February 2004

Neverwinter Nights Forum News
Posted Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 14:55 CET by chevalier

Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

Jonathan Epp, Quality Assurance

Fog: A higher number does the same thing it always has - gives you more fog. We just allow you to set it much higher than before. This is useful for when you set the Fog Clip Distance to be significantly higher than the default. If you move back the Fog Clip Distance, and don't change the Fog Amount, you'll effectively end up with a less foggy area. The higher values we now allow let you compensate for that.

Georg Zoeller, Designer

Skyboxes: I think the skybox code is scheduled to be looked at for 1.63, through I might be wrong. Probably we are going to allow for a higher distance on the fog plane as well.

Class quests: In HotU and SoU rangers and druids have some options that are not open other characters when it comes to animals. In all campaigns, rogues and sometimes other classes can take different routes around many combats. There is quite cool Wizard/Sorceror/Palemaster specific think in HotU. Paladins have a nice mini quest in SoU. In both SoU and HotU there are several things that can only be done by certain classes ... sorry, can't be more specific in this forum, we don't want to spoil it

Encounters: The encounter system was capped at level 20 before patch 1.62. Now, that it is uncapped which means that if your party is calculated to be more than level 20 you will get more monsters than before the patch.

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Obsidian Seeking Lead Artist for a High Profile RPG
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 - 19:47 CET by chevalier

Obsidian Entertainment are looking for a Lead Artist with exceptional qualifications and strong skills for a high profile RPG project.

Read the whole thing at Obsidian.

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Hordes of the Underdark Review at Kensington High School
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 - 19:26 CET by chevalier

Kensington High School have reviewed Hordes of the Underdark, rating it 9/10. Here's a bit of what they say:

The singleplayer campaign also introduces a new feature: being able to have not one but TWO henchmen. AWSOME! That is just so cool. Too bad that you probably won't want to bother with the campaign. I'm sure Bioware did a good job on it, but you don't shell out thirty dollars for soloplay.

No my friends, multiplayer is where it is at. There are literally hundreds of dedicated servers world wide eranging from hack and slash action servers to hardcore Dungeons and Dragons style roleplaying. Each server is its own community with it's own family of players. However, like with all multiplayer games, the palyers make the server; some servers have nicer and better players than others. My recomendation is to spend a few days looking for a server you like and then settle down.

Read the rest at Kensington High School.

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BioWare CEO Interview at FiringSquad
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 - 19:16 CET by chevalier

FiringSquad have intervied the joint BioWare CEOs Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka. They speak about the reasons of BioWare's Success and their plans for the future. Here's a clip:

FiringSquad: BioWare has rocketed to the top from the beginning, without a hitch it seems. No game of yours has been even close to a critical disappointment, and MDK2 is the only one that didn't sell as well as expected. Generally speaking, what would you attribute this success to?

Ray Muzyka: Definitely the success is attributable to the smarts and hard work of our creative, passionate group of employees, now over 175 strong as of February 2004.

Greg Zeschuk: We’re very fortunate to have some of the best game developers in the world working at BioWare. The opportunity to work with the amazing people at BioWare is very exciting for us – Ray and I really relish the chance to help build both a great company environment and great games.

Read the whole thing at FiringSquad.

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Neverwinter Nights Forum News
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 - 2:53 CET by chevalier

Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

Georg Zoeller, Designer

Patch 1.62: Patch 1.62 beta 2 should be able to log on an 1.62 final server.

Patch files: You need to tell the updater to preserve the patch files if you want to keep them by right clicking onto the updater background and select the "Save downloaded patch files" option

Constants: you can use the "const" keyword in nwscript to create your own constants in an include file.

const int MY_CONSTANT = 1;

You should NEVER NEVER NEVER modify nwscript.nss, it will break the game.

Epic spells: Once you have enough spellcraft points and get character level 21, you can buy them from your epic feats and epic bonus feats.

Craig Welburn, Live Team Programmer

Updating NWN Gold:

Quote: I was wondering… I have just reinstalled NWN, would I have to get all the patches up to and including 1.62 (just came out today!) OR do I just have to have the latest for it to take full effect?

If you run the upater, it will update you to the most recent version of the game (1.62 version). Doing this will include all the fixes from all the previous patches.

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BioWare Wednesday
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 - 0:20 CET by Sorcerer

Community Expansion Pack Preview Part II
The CEP is a community created, simple download that contains a ton of high-quality, custom content for Neverwinter Nights. For this week's sneak preview update, we feature a new FAQ with questions from fans and answers from the CEP team. Also new are 6 new galleries, featuring some of the new creatures, structures, PC races, and more! Check out the sneak preview now! Discuss.

Happy Easter Eggs NWN and KotOR Fans!
The Easter bunny has hopped over to the BioWare Game Secrets section and laid some new easter eggs! For Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic gamers, check out the hole in Jolee’s Saucy Suspender Socks. For Neverwinter Nights fans, BioWare demonstrates its nerdiness with the Pearl of Bashing. Discuss.

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Torment and Neverwinter Nights in FireSquad's Top Ten PC Games
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 1:30 CET by chevalier

FireSquad have announced their Top Ten PC Games for 2004. Planescape: Torment comes forth in single player category and Neverwinter Nights fifth in multiplayer category.

Read the whole thing at FireSquad.

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Latest Poll Results
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 23:33 CET by Sorcerer

What we asked:

Q: Which of the two platforms do you prefer for electronic gaming?
(349 votes total)

Always PC (221) 63%
Always console (2) 1%
Both equally (16) 5%
Depends on the game (110) 32%

Though the previous poll showed that the majority of our visitors have access to one kind of console or another, apparently they still vastly prefer playing games on the PC. In this poll, 63% of poll participants chose PC as the preferred platform for electronic gaming.

Only 1% of those who voted always prefer playing games on consoles, which is quite extraordinary.

5% of poll participants like playing games on the PC and consoles equally.

Finally, 32% voted that their gaming platform preference depends on the game.

  • Current Poll
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    Neverwinter Nights Patch 1.62 Released
    Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 22:34 CET by chevalier

    BioWare have released the final English version of Patch 1.62 for Neverwinter Nights.

    Check the details at BioWare.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at Ferrago
    Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 22:30 CET by chevalier

    Ferrago have reviewed Hordes of the Underdark, rating it 92%. Here's a snip:

    If you've slogged through the previous expansion you can import your character and enjoy recognition for your heroic deeds in defeating the evil of Undrentide. Throughout the expansion references to your deeds in Undrentide will crop up, and as the game gets near its end some surprising revelations about the happenings in the city of Neverwinter in NWN will have wound themselves into the plot. You can even expect to see a few old familiar faces. If you bypassed SoU you can start a new character off at level 15. Both ways of starting the game will let you play around with the six new prestige classes that make their debut in HotU.

    Read the whole thing at Ferrago.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 22:25 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Rob Bartel, Co Lead Designer

    Content Delivery System:

    Quote: Having been a victim of a Valve product called Steam, all I can suggest is that your content delivery system be well-tested, stable, and configurable.

    I've been intrigued by Steam and following its progress (and that of the upcoming Steam-driven MMORPG 'Pirates of the Burning Sea') for some time and am sorry to hear that it's still working out the kinks. Hopefully everything will fall into place by the time Half-Life 2 is released. As for the DD project, we're not feeling any particular need to change our existing delivery mechanisms at this time. If DD goes ahead, you'll be downloading content in much the same way you currently download patches or other files from the BioWare site. If a need to do otherwise arises, we'll address it at that time. Now hoist yer sails, roll out yer cannons, and go check out Pirates of the Burning Sea, ye salties!

    Digital Distribution:

    Quote: Will Bioware translate the DD Modules in the other languages? Or will DD (like all additional content till now) be only avaiable in english for english game versions?

    We'd obviously like to (the more the merrier, right?) but ultimately it will depend on the perceived market. DD is designed to run on a shoestring. Would a Spanish version of WW2 generate enough revenue to pay the translators? Would there be enough to pay for Spanish-language support personnel when someone encounters a problem with the download process or has troubles with their bill? Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't. I suspect you won't see multilanguage support in DD's initial stages but, if all goes well, it may be something we can expand into a little further down the road.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Glyph Of Warding: Glyph of warding won't do any damage to creatures that are friendly or neutral to you. It does, however, damage hostiles

    Death by massive damage: We removed it because QA found it happend too often and was not really transparent, especially with multiple henchmen and violated rule #1 - keep it fun.

    "Hey, why did Valen just explode?"
    "Damn, Deekin just suffered from spontaneous explosion syndrome again"

    I know, in a perfect world, everything would be optional, but then again, this world is not perfect. And no, you can't compare it to Dev Crit.

    Derek French, Assistant Producer

    Sea hag: Sorry about that, it seems that the wily Sea Hag managed to elude our inclusion of those 2 description in the dialog.tlk file. We will get this fixed up in 1.63. Sorry about the hassle.

    Don Moar, Live Team Programmer

    Module design: If an area of a module requires an expansion, then the entire module is marked as requiring the expansion. Therefore, any player without it (the expansion) will be unable to connect to any server that is running that module.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 2:25 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Craig Welburn, Live Team Programmer

    Black screens:

    Quote: My friends and I tried playing a multiplayer game online. One of my friends started the server, the server shows up in the list. We can connect to it, and create a character but when we go to play we get a black screen with a hand cursor on it. I thought It might be an issue with my computer, but I went to another game and it works just fine. The problem is with my friends computer that hosted the server. Any Ideas on what we are doing wrong? Anything you could shed on this would be helpful.

    We have seen reports that some people encounter an issue with these symptoms. I'm not sure what is causing the problem, but I believe some people worked around the issue by creating their character locally first and then emailing their character to the server operator. The server operator then put the character in the appropriate directory manually, which allowed the person to play.

