Monday, October 8, 2012

And it's done.

The module is out as of today.

You can download it here : http://social.bioware.com/project/7943/#files

Friday, September 7, 2012

Progress update

Summer has been very productive (by which I mean I've accomplished about as much work as I wanted to). My time was split between debugging and working on the Wasteland dimension, and both tasks are now behind me - well, one is never really done with debugging... but one can hope.

The last dimension is shaping up quite nicely; it's definitely my favorite area in the whole module.

Care to guess why?
One more...
I estimate the module will be complete in two weeks, and then I'll take two more to do some test runs with different characters. The module will be released on October 8th, pending any unforeseen problems.

I can't seem to stop adding those screenshots...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Progress update

This week I've been working on a quest the player can get in two different ways. No matter how the PC stumble upon it, it eventually leads him to a masked ball given at the castle. Behold:

Lots of people and pretty lights.
The area is very laggy on my low-end laptop, which was an added difficulty.

Masks, masks everywhere...

On the bright side, I'm virtually done with Winterscale - I say 'virtually' because I still need to flesh out a few dialog files - and I'm moving on to the elven forest. (Technically both places are in the same dimension but I still count them as separate locations.)

Unlike the city, the elven forest is a pretty straightforward area. I estimate it will take me two weeks to complete it, and then I'll start working on the second-to-last dimension.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Progress update

For the past month I've been working on all the small dimensions the player will get to explore in M&M. Roughly speaking, we're talking about a bulk of four or five locations that make up the middle part of the module. Some can be completed in two minutes, others in half an hour, but they all revolve around a single 'concept' and feature almost no side-quests at all.

I'm almost done with them - I've still got the last one to finish, which will take me perhaps a week. The next item on the list is Winterscale and the second part of the main quest within the city walls, before moving on to the forest of the elves, and finally the Wasteland. Then I'll wrap up the module, which includes the final confrontation where all is revealed and the ending - whether or not it'll be a happy one depends on the choices you made while playing.

Initially I had planned for a summer release, but I've realized it's not longer realistic. If it does happen, it'll be late summer... early fall is more probable though. Even if the module is completed by the end of August, I'm gonna need at least a month to hunt down every single bugs and smooth out all the dialog. Yeah, especially the dialog.

On another note, look at the screenshot I captured while I was testing a cutscene:


That's what I like about this game. You think you've seen everything it has to offer, and you're proven wrong at every turn.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Achievements system

It's kind of a late addition to the module: I only had the idea yesterday. I was thinking about what I could do to increase the replayability of Madness&Magic, and that's what I came up with. Just like in NWN 2 or Dragon Age, you can unlock achievements which prove that you've done something special in the game.

So far it's just a cosmetic feature, and I think it's going to stay that way. Unlocking achievements doesn't grant you any bonus - just the bragging rights. Unlike in NWN 2, you don't get any xp either.

I've got six done at the moment, for a grand total of twelve or so at the end. They're going to be mostly humorous or silly things, like this one.

Achievement: Baby rat named after you.
Of course there'll be serious ones, too, and one or two will be extra hard to get.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Books

You'll find plenty of books in Madness&Magic. I think it's a nice way to add flavor to the world you've created without beating the player over the head with all the lore. The books are there and the player can choose to check them out if he wants to.

Some of the books are about the universe the module is set in.

You can find out quite a bit about the Citadel if you search around.
Some are about the history of the dimensions you'll visit.

People in Winterscale have been deeply affected by the Wars of Magic.
Then there is fiction...

Translated from the French original.
And of course, silly books - my favorites.

What's that behind you?







Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Progress update

As you may have noticed, the progress bar didn't move much during this past month. I've been busy in real life and I haven't had the time to properly work on the module. I must have built two areas and wrote something like three dialogs files. Not so great.

Right now I'm still working on Winterscale - the big city near the start of the module. I'm fiddling with an arena system, like the Gauntlet in the first chapter of the OC. I'm not good with scripting so that could take a while. Once I'm done with that, I'll probably leave Winterscale alone for a while and get to work on one of the small bits of the module - that way I won't grow bored or burn myself out.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Roleplaying

When it comes to roleplaying, my motto is "the more, the better".

Since Madness&Magic is a single player module, the only interaction the player will experience will be with NPCs, which is vastly different from what you can find in a multiplayer module. You cannot develop your character the same way, and it's a much more static form of roleplaying. But you can still have fun, hopefully.

I went crazy with dialog options in some cases, drawing inspiration from Planescape Torment - pretty much the greatest game ever in my opinion.

A chat with Death.
I tried to use all social skills, and then some others which are usually left aside, like taunt.

Come with me already, woman!
Note the presence of a [Lie] and [Truth] option. Lying will usually shift your character's alignment toward Chaotic.

I implemented choices in conversations but also in quests. There is always at least two solutions to a given quest, sometimes more.

There also are references to my favorite games here and there. For example, the obligatory talking chicken.

However his name is not Melicamp.
The usual question of the motivation of your character is given a central place in the plot, with numerous NPCs asking what is the driving force behind your actions.

Cartoonishly evil option provided.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Henchmen system

Madness and Magic is supposed to be a small module, so I've got only one henchman planned. I say 'supposed to be' because I'm adding areas and NPCs every now and then, expanding the original storyline. And then I berate myself for the additional workload this will give me.

Anyway, the wizard who sends you on your quest, while quite ruthless, still wants you to succeed, and he provides you with an henchman - or henchcat, I should say. Meet SunChaser, a giant tiger with the mind of a kitten.

