Saturday, 23 December 2017

An Argument for Full Party Control (FPC) Employment in Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition

An Argument for Full Party Control (FPC) Employment in Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition



Ideally, this is what would be implemented: full party control with marquee selection and strategy cam along with formation-based positioning/movement and full party chargen, building and inventory management.

Or at least unhardcode the potential. If this is done, you can bank on community coders running through walls to make full party control happen. And they will become heroes of the community.


For the benefit of those who don't know, full party control (FPC) is when you have direct and full control over each and every companion in your party, rather than just the protagonist/player character (PC). In most Dungeons & Dragons RPGs that wisely implement this system, you can select a unit individually with a simple click or group-select multiple units with Shift/Ctrl-click, numerical hotkeys or through marquee selection (dragging a rubber band over your units on the field of play). Once selected, your companions carry out the order given, such as Move to exactly this point and stop, Attack this target and only this target until it's dead and Cast this spell right here, right now. Want your Assassin companion to stealth in and position herself right next to an enemy Wizard, ready to open up with a Death Attack? You can. 

FPC is contrasted with the dumb, afterthought companion AI shipped with the original Neverwinter Nights, in which laughably limited tactics are available mid-combat (Attack nearest, Follow me, Stand your ground) and through a clumsy dialogue mode pre- and post-combat (Buff/heal me with spells, Switch to ranged weaponsID my gear, Sing a song, Let me tell you how stupid you are etc.) Want your Dwarven Defender to stand in a doorway, holding off the aggro trying to get inside? Good luck trying to position him there. Basically, your companions usually end up doing what you don't want them to do; worst case scenario, they just stand there doing nothing, get themselves killed, or get you killed. This is what happens in party-based RPGs that don't employ FPC. Remember Ian shooting you in the back in Fallout; how can we forget? 20 years later, companion AI hasn't exactly improved in leaps and bounds.

Below left: "Hi! My name's Boddyknock Glinckle! I like to buff up mid-combat and then hit the PC with damaging elemental AoEs!"
Below right: "Hi! My name's Daelan Red Tiger. Despite being a Half-orc Barbarian, I don't take the Cleave feat! What amounts to extra attacks is overrated, you see."

"If you find better items, we won't let you give them to us! So there."

To open things up, here is a question I posed in my recent interview on Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition to Beamdog CEO, Trent Oster:

Companion AI in NWN leaves a lot to be desired, even when the game is modded with Tony K's Henchman Inventory & Battle AI. Is there a chance of employing full party control and marquee selection of party members in the future, à la the Infinity Engine games, or at least the ability to mod it in? This could improve single-player game-play immensely and make Aurora more attractive to your Infinity player-base, too.

And here is his response:

Neverwinter Nights was never intended to be a Baldur’s Gate game. Baldur’s Gate poses the question of “what if you were the sole hero of a D&D adventure and you met interesting companion NPCs along the way”. Neverwinter was much more intended to be a collaborative, multiplayer experience. Neverwinter is “what will you do with your character on a D&D Adventure?” The rest of the party was imagined as players thinking the same thing and running their characters on the same adventure. We added companions into NWN to address playing the game as a single class character and needing access to other skillsets to fully enjoy the game. NWN companions can be improved, but we currently have no plans for a BG-style control scheme for companions.

Now, I have to say that I'm quite disappointed with that response. Trent Oster headed up development of the original Neverwinter Nights, so I respect his vision of the game; it's his vision to explore as he likes. However - and this is the crux - I think eschewing full party control showed a grievous lack of foresight by BioWare over their five year dev cycle of Aurora. The frankly bizarre decision went against their Infinity Engine player-base, causing veterans of Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale to criticize NWN primarily for that omission; in fact, many thought it a total joke and wrote it off. Readers who were around in 2002 will know that to be the truth. Some of the most knowledgeable veterans were among them. As a result, they didn't gravitate to NWN and stuck with the likes of Baldur's Gate, Black Isle, Troika and Sir-Tech through the heyday of NWN. How many talented modders - who actually understand combat systems and encounter design - did the community lose there? Quite a few, if the proliferation of "story-based" modules that might as well have been adventure games is anything to go by. And many of those that did make the transition never stopped longing for FPC due to the dumb-as-rocks companion AI NWN shipped with.


Bone Kenning is, tragically, the only module I know of that implemented a welcome companion control hack, but it's just that, a hack. As well, Balkoth's Minion Control has been employed by Persistent World operators in order to give players some control of their familiars, animal companions and summons, showing that full party control is desirable in MP and PWs. It has also been recently added to the Aielund Saga. But again, while an admirable attempt, Balkoth didn't have access to the source code and so it's a far cry from proper full party control, as further detailed here.

Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Temple of Elemental Evil, Neverwinter Nights 2 - hell, even Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins and the ancient Goldbox games - wisely implemented FPC. And guess what? Their combat is more satisfying and tactical than NWN because of it. KotOR (Odyssey) and NWN2 (Electron) are even built from the Aurora base, showing that it's possible and desirable (though KotOR employs a dumbed-down FPC because it was designed with consoles in mind). Let's not pretend that Fallout's combat would not have been better with FPC either: one of the reasons Jagged Alliance 2 - also isometric and released around the same time - is the best tactics game ever, is because it employed FPC.

So now, it's 2018, Beamdog have access to the source code for NWN, and therefore a golden opportunity to actually enhance Aurora in a profound manner, yet they are not taking full party control seriously. It's not on their Trello board for consideration and yet "completion of Witch's Wake" actually got on there when I've seen no one, not a soul, talk about it on any public venue in the last 5 years. Who the hell cares about Witch's Wake? Answer: A few Beamdog forum butterflies who haven't played the greatest modules the platform has to offer, and no one else. People on the Trello board are just voting for whatever's on it. Put full party control on there and it shoots straight to the top to sit alongside the populist eye-candy enhancements.


From reddit:


Update 09-Jan-2018Beamdog have now added FPC to their Trello board, see here.

The defense of full party control omission on the grounds that "NWN is a multi-player-first game" doesn't hold water. First of all, recently and rightly referred to by Trent on the Twitch stream as "megalithic", there are over 700 single-player modules listed by me in Core. Enshrined in the Hall of Fame are a dozen single-player masterpieces - full RPGs in themselves - that are superior to the modules released by BioWare; the best of those highlighted in the above link. I think the likes of Swordflight and Aielund - two campaigns that flaunt top-tier combat encounter design - would have been even better with the ability to control your companions. So yeah, "multi-player-first" may have been the initial pitch but it's certainly not the only way in which the platform evolved (thankfully). And that's why BioWare scrambled to improve upon companion control with clumsy hacks and trickery; also churning out campaigns unintended for multi-player such as Hordes of the Underdark and Premium Module Programme adventures such as ShadowGuard, Kingmaker and Wyvern Crown of Cormyr (not to mention the cancelled Baldur's Gate-esque ones: Darkness Over DaggerfordCrimson Tides of Tethyr and Tyrants of the Moonsea). Also, NWN2 allows for multi-player and persistent worlds yet still employs full party control for its single-player mode. Why is that, I wonder?

What's the other defense of FPC omission? Oh, yes: "Controlling just the PC focuses on role-playing". I've been known to assert this now and again but, at the end of the day, it's just bollocks. Obsidian's Mask of the Betrayer (the expansion campaign for NWN2) is one of the most reactive RPGs ever made along with Black Isle's Planescape: Torment; thugged out with more meaningful role-playing opportunities than BioWare ever managed, with their generic Light Side/Dark Side approach. And guess what? MotB and PS:T have both got full party control. Is anyone going to seriously try to argue that those two masterpieces do not have the best role-playing opportunities in the genre, and that they both would have been better without FPC? Didn't think so. Also, employment of full party control does not preclude single-character modules and soloing. I didn't think I'd have to state the bleeding obvious, but it seems some forum-goers are truly clueless. Lastly, people complain about the kludginess of Electron's combat system but it's still better than Aurora's if you set its cam & control as follows: Strategy Mode cam, Camera Mode: Can Be Moved Freely (Free Camera), Ceilings Always Off and Marquee Select On. With those settings locked in, the game pretty much plays like isometric RPGs of the past except that you can also rotate and zoom your view. I should know: I've recently posted no fewer than eight write-ups for NWN2. That said, Obsidian misstepped by omitting portrait dragging (for party member reordering) and party positioning/movement formations: utterly bizarre omissions that occasionally resulted in face-palming, but they are not deal-breakers.

