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8/29/12 -Wednesday: PRETTY GENERIC DAY...

Today was a pretty typical, generic, standard issue day. I just worked on a bunch of smaller things, improvements (i.e. VFX work), minor bug fixes, etc.

The main thing I worked on was what I talked about yesterday: sustained abilities not being removed from the original caster when the recipient is removed from the party. Looking at the core code a little closer, it looks like where I thought it was already handling it, I was sadly wrong. What it was doing was removing sustained abilities from the party members if the removed party member was the original caster.

Even still, digging even deeper into the core code, if a sustained ability is removed from the recipient, it should just deactivate on the original caster. No tricky code implementation or anything. As you all know, I'm not in the discovery mood at the moment, so I just hacked it in to work from my custom abilities. Yes, I know, I know, but it is what it is :)

Tomorrow, I expect to be doing some more brainstorming. Alexander has sent me some new scenarios to think about (or expanded on existing ones), so I definitely start my day off with that. Also, in a great coup, I will not be back in the office until Friday, September 7th. Between a mix of vacation dyas, Labor day, and work from home days, it all worked out perfectly.

Till tomorrow...


While I have never played this particular game, the Mana series as a whole holds a special place in my heart, due to my love of Final Fantasy Adventure & Secret of Mana. Enjoy!


8/28/12 -Tuesday: WELL, THAT'S THAT...

After 3 days of testing, half system rewrites, and lots of false positives, I've finally fixed "the" bug. Yes, years from now, when I'm working on my next game, this little bug will become "the" bug of this particular game. It's place in history is sealed :)

I can't go into too much detail on what this custom system does due to spoilers, but I can say it's a system that is only used in one sequence of the game, towards the end. I scripted it about a year ago, and while it worked most of the times, every once in a while, there would be this little bug which would break the sequence. Because of the complexity of the system, and the fact that I was just starting to get flooed with VO for the first time, I put it on the back burner.

Fast forward a year, and now with much of the VO done, and really, most of the game done, I knew this was a bug that needed my full attention. I was actually quite calm while doing my thing over the past 3 days. It really just consisted of putting lots of DEBUG statements in the code, and lots of testing. The thing that made it difficult to DEBUG properly was the fact that I couldn't consistently reproduce it. Definitely one of the worst types of bugs.

Halfway through things, I decided to change a major part of the system itself. Even though it was a major part of it, the change itself wasn't that hard, as it only took half a day or so. Even when I made this change, I was still getting similiar results, though more consistently. After about another half of day of testing, I decided to check the core scripts of all the objects/creatures in the sequence, and wouldn't you know it, one of them wasn't using the right one? ;) I swear, for all of "the" bugs of my games, the solutions are always so damn simple.

Once I made sure the code was routed to the right core script, everything just started working and fell into place. Now, assuming that it was just this one thing, I decided to switch the system itself back to its original state. After some testing, it was a still a little iffy, so I just stuck with the new re-write, since I knew it worked. I have a feeling why the other way didn't work, but I don't care enough to actually fix it. This new way works, and that's all that matters!

So yeah, nice to be able to put this behind me, and move on to other things. Tomorrow, I'l start looking at why it seems like my custom sustained abilities are not being removed from party members when they're removed from the party. The code Bioware already had in the companion hire/fire code looks to handle this, so something is off. After 3 days of fixing one bug, this one should be easy :)

Till tomorrow...


I shouldn't even have to say anything about the next song, as I'm sure most are familiar with it. Enjoy!


8/27/12 -Monday: YEAH, IT'S "THAT" TIME AGAIN...

So yeah, it's "that" time again...

What do I mean by that? Well, in every game I have create thus far, there has been a single bug that has persisted through the entire development process, a but that only happens about 10% of the time I play, a bug so freaking frustrating that I tend to leave it till the end of development. I know I've talked about this before, but here goes:

In The Coming, there was this bug where cutscenes would just stop in the middle of them, breaking the game. There was also this bug where enemies I defeated would respawn almost immediately after killing them. Okay, I know this sounds like 2 bugs, but it's really tied to a single, annoying bug. Granted, I was new to development, but it was still a really bad mess up on my part. Essentially, there was this town where after a certain scene, I always wanted it to be night time when you entered it again. Now that I'm writing this, even the actual thought of having it always night time sounds dumb. And trust me, players questioned it in the comments section.

Anyway, the way I did this was to check the time of the game in the module heartbeat event. If it was past 4:00am (or something like that), set the time back to 8:00pm. This changing of the time would induce the aforementioned bugs. With the cutscene one, in NWN1, cutscenes were created using a whole set of DelayActions in succession in order to simulate a scene. If the time was all of a sudden switched by 12 hours, it would all fall apart. The same thng with the respawning... If an enemy is supposed to spawn after 10 minutes, and then time is sped up 12 hours, poof, they spawn. The solution was to make sure this script *only* ran while you were in that town, nort globally, as I had it before. 7 years later, the real solution is to not force a certain time for a certain area.

In Cry The Beloved, there was an issue with my custom summoning system. Clopon had the ability to summon various beings in the game, and depending on her level, she could summon more than one. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, I was on my way home from going out with co-workers for drinks, or something back in 2005, and decided to implement the system on the train ride home. I don't remember exactly what was wrong with it, and how I fixed it, but all I remember is that I was piss drunk while doing it, which led to me pretty much saying, "Don't drink and code". In fact, I just dug up the entry from 10/15/2005.

