Week of Deadly Calm  

For those familiar with HoMM 5, you'll know what this means. A week when nothing really happens. I have been sick for the past few days and have hardly been up - I didn't mind it for the first couple of days since it was a welcome break from work but boredom slipped in pretty soon. It's difficult being lazy and doing nothing!

I played around a bit with the lighting to get it right for the interiors - still a problem; the exteriors look a lot better.



I did manage to finish most of the conversations required for the first act. Now, to put them all together and make sure the stuff works properly. The coming long weekend should give enough time to finish up Act 1 and move on to the next stage.

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Penning Dialogues and Directing Cutscenes  

The past week has been really fruitful; all the level layouts required for Act 1 of Blood and Lyrium are complete. I still have a few more props to put in but I will come back to those later. I am starting to get burned out on level-building!

I have started work on the dialogues and quests for Act 1. The major dialogues are in the starting area and the final area that I built this week and one of them is already complete. Dealing with two quests and companion and NPC interjections made it quite complex and over 2000 words - I am wondering if I should trim it down a bit (I admit, I ramble a bit when I start writing!)



I also finally started on the stages and cut-scenes. Though I was hesitant at first (the tutorials are so lengthy!), it was not that difficult. Well, I was mostly doing stages and a very simple cut-scene; once I start on the intro cut-scene, that will really test my skills. The major plots have also been put down and associated plot scripts written. Next step, once the dialogues are done, is the journal entries.

The custom ability implementation for Arms and Armor is still an open issue, unfortunately. I will have to get back to that soon though since Ambaryerno has made good progress in the design department. Check out his new sword models here.

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Level Building Tips  

The ability coding for Arms and Armor is nearing completion though getting the new abilities to actually work is still an issue. For those interested, I have opened a topic - Custom Ability Implementation - on the Bioware forums for getting some help on this issue. If anyone has any inputs, post a comment here or in that thread.

Here are some tips for level-builders. I suspect almost all of these are common knowledge but I figure these will come in useful for someone at least!

Copy and change x-y coordinates (Interiors): Many of the models which are part of the same logical set (eg: Tevinter Interior Tileset - small wall, small roof, floor) have the same size on the x-y axis. So, if you want to line those 2 floor tiles up perfectly, copy and paste the floor tile and change the X or Y units by +/- 8 (depending on the direction). The same applies to the walls and ceilings. Sometimes, the length/width would be different than 8 but once you figure it out, lining them would be a snap!

Replace model file names: When building interiors, it is easier to build the skeleton using the same models for walls, floor, roof, pillars, etc. Once the skeleton is done, you can go into the model properties and change the model file name to the one you actually want there. This is easier than placing the new model there and copying the coordinates.

Cutaway Override in model properties: When you place a picture/coat-of-arms/torches/etc on a wall, going into Tactical Mode in-game cuts away the tops of these walls. The props placed on the walls look like they are hanging in space. To prevent this from happening, you can set Cutaway Override to FALSE in the properties for that model/prop. I didn't know about this before and had to realign a whole bunch of wall torches onto pillars!

Shadows without models: Let's say you want to build a dark pit or a dark circular area within a big room. Place a model of the appropriate shape (doesn't matter which model) right above the area you want to darken and adjust the model properties to set Export To Game as FALSE and Lightmap as TRUE. Place a light directly above it to cast a good shadow. Once you render lightmaps, you will see a dark shadow beneath the model but the model won't be present in-game. There is a bit of work to get it just right since the model can cast shadows from other lights too.

Here is a link to a detailed tutorial about lighting done by the BG2 Redux team. Post any comments or questions you might have in this thread.

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Update!  

 (yeah, couldn't think of something better for the title)

Most of the time since my last post here has been spent taking care of RL issues so time spent on developing Blood and Lyrium has been minimal - just some conversations and plot scripting.

However, a good amount of work has been done on Arms and Armor, scripting new talents for 2-handed Light weapons. M2DAs are yet to be created for them, though and the passive/sustained talents still need to be completed. I expect to be done with that by this week so that it can out in the next alpha for testing (and I can go back to developing BaL)

An interesting discussion came up in the Bioware forums about compatibility between different modules. With the scores of add-ins available now, each changing a small aspect of the core gameplay, this has become one of the constant issues the user faces - and this is even before the user-made module scene has fully taken off (like in NWN, for example). If you are reading this and have an opinion on this or just want to offer support for the discussion, head on over there!

If anyone reading this is interested in doing some level work for my module, post a comment here or head over to the project page to post in the discussion thread or comments area. Thanks!

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