    Oh I just remembered that this could also happen, if your friend's temp folder has become corrupted for some reason.

    Xanos casting: If Xanos is wearing armour that has Arcane Spell Failure (such as plate mail), he will not cast spells. If you want him to cast spells try taking off his armor, or putting him in some nice sorcerer robes.

    Rob Bartel, Co Lead Designer

    Digital Distribution:

    Quote: Now if you are saying that the current dribble of NEW content will become a healthy stream (ie SIGNIFICANT amount of free content in updates)then it helps resolve this issue.

    Our goal with the DD project is not simply to sustain existing Live Team efforts but to improve and expand on them. The Witch's Wake series, for example, has proven infeasible within the Live Team's existing funding structure and we've had to scrounge up art content like the Sea Hag and the Bulette and stretch them out to make them last. With steady, reliable funding in place, the Live Team can definitely play a much more significant role within the NWN community, within the communities of our future games, and within BioWare itself, where we can serve as an advocate for your interests.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer


    Quote: There may be a little hope for psionics, I suppose.

    Actually wrong, there is NO hope for psionics in NWN.

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    SP Happenings #38
    Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 21:47 CET by Sorcerer

    Over the last week I managed to finalize the look of the new random image logos, which will be a very visible part of the new design, so therefore quite important. I've created nearly 80 of them, so they shouldn't get repetitive for quite some time. This pretty much completes the outside look and feel of the new design, so apart from the actual site content, there isn't much else left to do. I'm having a few problems deciding where to put all the information about the new design's optional subscription system (I'll also have to come up with a more catchy name for that, heh), but it'll most likely wind up in a new, separate section.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at Gamers Wanted
    Posted Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 12:49 CET by chevalier

    GamersWanted have reviewed the Hordes of the Underdark expansion, rating it 9/10. Here's a tidbit:

    Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark is the second expansion for Neverwinter Nights, hot on the heels of Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide. While Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide was received by the fans with mixed emotions, Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark is just the opposite. This is a great, epic adventure with a good plot and a lot of attention to detail. It's by far the best Neverwinter Nights adventure out of all three thus far. Bioware continues to expand on the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons ruleset. With every expansion we get new classes, feats and skills. Half a dozen new prestige classes make an appearance in Hordes, which include the Weapon Master (my favorite), Dwarven Defender, Champion of Torm, Pale Master, Shifter and Red Dragon Disciple. In addition to new prestige classes, Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark introduces 16 new creatures, 4 new tile sets and a slew of new spells and feats. Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark is an Epic Level 3rd Edition adventure. You can import your existing Neverwinter Nights character or start a new game with a level 15 character. You can reach up to level 40, although you probably won't break level 30 in most cases. The module itself runs about 20-25 hours, depending on the number of side quests you run.

    Read the whole thing at GamersWanted.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 13:17 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Rob Bartel, Co Lead Designer

    Community expansion pack: The Live Team is very excited about the CEP and we're doing everything we can to showcase it and give it the high profile it deserves. For the record, however, the CEP is not a part of our proposed Digital Distribution project and BioWare is not directly involved in helping to create or distribute it in any way. I assume it will be made available through the Vault like everything else and it will not cost anything to download. BioWare is exploring the possibility of some form of Live Team revenue model for the future but this is not it. Phew! There, I got that off my chest. A huge thanks to the CEP team and all of the builders whose content is being showcased! All the best with your coming launch.

    The CEP Team has maintained very high quality standards and worked hard to ensure that all of the 2da's, texture files, and back-end stuff plays nicely together. This is very much a 'best of the community' pack and the vast majority of it meets or exceeds the standards set by official content. While the CEP is a community initiative rather than a BioWare one, don't let that stand in the way of some really amazing content. Download it once it's available and put it through its paces. I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised.

    Witch's Wake:

    Quote: I was assuming that the 1st WW would CONTINUE to be free. If they decide to start selling mods of it, the possibility exists that they could yank the free version....but I doubt they'd do that.

    I've been busy making a Remastered version of WW1 that brings the series up-to-date with the latest expansions, addresses some bugs, and adds in some goodies like database functionality, etc, that weren't available at the time of the original's release. WW1-Remastered will continue to be free but may be used for promotional purposes (i.e. "Buy a DD module and get WW1-Remastered free!"). To my knowledge, we have no intention of removing the original WW1 from circulation.

    Witch's Wake 2: Trust me, I'm chomping at the bit as much as you are. WW2 is in development, however, and I'm pretty excited by what I've got planned for all of you.

    NWN EULA: On a purely technical / legal level, I believe that the EULA grants BioWare ownership of all NWN mods. In short, that's what our lawyers make us do to keep us from getting sued for gazillions of dollars and sent off to jail in the far reaches of northern Alberta... Wait a minute - ::consults map::

    On a more practical level, we'd be really stupid to ever actually handle things as such. BioWare's continued success (and the success of any potential DD initiative, especially) depends on the relationship we share with you, our fans and customers. If we abuse that relationship, we can kiss that success goodbye. I know that's kind of a wierd answer to a very normal question but I think it's a fairly accurate portrayal of our corporate philosophy here at BioWare, all the same.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Harm: It is unlikely that there will be any change to harm, as it is implemented correctly by the D&D 3E rules and server operators and builders can easily modify the spell to suit their campaign's needs.

    Community Expansion Pack: That's pretty much dead on. We can't distribute community content because there is no way for us to guarantee that every single model or texture used in this content has been created by the person who submits that content. It's a legal minefield and in a world where people sue companies because they didn't think about putting a warning on that microwave or toaster that you shouldn't use it to dry your favourite pet - you can't take these risks. I am sure that the people in charge of the CEP project have done as much as possible to ensure that only original work ended up in CEP, but that's just not enough from a legal point of view. Period.

    As for CEP being worthless when not distributed through the online updater - I don't think so. CEP is far more than just another combo hakpak, it's a content addon that certainly got more QA than any other community content so far. All content in it has to meet strict quality guidelines and I am sure the CEP team will maintain it and update it when a new patch comes out - that's more than you can say about your usual hakpak. All this will probably lead to a very wide acceptance by the community and thus enable module builders to use a wide range of custom content without having to worry about their players being able to get the right hakpaks together to play their module. BadF00d, if your still not see a use in CEP over the usual combo hakpak, consider this: Think about the time and technical knowledge you need to put so many different pieces of content together in a hakpak and make them play nice - that's far beyond the reach of your average module maker, in fact it's probably a multi man month job of work.

    NWN support: There have been plenty of those requests, but as it stands, there are no plans do do a third expansion for NWN. There are plans however to continue support for Neverwinter, which have yet to be announced.

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    Neverwinter Nights Patch 1.62 Beta2 Released
    Posted Friday, February 20, 2004 - 23:20 CET by chevalier

    BioWare have made a second beta of patch 1.62 downloadable from their Patches and Updates page. Check it all out at BioWare.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Friday, February 20, 2004 - 23:13 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Community expansion pack: Yepp, I always thought that the CEP team was quite quiet for such an awesome project. It's something NWN needed for a long time now: a high quality, standardized content package that will cut down the high number of different Hakpaks currently required - I have no doubts that module builders will embrace it with open arms.

    One more reason to be happy about CEP:

    They will most likely handle the 2da updates required when a patch adds new creatures, etc, ect - which means that people who use CEP in their modules will be able to get an easy update from them without having to bother to update their files. Apart from DLA and CODI, CEP is definitly THE project I have been waiting for for a long time because it will make using custom content so much easier for non techies. Again, all praises should go to the CEP team!


    Quote: I never quite got the hang of the whole hak pack thing. Can we put this one in the override and have it work? If yes, I'm happy.

    Hakpaks have their merits - putting stuff into override wouldn't make it magically appear in your game in most cases - new content requires modules that actually use it to show up 90% of the time. It would just prevent you from playing on most servers if you dumped the files into override and would cause a nightmare on your end when it comes to updating to a new patch that changes 2da files. (I partly blame the name "hakpak" from the aversion people have against those). However, you will just have to put CEP into your HAK directory and don't worry about it (not even that, I imagine they will probably do an installer for it as well) and as soon as you start a CEP enabled module, the new content will be just there - not much harder than putting files into override, and certainly more manageable.

    Dawid Gaider, Designer

    Community expansion pack:

    Quote: But didnt BW complie all the best community work and make it jive together? seems to me like it would be one holy mother of a scripting nightmare, but then again i still mix up cin and cout.

    No, no. We may have brought this project's existence to a lot of people's attention today, but that's it for our involvement. This is an expansion pack being brought to you by the community, not by us. Basically some community members (rightfully) thought it would be a good idea to sift through all the submissions on NWVault and pick out the best stuff, applied a standardized level of quality that these elements had to meet and are putting it altogether into one hak pak for the rest of the community to use.

    The good part of this?

    1) You know that what you're getting works.

    2) You know that there's a certain level of quality being adhered to, so it will likely see more widespread use.

    3) The collection can serve as a base standard, the hope being that future projects can safely say "uses the CEP" and expect that the majority of players already have it and don't need to download the same hak paks over again in a different order.

    A big part of the problem with all the elements that are in the CEP is that they all involve 2DA changes and that, individually, form the biggest obstacle towards widespread use of community content. One download = only one 2da change = biggest bang for minor pain. Also, leaving tilesets out (for now, I assume) means a much smaller download... and since tilesets don't involve 2DA changes their hak paks can safely be used over top the CEP without conflict. All that being a long-winded way of saying that this is a GREAT idea and that some hard-working community members are the ones who deserve all the accolades here.

    Jay Watamaniuk, Community Manager

    Community expansion pack: No tilesets for the time being as they would add a whole lot of stuff to download...but that does not mean tilsets will never be considered. The CEP team is a remarkable bunch of folks and my hats off to them and the very talented builders who created all this new content. Let me say again this is not a BioWare product of any kind but a lot of community members getting together and sharing time, work and a wee bit of madness. BioWare is very excited about the CEP and the potential it has for our community.

