Switching modules  

This past weekend was really good in terms of development time. It was raining most of the weekend so I had a good reason to stay indoors in front of the computer. The first draft of the exterior level is done and I have started populating NPCs and dialogue associated with them. There is still work to be done on texturing and props (and the sky - trying to get a twilight feel but I am just not able to get the color right!) but for the most part, I am satisfied with how this has turned out.

This area requires 2 cut-scenes, one of them a fairly complex one so the next task at hand is to learn how to do those but that will come later.

The priority for this week is to finish up as much scripting work as possible for Arms and Armor (AAA). When I was writing up the story for Blood and Lyrium, I decided to pitch in and help Ambaryerno with his mod. AAA will have more realistic weapon models, new weapon types and associated talents and in general, will add more variety to the existing weaponry in Dragon Age. Since I plan to implement new weapons and talents for my mod too, this will be a good learning experience (and I have to worry only about the scripting front on the AAA mod!)


Revamping the interiors  

Level-building...it can oscillate between fun and tedium pretty quickly. Play-testing the interior area I built earlier resulted in almost re-doing the level as it felt too big and empty. I had to rework most of the level to bring the size down - I should have used a test creature for getting a sense of scale right from the start. Further, while I initially envisioned this area to have a minimum of combat, it does look like I will have to add more now - primarily because most of the actions in the puzzles and pseudo-riddles do not have any side-effects at all. At least one quest can do with some hostile spawns on selecting a disagreeable answer.

Here is a screenshot of one of the main rooms in this level. The lighting is not yet perfect but it is getting close - I wanted a dark ruined level with sporadic patches of bright light to accentuate the darkness more. However, some of the props, the statues and ivy primarily, have blotchy shadows.

This area still looks a little bare, I know. I am working on the plots and conversations for the various placeables and the plan is to complete this area by this weekend.

Meanwhile, I started working on the exterior level and I must say, it is a whole different beast - the lights aren't rendering how I want them to and I realized too late that you can have only one static light per chunk. Since there is no way to change the level properties, I am stuck with what I have for this area. The good news is that one of the exportable area layout is almost done and that is another area I plan to devote time to over the weekend.

I also need to start reading up on cut-scenes since the game starts off with one and while it will be a simple affair, the few posts I've read on the forums seem to indicate that even a simple cut-scene takes a good amount of work to get it right.


This Past Week  

Most of the time spent this past week has been away from the toolset unfortunately.

First, there was the bazaar. I got into it a day late but once I realized you could get 500 points per Twitter challenge you win, I was hooked. I thought it will be easy enough to win a few challenges and get a decent score up to snag some t-shirts or lithos. I did end up winning 7 challenges but found out soon enough that the 'click-points' was a real leveler - so much so that people who hadn't even won a single challenge had thousands more points. I had to resort to posting my 'referral' link in the various threads in the Off-Topic forum and in end, won the last but one auction for a set of Mass Effect t-shirts.

Then, there was a map-making competition for Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic for which I was one of the judges and this was the last week of judging so I had to put in some extra time to play-test some of the maps I had put aside for a re-test. For those that don't know, AoW:SM is a turn-based fantasy strategy game similar to MoM and the HoMM series (though with much more depth compared to HoMM).

I did manage to get some work done in the toolset though. I finished a big interior level - the biggest in Act 1 of the story and started the process of piecing together the quests and dialogs. I am also slowly coming to grips with how lighting works and how the different types of light (and colors!) interact with each other. I still have some finishing touches to add to the levels - 'prop-discovery' is and will be an on-going process, I am afraid.

I have started working on the start area too, which will be an exterior level. This level will have 2 exported area layouts and one will be visible from the other in-game (one is a mountain-top and the second one is a village at the foot of the mountains but some distance away). My level-building skills face a real test when doing an exterior level so this one will likely take another 4-5 days to complete, at minimum. Next post will have some screenshots!


When it happens...  

I cannot speak for other module-makers but the first thing I set down when I started this module was - it should be different. Not completely alien with a new world with it's own lore and mechanics but should have something that makes it stand out from the crowd...at least in my own eyes. What could I do? Integrate the story with the official established canon. The two books - The Stolen Throne and The Calling - are pretty detailed about most of the happenings but there are some obvious gaps (well, maybe not gaps but interesting settings that haven't been explored fully) that can be exploited to tell a story.

Blood and Lyrium will seek to do that - weave a tale about already established settings, sneaking in canon events from the novels to influence the various threads. The story is set during Maric's struggle to regain Ferelden's crown and it is possible that the player might meet some of the key characters from the rebel camp. I haven't yet thought through the plot lines that extensively so it is also possible that you might not meet them at all - I don't want to give a tacked-on quest just for lore integration.

That said, this module will come with a race/background restriction for the player - Dalish Elf. This might turn off a lot of players but it is critical for the storyline - it wouldn't make sense for anybody else to play this story as it unfolds (except maybe one other race/background but that is for another post)


The First Step  

Welcome to my

This blog will serve as a means for me to share information (and receive feedback!) on the module I am creating for the Dragon Age world, called (at present) Blood and Lyrium. At times, I might digress a bit to other games but that is another reason this blog is being created - to pull me back into modding when I take a break.

It happened before with NWN2 when I started creating a module set in Eberron. After months of accumulating lore and detailing the settings and working in the toolset for nearly 2 months, I took a break playing King's Bounty and Uncharted and never went back. Hopefully, this time around, that will not be the case.