA testers when I finally get it fully implemented.

At some point, I will have to go back to Dematol (yet again) to do some more touch of work.  I mean, I haven't touched a conversation in ages, or even asked Jason to edit anything.  Perhaps he needed a break:)  However, I think for the time being, I will exclusively focus on getting the new abilities and combat area into the game.  Then, I have some of the climax type cut-scenes to think about.  It is almost getting to that point where I will need to create a trailer for the game, as well as compiling a whole set of screenshots (although for screenshots, I guess I could use the ones I post here with everyday!).

I have to admit, things get very tough to juggle, but as everything always works out, I will just try not to worry about it:)

Till tomorrow...

2/1/06 -Wednesday:  ANOTHER MONTH...
So, another month has gone by.  Interestingly enough however, this might have been my most productive month yet.  In as little as 3 weeks or so, I added 3 new areas, as well as made major changes to 2 other ones.  I added a lot of dialog, and the story itself is really picking up now.  I had been worried last fall with how I wanted to represent it, but things just seemed to work out.  

Again, some people might not think that everything I did was a lot, but they must remember, I am very meticulous when creating things, as I am definitely a quality over quantity guy (yeah I know, I sound like a broken record...)  

I actually had a chance to surprise myself today.  On the train ride into work, I totally designed, AND implemented a new Unison Ability.  I am really surprised that everything just seemed to come together, but hey, I'm not complaining:) 

Also, for those that don't know, I was interviewed by Bioware Community Manager, Jay Watamaniuk.  You can find the interview here So, I usually write out a long update, describing what I plan to do and whatnot for the next month, but I am very, very tired.  I changed my schedule a bit, so I am getting up at 4:50 am, and getting into the office by 8:00 am, which allows me to leave at 4:30 pm, getting me home at 7:00pm.  So, in short, I need to go to bed NOW:)  I will write what I should have written today, tomorrow.

Till tomorrow...

 

 
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