In this latest game, I am currently runing into "that" type of bug. I'm not going to waste time discussing now. I'll feel much happier talking about it once I squash it. So yeah, that's my life for however long it takes: DESTROY THIS BUG!

Till tomorrow...


Every time I hear today's song of the day, I think of a fair, or celebration, or something. Enjoy!


8/25/12 -Saturday: NOT MUCH TODAY...

I didn't get that much done today. I got in pretty late from a NaS concert at my office (one of the perks of working for Clear Channel Radio!) the night before, and I had a wedding to go to this afternoon. In between all of that, I just tried to knock out some little things here and there.

First thing I did was start implementing a new scene Alexander came up with. All I needed to do was create the stage and the first set of cameras, a few lines of dialogue, then I was able to pass it off to him so he could write his bits. I also just gave him an idea of how one of the characters in the scene should act.

Next, I worked on this bug where certain custom abilities weren't showing up in the UI. I won't go into the boring details, but it was just some minor work I had to do with both the GUI 2DA, as well as the Ability one. While I was at it, I went ahead and added some more custom icons to some of the abilities still needing one. Archon would always send various drafts for each one so I could decide on the idea I liked, and then he would just create the DDS for me. Well, I had always kept them, and after looking through them, some of them actually fit with some of the other abilities that were created after I received them. So, I converted them to DDS format, and they worked with no issues. This also confirms that it's definitely not the DDS exporter program I'm using that has issues, but rather, it's some of the JPEG's that are causing the game to crash when I integrate them. It's still a little annoying, but I'm sure it will sort itself out at some point.

Till tomorrow...


Here's another game that I know was great, I even played it for a few hours, but something must have come up. Life, or something :) Anyway, enjoy!


8/24/12 -Friday: SO ANNOYING...PART 2...

So, after all the nonesense I dealt with yesterday, I decided to move on to something else. As I mentioned a few posts ago, Alexander and I have been having a back and forth about the design of certain scenes. For one of them, he needed more information on the lore, which I gave him. Then, I decided to put some videos together of some other scenes from the game that sort of add to the stuff I already gave him. I was thinking it would be quick and easy, because this scene has been locked down for close to 7 months.

So, I fire up FRAPS, configure the game to start at that scene, and BAM! For whatever reason, many lines that have been previous voiced where not anymore. I was confused as all hell at first, but then thought that maybe I had possibly deleted the exported VO files, so I decided to regenerate them. Still, nothing. "Okay", I thought... "I'll just grab the original source files and re-encode the files". Wouldn't you believe it, they were all gone :)

Now, I pride myself on my organization skills, so this came as a shock. Under the Dialogue/VO directory, there is a directory for each actor (i.e. Edward Ashley), followed by the conversation name, followed by a converted and original directory. And all of this is checked into SVN. Really simple, clean, and easy. Since the lines that were missing were from Edward, I then looked through every email we have sent each other, and the last time he sent me lines for this character was early September, 2011! Where the hell were these other lines?!

I was just about to email him and tell him the bad news, when I decided to listen to every converted file I had. It soon became apparent that I did have the lines, they were just named wrong (each line has a unique id). Thing is, the conversation has worked this long, AND, the files had been checked in a long time ago. So, the only thing that could have happened was that the game itself changed the ids for those suspect lines. Why this would happen, I have no idea. But, my work was clear... Listen to every line in thre, find the ones that were not played in game, re-name them to their proper ids, then re-export everything.

Sigh... Tomorrow, I'd like to get back to some real work!

Till tomorrow...


I played the first game of this series on my... PS2? Or Dreamcast? I think PS2... Didn't get very far, totally forgot they made a sequel... I don't remember music of this calibur in the first game, which is a shame. Good music can sometimes make me suffer through a game :)



8/23/12 -Thursday: SO ANNOYING...

Yesterday, I talked about sending new icon requests to Archon. While I was waiting on a response from him, I decided to take the work he already sent me and convert it from jpg -> dds so I could at least get an idea of how it would look in game. I was able to find a utility that was "supposed" to do the conversion, but couldn't figure out how to get it to work, so moved on to another one, which looked like it worked. I added the converted file to the right directory, added it to my ability 2DA, and booted up the game. As soon as I tried to display the skill sheet of the party member that it would have been under, the game crashed... Great...

Comparing the one I created vs. others Archon has sent me, they had the following similiaries:

  • Compression: 1;
  • Size: 42x42
  • Colors: 24 bits per pixel

Then I decided to look at the original jpgs. They had the following things in common:

  • 42x42 width/height
  • 100x100 dpi
  • Bit Depth: 24

However, the original ones he sent me that are integrated in the game had something these other ones didn't:

  • Resolution Unit: 2
  • Color Representation: sRGB

Now, none of this means anything to me. All I care about is the end result, which unfortunately, is the game crashing. I read some of the toolset WIKI entries on the DDS format for icons, and my files seem to fit what is needed.

Argh, so annoying!

Till tomorrow...


Here's another song that could put me into a sweet, deep sleep. Apparantly, it's not from a game, but from a spin off visual novel. Anyway, it's good stuff. Enjoy!


8/22/12 -Wednesday: SOME ADMIN WORK...

In the morning, I finished up some more integration work. I had actually implemented the scene last week some time, and had half integrated it then, I just needed to do the other half today. With all of these additions in the past week, I'm sort of amped for another playthrough. To be fair, most of my work has centered on the 2nd half of the game, but I did fix some major bugs from my first playthrough, having to do with custom skills not being selectable. Speaking of custom skills...