Please note that I'm obviously not arguing for full party control to be employed retroactively as standard - just the option for the builder to activate it within their module at the toolset level. I realize that putting that in the hands of the player will completely imbalance adventure modules and campaigns not made with FPC in mind, but I'm only arguing for its inclusion in new modules, modules builders choose to rebalance, and any OC overhaul or completely new campaign released by Beamdog in the future. Because, you know, it would be really nice to have a combat unit actually do what you tell it to do, for a change?

Ideally, this is what would be implemented: full party control with marquee selection and strategy cam along with formation-based positioning/movement and full party chargen, building and inventory management.

In addition to FPC as the foundation, one could also add a Dragon Age: Origins-style conditional tactics framework to silence the "too much micro-management" crybabies (though micro-management is more of a hassle under NWN companion AI than it is under full party control, anyway, so they really don't have a leg to stand on). To be crystal clear, without the foundation of FPC such an addition would just be another "inventive" caricature of the tried-and-true; in other words, garbage.

D&D has always been about a party of adventurers. And D&D has always been about combat, first and foremost. Ask any Ars Magica fan or go and read transcripts of D&D sessions run by the late, great Gary Gygax, co-inventor of D&D: far from being about narrative-heavy storytelling, it's about a fight for survival inside a meat-grinder dungeon. You meet at the local tavern and into the dungeon you go. What happens in there is your story. That might be a startling revelation to those who have played lots of single-character "adventure game" modules for NWN featuring kindergarten tactics, but it's the truth: you haven't been playing D&D and you don't have the faintest idea what D&D is, I'm afraid. Go and play Swordflight: that's in the spirit of D&D. Again, the only reason those modules are prolific is because the Baldur's Gate crowd didn't transition to NWN en masse due to the lack of full party control. So instead, we got a bunch of twaddlers that just wanted to tell their "interactive stories".

But I digress.

If D&D computer games are going to allow for party-based adventuring then full party control should be employed because the AI isn't up to snuff. Tabletop D&D doesn't suffer from other party members doing tactically stupid things. If a player is disrupting play with their stupidity, the other players will demand the DM kill them off or kick them out because you can't partake of satisfying cooperative gaming when someone is threatening TPK with frequent and randomized stupidity, as NWN companion AI does.

Anyway, I just wanted to air this and get it "out there" because, to repeat myself, this is a golden opportunity to truly enhance NWN with a very strong and attractive feature people have been requesting for years. The call for full party control was always there, never went away, and isn't ever going to go away until it is employed; it's been 15 years and here I am. And I'm not the only one. NWN is one of the great RPGs to grace the PC platform, but it will never be counted among the greatest without full party control.

***

Would you like to control a party of six in a rebalanced OC? How about in Hordes of the Underdark and The Aielund Saga? Me, too!

"We don't level up beyond 14th. So there!"

***

  Warning: For Grognards only!   You know, I could have been really demanding in this post: how about a turn-based combat option; essentially, to allow for something akin to 3d Temple of Elemental Evil? Afterall, D&D is a turn-based game and RTwP is woefully imprecise compared to the majesty of true turn-based. But then, throughout the several years in which they held the coveted license, BioWare never did justice to the core of D&D: RTwP Baldur's Gate was more egregious than Neverwinter Nights full party control omission; it was also pernicious to the genre because every 'tard started making RTwP RPGs. In fact, thanks to the Prime Evil known as Atari interfering in Troika's ToEE, fans of D&D have never been graced with a masterpiece genuinely true to the most popular role-playing system of all-time. And that, is a tragedy.


***

102 comments:

  1. Thumbs up for this wonderful post.
    The lack of true control of companions has long been a frustrating move from Bioware. Even more so, from what I understand from Beamdog forums, they don't plan on even implementing in NWN OC the HotU method of allowing you to control the companions' inventory.

    They are totally focused on graphics and graphics alone. I recently went through Prologue and first Chapter of NWN1 OC. It is bad, but graphically speaking is not too bad, as compared to the gameplay and the fact that your companion AI is just a burden instead of any aid.

    I understand that NWN1 is Trent Oster's baby project from the start of his career, but surely Enhanced should be about more than just changing the pallette of the game and add some cosmetic changes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you share my view, Redrake. I'm assuming Beamdog are focused on visuals for three main reasons:

      1. There is a clamor on their forums for a graphical upgrade.
      2. Presumably, they have the ability to make it happen since the original graphics engine coder is onboard.
      3. Eye-candy sells. Even my blog screenshots have made NWN look better than it really does. Now, add higher poly models and higher res textures to that along with dynamic high-res skyboxes, and that's probably going to be tipping point for 90% of the crowd with a genuine interest in shelling out for NWN.

      I really would not care if they upgraded the visuals or not; there are overrides and Project Q for that already. I only inquire into and cover the visuals because high-visibility enhancements are likely to pull the mob in more than any other, no matter the ingenuity, and I think it stands to reason that the bigger wave that can be generated with the official release, the more likely we are to see concrete enhancements in the future. We're talking about 5 years of still-ongoing patching and feature-based updating for the IE:EEs. Put that sort of time investment into NWN:EE (with which Beamdog have freer reign/more clout), and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a loftier achievement, equal to the refactored UI and x64/multi-core rewrite.

      Delete
  2. As I have indicated elsewhere, I am quite skeptical that retroactively implementing full party control in NWN is a good idea (even assuming, which seems open to considerable doubt, that there is a practical, cost-effective means to actually do so), and this in spite of the fact that I would have been delighted to have such a feature if it had been in the game from the beginning. "Should this have been a feature of the game when originally made?" and "Should we try to retroactively include this feature at this late date?" are separate questions that do not necessarily merit the same answer.

    In the first place, I am opposed on general principles to Beamdog attempting anything but modest and limited revisions. Any attempt to drastically alter the way NWN currently works would massively increase the chances of turning the game into a buggy mess.

    Secondly, my own experience with NWN2 makes me doubtful that full party control is always and everywhere an improvement. Admittedly, there are a lot of NWN2 modules I have not played (since I do not much care for the game), so I may well have missed something, but I struggle to think of a single NWN2 encounter that was particularly interesting tactically or even fell short of being just terrible, whereas I can think of numerous NWN modules, and even a handful of rare encounters from the NWN official campaigns, that provide good examples of challenging, tactically interesting combat. Judging from the results, NWN's system is a relatively better one for tactical combat than NWN2's, despite the latter's full party control. Though of course there are other contributing factors to NWN2's generally poor combat, such as its utterly broken class balance (which, incidentally, would also come to NWN1 if Beamdog implemented every popular suggestion). I have much less knowledge of the Dragon Age franchise, but it seems its party controls are also not up to Infinity Engine standards. Clearly, the details of how full party control is implemented matter, and trying to shoehorn it into a game not originally designed for it does not increase the odds of it being implemented well.

    Thirdly, it is not too consistent with emphasizing backwards compatibility, which is crucial to keeping NNWEE from doing more harm than good. If we are dealing with a story-based module with face-roll combat, full party control is not needed, while in combat oriented modules, their existing balance would just be broken. Calling for it assumes there will be new modules designed to take advantage of it, but who knows if there actually will be any significant number of these? Related to this, I am also not sure if it would be practical to make such a feature non-standard. If it existed, presumably anyone could open a module they download in the toolset and turn it on, and many surely would, whether the author thought that a good idea or not. Again, if it existed, authors would need a major justification for not including it, even if they had some doubts about its suitability for their particular project.

    Finally, I can also say that Swordflight would certainly not have been better with full party control, since it would never have existed in the first place had that feature been included. Swordflight's storyline, based on making the PC something of a bodyguard to an NPC who tends to be an incompetent bungler, was directly inspired by NWN's ghastly companion AI. If I could have made a full-party control campaign it would have been a very different one (and perhaps better, but who knows?).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm capable of enjoying the cam, combat system and combat encounter design in both Dragon Age: Origins and Mask of the Betrayer. Kludginess of the latter aside (e.g, selection of combat unit lag), I think Electron, in its final state, is capable of presenting fairly satisfying tactical encounters. In fact, I found its kludginess to be less of an impediment than the dumb Aurora companion AI: at least Safiya casts what I want her to, when and where I want her to. At least Okku moves to where I want him to tank, and whales away on my chosen enemy until it's dead. Deekin and Aribeth will do that rarely. There is also less "bounce delay" when a combat unit hits a placeable, though getting stuck on placeables is a carry-over from Aurora. In addition, MotB allows for control of companion feat and skill selection as they level. In Storm of Zehir, one can control six cohorts just like the IE games, with full control over their build, just like IWD2. I would play a lot more NWN2 if its community churned out campaigns on par with the best NWN has to offer, but it doesn't.

