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3/31/06 -Friday:  I COULDN'T BE ANY MORE INSPIRED!!!
Let's just jump right into it. I am IN LOVE with this newly finished art for Aramus. It totally caught me by surprise, as I thought I wasn't going to get it for a while. Well, I couldn't be more happy. Now, it could change in the future, but I couldn't wait to show it off. I am just utterly speechless...

I must have stared at this thing for close to 10 minutes. I was just in awe. I think what makes it really special is the fact that this is a character that was created in my head 7 years ago. Yeah, I know I already made The Coming, and I am almost done with Cry The Beloved ...Still, it's just great to see these characters brought to life. I...I just don't know what to say...

This also comes at the perfect time, as I have been revising the pages for all the Cast Members. So, as expected, you will be able to see this picture of Aramus on his main page, which also now shows his Last Resorts (well, the ones that I will talk about for the time being). I will hopefully get stuff about his Unison Abilities tonight, or tomorrow. Depends on other things that I may or may not get done.

So what have I been doing lately, you ask? Well, for one, I have more than half way through a certain section in the game that I didn't know a month ago I was going to create:) Funny how that keeps happening to me...

The majority of the dialogue is finished, and I already created one of the cut-scenes a couple of days ago. Now, I have to just connect all of the pieces. By that, I mean, I need to finish up the transitions and such, linking each section to each other, so that they can all be played in succession, not just by me jumping to different parts of it while testing.

After putting the finishing touches on that, I will most likely move on to the toughest part of development. It is something I have never done before, and it will most likely be the most liked part (in my opinion) in the game.

Till tomorrow...

P.S. Olaia also sent me a lovely wallpaper version of this. It looks perfect as my new desktop image, and I am thinking of creating a new page, where people can download the various art that has been done for me, assuming the artists don't mind...

3/30/06 -Thursday:  NORMAL DAY...
Nothing really special, or interesting happened today, development wise. I created a new area, which is really just the interior of a cabin. I added some placeables here and there, but nothing major yet.

In fact, the thing that took up most of my time was a little scripting issue. So, anyone who played The Coming should remember the scene early on when Aramus & Clopon are eating breakfast. This scene was represented as a cut-scene, and while I thought it was well done, it probably could have just been viewed via the normal dialog screen. Well, I have a similar scene where some NPC's, are sitting down at a table. Long story short, the issue was that I have to time it perfectly, so that I would try to have the particular NPC start the conversation before they sat down. If an NPC starts a conversation while sitting down, they will get up. It wasn't a big issue, just more annoying than anything else.

Finally, I did a bit more work on the website, regarding how people can view the Last Resorts. It isn't perfect, but it is a start. Also, I know that once I am coming up on the release of Cry The Beloved, that page will really fill up with more stuff. I just don't think it is the right time to let everyone in on what I have in store for them. Tomorrow, I will probably do the same thing for Unison Abilities, since technically speaking, there are only 2 in The Coming (Whirlwind Heal, Antipode). 

Till tomorrow...

3/29/06 -Wednesday:  ANOTHER PRODUCTIVE DAY...
So, I had a very productive morning. I knocked out the majority of a new cut-scene, and actually finished all of the dialogue that accompanies it. Please note that the dialogue part if viewed via the normal dialog screen. See, I do listen to the complaints of everyone:) I may go and change a thing or 2 with the cut-scene, as every once in a while, the camera jerks around a bit. It's quite annoying, but nothing I have to stress myself over.

Another thing that I worked on during my lunch break is additions to the website. If you go to the Last Resorts page, you will notice 3 abilities, with links on them. If you click on the link, it gives you some more detail about the ability, including who can use it, the name, and what it does. In general, this is something that I have wanted to do for quite some time. The goal is to have detailed pages for EVERY ability in the game, including Last Resorts, Unison Abilities, as well as other ability systems that I cannot talk about yet, that have been implemented in Cry The Beloved.

The goal really is to make this website double as an online strategy guide. As I know what is in Cry The Beloved so far, I know that these listings will get very large, but frankly, I think it is a good thing. I know that if there was an online strategy guide for Final Fantasy 6 when it first came out, I would have lived on it:) As always, bear in mind that I am not a web designer, I am a game designer, dammit! :) I am just really playing around with the layout, and I am sure it will change later this week. That said, in general, look for this website to really start turning into a comprehensive guide for all abilities. I also want to start putting in stuff for weapons as well.

Finally, Gamespot has some more news regarding Neverwinter Nights 2 . They don't say anything new really, although they mention that the game will come out sometime in the summer, which apparantly, according to the 1st day of summer (June 21; yes, I googled for this!), makes the date of June 1st bogus. In other words, I have more time to finish Cry The Beloved up before people migrate to Neverwinter Nights 2. Okay, going to sleep now.

Till tomorrow...

3/28/06 -Tuesday:  PRETTY GOOD DAY!
So, today turned out better than I expected. This morning, I began creating yet a new area. By the end of the train ride, I had more or less finished up the entire thing. On the train ride home however, I essentially passed out the entire time:(

After eating dinner however, I got back into the swing of things. I was able to add a lot of placeables to the new area, to make it look pretty and everything. I even designed a new enemy, gave them their respective AI scripts, and messed around with the stats.

As I usually do, I would adjust the stats, put the difficulty on hard, and then have various practice fights with it. The thing that makes this harder than in The Coming is the fact that each player will have different items/abilities, depending on the way they played the game. So, unfortunately, I have to take all of that into consideration...

I think I have finalized the stats, but of course, none of the ALPHA testers have played it yet, so things could change. In fact, they probably will...This new enemy doesn't have any new cool Last Resorts or anything, but with its standard skills, it is tough enough as it is. I don't want to scare people away:)

Usually, I like to stay in sequence when I am building. However, every once in a while, a task comes up that I really want to do. A new cut-scene in particular has been stuck in my head for some time, and I am really excited to get it done, and see how it turns out. Now, I know most people who frequent this page are always hearing me say how happy I am to start working on a new cut-scene. Well, I don't know what to say:) I like them all! This one in particular however is one that will really move the story along, and also put lots of little questions into the heads of the players. Now, I am not 100% sure I will start working on it tomorrow, but I think I will. The best part is that it won't be that hard at all. The focus of it is on the dialogue, and for once in my life, I am looking forward to writing it.

Till tomorrow... 

3/27/06 -Monday:  EMAILS, EMAILS, & MORE EMAILS...
Man, what a busy day! I didn't really get that much development done, which really pisses me off. Well, that isn't entirely true...

On the train ride in the morning, I finally finished implementing the rest of the new dialog. I then ran some tests on it, to make sure that every different choice the player could take would work correctly.

After that, I also did some more work on the main part of Dematol . I essentially just did some work with the overall ambiance of the town, and interactivity with the various NPC's. Again, this is something I wanted to do for a long while, but things just kept getting in the way of it.

The rest of the day however, was spent on answering a lot of e-mails. I already have a lot to go through in the morning, and I got a lot more during the day. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE getting e-mails from people, so if anyone out there is reading this, DON'T STOP SENDING E-MAILS. 

However, I just wanted to get through all of them, because I was already backed up as it is, and I didn't think it was fair to keep people and waiting and whatnot. I even posted a couple times at the official Cry The Beloved forums, which is something I hadn't done in like a week! Now that I have taken care of all of that, I can finally focus on the game again.

Till tomorrow...