    We had small talk on seeing if it possible to make the CEP, DLA, CODI and the d20 groups compatible with each other. It has to do with adjusting some current limits we have placed on the NWN engine. I have no tech background so I can't say if it possible or not but more talks will be had...As for official expansion packs; we are not developing any at the moment and have not considered compatibility with CEP as a result.

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    Latest Poll Results
    Posted Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 18:24 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: Which gaming console(s) do you own or have regular access to?
    (494 votes total)

    Older generation (PS1, N64...) (125) 25%
    None (102) 21%
    PS2 (89) 18%
    Handheld (Gameboy, N-gage...) (73) 15%
    Gamecube (56) 11%
    XBOX (49) 10%

    (This poll allowed multiple selections upon voting.)

    The results of this poll show that the majority of poll participants own or have regular access to one of the older generation consoles.

    The second largest group of votes was contributed by those who neither own nor have regular access to any kind of consoles.

    The third place goes to PS2, obviously the most popular of the big 3 consoles of the present.

    Handheld gaming consoles are owned/available to only slightly fewer people than PS2.

    Gamecube and XBOX are stuck at the bottom of the ladder, with Gamecube sporting only a slight advantage over XBOX.

  • Current Poll
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    BioWare Wednesday
    Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 21:06 CET by Sorcerer

    Community Expansion Pack Preview
    The CEP is the result of over two years' community development and contributions and contains a ton of high-quality, custom content for Neverwinter Nights. When it's available, it will be a simple download that takes just minutes to install and inlcudes such things as 450 creatures, 14 new weapons and thousands of components, 324 shields, 1448 new placeables, and more. Check out the sneak preview right now! Discuss.

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    Shadows of Undrentide Review at NLG
    Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 19:44 CET by chevalier

    Next Level Gaming have reviewed the Shadows of Undrentide expansion to Neverwinter Nights, rating it 93%. Here's a clip:

    One of the first areas where you will appreciate this new polish is with the new campaign. What starts as a simple lesson from a well traveled dwarven mage named Master Drogan, soon turns into an ever increasing challenging adventure that pits your character (and trusty selectable henchman (which can even be a kobold bard) in a race against the forces of evil to reclaim 4 stolen artifacts of power. Standard, yes, but Bioware has a masterful way with dialogues trees that provide both good and evil responses options that allow you to role-play your character. Some conflicts, as always, can be avoided with a charismatic sorcerer with a swift tongue, or easily circumvented with little words and the swing of a dwarven axe. The single player campaign also provides your first introduction to some of the new creature models Bioware had been working on. As I mentioned, there are 16 new creatures in all out of the box, including the medusa with its stone gaze, Gorgons, Wyrmlings, Feaerie dragons, formians and stingers (which have very cool models and animation by the way) and lastly my favorites the Sphinx and Cockatrice.

    Read the whole thing at NLG.

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    Interplay and Atari Agreement
    Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 13:58 CET by chevalier

    The dispute between Interplay and Atari as to computer game license agreement has been brought to an end, the matter dismissed by the order of New York State Supreme Court. This makes it potentially possible for Interplay to continue the Baldur's Gate saga.

    On September 19, 2003, Interplay, commenced a wrongful termination and breach of contract action (the “Action”) in New York State Supreme Court, New York County in which it named Atari Interactive and the Company as defendants, seeking, among other things, a judgment declaring that a computer game license agreement between Interplay and Atari Interactive continues to be in full force and effect.

    On September 23, 2003, Interplay obtained a preliminary injunction that prevents termination of the computer game license agreement. On October 9, 2003, Atari Interactive answered the complaint, denying all claims, asserting several affirmative defenses and counterclaims for breach of contract and one counterclaim for a judgment declaring the computer game license agreement terminated. Atari Interactive’s answer also asserted that the Company was incorrectly named as the defendant in this Action. Both sides sought damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

    The Company, Atari Interactive and Interplay reached an agreement with respect to the scope and terms of the computer game license agreement and accordingly, filed with the court a Stipulation of Dismissal, dated December 22, 2003. The court ordered dismissal of the matter on January 6, 2004.

    Read the whole thing at Interplay.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 13:45 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Patch 1.62:

    Two changes:

    - Instead of the Stormy Skies, this 1.62 will have the Winter Skies while we resolve some issues reported with the Stormy Skies

    - Bane of enemy should be fixed in 1.62

    Craig Welburn, Live Team Programmer

    Game Crashes: We did identify a problem where some information stored on a familiar could become invalid and cause the game to crash at this point. If you have a familiar summoned, try unsummoning it before talking to the battle herald. That should allow you to get around the problem until the 1.62 patch is available.

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    SP Happenings #37
    Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 19:41 CET by Sorcerer

    The e-mail forms I've talked about last week have been finished since then, so that's one more step on the road to the completion of the new design. Real life has kept me pretty busy the rest of the week so I didn't get much else done on the new SP, unfortunately. Unless my uni work keeps me too busy, I'll try to get some more done this week.

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    Shadows of Undrentide and the Temple of Elemental Evil Nominated for AIAA Awards
    Posted Monday, February 16, 2004 - 13:35 CET by chevalier

    The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences have announced the list of nominees for 7th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards. The Shadows of Undrentide expansion to Neverwinter Nights from BioWare and the Temple of Elemental Evil from Troika have been nominated for the best PC roleplaying game of the year.

    Read the rest at AIAS.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 22:17 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    David Chan, Sound Effects Designer

    Spell chants: The chants in BG & BG2 were supposed to be Latin. I don't speak Latin so I couldn't tell for sure. The chants in NWN are gibbereish.

    Craig Welburn, Live Team Programmer

    Customising characters: The reason that you can't customize your character in multiplayer is because the database functionality that some PW servers use. The database information is associated with your character name, if you could change your character name then it would cause all of the database information for your character to essentially be lost on the server (actually the information would still be there, but it would no longer refer to your character). This would break plots and other things for your character on the server. This is the reason why the customize character feature is disabled in multiplayer.

    Bane Of Enemies: Looks like we managed to squeeze the fix for bane of enemies into the 1.62 beta two patch, which will hopefully be available by the middle of next week. Although that could change if some thing unexpected comes up.

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    Independent Development Interview at GameSpot
    Posted Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 15:15 CET by chevalier

    GameSpot have posted an Independent Development interview with several independent game developers: Feargus Urquhart, Bill Roper and Michael Scandizzo and Brian Fargo. Here's an excerpt:

    GameSpot: What makes you believe you can succeed; can maintain cash flow; and can maintain an advantage in the area of technology--in an environment that almost begs for selling out to a monolithic publisher?

    Bill Roper: That all depends on how you view what being an independent studio really means. There is no reason that you can’t maintain the desired level of control and creative vision while still working closely with a publishing partner. There are a lot of ways in which an independent developer can use technology already created by the publisher, such as engine-based tools, if you are licensing existing 3D technology, installers, billing systems, and so forth. This also holds true for personnel-intensive areas, such customer service, technical support, and QA testing. And there is also a lot to be said for the exchange of experience and design thoughts. Having other developers to bounce ideas off of and get feedback from can be an invaluable asset, especially if they have an expertise in an area where your company is not as experienced. The best case scenario for any independent studio is to find a publisher that shares your vision, is willing to support it, and offers expertise and assets in areas [where] you need them.

    Feargus Urquhart: For us, I believe it's our experience in creating games both with third-party tools and engines and without. As a group, we've pretty much done every type of technology creation and reuse-scenario out there. Plus, we spend a lot of time scheduling not only our projects but our finances. I think many developers run into problems because they have not adequately budgeted their products. I sometimes feel like a greedy little b****** asking for $6 or $7 million for a project, but if that is what your spreadsheets say that you need to be a successful business, taking into account the costs, buffer, and profit, then that is what you have to ask for. If the publisher turns it down, then you have to work with them to come up with a budget that makes them happy but still works for your business in the short and long term.

    Read the rest at GameSpot.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Friday, February 13, 2004 - 19:36 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Tags: You can not change the tag on an already created object, but you certainly can use CopyObject to create a copy with a new tag and then destroy the original..

    David Gaider, Designer

    Horses I recently asked Craig what it would take to add rideable horses into the NWN engine, and he clutched his head and emitted a screech that I found not unlike that of smurfs getting electrocuted. It was a bit diconcerting.

    I wouldn't mind seeing a good horse model, myself, rideable or no... but at this point can you imagine the hubbub? Lord forbid that there might be folks out there who don't yet know why we might have difficulty making these critters rideable, and sure enough they would find their way here eventually. But you are steered rightly... there are some good horses to be found on NWVault.

    Hey, look, a flying kitten! *splat*

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    Obsidian Hiring
    Posted Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 22:59 CET by chevalier

    Obsidian Entertainment are looking for passionate gamers willing to relocate to Southern Caliornia and make the best games in the world. The jobs to take are Level/Environment Artist, Senior and Junior Designer and Gameplay Programmer.

    Obsidian Entertainment is always looking for passionate, creative individuals interested in a challenging environment creating the best games in the world. If making the next best thing is up your alley, we want to hear from you!

    We’re located in sunny Orange County, California offering competitive salaries and great benefits.

    Before applying, please note:

  • Applicants must be willing to relocate to Southern California.
  • Applicants must be passionate gamers with the drive to make the best games in the world.

    Read the rest at Obsidian.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at The Discworld
    Posted Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 22:52 CET by chevalier

    The Discworld have reviewed the Hordes of the Underdark expansion to Neverwinter Nights and given it a score of 85%. Here's an excerpt:

    By having access to all the best stuff immediately the game becomes more exciting as you feel more able to take on more challenging opponents straight away. The campaign is also more of an interest than in SOU and moves along at a pace whilst also having some rather juicy cut-scenes thrown in for good measure. The story revolves around you being tasked with journeying into the deepest parts of Undermountain in search of the Drow, a dark race of elves hell-bent on causing havoc.

