December 2002

Happy New Year!
Posted Tuesday, December 31, 2002 - 20:00 CET by Sorcerer

I hope you all have fun today and celebrate the coming of 2003 with your loved ones! I'll be seeing you all next year! ;)

Special thanks go to Veldrin for being the only news guy here these last few days. I hope the others got some well-deserved rest. ;)

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"Jefferson" Project Forum News
Posted Monday, December 30, 2002 - 17:40 CET by Veldrin

J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

Weapons: There are so many weapon types in Jefferson that it's honestly pretty crazy. It's like Matrix walking out of the surplus store in Commando.*

* A fine film that I highly recommend.

There are dozens of different weapon types.

Modding "Jefferson": As in the Infinity Engine, many of our tables are stored in two dimensional arrays. In IE, these files were called .2DAs. In Jefferson, they are called .RLZ files (for ROOLZ). You should be able to modify those fairly easily.

Making new maps would be hellaciously difficult. Sorry. Lots of proprietary file types.

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Neverwinter Nights Forum News
Posted Monday, December 30, 2002 - 17:26 CET by Veldrin

Don Moar, Tools Programmer

A Puzzle Wizard: That is an interesting idea, although I am not exactly clear on what you would expect it to accomplish. What is it this wizard would try to simplify or automate for the user? What information do you expect the user to have to provide the wizard with in order to generate the desired output? Think about it like this. The purpose of the creature wizard is to create new creature blueprints. It begins by asking the user a couple of basic questions:

1. What does the creature look like?
2. What is the creature's name?
3. What are the creature's basic behaviours (classes and levels)?

From this it generates a new creature blueprint that can be used as-is in your current module. Can you describe this Puzzle Wizard in a similar fashion?

Derek French, Live Team Producer

Mac OS For NWN: Since it was asked.

10.2.3 or higher will most likely be required for the Mac version of NWN. 10.2.3 has S3 texture compression, which helps speed up the game for us.

David Chan, Sound Designer

Sound Problem: Music and main area ambient sounds need to be in their proper folders. They won't work from Override. Only placeable sounds will work from Override. Also, take note that making any content with files placed in Override is a bad idea as they will be wiped out on the next patch. Better to use hak paks.

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Icewind Dale II Review At GCC
Posted Monday, December 30, 2002 - 17:12 CET by Veldrin

Game Club Central has posted an Icewind Dale II review and gave it a final score of 8/10. Here's what they had to say:

"The game designers know what role-players want to see in an RPG. If you liked IDI or any of the previous Black Isle Studios games, then it is really not hard to recommend this game to you. If you haven't played any of those previously mentioned games, then there will be a learning curve as you figure out what a balanced party is, what spells to use, and what member of your party should be on which monster. But once you get comfortable with the interface, hotkeys, and 3rd edition rule set, you will no doubt be engrossed in IDII as I was."

Read it all here.

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The Lord of the Rings Movie Stuff
Posted Sunday, December 29, 2002 - 22:23 CET by Sorcerer

I've recently immersed myself into the depths of the official LoTR movie website, which has gained an entirely new dimension since the advent of my getting a broadband ADSL connection. There are literally tons of short documentary movies, interviews, teasers and trailers that I've spent hours watching.

Anyway, I spent quite some time just navigating the site since there is really a lot of content there. It occured to me that I might as well post here the bookmarks of the most interesting stuff you would also want to check out, and save you all the trouble of wading through numerous pages to find it. So here goes:

  • Website Exclusive Features
  • Downloads (Lots of Cool Stuff)
  • Preview for the New Scenes from the Extended FoTR DVD
  • Buy the Extended FoTR DVD at or or

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    Neverwinter Nights Wins Gamer's Choice Award
    Posted Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 18:25 CET by Veldrin

    Neverwinter Nights has won the Gamer's Choice Award for RPG's in Gamespy's Game of the Year awards. It was followed by Morrowind and Dungeon Siege. Check it out here.

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    Neverwinter Nighs Forum News
    Posted Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 18:14 CET by Veldrin

    Don Moar, Tools Programmer

    Climbing Into Pits: We've I've done something similar in one of my modules. To achieve the effect, I use a trigger at the edge of some pit terrain in the Forest tileset. When the player crosses the trigger, a conversation is started in which the a description of the situation is presented and one of the player options is to "Climb down into the pit."

    Scripting: Typically, oPC is a variable of type object but how it's used depends upon the event to which the script is assigned. If the script were assigned to the OnEnter event of a trigger, for example you'd probably have something like this:

    object oPC;
    oPC = GetEnteringObject();

    Mark Brockington, Lead Research Scientist

    STACK_UNDERFLOW Error: The inner script generates the STACK_UNDERFLOW, and passes the error to the outer script. The error is inside the script called from the ExecuteScript command.

    break statements inside while loops can be problematic, especially since you've defined a variable inside the while loop before the break.

    If you can, move the variable declaration out of the while loop, or do not use the break command. Are the problems with "break" statements and while loops being fixed in a future patch? Yes.

    Do I know which patch? No. I hope that this helps.

    On appearance, it may look like I've made an error. However, you've changed the code inside the while loop inside the faction_good_hb and faction_evil_hb scripts! Run your old faction_good_hb and faction_evil_hb scripts from the first post, and you'll see the problem still persists. This was the example from your first post (faction_good_hb).

    while ( ... )
    int nAlreadyChecked = GetLocalInt( ... )
    if (nAlreadyChecked == TRUE)

    This causes an error, because the integer (represented by nAlreadyChecked) will be left behind on the stack if the break is run. This was the example from your second post.

    while ( ... )
    if (GetLocalInt( ... ) == TRUE)

    This works just fine, because you haven't created a new variable to store the result of the GetLocalInt check. Hope this helps!

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    Neverwinter Nights Collector's Edition Price Drop
    Posted Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 17:48 CET by Veldrin now sells the Collector's Edition of Neverwinter Nights for $39.99, which is the same price as for the regular version. You can buy it here. It has many extra goodies like a full soundtrack on a CD, an Aribeth poster etc.

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    "Jefferson" Project Forum News
    Posted Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 17:08 CET by Veldrin

    Here are today's Jefferson project forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    Interface: Right now, our interface is very lean and functional, but it does take up space. There's a lot of information to display.

    Demo of Jefferson? Doubtful.

    BTW, a demo would give you very little insight that a review or a simple declaration of features couldn't. The things that I have been "spewing" about are either a) game system features or b) cool RPG thingies that can only be appreciated over a long time. When we said we had dark elves and ghostwise halflings in Icewind Dale II, players didn't need a demo to verify it. Things like "epithets" and NPC behavior can't really be judged on the short term, so a demo for their sake would be pointless.

    A tech demo, on the other hand, could be useful.

    Quote: From what has been hinted by the devs I'd say that it'll have more interaction than anything we've seen up to this date.

    No, it will be moderately interactive. A step above IE, but not as nutty as Ultima VI and friends.

    Quote: Can we see cloaks on avatars?

    We have flexible fabric inventory items that display on avatars already.

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    Last Week's Poll's Results
    Posted Friday, December 27, 2002 - 16:57 CET by Sorcerer

    Q: In Icewind Dale 2, do you (intend to) play the game in the Heart of Fury mode as well?
    (247 votes total)

    Yes, definitely (100) 40%
    Maybe, haven't decided yet (91) 37%
    No, never (56) 23%

    According to the results of our poll, the majority of those who voted (40%) are either already playing Icewind Dale 2 in the harder but more rewarding Heart of Fury mode, or intend to play it in the future.