3/26/06 -Sunday:  ...JET LAG...
...Yes, I finally understand what jet lag is...What a...drag...The plane arrived at JFK international airport at 6:00 am, and I made it back to my house around 8:30am. I checked some e-mail, and then went to sleep till about 2:00pm. I woke up, and I was still tired, and in general, felt weird. And just because nothing is ever simple for me, I had to run some errands today before going to my mom's house to celebrate her birthday. 

After getting back, I did something I haven't done in a long time: I actually took a dialog someone wrote for me last week, and added it to the game. It felt good to be back doing things, like that. Especially since I didn't have to write the damn dialog:)

Tomorrow morning, I will continue on with the new area I created, and during my lunch hour, I will answer the rest of the e-mails I couldn't get to today.

Till tomorrow...

3/25/06 -Saturday:  BACK TO WORK...
...All right already...Enough of the celebration for me...Back to doing what it is I do...Back to work I go...I have to admit, this past week has definitely been one of the most memorable ones of my life. I mean hell, I went from having a dream to sitting in the same room as some of the most respected game designers in the world! However, all good things have to come to an end, and I can't just keep riding high on my current success. Don't get me wrong, I will continue to think about this for the next few months. I am also going to have lots of fun describing to my co-workers what happened this past week. However, I really need to get back into the swings of things, regarding Cry The Beloved. So without further ado...

While I waited for my flight back to New York, from San Jose, I decided to open up the toolset, and try to remember whatever it is that I do:) Since I didn't have my notebook handy, I decided to start working on a new area that I have known I needed to create. Luckily, I was able to knock out the area design quite fast.

I then began to play around with some monsters from the CEP, to see which ones would fit well with the new area. In general, I don't just place enemies any old place just for the hell of it. For me at least, there has to be a reason why they are there. Once I did find 2 new enemies that I will be using, I added my standard enemy AI scripts to them, so they didn't try to do among other things, attack dead party members.

Around the time I finished that, it was time to board the plane, so I closed to toolset, and prepared for the trip home, feverishly hoping the turbulence wouldn't be so bad.

Till tomorrow...

3/24/06 -Friday:  SO TIRED...SO VERY, VERY TIRED...
Not much to report today. I did get to sift through a lot of the e-mails I should have answered says ago. Though I didn't get a chance today, I need to go to the Cry The Beloved forums tomorrow. There were some interesting design decisions being made there late last week, and I am curious as to what people came up with.

I didn't get to demo my game today, because by the time I got there, the owner of the computer ( The Hunt team) had already taken it away. It wasn't really a problem, as it gave me more time to walk around the main expo.

In the evening, I attended this Video Game Music concert, which is put on by Tommy Talerico. It was pretty cool, though not as good as the Final Fantasy one I went to last year.

Tomorrow, I plan to go back to development on Cry The Beloved. I hope I can remember what it is I was doing a week ago:

Till tomorrow...

3/23/06 -Thursday:  IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER!!!
Hello all. Sorry for the lateness of this update, but as you continue to read on, you will understand why...This may get long, though not as long as yesterday's post:)

So, I began the day by waking up at 7:30am. Today was a bit different however, because I had nothing to worry about:) In fact, I felt on top of the world! The reason for me getting up so early was because I wanted to attend the key note speech given by Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata. When I got to the Civic Center, which consequently, was the hall I was in last night got the Developer's Choice Awards , I was flabbergasted at the amount of people waiting on line. The game producer from my company, Matt , told me I should get there 15 minutes early, as the lines could get long. Well, I got there an hour and a half early, and the lines were already long! As I got closer to the line, I noticed that at least 90% of the people in line had their Nintendo DS's on hand, and were playing them. No doubt, there were some Super Mario Kart DS WI-FI matches going on:)

As I settled into the line, I didn't even care that I was going to be standing there for the next hour and a half. Hell, it was for Nintendo. I have always read about these key note speeches, and when I found out I could attend one, the decision was a no-brainer. Once it got started, it was very interesting to say the least. You can find a brief synopsis here. The highlights for me were when they confirmed that the Virtual Download store for the Nintendo Revolution, which is already known to allow you to download old school NES/SNES games, will also allow you to download Sega Genesis games, as well as Nintendo games published by Hudson. Never thought they would team up with Sega like that! The other interesting tidbit was the surprise trailer that showed the new Legend Of Zelda game for the Nintendo DS. For more info on that, go here.

Once that key note was over, I stuck around to hear Will Wright's keynote. He is the mastermind behind the SimCity & The SIMS franchise. He is also known as one of the best game designers in his time, in the same league as Shigeru Miyamoto. The title was called, "What's next in game design", and was very interesting. He gave all of us designers insight into what goes through his head when developing a game. The one thing that stuck out to me the most was when he said that you must be obsessed with your game. Well, as you all know, Rose Of Eternity is my life, so I hit that nail on the head.

After sitting through 3 hours of key note speeches, I decided to go up to the IGF Pavilion, and demo my game a bit more. In general, this was the slowest day in that I did not get as many people talking to me. Oh well...After about an hour of that, I went into the main exhibit area to see the rest of the the stuff I didn't see yesterday. Nothing really stands out in my mind, but it was fun nonetheless. After that, I went to get something to eat for the 1st time all day. I then ran into that guy, Matt , who works at my company. We talked for about 30 minutes, and I found out that he had been in the game industry for about 9 years. It was great to chat him up, and get his perspective about the game industry as a whole.

While walking back to the IGF Pavilion, I saw tickets for Video Games Live, a concert where an orchestra plays the music from a lot of the popular games of our time, like Halo, Final Fantasy, Mario, and Zelda. I of course got tickets to this:) Interestingly enough, I got to talking to the people selling the tickets, and I found out that one of them was the girlfriend of Tommy Talerico, and the other was his father. Weird coincidence, eh?

When I got back to the IGF Pavilion, I finally met up with the Producer behind the other module nominee, The Hunt. Apparantly, he had been looking for me all day, as he wanted to introduce me to some people from Bioware. This guy was really cool, and talkative. He is the type of person that can strike up a conversation with anyone, and hold it for quite some time. When we did get to the booth, he told some of the people who I was, and about Rose Of Eternity, but unfortunately, they were only PR type people who really don't know anything about the mod scene. In general, the people that were there were focused on all the new things Bioware is doing, like Mass Effect, Jade Empire, and that new MMORPG. It was all good though, because I didn't expect them to know who I was anyway. Before leaving, I received my passes to their after party, which was being held at the Voodoo Lounge.

Let me tell you, Bioware - Pandemic really know how to throw a party. The line was around the building, and people must have waited in line for up to 2 hours. Once inside, everyone was greeted with free alcohol, and free food. Also, there is this game called Guitar Hero , which is basically the metal rock version of other music games, such as Dance Dance Revolution. Anyway, they had sets of people playing this game in front of people, with the winners winning all sorts of items. It was interesting to see an editor from Gamespot duel against a programmer from Blizzard . I'm not into rock music, but it was fun nonetheless to watch people make fools out of themselves:)

I also ran into that producer of The Hunt again, and as we were talking (mind you, I was drunk as hell as this point), he was attempting to convince me to go talk to the founder of Bioware. Yeah, apparantly, a lot of the big guys from Bioware, including one of the founders, were directly behind me the entire night. I know a lot of people went to the party to attempt to talk to some big wigs, but I just felt weird doing that. The founder and co. were there to have a good time, not get solicited for jobs. I try to choose my battles wisely. Hopefully, they will find out about me without me having to go and be that annoying guy at the party trying to get in with them. I also have plans to go back to the Bioware booth on Friday to talk to some of them.