      People tend to underrate the Electron cam, too. Strategy cam works just fine in presenting a tactical viewpoint for complex party-based combat. It has only one or two lil' quirks which are easily overcome (one is in relation to topography; the other is a cam-block). Aside from the other positive things I've said about it on this blog, you can even set it up to not snap to the selected companion in order to avoid spatial confusion. Best RPG cam ever, imo.

      Electron is an engine on top of an engine, coded by Obsidian. Aurora isn't. Anyway, while I don't think they present insurmountable obstacles, I think your points and cautions have merit, as usual. What I'd like to see is Electron UI functionality, cam versatility and companion control coupled with Aurora responsiveness and robustness. That would be a real Enhanced Edition.

      Delete
    2. At one point, I also wished NWN would allow full party control, but my view has been changed since and I agree with what Balkoth said. I think NWN should stay as it is, without the ability to control the full party. For one, I think it will break the balance too much of existing modules - NWN is already easy enough as it is without being able to control henchmen.

      Delete
    3. You mean that you agree with Rogueknight 333: I would put money on Balkoth being pro-full party control.

      As made abundantly clear in the body of my post, I'm not arguing for full party control in pre-existing modules unless builders of those modules - including any OC overhaul or entirely new campaign built by Beamdog - re/balance them with full party control in mind. The possibility of players cracking open the toolset in order to "force-on" full party control does not concern me anymore than the possibility they will crack it open in order to modify any aspect of a module or switch on godmode through the console, in-game. Presumably, anyone capable of cracking open the toolset will have the common sense to realize the ramifications of that in regard to game balance and bug/glitch introduction.

      On the side, I'd suddenly be interested in building my own module if Beamdog end up employing full party control. OTOH, I'm completely uninterested in building a module without it. And I'm not the only one.

      Delete
    4. Oops! Yes, I meant Rogueknight 333, not Balkoth :X

      Oh, so you have some ideas for your own module as well?

      Delete
    5. I haven't put much thought into it yet because I'm not sure what Beamdog are going to implement, but it would be a straight-down-the-line low level, low magic Forgotten Realms adventure.

      Story and lore would take a back seat to exploration, combat and questing. Combat wouldn't be as hard as Swordflight Chapter One, though. You would get XP for exploration, like in Defense of Fort Tremagne. I really like that idea.

      Number of words in dialogue, journal entries etc. would be kept to a minimum. I just don't like waffle or even well-written walls of text in my RPGs.

      Companions would get the odd interjection and flavor comments; I'd try to weave them into the quests so that they aren't just swords for hire.

      Certain lil' touches are important, I think. Like the animation gestures, sounds and voices that punctuate dialogue in Cormyrean Nights and Sapphire Star. I would like to see simple things like that in more modules. It adds personality to the NPC without you having to type extra words for their dialogue.

      I'd try to throw in some reactivity, but nothing fancy for a first foray. In the end, my module would probably be like an extremely dumbed down Sapphire Star in all of its aspects, except for the writing. I'm pretty sure I can do better in that department.

      I probably have less than 1% of the ability of Rogueknight 333 and Savant. It would just be for fun. :P

      Delete
  3. I guess I'm weird. I never liked NWN2's marquee selection. I did use full-party control. But dragging never came off for me. Even in Infinity, I only used it when the entire party needed to target one opponent with their currently equipped weapons. Which is to say, not terribly often.

    Now that's not to say I dislike full party control. But to me, the best AI control of party members was Dragon Age: Origins. How that did not become a standard is beyond me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Each to their own. I've utilized marquee selection since the days of Workbench on the Amiga; it's second nature. Thus, to me, any piece of PC software that doesn't employ it for group selection seems hamstrung in regard to usability.

      I agree that the conditional tactics framework employed by Origins certainly goes far beyond NWN companion AI, but I don't think Beamdog could match that and it's no substitute without full party control as the foundation, anyway.

      Delete
  4. Direct NPC control is obviously a superior method, and saves the trouble of making a decent AI. The original game release had limited budget and time, so henchmen were obviously a compromise. As to EE fixing this issue, I'd certainly support efforts to improve or add an additional option for modders to allow more direct control options. We need to talk about it on beamdog's forum to get it on the trello board. Oh and I'm one of the people pushing for improved visuals, so you can blame me for that :P Given their limited resources, they have to pick and choose priorities and I don't have an issue with BD asking the active player base for what they'd like. They don't do everything we ask, mind you, so theyre not completely bound to the will of forum members.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear you'd be ok with full party control, Savant! I'd love to play the Aielund Saga with full party control. I know it's a big ask, with Beamdog currently having only about seven people working full-time on NWN:EE, but I just had to get this "out there" and see what others think. It's a long road ahead...

      Delete
  5. Personally, I don't care so much for graphic improvement, and I won't consider buying EE without REALLY good improvements. As it happens, full party control is at the top of the list, along with removing spawning bugs like night/day only spawn (not working correctly).
    DrA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting, DrA. I share the same standpoint as you in that I'm sticking with the original over EE unless:

      1. In the future, I run into insurmountable compatibility issues with my Diamond Edition.
      2. They employ full party control or a combo of other concrete, non-cosmetic features that I find irresistible.

      I didn't know about the day/night spawn bug, but I've always disliked the immersion-breaking "spawn-stutter" that TR found still to be an issue in EE.

      Delete
  6. I'm in the same mind of rogueknight333 in believing that a rehearsal of the controls of the npc may result in a complete disaster for NWN:EE. But i think aditional commands in the command wheel such as "attack this enemy" or "hold this position" or even commands for castting certain spells will be a very welcome improvment and will not be a violent change as the implementation of a party control.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is possible Beamdog will go down that road, of course, but I just want to make it clear that many people will not be happy with such a compromise. There is no non-comical middle-ground in regard to the implementation of full party control; I don't want to see another "inventive" caricature of the tried-and-true.

      Delete
  7. If they don't implement party control directly, could they possibly do something to make it possible for modders to add it themselves? I believe they've said they're very open to un-hardcoding things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, I'd put money on coders coming along to make full party control happen, if the potential for such is unhardcoded. If all went well, they would become heroes of the community. :)

      Delete
    2. I hope that happens. Or that Beamdog gets the hint and does it themselves. I'd buy NWN-EE for party control alone, but I'm not really interested in it otherwise.

      Delete
    3. I'd rather Beamdog just do it themselves and allow for easy tweaking by modders. Might as well allow for at least a party of six with each member of the party being able to summon (if applicable) one monster, one familiar and one animal companion on top of that. Afterall, Warband (2010) allows for a party of 16 and Jagged Alliance 2 (1999) a party of 18.

      They're refactoring the UI and rewriting the code for x64 in 2017, so I don't see how Aurora can't handle it.

      Unhardcode the monster summon cap and someone could make a proper Necromancer module (for example), allowing the player to control a legion of undead.

      Delete
  8. Definitely I would love to see full party control! Would be a awesome addition. I don't know how much extra coding and recoding that may involve in that.
    Even if npcs could be "possessed" like familiars can be would be a great start.
    Most remastering trends I notice basically bring old games up to scratch for newer operating systems and higher resolutions. Even though current nwn still runs fine, the multiplayer has suffered from lack of GameSpy. I'd love to see a auto hak/tlk downloader too.

    Great post! I enjoyed reading it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed the read, Riconidas. And thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  9. Full party control would indeed be awesome addition to game! Finally I'll be able to take a cleric or sork companion without fearing for his retardation xD
    If only there were also balancing fixes like for example give mages some reason to go pale master xD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, cleric companions casting Harm on undead is indeed retarded.

      Delete
    2. Through is it more or less retarded then vampire priest casting heal onto himself while injured...