    A few people less (37%) voted that they might play IWD2 in the HoF mode as well, but they haven't decided yet.

    23% of poll participants have no intention of ever playing it in the HoF mode.

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

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    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
    Posted Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 12:27 CET by Sorcerer

    Just in case you haven't noticed yet, the SP logo on all pages got a bit of decoration for this jolly money-spending season. To all of our visitors I wish a merry Christmas and all the best in the upcoming '03. May you never run out of good games to play!

    For SP, 2002 has a been a very good year. Many things happened that were longer in the making, but some of the best is still to come in 2003. I don't want to spoil anything by blabbing out all the plans for next year (though the regulars probably know many of them already), so I'll just say that if all goes as planned, there are many things around SP you can start looking forward to. Keep coming here regularly!

    I also want to express special thanks to everyone who donated any money to SP, bought anything through links to sites we're affiliated with, or contributed any content. The first two help with badly needed money to cover our monthly costs, and the last make SP a better place with more varied content.

    To finish off, here's an appropriate carol for the season:

    "Ring Their Bells", or "The Munchkin's Carol"
    (to the tune of Jingle Bells)

    "Slashing through the Orcs
    With a good two-handed blade
    Over corpses we go
    And through the gore we wade
    Mace on helmet rings
    Making bodies fly
    What fun to sing our SLAYING song
    And watch these suckers die!

    Oh, ring their bells with swords and spells
    Don't let 'em get away!
    We're brave and bold for fame and gold
    We'll make a lot today!
    Oh, ring their bells with swords and spells
    Don't let 'em get away!
    We'll hack and slash and blast and trash
    And blow these dudes away!

    Crashing through the door
    Into the dragon's nose
    Our mage whips out a Cone of Cold
    And out its fire goes!
    Elven bowstrings sing
    Making balrogs fall
    And our thief finds a secret door
    Into the treasure hall!


    Then appears the Lich
    With his demon guard
    Our wizard yawns and wishes
    We'd run into something HARD...
    He begins to cast
    His 19th level spell
    That damn Lich throws a Gate at us
    And drops us all in Hell!


    We appear in Hell
    In front of Satan's Throne
    Our cleric waves us out the door
    And takes him on alone!
    Satan's legions don't
    Want to let us go
    Our Techno pulls a bazooka out
    And NUKES 'em 'til they GLOW!

    Oh, ring their bells with prayers and spells
    Don't let 'em get away!
    We're brave and bold and CRAZED, we're told
    To think we'll live the day!
    Oh, ring their bells with swords and shells
    Don't let 'em get away!
    We'll hack and slash and blast and trash
    And blow these dudes away!
    Yes, we'll hack and slash and blast and trash
    And drag our loot away!"

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    Site News - New Additions
    Posted Monday, December 23, 2002 - 18:15 CET by Sorcerer

    Subsection Updates -> Changes

    From this update forward I'll try to establish certain templates where possible and keep the text descriptions down to a minimum or separate.

    Subsection Updates -> Fantasy Books

    The entire Fantasy Books subsection has gone through a massive check of all the Amazon links. There have been dozens of changes and updates, though you won't notice much difference at a quick glance. Some book covers were updated, a number of hardcover books have been replaced with now-available paperbacks, many older editions of certain books were replaced with newer ones, and there are a few new books as well. Donations to help pay for the server costs have been extremely slim over the last few months so please remember to buy books & games through SP since we get a small commission for every purchase. Thank you!

    Terry Goodkind Books subsection: Debt of Bones added.

    J. R. R. Tolkien Books subsection: The Two Towers soundtrack added.

    Miscellaneous Books subsection: Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody added.

    Subsection Updates - Community -> Message Boards

    The listing of all forums (and their descriptions) has been updated to reflect the latest changes and additions on Boards O' Magick.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Baldur's Gate 2

    Editors, Hacks & Custom Characters subsection: 2 mods added.

    Tips, Tricks & Hints subsection: Secrets of Journals updated.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Icewind Dale 2

    Walkthroughs & Guides subsection: Icewind Dale 2 Online Solution updated & completed.

    Editors, Hacks & Custom Characters subsection: Slowdown Fixes updated, Weapon Damage Comparison table added, 3 soundsets added, 1 portrait pack added.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Neverwinter Nights

    Modules subsection: 2 modules added.

    Miscellanea subsection: 1 chat log added.

    Toolset & Related subsection:

    Subsection #1: 6 tutorials added.

    Subsection #2: 1 tileset added.

    Subsection #3: 9 scripts added/updated.

    Subsection #4: 16 items added/updated.

    Subsection #5: 16 creatures/creature packs added/updated.

    Subsection #6: 8 placeables/placeables packs added.

    Subsection #7: 2 various new additions.

  • Direct Links

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    Icewind Dale II Giveaway
    Posted Sunday, December 22, 2002 - 20:22 CET by Veldrin

    Virgin Interactive has announced a special Christmas Giveaway. Here are the details:

    "We here at Virgin Interactive wish all our fellow gamers a very Happy Christmas!!! As a gift in appreciation for all are loyal gaming fans we offer to you the incredible Virgin Interactive FREE Games Giveaway! Yes you heard right a FREE Games Giveaway! Within the next few weeks 50 very lucky people will win a special Virgin Interactive present featuring the amazing full game of Icewind Dale 2 (full boxed copy worth £35) as well as other great Virgin games related merchandise! To stand a chance to claim all this you need to follow the 3 easy steps listed below and keep an eye on your email inbox!

    STEP 1
    Register all your information below.

    STEP 2
    All registrations will be entered onto an exclusive list for this offer then on a top secret special day within the next 2 weeks an exclusive link will find it's way into your inbox. From then it's literally the first 50 people to follow the link and claim the FREE gift!

    STEP 3
    From then we will send the first 50 to follow this link the exclusive Virgin Games pack worth over £35 for FREE!
    It's really as easy as that! No hidden extras, no catches, just be quick, claim and win!

    Good luck and remember once you've registered your details below look out for that link coming soon to your inbox! Pass this on to all your friends now!!!"

    Read it here.

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    Neverwinter Nights Wins RPG of the Year
    Posted Sunday, December 22, 2002 - 19:54 CET by Veldrin

    Neverwinter Nights has won Best RPG of the Year at Gamespot. They had this to say about it:

    "Of course, if you happen to be a more-serious fan of role-playing games, you can use the game's complicated but powerful editing tools to create your own adventures and even host them online. Neverwinter Nights' online play seemed a bit lacking at launch, since it could be difficult to coordinate party members' actions, but a very strong player base has developed around the game and its editing tools--more than 1,000 different fan-made modules have already been released for public consumption. Despite its technical issues, and despite the fact that there were so many other worthy contenders for the title of PC RPG of the year, Neverwinter Nights ended up being the role-playing game for just about anyone, and it ends up with our vote for best computer role-playing game of 2002."

    See the whole thing here.

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    Icewind Dale II Review At Sharky Extreme
    Posted Sunday, December 22, 2002 - 17:12 CET by Veldrin

    Sharky Extreme has just posted a review of Icewind Dale II, and gave it a score of 8.5 out of 10. Here's what they had to say:

    "The sequel, Icewind Dale II, doesn't do much to change this overall goal, and is once again a combat-heavy, dialogue and story-driven epic without many of the details or requirements of a standard RPG. All the standard D&D elements are there mind you, but Icewind Dale II provides both an engrossing story and a ton of creatures to test your mettle, while not getting bogged down in the details. Although the game uses the same basic engine as its predecessor, Icewind Dale II does include several refinements and additions that look to put the finishing touches on an already-enjoyable game."