...I turned my attention away from actual game development, and got my admin on today, mostly reading through emails from a week ago when I really sick, as well as replying. One in particular was to Archon, our 2D artist. He had sent me some concept art for some of the custom skill icons, and I just had to send a request to him for another 3 icons, one for a BOB skill, one for a new Last Resort, and one for a new generic custom ability. I think with this last batch, I'm all set. Nice to finally start to close out one aspect of development.

The other email I sent out (which took a few hours to write) was to Alexander. As I've mentioned before, besides providing the VO for a very important party member, he's also helping me write certain scenes, in particular, ones for the epilogue. He had sent me his initial draft when I was at the peak of pain last week, so I hastily wrote him back telling him I would get back to him this week, as I was too uncomfortable to do any real thinking on his ideas.

Now that I had time to really analyze what he wrote, I was very, very impressed! I even picked out the music that could go with the scene :) There are still some finer details that need to be worked out, but I think the core of the scene itself is very solid.

The other thing I had to do was give him a lot of details about the character he's trying to write another epilogue scene for. As I was writing them to him, I was realizing that I REALLY need to fill our WIKI with all of the lore of the game. Going forward, I can't expect that everyone has played the first 2 games. Unfortunately, it's a big undertaking, one that I won't feel comfortable doing until after I finish this game. It's been one of my biggest priorities, and this just made it that much more important.

Tomorrow, I'll be making some changes to the final battle of the game, some things that Alexander had brought up to me a few weeks ago. It just involves a new conversation, stage, and the scripting to hold it all together. With the way I've been developing this past week, I'm guessing 2 hours of work :)

Till tomorrow...


This music is something I could go to sleep to every night. Enjoy!


8/21/12 -Tuesday: KEEPING IT GOING...

Getting sick may have been a blessing in disguise. Having those 4-5 days where I couldn't do anything really made me long for development. Of course I bitch and moan every once in a while, but I actually love the process of creating games, not just the end product.

Now I'll admit, I passed the hell out on the train ride into work today, but on the way back, and at home, I knocked out a lot of things. First thing I worked on was integrating a scene from yesterday into the game. I also came up with a solution to a problem I was having yesterday. See, I wanted to have this non-human creature use one of the various "dead" poses that are available. It was really simple. Create a stage, set that creature to be in it, put them into the right place, then have them do the dead pose. Everything worked, except the pose. I was ready to blow it off, then I decided to try something else: Take an existing dead creature, and simply move them to the right spot before the conversation begins. For some reason, I was thinking that when a creature is killed, you don't have access to them anymore. Luckily for me, I was wrong, and thus, my problem was solved.

Next thing I did was move a particular conversation from one stage to another. In this particular hour block of the game, I wrote all the dialogue and even had the VO done a while ago. Because I was focused on other things, I knew I still needed to come back to make sure the conversations had the right stages, intro cutscenes, etc. The stage itself was pretty simple, and only needed 3 different camera angles in it. There wasn't really much integration with this scene, because all I did was swap out the stages. Quick and painless.

Tomorrow, I'll continue to integrate these orphaned scenes into the game.

Till tomorrow...


Even though I played World of Warcraft for a month or so when it first came out back in 2004 (this was at the twilight of my MMORPG career), I don't remember this song at all. However, when I hear it, I think of a situation where a party leader is picking party members before embarking on a mission.




So, with this ear infection thing, now that the pain is gone, it's just the super uncomfortable feeling of not being able to hear out of my left ear. Then, there's the constant need to swallow/yawn/etc., so I can at least "pop" my ear for a little comfort. There is only one thing that brings me total comfort: wearing my new BOSE headphones my wife got me for my birthday. For whatever reason, when the left ear has the headphones over it, that pressure feeling goes away.

It's because of these findings that I think I've been able to do so much development over the past few days. When on the train into work, or when I'm home, in order to get through this, I've just had my headphones on. And if I have my headphones in, you know I'm listening to new age/fantasy/video game music, and if I'm doing that, I might as well develop :)

Today, I continued my little streak by creating this new little scene that fits nicely in the current game, as well as gives Alexander (as well as John) some more lines to play around with. Really, it's win-win. The player gets to see more of the personalities of the party members, and I'm able to add just a little more depth to the game.

Since there was no cutscene that needed to go with this scene, I figured it would be easy. Write a conversation, create the stage, some plot scripting, etc. For the most part, it did go rather easy... Until I got to a part where I needed a non-human in the scene to comform to some standardized poses. In the stage, when I had said creature in the scene, I was able to get them to go into the poses with no issues. However, in game, they would just stand there. I played around with it for a bit, got pissed that it wasn't working, and essentially wrote the creature out of the scene. They weren't that important scene, and as this point in development, I have to pick my battles.

Tomorrow, I'll finish the work integrating the scene into the game. Then, I may look at something I had in The Coming, but omitted from Cry The Beloved for some reason: The ability to talk to your party members at any time. Sort of like the camp conversations from Dragon Age, but not constrained to any particular area. And of course in some scenes, they'll be too busy to talk to you, but in others, you can query away.

The main reason I'm bringing it back is because of all the advancements I made going from The Coming -> Cry The Beloved, I still got comments about people missing the abilities to talk to the various party members. My thinking was that there were enough plot related scenes where you could learn everything you would need to know from the party member. And to some extent, that is still true in this game. However, for super minor topics, possibly contextual, I think I'll add in some dialoge so fans of that feature get what they want.