When I finally got home, I passed out, as I had had a very long day. Which is also the reason why I am just getting around to making this update.

Till tomorrow...

EDIT - I also just found out that the chairman of the Independent Games Festival, Simon Carless, is also the editor & chief for Game Developer's Magazine. Man, this guy is everywhere, and he knows who I am:)

...Yep, you guessed it, ROSE OF ETERNITY!!! My game, my labor of love, my baby, my life...This is what it is all about! Seriously, all of the hard work over the past 2 years is really starting to pay off! I have been dreaming of a moment like this for the past 7 years. However, let me start at the beginning of the day, leading up to the greatest moment in my entire life.

I woke up, feeling the normal feeling of "Gosh, I just hope this day ends..." In other words, I was nervous as hell...Don't ask why, it is just the way I am. I know I need to change this in my life, and that will be my next goal after getting Cry The Beloved out the door. So as I was saying, I was extremely nervous. I consumed some breakfast I got via room service, called down to the hotel manager to let them know I needed a shuttle to the convention center, and left for the day.

As expected, while I rode in the shuttle, I was feeling a lot of anxiety. Bear in mind, I did not know if I was going to win or not, but just the thought of winning made my heart sink.

Upon arriving at the convention center, the 1st unbelievable thing happened. While still in the shuttle, I saw the Executive Producer of games from my company. Now, I knew he was going to be here, but what are the chances I would see him like that. Unfortunately, he was walking too fast,  as I later found out he was on his way to a roundtable discussion at the Hilton hotel. Later, when I tracked him down, we also talked about the state of internal game development in our company, as well as some other things. I actually found out he worked at EA Tiburon for a while, so I think I will pick his brain a bit more when I go back home.

Anyway, when I finally got in the convention center, I went to pick up my badge. I just never thought to get it yesterday, but I knew I would need it today. Well, when I went, the old guy giving them out thought I was some famous designer, as the pass I had was a Giga Pass, which sells for $2000! Man, thank god the IGF paid for it:) This pass essentially allows me to get on the main floor, as well as check out a lot of the keynotes. Speaking of which, I missed the one given by Sony. Apparantly, they ran the trailer for God Of War 2, as well as giving specifics about the PS3. Long story short, it is coming out in November, although there will be some playable games (i.e. Warhawk 2 ) at the E3, which consequently, I have to go to now:)

Once I had my pass, I went back up the IGF Pavilion, and attempted to set up shop again. Well, when I got there, I saw 2 gentleman standing there, one of which was showing off one of the Neverwinter Nights module nominees, The Hunt. I politely listened to them for about 5 minutes, waiting to introduce myself. Once I did, I found out that he was the Executive Producer of the game, and was actually getting a bit tired of playing it. Right at this moment, I found out the other gentleman standing there was Brian, or as his fans call him, MadWombat!

Yep, I finally got to meet another fellow modder from the NWVault community. The other guy doesn't count, because the team that made it came from the Guildhall school, and they did not really support there mod at the Vault. So, most people who read these updates don't know this, but when you meet me in person, I am not the type of person you would expect to spend 2 years of his life attempting to make an RPG. Well, MadWombat is the same way. I totally pictured a different looking guy, and was quite surprised when I stood there face to face with him. As expected, we had a LOT to talk about, as we already had a lot in common.

I have to tell you, it was really great to talk with him. We got to talk about everything we love AND hate about the community (hey, it isn't perfect!). It was great to be able to rant about the little things that piss me off while using the toolset as well. I even got to learn a bit about his game, Runes Of Blood . There are some pretty interesting, innovative things in that game, such as this Mirror of Life Trapping item. If I can remember what he said correctly, this item can literally trap an enemy in it, making it disappear. Then, when you choose, you can call the enemy out of the mirror, and have them fight for you. They don't join your team as a normal henchman, so they won't follow you, or anything like that, but they will still fight for you. I thought it was quite ingenious when I saw it in action.

I was also able to show him a bit of Cry The Beloved in action, because, well, that was the game I decided to show! It is so much better than The Coming, and has a lot more high intensity action sequences, which is exactly what people want to see when they walk by the booths. So, I had to tell MadWombat he was the 1st outside of those closest to me to see it in action. I of course told him I would kill him if he leaked out any of info regarding it...jk:)

I also got to speak to some very interesting people that happened to walk by. One guy in particular was quite funny. He was actually one of the lead QA people that worked on the Neverwinter Nights: OC, as well as Hordes Of The Underdark. He understandably never wanted to play it again, but he was curious as to what the mods were like. While speaking with him, another gentleman, who was a Designer for another development studio came by, and all 3 of us talked. I got to hear some more horror stories about how long the hours are during crunch time, and how annoying publishers could be. All in all, it was great to actually chit chat with some professionals.

In terms of how things go when I demo the games, it's not bad. I know music is one of the strong points of the game, so I crank the music up very loud, which probably pisses off the Unreal Tournament/Half Life 2 mod nominees:) At any rate, it always attracts people to come see where the loud racket is coming from. Once I have them in front of me, I list of the standard things I always say about my game, and end things off by giving them my card. When I decide to go somewhere else, I put the trailer on repeat, and walk away. You know, it's funny. I created that trailer last year, and I never thought it would be coming in handy a year after it was created. Just weird...

When I finally was able to convince MadWombat to set up his game to demo it, I decided to go to the main floor, and see the exhibits. For the most part, it was great. As this is the Game Developer's Conference, most vendors in the booths were selling products that only commercial development studios would need, such as MMORPG engines, and the like. Again, since I was very nervous, I did not really get a chance to enjoy it.

After a little more demo time, it was finally time to head over to the building where the Developer Choice Awards were taking place. As mentioned before, these awards were for independent games, as well as commercial games. Let me just say the entire experience was surreal. First off, they had a damn red carpet. I half expected some paparazzi to jump out of the trees or something:) Since I was a nominee, I was allowed to cut like 800 people to get inside, which sort of made me feel important. Once inside, I really felt like turning around, and going home. The place was HUGE. It wasn't just some conference room, where they would announce the winners. Nope, it was a real thing. There were at the very least a couple thousand people there. I mean hell, the entire 2nd floor was filled up. I couldn't believe. For anyone that watched the Game Award show on Spike TV last year, it was basically like that...At this moment, my heart was in the bottom of my shoes somewhere.

Since I was a nominee, I was allowed into the VIP section to have drinks, and mingle with the big shots. Of course, I was too nervous to do anything but get a Rum & Coke and hope the thing was over soon. Although, I was happy to see a couple tables occupied by people from Nintendo:) So the way it worked was, each table had a card on it, and you had to look and see if your company's name was on it. I of course could not find mine. I was asking some lady, when some random guy walked by and said, "Oh, you're Rose Of Eternity? You are up in the front, at table 2" ...All the way in the front...That was the 1st sign I was going to win...For whatever reason, they didn't put the NWN modules together...*Shrug* I wanted to be able to at least chit chat with MadWombat, but he was like 5-6 tables behind me:( Luckily, they people I sat with were really cool. They were nominees for Innovation In Sound Design, and Independent Game Of The Year. 