    Check it out here.

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    "Jefferson" Project Forum News
    Posted Sunday, December 22, 2002 - 16:58 CET by Veldrin

    Here are today's Jefferson project forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    More On Inventory: Do you feel ripped off when your high strength, low intelligence characters don't get many skill points? Strength-based encumbrance systems don't FORCE anyone to do anything, unless you count "making difficult choices". High strength characters get to carry a lot and hit creatures really hard. High dexterity characters get to tumble around like ninjas and throw daggers into stirges at thirty paces. People who have low strength or low dex can't do those things as well. That's why the player has to make choices about what kind of character(s) they want to make.

    We could also make a 3D backpack to allow players to place their objects in approximations of real space, too. I don't know why the hell we'd waste our time doing that, though, since a weight-based system already forces players to make difficult choices about their party composition.

    I can GUARANTEE that not a single DM posting in this thread ever checks their players' character sheets to make sure that the volume of their gear is realistic. It is so often the case in RPGs that the largest things are the heaviest that putting a volume system in comes close to being redundant. Armor? Big and heavy. Greatswords? Big and heavy. Rocket launchers? Big and heavy. People don't carry many giant stuffed teddy bears out of dungeons. Even in a system like Diablo, you wouldn't be too hard pressed to carry numerous suits of armor around if you had four or five party members. For practical purposes, characters are going to hit their weight limits before a similar volume restriction -- so why does it even matter?

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    Icewind Dale II Patch Update
    Posted Sunday, December 22, 2002 - 0:00 CET by Veldrin

    The 2.01 patch for Icewind Dale II has been released in French, German, and Spanish. They can be downloaded here. A list of fixes can be seen here.

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    Happy Holidays From Bioware
    Posted Saturday, December 21, 2002 - 23:25 CET by Veldrin

    Bioware has released a special Holiday Broadcast available in Windows Media Player or as an MP3. It features Stan Woo, Chris Priestly, and Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie. They have also released their 2002 Christmas Card. See it here.

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    Icewind Dale II Review At The Longest Line
    Posted Saturday, December 21, 2002 - 23:09 CET by Veldrin

    The Longest Line has put up a review of Icewind Dale II, giving it a final score of 8.7 out of 10. Here's what they say:

    "Icewind Dale II is the kind of game you think about when you're not even playing it. You'll strategize endlessly, playing out the next massive battle in your head. You'll stare at the paused screen for half an hour planning your next move. If it's strategic RPG mayhem you want, look no further than Icewind Dale II."

    Read it all here.

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    Icewind Dale II Review At GamersClick
    Posted Saturday, December 21, 2002 - 23:01 CET by Veldrin

    GamersClick has reviewed Icewind Dale II and gave it an overall score of 90%. Here's a clip:

    "It is everything the first Icewind Dale game was, but better. Where the first title was fast, this is faster; where the first title was repetitive, this isn't. Single players are presented with the 3rd edition of Dungeons and Dragons rules in all their flexibility and the game engine and interface has been streamlined to the point where it is completely possible to just jump into the adventure, even if this is your first CRPG."

    Read it all here.

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    Greyhawk: The Temple of Elemental Evil Interview
    Posted Saturday, December 21, 2002 - 12:31 CET by Sorcerer

    Finally some more news about the next D&D game is pouring in. This time it is in the form of an interview with Troika's Tim Cain, which you simply can't afford not to read. Here's a snippet:

    GS: Describe the story as the game starts out.

    TC: The original module has the players arriving at the small village of Hommlet to deal with some unspecified evil. We have decided to run with this a little and make separate starting points (which we call vignettes) depending on the alignment of the player-character party. Each vignette is quite different. Some have the party meeting with a powerful NPC who is sending them on a specific mission, while others have the party roaming through a dungeon and discovering a treasure map. I think making the vignettes for evil parties was the most fun, since we can start the evil parties in very nasty situations.

    GS: The original Greyhawk: The Temple of Elemental Evil module was released quite a while ago and was based on the 1st Edition rules. Was it difficult to even find copies of the module?

    TC: Yes, it was very difficult. I had the only copy at the office, and it was a mint-condition 1985 printing of T1-4 bound as one module. I had to make the difficult decision to cut it up and rebind it in a spiral binding to use as source material for our team. We eventually found more copies on eBay, and most of the team members now have a personal copy.

    Read the rest at GameSpot.

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    Neverwinter Nights Demo
    Posted Friday, December 20, 2002 - 21:18 CET by Veldrin

    3D Gamers has mirrored the updated, multi-language Neverwinter Nights
    demo. It is 77MB smaller than the original demo. Check it out here.

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    "Jefferson" Project Forum News
    Posted Friday, December 20, 2002 - 21:08 CET by Veldrin

    Here are today's Jefferson project forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    Quote: How will inventory be handled?

    Weight limited only, effectively infinite slots, no inventory Tetris.

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    Last Week's Poll's Results
    Posted Friday, December 20, 2002 - 17:25 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: What make of CPU is ticking in your gaming machine?
    (371 votes total)

    Intel (186) 50%
    AMD (175) 47%
    Other/Don't know (10) 3%

    There's not really much that can be said regarding this poll. According to the results, the two major CPU makers share an almost identical percentage of units in users' gaming machines. I actually expected Intel's share to be smaller than AMD's, but it seems that Intel is still in the lead a bit. Personally, the last Intel I bought was a P2 400, and I've been happily using AMD's CPUs ever since.

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

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    Neverwinter Wednesday
    Posted Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 17:11 CET by Mollusken

    The last Neverwinter Wednesday before January 8 offers the following:

    A wallpaper featuring some upcoming game content: a gnoll warrior.

    The first Witch's Wake template module has been released for download. It is a development template only, and contains no playable content.

    BioWare have also released a Witch's Wake fan site kit, which contains logos and other stuff from the module series.

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    "Jefferson" Project Forum News
    Posted Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 22:04 CET by Veldrin

    Here are today's Jefferson project forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    Quote: How 'effective'/'usefull' will Pick Pocket be in "Jefferson?"

    Characters will probably have more opportunities to steal things in Jefferson. However, that increased ability to steal things also comes with marking systems for contraband and stolen goods. Characters might have to make illicit connections in different areas to unload their stolen goods -- or wait until the goods "cool off".

    Quote: Are the characters going to be able to gain special abilities like BG1 had?

    I can't comment on special powers for characters.

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    Icewind Dale II Online Solution Update
    Posted Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 16:25 CET by Sorcerer

    The Bartholomew team has just sent in Chapter 6 of their online Icewind Dale II solution. Check it out here.

    Here's what's new this time around:

    "With the addition of Chapter 6, the IWDII walkthrough is now complete from start to finish! But keep checking the Solution Update to see if anyone has discovered something new. Our thanks again to all the people who've helped us out along the way."

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    Josh Sawyer Article at RPG Codex
    Posted Tuesday, December 17, 2002 - 16:13 CET by Mollusken

    Black Isle designer Josh Sawyer has written an article about making CRPGs. You can read the whole thing over at RPG Codex, and here's a part of what he had to say.

