mercredi 29 juin 2011

A little word about happening or not.

Greetings everyone,

As you are well aware, the release of the Bob White plot document obviously has some impacts on a remake of Ultima IX.
I will not discuss it much, for a couple of reasons:
-The document you have is date 1997. We know this particular story has been worked on since at least 1995 from the dungeon documents. Therefore, the plot has evolved a lot. A whole lot. Which means than in this 1997 design doc, there are things that contradict each others. It is unsure if Yew is a city. It's still not clear if there is an airship. Ambrosia is a complete mystery. There is a severe inconsistency in Hawkwind's behaviour as it is explained in the game. I am not saying this is a bad draft or anything, but it is things that are to be expected from a work in progress.

This leaves us choices : what to keep? What to change ? No doubt, this will be thought upon within the next couple of weeks.

Unless it doesn't happen.

Well, yes, there is no need to be lengthy about it. Eriadain is currently at a stalemate, and it's been a while since I lastly touched the thing. A bad situation, and I think I'm kind of stuck.

When I said I would like the Eriadain project to be picked up again, I didn't say I'd like to do it myself, alone. I wasn't even expecting to lead the project. I was merely saying it would be nice if someone picked it up. And much to my surprise, I had positive reactions. A lot of them. I had explicitly stated that I couldn't do this alone, because my life has been busy with a lot of projects lately (mainly a civil union, and the writing of a book). I picked up the project expecting people to join, maybe lead, and that I could have some part on it. After all, does that game actually need a game designer when IN FACT, the game is pretty much game designed already with the plot docs that are already available? What it needs is building and writing, and it is something that can't be done alone.

Especially, if I may say, with the NWN2 engine. I have started to get more used to it. It is indeed MUCH MUCH more powerful than the NWN1 one in terms of what you can do with it and the freedom to tweak around. However, it is also painstakingly more complex to use. What took seconds to do in NWN1 can take minutes in NWN2. What takes minutes can take hours. It is not that big of a problem for a team with a direction, but for a man who already has lots on his hands, it is absolutely impossible to make an Ultima game in such conditions.

So what else is there to say? Not much, besides : Eriadain will, or will not happen, and that depends about as much on me than on you.

jeudi 10 mars 2011

Obey me, Hawkwind!

I am starting to get used to the NWN2 toolset. It is, in fact, very similar to the one of the first game, although the layout has been completely overhauled. Good.

I am still working on Stonegate. Rather, in fact, I’m experimenting with it, learning the SDK as I go. I have designed a couple more rooms. Although the layout might be changed a bit, I think I got the general idea okay.

Stonegate will definitely not be a tutorial area anymore. It will serve as an entry point in the world, story, and atmosphere, with various questions raised and answered later ingame. It is a dark, oppressing place, and will serve to pressure the player in knowing that the situation in the outside world is indeed grim, however, he (or she, since we will be able to have a female Avatar) will not see this outside world before a short while.
The beginning of the game will be, in a way, hand holding. But nothing like the hand holding you see these days. If we stick to the original plans, that means we have three dungeons before you get to Britain. Those will be short. Stonegate is mostly harmless and will be mostly devoid of enemies. Once you are out of Stonegate, you will reach a cave, and at the end of the cave, a teleporter to Britain’s sewers. What I’m unsure about is if I put the cave directly below Stonegate, or outside of Stonegate. The original docs seems to imply you get to the cave without even getting outside. A departure from this would not be much, and has its advantages. I can give the player a short peek of a dark gloomy world before letting him explore it a bit further. Yet, the plan is to stay as true to the design docs as possible, so it may not happen.
After the cave, you will be teleported to Britain’s sewers, which hold many exits, so it will not be very difficult to get out of these. And then, here you are, in Britain, free to explore the town. You will be locked inside the city until you get your first companion, Shamino. Once this is done, you will be able to access the mainland of Britannia. And as for ships, you will get access to one very early in the game. So early I am not sure it is worth it to have a port system that transports you from town to town for a fee. Maybe I will skip that.

Back to development. As I was saying, so far so good. I have a couple of very simple issues I have yet to solve... It truly has been a while since last time !
For example, Hawkwind refuses to talk to me. I wrote a simple placeholder dialog file, assigned it to the character in the toolset, and yet, ingame, Hawkwind just stares at me when I click on him, oblivious to the fact I’m the Avatar and that he just teleported me there a couple of seconds ago. What a snob. Oh well, fixing that later.

I also have another issue. I envisioned the beginning of the game with the Avatar lying on a bed. The game would be on first person mode during the virtues question (and only in that part, just for style). We would see Hawkwind sitting on a chair asking them. I figured I’d deal with the fixed camera later and start first with the Hawkwind sitting.

