Sunday, 15 June 2014

Swift Progress and Demo Announcements...

It has been a very productive three days which I have been able to dedicate to Umbral Abyss. A significant group of side quests are now complete, opening the way to putting together the main storyline for Chapter 2 - the middle section of the Umbral Abyss campaign. I'd say that my efforts have resulted in 2-3 hours of completed gameplay. It feels good to know things are moving along at a healthy pace, as Umbral Abyss is a respectably larger game than Indanthrine Prince. Again in a few days time, I should have another 2-3 days to knuckle down and get the main story underway. This I'm particularly looking forward to. Plenty of intrigue and action to be had in Dale. It will fall to the party to stop the enemy from bringing the city to it's knees before the war really starts.

Dale will not just contain the main storyline though. It will be filled with other connected/unconnected activities, some of which leading to some very exciting new adventures around Rhovanion which will introduce yet more enemies and some friends too. I'll sit down and write in more detail about Dale soon... It's the jewel in the crown for Chapter 2, and rightly so - From here on, Dale is the focal part of the story.

We have decided to release a demo, like we did with Indanthrine Prince. It will likely be out in July and will consist of (probably) the entirety of Chapter 1, which is likely to be about 6-8 hours long, depending on your approach to the game. It's quite a short chapter and it has no real spoiler value in terms of what comes in the later chapters. As long as we get time to prepare it and fix a few outstanding issues, we will release it. Assistance in reporting problems we are not aware of will be most welcome.

Back to the work recently completed, and as I posted on the Facebook group page...

Just completed testing of the entirety of our first series of side quests for Chapter 2. Wow, I was having so much fun that I'm sure that I forgot to note a few problems down!
Video footage is being taken of all tests. I hope to patch them all together to show some gameplay highlights sometime soon.

In the meantime, we have screenshots of the playthrough, including some action with the long awaited Troll. This opponent is nasty! Complete with his own AI and an adaptation of the boulder throwing script and visual effects by Shaughn78. (

Big thank you again to Sophie Billing. Your areas always capture what we need and they are a pleasure to work with. Sophie has a pile of areas for various parts of the game already in the can - you ain't seen nothing yet!

Enjoy the shots. I'd rather give you the game, but then there is still quite a way to go On that front - watch out for news on our Chapter 1 demo. Hopefully out in July, time and testing results pending.

A burn victim

The Lord Commander hatches a plan


Machared joins the party!

In action in the Wetlands

The Orc lair is found

Machared in action

Jamot meets his greatest foe - a key only door.

Somethings coming...

Oh no...

Run away?

The party will have to battle its first Troll...

Combat with Troll


Machared confronts the enemy leader

Sorry. Throw a grammar book at me...

This can only end one way...

Monday, 2 June 2014

Return of the Crafting System

A big chunk of chapter 2 should be looking complete by the end of the week - shots and commentaries to follow.

I've said a fair bit about the crafting system being reintroduced in The Umbral Abyss and I'm getting some questions about how it actually works compared to Indanthrine Prince. (NWN1 edition. The NWN2 ed. had no crafting support).

The previous system relied on my limited scripting knowledge and ran via a range of conversation based systems. This new system is almost entirely run through the use of items on workbenches, much like the official NWN2 system, albeit using our own range of themed items.

You will be able to mine, smelt, smith, work leather, fletch, woodwork, make poultices, brew potions, and repair damaged equipment. A later system to be added will be an item enhancement ability which will utilise a spell component, as seen in the official campaigns.

Certain crafting could not be assigned a suitable skill, e.g smelting, carpentry, so I have created some tradeskills for these which will improve the more a player performs an action. Other things like race, strength and intelligence can impact upon success and learning rate.

The general process for crafting is as follows;

1. The character must know the recipe to create a range of particular items. Recipes can be purchased, found and given out for free by NPCs in certain situations (e.g. Ivan will be able to tell the player how to make certain poultices). Learning a recipe costs a certain amount of gold to represent the time and expenses spent learning a trade.

Once the recipe is learned, the player will gain a recipe page item. These pages are auto-inserted into a book container, exactly like the Birds and Beasts creature guide. It is here the player may refer to the skill and component requirements for each category of item.
2. The character may require the correct tool. These are mostly easy to obtain. Some tools come with a set number of uses, such as the repair hammer or the smithing hammer and will need to be replaced after so many uses.

3. Gathering the correct array of components, the player places them on the correct workbench and uses the tool upon the workbench. A test is then made against a DC provided in the recipe page. Success results in item creation and an XP reward equal to the DC beaten. Failure will result in loss of the now ruined components.

The process is complemented with animations, sound and visual effects and every effort is being made to make the system desirable, but most importantly, not essential. The old version in IP NWN1 was unfortuntely redundant, as there was plenty of good equipment to be easily had. This time around, we have attempted to make crafting noticeably useful. For instance, it can allow you access to items which are not easy to come by or can give you an advantage in quests that require you to supply items.

Anyway, this should work out. We will be keeping a very close eye on the balance between craft-free and crafting gameplay to get the right balance.