Sunday, 3 July 2016

Dead End progress!

Progress has been steady amidst a big time of upheaval in my silly country, but should pick up some more over the next few months as we look towards getting a demo out for the first part of the campaign. 

Also on the table are some update packages for the first 2 campaigns, Indanthrine Prince and Umbral Abyss. The idea being, by the release of Dead End, we have the entire trilogy up to date and acting as one consistent piece of work.

I just wanted folks to know that the work continues and we are looking forward to sharing the conclusion of our campaign with you. We are still floating ideas around with what we would like to do post-campaign. At present, with the lack of other enticing modding opportunities elsewhere, we are leaning towards further campaigns, albeit standalone ones (no more trilogies!) in new locales with all new characters and stories. On which note, we have a new story roughly sketched out which we may pick up once the trilogy is finished.

Here are some images I have gathered of the in-progress Dead End campaign.













Saturday, 14 May 2016

Dead End - A first look in pictures

Here are some shots of the upcoming Dead End campaign, the final in our planned trilogy.

The Northern Wastes is a land of ice, mystery and untold dangers!

















Sunday, 1 May 2016

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Introducing Deadend - the trilogy finale!

As posted on the Bioware boards:

Hi everyone. The time has come to share the goings on with the final campaign in my trilogy; Deadend. It has been in development for a few months now and the first third of the story is coming together nicely in the toolset.


It is an epic campaign in terms of the scope of the story, the action and indeed the level range, which is aimed at level 20, right up to the maximum of 30. My biggest priority is ensuring that the story ends strongly, wrapping up all the loose ends and leaving the player satisfied - I want the potential 80+ hours they will have invested into the series to be worthwhile! As it stands, the major strands of the story are worked out - on paper, at least. I know that this does not necessarily mean a sound translation when recreated in the toolset! But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.


I'm looking at multiple endings for certain story points. These would be more in the style of choosing a "lesser evil", however the player wishes to interpret that. There is going to be a huge battle in the final part of the story and you can't save everyone or deal with everyone; not for lack of trying - it's simply isn't possible.


My recently released second part of the campaign, Umbral Abyss, added a lot of new custom systems and features to the series which generally went down well. For Deadend, I do not plan on adding another plethora of new stuff. There will be some new things of course, But just not as much. Instead, I want to focus on improving what I already have in place and take some of the player feedback into consideration. The crafting, for instance went down well, but there are areas where I can simplify (I dislike excessive micro-management) and balance things better. So a bit of time will go into making this work even better.


One idea I am in the process of testing out is a form of environment manipulation using a special plot item that the player has had in their possession almost from the first campaign. The item is generally used to deal spell damage to enemies. I felt that a great way of increasing the significance of this plot item was to give it a utility role in addition to the offensive. With this new ability, the player can clear paths that would otherwise be impassable to discover new places and hidden treasures. I am looking at other forms of utility too.


As a warning to those who may be considering playing Umbral Abyss; there could be potential spoilers in this this thread - mainly relating to the circumstances of the player and party at the beginning of Deadend.

For those who know their way around Middle Earth, this campaign will take place in the Northern Wastes, The Withered Heath/Grey Mountains and Dale/Erebor. In terms of timeline, we will be running up to and slightly beyond the final defeat of Sauron. The Siege/Battle of Dale, not covered in any detail in the texts, will feature as the entirety of the final chapter of Deadend.


Lots more to share, including bucket loads of shots, but this will do for now. I am excited but also nervous at what lies ahead. But for sure, it will be fun! As ever, I am very grateful for the support I have received.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Wanted: Heroes!

Work is well underway on the final part of the campaign trilogy - more on this very soon.

I'm very keen to make sure that the transition into this final adventure is as smooth as possible for player characters. I want to be sure that all the different types of character created in IP and UA translate well at the start of Deadend.

Deadend will force a number of changes and effects upon the player character at the start of the game - purely for story-telling, challenge and something different. We are not talking about massive, permanent things here. Just stuff that serves the player situation well and also allows some big improvements/additions to the crafting system and item set to be introduced.

In order to make sure that the introduction to Deadend has covered as many eventualities as possible, I am looking for copies of player characters who have completed Umbral Abyss. I will be examining these characters to see what state they were in at the end of UA, levels, equipment, history feats, etc. I will also be running them through the introduction to Deadend, to see how they are affected.

The hope is that we have a strong introduction, accounting for all of these circumstances. By using some of these characters for testing, it can only go to help make Deadend our most immersive and varied campaign to date.

If you can help - please send your character who completed Umbral Abyss to kevin.balmer@gmail.com

A couple of caveats:
* Character must have completed the Umbral Abyss campaign
* Character must not have benefited from any cheats or external modification

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Recharged!