    You’re now allowed up to two henchmen which gives the game more of a party feel to it than before and although their animation is rather bland (and they do have an irritating tendency to get stuck behind things) they are overall more talkative and interesting than in previous incarnations of the game.

    Read the whole thing at The Discworld.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 22:48 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Updates & Multiplayer: You do not need to install gamespy to play NWN online. NWN comes with an integrated server browser. To play online, make sure you have updated to the latest version of the game, using the Update Button.


    a) Time. It takes up to several days to get a new patch built and tested. It takes weeks if you add translation and external QA. Each change made to the patch requires it to be retested.

    b) Resources. Same as above - people building a patch and testing it are not available for fixing things in the mean time

    b) Fragmentation. By patching every week or so, the online community would fragment, many server operators wouldn't be able to update their servers fast enough and finally custom content creators and people running online modules would have hell of a time updating their hakpaks. It's not like we are running an MMORPG where we can force patches down on every user once he logs on.

    All in all I think we have a pretty reasonable response time for bugs and issuing patches, faster than most companies out there. It certainly would be nice to have some patches out faster (i.e. emergency bugfixes), but then again, things still need to be tested. It's not that a bug is reported and fixed within a day - the exact cause of the bug has to be located, a fix has to be made - and - it has to be tested. If it's a programming change, it will most likely require a full retest of all three Neverwinter Campaigns, because we can never risk to break them (and that alone is about 40-50 hours, even for someone who played through all of them dozens of times).

    David Gaider, Designer

    BioWare: Speaking as someone who came to Bioware without industry experience myself, I'd say the main reason we do pretty well and keep improving is that we have a little niche here. We specialize in RPG's and so look for people who are passionate about RPG's... and seeing as that's what we focus on, it gives us the chance to constantly work on our skills. Not many development houses, for instance, keep on full-time writers (never mind a whole bevy of them) and I doubt there's very many places where I would have been able to hone my craft over the years like I have here. Not saying that I'm perfect (not by a long shot), but I know certainly that I've improved a great deal over the last four years I've been here. That and I'm probably more passionate about games now than I ever was before... and I'm not alone. How many workplaces do you know of when you can turn to anyone else at the lunch counter and start a discussion about the relative merits of turn-based combat or, say, the sexual subtext present in Sailor Moon and they're right there at your level? Not many, I'd imagine.

    Patches: Quote: Write all of their conversations (make sure you tie them in to appropriate trigger points and character levels.) They'd need to tell your character all about themselves and the hero of Neverwinter a little bit at a time. Make sure you stay in character for all of them, be sure to add banter between each of them depending on which combination of party members you are taking with you and add in Deekin and Valen and Nathyra. Since you are looking for this for the other chapters, you need to add in Aribeth and Grimgnaw too. Now that you have basic conversations, you are going to need to add romance options because, really, who wants to romance Aribeth when you can romance that sweetie Linu? Oh, yeah, you need to allow for them to level up, possibly persuing whichever prestige class the community wants them to persue.

    I had to chuckle when I read this. Believe it or not, the original plan was to do all this (minus the Grimgnaw bit). After writing Deekin first, however, we realized just how much dialogue was required to have an NPC go through the entire game... and after some quick mental calculation simply realized that it wouldn't be possible to do that four more times AND have two new characters with a romance. Someone could suggest, I suppose, that we should have taken Nathyrra and Valen out of the picture. Those two, however, were originally supposed to be the only henchmen in the game (waaaay back before the 2nd henchman function became a reality) who joined you back in Chapter 1. Deekin and the other four came later when I got all diva-ish and decided that Deekin was a requirement (which didn't take all that much convincing, come to think of it) and that I wanted to give those other four characters another kick at the can (which took more convincing, but we thought we had more time back then). I still regret not being able to add Sharwyn, Daelan, Tomi and Linu into the rest of the game... it was a hard decision to have them sent back when you meet Halaster... but in retrospect I think the game would have been missing something important if we hadn't kept Valen and Nathyrra in (who had been written as part of the plot by that point).

    Waterdeep in Hotu: We wouldn't have minded taking the player through Waterdeep, really. The only problem with that setting specifically is that it's been done to death in PnP. There are supplements that have the entire place mapped out in detail and tell you what's inside every house... a situation which brings up the spectre of the dreaded FR Fanatic to tell us in his best Comic Book Guy voice about how we got Waterdeep completely wrong because the building at the end of Church Street actually has three levels and not two, and he knows this because in his campaign (*snip*... you get the idea...) Sometimes we'd really just rather go to areas where we can come up with our own stuff. HotU was about visiting famous places, however, and it had to start in Waterdeep... only trouble was that it really didn't seem to fit having the player wander around the entire city while it was being besieged. What would he do? You can't write something like Athkatla in that situation... the city's in a state of emergency, it's not "business as usual" and we couldn't stick side-quests all over the place without seriously detracting from the sense of urgency of the situation. Which is why we didn't splash "You can go to Waterdeep!" all over the place... though that doesn't stop some folks from assuming that's the case when the city's name is mentioned. It certainly would be a cool place to place an adventure in. Here, however, we're dealing with more of a dungeon crawl in Undermountain and the Underdark rather than a city adventure in Waterdeep. Too bad, maybe.

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    BioWare Wednesday
    Posted Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 20:07 CET by Sorcerer

    Cool Winter Skies
    Brrrrr. Check out the cool Winter Skies addition to the upcoming Neverwinter Nights update. These skies are replacing the Stormy set, which will appear in a later update after we do some touch-ups to those tempestuous items. Discuss.

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    Sorcerer's Place Needs Your Screenshots!
    Posted Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 19:55 CET by Sorcerer

    What do we need them for? For the Screenshot of the Week feature, of course.

    Currently, the most desired screenshots are from the original Baldur's Gate (and Tales of the Sword Coast), Icewind Dale (and Heart of Winter & Trials of the Luremaster), Icewind Dale 2, Pool of Radiance: RoMD, The Temple of Elemental Evil and most of all - Planescape: Torment.

    More info about how to take and submit screenshots can be found here.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at CVG
    Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 22:15 CET by chevalier

    Computer And Video Games have reviewed Hordes of the Underdark, rating it 86 out of 100. Here's a bit of what they write:

    Nevertheless, Hordes Of The Underdark will be enough to placate many of Bioware's PC fans. It contains a 20-hour-plus single-player campaign, six new prestige classes (dragon disciple, dwarven defender, pale master, champion of Torm, weapon master and shifter), along with the ability to customise characters and weapons.

    The main difference between this expansion and NWN: Shadows Of Undrentide is that you start as a level 15 character and can progress to the new level cap of 40, gaining a new 'Epic' status along the way. This means you get access to many of the most impressive-looking spells and skills right at the start, so you need a hefty machine to render the impressive fireworks displays that you'll be bombarded with as you cast your devastating incantations.

    Read the whole thing at CVG.

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    Adam Miller Community Interview at NWN Vault
    Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 22:10 CET by chevalier

    NWN Vault have intervied Adam Miller, Module of the Year winner with Dreamcatcher series. Here's a clip:

    8) If someone had time to play only one of your modules from all the modules you created, which one would you recommend? Is it the same that you are most proud of?

    If I were stuck with a single one, I'd probably pick Dreamcatcher 3 - Pit of Stars. The story and elements for the game came together very nicely. Though it's one of my shorter modules, I feel like every moment counts. I also started really getting the hang of custom content by then and there's a few jaw-dropping scenes that I don't think I've quite topped yet. So yes, it's probably the one I'm most proud of too.

    Read the rest at NWN Vault.

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    Last Week's Poll Results
    Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 20:24 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked;

    Q: On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your knowledge of D&D rules?
    (288 votes total)

    3 (92) 32%
    4 (70) 24%
    2 (65) 23%
    1 (poor) (39) 14%
    5 (excellent) (22) 8%

    Nearly one third of those who voted (32%) rated their knowledge of D&D rules 3 out of 5, so being somewhere in the middle.

    Almost a quarter of poll participants (24%) rated it 4/5, which indicates that they consider themselves very familiar with the D&D rules.

    Almost as many people as in the previous group (23%) rated their knowledge of D&D rules only 2/5, however.

    Lastly, 14% of those who voted consider their knowledge of D&D quite poor (1/5), and the remaining 8% excellent (5/5).

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

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    SP Happenings #36
    Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 20:44 CET by Sorcerer

    Work on the redesign continues. We are currently in the middle of testing & implementing a pretty unique e-mail form. As those damn spambots quickly pick up any e-mails listed on SP, we'll do our best to have no e-mails listed anywhere in the new design in such a manner that spambots could automatically retrieve them. There are a few downsides to not having nice & easy mailto links listed, but at over 300 spam e-mails per day, which is the average of what I get, I'm really starting to get annoyed with it. Not because I would actually read any of them (since I always check the source code instead; easy to weed out junk that way without opening it), but because it simply takes time to weed all the trash out. And I really hate wasting my time on spam. It continues to amaze me that with all the technology at our disposal today, ISPs are unable to come up with solutions that would eliminate spam. Considering how easy it is for the spammers or viruses/trojans/etc. to fake the mail source, you would think they would be all for inventing a more secure way to deliver e-mail. But it just isn't happening. All you hear is "experts" talking about the dangers and ill effects of spam, and how it should be sanctioned, yet nobody introduces any practical plans of doing something about it. And by practical I don't mean "we'll fine or arrest anyone sending spam" schemes, which to anyone who knows anything about spam are an idiotic and laughable attempt doomed to failure. I'm talking about concrete technical, software and encryption solutions which would be implemented on the mail servers.