      Delete
    3. I bow to your knowledge of the retarded.

      Delete
  10. I would like to see a brand new adventure created by Beamdog, with new graphics, gameplay and areas, i'm tired of seeing same old areas when playing NWN. Also i would like to see new classes, races and more mature content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking forward to any adventure made by Beamdog, too. Especially since they will likely implement new mechanics and engine features in order to separate it from what's already available. I would like to see Gaider work on such a thing, though it seems he is engaged with another project altogether.

      Delete
    2. I am personally a bit worried about perspective of Beamdog written expansion. That "progressive" writing of the Siege for BG1 was quite a cringe

      Delete
    3. Just a friendly reminder: this blog hasn't been, isn't now and never will be a venue for commentators or commenters to express political or religious viewpoints. There are innumerable public venues for that sort of thing.

      Anyway, to my knowledge Beamdog only have Gaider onboard as a writer at the moment, and the two writers credited for Siege of Dragonspear are no longer onboard. Thus, if Beamdog decide to develop a new adventure or campaign for NWN:EE, I guess we can expect them to hire new writers. Whether they are any good or not, we'll just have to wait and see.

      Delete
    4. This was more expression of disappointment that SoD had some political shoehorning that objectively made writing worse. Like totally rewriting way some original characters behave.

      That's a good news. Well, then I think I'll carefully hope for some new content. Maybe 28-40 level sequel to HotU. We have a lot of unused epic levels in single player

      Delete
    5. I'd be fine with 1-40. It would be cool if they could get aVENGER onboard for scripting, combat encounter design and itemization balance, because: 1. He is of Infinity Engine vintage. 2. He did a great job on Siege of Dragonspear.

      Delete
  11. I'd also love if they added more prc in new addon. Something for arcane and divine guys. Maybe Eldritch knight/loremaster and stormlord/doomguide. Hell, even correctly done warpriest would have been awesome and not that pos warpriest from Nwn2(true warpriest should get 3 domain choice)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't be against the inclusion of extra prestige classes for a Beamdog campaign, though the base array of build options has always been enough for me. And I only dabbled in the Electron PrCs mentioned by you. I remember Stormlord being powerful in low-magic campaigns (e.g, on-hit shock + Enhanced Weapon stacking with weapon enhancements), and I remember Septimund the Doomguide being pretty powerful against undead in Storm of Zehir, but that's about it.

      Delete
  12. Well stormlord is basically arcane archer with lower progression(+3 enhancement instead on +5) with medium bab and full spellcaster progression. Its pretty powerful class but it does not progress turn undead or wildshape of druid. And instead of bows it works with spears and throwing weapons(only javeline in pnp). And gods know - throwing weapon need some love in nwn1.

    Doomguide is one trick pony pretty much. His levels stuck with priest to determain power of turn undead. He gets turn undead bonuses, death immunity and can turn weapon he wield into undead bane. Pretty nice class when you fight undead but about everything else - no better then simple cleric

    There are also Warpriest of Tempus which is butchered into Electron realisation. He should get 3 domain at level 1, but its impossible in electron. other then that its 5/10 CL class with a bunch of once a day abilities like Mass heal, Haste and Battletide, aura of fear(10+ WP levels) and anura that five everyone around him +1 to hit. Also high bab. Without third domain class completely not worth it, but if it actually could make another choise of domain with all it spells and bonuses it would be awesome

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could you please reply in-thread? Thank you.

      I'm really not up-to-speed on the intricacies of divine-based Electron PrCs, so I can't really say much on them or compare them with their PnP counterparts. I do recall the Stormlord prereqs being much stricter in PnP, though.

      Warpriest I have never looked into at all (so I didn't even know it is a poor choice).

      Do you prefer NWN or NWN2? I play both and acknowledge the virtues and flaws of both, but I prefer NWN overall.

      Delete
    2. Strange. I reply in-thread. I'm pressing reply button under your post. Maybe thats my firefox bugging blog out

      They all have much stricter requirements in pnp as all divine prc are specific god followers. And gods restrict character alignment and cleric domains. Also pnp classes are much stronger then ingame one. For example pnp stormlord can fly in storms. And he can never be hurt by natural lightning, nor slowed by storm winds, no bashed over the head with some stuff caught in storm. There are also other gods prc like Sune's heartwarder(gets a ton of charisma and become fey in the end), Sylvanus Forest Master(Turn you into Treant) or Lolth arache. And then there are different sects like Masters of Radiance who are kinda druids who worship sun and have turn undead as a result... DnD 3e has such a ridiculous amount of pnp classes and its variations that it would be enough for 10000 addons xD

      I think I'm a bit towards nwn2. With Tony K mod I have really nice fullparty control there with puppet mode and turn base battle style. I found nwn1 character building a bit too simplistic(game a bit luck of actually fun abilities, like bard songs from nwn2) and companion system a bit too useless. Through strangely I think nwn1 is aestetically much more superior.

      Delete
    3. What turn-based battle style? Are you referring to Lance Botelle's Combat Auto-Pause mod? I just tried it out: all it does is give you a feat that you can drag to your quickbar and "click on" to make the game auto-pause every six seconds...

      I don't like to rely on companion AI, Tony K's or not.

      I think NWN definitely has superior character animations. Everything else is probably up for debate.

      Delete
    4. If you install Tony K companion and monster Ai for nwn2 you'll get several new tweaks in partymember ai.

      1)Puppet mode - character would still do some ai based actions(handling traps for example) but other then that will act as he has ai turned off
      2)Pause every round - once character round start, the game autopause.
      3)Puppet follow - characters in puppet mode would still follow controlled npc unless given command to "stand your ground" or until start of fight(so they wont run after main character in battle)
      4)Pause and switch control - when game pause at start of character round, control would be automatically switched to it

      As a result you get actual TBS style fight similar to games like XCOM. It remove part of micromanagement, while keeping all best part of FPC intact. This way you never need to rely on companions ai never again, but you wont need to micromanage every single trap and every single move

      As a counterbalance it tweak enemies as well so for example rogue enemies really like to sit in stealth before attacking. And if they have magic items - they'll most likely use it. And they'll try to heal each other

      Nwn1 also has superior elementals. Nwn2 fire elemental can be damn sneaky bastard since he blend so well with environment.

      Delete
    5. Ok, I'm giving Tony K's another whirl.

      I'm looking for modules with good tactical combat, preferably TonyK's native or Tony K's-compatible; know of any? I don't want to play remakes. Basically, something like Shrouded Sun + Shadowdancer's Vault is my ideal.

      I just tried Hunt Through the Dark; didn't like it. It didn't have FPC for the first dungeon crawl. Instead, just gave you three mercs that tag along. Got into the first dungeon and couldn't move because the stupid mercs boxed me in at the doorway. They just stood there firing their bows at the enemy mob, and my melee PC was stuck behind them for the entire encounter. Then, in the next dungeon, the enemies were going crazy running around in circles, due to some terrain-pathing issue, and couldn't be targeted. Fuck that shit: uninstalled.

      Delete
    6. I think Tony K is compatible almost with anything. At least I used it in Shrouded sun and it was zero problems. Only Harp and Chrysanthemum become unwinnable cause final boss became so insanely aggressive and good with control spells that without cheats whole my party was constantly wiped out after being stunned in first two rounds.

      I heard good stuff about Red Prison but didn't have chances to test it out. I prefer more story based stuff like Planescape series(But only 4 out 6 chapters translated in English) and Ravenloft. You can try The Crystalmist Campaign - three modules based on classic pnp adventures so its has enough fights - but its pretty low level. But since Tony K enhance enemy AI as well - you can try it in SoZ or MoW.

      Delete
    7. By the way, regardless of browser (I use Chrome) there does seem to be a rare Blogger-wide glitch that may prevent you from replying in-thread. I've found that appending ?m=1 to the post's address can overcome the glitch (i.e, mobile view).

      Red Prison and Crystalmist look all right; might give them a trot. I've played too much SoZ in my time (including the SoZ "Holiday" Expansion Project), so I'm not really interested in thugging it out with Tony K's. Anyway, the Yuan-ti battles and boss battle are hard enough as-is (assuming one doesn't grind on the OLM to over-level the party).

      Neither Harp & Chrysanthemum nor Subtlety of Thay are really hack n slash modules. As well, Trinity is in the same vein, but I just didn't like its writing or design. MoW isn't my cup of tea, either.