I've just finished a short break from NWN2. Such things are always needed from time to time, especially after the release and initial support of Umbral Abyss. Such a huge project. A lot of creative energy went into that project and there is only so long you can keep going until you need to step away for a while, reflect on how things went and then come back to things with (hopefully) some wisdom from the experience. And I certainly have plenty of that in the bag.

I'm still overwhelmed by how Umbral Abyss was received. Indanthrine Prince was initially a fun poke around. I never dreamed that anything of real substance would come of it. My technical knowledge was very limited, so we generally got by, but steered clear of anything that would prove to be script intensive, but I still attempted to learn some basics as I went along. This paid off, as learning one topic somewhat "unlocked" another for me, in terms of difficulty. Once it became apparent that Indanthrine Prince was looking to be a success, thoughts turned towards continuing the story. And so the idea of a campaign trilogy was born.

With each new campaign project I work on, I like to think of new, interesting additions for the players that build on what we already have. Umbral Abyss added a lot of new stuff like crafting, special creature vulnerabilities, utilising the History Feats obtained in Indanthrine Prince, secret content and some select moment of more dynamic combat. All of these have gone down rather well and a number of things have been given some added polish, ready for use in future projects. I don't like taking things away, but instead adding and building onto things that already exist. It's nice to have familiarity, but at the same time, it is important to keep things fresh with each release. This is an approach I will stick to.

Umbral Abyss was also a massive learning experience. Much more so than IP. I have a lot of ideas for how certain script-handled events can be better executed, how the dialogue can be better presented and a whole pack of ideas to improve player immersion and fun - the number one goal in all of this. Umbral Abyss still has need of some patching and I will continue to support the campaign for the foreseeable future.

The bulk of my attention is now moving towards the final campaign of the trilogy - another big undertaking. Not necessarily in terms of size, as I do not intend to make anything as huge as Umbral Abyss was, but in terms of it being the final campaign in this trilogy and the ending needs to be right, as do the parts leading up to it; from where the player picks up from, all the way in their epic journey to the end. It is being designed for epic levels and I know how much of a shortage there is of epic level community modules - so that is a further pressure on me to make this a memorable campaign for the players. This blog will start to share a lot more on the development of the next campaign soon. The cue I am waiting for is the completion of AhTravesty's Let's Play of Umbral Abyss. He is approaching the end, so there is not long to wait. If you haven't checked out the Let's Play of UA, do visit his channel and check it out! There are also many LP's of other excellent community modules. The UA Let's Play is currently up to episode 68. Including the Chapter 1 demo LP, this makes 83 videos! Thats in the territory of some of the really big campaigns like the Baldurs Gate Reloaded LP he made! I said it before, I made a monster... So, standby. Once the LP series concludes, news and commentary will begin to trickle out.

For those of you who have been following my series of videos offering tutorial and how-to's, I hope that they have proven to be helpful in one way or another. I didn't want to lose time I could spend on my projects, so I decided to incorporate the tutorials into actual projects I'm working on. The project seen in the videos is still very much in its infancy and is a back-burner for the time being. For sure, it is intended to be the next campaign planned once the trilogy is wrapped up. It will have all the familiarity you will expect from the series, but set in a new location, far from Rhovanion. One of the biggest features in this project is a huge expansion of our MERP custom ruleset to further adapt NWN2 towards some of the PnP MERP adventures. The story style is also going to be very different; we are looking at a short-story, but two very distinct paths one can take. Two games in one, or something like that.

That's about all for now. Standby for further news. It's going to be a really exciting year.


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Let's Build #6

The basics of the sea cave area are completed, rounding up our basic introduction to interior area building.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Umbral Abyss 2.0 is now available!

You can now get a copy of version 2.0 of the Umbral Abyss! Changes are as detailed in my last post.

You can get Umbral Abyss from:

NWN2 Nexus
NW Vault

Monday, 18 January 2016

Update 2.0 Provisional Changes

Here is the current list of items fixed for version 2.0 of The Umbral Abyss campaign. This list may be added to before the update goes live, pending any further reports.

Global Campaign Changes
* Opposing Appraise skill added to all merchants. Varying levels of skill here. Higher quality wares generally results in a higher appraise skill needed to obtain favorable prices.
* All resting zones reviewed. A number have been removed and/or re-sited where it was felt that they were poorly placed or diminished challenge.
* Resting system upgraded to add a map pin denoting the location of a discovered zone.
* Jamot - Fixed a continuity problem should he leave the party permanently.
* Crafting Recipes - The weight of learned crafting recipes is now a fraction of the previous level.
* Cloth Strip components are now available in greater supply from herbalist merchants.
* Crafting Upgrades System - DC checks corrected. Shadowbane Emblem now confers the correct property, Keen property can no longer be duplicated. - Thanks to AhTravesty's Let's Plays for this.
* Silvered Ammunition, Bodkin Point Arrows - Error with item price corrected.
* Version 2.0 includes the correct copy of the tlk file this time.