So there we go (quoting from memory)

object oHawk = GetObjectByTag(“Hawkwind”);
object oChair = GetObjectByTag(“HawkChair”);
AssignCommand(oHawk, ActionSit(oChair);

I have put this on the EnterMap thing to get it at the start of the game, yet Hawkwind does nothing. I also tried to put it on OnSpawn for the Hawkwind character to no avail. I guess Hawkwind is not an object, but for some reason, I couldn’t find the GetNPCByTag command. I need to investigate more on that this weekend.

Speaking of which, this weekend I will put together a design document. I have been pleasantly surprised by people volunteering to help, and I realize that there is no current framework for us to work together. I will put together a small .DOC file, probably a forum or mailing list, and maybe a wiki to ease our work together. I can also host a 24/7 FTP (I do have a NAS). Once this is done, (probably this weekend), I will contact everyone who has showed interest and ask if that interest still holds. The first thing we’ll do is probably put up some kind of thing to know who is working/want to work on what.

Anyway, I’m at work so... back to work, I guess.

dimanche 6 mars 2011

Nice to meet you , NWN2.

I have my share of experience with Neverwinter Nights. Not so much with NWN2. I was hoping for the two toolsets to be similar. I was pleasantly surprised after a bit of working with the improved toolset.

First things first : boy, that thing is a lot more difficult to use than the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset, especially with interior designs. By default, rooms don't appear to have walls. NWN had you simply draw the general shape, and then finetune it. It looks like that if you want to do some decent mapmaking, you have to "finetune" from the very start. Also, there is no friggin' point in starting your map if you don't exactly know what you are doing. NWN1 allowed a fair bit of improvisation, as long as you made it look good and that it made sense, it was okay. Can't do that with NWN2.

When working with NWN1, Stonegate was the first area I designed. It was the perfect place : not only it took place at the very start of the game, but also, Stonegate has most of everything you need to cover the basics from a coder's point of view.
Stonegate has :

-some dynamic stuff (Hawkwind teleports around and says things while moving)
-map design, lighting and sound to make it feel a bit eerie
-the first fights

In NWN1 I had made Stonegate a tutorial for gameplay elements. Let's be honest, this wasn't such a good idea. Most people who would have played this would have known how to play Neverwinter Nights... So instead, I plan to use Stonegate to introduct some story elements and to tease at very important plot points that will get only solved later ingame. More on that later, as I design more of it .

Because so far, all I have to show about Eriadain is ... this :

Not much hey ? But it's a start ! The bearded guy is supposed to be Hawkwind who shall start the game with the character creation process (more on that later), tell you about what went on since the Pagan stuff, and will accompany through Stonegate before letting you on your own.

So, there we go again ? Yeah, pretty much. Join the ride !

A bit of history first.

Greetings, I'm Moa Dragon, and in this blog I shall attempt to tell about my attempts about remaking Ultima IX.

As some of you may be aware, Ultima IX was a complete disaster of a game. However, believe it or not, on the paper, it had the potential to be excessively awesome. Attempts were made, led by me to remake the game. First as a one man project using RPGMaker, then as a team, using Neverwinter NIghts. Those attempts failed.

I still fill bitter about it. Some people asked me if they could pick up the project. Being bitter, I somehow refused although the idea of an Ultima IX remake technically doesn't belong anyone. I guess I was senselessly proud, and I present apologies to everyone.

Over the last years, things have happened. I got a life. I still am in love with games, but have less times to play. I am writing my first novel, and I am extremely busy in lots of other places. Although I am mostly a retrogamer, I still keep up with the times and am enjoying these days, Fallout New Vegas. A very rare game, for it is an RPG that isn't dumbed down.

It took years for Lazarus to be done. It took years for the U6 Project to get done. Well, okay, we'll take years remaking Ultima IX too. We aren't in a rush after all.

Let's complete this shit.

One thing of note : I do not consider the current remake of Ultima IX MY project. As I write today, I am the only one working on it. The reason for this start, was to, well, light the fire.

There is one thing for certain : THIS REMAKE WILL NOT EVER BE COMPLETED IF PEOPLE DO NOT JOIN AND CONTRIUBUTE. I want this Ultima IX remake project to be opened to all contributions, and to be a collaborative effort. I am even considering putting the sources and modules public to everyone as I work on it. This will go on if other team members, WHO WOULD JOIN (please join! pleeaaase :( ) agree to do so.

Yes I said module. We (okay, I, for now) are using Neverwinter Nights 2.

More on that... immediately.