      Delete
    8. Well, Tony K still make final fight of H&C insane.

      As I said - I think Tony K works with pretty much everything, unless it has its own ai extender. Pity that there are so small amount of high level builds where you could build something fun like Requiem bard or Pal8/F8/HA4/Stormlord10

      Delete
    9. I prefer low to mid level modules, personally. Things just get crazy when it goes epic, and not many builders/devs have the skills/knowledge to balance combat encounter design for epic parties. MotB was too easy due to epic itemization/crafting, for example, but both it and Aielund Saga were still fun in the high levels. HotU was a faceroll. It will be interesting to see how Rogueknight 333 handles power-creep in the epic installments of Swordflight that are to follow. Anyway, there are not many good epic-level RPGs out there, amateur or pro.

      Delete
    10. I agree that low to mid levels feel best to play(and most balanced) but still - its a bit pity to have no playground for high level insane builds. After all thats one of the best parts of 3d edition - insane overthetop class combinations

      Delete
    11. Rogueknight 333 referred above to Electron's utterly broken class balance. Would you agree with that? I'm sort of 50/50.

      From low to mid, it could be just my experience in the modules I've played, but Electron 3.5 actually feels a lil' more balanced to me than Aurora's 3.0. But later there comes the potential for stuff like Fighter 14/Bard 1/Red Dragon Disciple 10/Frenzied Berserker 5 (wallops everything in MotB) and Cleric 17/Monk 11/Divine Champion 2 (gets 18 attacks).

      But yeah, I admit that epic can be fun. More than just the delicate balancing act required to make an epic campaign, I really like watching my first level character grow to about 15th, where they start to kick ass but can still be vulnerable. To me, that's the sweetspot. And I don't feel the need to go on.

      Delete
    12. Well, lets think about this other way around. How about Bard20/RDD10/PM10 in nwn1, with Bard 12/RDD8 preepic and other stuff in epic - full medium bab with ton of immunities. Or Fighter 18/B2/RDD10 which does not sacrifice any ab for stats. or Druid/Shifter/Dwarwen defender which can get 50%damage immunity with insane DR resistance stat in Rizen lord form. If you would want to break game there are always the ways how to.

      Through there is a classes that got short end of stick in nwn2:
      1)Ranger become kinda bad class unless you are playing well known module with relatively small amount of enemy types. Fighter can get all the same feats and his specialization feat line works against everyone compared to favored enemies.
      2)Barbarian is a joke now since his rage does not stuck with item bonuses so if belts of giants are available - barbarian has just "make me weak after few rounds" button.
      3)Paladin is kinda a joke class now - Favored soul is pretty much paladin on steroids(free focus and specialisation, resistances and full cleric spellcasting with new spells coming from charisma) and smites are completely outclassed by Epic Divine Might(works twice as long and hit twice as hard as divine might) since EDM works against everything. So most of builds just take 2 pal levels for saves or 4 pal levels for turn undead(and as a result - Divine shield\Epic Divine might)

      Some classes on the other hand got huge power infusion:
      1)Bard got Legionnaire March which fetch highest bab in party and gives it to everyone. Additionally he got Song and Hymp of Requiem which are pretty much BEST feats in entire game
      2)Sorc and Wizard got Prc that makes them better casters.Arcane Scholar for example let you empower 8 level spells. Empowered polar ray at level 18 for example can one shot red dragon in OC.
      Epic rogues now can sneak attack crit immunities. And Red wizard just boost it even further. 30 lvl Red wizard casting Weil of Banshee as 45(!) level wizard isn't something from realm of impossibility
      3)Clerics now have a lot more domains many of which give actually useful stuff. Like free Feint from trickery or free blindfight from darkness

      Additionally there are some new insanely useful feats like steadfast determination(your will save depends of constitution instead of wisdom), feint(Makes a bluff check against enemy spot and if enemy fail - he is counted as flat footed for everyone for few rounds), persist spell(you can make sells of 0-3 level last for 24 hours. So Favored soul for example can persist bless, aid, divine favor and prayer. Or wizard can persist haste). Perfect two weapon fighting gives a on of second hand attacks

      Through there are also losses - to get EWF ou now need to have Greater weaon focus, so without fighter 8 its impossible. Stat bonuses no longer stacks and only biggest one work so its harder to stuck ab up to +20. Its not a problem in OC+Motb but if you want to go PW you need to be sure that your melee fighter has 40+ ab before equipment or you have ab of 30+ and cleric style buffs/hips/feint. And if you want to archer - 50+ ab unbuffed is a must.

      Where electron fail short is in bugs department. There are A LOT of bugs in nwn2 and without knowing them you might suffer pretty hard. for example: uncanny dodge do not work, expert tactician do not work, epic spells ignore immunities, warlock has only 1/2 of caster level to beat resistances, Eldritch blast 10+ ignore all mantles and immunities, x/slashing(blugioning/piercing) resistences do not work, paladin weapon buffs never ends, alertness can trigger bug where character with 1 level of divine caster can get whole 9 level spells), combat expertice do not lower touch attacks, warlock do not need charisma to get new spells and use them, light penalties applies only to character sheet and not ingame(so drows do NOT need feat to combat sunlight weakness) and etc, etc, etc.

      Delete
    13. Good post. You've given me a lot to look into.

      I covered a lil' of the Risen Lord here.You can get it to the point of "You hit me for 50 dmg, I take 1 dmg!" I lol'd while recording the vid in that link.

      I believe Savant removed Dev/Over Crit from the Aielund Saga on grounds of its OPness. As you know, you can get Dev/Over by 21st if you start as Half-orc with 20 Strength. He also found CoT difficult to balance for due to its offensive Damage Increase buffs eating through everything, including Epic Warding.

      Electron also has laugable familiars. At least Rangers can get a deinonychus that is strong in the low levels (probably worth the cost of a Feat in low level modules). Just a pity their pathing routine is shot to shit; they are unwieldy.

      I absolutely love the Persistent Spell mechanic! Useless in SoZ without a mod but in MotB it was more about convenience than OPness. PS is one of the best things about NWN2.

      Delete
    14. Funny thing is that familiar at higher levels much more useful then ranger pets. Bonuses that familiars gives stacks with everything and +3 bluff from spider, +3 for listen from bat or +1hp per character level from bugs are useful through all game. While even dino begin to fall back in term of AB. Without druid buffs 30 lvl ranger will summon dino with somewhat like 21 ab. Which is insanely low, unusable even in MotB. While +30 hp for mage from bug is very useful since it's like having +2 con stat.

      Delete
    15. Yeah, I just meant they are unimpressive in that they are mundane creatures that don't level up with you, and don't offer much in regards to combat tactics and utility advantages. Coming from NWN, it was like "wtf is this?" Well, at least they don't leech your XP. That was another good thing about NWN2.

      Delete
    16. Yeah, I can understand that

      On a funny sidenote - Daelan might have seen future and build himself for nwn2 xD Cleave line is pretty useless in nwn2 - even in OC after act 2 good luck one-shotting anything. Unless you are going for Blackguard or Frenzied Berserker they are waste of space

      Delete
    17. Not so much Great Cleave, but base Cleave should still be useful. Even my Air Genasi twin-blades build was getting extra attacks from Cleave in MotB. Of course, the Cleave line really comes into its own with the Frezerker (not sure how it works with Blackguard).

      Delete
    18. it just a prerequest for blackguard xD

      Anyway, what do you personally think about nwn2 class balance? You said you are 50/50 about them being unbalanced

      Delete
    19. And about cleave on genasi - lets count feats in consideration of OC enviroment
      lvl 1 - luck of heroes(+1 AC and +1 saves)
      lvl 3 - TWF
      lvl 6 - ITWF
      lvl 9 - toughtness(for steadfast)
      lvl 12 - GTWF
      Lvl 15 - Steadfast determination(con bonus instead of wisdom and no longer fail saves on 1)
      lvl 18 - blind fight

      And that's just ignoring prerequests for possible prc. Pretty much zero place for cleave
      lvl

      Delete
    20. I don't have enough knowledge to make a call; I've only gone on how the class-balance feels in the modules I've played, with the builds I've played. Basically, Electron class-balance feels ok to me and it's not something I've felt the need to criticize in a blog post (unlike other aspects of NWN2 such as its bugs, unoptimizations, cutscene employment for trivial dialogue, and general kludge and clunk).

