And So It Ends

May 04, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

My son and I finished our adventures over the weekend, ending the long trek through all my old Neverwinter Nights modules. I enjoyed the father-son bonding and it was a treat to have an excuse to play through my old work.

Demon was a tricky beast, and I remember how unsatisfying the ending was until I rewrote it and added on. Grand finales are tricky to pull off, giving the player something memorable and interesting, but not too hard. I spent much of the weekend reworking part of Dark Water's ending, so it was a timely lesson.

It does seem a little sad that it's over, though maybe my daughter will want to play them in a few more years.

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To Infinity and Beyond!

May 01, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

My NWN1 adventures continue, exploring the planes of existence with my son. I had forgotten about some of the places I made, such as the Elemental Plane of Air and the Elemental Plane of Fire. Both were highly entertaining and a nice mix of combat and puzzles.

We've also continued the main quest, going through a couple extremely tough fights along the way. Being able to repeatedly die was almost a requirement in a couple places. We've also worked around some issues with multiple players. In order for me to get my experience back, I had to go into his spirit gem, grab the soul prison, and talk to the workshop guy myself.

It's strange being so incredibly powerful after spending most of the game at second level. There are a few more things we can do in town, and then it's off to the grand finale of the game.

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Sweet Vengeance

April 29, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

My adventures in Demon continue. Like before, it's been quite instructive to go back and play through my old modules. There are a lot of lessons learned buried in there.

First off, I ran into some bugs, a few that were serious. Sam became invulnerable after a cutscene, but fortunately returned to normal the next session. He also got stuck in the walkmesh of his spirit gem, but I was able to push him to freedom with a possessed familiar. Finally, a couple cutscenes didn't work with two players, so I ended up staying out of it. All of these could probably be fixed with more testing and effort, but it does point to the challenges of debugging something that is both multiplayer and large. With Dragon Age, I'm hoping that smaller, single-player games are easier to polish.

The other big thing I noticed was the sense of despair at the beginning of the module. I was once again very weak and all my equipment was taken away. This is a very frustrating place to put players in, and should be done carefully. What's interesting, though, is once I started gaining levels and getting my equipment back, there was a huge rush of excitement. I felt far more powerful than if I had simply remained a high level throughout.

Finally, the card game continues to be one of my bigger successes. Sam spent big chunks of our time playing the card game and earning jink. When I was broke and wanting every piece of gold, I got horribly excited when I'd win against the little girl.

We've started in on the main plot in Demon and will likely wrap things up in a week or so. It makes me a little sad to come to the end of an era.

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April 26, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

My son and I continued our co-op adventures in the last of my NWN1 modules. We hit a couple significant bugs, both due to cutscenes, but managed to work around them. Multiplayer testing was always a challenge for me, and was one reason I ended up with Dark Waters being single player. Sam and I have been having so much fun, though, that it makes me wish Dragon Age were multiplayer. Though few people play co-op games, they completely change the style and enjoyment of a game.

It's also fun seeing the game through someone else's eyes, as Sam was about four years old when I made the module. The first time he saw the main city with the Sigil tileset, he oohed and aahed and just wanted to look around.

We haven't gotten far with the main quest, but we've been enjoying ourself with Gate Diving and the card game. Demon Cards sucked up nearly all our play time today and he's done really well while I kept getting defeated by the little girl.

Since the plan is to have a card game in my Dragon Age module, it's a good sign that it's still so fun to play.

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Death From Above

April 14, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

Sam and I continued on our march across Faerûn to save the world. The conclusion of Dreamcatcher 3 was just as much fun as I remembered, though Sam's health actually got down a little low towards the end. Still, there were few really hard fights after I recovered my spells. Few foes can survive six fireballs in a row.

Now we're about to lead the troops across Evermeet. I remember having lots of challenges with getting the soldiers to work properly, but I liked the overall concept.

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Weighted Companion Cube

April 14, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

Sam and I made it to Dreamcatcher 3, which is probably my personal favorite of all my modules. For some reason, there's something immensely fun about being knocked way back in power, barely alive. Running around eating mushrooms and hunting frogs for a few hit points is quite the contrast from the usual flashy spells.

Sam had a great time with the one trap/puzzle where you can push a crate in front of you, setting off spike traps. Of course, he decided to keep it with him at all times, pushing it onward through the dungeon.

We burst into laughter as the indestructible crate was repeatedly crushed by the wall trap. Later on, it got stuck in a saw trap and we risked life and limb to get it safely out.

Little did I know that the crate would be one of my more memorable NPCs.

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Into the Dreaming

April 10, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

We've moved on to the second module and had a great time wandering around the void and under the sea. Part of what makes Dreamcatcher special is the large amount of custom content. Around every corner is something unique that catches the eye. Even though the length of the modules are short, every section holds some surprise.

I'm trying to keep that in mind when working on my new projects. Quality over quantity is what counts the most.

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April 09, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

My son and I started in on Dreamcatcher, finishing up the first module. It's been really fun to go back and play through my old modules, in part because Sam's reactions are so enthusiastic.

From a design standpoint, there are a number of things that work well, from the custom content, occasional humor, and unique situations. Though the modules are short, each area is packed with all sorts of treats to discover. Hopefully I can replicate that magic in my future projects.

In any case, we're now in the second module. It's highly entertaining to walk around, leaving flaming footprints as we go.

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Saving the World . . . As Usual

April 06, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

Sam and I finished up the Shadowlords campaign last night. Co-op is a very different experience than the typical single player style. At times, Sam was wanting to rush through while I went at a more leisurely pace. There was also the fun of dividing up loot, though fortunately our classes were different enough.

The adventure itself went well, with only a couple really tough fights. I keep hoping that Dreamcatcher handles the combat balance issues better. I'm also excited to show off some of the custom content from that module.

All-in-all, the campaign was a success. There's nothing like a little father-son bonding while slaying hordes of monsters.

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Onward, to Evil!

April 03, 2009 by Adam in NWN1

My son and I continue in our quest to rid the world of evil, one dank cave at a time.

Yesterday we worked through Skull Gorge, where I learned that players will fiddle with everything, even when a sign clearly states that bad things will happen when you do so. Sometimes the bizarre and unexpected are more fun than following the main storyline.

The toughest fights were again the auto-balanced ones. A pack of beetles nearly wiped us out. There was another fight that was so hard that we resorted to invisibility to sneak in and grab the treasure. It's strange how getting combat experience modifies behavior, as I felt cheated by not being able to kill everything I possibly could.

Finally my mage got to fifth level and I excitedly started blasting everything with fireballs. Tonight we head into the Battle of the Bones, hanging out with undead and goblin bone miners. Should be fun.

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I've won multiple awards for my Neverwinter Nights modules, which I've been working on since the year 2000. In the real world, I'm a web developer for a healthcare organization. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.