Till tomorrow...


Here's another super JRPG sounding song. Heh, could you imagine this in a WRPG? Anyway, enjoy!


8/19/12 -Sunday: NICE LITTLE SEMINAR...

Another successful day under my belt, thank you very much. Keeping in line with my plans from yesterday, I immediately started to tackle another cutscene I had been putting off for way too long. I'm not sure why, because when all was said and done, it only took me like 2-3 hours at most.

Like yesterday's scene, I spent most of my time looking up animations, as well as some sound effects. I was actually happy with the animations I found, and now I'm thinking that I'm going to have to go back and give all the other cutscenes the same treatment (if they don't already have it, that is).

As I was putting the finishing touches on the scene, I realized that my work wasn't done. Yep, there was a 3rd and final cutscene that I needed to do. Without spoiling things, the theme of these 3 cutscenes I've worked on have been the same. Once I was done with the first one, the other 2 just... worked... Anyway, I'm glad to have finished them all off. Some will need more sound effects a little bit later, but I think I'll put that off for another 3 months :) In all seriousness, I'd rather handle sound effects for all scenes at the same time, since I'll be in that frame of mind.

While all of this work was going down, I was getting some facebooj IM's from a long time friend and collaborator (even though I've known them for maybe 6-7 years, still can't remember if they want their name out there). Like Jason Melancon, this person has been around since my first game, and just like Jason, they're not afraid to tell me when I'm doing something horribly wrong.

What is that horrible thing? Probably the same thing readers of this blog have been thinking, but just don't have the time and/or care enough to tell me: I've gone a little overboard with the super bright, prismatic colors recently. Before I go any further, I stand by the fact that every screenshot in this blog is a work in progress. Go look at the first couple back in January 2010. Look at that wonderful purple ambient color, lol!

Anyway, one thing I respect about them is they don't hold anything back. If something is ugly, they will say so. I'm a grown ass man, and I don't have time for people to pussy foot around things. If you have a disagreement, I'm mature enough to take the criticism. So, what was the end result of said criticism? A multi-hour seminar on 3 point lighting, definitions (and examples!) of diffuse, specular, saturation, hue, luminosity, and a whole host of other things.

In standard fare, we setup a skype chat, and I shared my windows. From there, he helped me lower the saturation for many of the worst offenders (wait, so a Sat value of 255 for everything is a bad idea? :) ), and fiddle with other values.

The only argument I had, besides that this is a work in progress, is that I didn't want this game to look like standard fare. Look, I know Dragon Age Origins was a great game. Coming from a man who still has dreams about the golden years of RPG's on consoles back in the early-mid 90's, I can safely say that this game was the best of the late 2000's, and hell, Baldur's Gate was the best of the late 90's. Even still, they had this generic RPG look to them, which is fine for what it is. But, I've never imagined Rose of Eternity to be like that. After some talking, we both realized that I was able to get away with such colors back in my first 2 games because of the robe/cloaks provided by CEP. Having bright red on a cloth is at least a little more realistic than bright red on armor. And since we don't have the same support in DA, I may have been trying to compensate this way. There was more to the discussion, but the point was well taken.

And that, folks, is collaborative game development, something I fucking love. Not since Jason challenegd various aspects of the srtory last year, have I been engaged in such a conversation. I long for the days when I'm doing this with a team of people, having hours long design discussions. But, first things first. Have to finish this game!

Tomorrow, I need to send a long overdue email to Archon about some of the custom icons in the game. From there, I'll try to start, and knockout a small conversation. Ever since Alexander sort of took over his character, I've been looking for natural ways to fit him in, and after a few days of brainstorming, I think I've found something.

Till tomorrow, and thanks to my friend for opening my eyes to many things tonight...


For today's music, I actually did play this game, if only for a few days. To me, it had great potential, I just stopped caring. Anyway, enjoy!


8/18/12 -Saturday: THIS IS MORE LIKE IT!

Even though I'm not 100%, I was good enough to go on a little bit of a tear, knocking out of a lot of content. I started off where I left off yesterday, hooking this sequence I've been working on into the actual game itself, and making sure the transitions seemed natural (especially since I decided to add the scene after I original created the bookended scenes).

Next, I started and completed yet another sequence, and glued it into the main game. Lucky for me, because of the nature of the scene itself, I was able to make use of the same stage, cutscene, level, etc., from the last one I worked on the past few days. In fact, the only unique bits were a new conversation, and the integration into the game itself.

Next, I decided to work on a LONG OVERDUE intro cutscene to a scene I created well over a year ago. Way back when, I really wanted to just move ahead with development on new content, so I just told myself I would come back to this cutscene. A year later, it's finally done!

The most labor intensive thing was picking out the right VFX to use in the scene. Luckily, I had the help of Beerfish Excel utilities to pick just the right one. Once they were picked, I actually had to open up some older cutscenes, because I had damn near forgotten how to associate a VFX in a cutscene to an actor. Once I got a little refresher, I was able to finish the cutscene about an hour or so later.

Since it was getting late in the night, I decided to do a weekly backup (read: semi-annual) of the project. Because, god forbid I actually lose my work... You might see me on the 10 o'clock news. You know, something about some crazy guy waving an unloaded gun at someone for making his laptop crash :)

Finally... I hope to get my desktop back on Monday. Besides using it as my lightmapper farm, I'd like to test deploying a DAZip file to it, just to make sure the game works well. I've been in this little bubble of development for so long, I've never even done it before. Plus, Jason Melancon mentioned some issues with some ALPHA's I gave him a while back.