    A lot of users can't adequately describe why they like certain games -- or even why they like certain features of games. While it's certainly true that developers can listen too much to users, there's a frightening tendency for developers to respond to this deluge of opinion by simply ignoring the users. I think that the best thing to do is to listen to the users, but really examine the source of their praise and their criticism. Beyond that, it is very important to notice patterns and look at what goes unmentioned. Of course, user opinions on message boards shouldn't serve as a democratic republic for approving game design choices; quite frequently, the majority can have really bad ideas. Hear what people have to say, but do what you believe to be best after all is heard and honestly considered.

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    Icewind Dale II Review at GameSurge
    Posted Tuesday, December 17, 2002 - 16:05 CET by Mollusken

    GameSurge have reviewed Icewind Dale II, and they gave the game 76 out of a possible 100 points. Here's an excerpt:

    Overall Icewind Dale 2 has not offered any groundbreaking innovations or improvements to the genre. Instead they have taken from a proven track record from many previous games and expansion packs to provide gamers with another opportunity to enter a mystical world in a quest to prove themselves as heroes. Some people may claim to be falling asleep from hours of gaming that has not provided any revolutionary changes in gameplay or combat styles, while others may enjoy the opportunity to spend a few weeks or months immersing themselves within a new storyline with several tweaks and added features.

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    LOTR: The Two Towers TV Trailer
    Posted Monday, December 16, 2002 - 17:29 CET by Z-Layrex

    On Friday the 13th of December, television audiences in the United States were treated to a 30 second movie trailer for the second Lord of the Rings film, The Two Towers. It is both breathtaking and unrelenting. But be warned, this is a major spoiler. Take a Look!

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    Server Status
    Posted Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 20:04 CET by Sorcerer

    Depending on where you live, you might notice short periods when the site will be inaccessible in the next day or two. Our hosting company is performing some subnet changes, so no worries. Simply try later if you can't access SP at some point. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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    "Jefferson" Project Forum News
    Posted Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 20:00 CET by Veldrin

    Here are today's Jefferson project forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    Engine Name: We've suggested a number of names, but most of the people on the team are hesitant to be the first to say, "YOUR IDEA SUCKS."

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    Neverwinter Nights Linux Client Update
    Posted Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 19:36 CET by Veldrin

    There has been a new Linux client update that explains some of the reasons it is taking so long. Here's the whole thing:

    [Dec 13 2002] There have been many questions as to why the Linux client is taking so long. The two big issues are sound and movies due to the fact that BINK and Miles are only available for Windows and Mac. BINK is the in-game movie player and Miles is the sound engine for Neverwinter Nights. We are having to find our own solution for Linux sound in Neverwinter Nights, and we are exploring possible movie options. Due to these factors, we are revising the estimated release date from Fall 2002 to Winter 2002 (Dec 22 2002 to March 21 2003), with January 2003 being the earliest date it could be out.

    Progress has been made on sound this week, and to re-iterate, the graphical side of the Linux client is looking excellent and is almost complete.

    See it here.

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    "Jefferson" Project Forum News
    Posted Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 16:46 CET by Z-Layrex

    Here are today's Jefferson project forum highlights. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context.

    Sean K. Reynolds, Designer


    Quote: How replayable do you expect Jefferson to be?

    Given just the ability to ally with different factions and how those alliances affect the possible outcomes of the game, I say yes. And that's just one reason why I say yes.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    Jefferson's Look:

    Quote: Are you still using (a version of) Lithtech?

    Nope. It's our technology.


    Quote: I can see PNP gamers using the engine to make illos of their characters and attaching them to the character sheet.

    I already do.

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    NWN Official Forum Highlights
    Posted Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 12:52 CET by Z-Layrex

    Here are today's official 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.

    Jonathan Epp, Quality Assurance

    Camera Control:

    Quote: Just so everyone knows, it looks like we'll have a better way to do camera panning/tilting/zooming in the next game patch. That's not an absolute promise, but chances are pretty good it'll be there.

    Oops! I mixed up my words there - I meant "rotating", NOT "panning".

    Derek French, Assistant Producer

    Linux Client:

    Quote: Do we know this? For some reason, possibly Bioware's stellar customer relations toward this community, I get the feeling that it'll be a one shot thing with no continuing support.

    Just like we are continuing to release patches for the Linux Server, so it shall be for the Linux (and Mac) client.


    Quote: wrong. Bioware says that they are porting the game.

    Correct. We are doing the Linux Client version, just like we are doing the existing Linux Server.

    Quote: Noone has seen any code yet.

    Correct. Nor will you. This is not open-source development.

    Quote: The screenshots could as well been made on a windows box, then photoshopped into a nice kde screenie.

    Except that they are screenshots from the Linux client.

    Quote: Whenever they feel like it, they give us another lame no-content-provided excuse why they still have nothing to show, yet they have time to code a windows demo version.

    The people working on the NWN demo (which was completed about 3 months ago and never released until recently for various reasons) and the NWN Linux programmers are two completely different teams and do not affect each other in terms of scheduling.

    Quote: Sorry, but I can't believe it anymore until I see a bit more than just a bunch of new screenshots every few weeks, and some new way of saying "neener neener".

    Fair enough. You will just have to wait, then.

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    Neverwinter Stratics BioWare/FloodGate Chat Log
    Posted Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 12:46 CET by Z-Layrex

    Neverwinter Stratics has posted the log from last night's chat with BioWare and FloodGate Entertainment, the company working on the first expansion titled Shadows of Undrentide. Topics went the full range, from the expansion, persistent world support, the linux client, mac servers, new spells and feats and more. Here's an excerpt:

    Question from Akenthi: any talk of the Database reading and Writeing? can you say anything as to some of the options your looking in to?

    Response from BioTrent: Database: read+Write = goodness. Database support is something we **really** want. Still under consideration of course. You know how development can go ;-I

    Response from BioJay: The databse or file access issue is a very clear issue in the community and is very firmly on the radar. It would solve a great deal of wierdness for Persistant Worlds. Derek French has a special place in his heart for this one-so don't worry. :)

    View the log here.

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    Icewind Dale II Forum Update
    Posted Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 2:30 CET by Veldrin

    Danien Chee, Programmer

    Assertion error in ChDimm.cpp: According to the error message, this is a data error while uncompressing, possibly due to a bad install. nagash's suggestion to delete the cache and temp folders is probably the best bet. Reinstalling the game might help if that fails.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    Ice Temple Help: After you have released Caged Fury from the altar, AND killed all three of the high priestesses, that should give you an option to talk to Nathaniel about leaving. Did you kill Oria?

    EDIT: If you look at your area map and see a black spot on the north side of the building where a room should be, you haven't fought Oria yet. To do this, you will need to get the key to her room by fighting at least one battle in the battle squares chamber.

    Hmm. The only thing I can suggest is trying to go out to the exterior of the Ice Temple (the ice maze) and walking up to the north end. It's possible that Nathaniel already went through the dialogue sections where he talks about melting a section of the glacier and returning to Oswald's ship. If that still doesn't solve the problem, post a message on our troubleshooting board. One of our programmers will be checking out any lingering bugs soon. Sorry I can't be of any more help.

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    NWN Official Forum Highlights
    Posted Friday, December 13, 2002 - 17:30 CET by Z-Layrex

    Here are today's official 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.

    Derek French, Assistant Producer

    Witch's Wake Glitch: The 'flickering' on the corpses may actually be the wind blowing the dangly mesh on their costumes. It doesn't seem to look all that good on creatures that are lying down, so I removed the wind from the opening battle scene where it made the player look a little dorky. Also, I've been hearing reports of flickering scorch marks in the opening areas. This is the unfortunate result of 'z-fighting' between the scorch placeables and the smoke placeables, it seems. I wasn't ever able to get them to play nice together but it never seemed an important enough issue to warrant taking either of them out.

