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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Exclusive update: Fools War


Okay, by request by one of our fans, I will now write a blog post about the development of the Neverwinter Nights 2 module: Fools War. I will state our problems, our production stages and how the future looks for the module. Oh, I'll give you some screenshots on updated areas as well.

 

In the beginning, the project at the university

Proccess:

We began our project in the late of august 2008, at the University of Skövde, Sweden. Our team consisted of 4 designers and 2 graphical artists. We had the following roles: Dialogue and Story writers, Level designers, Quality Assurance, Balance, Scripters and Promotion artists. I worked a little bit with everything, but my focus was QA, Dialogue and later on Level Design.

In the first phase, we created mockups for everything: Dialogues, Leveldesign, Promotional Art and Story. The mockups gave us a better picture on how the Module should be. In the second phase, we started producing real content, much of what excists today. In the last phase we focused on bugs, balance and art direction. 

The result of the 5 moths of work was okay, but not great. I will go more into detail about this in the problems-section. 

Problems: 

What we did, we did with VERY limited resources and some unmotivated team members. The University was to supply us with game licenses, so that we could work with the toolset at the school, rather than at home. We think it's important that everyone works at the same place, and not split up.

Although these licenses didn't show up for the first half of the project (2-3 months), so we had to split the team up, because we didn't have enough laptops to support everyone. Keep in mind that these laptops was our own and not in a very good state for doing graphical tasks.

We had a couple (2-3) team members that did not give it all for the project. This resulted in huge miscalculations of hours available and a lot of content that we had to trash. I'm sorry guys but this is the truth and you will have to live with it.

Another big problem was the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset. It was very complex and a bit buggy. A lot of the times, our save files where corrupt and hours of work where lost. If you happen to work with this toolset, SAVE OFTEN and in NEW FILES! As you know, this is very frustrating and affects the morale alot.

Working at home, not really an option. A lot of time where spent on problems that other team members could fix in a blink of an eye, and much content was created that was not in line with the rest of the content. This resulted in many hours being lost and a morale being sunk to the bottom.

 

The summer process, the current situation

Proccess:

The focus is bug-fixing and a graphical unity between the leveldesigns. We are now 4-5 team members that work with fixing critical bugs, strange dialogues and leveldesign that is not quite as good as we want it, artisticly AND gameplay-wise. We work at different locations on different hours, with a weekly meeting every sunday evening. 

Problems: 

Once again, we work at different locations and the down sides of that is listed in the previous problems section. We also have a problem with morale, and that is directly connected to working at different locations and all the bugs that keep showing up.

New game patch = tons of new bugs for us modders. Whenever Obsidian Entertainment release a patch for the game Neverwinter Nights 2, a lot of things stop working in our mods. It's most frustrating when they release another expansionpack. Then, nothing works anymore. We feel that even if we get the module ready, patches and expansions will keep messing it up and we will never be "done".

 

The future! When will the module be released?

We don't know when we can release the module, but our aim is to be done before new years eve so that we can compete in the Mod of The Year competition at IGN.com.

We will continue to hunt bugs, fix leveldesign and game balance, but later on we also want to add some sidequests and expand the hours of play. We got the main foundation ready, now we just have to make it "fun" and figure out how we can stop the new bugs from showing up every time they patch the game.

 

I hope that this is what you guys wanted to hear =) If you have any questions either mail me directly or write a comment to this blog post.

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