Tomorrow, I'll look to knock out this other cutscene I put off a few months ago, and then after that... Well, I have no idea!

Till tomorrow...


Here's another great piece that switches things up around the half way point. Enjoy!


8/17/12 -Friday: NICE TO BE BACK AT WORK!

After being out of the game for so long, it really feels good to be able to sit down, and just develop. Of course, for the next few days, I'll regret not having the will to do it while I was essentially home 4-5 days last week. Then again, I did feel like shit, so that should make it easier. Anyway, time to push on.

All I did tonight was knock out the conversation that goes along with the sequence I talked about yesterdday. I was able to write it in a few hours, and I'm happy with this first version. I'm sure it will change a bit as the scene matures, but the foundation is there. Also, I may think about sliding this to Alexander, to see if he can, well, you know, make it sound better. Then of course, there is the VO that I need to consider. Luckily, there aren't that many lines, and I already have an idea of who I'd like to ask to do this (hint, she has done most of the female voices thus far!).

Now that this is done, I can finish hooking in the scene to the actual game, and test that out, make sure the transition from/to the scene is as smooth as can be.

Till tomorrow...


The first part of this song, the one where there is singing, is the best part. The 2nd half is just okay. Fun fact: I flirted around with the idea of this being the theme song for the Keeper of the Rose way back in 2006, when I wasn't even sure if I was going to do this game, or the The Last Petal *teardrop*



8/16/12 -Thursday: WHY ME?!

Right, so let's get to it... I'm 32 years old... I've had an ear infection in not one, but both of my ears since last Thursday. Yes, an ear infection... You know, the things little kids get. To make matter worse, my left ear has clogged up with so much crap that I've lost my hearing, and it's uncomfortable as hell. Because of that, I've had no urge to do... well, anything, including game development. It's gotta a little better as time has gone on, so I've slowly started again.

So, thee was this little scene I've been meaning to implement for the longest time, but got stuck with other things, mostly VO related. This sequence really involved a little bit of everything:

  • new level
  • new area (which uses the level)
  • new npc
  • new custom music
  • new conversation
  • new stage
  • new plot
  • new plot related scripting
  • new cutscene

This bulleted list may look like a lot, but it really only took about 2-3 hours of my time (bear in mind, I'm sick), and really, just a lot of monkey work.

I started off with the level design, and quickly finished it off. The scene that takes place in this level is a cutscene, followed by a conversation, and that's it, so I didn't have to make it perfect. In fact, I probably added more stuff than I need, and once I know exactly what will be in each shot, I'll delete the other stuff, if not for anything else, to make things run smoother.

Next up was the area work, which was pretty easy. All I had to do was import the level, add the npc, core script, and some sound effects. Oh, and the start tag so I can actually spawn in the level at the start of the game!

Even the cutscene was easy, as I knew it only had to be about 22 seconds long. This was to keep it in time with the custom music that will play during the scene. I may go back and clean some things up, but it's a good start. And I'll say again, it's only 22 seconds long, so there isn't much that can go wrong.

I finished things up by writing a few lines of dialogue, mostly to make sure it would start after the cutscene. Then I added in the plot, did some plot related scripting to make sure the conversation started, and that was that.

Next, I'll need to make a stage for the conversation, actually finish the damn convo, and then hook in the entire scene into an existing sequence in the game. Speaking of which, the reason I've held off on this scene for so long was because I while I knew I wanted to do it, I didn't know where. Every spot that seemed good, I wasn't totally happy with, because it seemed like it would be "yet another conversation", sort of slowing down the pace of the game. At the same time, this conversation is very, very important, because it really sets the whole overall tone of this series as a whole. This will be my 3rd game in the world of Rose of Eternity, and the player hasn't really known the real important people in the world. Hopefully, this will rectify the situation a bit.

Till whenever I can hear again :)


<insert comment about how I've never played this game>... Enjoy!



I'm sure I've talked about this before, but it's been on my mind the past few days, so I figured I would bring it up...

Whenever someone is developing an RPG, I feel like there is a mental list of features they need to have checked off before release. Some of these things include:

  • Crafting
  • Deep character customization and roleplaying
  • morally challenging decisions
  • hundreds of sub-quests
  • Preorder DLC

Now, there is nothing wrong with any of these features at all. However, what if you're game is about telling a story first, then adding the gameplay? Yes, I know that these are video games, but just hear me out. What if crafting doesn't make sense in your game world, at least for the first 5 hours? What if the simple act of going to a merchant to buy/sell items doesn't make sense, again, for the first 5 hours?

I remember NWN/NWN2 alum (hell, he just graduated from Harvard, so I guess putting in Harvard alum makes sense too!) Alex "Hugie" Hugon put out a game for NWN2, called Moonshadows. Taken from the DL page:

A NWN2 Campaign by Alex "Hugie" Hugon; 10 hours of exploration- and story-driven gameplay featuring intense combat, many sidequests, dozens of custom items and creatures, and 12 custom music tracks!

The fact that this is a story driven game led to one of the most controversial parts of the game: there is no merchant in the game (at least, that is what I remember when it was initially released. This may have been remedied since then). I mean, can you believe the horror?! It's as if, hey, this is an RPG, and a merchant should be an implicit feature. Who cares that this is a story driven game, you're in the middle of the woods, and that having a merchant there doesn't make sense. Just shoe horn him into the game, thank you very much! In all seriousness though, it begs the question: at what point do you forget about realism and just put things into a game, just because, well, you're "supposed" to?