After a LONG wait, they show finally started around 6:30. I had previously taken a look at the program, and saw that the modding winners would be announced 1st. I did a mental "WOO HOO. Let's get this over with...". Yeah, yeah, I know, I am a negative person. Hell, even the guy I was sitting next told me to lighten up. Who cares if I stuttered while up there? I didn't know any of those people...I wish it was that easy...

I then got my 2nd surprise of the night. I found out that the hosts were Shiny Entertainment's David Perry & Tommy Talerico. David Perry is the famous designer behind the Earthworm Jim games from back in the day in the SNES & Sega Genesis. Tommy Talerico is a famous composer, who actually hosts a show on G4 Tech TV. These were obviously people that I respected in the industry. At any rate, when they began to show the nominees for the best mod for Neverwinter Nights, I realized I had lots my heart totally. I had fell out of my left leg long before that:)

I then had to smile briefly. You see, just like an awards show should do, they showed clips of the games as they announced the nominees. Well, they did mine first, and I was SO HAPPY to see them show clips from the opening cut-scene of the game, with the beautiful Enya music playing in the background. I was the absolute BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD to see my game up there on the big screen, showing the best part of it, with people clapping. I just can't explain it...Then, they called my name as the winner...

I slowly got up, shook the hands of some people at my table, and made my way up to the podium, slow as all hell. I shook the hand of Tommy and David, took my plaque, and turned to face thousands of people, and TV cameras. I froze for a second, and then was able to simply say some basic thank you's, and promptly ushered myself off the stage to the back, where I got to shake the hands of some other important people whose names I couldn't remember because I was so shocked I actually was able to talk in front of that many people, without cracking! I mentally saw the 2nd bird fall to the ground:) I thought I made a fool of myself, but I was able to watch a tape of it, and realized I looked totally normal.

After getting back to my seat, I was able to enjoy the rest of the show, fear free. After I was able to act like a normal human being, I realized the Richard "Lord British" Garret was actually sitting a table over from me. For the ignorant, he is the leading designer behind the Ultima series. He ended up winning a Life Time Achievement Award.  The big winners of the night however were the developer's behind the innovate Shadows Of Colossus game, which is available for the PS2. God Of War won a few awards as well...


The answer to this question is quite simple. It was proof that I have what it takes to get into the game industry. You know, it's funny...Some community members' dismissed these awards as a scam. Here is the thread to prove this statement. Notice that I post in the thread as well...My point is, I just guess some people didn't take it seriously, and perhaps they still do not. I however see things clear as day now.

The judges who played my module were from the game industry. Not to say the comments from the general NWN community is not worth anything, because it certainly is, even more so, to a certain point.. However, knowing I want to get into the industry, having people from the industry who I respect pick my module is a big thing. A certain gentleman said something to me tonight that I will never forget. After the award show, I went looking for Simon Carless, who is the chairman of the Independent Games Festival. In an e-mail to all nominees, he told us to stick around, to sign some tax documents. Well, after finding him, I found out everything was going to be taken care of via e-mail. Then, before I left, he took me aside and said the following: 

"Leonard, I am really proud of you and your game. You really thought out of the box. Most people who sent in modules just made standard DnD games. You actually made something different, yet compelling..." I was amazed that someone like that, who didn't have to talk to me, told me that. It was really the icing on the cake:)

Finally (yes, I am almost done), on the way back to the hotel, I met yet another teacher from ITT who taught game graphics design. He was also part of the Chinese press. On the entire trip back, I told him the entire story of Rose Of Eternity, starting back in 1999. When I was done, he told me I really inspired him, and he wanted to do a story about me, and translate it into Chinese to publish in a popular Chinese tech magazine. To sweeten the deal, he even said to me, "It will be great press. There are over a billion people in my country!". I of course would have done it anyway, but it was funny to hear him say that. When we got inside, he took some pictures of me with my plaque, which he wants to use in the article. Actually, this sequence of events was the real icing on the cake:)

Tomorrow looks to be just as busy. The president of Nintendo will be giving a keynote speech, where I am sure he will give out juicy details concerning the Nintendo Revolution. I am also invited to a VIP party with some other mod nominees, where the whole Bioware gang will be. Now's my chance to say to them, hey, I'm Challseus. You know, the guy who made the game that had nothing to do with DnD. The guy who won the award. Now give me a job!

P.S.  Special shout out to Brian aka MadWombat. As mentioned above, he was cool as shit, and allowed me to have a bit of fun before the award ceremony, where we all know I was nervous as hell.

P.S.S.  So many people pronounced my name, Challseus, wrong, that I might just start saying it differently. I pronounce it Chall - see - us, where everyone else, including Tommy Talerico pronounced it, Chall - sa - es. Damn, I should have mentioned that in my acceptance speech:)

P.S.S.S.  I also guess I need to get back to work on that little thing called, Cry The Beloved... Has been the longest I have gone without touching the toolset...Now off to bed, so I don't miss this Nintendo keynote speech.

3/21/06 -Tuesday:  1ST BIRD!!!
As someone of you may recall, I mentioned that coming out for these awards would be like allowing me to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. What is the 1st bird, you ask?

My fear of flying...Not going to go into details, but I just didn't like the idea of having to get on a plane for a little less than 6 hours. I originally saw how long a train ride would have been, and well, let's just say it would have taken a little less than 3 days! Damn, the U.S.A. is huger than I thought!

Well, once I got on the plane, and it actually took off, I was fine. Well, 2-3 cups of white wine didn't hurt:)

Also, the fact that every seat had DirecTV was quite cool as well. I was able to watch ESPN, Fox, MTV, any channel really...It was a great distraction. I only imagined us plummeting to our fiery deaths a dozen times:)

Once I got to the San Jose airport, I found it was near impossible to rent a car. Well, you live and learn. I now know to call in advance, or I will be stuck with these SUV's that cost $95 a day...However, the hotel I am staying at has complimentary shuttle services, so I just called them, and had them take me to the hotel. This is where things started to get interesting.

There was a woman in the front seat of the van, and I overheard her ask the driver if he drove to the convention center. He answered yes, and I asked her if she was going to the Games Development Conference. She answered yes, and I found out she was a teacher from ITT. We had a very interesting conversation (that I won't go into), and I had my 1st business card exchange! Well, she gave me hers, I was too lazy to go into my suitcase to get one for her...

Once I got to the convention center, I saw the Independent Games Festival game section right away. I went up the stairs, and looked for the Neverwinter Nights booth. I saw some guy sitting there, and after talking with him a bit, found out he was a modder for Half Life 2. I then proceeded to set up shop at the booth, since the other modder for NWN was away. So, I had this disk I created, which had an .exe and thought, "Oh, I will just use this to install the game." Well, the install worked, but when I booted it up, there were 2 haks missing. As you can imagine, I was pissed that I made 25 of those CD's! Anyway, I just downloaded the latest version from the Vault, and that worked fine.

As I was in the middle of finishing up the setup, a woman comes over, and asks why I am tampering with the computer. Once I explained who I was, she told me she was part of The Hunt team, the only other NWN mod that is going to be there. Once we realized we had something in common, she talked to me about all of the little political BS going on, like Epic Games giving the Unreal Tournament 2004 mods more coverage, by allowing them to demo on bigger screens, and other such things, as someone apparantly sabotaging the speakers for the NWN mods. At any rate, I was nervous as hell, and just wanted to get everything working so I could go home...