    Hak Pak Auto-Downloader: Because we haven't put it in yet...

    Rob Bartel, Co Lead Designer

    Witch's Wake: Phew! Wow, that was a lot of reading. Okay, well I suppose I should wade in here a bit. Everyone can lay off Aerosol a bit and tone down the flame war. The first post wasn't particularyl descriptive but it was honest and didn't strike me as a trolling attempt. Basically, you can't please everybody all of the time and that's perfectly fair. While I'm sorry Aerosol and a few others have decided WW isn't to their tastes, that's to be expected. The Witch's Wake is designed as a mystery, a psychological thriller, a cliffhanger, and an identity quest. If you despise those overarching genres, WW probably won't change your mind about them and that's okay.

    As for the 'amnesia is a hackneyed plot device' argument, of course it is. (Bet you didn't think you'd hear me say that, huh? ) It's a literary archetype, as is the basis of pretty well any other story you choose to tell. There is little to nothing new under the sun but good stories seem to get written all the same. I'm not too worried about it. I'm glad so many people are enjoying the module and, for those of you that aren't, I'm sorry to hear that. Hopefully you'll find something (be it official or fan-created) that's a little closer to your preferences. For all of you, we've postponed our post-release survey until after Christmas but, when it's sent out, please take that as an opportunity to make your like or dislike of various aspects of the module known.

    Witch's Wake Template: Quote: Is the module template for using the WW features available yet?

    Not yet. I need to clean it up a little first, as towards the end of WW1 development, I got sloppy about porting changes back into the original template. I'm hoping to be able to make it available before I leave for Christmas, though.

    Rotating Camera in Witch's Wake: Quote: I hereby declare this the "How did you do that?" thread, which (I hope) answers people's questions on the design of the module. Alrighty, first one: The rotating camera in the beginning. How did you do that? With the SetCameraFaceing script command.

    Yup. The programmers just kind of blinked at me when they saw what I was doing with it. The function was originally designed to be just a single call that pointed the camera the right way after coming through an area transition. I'm actually calling it thousands of times within a tiny little incrementing DelayCommand() loop. It was one of those "You mean it actually lets you *do* that?" moments. It gives an error if you run the script on an NPC (or even if you have an NPC tell another object to Execute a script that does it). Triggers and areas both seem to work fine, though. If you need an NPC to start it somehow, you can have them fire a User-Defined event on the area and that seems to work. It's fairly hackalicious at this point but the XP2 team thought it was cool enough that they requested a bunch of special cutscene functions for their release. I'm not sure when those will be available or whether or not they'll trickle down to the Live Team, but they should make things a little less crazy than what I've been doing.

    Loading/Saving: A number of people have been reporting crashes when Loading or Saving the game. In all cases that I've seen so far, the problem seems to lie with an uncompressed custom portrait. To ensure that WW1 loads and saves correctly, please avoid using uncompressed custom portraits. If you're not sure what that means, stick with one of the default portraits that came with the game and you should be fine. If this doesn't fix the problem, please post here explaining what's going wrong.

    Next Witch's Wake: Ooh, you're all going to hate be for this...I'm giving myself a conservative estimate of 1 module every 3 months. If it's done sooner, it's done sooner. If I have time to make the gameplay longer or cooler, I might just do that. It's all just guesswork at this point but don't be upset or surprised if it's not out before the end of March.

    Jonathan Epp, Quality Assurance

    Camera Control with Scripts: Just so everyone knows, it looks like we'll have a better way to do camera panning/tilting/zooming in the next game patch. That's not an absolute promise, but chances are pretty good it'll be there.

    Don Moar, Tools Programmer

    Plot Wizard: Ultimately, the Plot Wizard was designed to help address many of the most common problems encountered by new module designers. That being said, we're happy that more experienced designers are finding the Plot Wizard useful and we are interested in supporting their module construction efforts, PW or otherwise, in future updates.

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    Witch's Wake First Impression
    Posted Thursday, December 12, 2002 - 18:19 CET by Z-Layrex

    Maximus has posted on NWVault his first impression of the new Bioware created Module, Witch's Wake:

    "Well needless to say, probably all of the community is checking out Rob Bartel's Witch's Wake Module and I am no exception. Without spoiling any of the story or setting, I have to give Rob a huge thumbs up for what he's given us. This module is head and shoulders above the official campaign on so many levels. The main elements that I like the most, would be using your skills to influence conversations or actions, the way you gain experience not by combat but through roleplaying, as well as the whole death system. I'm a good two hours into into but I've been taking my time to enjoy all the finer points as well to look at it from a builders point of view.

    The combat itself is not difficult but challenging in places, easier in others. The conversations are without a doubt, the best I've seen to date. One of my pet peeves is having dialog choices which suggest you know something, but you haven't been told about. It totally removes you from the game and makes you just want to click lines to get through the dialog. Not so with Witch Work. The dialog itself makes sense, the use of skills where applicable are great, plus there are consequences for your choices. Fail at an attempt and the NPC will not only remember but treat you accordingly. These are the things that make you pay attention and draw you into what the characters are saying.

    Areas themselves are very well done in both layout and atmosphere. They are nice and compact, so you don't have to spend a lot of time just covering space. The only point I had issue with was a "Dr. Who" effect in one building. This is when the area you enter, seems larger and using materials that don't correspond with the area you came from. This was pervasive in the British show, Dr. Who, where he would walk into a telephone booth, which would be a huge spaceship inside. Of course there might be a reason behind it, concerning the module, that I haven't seen yet.

    Overall from what I've seen so far, it's an excellent piece of work and I'm looking forward to finishing it tomorrow, but must go to sleep now as I don't want to rush it. We'll also have a huge chunk of highlights for you tomorrow covering Rob's responses to the community."

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    NWN Official Forum Highlights
    Posted Thursday, December 12, 2002 - 17:51 CET by Z-Layrex

    Here are today's official 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.

    Darcy Pajak, Assistant Producer

    Weapons: Inteligent weapons are something we are thinking of implimenting.

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    Quandary Reviews Icewind Dale II
    Posted Thursday, December 12, 2002 - 16:45 CET by Mollusken

    Quandary gives another review of Icewind Dale II, and even if they don't give the game any scores it's clear that they liked the game.

    With so much to take care of I quite enjoyed working my way through this game and deciding who might be the best character to deal with the task at hand. Of course this means replaying conversations because different characters elicit different responses, but both the dialogue and voice acting are just fine, there is even some humour, so chatting away is not a problem. I learned very early on when I was short of cash that it was inadvisable for my Paladin to do the talking because she always refused rewards. Such a worthy display of altruism, so I tried to keep her happy by not killing indiscriminately. This was until I struck the only bug I encountered in the game. I was on my second visit to my great friends in the Monastery when a stubborn monk just wouldn’t let me leave a room. No matter what he stood steadfast in the doorway. Nothing helped, not even invisibility or haste, because simply entering the room seemed to trigger the situation. Even if I beat him to the door the game assumed he was there and wouldn’t let me proceed. In the interests of moving on I solved the problem with wholesale slaughter … and not a peep from my Paladin.

    Read the whole review here.

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    The Witch's Wake: Fields of Battle Released
    Posted Thursday, December 12, 2002 - 13:26 CET by Mollusken

    Part one of The Witch's Wake series of NWN modules has been released by BioWare. It's available for free download here, and here's the entire announcement:

    After 3 1/2 months of development, the BioWare Live Team is pleased to announce that Part One of "The Witch's Wake," an official Neverwinter Nights module series, is now available as a free download. You can also get the module by simply updating your game using the NWUpdate program, and selecting the optional Witch's Wake download.