I sort of have that dilemna, where just because of the nature of the beginning of this story, certain things don't make sense. Later in the series, they do, and will be in there. But for now, they don't. Do I shoe-horn them in? Do I try to keep my artisitic vision? I think I'll roll the dice and go with the latter. If it doesn't work out, at least I can grow from the experience, and not make that mistake again.

Here's hoping... Till tomorrow...


Another piece of music, another game I never played. This track just has that sort of laid back feeling, however, something I love. Enjoy!


8/9/12 -Thursday: IN MEMORIAM TO SUNJAMMER :(

Okay, just so everyone's clear, Sunjammer isn't dead! Right, so for those that don't know who he is, check out his website. He has been, as far as I'm concerned, one of the most relevant people in the NWN/NWN2/DA communities. At least for the past 8 years...

When I first joined the NWN community back in early 2004, I quickly learned the names of the most prominent members (to me, anyway), including Adam Miller (Shadowlord, Dreamcaster, Demon, Dark Waters), Rick Burton (Twilight, Midnight, Dawn?), Stefan Gage, Kevin Chan, Savant, Promogenitor, Sir Elric, and of course, Sunjammer.

This guy has practically done it all, as you can see by his portfolio. The way I learned about him was when I made use of Sunjammer's VFX Browser. I believe it was late 2004, around Christmas time, and I was just getting into adding VFX's to the various custom abilities I was creating. I somehow came across this, and was hooked. This thing was a life saver, especially since I wasn't totally comfortable with how all the VFX's looked, especially since I didn't play the NWN OC. He would go on to create more and more utilities, and while I didn't end up using them all, you can best believe that he had my respect.

He would go on to do work with NWN modding team, DLA, and presumably, had a hand in their premium module, Wyvern Crown of Cormyr. I also know, from reading Adam Miller's blog, that he helped implement a weapons based item socket system, which I think had the acronym, S.A.G.E. No idea what it stands for, maybe socketing... um... gear... equipment... yeah, you get my point ;) Because of his reknown, he was even one of the modders picked to go to Edmonton to preview the Dragon Age toolset, back when Bioware apparently had hopes of supporting it (yes, I had to get that dig in there).

Most recently, however, he has been the author of the Dragon Age Modder' Weekly Digest. This was sort of akin to the old Bioware Wednesday, where they would take time out to highlight the works going on in the community. In fact, some of you may only be reading this because of this effort. I noticed a steady uptick in unique visitors once he started this.

Sadly, he has had to pull the plug on this endeavor, and move on in life. Such are the events in the modding community, where no one is getting paid to actually be there.

Sunjammer, you will be missed.

Till tomorrow...

P.S. I could have been lying about 1-100% of my little history story on his modding career. It's been a long time, but I believe I have most of the facts correct. What, I'm not an official biographer :)


This next track is a damn classic. Of course, I've never played the game, but whenever I hear it, I think of those final days of development for Cry The Beloved. I was really listening to RPGFan radio during those last few weeks, and this was the one track that stuck out, the one track that made me start keeping a list of all the tracks I liked. Enjoy!


8/8/12 -Wednesday: VIDEOS FINALLY DONE!

The plan for today was to create videos for most of the scenes that Alexander is in, and the one new scene John did for me. John's was pretty easy, as it didn't have that many lines in it. All I had to do was modify an existing camera angle, raise the volume of some of the dialogue that was created almost a year ago (wow!), and I was good go go.

Alexander's stuff... Not so easy... As I was beginning to tape the longest of his scenes, I realized that there were some moments where you just couldn't hear him that well. Even the theme music that plays was pretty low. Once I opened up the sound files, I realized that I hadn't do my usual work of increasing the volume. Doh! It's a very meticulous process, something I now do upon initial integration. Since there were 35 lines in this one scene alone, as you can imagine, it took a little bit. In the end, I was very happy that I did, because it really enhanced the scene.

Once that was done, I put together another 5-6 videos, uploaded them to dropbox, and then sent out a massive email to him. As I disussed before, he has sort of taken this character in a direction I didn't 100% intend, so we're brainstorming ways to add more scenes for him (naturally, of course!). I look forward to seeing what we come up with.

Tomorrow, I hope to start work on a new scene that I had thought I would have started last week!

Till tomorrow...


I may have played this for like 10-15 minutes back in the day, but I may be getting it confused with another title. Anyway, this particular track is pure gold! Enjoy!


8/7/12 -Tuesday: STUPID LIGHTMAPPER...

Today was more of the same, really. Adding new pieces of armor, creating new tints, polishing conversations, etc. My original plan was to leave this until the end of development, but since I'm nearly there, and because of some other things I can't talk about at the moment, I'm handling a lot of it now.

One thing that made me lose a lot of time today was rendering lightmaps/exporting exterior levels. I don't know all the details as to why, but you need to export exterior levels from within the Single Player campaign, not your own campaign (yes, you can open up your own art resources from within it), if you want to have water rendered properly. That's all well and good, but something I've noticed is that if it's not exported in this fashion, the lighting in the level gets all borked. It's hard to explain, but it's almost as if the static lights don't affect characters. So they have more of a shadowy look than they should. And I repeat, I don't know why this happens, and it may or may not have to do with the whole exporting your level from the Single Player campaign thing. All I know is that that makes it work.