    Although, granted, tarring and feathering a few spammers to set an example might give people some satisfaction as well. The only problem is, it wouldn't eliminate spam.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at Quandary
    Posted Monday, February 9, 2004 - 18:37 CET by chevalier

    Quandary have reviewed Hordes of the Underdark without rating it. Here's a clip:

    So I'm happy to say that they are much improved in Underdark, and on this journey you can take two companions along rather than one. As well as a couple of new faces (I'll leave you to discover who) once again you will meet up with Tomi, Linu, Sharwyn, Daelin, Aribeth and Deekin and not only do they have better AI, and more versatility but they also have more personality so they come much more to life. Because they are more intelligent they are less likely to die and they will change weapons to suit the combat situation and spontaneously chat to you or to each other. This latter addition really worked for me. Deekin's ponderings over what to call his next tale, or Linu's expectations that songs would be written about her exploits, really add to their characters. And so did Linu and Daelin's discussion of Orcish hygiene. All these little 'incidental' conversations make the characters feel like 'real' companions and invite you to care a lot more about them than you do in the previous games.

    Read the whole thing at Quandary.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at Net Jak
    Posted Monday, February 9, 2004 - 15:33 CET by chevalier

    Net Jak have posted a review of Hordes of the Underdark. They give it a score of 7.5 out of ten. Here's a bit of what they write:

    The most notable cool thing is the massive new level cap. Whereas your character hit the ceiling at level 20 in the original, Hordes allows characters to reach level 40. What could this possibly mean? Simple: epic characters. Let’s say you take your level 20 elven abjurer into HotU. At level 21, your precious pointy-eared spellcaster becomes an epic elven abjurer. This gives him access to special epic feats that allow you to further increase certain statistics or spellcasting ability. Quite simply, after level 20, your character is godly. The ego boost alone is worth the price of this expansion. Imagine strutting down the street, secure in your knowledge that, beneath your Spider-Man tee shirt beats the heart of a level 32 epic Orc Barbarian. But I digress.

    Six new prestige classes have been added, including the Weapon Master (who specializes even further in a certain weapon, gaining superb bonuses), the Dwarven Defender (who is unshakable once he plants his feet and assumes his defensive stance), and the Red Dragon Disciple (who grows wings and can spout fire – you know you want a piece of that – don’t kid yourself).

    Read the rest at NetJak.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Monday, February 9, 2004 - 15:31 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Localvault: Localvault was made primary for people who want to play with their friends, people they know and trust and best with a DM. If you want a fair multiplayer environment, you need to play servervault

    Craig Welburn, Live Team Programmer

    Manual patching:

    Quote: Hm... I remember something like that once. Stick the file in your NWN folder and do an update. Tell me what happens afterwards.

    That's right you can download the file manually and place it in your nwn directory (DO NOT UNZIP IT) and the run nwupdate.exe, it will then use the local file to patch. Also, if you right click on the updater, you can select "Save Dowloaded Patch Files", so that if you ever have to reinstall again later you'll still have a copy of the patch files on your hard drive.

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    Dungeons and Dragons Online Interview at GameBanshee
    Posted Sunday, February 8, 2004 - 23:52 CET by chevalier

    GameBanshee have interviewed Ken Troop, Turbine's Lead Designer for Dungeons and Dragons Online. They speak about character advancement and quests. Here's an excerpt:

    GB: Since we haven't spoken with you since October, can you give us a brief update on what aspects of the game you've been working on over the past few months?

    Turbine: Our number one issue has been combat - working on class roles in combat, feats and spells, initially focusing on melee. Melee combat has traditionally been exceedingly boring in MMPs, but we think our combat is shaping up to be anything but.

    We’ve been doing a lot of work done with our engine, trying to break away from the "feel" of older MMPs. Common complaints about MMPs focus on how static and unengaging the play can be: Pull! Inc! Taunt! Nuke! Heal! Rest! Ding! Grats! Repeat! While it's a tried and true formula, it's also a tired one. As MMP players, we have already played that game several times over. We like rewards, but we don’t want that to be the only point. So we’re concentrating on giving combat an intense visceral feel, while using the strengths, weaknesses, and abilities of the D&D classes.

    Read the rest at GameBanshee.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at Armchair Empire
    Posted Sunday, February 8, 2004 - 23:48 CET by chevalier

    Armchair Empire have reviewed Hordes of the Underdark, rating it 9/10. Here's a snip:

    However the player chooses to choose a character, that character immediately becomes the central character in a prophecy delivered to a Drow priestess with illusions of grandeur. It becomes the player's job to stop the Drow leader before she can flood the above ground world with her forces. Surely this is a plot we've all seen before, but the Drow, the Underdark, and the various creatures that are new to this expansion, all make the game feel fairly fresh. I've said it too many times in reviews of D&D-based games, but the D&D license is truly remarkable in both the foundation and the freedom it provides for developers. Bioware once again puts the license to good use.

    Read the whole thing at Armchair Empire.

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    Obsidian Message Boards Online
    Posted Sunday, February 8, 2004 - 23:46 CET by chevalier

    As they promised, Obsidian have launched their own message boards. Obsidian is the company founded by the legendary developers Feargus Urquhart, Chris Parker, Chris Avellone once from Interplay's Black Isle Studios. haTheir forums can be found here.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Saturday, February 7, 2004 - 16:30 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Rob Bartel, Co Lead Designer

    Digital Distribution: Regardless of whether the DD concept happens or not, free content will continue to be available at the Vault and elsewhere, just as it always has been. The goal of DD is not to replace the free community but to supplement it and provide further options for those interested in premium content. What's more, the existence of paid content can actually help invigorate the free community by perpetuating an active player base, providing funding for ongoing patches and support, and adding top-notch content to the core game. DD does not exist in a vacuum, nor does the free content already being produced by fans of the game. I see it as a symbiotic relationship where each benefits from the existence of the other.

    Craig Welburn, Live Team Programmer

    Placeables: One of the problems with putting a large amount of placeables in an area (even static ones), is that it puts a much larger strain on the path finding routines. It takes much more effort for the game to find an acceptable walking path (for players and creatures) through/around all those placeables. I expect that is the reason that you have seen a performance drop after adding many new placeables to your module. And yes, I have heard internally that putting placeables on a tile seam is very taxing on the path finding routines (and should be avoided if possible). I don't have much experience with the path finding routines myself, so I'm not sure exactly why this is the case.

    Jay Watamaniuk, Community Manager

    Skyboxes: Skyboxes are a function of the Toolset. If you create an area you need to Area Properties->Visual and make sure to click the Skybox option and select a skybox. For the time being your choices are somewhat limited but we will be putting new skyboxes into future updates.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Patch 1.62: Patch 1.62 contains several game additions, most of them have been profiled at past Bioware Wednesdays, including a new creature (Sea Hag) with full voiceset and scripted special abilities, new emote radial options, some community requested DM Client additions and the "stormy" skybox texture. Of course these things can only come in a patch, otherwise people would have to use a hakpak when they wanted to use the new content, which wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. Patches are not tied into our Bioware Wednesday's for obvious reasons - we want people to have them right away when they are done and not wait up to a week until the next wednesday to release them. If a patch happens to fall on a wednesday, that's a coincidence. If you wonder about Bioware created modules, I think there is a long discussion on that topic going on in the Witch's Wake forum.

    Item properties: The temporary item property works just like an effect, which means that if the player who created it rests, it will vanish. To be on the save side, use an independent object which (i.e. a placeable or creature) to add the item property.

    SoU Treasure System:

    Quote: Was the treasure system introduced in SoU ever fixed? I believe there was a problem with it not being truly "random". The fact Georg wrote up an entirely different treasure system for HoT shows how much confidence they have in their own "official" system.

    I wrote a different treasure system because we found the approach taken in SoU, while certainly handy for small modules, was unsatisfying for us when it came to balancing the loot. Going through dozens and dozens of chests to change certain items and to balance the loot was found to cost too much time - especially since you need to open/close lots of areas to do so. So we decided to write a different, 2da based treasure system for Hordes which is much easier to balance and maintainable (We could now even modify the treasure in a patch by just including a 2da - something close to impossible with the SoU treasure system). So much for analyzing this "fact".

    Bug Reports: All things that can be said about this topic have already been said in the past, but allow me to repeat them:

    We NEED the bug reports to be filed in an email. We need them because of the technical information on the people's system that are experiencing the problems and for the information required to reproduce the bugs. More important - especially for crash bugs - , we NEED the bugs to be sent WITH technical information from multiple people, because this allows us to track down things like conflicting driver versions, certain pieces of hardware, etc. (Just check the latest KOTOR patch notes for a good example about a problem that only happens on machines with a certain chipset and a certain bus frequency). Bugs reported in the bugtracker are 95% more likely to be fixed at some point than posting them here on the boards.

    To be blunt, most of the "bugs reports" on these boards are useless for us, as they do not contain the required information for us to track down the problem problem and are littered with background noise. We just don't have the time to throughoutly read every single post to find potential bugs, so don't even start again with that idea of having a bugtracking forum, it won't happen. Let's put it this way: If a bug is not reported to the above mentioned email address it will most likely not end up in our bugtracker and the chances of it ever getting fixed are pretty slim. Usually, when I read a certain bug mentioned on the boards, I double check against our bugtracker to see what's up with it. If it's not in there, I assume someone has just recently reported it and it has not yet entered, but I won't enter it myself as it would end up as a duplicate if it is already on the list of the person managing the bug list.

    So again: If you just post a bug here on the boards and do not send us the required information to the bugtracker mail, it will probably never get fixed. That Craig, Rob or I are reading the boards to find out what's people would like to see in the game and what things they like/don't like has no impact on this policy. The board is useful for the Live Team to get a good idea of what features people want to have added in the future, or to get a picture of things that don't classify as bugs (i.e. small enhancements like the added emotes in patch 1.62 or the confirmation box for the DM's JumpAll command) - it is not useful for bugtracking and not used that way.