      Delete
    21. Well, I managed to fit in Cleave with my MotB build, which employed WM and RDD. I may have sacrificed a feat that you may consider blasphemous :P, but it kicked ass.

      Delete
    22. Weapon master is kinda not very good class in Oc+Motb. It kick ass in SoZ but Motb is crit immunity fest so wm is kinda useless there xD THrough I once played through OC+Motb as a WM duelist and it was kinda ok xDOC and Motb has pretty low difficulty counter - it funnier to test builds in Trials of Terror but that pretty much solo module

      Delete
    23. I acknowledged the crit-immunes in the very first paragraph of my MotB walkthrough. Still, I critted all kinds of shit so WM isn't "kinda useless" in MotB. Trials of Terror I'll have to look into; thanks for the heads-up.

      Delete
    24. Well, its still like 60-70% of enemies in MotB are uncrittable spirits/undead/elementals and WM require a lot of pretty bad feats to qualify(dodge outclassed by luck of heroes, mobility and spring attack completely covered by 30 tumble, whirlwind has pathetic range and ignore many bonuses) so it's not exactly worth it in motb. But MotB has such a low difficulty that you can finish it with melee str based sorc(I tried xD)

      Delete
    25. I'll just repeat that I enjoyed the run and was aware of the build's unoptimization for MotB from the outset. Build owned final boss and many foes along the way, with crits (not convinced of the accuracy of your percentage range, either). There are not many campaigns I enjoy like MotB that go into epic levels. I uploaded quite a few vids during my run, one experimenting with Whirlwind. :P

      Build was something like: Fighter 12/Bard 1/Red Dragon Disciple 10/Weapon Master 7. In replacement of WM, how would you have built a twin-blade build for MotB? (Noted on the LoH/Tumble 30).

      Delete
    26. Pretty sure its correct if we count per enemy(there are a lot of elementls and spirits spawns there and they are all uncrittable) If we count per story fights then yes - most of story enemies are crittable

      I'm not sure I'd go with two weapons in motb as there are quite a few annoying enemies with DR. Maybe Ranger 21 with bane of enemies. I'd personally go with either F14/B1/RDD10/WM7(which you mentioned before) or FB14/B1/RDD10/BG5(and got EDM and divine shield) and just two-hand warhammer. Or just wend with Bard 22, got hymn of Requiem and bashed final boss for 70 dmg per round while healing himself around the same amount(not counting damage from melee strikes). THrough as you mentioned above - with so powerful items avaliable in MotB its not a hard journey.Its not, IIRC, twelve adamantine golems with epic dodge at start of Trials of Terror

      Delete
    27. In MotB, I found twin-scims to be as good as great weapon wield. Yes, a build on its way to Fighter 14/Bard 1/RDD 10/Frezerker 5 will take down an an early Nightwalker faster than one on its way to Fighter 12/Bard 1/RDD 10/WM 7, but Mielikki +7 is itemized early and powerful enhancements on two weapons can be acquired early, too. WM twin-scims also beats down Faceless much faster than Frezerker with great weapon (12 attacks with steady stream of crits doing upwards of 150 dmg). Frezerker is stronger against mobs, but mobs are hardly the problem are they...

      Delete
    28. Alas, Desm, one of those NWN2 bugs you observe players need to know about is that Reflex and Will saves don't auto-fail if you roll a 1! Makes Steadfast Determination much less attractive.

      Delete
    29. Well, In nwn2 you do not need great weapon to twohand. Just remove shield from any character and he will twohand scimitar +7 as well. That's kinda make great weapon useless - greatsword deliever 2d6(2-12 damage, medium 7), longsword deliver 1d8(1-8, medium 4,5) so you get like +2,5 damage per strike at medium which just disappear in twohand damage)

      Better part of twohand fighter is the fact that he feels ok even without high tier items, while two weapon fighter is kinda require them since his natural ability to deliver damage is a bit short. Also best str item in Motb has dex penalty on it(Construct Girdle +12 str -6 dex with sneak attack and paralysis immunity) and higher then dex one(+8 dex). Well, there is +12 to all item but you need to kill every single companion for it

      Delete
    30. damel, you are correct, but it look like you mix up two feats. Steadfast determination is pre epic feat and it make you not fail FORTITUDE save but additionally it replace will bonus from wisdom(which is most likely -1 or even -2) with con one(which is most likeluy at least +1 or might be even +6 at some builds). What is become unattractive is epic resilience(you do not fail any saves at 1 and require Epic toughness) clearing up TWO epic feats

      Delete
    31. You can just wear +10 Strength belt (Okku/Forovan) and get immunity to sneak attacks, crits and paralysis from other sources. Didn't have problems hitting things, and hitting them hard, with Air Genasi twin-scim build. I two-handed a scim in Subtlety of Thay to take advantage of 18-20 crits. In regard to great weapons, I would suggest Scythe as very attractive for WM due to 5x crit multiplier. Mielikki scythe is also itemized early, I believe. Nice grim reaper flavor and hugely powerful in HotU, too (350 dmg Great Cleaves on epics).

      Delete
    32. THere are no Mielikki scythe. Do you mean Myrkul's Wrath? It is unavaliable without mod or cheats through it is insanely awesome crafted weapon (+10 with slay alignment with negative damage bonus and massive critical)

      Scimitar outcrit scythe actually. Remember there was a calculation somewhere. Need to try and find - but scimitar do more damage as it crit more often unless you are playing really high AC enviroment

      Delete
    33. Oops, wrong goddess. I meant the Scythe of Chauntea +7 sold by the same vendor who sells Mielikki +7.

      From memory, someone did the math on GameFAQs. And Scythe topped the list. I could be misremembering, though. And it might not be accurate. Anyway, it comes down to flavor. Sometimes, I just like to see big bursty crits instead of a steady stream. Both are strong setups.

      Delete
    34. If I remember correctly it goes like that: maximum pushed crit threat of Scimitar is 13-20, and max crit threat of scythe is 17-20. If you hit on 13 and less, scimitar dominate scythe. With lowering chance of hit scimitar begin to loose its appeal until you reach situation when you hit on 17 and up. Then they do relatively same damage. Moving up make scythe do more damage. Somewhat like that through I seems to unable to locate exact numbers at nwn2db

      Delete
    35. Falchion could be interesting, too. You could wield Sergei's Transcendent Edge for Spirit's Ruin. Could two-hand it or get Monkey Grip for dual-wield/sword n board.

      Delete
    36. Falchion indeed interesting xD It's bugged out and do not need greater weapon focus to qualify for epic xD Anyway we kinda railed away from original thread of FPC in NWN1

      Delete
  13. On the topic of full party control, i think that Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 have staying power just because of its companions, someone who you can relate to and have a sense of friendship and unity, so it would be good if NWN had likeable characters. How you can relate to Tomie Undergallows? I can't, but i can to Keldorn Firecam, for example. He is a brave old paladin with strong moral compass, and is especially caring for more fragile guys, like Aerie and Anomen. So i think full control party would be nice, and some likeable characters, not just cardboard papers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found Tomi likeable. And I love Linu. Of course, there is no companion-on-companion banter because you can only have one Henchman at a time in the OC. There are also no Henchman interjections to add flavor to certain sidequests and the MQ. The other problem is that Henchman personal quests are not really quests: they come down to three banters per Chapter and then finding a particular item within that Chapter in order to get a gift from the Henchman which can be upgraded in subsequent Chapters.

      Delete
  14. A few positive announcements that have come out of Beamdog's NWN:EE announcement (as it concerns fans of the single-player game):

    • First up, Savant announced an immediate willingness to reprise his Aielund Saga overhaul, which he subsequently released on Jan-03-2018: v.3.0: Aielund Saga Enhanced Edition. It features various new tilesets, placeables and dialogue threads along with high-res skyboxes, bugfixes and optimizations.
    • Second, on Jan-06-2018, Andarian announced his Sanctum of the Archmage: Enhanced Edition. Uniquely, the campaign features flying pegasi segments.
    • Third, also on Jan-06-2018, Project Q pioneer, Pstemarie, came out of retirement to announce his intention to focus on writing and scripting single-player modules.