Well, I realized that if I wanted to have people actually watch the demo, I would have to get to certain points in the game, and then save. So, I began to play the game, with the goal of having save points at South Shinkara Forest, North Shinkara Forest, and at Challseus' house for the Oracine battle. Well, as the opening cut-scene ( Garden Of Roses ) began to play, I decided to crank up the music. I then had my 1st bystander come over and talk to me. You want to know what he said?

"Hi, I don't mean to be a punk, but do you have Enya's permission to use her music in this cut-scene?" I almost fell of my chair. Everything that I have been through over these past 2 years, and this guy brings up this. I of course handled myself very well, and explained to him I don't make a profit, won't get sued, etc. He actually turned out to be a pretty cool guy, once we got to talking about music in games and such. Then, a reporter for some magazine noticed the music, and came over. It was great. It was my 1st ever press, and he wanted to talk to me about the importance of music in video games! You can imagine how long we talked, as I had A LOT to talk about:) After that, a few others stopped by and chatted with me, but nothing as exciting as that first reporter. Considering the fact that I got to the convention center an hour before the show ended for the day, I can consider myself very lucky:)

So, all and all, not a bad day. 1 bird was killed. Now there is the other bird, and for whatever reason, I don't think it will be as easy to kill as the 1st. The Developer Choice Awards are tomorrow, and they are a bit bigger than I expected. For info on it, go here. Apparantly, it isn't just for modders, and independent game developers. Nope, real developers from the industry are receiving awards as well. In other words, the makers of games such as Half Life 2, Shadows Of Colossus, and Katamari will be there. In a nutshell, these awards are the Academy Awards for games. Spike TV will be there. MTV will be there. Oh, did I mention I get nervous speaking to more than 10 people at once? Hmm, well, looks like there will be more liked A LOT more than that. I am considering not going to awards, but those closest to me say I would regret it to the day I die. I actually would only have to say something if I win, and even though I only have a 20% chance of winning, I am still scared to death.

So, the latest piece of work from Olaia that I am displaying here is my inspiration...This is it people...Wish me luck...

Till tomorrow (hopefully...)...

Yep, I am one of those people that wait to the last minute for everything. I guess I like to live on the edge:)

So, I had a lot of stuff to do today. First, I had to get a nice new haircut. Gotta look the part when I get out to San Jose! I also needed to put together a portfolio. Yeah that's right, I came up with the great idea of having a portfolio the night before I leave:( I ended up getting just the right screenshots, as well as artwork that has been done for me up until this point.

I also received a business card holder, so I started organizing those as well. I printed a little over 100, although when I look at the stack, it looks like a lot more...

Till tomorrow...

3/19/06 -Sunday:  DAY OF PREPARATION...
So first and foremost, I didn't get much work today, if any...I more less spent the day preparing for the Independent Games Festival I will be attending in San Jose this coming week. I leave Tuesday morning at 8:05, and leave it to me to wait to the last minute to do everything.

I knew I needed business cards, however, for whatever reason, I just decided to do something about it now. I knew that in the back of my mind, my mom had some business card making software, so I didn't really worry about it. I knew I wanted to use the generic Rose Of Eternity logo, and under that, just add some simple text. Nothing fancy, or too loud.

Well, it is a good thing I didn't worry about it that much, because when I did go to her house to make it, it literally only took me about 2 hours to design the entire thing. What's more, they came out very professionally looking. If I get a chance, I will scan one and post it in an upcoming update.

Till tomorrow...

3/18/06 -Saturday:  DAY OF RESEARCH...
Today was a little weird. I worked for most of the day, yet I did not actually implement that much at all. Yeah, I modified some scripts here and there, and tested the combat with some new items I created, but nothing concrete. In fact, my day really consisted of a lot of administrative things. What such things, you ask?

Well, my day usually starts with me checking 6 sites: NWVault, Bioware Module Forums, Work E-mail, Personal E-mail, Cry The Beloved Forums, & Current Polls (not that anyone even uses it...).  I am a very systematic person, so I more or less do it in this order every morning when I first get up. When I say get up, I mean when I literally open my eyes, as my laptop sits on a chair right next to my bed.

So, I had a lot more e-mail than usual this morning. I had stuff from some of the team members, as well as some other potential members. 

I have also been keeping in contact with a gentleman that would like to remain anonymous for the time being (man, nobody wants their name out there in the public eye!). I can't really talk about what it is he is doing, for just know that I will post about here when I feel the time is right.

I also spent more time at the official forums. In general, I think I actually made more posts today than I ever had. It was mostly posts back and forth between me and Jason Melancon, but some other members (man, keep forgetting to ask if they mind if I use their names) threw in their 2 cents now and then. Essentially, I am starting to come up with little quests, and see if some of the team members want a shot at designing it. Up until now, the only thing that people have really done for me that shows up in game is the writing/editing of dialogue. Don't get me wrong, whenever I come up with a new idea, I post about it, get everyone's feedback, and implement what we think is best. However, this time, I was looking for someone to take the reigns, so to speak, and flesh out the quest, so that I wouldn't have to worry about it. All I would have to do is implement, which in my eyes is easier than taking the little time I have left to design it.

Some interesting conversations started up in this very thread, and I am eager to see what the results are. The good thing is, I can worry about other things, and come back to the thread with hopefully, a fleshed out quest. It would be even better if the dialogue would be written too, but I won't try to ask for too much:)

Finally, I began playing with this new custom tileset. Usually, the first thing I do when I get my hands on a new tileset and make lots of objects in the area, put some music and ambient sound in, and just run around. I then start to play around with the actual way the items can be placed in the area. Anyone who has played with custom tilesets knows that it can be a pain in the ass to get something to work. For instance, you would think that if you have a piece of grass painted, you could overwrite it with some snow. Nope...You have to first overwrite it with a stone floor, then put the snow in. It's not a big deal, but it is definitely something that takes me 30 minutes or so to get used. Also, this tileset has tons of items to paint, so that added a bit more time than I usually would have taken. All in all, I am happy with it, and I am 99.99% sure I will be using it.

Till tomorrow...

3/17/06 -Friday:  GRUNT WORK...
As I have been doing for the past few, today, I continued to work on little issue here and there. Real grunt work. Nothing exciting. Well, there was the new Easter egg item I created yesterday, but besides that, nothing really innovative.

I also did something I should have done a while ago. I added more skipping functionality to all of the cut-scenes I have created in the past month. Theoretically, I should create the skipping functionality when I create the cut-scene, but I have been getting lazy these days...

Tomorrow, I think I will start playing with this new tileset, to see if I can use it for the next few areas I will be creating. Also, I am not sure yet, but I really think I will make a post on the forums, asking for someone to totally design a special quest that can be done in Dematol. I know what I want, but I am so busy, that I don't have time to spec it out. Well, here's hoping somebody picks this one up.

Till tomorrow...

3/16/06 -Thursday:  MORE SPECIAL ABILITIES...
I have been a madman lately. I have been on this kick where I just want to do a lot of scripting. So today, I more or less finished the work I was doing on this new Unison Ability. I posted a thread about it at the forums because besides wanting the opinions of others, I desperately needed a new name for it:) The only thing left to do is to finalize the VFX that will be used for it. I have some placeholder stuff in there, but I am not too happy with it. Amway, I know I can always come back to it later.

I also fixed a lot of little issues that I honestly cannot remember at the time. I also started and actually fully implemented yet another special ability. This ability will stem from the use of a custom item, and is something that not all players will received. However, if the player receives this item, it will open up other locked away secrets. I am definitely trying to throw lots of Easter eggs everywhere.