Anyway, the reason it came up was because I was creating some videos for Alexander Baxter, and I realized that this problem was occuring. So, I told myself, "Okay, I just have to export this level from the Single Player campaign, and I should be good to go"...

...An hour later...

Yes, an hour later, it completed. It's been a while since I've had to do this, and my laptop has been running slower than usual (a re-install will be coming up, me thinks), which may have contributed to it. In the end, however, I'm going to have to kickstart my efforts to get my desktop fixed so I can use it as my level lightmap/exporting machine. I guess I could kick these jobs off while at work too... We'll see...

Till tomorrow...


When I hear this music from Shining Force 2 , it brings me back to the good old RPG's of the 90's, where everything was cheery and nice, and my only worry was how long I was going to grind in order to make sure my party was at a high enough level to defeat some super secret hidden boss.

Oh, and breaking with tradition (not much of a tradition since this is only the 3rd game in), I have actually played/beat this game! Before Final Fantasy Tactics, this was the strategy RPG for me.



8/6/12 -Monday: ADDING TO THE LORE...

Besides implementing new systems and abilities, nothing excites me more than adding to the ever-growing lore of this world. You have to remember, from 1999-2004, before I even knew about Neverwinter Nights and the Aurora Engine, I was creating this world. Those were some of the best times of my life. I had a similiar period from the beginning of 2009 till the day Dragon Age came out. Since then, these brainstorming sessions come in infrequent batches. When they do, however, I latch on, and try to get the most out of them.

That's what's been happening over the past few days as I've been creating these new pieces of armor/clothing. See these green/purple soldiers in today's screenshot? Yeah, they simply didn't exist in the lore of the game last week. It wasn't until I was creating the armor for the guy in the gold and purple that the peverbial light bulb went off in my head. Now, their backstory isn't fully fleshed out yet, but like I said, they're an entity that didn't exist a week ago, but at the same time, aren't being shoe-horned into the game just for the sake of it. The entire process has to be organic, which is why situations like these don't arise that much. Anyway...

...I continued to polish existing scenes, making sure the sound was normalized, proper gestures were being used, and that I had a nice variety of camera angles. Now, I haven't tried it out yet, but I believe there is a way to auto-generate camera angles, so I may give that a god at some point. Even better, I think you can lock the angles you definitely want to keep, and let the game handle the rest. It's features like this, and the auto-gesturing that really bring these conversations to life. Say what you will about Bioware, but they sure do give you the tools to achieve great things. I mean, the conversations themselves were what really dragged me into the world of Ferelden when playing Dragon Age. Since I was on a sabattical, if you will, during 2009, the game couldn't have been released at a better time. The last time I was playing games for 5-6 hours straight was maybe when I was in high school, 12 years earlier? Anyway, if you're reading this blog, then you probably played Dragon Age, so you already know what I'm talking about.

Some scenes I can't finish because of lightmap issues. I won't go into the boring details, but if you plan on having water in your level, you need to jump through some hoops in order to do that, and jumping through those hoops on my laptop takes away precious development time. However, my desktop, which I'd like to make my lightmapping farm, isn't cooperating. Looks like I'll need a clean install of the OS, just to rule anything out. Fun...

I also still need to get back to Alexander Baxter about his work with this one particular party member. I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't wrote more scenes with this character, and he agreed, so in the back of my head, I've been seeing if it's at all possible to do such a thing. That just shows you how much I really love how he portrayed this character.

Finally, I still have some VO from John Erath for yet another character. This may be his 4th, maybe 5th character. The guy's a beast!

So yeah, I think I'll do the VO first thing in the morning. Then I'll answer Alexander's email. Then... Who knows :)

Till tomorrow...


Here's a song from a game I'm surprised I never played: Xenogears. It's surprising because it was published by Squaresoft during the time I was still able to suffer through the PS1 Final Fantasy's. Anyway, enjoy!


8/5/12 -Sunday: SAME OLD, SAME OLD...

Another Sunday, another big tennis match with Federer in the final. This time, it was for Olympic gold, the only thing he doesn't have. He was up against Great Britain's own Andy Murray who he had just beat a month ago in the Wimbledon final. To be blunt, Andy Murray got his revenge, and then some. Usually, I would be on suicide watch after such a match, but for some reason, I was a little happy for Murray. Maybe it's because of his tearful loser's speech a month ago, or maybe it's been because of everything he's been through in his career. Either way, I did say that since Federer got back to world #1 as well as 7 Wimbledon titles, eveything else in his career from now on is just a plus. I did say that about 3 years ago when he finally one the French Open , but I actually mean it this time!

Once the match was over, I pretty much continued with what I started yesterday: polishing up various conversations in the game. I'd like to say I did something more interesting, but that would be a damn lie. So yeah, I guess that's that.

Till tomorrow :)


So, around the time that I was finishing up my work on Cry The Beloved during the fall of 2006, I had come across this internet radio service, called RPGFan Radio. As it's name suggests, all day, every day, it just played music from various RPG's. It would eventually get shut down, but one thing I ended up doing was jotting down all my favorite tracks as they played, and eventually searching them out. Over the years, I built up a pretty big iTunes playlist of them, so I figured I would share some of them with you.

The theme of this next few weeks of music is this: I probably haven't played the game, but the music sure is good!




You know, when I tell people I make video games on the side, 50% of them are like, "Meh". I'm fine with that. The 50% that do care begin to dig deeper, and they find out I'm making a game using the Dragon Age toolset, and that my other 2 games used the Neverwinter Nights one. "Oh, you mean you make mods?". Ugh...