    Thus, the future is looking pretty bright for fans of single-player NWN - and this is only Headstart early days. Of course, Swordflight Chapter Four is in dev, too!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the shout out, Lilura! Just to elaborate briefly on my announcement: although I am releasing EE compatible versions of the first two Sanctum modules, the real news is my resumption of work on the third, unfinished chapter, which I suspended development on several years ago to start writing my novels. Sanctum 3 has a fully worked out design that is larger and more ambitious than both of the first two chapters combined. So it will take me a while to finish even though a fair amount of the work is already done. But it's a fully new release that's never been seen before, and it will be built for compatibility with NWN:EE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Andarian! I'm looking forward to following your development of Sanctum 3!

      Delete
  16. I agree with pretty much everything that's been spoken about regarding pathfinding and control of henchmen in nwn. Giving the player more camera options when using marquee select makes a lot of sense, as long as it doesn't break cutscene scripts (aka automatic return to normal camera mode when it goes to cut scene mode). Oh and if I do go about adapting my 2nd novel series into an nwn module(s), there would be 5 henchmen you can take (or not) and they would have lots of dialogue with each other where appropriate, as I'd be going for a more 'interactive novel' feel than the Aielund Saga. Oh and if BD don't get around to doing true 4k skyboxes, I'll do them myself :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't believe Obsidian omitted portrait dragging (for party member reordering) and party positioning/movement formations in Electron. But their strategy mode cam is the bee's knees, imo. And yeah, the six-person party is where it's at for D&D RPGs. One could employ lots of intra-party, stat-based and decision-based reactivity in order to separate it from just "an adventure game". Sort of like Mask of the Betrayer and Planescape: Torment, though the former also featured fairly good tactical combat and resource management.

      Delete
  17. Hi, Stagmeister! And thank you for expressing your views on FPC, though I would have preferred you express them on the FPC post for two reasons: 1. It's the FPC post! 2. I cannot link to individual comments on pages such as the Comment Stream.

    Anyway, just a few points:

    • First, Savant is not against FPC (solid employment-permitting), and Balkoth, author of the Minion Control mod (used on some PWs), is currently coding scripts for Aielund that will give players more control over companions, familiars and animal companions. I think this is evidence of its desirability. Similar hacks have been employed in Bone Kenning, too!

    • Second, thanks to my bitchy rant, Beamdog have added FPC to the Trello board for consideration. But just because it's on the Trello board doesn't mean it'll be implemented, or even the potential for it unhardcoded. However, you can expect me to kick up a stink of Cloudkill, nay, Incendiary Cloud, proportions if Beamdog decide not to employ FPC. ;)

    • Third, as I said in the post itself, I think the existence of MotB + PST prove that FPC doesn't remove the R from RPG. FPC also doesn't preclude single-character campaigns or soloing.

    • Fourth and last, if they employ FPC, I don't think Beamdog will remove the so-called "role-playing" cams from Aurora. The zoomable and rotatable Strategy mode cam would just be there as an optional tactical perspective that FPC would require (though I use strategy mode cam 100% of the time, even in role-playing-heavy campaigns such as MotB).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. StagmeisterJanuary 09, 2018

      Apologies, Lilura - I hadn't realised there was a dedicated post for FPC, because I hadn't scrolled right - my bad.

      I wasn't attempting to presume Savant's views on FPC, only that the companion AI and interaction with one's char was significantly better, thereby improving the experience, rather than diminishing it as it does in the OC. Sorry if that didn't come across.

      Thanks for replying, and having read this particular thread through now, please consider my objections withdrawn. Put it down to the last of the festive scotch making me argumentative ;)

      Keep up the good work!

      Delete
  18. Just want to note how spot-on I think Lilura's essay on FPC is. I endorse it for NWN EE; I've made the same clear on the forums and on the trello boards. Thanks, Lilura, for your sharp take!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anonymous. I will remember this post fondly; it's one of my faves. :)

      Delete
    2. Glad to hear it! (I've created an account now; I'm the "Anonymous" poster above). Any sense of where things will shake out in NWN EE on this FPC issue? (And sorry if I've committed any blogger faux pas by replying in-thread; I don't have experience with this platform, so I'll take any re-direction).

      Delete
    3. No problem, Palin Majere. Beamdog have stated that FPC is not part of their "vision" for NWN. For that reason, and others, I will no longer be promoting or even covering/criticizing NWN:EE. Now, I am only concerned with continuing to preserve the narrative of the original NWN, as released and patched to 1.69 by BioWare.

      Delete
    4. "Beamdog have stated that FPC is not part of their "vision" for NWN. For that reason, and others, I will no longer be promoting or even covering/criticizing NWN:EE."

      I'm sorry to hear that as I actually agree with their vision (in this regard, at least). I've been meaning to write a short essay on the subject but been busy with other stuff. It boils down to three main things (the first two related to combat and the third is in regard to character):

      1, NWN does not have turn based combat (like Divinity: Original Sin) or relevant auto-attacks for primary casters (like Dragon Age). The former would mean you control every character anyway in turn and the latter means the caster can be set to auto attack when you're not controlling them to avoid wasting spells but still being relevant. This leads to...

      2, I want to be playing my character. As in the character I made. But if I made a fighter, I'd feel obliged to constantly be playing the cleric or mage in the party because they need far more control to be effective (the Fighter can be 90-95% effective with a tool like the one I created) AND (see #1) they won't be very effective (or they'll waste spells) if I'm not babysitting them. If combats are designed assuming clerics/mages ARE using their spells to full effect, then I MUST control the clerics/mages to win. Rather than the character I wanted to play. That or I'd be pausing the game every 2-3 seconds to reissue new orders which I also don't want.

      3, certain characters are set up in certain ways with their backstory. Now sure, this is somewhat of a "chicken or the egg" problem, but I don't think Daelan (for example) should start taking levels in Wizard if the player wants. Nor should Aribeth suddenly take levels in Ranger or something. And if you could tell Nellise in Aielund to start taking rogue levels then that seems very strange to me.

      Even a game like Dragon Age isn't FPC in this regard -- Alistair can't be a mage or rogue no matter how much you wish he was.

      Now, would having more say in how companions leveled (without having total control) be fine? Possibly. Maybe Daelen could go either pure Barbarian or a Barbarian/Fighter mix. And we do see this in some campaigns (like SoU and HotU) where you can direct companion evolution. But those same campaigns still have other companions who are set in stone (Deekin is always a bard in SoU and Valen is always a Weapon Master).

      I like how Mass Effect did this -- you could customize your companions within certain parameters but you couldn't wildly change them.

      ----------------------------

      Now, this may all sound very strange coming from me -- I recall you saying you thought I would support FPC in NWN. I don't. I support giving the player more direction (both in and out of combat) over companions (hence things like my tool) but I don't want to have to swap around between different characters constantly in combat and I don't think we should be able to break existing character lore.

      Again, I've played games with at least some form of FPC (such as Dragon Age (2/3) and Divinity: Original Sin (2)). I just don't want that for NWN.

      Delete
    5. As I said a few months ago, I'm done discussing this subject, but thanks for expressing your viewpoint, and feel free to continue expressing it, here and elsewhere, with whoever comes along.

      Btw, you should fix the aspect ratio for your Let's Play. And just how obsessive are you in regard to inventory management? :P Anyway, at least you're a very fast player.

      If you haven't already, you might like to let Rogueknight 333 know about your Player Tool 1 hack. While no replacement for proper full party control, from what I've seen of it in action, it's better than nothing.

      Delete
    6. "Btw, you should fix the aspect ratio for your Let's Play."

      If you can tell me how to get the F1 button at the bottom left corner of the screen and the F12 button at the bottom right corner of the screen with a different resolution, I am all ears.

      Also, if you can tell me how to keep the mouse sensitivity the same (it seems to go by pixel rather than percent of screen, so at high resolution the mouse feels incredibly sluggish).

      More here: https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/69833/nwn-ee-mouse-sensitivity-and-ui-scaling

      "And just how obsessive are you in regard to inventory management? :P"

      Probably very, but what in particular are you commenting on? Checking every merchant? Equipping the best gear available? Looting a bunch of stuff?

      "Anyway, at least you're a very fast player."

      In regards to?...

      Honestly curious what you mean, I'd expect to hear that in a turn based game or something like Chess or Civilization.