I also have a new writer on board, so I need to shoot them over the requirements for an NPC. This will be their 1st one, so I will start with something easy. In fact, it is something that should have been written months ago. Unfortunately, this past week, I haven't been very organized. What I mean is, I haven't really been making much use of my notebook. Tomorrow, I will go through it and make sure I have really taken care of the current issues. I may also print out the remaining issues that have been noted at the forums.

Till tomorrow...

3/15/06 -Wednesday:  LITTLE STUFF HERE AND THERE...
So, as I knew I would be doing, I took on a lot of small issues today. In the morning, fixed minor bugs here and there. On the way back, I continued to fix small issues, such as making sure Clopon & Challseus could cast spells on everybody in the party. They still had their default dialog files from The Coming , which only took Aramus, Clopon, & Challseus into account. I also had to add new spells to this as well. In all honesty, if it wasn't brought to me attention, I would have never changed it. I haven't used it to buff myself up in a while...

I also took an ability I created a month ago, and started adding more interactive functionality to it, so people don't only look at it as a simple ability. 

Finally, I was prompted by an interesting thread in our forums to start work on a new Unison Ability. 

The idea has been floating around in my head for about 4 months, but I decided to force myself to start it. I actually must have sat looking at the script editor for about 45 minutes before even coding a single line. I knew what I wanted, I just didn't know how to go about it. After 45 minutes, a light bulb went off in my head, and I knew how I wanted to proceed, and started to code. Interestingly enough, what was looking like a 1 day project turned into a 3 hour project. I mean, it is not done yet, but the core structure is there. I just have to tweak over the next few days, and everything should be fine.

Tomorrow, I will continue to tweak the aforementioned Unison Ability, and also try to bring to a close a lot of the open bugs/issues. 

Till tomorrow...

3/14/06 -Tuesday:  BUSY WORK...
Since I am dead tired, I will keep this brief. Very brief...I worked on the framework for a new system today, but that is all I can say. It wasn't terribly difficult, was it definitely took a lot of time. I more or less finished the core part today. I also began to refactor the code so that it doesn't repeat as much, making it more efficient.

Tomorrow on the train, I hope to finish a little more of the refactoring, and then actually put the damn system to use in game.

Till tomorrow...

3/13/06 -Monday:  YOU GOTTA LOVE CLOPON!!!
So, in honor of Clopon's AI being fixed (check yesterdays update for the explanation of that entire debacle), I present to you... Clopon:)  I have actually had this piece for a few weeks or so. I just kept forgetting to show everyone. Well, I was so happy that I didn't have to write her out of the story (again, read yesterdays update for why), that I decided to spruce up her Description Page.

This is just the beginning, really. The plan is to have a page like this for every major character. For the playable ones, like Clopon, I hope to be able to add every ability she will get ( Last Resorts, Unison Abilities, etc. ). This way, the website will really turn into a full, comprehensive strategy guide. I think it will be really great, I just have to find the time to do it...Perhaps during lunch breaks at work...

Today on the train ride into work, I continued with my dialog writing (bleh!!!). It wasn't really that bad today, but I still want to move on to other things.

And, compliments of Jason Melancon, I now do have things to move on to. He must have made threads for about 10-15 different bugs/issues. I was a bit overwhelmbed at first, but after reading through all of them, I realized they weren't things that would take long. However, added all up, it might be 2 days worth of work. So, I will just finish them up, so that they don't linger for the next few weeks.

Also, as a reminder, I will be in San Jose next week for the Independent Games Festival. I am nervous as all hell, so hopefully, I can just make it through it. However, I know that I will be very motivated while there, so that is when I will start working on some new areas. It will also give me time to design them, and make sure they are perfect.

There are also 2 pieces of music that I can't wait to add to the game. Well, I mean, they are already added, I just haven't had the chance to add them to their corresponding scenes.

Till tomorrow...

P.S. To those who have e-mail me these past 2 days, I have been very busy, especially at work. Hopefully, at the office tomorrow, I will be able to respond to you. My apologies...

3/12/06 -Sunday:  FINALLY!!!  FINALLY!!!  FINALLY!!!  FINALLY!!!  FINALLY!!!
So, I will hop right into it. From 12:30 pm until 7:30 pm, I did one thing, and one thing only. I debugged the HELL out of a lot of AI scripts. When I say I worked from 12:30 pm until 7:30 pm, that is no exaggeration. Why did I do all of this work, you ask? One word... CLOPON ...

So, for the past 5-6 months, I have noticed that when I tell Clopon to heal me in combat, she doesn't. She will actually turn to look at me for a second, even look like she is going to, and then go back to fighting. I cannot explain how much that pissed me off. I knew she worked fine in The Coming, so I knew it was something I did in Cry The Beloved.

It was so annoying, I was looking for ways to write her out of the story:) Not forever, but perhaps a scene where she was captured or something. I just didn't want to deal with her anymore. In fact, I had mentally pushed it out of my mind until an ALPHA tester brought it up a few days ago. They were having one hell of a time getting Whirlwind Heal to work.

All of that said, one of my stated goals for the rest of development was to leave the tough stuff for weekends. Well, this was about as tough as they come, so I decided to dedicate an entire day to it. I started off by posting a question at the Scripting forums. I basically needed to know which script to start looking in. Once I found that out, I began to systematically add debug statements to the various scripts, to see what the hell Clopon's problem was (i.e. why she didn't heal).

I have to admit, I learned A LOT about the standard Bioware AI scripts. The only tough part was the fact that there were so many different scripts that included other scripts, and such. Once I got the flow down, everything made perfect sense. Well, sort of. After learning the entire system, I still couldn't put my finger on it. So, I was in the process of writing a very detailed post in the thread I started at the scripting forums, when I decided to try one more thing. I wanted to see if Clopon's combat script was running when she was supposed to be healing me (makes sense, since she would not heal me, and start fighting).

Well lo and behold, I found a line of code that just made me think "YOU!!! YOU ARE THE LINE OF CODE THAT HAS MADE ME WASTE 7 HOURS TODAY!!!"  So, a while back, I spent a week refactoring my new and improved summoning system. I touted it as being a  very robust, making the process of adding new summons easy. I still stand by the statement. However, I made what could be known as one of the dumbest mistakes when actually using it.

Long story short, for those technically minded, for all creatures in the game, there are certain scripts that fire at the end of every combat round. Well, as you all know, Clopon can summon creatures automatically. The code to summon creatures is put in her "OnCombatEnd" script. Here's a snippet:

  * BRC (c) Copyright 1994-2006
  * This script will run the standard combat
  * party member script if the party member is not dead.
  * Revision history:
  * 12-Mar-06 LB Fixed bug where all actions were being cancelled!!!
  * 11-Jul-04 LB Created.

#include "last_resort"
#include "util"
#include "inventory"
#include "summon_manager"

void main() {

//check if party member is alive
if (GetLocalInt( OBJECT_SELF , "dead" ) == 0 && GetLocalInt(GetModule(), "spar" ) == 0 ) {

//if Clopon, attempt to summon
if ( OBJECT_SELF == O_CLOPON && GetIsInCombat()) {

//only summon if she is above level 3
            if (getLevel( OBJECT_SELF ) >= 3 ) {
ClearAllActions(); //   <-  THIS IS THE CULPRIT!!!