I really, really hate that whenever someone find outs you're using an engine like this, that you're only making modifications to the core game. And to be clear (I shouldn't have to, but, well, this is the internet), I have no problems with game mods and their authors. Their work is as just as important as the work of people who make standalone adventures. It's just that it's damned hard to explain to someone that given the tools I have, I really am making a game that has nothing to do with Dragon Age, story wise, and in many ways, gameplay wise. I've dealt with this for 8 years now, so I am always thinking about how to make this game my own, so that when people play, they don't think they're playing Dragon Age.

To that end, today, I did a lot of work creating custom pieces of armor (tint wise) and adding them to existing characters in the game. It's my goal to make it so that not a single person looks like anyone in Dragon Age. In short, I'll not be re-using any default items/armor at all.

Besides all of that, I just fixed little dialogue bugs here and there. Mostly inconsistencies between recorded VO and actual text in the conversation files. I tried my best to keep track during my last playthrough, so it's just a matter of going through the list.

Finally, I did some long awaited stage/camera work for a few scenes... Tomorrow, I'll continue with this same line of work.

Till tomorrow...


This final piece of from the final game in the series thus far, Skyward Sword. Enjoy!



First off, let me just state how annoyed I am with Timewarner Cable. Our internet has been spotty at best over the past week, making it hard for me to communicate with other members of the team. They were scheduled to come on Thursday, and guess what? The window was from 7am - 5pm. Yes, I understand why it's like that, but it's hella annoying. Since that's the day I work from home, I was forced to go to my Dad's house since his internet was just fine. I expected them to give me a call letting me know a general time when they would be there, and ended up getting a call along the lines of "Hey, we're outisde, let us in!". Ugh... Even after "fixing" it, it's still a little spotty. Okay, I feel better getting that off my chest ;)

So, I started off the day by getting up at 4:15am, so I could be in the office by 7:00am to watch the Federer vs Del Potro olympic match. So yeah, I was definitely more tired than usual on the train. However, I was able to sneak in some time to look at the last major bug in the game. This one's a real pain in the ass, because I can't reproduce it when dropping in and testing the scene. However, when I load up my save game for that part of my last playthrough, it happens. I'm sort of scared that something else happened earlier in the game, something that is causing the bug. However, since I don't know what that something is, it's hard to reproduce the damn thing. Anyway, after spending an hour looking at it, I promptly passed out.

On the train ride home, I decided to handle some smaller tasks. Little minor bugs, monkey work, really. It's all gotta get done eventually, and it's nice to change up the pace.

Next up is some camera/stage work for many of the voiced conversations in the game. I've promised said videos to various actors, so I need to get on it. And as I said just above, it's all gotta get done anyway ;)

Till tomorrow...


Today's music is another medley from the Legend of Zelda series. Wish the music sounded like this in the game... Anyway, enjoy!


8/1/12 -Wednesday: VERY GOOD DAY OF DEVELOPMENT...


I've had a decent run of good development days over the past few days/weeks, and I plan on continuing with this momentum. As I know myself pretty well (make sense, seeing as I am... well, myself!), I know I need to keep up, because there are just too many things in life that can get me side tracked.

This last playthrough yielded many bugs for me to fix, but the most surprising thing is how easy they have been to fix. For instance, this bug I've been talking about for a few days... Where my party member wasn't given the ability to level up, even though they had the "+" sign next to them. Even though I didn't want to, I had to dig deep for this one, and it turned out to be the simplest thing.

I have this wrapper script over the default hiring functions of the game, sort of special just for this particular game:

* This will add a party member, and explicitly set their core script.
* This is because the default hiring functions set the core script to
* player_core.

void AddPartyMember(object oPartyMember, int bJumpToHero = FALSE, resource rScript = RESOURCE_SCRIPT_ROE_PLAYER_CORE)
//bail out if already in party
if (InPartyByTag(GetTag(oPartyMember)))

SetAutoLevelUp(oPartyMember, 0); <------- THIS WAS THE OFFENDING LINE!!!!!!!!!
SetGroupId(oPartyMember, GetGroupId(GetPartyLeader()));
WR_SetFollowerState(oPartyMember, FOLLOWER_STATE_ACTIVE, FALSE, 0, FALSE);

SetEventScript(oPartyMember, rScript);

if (bJumpToHero)
TransitionToObject(oPartyMember, GetPartyLeader());

//clear out any transition variables

So, there is this one line that I must have copied from the normal core scripts, where you can set the auto-levelup state. For whatever reason, I was passing in 1, instead of 0! This meant that if a party member was spawned and had all of their init scripts run, and then added to the party, the GUI wouldn't allow you to get into the level up screen. Why the "+" sign would show up is beyond me. But wait, there's more! I had this other nasty bug where party members were auto-leveling up throughout the game. Gee, I wonder why :) So yeah, 2 birds with 1 stone FTW! I hate these types of bugs, but I absolutely love it when the solution is really simple.

At the moment, there is only 1 more nasty bug that needs to be fixed. Once I squash that, I'll feel very, very good about the state of things, state of the union even :)

Now, I would talk about the state of VO, but I think I do that too much anyway. So I'll keep it nice and short... It's looking damn good!

Till tomorrow...


Today's music is from what I felt was the best game of 2006. You know those games you think about when you're at work? Yeah, that was Twilight Princess. In fact, you could probably track down an older post I made, where I devoted the entire thing to this game. Anyway, enjoy!


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