She says she doesn't like talking, but her conversation file is over 2000 words.
She's the result of a failed experiment by Melvin, and he's more than happy to have her out of his way. At first she's childish and cowardly, but she can grow into quite the fierce warrior if you make the right choices. I've implemented two different systems to track the way she relates to the PC. The first one deals with her level of happiness. It's the most straightforward one, and you can almost always guess which dialog options will make her like your PC....

Simple example: complimenting her on her name...
And which one will make her dislike him/her.

...or saying it sucks.
The second system tracks the influence the PC has on her. While the opportunities to augment or decrease her happiness are many, the opportunities to gain influence on her are much scarcer, and not as obvious. Furthermore, the two systems are not mutually exclusive: SunChaser can hate your character (low happiness) and still do everything he asks (high influence).

Seen here: a gain of influence.
You can also equip her with items just like a normal henchman. Due to the limitations of the NWN toolset, you can give her the PC's equipment and it will fit her, which is silly, but I can't fix that. I would have to restrict every single piece of equipment to be useable by humanoid creatures only, but then equipment imported from outside the module would still fit her. Too much work for not much results. I'll just have to trust the players to act reasonably on that one.

Anyway, you can find a store in one dimension that is selling items specifically designed for animals.

A fancy collar.
And a nice cloak.
I more or less think of SunChaser as the Deekin of my module: she can be very annoying at times, but she also has her moments where she gets a chance to shine.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Traveling the Multiverse: Mystery location

And finally, the final installment in the series.

I'm not going to say much about this dimension, because that would be spoiling all the fun. Instead, have some screenshots:

Where did I end up again?
Pure eye-candy.
And that's my favorite screenshot of all time.
I'm using the Aethyr tileset in this area, which is why it looks so different from vanilla Neverwinter Nights. It nearly doubles the weight of the hakpak, but it's worth every single byte.

There is more to the module than what I showed in this series of posts. If you're curious, you'll have to play it to find out!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Traveling the Multiverse: The Wayfarer

Here is the sixth installment in the series of posts showcasing the different dimensions the player will travel to.

This time, it's not so much a dimension. It's more like a single location. You find yourself in a dark, secluded place where strange noises reach your ears and the ground seems to be moving beneath your feet.

What's this thing?
The whole area works as a riddle the player has to solve.

What's this place? is a question you'll be asking yourself a lot.
Trees? What are they doing here?
You have to figure out where you are, what's going on, and how to get out.

Apparently the sphere went this way... but a force field is preventing you from doing the same.
Perhaps this contraption holds the answer?
Not much text in this update, because I don't want to spoil too much.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Traveling the Multiverse: Melvin's Island

Here is the fifth installment in the series of posts showcasing the different dimensions the player will travel to.

Foregoing any sort of chronological order, today we'll have a look at the very first world you'll see as a player. When you load the module, you're greeted by a cutscene which looks like that:

No, I won't tell you how long it took me to create it.
I said no.
Alright. It took me one whole week.
Stop laughing!
And then you met Melvin, the annoying wizard who sends you running after the sphere.

Word of advice: be polite.
At the beginning, that's all you'll see of this dimension. Later, if you have advanced enough in the main quest or if you trigger one of  two unrelated quests, you'll get access to the rest of the island.

Even the corridors are stylish.
It's a very small island, and there isn't much to do there.

Bored in 3, 2, 1...
Besides Melvin, there are two other characters you can talk to.

Say hello to the nice dragon.
But the island isn't supposed to work as a dimension to explore. In fact it's your QG, the one place you will come back to often while you explore the rest of the Multiverse. Melvin can sometimes provide a solution to the problems you face out there, and besides, you're safe here... as safe as it gets next to a wizard with inscrutable intentions, anyway.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Traveling the Multiverse: Underwater Base

Continuing on with my series of posts showcasing the different dimensions the player will travel to, here is the fourth installment.

As the titles indicates, the player will arrive in a secret base deep underwater. It was one of the first ideas that popped into my head when I began planning this module, and I'm still not sure why. Guess I just like secret bases.

Of course, you're not alone in the complex, and the scientists don't really react well to your presence.  

Meet Treyla, the woman in charge.
If only they were your only problem... But no, you have to deal with nasty beasties as well.

Some spiders that were definitely not invited to the party.
And soon...
I'm not telling you how you'll end up here.
You don't have any other choice than to keep going.

More spiders? Come on...
And a giant spider... What else?
There is a great deal of combat in this dimension, which I'm not really fond of, but overall I think I managed to make it enjoyable. It was the first dimension I designed, and for a long while the module consisted of only Melvin's lab and the underwater areas.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Traveling the Multiverse: the Wasteland

And we're back with the third in the series.

This time, the player finds himself in a world where the apocalypse has already taken place. All the major cities have been destroyed, there isn't any civilization to speak of, and the few survivors are hiding out in caves deep underground.

Nice place you've got here.
You can find out what happened exactly if you think you can afford to waste time. In any case, you will have to find a way out and escape the tunnels.

Excuse me, have you seen a way out?
Unfortunately, you'll end up in a deserted wasteland. Under a leaden sky, bones brittle with age are lying in the sand and the air smells of death and decay. Just your luck!
Is it gonna rain or something?
I hope this bridge is solid...
Eventually, you will come upon the ruins of a once mighty city....

Hello? Anyone here?
A tower stands half buried in the middle of the desert... perhaps someone still lives here?

Engulfed by its shadow...
What you'll find inside is best left unsaid...

Lost...
...and found.
Those creatures on the last screenshot are a lot more deadly than they seem, trust me.

This dimension is the second one in terms of content, with only Winterscale surpassing it. It comes at the end of the module, while Winterscale more or less starts it off, effectively framing the story between two great big chunks of narrative goodness, with smaller and crunchier bits in the middle - which I won't show because they're too small to constitute a whole post, and I'd like to keep some surprises up my sleeve.