    Integrating a number of fan-created components and drawing on extensive beta test feedback throughout its development cycle, "Witch Wake I: The Fields of Battle" offers a solid 2-3 hours of high-quality, story-intensive roleplaying. The best is yet to come, however, as the dark and complex storyline introduced here will be expanded on with each new module that gets released. To commemorate this release, we have updated the Witch's Wake section. As well, we have posted the DM's Guide, an updated Player's Manual, and a new wallpaper. Discuss Witch's Wake in the new Witch's Wake General Discussion forum and Dungeon Masters Discussion forum!

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    "Jefferson" Project Forum News
    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 21:55 CET by Z-Layrex

    Here are a few developer posts I found on the Interplay forums for the next big D&D project for BIS, Jefferson:

    J.E Sawyer, Lead Designer

    "Jefferson actually has a bunch of little reputation markers: Regional Reputation, Factional Reputation, Fame/Infamy, and Epithets. The first three all have positive AND negative scales.

    For example, let's use the the NE section of the Inner Sea (in FR):

    Regional Reputations:
    * Sembia Positive
    * Sembia Negative

    * Dalelands Positive
    * Dalelands Negative

    * Moonsea Positive
    * Moonsea Negative

    * Cormyr Positive
    * Cormyr Negative

    Factional Reputations:
    * Harpers Positive
    * Harpers Negative

    * Zhentarim Positive
    * Zhentarim Negative

    * Silver Ravens Positive
    * Silver Ravens Negative

    * War Wizards Positive
    * War Wizards Negative

    Fame and Infamy can be checked ANYWHERE; they are rewards for large scale actions that would reasonably known throughout the whole game area. For example, if you single-handedly stopped a Super Mutant invasion of Vault City, that would likely result in Fame, since everyone in the game area would eventually know about something so important. If you single-handedly wiped out Vault City, you would get Infamy.

    Some characters may only care about your positive reputation in an area, others might only care about your negative reputation in an organization, and others might try to balance a number of reputations when they speak to you. These organizational ones could be broken down even further. For example, the Red Wizards of Thay in FR are currently divided about the existence of Enclaves (no relation to the post-apocalyptic U.S. gov't) and the "conquest through trade" method. If your character did something to reinforce the existence of the Enclaves against the wishes of the "old skool" Red Wizards who blow everyone up, you could increase your Red Wizard Progressive Positive reputation and increase your Red Wizard Traditionalist Negative reputation.

    On top of these, you have epithets, which may override the general tendencies throughout an area. A character who has a good reputation, but is known throughout the lands as a "Cruel Master" would be poorly received by priests of Ilmater, regardless of other factors. There are a bunch of epithets that we're currently tracking. We may add more, but I'd like to keep it to less than two dozen for bookkeeping and other practical purposes. Let's see... Porcelain Mask, Wind of Death, Cruel Master/Mistress, Blessed Charity, Helter Skelter (for hurting/killing allies with careless attacks), Golden Hand (known to kill for money), Gentleman/Gentlewoman of Distinction (extremely polite even when horribly insulted), Forge of Rage (flips out attacks at the slightest insult), Antagonistic Barb (provokes people into violence), Rapier of Wit (cuts people down with scalding retorts), etc. There are a bunch."


    "Comparing Jefferson's graphics to MW [Morrowind] isn't really appropriate, since one is a first-person game and the other is a third-person isometric game. It's also not entirely fair to compare Jefferson's graphics to NWNs. NWN [Neverwinter Nights] uses an entirely dynamic lighting model. This creates uniformly good lighting, but a lot of the subtlety is lost. It was also a requirement for their engine, since it's also a very flexible toolset. The Jefferson engine uses a static lighting solution for environments because we're not building it to be an enduser toolset like NWN. We just want the levels and characters wemake to look dope, fly, and phat. And they do, IMO."

    Sean K. Reynolds, Designer

    "I've told Josh that I think once the game is really announced, we ought to post a bunch of pictures of character illos we built with the engine. I can see PNP gamers using the engine to make illos of their characters and attaching them to the character sheet."

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    "Jefferson" Project Another D&D Game by BIS
    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 21:32 CET by Sorcerer

    After immersing myself into some recent board posts at the official Interplay message boards I came to the conclusion that the "Jefferson" project (working title) is a new D&D game BIS is currently working on. I won't venture to speculate what it is, because frankly, I haven't a clue. However, some interesting tidbits about it are already appearing on those boards, so we'll start reporting them.

    From what I can guess, it'll be another Forgotten Realms title, and Sean K. Reynolds (an ex-WoTC employee, who worked on some 3e manuals and modules) is also working on it.

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    GameSpy Interviews Ray Muzyka
    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 19:51 CET by Mollusken

    While at the Australian Game Developers Conference, joint CEO of BioWare Ray Muzyka answered a few questions from GameSpy.

    Can you say with confidence that you would never do a five-year production process again, or do you see that as not being a bad thing?

    What we are doing to prevent getting into five years of production all on the same project is realizing that within that five-year period there is a good two or two-and-a-half years of engine development that probably merits a separate phase of the project itself before you apply people who are project-minded onto it. If anything, maybe in total, we would have a project that is as long if you're including the engine development and the actual game development. But for us now, we're thinking of those as two separate things. We're going to do an engine development group in parallel, say, with projects that are being developed on existing engine beds and toolsets -- maybe not on existing engines, but reworking those engines rather than rewriting them from the ground up, which is the next generation engine technology. We have some stuff in development.

    Can you tell us a bit about the NWN expansion packs?

    We just announced we're doing two. We haven't said too much about the second one yet, but the first one is in co-development with another studio called Floodgate. Floodgate is comprised of a number of ex-Looking Glass employees. We have tremendous respect for the work that Looking Glass did. Some of my favorite games are System Shock and Ultima Underworld. They are probably my number one and two favorite games of all time, actually. We're really excited about that. They are doing the art and design on that expansion called Shadows of Undrentide, and BioWare is doing the programming, so we're implementing some of the new skills and programming features and putting together the art and design assets they create.

    There are many more questions and answers to read at GameSpy.

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    The Witch's Wake Review at GamersClick
    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 16:07 CET by Mollusken

    GamersClick have played the beta version of The Witch's Wake: Fields of Battle, and they have written a review based on that experience. Here's an excerpt:

    While the original campaign found in NWN was great, there were certainly some valid complaints to be made regarding it. To alleviate some of those issues, several mods have popped up online tweaking general game concepts. The Hardcore Ruleset (HCR) module makes substantial changes to the general game rules - penalties for resting while wearing armor have been included, and there have also been tweaks to the death system to more closely match 3rd Edition D&D rules, for example - and Witch's Wake uses a modified version of the Hardcore Ruleset. Also included is a customized death system, improved henchman/familiar AI and control, and lootable corpses, which allows defeated enemies to leave corpses to be searched and gradually decompose, rather than simply disappearing instantaneously and leaving a bag containing some random treasure, as in the original module.