    And to discourage the "loudest whiner" stuff:

    It doesn't work that way here - Bugs/Feature Requests are rated by a variety of criteria, including the potential number of people and systems affected, the severity, the part of the game where it is happening (OC is more important than Toolset or DM client, of course) and ultimately by availability of resources. It's an unfortunate reality in most gaming communities that there are people who read about bugs or even rumours about bugs somewhere and then start to complain about them as well - even if they never experienced the bug or the bug doesn't exist at all. Other people tend to reopen or "bump" their favourite topic all the time. No, the boards can give some indication on how the "hardcore part" of the community feels about certain things, but it's an inaccurate measurement tool for rating bugs.

    Still include the system specs/OS/Game build version, even if you 100% sure that it is not connected to them. There are always conditions that might very well have something to do with your local system, even if you don't notice it in the first place. (Just check the 1.62 beta patch notes for an example of scripting command failing on Linux systems under rare conditions). It's not that we don't trust YOU to see that something is related to a scripting screwup or not, it's the fact that things often are not as easy as they appear in the first place and not everyone is able to see right on the spot if system specs are helpful or not.

    It's unfortunate, but bug reports without game version and build number and often without technical information at all are quite common and they are just useless for us (scripting bugs in version 1.27 are not really relevant for us these days). We can't allocate time to verify a bug when there is not even a version number/OS information attached to it - you might as well not send your bug report in this case. If someone wants to report a bug in our products, we are more than happy about that and we provide direct a way to get your bug report to the programmers (and that's more than you can say about most game companies), but if the bug is not reported in the proper form, it can't be fixed. And really, creating a mail with the proper information only takes a few minutes, and that time is well spent, because it will ultimately result in your reported bug being fixed. A summary on how to provide feedback on bugs, exploits and what information to include can be found here: Click Here

    And please don't misunderstand this as "we don't like when people post about bugs on the boards". It's perfectly ok to ask "hey, I experienced this, and it seems odd to me, anyone else?" before firing of a bug report - It helps us because it prevents non problems from being submitted, a real time saver. What I don't like is posts like "Hey, is this bug fixed yet, everyone knows about it ... " and then you go through the bugtracker and find not a single mail about that bug. (And this happens for beta's as well - I really could whack people who complain about "that bug I saw in the beta patch is still in the release version" - and never reported it).

    Please don't "take"/interprete here. Bugs report without proper information attached WILL BE deleted because they are worthless for us. You are correct that this might discourage some people from filing bug reports, but I think that's intended - if someone can't attach proper system information, the whole mail is probably worthless for us(especially if version numbers are missing) and would end up wasting precious time for people fixing bugs that are no longer valid for a certain version. These mail addresses should not be mistaken as a support resource. While we usually help people that post with their problems here on the boards, Bioware does not provide official support to end users - that's done by Atari through the support resources listed in the menu on the left side of the screen. Our bug mail addresses are there as an interface to allow experienced users to bypass the "official" support channels and provide us with information that allows us to fix things faster than they would be otherwise - but this can only work as long as the mails we get provide us with the information we need.

    If someone has a problem and is not sure what's causing it or if it is local to his/her machine he/she should contact Atari support. They have their own list of issues and if they figure out that there is something wrong in the game, they will forward it to us along with hard data. In case you are wondering about that sentence you were quoting. It is giving a definition of the things we want to have submitted to these email addresses. It is there to prevent people that have other issues not matching the listed criterica, like "My machine crashes when I change anti aliasing" from filing bug reports - those people should contact ATARI support and not mail to those addresses. This leads to:

    - If someone has a problem with the game, he/she should contact ATARI support.

    - If a computer is crashing - contact ATARI support (unless you can give us information like "Every time scripting function X is called on a player object it crashes")

    - If you have a problem with the game, think you identified it as a bug (i.e. a script I screwed up), please send us a mail, but include the information we ask for.

    - If someone doesn't understand the bug reporting process and experiences a problem, he/she should feel free to post on the forums and ask some of the more experienced people here to file it as a bug if appropriate.

    I know this post may sound harsh, but please try to understand our situation:

    Those mail addresses are incredibly helpful for us as they allow us to react much faster to problems and fix a far higher number of bugs than we would be able to do without them - but only as long as the information sent to them is useful. If I would tell you "Sure, I've read your report about Invisibility, and even if it had no version number and system specs with it, I checked the game, saw you were right and fixed it", that would be true, but it would encourage 10 more people to send bug reports without version numbers. Creating an artificial hurdle like "If someone is not capable of submitting a properly formatted bug, he is probably not capable of submitting a valid bug at all" sounds arrogant perhaps, but it's the best way to make sure that these mail adresses stay useful. To sum it up with an example for patch 1.62 beta 1. I know that some people have a problem with the resolution of the new skyboxes.

    A bug report just saying
    " Beta - The new skybox is low rez d00dz!" (don't laugh... these things are real)

    would waste about an hour of our time by trying to figure out which texture pack / resolution this happened. An experienced user would have included the texture pack / resultion, graphics card and would have saved us a lot of time (time that might have been another bugfix). So if we force people to always include their system information (and deleting their mails right away if they don't do so) helps to filter that unwanted noise out of the line. I hope this clarifies the matter and didn't come over as too "Mr Grumpy" (Sorry for that, but I firmly believe in being honest with the community, even if it hurts)

    Actually the NWN config program that is accessible through the game's launcher has a "report" button that opens a window with your sytem information conveniently ready for cut & paste. Just make sure you press the "Scan" button before pressing "report" so the information is current.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at Game Vortex
    Posted Saturday, February 7, 2004 - 15:20 CET by chevalier

    Game Vortex have reviewed the Hordes of the Underdark expansion, rating it 9.5 out of 10. Here's a bit of what they say:

    Where to start? Hmmm. Lets start with the new 3-chapter campaign. This campaign does all in its power to put the word epic to shame, and it easily trumps the official campaign from the first NWN. In Hordes, you continue as the character from Shadows of Undrentide, the first NWN expansion, and venture into the dreaded Underdark. There are plenty of new characters and familiar faces that you will meet up with. A new two-henchman option has been implemented, so you can now have a party of up to three adventurers including yourself. The quests are varied and it is fun to do them, because you never know how they will turn out. A simple fetch quest may have you fighting through hordes of enemies in one moment, and helping out a couple's relationship in another. The consequences of these quests depend on your choices, and actions and can change the whole flow of the story.

    Read the whole thing at Game Vortex.

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    BioWare Wednesday
    Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 - 21:06 CET by Sorcerer

    Nasher Leaves His Stuff Around
    Remember the young Lord Nasher battling the minotaur in the opening cinematic of Neverwinter Nights? Well, he's a wee bit older now, and several important and magical pieces of his equipment have gone missing! Finding these items is a fun mini-quest in Chapters 1 and 2 of Hordes of the Underdark. Discuss.

    Find Multiplayer Games Easier
    The Neverwinter site now features a live, 24/7 feed of available servers, games, players, and DMs from Neverwinter Connections. Find this information in the "Scheduled Games" side panel of the Neverwinter Community site. Discuss.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 - 18:30 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Local versions: Bioware does not handle any translation - we don't have the manpower or enough people with language skills to do so and it is not our field of expertise - it's the job of the publisher and the publisher sets the release dates, handles the distribution and decides if a game is translated at all for a certain country - we have no influence on that. Translation isn't just rough translation of dialog.tlk either, it requires understanding of the game's structure, the quests and the all the little wordplays that are around in the game. There is nothing worse than a bad translated quest. If you want to tell someone how you think translations should be done, you would need to contact Atari, the publisher of Neverwinter Nights. But we are talking in circles here, right?

    Patch 1.62:

    These things should be in 1.62

    Neverwinter Nights Game
    - Added more emotes to the emotes menu (Read, Drink potion, Meditate, Worship, Sit on ground, Fall down forwards, Fall down backwards).
    - Added the Sea Hag to game resources (This includes creature model, template, voice set (VO), special abilities and portraits.
    - Added the Stormy Sky skybox to game resources.
    - Multiplayer Support for Custom talk tables. They now work in multiplayer games. If you don't have the module's required "*.tlk" file in your "tlk" directory the module wont load and you will be given an error message telling you that the tlk file is missing. This behaviour is the same as for Hak Paks.

    DM Client:
    - Added a confirmation box to the DM "Jump All Players to Point" feature.
    - DM spawned in Placeables now spawn in facing the DM, rather than always facing East.

    - We now allow users to specify any Camera Traslation Speed.

    Patch 1.62 beta 1 is now available, if you are familiar with how our betas work, I would really suggest you give it a whirl (it should fix this issue) and give us some feedback on it

    DM Client: (You may hug CraigW for all of these)
    - Added a confirmation box to the DM "Jump All Players to Point" feature.
    - DM spawned in Placeables now spawn in facing the DM, rather than always facing East.
    - DMs can now attack things again.

    Some game specific additions:
    - Added more emotes to the emotes menu (Read, Drink potion, Meditate, Worship, Sit on ground, Fall down forwards, Fall down backwards)
    - Added the Sea Hag to game resources.
    - Added the Stormy Sky skybox to game resources.
    - Custom talk tables now work in multiplayer games. If you don't have the module's required "*.tlk" file in your "tlk" directory the module wont load and you will be given an error message telling you that the tlk file is missing. This behaviour is the same as for Hak Paks.

    Random treasure generation: actually there is some variable you can set on the module in the toolset to stop random treasure generation ... check nw_c2_default9.nss to find out how it is called

    Craig Welburn, Live Team Programmer


    Go to the "Options" menu.
    Select "Video Options"
    Select "Advanced Video Options"
    Look for and move the "Anti-Aliasing" slider.