So, there is nothing fancy about this script. It is a simple wrapper for the default Bioware combat script, which runs some of my own custom functionality first. However, notice the line I put in red? This is the line which was causing all of the problems. Essentially, when Clopon got the command to heal me, it was being cancelled, by the highlighted function, ClearAllActions().  Once I took that out, everything went back to normal. I could actually perform Whirlwind Heals no problem, and I found that I would die a lot less, which makes perfect sense. So, even though it took me all day to find this bug, I was happy nonetheless. I can now move on to bigger things to worry about:)

Till tomorrow...

3/11/06 -Saturday:  PRETTY GOOD DAY...
So, I got up pretty early today to get a head start with development. It didn't really work out that well, as I did A LOT of surfing on the internet. Oh well, you can't always win.

When I finally started to develop, I knocked out a pretty decent and informative cut-scene. It was only about 80 seconds long, but it will give the player a view into the things that go on between some of the various characters in the game.

After that, I begin to tie up a lot of the loose ends for the sequence I had been working on all week. I am not entirely happy, but I know I will come back to it later, so it is good enough for now...Since I don't like to start new sequences so late in the day, I decided to pop over to the Cry The Beloved forums and see what was up. 

Well, there has been a very interesting thread going on that started yesterday. Essentially, one of the ALPHA testers (not sure if he wants his name known) was commenting on the difficulty of the game. Essentially, there is a section I created a month ago, where I purposely upped the difficulty. In fact, I had been increasing it ever so subtly for the past few months. As you all know, I love to have tough combat, tactical combat. While most games simply give you enemies with more Hit points, that hit harder, I want to have fights where you might need to need a certain weapon to beat them, or perhaps use a certain strategy. There are other ways to achieve, but I can't spoil everything I have planned:)

Anyways, he still thought the fights were very tough. I actually laughed out loud when I read his post, because he was talking about some new Unison Ability, and he said something along the lines of "I don't know what that ability does, but it strikes terror into my heart seeing it."  MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I guess I accomplished what I wanted with that particular Unison Ability:)

Seriously though, after some back and forths, it was determined that I need to make some of these specific enemies slightly weaker. The one reason I am reluctant to change things is because another tester said they had no problem getting through everything, and that they enjoyed the toughness of it.  Man, there goes that fine line I have to walk...

Finally, this tester also taught me a lesson in how Fighter builds work in DnD. Apparantly, when a Fighter (i.e. Aramus) attains level 6, they get an extra attack per round. Now, I thought I was crazy, because I have some new enemies that are level 6+ fighters, and it seemed like they were moving too fast. I now know it was because they had that extra attack per round. As always, I love absorbing new info, and I can now attempt to better balance the combat knowing that Aramus will get this ability.

Till tomorrow...

3/10/06 -Friday:  SLOW DAY...
It was a very slow day today. Well, not really slow, but I don't feel like much was accomplished.  I did make lots of changes to various dialogs, as well as a lot of other small things, but nothing substantial, like the creation of a new area.

Tomorrow, I hope to finish up the work on the sequence of events I started working on earlier this week, and move on to the next set of things I need to do.

Till tomorrow...

3/9/06 -Thursday:  A DAY OF DIALOG...
Today, I mainly focused on creating various sets of dialog.  The way I do development, I actually leave conversations as the last thing I do when I create a new area/sequence.  So, there were about 2 sets of dialog that I knew I had to work on earlier this week.  I finally got around to implementing them today, thank god.  Man, I hate dialog.  I mean, I know what is supposed to happen and what not, but when it comes to actually writing it, I get mental blocks, where I just don't know what to do next...

I also have added 2 new custom tracks to the game, bringing the grand total to 22.  For comparison, there are 25 tracks of custom music in The Coming.  Now, it is also important to realize that a lot, if not all of the music from The Coming will be used in Cry The Beloved, so you can see where I am going with this.  In an interview I gave for the NWVault, I estimated that Cry The Beloved would have 25 tracks when I was done. Well, I will definitely go over that number:)

Now, here is the amazing thing: The 25 tracks used in The Coming total about 38 MB.  The 23 I have for Cry The Beloved is just a little over 20 MB.  As you can see, the new compression methods I am using work out so much better than before. I planned on going back and changing them for The Coming, but I am lazy about anything that doesn't have to do with Cry The Beloved, so I will probably only make the change when I am done with development.  I am sure there will be people who want to play Cry The Beloved, but never played The Coming, and I want to make the download process as painless as possible.  As a general reminder, if you have downloaded The Coming, DO NOT REMOVE ANY OF THOSE FILES IF YOU PLAN ON PLAYING CRY THE BELOVED, as all of the same files are used.  

The particular tracks I added today are some of my favorites.  They are both the themes for major characters in the game, and I am hoping the player will get to hear the track at least 2-3 times throughout the game.  Heh, I must have had them both on repeat in iTunes for like 3 days:)  Well, tomorrow, I hope to finish off 2 more sets of dialog, and then move on to the next sequence of events.  As always, I have new ideas floating around in my head, and I am sure the result will be a bit different from what I planned years ago.

Till tomorrow...

3/8/06 -Wednesday:  EXTREME GAME DESIGN!!!
So what is Extreme Game Design you ask? Who the hell knows:) I just made it up earlier this afternoon. But, I think I am practicing it...

As a little bit of reference, there is a methodology of programming, called Extreme Programming.  Long story short, it is a way of doing things faster, yet keeping the same level of efficiency. We practice it where I work, and it seems to work fine.  Although, it is the only methodology I have ever known:)

Back on topic, the way I have been developing has been crazy.  Some people like to take the time and write design documents, write out dialog on excel spreadsheet, and such things, but not me. You have to remember, this entire story has been my brainchild for damn near 7 years, so I don't really need to write down anything anymore. 

However, I have to admit that things have changed a lot. Without giving away any spoilers, there are certain events that were planned to occur, but at the last minute, were changed. Take this week for instance. I know where Aramus has to go, how he gets there, and what happens after he leaves.  However, things such as gaining new abilities, dialogs, sub-areas are always done on the fly.  So Tuesday, I got this weird idea while I was sitting on the train, and actually implemented it quite fast.  I finished up the rest of it today, and to see how it evolved so fast is amazing. This new idea will also affect other things I created earlier last year.  *Shrug* I don't know...Perhaps it isn't the best thing, and it might end up burning me in the a** later, but for now, this is how I will continue. Remember, I know how it will end. I will just keep coming up with new ideas as I go, and determine when I should actually implement them. Also, for those that are getting scared, this is the same methodology I used when developing The Coming. 

Till tomorrow...

3/7/06 -Tuesday:  GOT TO KEEP PUSHING FORWARD...
It's really funny.  Looking back at the screenshots I posted for the month so far, it seems that each one is set in a different area that I have recently created.  Even though I know I have been knocking out area design left and right for the past month, just looking at these screenshots is the real confirmation.  The thing that really kills me is, I am not just hacking these areas together with no thought at all.  Yet, I am still producing them faster than ever.  I really wish I could have been doing that months ago:)

So, today was a very productive day.  I didn't actually implement a lot of stuff, but there was one cut-scene that I started this morning on the train ride into work, and actually finished later in the day. I anticipated the cut-scene would take a few days, but everything just seemed to flow together.  I even worked in the custom track for it,  Of course, I had to do some fancy editing this morning, but I am really pleased with how the entire sequence plays out.  I can't wait to here what people have to say about it.  I can't spoil anything, but it is a sequence that I used in The Coming that had a good reception. 