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    Icewind Dale II Review at Stratos Group
    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 16:02 CET by Mollusken

    The Stratos Group gives Icewind Dale II a score of 3.7 out of 5, and here's a bit of what they had to say:

    The story itself is fairly interesting, guiding the player to a series of locations ranging from a besieged frontier town, to a temple built entirely of ice, and even into the fabled underground realm known as the Underdark. The quests are also quite varied, including tasks such as finding a path through a maze-like enchanted forest or defending a bridge from assault. The game even pokes fun at itself on occasion, with your party making wry comments about having to fetch and deliver trinkets all the time. The designers clearly wanted to make IWD2 something more than just another generic dungeon crawl. However, despite the various side-quests and dialogue choices, the game is still very much a hack-and-slash adventure at heart. Your party can scarcely move a few steps without fighting a major battle. If there is too much of a good thing, IWD2's combat-heavy gameplay is it.

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    GameSpy Game of the Year 2002
    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 15:54 CET by Mollusken

    The voting for GameSpy's Game of the Year 2002 - Gamer's Choise have started, and Neverwinter Nights and Icewind Dale II are both nominated in Best PC RPG and Best Overall PC Game categories. Read more about this here.

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    Last Week's Poll's Results
    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 15:38 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: Which feature of the Shadows of Undrentide NWN expansion are you looking forward to the most?
    (281 votes total)

    Prestige Classes (100) 36%
    New 40 Hour Campaign Story (84) 30%
    Henchman Improvements (36) 13%
    New Feats & Skills (18) 6%
    New Items & Equipment (14) 5%
    New Tilesets (10) 4%
    New Monsters (7) 2%
    New Spells (7) 2%
    Toolset Wizards (5) 2%

    Pretty much according to my expectations, the prestige classes to be included in the Shadows of Undrentide Neverwinter Nights expansion are the feature most of the people (36%) who voted are looking forward to the most.

    Next most popular feature is the new 40-hour campaign story, which is supposedly going to be much better than the official campaign. (We can only hope...) 30% of poll participants voted in its favour.

    Henchman improvements are third on the list of most wanted features, with 13% of votes. These improvements could include better AI & interaction for henchmen and possibly the ability to have more than one henchman at a time.

    6% of those who voted are looking forward to new feats and skills the most.

    5% of poll participants voted for new items & equipment as the most welcome new addition, and 4% for new tilesets.

    The last three options (new monsters, new spells and toolset wizards) each only received 2% of votes.

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

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    New Price on Collector's Edition of IWD II
    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 15:34 CET by Mollusken

    Interplay have lowered their price on the Collector's Edition of Icewind Dale II, and the new price is $39.95. You can get it from the Interplay Store.

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    BioWare Chat at NWN Stratics
    Posted Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 17:03 CET by Z-Layrex

    There is news at Neverwinter Stratics that they will be hosting a chat with BioWare on Thursday, Dec. 12th at 9pm EST in the #nwnhoc channel on the Stratics IRC server. If you don't use an IRC program, you can also visit this web chat client. The topic to discuss is NWN and where it is.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum Update
    Posted Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 17:00 CET by Z-Layrex

    David Gaider, Designer

    Questions & Features:

    Quote: - I want to make a labyrinth... (snip)

    We are aware of the desire for a "no automap" function and will be looking at this in the future (whether as an update or as part of an expansion I'm not sure).

    Quote: - I wish the ability to highlight objects using the TAB key could be an optional feature

    This has also been asked for numerous times in the past. I, personally, find it less likely that this will happen (and even if it does, it will probably be an all-or-nothing switch at the .ini level for both players and DM's alike). It is being considered for the future, regardless.

    Quote: - I really wish NWN had a turn-based combat option.

    This will never happen. Look for this in a different game.

    Quote: - I wish we could mix tilesets easily, by default, without having to resort to a hak pak. I want to create the Village of Hommlet module, but I can't create the ruined moat house in the swamp, because I can't mix tiles from "City Exterior" and "Rural".

    You will never be able to mix different tilesets intrinsically. The ability to easily use and combine hak paks, however, is a top priority for the near future.

    Quote: - Speaking of the Village of Hommlet, it would also be nice if there were "castle ruins" and "swamp" tiles to begin with (I don't want to use the "Evil Castle" tiles for something that looks more like a simple ruined castle).

    New tilesets are always a possibility. They take a lot of work, however, and I believe we are restricting ourselves to the most popular requests insofar as abolsutely-new creations go. I have seen both castle ruins and swamps done with creative use of lighting, placeables and especially custom re-skinned tilesets.

    Quote: - As part of the Village of Hommlet module idea, I want to create a large Inn, but I can't create my own tiles, unless I own some expensive software (3D Studio Max). How can I create my own tiles, for free?

    If you don't have access to 3d Studio Max, you can always use GMax. I understand that the community has an importer for it that works quite well.

    Quote: - I wish torches had a 1-hour duration and a 20' radius, as in PnP.

    I'm not sure that illumination levels will be *that* controllable in the future (it's possible), but I do know that there are several popular custom scripts that establish torch useage. This is not something I see us use officially, however.

    Quote: - I wish unlit dungeon areas were truly dark (pitch black) for humans, unless the PC has a torch. This absolute blackness adds to the fear factor and excitement of the game, especially when the torch burns out…

    I disagree. I don't think stumbling around with pitch blackness on your screen is particularly fun, regardless of the realism. That said, I wouldn't mind seeing the ambient "light radius" being reduced... right now I think it's a bit high for humans without torches. That's not really a feature per se, however, and I'm not sure if it's even being considered for changing.

    Quote: - I wish torches on the walls could be removed from their brackets and used.

    I believe this has already been scripted in user modules. I'm not certain that the torch actually disappears from the sconce, but it would be a minor change... probably too cosmetic to warrant much priority from us, however.

    Quote: - I wish we could be able to modify an NPC's inventory, as in Baldur’s Gate. I also wish we could have more than one NPC, as in Baldur’s Gate.

    Regardless of the fact that this *isn't* Baldur's Gate and was never intended to be, I believe inventory control for henchmen is already being looked at for an expansion. There is a user mod that allows for more than one henchman, but I truly doubt that will ever be made official.

    Quote: - What scale is used for outdoor areas? 10 meters to a square? What about indoor areas? If they are the same scale, realism is lost, because the standard Inn is small outside but huge inside.

    Is this a request or a question? The scale has to be the same for either and this was established as a basic design decision way back when art began working on the game. To keep the tileset system functional, tiles have to be established at a certain size... try imagining how many more tiles and types of tiles would be required and how much more work would be involved for the end user if the tiles were made that much smaller. Even if those tiles were made clearer and more reliance was put on placeable objects, that still wouldn't be a good idea with this engine due to walkmesh requirements... so you won't see NWN switching scales anytime soon, I'm afraid. Were we to do another game of this type (with newer technology) perhaps this could be re-examined, I don't know. Walkmesh stuff seems to *always* be a bastard to get right.

    Quote: - I wish there were automatic morale checks for monsters, where they run away, surrender (so they can be captured, knocked out, or killed), etc.

    I believe all these things are scriptable. They may make it into the AI system of an expansion, however, I don't know... that's the only way it would become official, however.

    Quote: - I wish the monster/NPC path-finding AI was better, so they would be able to pursue PC’s more effectively.

    So would we. As I mentioned above, however, t'isn't that simple.

    Quote: - I wish it was easy to set up wandering monsters, so that PC’s wouldn’t always feel completely safe resting in a dungeon.

    I don't think this has been considered for official addition as a wizard or something, but it's not impossible. Regardless, I've seen several systems (and some good ones) that the community has come up with for use.

    Quote: - I wish corpses didn't disappear, so you could raise dead, loot them, etc. PC’s should also be lootable – that’s the whole point of a good PvP adventure.