    Stanley Woo, Quality Assurance Ninja

    Third Expansion: We have no plans to develop a third expansion or a sequel to Neverwinter Nights at this time.

    David Gaider, Designer

    Romances & genders:
    I'm not much interested in having a romance plot for any given NPC apply equally to any gender. We don't live in a gender-less society and neither do these characters, and I find it unreasonable that they and the characters and environment around them would treat the romances exactly the same way. If all one is interested in is the novelty or titillation of such a device, then perhaps it isn't a problem. I think doing so would be a disservice, however, to those players who are actually homosexual or who want that type of mature plot open to them. If we are going to do a homosexual romance (and we have, believe it or not), then it is going to include a homosexual NPC who initiates with a player of the same sex (and the player would be free to encourage or discourage such a romance as ever, so worrying about someone being offended is beside the point). Yes, that does take extra resources and so, yes, that means you might not see much of it but I truly think that's the only appropriate way to go if the subject is going to be tackled at all (and considering the subject's nature, I almost think it is more appropriate for a mature-rated game rather than a teen-rated one, though issues of tolerance are certainly welcome anywhere).If someone wants to remove the gender checks from the romances, however, and make a mod where Nathyrra treats a female character the same as she would a male (for instance), then they are certainly free to do so. I don't doubt that such a mod likely already exists on NWVault.

    Rob Bartel, Co Lead Designer

    Digital distribution:

    Quote: What I am willing, maybe even eager, to pay for is upgrades more than actual content. I mostly play online and would like to see repaired the "...numerous broken BioWare scripting fuctions..." as my DM puts it.

    So would we. Expansion packs are a very bad economic model when it comes to fixing what's broken. The pressure is extremely high to focus your efforts on all of the new stuff and hit all the new bullet points. As a result, there isn't a lot of time to dig through existing code or underlying design decisions. Digital Distribution, on the other hand, operates at a much lower intensity level and more attention is focused on meeting the needs of our community. I share an office with Craig, our Live Team Programmer, and he's constantly scouring the boards for problems and pet peeves that people are experiencing. He's put some long-awaited fixes into the upcoming 1.62 patch and is looking forward to slowly working his way through the rest of the code and bringing it up to similar levels of polish. Without an ongoing revenue stream of some sort, Craig would probably be moved onto some other project (as I was) to meet the needs there. In other words, by purchasing a module that I may have created, you're not only supporting my position on the Live Team but you're also supporting the entire infrastructure that makes what I do possible (programmers, web developers, artists, etc). You're not just receiving a module, you're also receiving patches, new art content, new functionality, an ongoing board presence, and an invigorated community.

    Quote: But what I'd really be willing to pay for is for BW to meld the best, most thorough community fixes to existing HotU issues into a single package available for download.

    The lawyers' heads implode when we start talking about making direct use of community content or fixes. It's actually kind of fun to broach the topic every now and then (reminds me of playing with darts and balloons at the fairgrounds, actually). So, the bad news is that much of this kind of stuff is going to remain freely available from the community (rough life, huh?). From what I understand, there's some big community content news on the horizon, though, so keep your eyes peeled over the coming weeks.

    Thanks to everyone for the ongoing interest in this discussion. We continue to read every post but won't have a whole lot more to contribute until the DD concept is fully negotiated and approved with Atari, et al. So forgive us as we lay low and draw up plans for our mind control lasers.

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    Hordes of the Underdark Review at NoMansLand
    Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 - 5:02 CET by chevalier

    NoMansLand have reviewed Hordes of the Underdark and rated it 85%. Here's a clip:

    Graphics-wise, everything is still the same, except that all the new creatures and NPCs have a higher polygon count and that the camera is now permanently unlocked. Bioware have also added skies that can be added in the toolset using the visual properties window. They look stunning, but some problems have cropped up with regards to areas being too big or the fog covering up too much of the sky. The developers will have to decide to either opt for looks, or go for performance. Much to the joy of mage fans, robes have been added. There are now four different robe appearances that can be added to any armour using the nifty new crafting menu. On the performance side, the game starts lagging on a mid-level PC when there are a lot of creatures on screen and spells are being thrown left and right. Of course, this is can be solved by toning down the graphics settings and sacrificing some detail.

    Read the whole thing at NoMansLand.

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    Atari Publishes Fiscal 2004 Q3 Results.
    Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 - 4:56 CET by chevalier

    Atari have published financial results for the third quarter of 2003 and the nine month period ended with 31th December 2003. It appears they're doing a bit worse than in comparable periods of the previous year, having generated $190.6 million revenue vs $210.6 million for Q3 and $402.5 million vs $449.6 million for the nine month period. However, their operating profit is doing well and has risen by 43% compared to the corresponding nine month period of fiscal 2003.

    “This was a challenging quarter for us, as some of our titles met our expectations while others fell short. Some of our holiday lineup did not achieve the same success as titles from our Dragon Ball Z franchise or new franchises such as Beyblade and Yu Yu Hakusho, but successful sales are not confined to the holiday season,” said Bruno Bonnell, Chairman and CEO of Atari.

    “This increase by more than 40% of our operating profit to € 28.2 million demonstrates our ability to control costs and to improve our profitability, whilst maintaining an investment of approximately US$150 million in future products over the same period,” announced Bruno Bonnell.

    Read Fiscal 2004 Q3 Results and IESA FY Q3 Results at Corporate Infogrames.

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    Last Week's Poll's Results
    Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2004 - 23:06 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: If you saw someone wearing/displaying any SP merchandise, what would you most likely do?
    (233 votes total)

    Say hello and/or get them a drink (99) 42%
    Ask them if they're also wearing SP underwear (54) 23%
    Steal their merch (25) 11%
    Think about getting some SP merch (23) 10%
    Sneak away and hope they didn't see me (20) 9%
    Other (12) 5%

    The majority of poll participants (42%) would be quite friendly if they encountered someone with any SP merch. They would say hello to them and/or get them a drink.

    23% would be a bit more inquisitive, asking them if they're also wearing SP underwear.

    11% would act in the rogue D&D fashion and steal their merch!

    10% would think about getting some SP merch themselves.

    9% would sneak away and hope that the merch-holders didn't see them.

    Finally, 5% would do Other. What other, we really can't tell, as none of the people who voted for this option explained themselves in the poll comments. We can only guess...

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

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    Neverwinter Nights Patch 1.62 Beta Released
    Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2004 - 17:27 CET by chevalier

    Bioware have released the beta of NWN 1.62 patch. Here are the features:

    Neverwinter Nights v1.62 Beta 1

    Patch details:

    Neverwinter Nights Game
    - Added the Sea Hag to game resources.
    - Added the Stormy Sky skybox to game resources.
    - Custom talk tables now work in multiplayer games. If you don't have the module's required "*.tlk" file in your "tlk" directory the module wont load and you will be given an error message telling you that the tlk file is missing. This behaviour is the same as for Hak Paks.
    - Fixed up a few spells for various bugs: Elemental Shape, Improved Invisibility, and Crumble.
    - Fixed a bug that was causing store purchasing restrictions messages to be displayed at inappropriate times.
    - Made a fix to the lootable corpse system. If the only inventory item that a lootable corpse drops is gold, the gold will now show up on the corpse, rather than the corpse appearing empty. Also, if a lootable corpse is empty, it will become unselectable after you search it once.
    - Made a fix to the Server/Module details. They were showing up under the wrong headings in the server details page.
    - Made some fixes to skyboxes for their display and their transitions.
    - Creatures now drop out of stealth mode and lose invisibility effects when they die. Makes it a little easier to find the body for resurrection purposes.
    - Fixed a bug that was capping the Experience Points granted for killing a creature to a maximum Creature Rating of 20. You now get the proper experience points for killing creatures that have a CR above 20.
    - Fixed bug that would occur if you were disconnected from a multiplayer game while in defensive stance. If you logged back into the server your character would never be able to move ever again.
    - Fixed a number of bugs with regards to the Dragon Disciple and ELC checks.
    - Fixed a problem with henchman not running their on death scripts.
    - An Epic level Bard/Palemaster will now properly show the epic level spells on their spells radial menu once the Palemaster reaches level 15.
    - We now try removing stealth/invisibility visual effects from henchman before the are removed from the party, so that they stop fading in and out.
    - Fixed a bug could cause your character to fail leveling-up if you had previously lost a class due to a level-loss.
    - Added a slight delay to the "inventory is full" sound effect. This fixes a problem, where the sound wouldn't play if you dropped an item while switching weapons.
    - Fixed a bug that would cause placeable containers to get permanently stuck open.
    - Fixed a few bugs where the contents of your inventory would suddenly dissappear.
    - Fixed a message where the "Gained Gold" text message was being displayed when you were actually losing gold.
    - Added more emotes to the emotes menu (Read, Drink potion, Meditate, Worship, Sit on ground, Fall down forwards, Fall down backwards).
    - Fixed the text message when using cleave in a defensive stance.
    - Fixed character select screen crash that would occur if you had a character with a custom character class in the list and you loaded a module that didn't support that custom character class. The unsupported class will be displayed as "Barbarian".
    - Fixed a bug in the encounter system that would cause 1st level creatures to be spawned in once your character was above 20th level. This change affects all modules that are NOT the official campaign.
    - Clicking OK in the sound options menu will now correctly save the selected sound provider selected in the Advanced Sound Options gui to the nwn.ini file. Rather than overriding it with the preferred sound provider, which could be different.
    - Fixed a display issue with the Henchman stealth mode/spell mode radial menu options.
    - Fixed the Zen Archery Feat so that it is now used for non-touch ranged attacks instead of just ranged touch attacks.
    - There were a number of problems with the calculations to attack bonuses for Melee Touch Attacks. These have been fixed now.
    - Made some fixes to prevent game/character hacking. Sorry, but we will never publically discuss specific changes to the game with regards to hacking the game.
    - Made several game stability fixes.