      "If you haven't already, you might like to let Rogueknight 333 know about your Player Tool 1 hack. While no replacement for proper full party control, from what I've seen of it in action, it's better than nothing."

      Fair point, I'll do so.

      Delete
    7. I don't play the EE. I'm not interested in playing a version of NWN that is going to be patched and updated for the next five years (Baldur's Gate EE is still being patched/updated after five years). Beamdog/current gen modus operandi: Get players testing and finding bugs, spend the next 5 years introducing new bugs/patching/updating, and telling everyone how dedicated they are.

      In regard to aspect ratio and mouse sensitivity, all I can say is "no problems here with the original version."

      I play NWN at "4:3 aspect ratio maintained on widescreen display with black borders" or "native 16:9/1366*768."

      Either way, the UI/visuals maintain their true dimensions/are not artificially stretched.

      "Checking every merchant? Equipping the best gear available? Looting a bunch of stuff?"

      All of the above.

      "In regards to?..."

      In regards to mouse movement and clicking.

      Delete
  19. "In regard to aspect ratio and mouse sensitivity, all I can say is 'no problems here with the original version.'"

    Er...the original (Diamond) version is where I first encountered these issues and why I've played in 800x600 since 2003 when I got the game.

    "I play NWN at "4:3 aspect ratio maintained on widescreen display with black borders" or "native 16:9/1366*768.""

    So basically either have black borders on the left/right side of the screens or shrink the UI (I'd play at 1920x1080 native)?

    "All of the above."

    Hah. Very. You should see my inventory screens in a game like Dragon Age or Divinity Original Sin...

    "In regards to mouse movement and clicking."

    Fair enough. Thanks. I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I've played in 800x600 since 2003 when I got the game."

      I have been known to play at 800*600 on widescreen displays, too. Mainly because the UI is coded for that resolution and so the inventory and char-sheet panels fit closely together. See here. I maintain 4:3 aspect ratio because black borders are preferable to stretching. Also, that link links to a UI mod that you might like to try out.

      And yes, it's a compliment. It's refreshing to watch a Let's Play by someone who knows how to play and use a mouse. From my point of view, it's just a pity you didn't maintain aspect ratio, spend too much time reshuffling your inventory, and are playing the EE version. :P

      Delete
    2. The Enhanced GUI one?

      Well, thank you.

      I'm not sure what I'll do on the aspect ratio -- in other games I don't care as much if the UI gets smaller since I'm using hotkeys like 1 through 6 or something (as in WoW) but NWN uses F1 through F12...need to actually CLICK with the mouse.

      I'll try to tone down the inventory reshuffling (though I am afraid that if you're "caught up" that I'm about to get all four companions and have to spend time equipping them...but I'll try to be quick about it).

      Oh, and as a bonus, I'm going to see if I can transfer my EE save to Diamond and play there due to this sound issue that started happening with a recent patch:

      https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/968739

      Delete
    3. Nope, can't use the current save in the Diamond Edition. Pity. I could do a Swordflight playthrough or something...hmm...open to suggestions.

      Might also try to see if I can transfer a character between editions and then redo the first part of Act 2. Dunno yet.

      Delete
    4. For Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment, I actually play at 640*480. Again, because that's the resolution the games were coded for. In their EEs, Beamdog actually removed 640*480 as an option (and possibly even 4:3 completely, I don't recall), just because they wanted to overhaul the UI with their aesthetically inferior version. Disgusting! :P

      And yeah, that NWN:EE sound issue would be annoying. Things like that stand out to people who have been playing the original for over a decade.

      Delete
    5. It wouldn't take you long to get back to where you were. But yeah, no one has yet been brave enough to take on Swordflight in a Let's Play. Other than Rogueknight 333 himself, you would be the most qualified to take it on.

      By the way, have you played Sapphire Star and Defense of Fort Tremagne? I have reviewed them. They are Swordflight-ish (though nowhere near as good).

      Delete
    6. Aha! It seems I can save the character from EE and transport it into Diamond. Then just going to play through the first part of Act 2 with a different character and then swap (via multiplayer game option). I think this will work (so I'll be playing Diamond with the "enhanced" version of the Aielund modules).

      The first time I played through Swordflight I asked Rogueknight333 "What would be the worst character to play through this as?" This is assuming a reasonable effort, not a wisdom based Wizard or something. He suggested a Druid/Shifter so that's what I did and it was indeed painful. Probably would be even more painful to watch. But I did it damnit, with a reload on each death so never "died my way through stuff."

      If I were to play Swordflight again and record it, what type of character would you be interested in seeing me play as?

      I have not played either of those, but I'll look into them.

      Delete
    7. You know what would be cool to see? A speedrun of Swordflight. Or, if that's too hard, a speedrun of Aielund. And yes, I have watched your speedrun of Snow Hunt.

      What do you think would be the best build for a speedrun of Aielund/Swordflight? Sorcerer?

      Delete
    8. Part of my concern is long term consequences. In an XP and loot based RPG being able to finish Act 1 super quickly is going to slow you down in Act 2 due to being lower level with less gear. So you'd have to try to balance long term and short term consequences. You'd also have to try to skip as many side quests as possible if they don't give good XP/minute.

      This is very different compared to something like speed running Half Life (2) where leaving enemies behind (if possible) doesn't cost you XP.

      There's also a difference between a speedrun and simply playing very quickly. The latter is much easier to do.

      Sorcerer or Weapon Master would be my guess. Sorcerer will have to stop and rest more and lacks the single target output, but can buff the party, is less gear dependent, and can AoE stuff. The start of Act 4.1 would be much easier as a Sorcerer but the end of 4.3 would probably be faster as a Weapon Master, for example.

      It's an idea I'll consider.

      Delete
    9. Yeah, I guess it's going to be tedious because there are really not that many interesting tricks to employ.

      For example, you can't stealth past enemies and then make up for that kill XP loss through quest XP because there are no real quest XP "bombs".

      Similarly, there are no ultra-powerful items to bee-line to, no sequence-breaking teleportation spells etc.

      Moreover, there are very limited instances where you can skip combat encounters through the employment of social skills.

      Examples of the above can be found in Fallout, Arcanum, Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate/BG2 and even hack n slash heavy RPGs like ToEE and IWD/IWD2.

      Delete
  20. Seems like Beamdog now want to employ KotOR-style FPC in NWN:EE. IOW, the cam jump-locks between characters in the party.

    Of course, that is still rubbish compared to free/strategy cam with marquee selection and formation-based positioning/movement. No doubt, they want KotOR-style because it's more console-controller/tablet-friendly.

    "FPC" will apparently be configurable by CCCs at the toolset level.

    Of course, I mentioned the above in this article, published almost a year ago. This just goes to show how slow Beamdog are at taking on actual features as opposed to just fiddling with things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never played KOTOR. How much control does that give you? If it's like NWN2, that would be good enough for me.

      Delete
    2. "Free/strategy cam with marquee selection" = NWN2. KotOR lacks both of those features.

      Delete
    3. That's unfortunate. Still, if I can at least have the same amount of control over a companion that I do over my PC (i.e. movement, targeting, spell selection/deployment, skill/item use, and so on), with class/feat selection on a case-by-case basis, that would be a dramatic improvement, even if I have to do everything one character at a time. That would make NWNEE worth getting in my eyes.

      Delete

Return to Index of lilura1 content

• Full comment stream is viewable here

• Anonymous users may not post comments. This is to cut out spam and insipid drive-by comments like "Love your blog!" and "You suck!", which I also consider spam. Register an account and Follow the blog if you would like to comment. Register on Google+ for a custom avatar!

• You can italicize, bold and underline portions of your text with simple HTML formatting elements. Likewise, you can include clickable hyperlinks with the basic HTML tag.

• Blog is moderated due to influx of spammers, trolls and bigots. I can spot a troll a mile off and hit it right between the eyes with fire and acid.

• Comments of a personal, political and religious nature are ignored. Comments with "isms" are ignored. Blatantly off-topic comments are ignored. Criticism of Renaissance RPGs based on degenerate current gen fads, trends and "sensibilities" are ignored.

• Use zoom function of your browser to make the blog more readable. In Chrome, that's Ctrl and Shift and +. (And yes, I recommend that you view this blog with Chrome.)

Thank you for commenting, and have a lovely day!