Tomorrow morning, I want to put the finishing touches on a certain boss fight.  Following that, I need to implement about 3 conversations that juts have placeholder text in them.  The way things went today, I think I can finish it up by the end of tomorrow night.  Also, I need to find some time to finish creating a new ad image for NWVault.  Apparantly, Maximus was tired of seeing the same old ad for the past 8 months (can you blame him?), so I promised I would make a new one.  This was more than a month ago, as I wanted to see how my module would fair without any direct marketing.  Well, judging by my recent download rate, it is time for another ad:)

Till tomorrow...

3/6/06 -Monday:  ANOTHER GOOD DAY...
Another week...Sigh...So, I made the decision to go to sleep early last night so that I was able to wake up early this morning.  My plan actually worked, as I was able to wake up at 6:00 am no problem.  I was able to finish up a cut-scene, as well as the general layout of the new area.  I also wrote a few dialogs.

On the way home, I began working on a new area, as well as the creation of some new items/weapons.  I have to say that I am quite proud of myself for knocking these things out so fast.  I can also smile a bit, because a ALPHA tester said they enjoyed the new Unison Abilities I have added thus far.  I haven't had much response from them concerning it, but I know people do have lives outside of Cry The Beloved:)

Till tomorrow...

3/5/06 -Sunday:  PRETTY DECENT DAY...
Well, as I figured (and even wrote about yesterday), creating the new area happened quite quick.  I even made the difficult decision of adding the new piece of music that complements the area.  I might go back and change it, but I will keep it for now.

Actually, now that I think about it, I created 2 new areas, although 1 of them is only about 3/4 done.  Oh well, better than nothing:)  The hope is to actually have these new areas, as well as a majority of the sequences done by the next of next Sunday.  Anything earlier would be even better.

As always, I do not have much to report, because everything these days is a spoiler.  I promise to have something more interesting to talk about during the week.

Till tomorrow...

3/4/06 -Saturday:  ALPHA VERSION 0.50 IS RELEASED!!!
So, another milestone has been reached.  ALPHA V0.50 is now live!  In this newest release, a LOT of content has been added.  In particular, the story is really at the point where it will be developed at a rather fast pace.  This isn't to say that it is rushed, but it is more prevalent than before.  Also, I believe it will stay this way until the end of the module.  As always, everything isn't complete, but it is enough for the testers to get an idea of what the final version will be.  

So, on to new, big, and better things:)  First off, the next set of areas will be a bit more linear, so I think I can develop them pretty fast.  As always, I am trying to keep these areas as unique as possible, which means I will have to come up with a lot of different tricks to ensure it.  I did create the 1st new area today, although I am sure I will be adding some more placeables in the coming days.  I have a few new tracks I want to use, but I haven't made a decision yet.  Though, I will have to make this decision in the next day or so, as the area with the new music will be started tomorrow.

Finally, I just have to smile because a long lost community member, who wants to remain anonymous, has come back.  This particular person is well known, and did some work for me back in September.  Well, after very long hiatus, it seems they are back.  So, to them, I say, WELCOME BACK TO THE DARK SIDE:)

Till tomorrow...

Well, after talking with some of the ALPHA testers, I was happy to find out that they did in fact want the next version of the ALPHA, so since I began implementing new things this week, I decided I needed to take a quick run through to make sure everything was playable.  This run through will be different from the last one, as I am not testing out everything.  I am just going from point A -> B -> ... -> Z as fast as possible.  After I do that, I will package up all the files, give them to the testers, and continue with the new area I need to create.

Till tomorrow...

Today, I decided to actually sleep on the train ride into work.  Consequently, I also decided to sleep on the train ride home.  I cannot even lie.  I did not think much about Rose Of Eternity at all, and it shows in the length of this update:)

Till tomorrow...

3/1/06 -Wednesday:  DAMN, IS IT MARCH ALREADY???
Wow, the month of March really crept up on me.  Just a few days ago, I thought it was still the middle of February:)  Before I get into the update, I want to let everyone know that I have added a new FAQ page to the website.  The thought process behind this is very simple.  I am tired of writing the following answer: "The missing talk table file you is the cep.tlk.  The CEP is a <insert generic description>, and can be downloaded here <insert CEP URL>".  In fact, this very question, which I get asked at least once a week is the 1st one on the page.  Plus, I don't get to check the main download page as much as I used to, and I wouldn't want someone to be waiting for hours to get a response back from me.  And that is that...

So, I will be very honest with everyone.  The pressure is mounting, and I am feeling it.  Hard...So, I guess I should explain my thought process (I am sure I have before, but let's have a recap).

First up is the coming release of Neverwinter Nights 2.  Now, I know they officially said it would be out around June, although I have heard conflicting reports it might not be out until November.  My main concern is, I want people to still be playing Neverwinter Nights 1 when I release Cry The Beloved.  So, let's say it comes out the end of June.  That really gives me 3 good months to put the finishing touches on the game, which includes a full BETA test, as well as some marketing material (i.e. Trailer).  I have come to the conclusion that I will not be able to have a walkthrough done when I release it, but I promise that it will be the thing I will be working on right after the game is released.  

Another thing I have been secretly thinking about (well, not so much a secret anymore) is to join some sort of team, that is working on a module together.  Besides taking the load off of myself, more can be done.  Now, I am sure there are other issues that arise, such as conflicts of interest, who would actually lead the damn team, etc.  All of that said, I think that is the next logical step in my attempt to get some recognition in the community.  Plus, I would begin to hone my skills at being able to work well within a team.

As far as the game goes so far, everything seems to be in good working order.  Quality wise, it is better than The Coming.  Story wise, it is light years ahead of The Coming.  Gameplay length wise, it is already longer than The Coming, with a lot more to come.  Yet, I still get that uneasy feeling that the fabled Sophomore Jinx will happen.  I know in my heart that it is a better game, but to be honest, you can never tell what the community will say/think.  For instance, I thought long cut-scenes were the coolest thing before I released The Coming.  I know better now...

It's to the point that I don't even want to market the damn thing, because I know there are always haters in the world, and haters love nothing more than to bring down something someone else has done, especially if it is in the public eye.  For instance, I remember there was a Eye Of The Beholder game that got a Bioware Wednesday Spotlight.  Sometimes afterwards, the module got a low vote, and in the description, the voter said something along the lines of "I expected more out of a game that Bioware thought so highly enough to have in their Wednesday Spotlight."  Expectations are crazy...

Well, like I said, the pressure's on.  I have been staying up later every night, only getting about 6-7 hours a sleep, and even working on the game during lunch breaks at work:)  I have successfully completed taking care of 95% of the bugs/issues I wrote down a couple of days ago when I took a test run through the game.  Technically speaking, an ALPHA is ready, but I am a bit hesitant to release it.  I feel bad giving the testers different builds every 2 weeks or so that only have 2-3 new areas in them.  I just don't want them to get bored playing the same game over and over again.  Even though that is the job of a tester, they are not getting paid, therefore I can't crack the whip like I would like to:)  I will probably post a question at our forums, asking if they even want it, or if I should just wait a few more weeks for something more substantial.  

I would be very happy this month if I could get an entire sequence of the game finished.  This sequence will most likely include 5-6 new areas, with new monsters, new custom skills/abilities, etc.  In short, the usual.  The one thing I have going for me is that these areas will be more linear, so testing them won't be as difficult.  Still, I think it is a goal that I can accomplish.

Till tomorrow...


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