    DM Client:
    - Added a confirmation box to the DM "Jump All Players to Point" feature.
    - DM spawned in Placeables now spawn in facing the DM, rather than always facing East.
    - DMs can now attack things again.

    - The GetFacing() scripting command will now always return the angle rounded to the nearest degree. This fixes a problem where in some odd situations the returned value was off by more than 0.01 and causing comparison operations to fail and breaking some puzzles in HotU.
    - Made some fixes to GetIsImmune() to address the various issues where Monks, Druids, Paladins, and Red Dragon Disciples that have various feats that give immunities to poisons and disease.
    - Made a fix to GetHasSpell() where it was returning incorrect values for creatures that could cast the Cure/Inflict Wounds spells.
    - Made a fix to the GetClassByPosition() scripting command, so that it now works with the new HotU prestige classes and CLASS_TYPE_OOZE.
    - Made a fix to the CreateItemOnObject() scripting command. Now if the item created was merged into an existing stack of similar items CreateItemOnObject() will return the merged stack object rather than OBJECT_INVALID. If the merged stack overflowed, then CreateItemOnObject() will return the overflowed stack that was created. This also fixes a Scribe Scroll bug, where if you created a new scroll and you had an existing scroll in your inventory, it would state that you failed, but the scroll would be created anyways.
    - Fixed an issue when calling SetCutsceneMode(FALSE) and it not clearing the player's plot flag.
    - The SurrenderToEnemies() scripting command now removes wounding effects from the surrendering creature, so that you can talk to them.
    - We now allow users to specify any Camera Traslation Speed.
    - Made a fix to CreateObject() so that objects created are done from their templates so they can pick up template variables.

    Server-specific changes:
    - Made some optimizations to improve the responsiveness of the Windows dedicated server interface.

    2DA Files Changed in this Update:
    - appearance.2da
    - iprp_aligngrp.2da
    - iprp_onhitspell.2da
    - polymorph.2da
    - portraits.2da
    - skyboxes.2da
    - soundset.2da
    - spells.2da
    - vfx_persistent.2da

    Read the rest at Bioware.

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    SP Happenings #35
    Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 - 21:47 CET by Sorcerer

    Work on the new site design is coming along nicely. I've come up with and tested the last finishing touches to improve site navigation (a simple text navigation bar to tell you where you currently are for every page) and some minor supporter template changes. The more that I looked at the new design, the more I realized that I have to write quite a lot of new content to go along with it (for the paid supporter system, and to fix/upgrade several things which could have been done better in the existing design), so I decided to write/compile all of this information before I jump into the conversion of the existing site content. This will enable me to still do one or more site updates in between, before I have to clamp down on any existing content changes and start with a wide-scale conversion.

    I'd really love to show you all a few screenshots of how this new stuff looks like, but considering what a lengthy process this SP transition has been (and still is), I really don't want someone stealing any ideas from it at this point. At least when it's up officially, everyone can point the finger and yell "copycat!". So the new design will most likely be kept under wraps for the majority of you till right before it's ready to go up. However, a few select people have seen it already, and tested it, so I got a helpful dose of feedback, just in case you were worried. ;)

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    Tim Cain Interview at RPGDot
    Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 - 21:47 CET by chevalier

    RPGDot have posted an interview with team cain, project leader at Troika and one of the three co-founders. Here's a snip:

    RPGDot: Please tell us who you are, what you do and about your career history.

    Tim Cain: My name is Tim Cain, and I worked on my first game, Grand Slam Bridge, in 1982. However, I really got my career start in 1992 at Interplay, where I worked on the games Bard's Tale Construction Set, Rags to Riches, Stonekeep, Star Trek, and Fallout. After Fallout, I started my own company, Troika Games, in 1998 with Leonard Boyarsky and Jason Anderson, and we made Arcanum in 2001. Now Troika is working on Greyhawk, due out in a few months, and Vampire, due out next year.

    Read the rest at RPGDot.

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    The Temple of Elemental Evil Review at Tech TV
    Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 - 16:42 CET by chevalier

    Tech TV have reviewed the Temple of Elemental Evil, awarding it a score of 2 out of 5. Here's an excerpt:

    Welcome to "X-Play" story time, boys and girls. Today's story of unspeakable horror and craven misdeeds promises to freeze your very blood. We speak of a den of foul power that has risen from the grave to spread its blight across the land. We tell the tale of a group of powerful wizards, worshipped by some, feared by others, who seek to squeeze the land of its magical essence. We speak of the Temple of Atari Evil.

    Back off, fanboy

    Much like the corrupt house of worship in "Temple of Elemental Evil," Atari's new incarnation as a division of Infogrames is fast earning itself a reputation for releasing foul creations. It's no secret that ToEE was rushed out the door against the wishes of the developer, Troika. The result is disappointing and buggy. Adding to the frustration are hints of excellent design and engaging gameplay. With one patch already promised, ToEE may one day turn into the game it should be, but what exists in the box from Atari isn't ready for public consumption.

    Read the rest at Tech TV.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 - 16:36 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Shadows: When running of batteries, your notebook switches to power preservation mode, usually slowing down your CPU (at least if it's equipped with Intel Speedstep technology) and probably the performance of other components of your machine as well. Shadows are pretty expensive in NWN (especially when turning the option to max shadows) as your computer has to track the shadows generated by to 8 lightsources

    Item crafting: It really depends on the setting you are playing in. Like many other features, we added item crafting because it was often requested by the community and not necessarily because we needed it for the official HotU campaign, where it isn't too useful - with the exception of appearance modification and dye options.

    Craig Welburn, Live Team Programmer

    Inventory bug: Our stance on this issue as has been stated before, is that its a bug (and a highly annoying one at that). The bug has been fixed internally and the fix will be in the upcoming patch. Out of curiosity, what did you think our stance on it was? You can work around the problem in the meanwhile, by always closing containers by clicking on the "close" button before closing your inventory. The problem occurs if you close your inventory by pressing 'i' or esc while you have a container open. If the problem occurs to you, closing your inventory and reopening it "should" make your items reappear.

    David Gaider, Designer

    Expansion Packs:

    Quote: This boggles my mind as how can the SIMS have 7 expansions packs and yet my beloved NWN have only 2

    Well, if you check out the sales charts you'll see that half of the top 10 PC game sales is STILL full of the Sims and its various expansions. That makes the Sims a sales phenomenon... you really can't compare it to NWN. As for future stuff, we say "at this time" because we don't want to close any doors for ourselves. Why say definitely no? As far as supporting NWN goes in the future, Bioware has always said it's committed to supporting the game until it seems unreasonable to continue doing so. HotU sales figures aside, there's only so long we can support continued efforts (longer if the download scheme works out, as then the Live Team has sales to justify its existence)... but keep in mind that an active community has a certain amount of worth to us, too. We're not going to drop NWN all of a sudden if there is still an active community interested in it. One should not have the same expectations as one would for a massively-multiplayer online game, however... there's not going to be lots of content or quick patches rolling down the aisle anymore, but that does not mean we've lost interest ourselves.


    Quote: What do MMOGs have to do with quick patches or content rolling out the aisles? All too little, that's what.

    What I mean by that is that MMORPG's have a constant income and can afford to maintain a large team that patches constantly and adds new content. Indeed, paying money each month one might very well demand that this be the case. I simply think that we have supported NWN (outside of the expansions) at a similar level, sans monthly fee, and that has fostered an unrealistic expectation in some folks that this can or should continue indefinitely. At the same time, however, this doesn't mean that the lack of a regular income means we'll just jump up and abandon ship. "Heck, no loot to be had here! Let's move on to greener pastures!" You don't spend as long as we have on NWN without loving it lots.


    Quote: Well then, what are you up to these days, Dave? Keeping an eye on Georg?

    Working on a new project, of course, which is oodles of fun. Georg is on Jade Empire and doesn't need me to keep an eye on him, I'm sure.

    Quote: Now that winter is waning, I'll bet your car is covered with road salts and is going to need a serious washing soon - so there must be another big project on the burner by now, eh?

    My car is filthy. They toss buckets of sand on the road here for traction, along with the road salts, so that makes for a pretty icky situation. Naturally the new project keeps me busy... at everything but cleaning my car, unfortunately.

    Actually, just because a game isn't at the top of the charts doesn't mean sales don't exist. As I recall from the last time I heard figures, both BG and BG2 still enjoy pretty brisk sales. At any rate, my understanding is that it takes a quarter or two before detailed figures are available. You could probably judge how well something is doing by the end of its first.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum News
    Posted Sunday, February 1, 2004 - 22:35 CET by chevalier

    Here are today's Neverwinter Nights forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.

    Georg Zoeller, Designer

    Disabling feats: No, You can disable a feat by putting **** into the name column in feats.2da. However that doesn't affect characters that have this feat, you can't remove the feat from them, so you would need to boot them from the server if they have the feats in question. GetHasFeat works fine for that. If the feat is an activated feat in the radial menu, you can disable it by putting a 0 into the OnMenu colum in the cls_feat_* 2da files.

    CPU Usage:
    There is no reason why the game shouldn't take 100% CPU when running. Most modern games are not designed to run in background with limited CPU load. A properly cooled CPU has no problem with applications that cause high cpu load, however if your CPU is overclocked or your chassis or cpu fan is damaged, you are in probably in trouble.

    51 C is indeed fairly low, if your computer is crashing there is probably another reason. Anyway, a computer that is not able to run with 100% cpu load generated by any application has a technical problem that has nothing to do with the game.

    Spells on items: That's probably better asked in the scripting forum. Yes, it would be possible to hold 24 spells on the robe, but then the game would come to a screeching halt whenever someone activates the robe 3 is a good number, 5 is probably acceptable and doable, but anything above would be pure madness

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