Chapter 1
* Respositioned one of the lootable corpses which was proving difficult to select.
* Item retrieval chest - Birds and Beasts is removed from player at the start of the game to provide more slots in the retrieval chest for transferred equipment which could potentially be lost if the container size limit is reached.

Chapter 2
* Talath Harroch Wetlands - Black Uruk with shield has had some AI changes to make it more aggressive than defensive.
* Talath Harroch Wetlands Lair - Transition to and from this area has been enlarged so WASD movement is not required.
* Dale Homes - Fixed an issue in 2 interiors where selectable scrolls did not create the desired item on the player. Fixed an issue in another home where one tile had a missing texture.
* Beawyn Home - Fixed an issue where an object in the area could not be reached due to a walkmesh problem.
* "Show Me Your Hand" quest: Khaev and Brand cutscene - Re-written the trigger for this scene which was not firing reliably.
* Dale Exterior Walkmesh - Fixed an issue where players could walk through a building.
* Added a trial failsafe to certain cutscenes in the event of the player not being returned to the desired location.
* Talath Harroch Battle: Sorcerer enemy - Visual effect added when he uses his "teleport" ability.
* Wetlands Lair: Sorcerer enemy - Fixed a problem where the sorcerer would wander around the room before being met, putting him at a disadvantage in battle. He will now remain still.
* Aivar's Smithy - Locked areas will now be accessible once a certain event has occured. Fixed a continuity issue where Aivars was repeating an old conversation when the player tries to speak with him at the Blue Maiden.
* Dale - "Build an Army" quest - The number of figurines available to find has been doubled to 18! 3 of the new figurines are special "hero" models. They require a successful search check to locate, but will fetch an increased reward. The journal entry will complete when the player commences chapter 3 of the campaign.
* Dwarf Lodge - Added basic dialogue for those Dwarves with none. Added some missing items to Dórn's store.
* Percivel's Home - Fixed an issue where this area unintentionally remained locked after the main quests for chapter 2 were completed.
* Blue Maiden - Fixed an issue where Eliotte would repeatedly offer the "Outlaws in the Plains" bounty quest.
* Shadow Strangler quest - Fixed an issue where the journal entry would remain open once the player had finished with the quest.
* Dale: Old Keep - Fixed a continuity issue where the assassins could be encountered again after the player had killed them!
* Mirkwood Exterior - Added missing map pins.
* "Closed for Business" quest - Fixed an issue causing this quest to be repeatable.

Chapter 3
* Secret Foundry - Fixed an issue where the new companion would not spawn in at his starting position in addition to further issues preventing him from joining the selectable roster list. Basic testing in the affected area was a success, but further problems should be reported for patching.
* Pallid Thane area - Removed a lootbag which was not intended to be present.
* Dorn and Lolinus - Fixed a continuity issue which would occur if Dorn and Lolinus did not leave the forge area after their "visit".
* Umbral Spawn - To improve the quality of the action build-up to the finale, these creatures will no longer use web and knockdown, but instead have had an increase to AC.
* Kibil Dum Keystones - Additional keys have been placed. The difficulty for searching hidden keystones has been lowered and the detection zones enlarged.
* Kibil Dum Counsel chambers - Fixed a potential faction issue which could occur between two groups of enemies.







 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Update progress

A heavy day on the 2.0 update today. Most of the huge pile of fixes and improvements are in. Just a few of the larger jobs to deal with today and then we can test out the key fixes and then talk release dates!

We have listened very carefully to feedback, be it things to fix, things to improve and even things to add. This update should go down very well to compliment what already appears to be a very enjoyable game

Friday, 15 January 2016

Let's Build!

For those interested in trying out the NWN2 toolset but don't know where to begin, or would benefit from a tutorial... Finally! More to be released as and when I have the time.

On the subject of videos, I intend to continue the Untold Commentaries series once the update has been released, as I would like to pick up all the changes in further coverage, so standby for episode 10.

A series of videos providing tutorial and how-to's for use of the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset, - a powerful piece of software, allowing you to create your own modules and campaigns, whatever the purpose may be!

The intention is to show the capability of the toolset, spread awareness of NWN2s modding support and to encourage more people to make and play modules.


Anyway, here is where you can find my "Let's Build" playlist.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Update 2.0 News

In addition to numerous fixes and improvements, update 2.0 will also contain some additions. The Dale figurine collection quest has proven very popular, so we have DOUBLED the number of figurines to find and also added three "hero" figurines which will be hidden, requiring search to locate. These three will also provide an increased reward.

More update news to follow!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Umbral Abyss Update 2.0

We have compiled a sizeable list of things to fix and add to Umbral Abyss for the first update (2.0). Work is underway on implementing these and we expect to release the updated version sometime in the week commencing 17th January.

If you know of any issues which you have not seen reported already, now is the time to share them!

A full list of the changes will be released soon. Thank you for all the support and feedback.

Monday, 4 January 2016