    Corpses disappear as a default, but making that not happen is already possible via scripting, as is looting a PC.

    Quote: - I wish terrain contours were more gradual (realistic), like Myth or Dungeon Siege.

    Yet neither Myth nor Dungeon Siege have a tileset system that the user can use to lay down maps in an easy fashion. Can't have it both ways, although I have seen some community solutions that make the hills at least a bit more rounded which is pretty nice.

    Quote: - I wish the game had mounted animals (horses, griffons, etc.)

    Well, if wishes were horses, that would apparently be possible. Don't bet on it.

    Quote: - I wish monsters used magic items in their inventory during combat (I’m not sure about this, but they might already do this).

    I believe they do this, to a limited extent. Having them use more and be smarter is something that expansion AI scripts will develop.

    Quote: - I wish the game had better 3D aspects, a staple of any good module, such as:
    -- Monsters or PCs could fall, or be knocked, off cliffs, into pits, etc.
    -- The ability to jump over crevices, etc. (roll vs. DEX)
    -- Pit traps -- Swimming
    -- Flying, levitation
    -- Attack from above (spiders or rats jumping down from rafters or walls)

    Unfortunately, this kind of z-axis stuff is something you will only ever see in a sequel, if there is one. We're talking about a whole new graphics engine, here.

    Quote: - I wish there were illusionary walls.

    Possible, through placeable objects. Seeing as their use would be pretty specific depending on the tileset they're being used in, I'm not certain it's something we would try to do... but you never know.

    Quote: - I wish giants could throw boulders.

    All they'd need is animations for a ranged attack. I think I heard someone here talking about grenade-like weapons for an expansion, so who knows?

    Quote: - When I click on a chest, my NPC rogue (Tomi Undergallows) doesn't always move into position to unlock the chest.

    Yes. And? Not much I can really tell you about this one. It'd be awfully nice if we could tweak that to work just right all the time, sure.

    Quote: - I wish that lockpick attempts would sometimes fail, but allow time to be spent trying anyway.

    The option to remove the automatic "take 20" on skills has been requested and is being considered for the future.

    Quote: - I wish I could select the exact appearance of a tile, rather than having to cycle through them by repeatedly pressing the Delete key.

    That would be nice, yes. I'm not sure it can change at this point, though.

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    Ray Muzyka Featured at The Age
    Posted Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 15:56 CET by Mollusken

    Dr Ray Muzyka (joint CEO of BioWare) attended the Australian Game Developers conference, and he was quoted at a non-gaming site called The Age.

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    Project Entropia Goes Gold
    Posted Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - 15:40 CET by Mollusken

    The Swedish software developer MindArk announced today that their MMORPG Project Entropia has gone gold, and it will be released on January 30 2003. Here's their announcement:

    Gothenburg, Sweden - December 10, 2002 - Swedish interactive entertainment developer MindArk today announced the virtual universe Project Entropia is going gold on January 30th 2003. Project Entropia is Sweden's largest software project ever, and has been in development since 1997.

    Project Entropia is a three-dimensional virtual universe on the Internet accessible from any computer with an Internet connection, anywhere in the world.

    Project Entropia is an entertainment product aimed for global usage across culture, age and sex barriers. The main focus in the development has been to cater to the features desired by online gamers as well as for users engaged in society and community building - those with an interest in meeting other people for social interaction and adventure. Millions of users will be able to interact in the Project Entropia universe.

    Project Entropia introduces unique features like a real economy where its currency, PED, is exchangeable with any major currency in the world. The software needed to enjoy Project Entropia is free to download, and this virtual universe is free to enter and spend time in.

    "It is even possible to make a living in Project Entropia," says Chairman Benny Iggland. "This is being demonstrated by several of our commercial trial users. A market economy is rapidly evolving, with our users defining prices on various commodities and items available in the virtual universe. Project Entropia will also incorporate real world commodity trading in a three dimensional environment."

    "Some 15 million USD have been invested in the development of Project Entropia to date and we expect to continue developing Project Entropia in the years to come for a sum of at least 5 million USD annually," says Managing Director Jan Welter Timkrans.

    Even though the release date has been set for January 30th, 2003, it is possible for anyone who wants a head start to immediately enter the Project Entropia universe after downloading the software at

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum Update
    Posted Monday, December 9, 2002 - 18:13 CET by Z-Layrex

    Darcy Pajak, Assistant Producer

    Half-Elves: The answer is this: There are no plans to create a spicific body type for half-elves.

    The choices for half-elves will remain as it currenty does in Neverwinter.

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    New D&D Game - The Temple of Elemental Evil
    Posted Sunday, December 8, 2002 - 19:26 CET by Sorcerer

    The newest issue of Computer Games Magazine has a brief article (page 52) about an upcoming Dungeons & Dragons PC RPG called The Temple Of Elemental Evil.

    Based on the classic 1985 D&D pen-and-paper module (of which there also exists a 3rd Edition D&D version) from its creator Gary Gygax, the article states that the developer of the game will be Troika, who previously developed the "steampunk" RPG Arcanum.

    Unfortunately at this point this is all that is known about it, since there is no official website yet, and no public announcement. We have opened a new forum for the game on our message boards though, so feel free to start speculating about it there.

    We'll keep you posted about the game here as more news comes along. And, needless to say, Sorcerer's Place will be covering this new game.

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    Icewind Dale II Online Solution Update
    Posted Sunday, December 8, 2002 - 10:49 CET by Sorcerer

    The Bartholomew team has just sent in Chapter 5 and various other updates of their online Icewind Dale II solution. Check it out here.

    Here's what's new this time around:

    "Chapter 5, and the Lost Followers (Holy Avenger) quest, have been added to the walkthrough. The Battle Squares section of chapter 2, and the Duergar Outpost sections of chapters 3 and 4 have been expanded. The Item List has been completed to the end of chapter 5 as well as expanded to include additional items, more item cost information, and all Battle Squares prizes."

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum Update
    Posted Saturday, December 7, 2002 - 20:56 CET by Z-Layrex

    Don Moar, Tools Programmer

    Plot Wizard: You're on the right track. Epilogue nodes like the ones they describe in the tutorial are deal with the situation where the NPC has served their function in the plot, but the PC comes back for more. In your case, you would create an epilogue node for the plot giver that is dependent upon the node where the plot giver gives the PC the box. In this node, you can have the NPC encourage the PC to hurry or question them about their progress - it's up to you, really.

    That is the "Out of Plot" greeting. Basically, it's what the NPC would say if the PC spoke with him or her before the PC was involved in the plot. For example, if during the game, the PC were to speak with the extra in your plot before receiving the plot, the NPC would say there "Out of Plot" greeting.

    Plot Manager: The Plot Manager allows you to organize plots not created by the Plot Wizard. With the Plot Manager you can take plots that you've already created and organize the blueprints into Plot Giver, Villain, Extras, etc. It's a little more convenient that having to hunt through all the palettes for each of the blueprints individually.

    Multiple Quests: Yes, it is possible for the same NPC to issue multiple quests one after the other.

    Either you:

    1. string all the quests into a single Plot Wizard plot (easy)


    2. create each plot individually (this will result in multiple versions of the NPC) using the Plot Wizard and then manually combine the different conversation files generated (hard).

    The problem with the first option is that it becomes a little tougher to manage all the nodes. The problem with the second option is that manually editing the conversation files is a little error prone.

    Jonathan Epp, Quality Assurance

    Tokens In Journals: We were going to add the ability to use custom tokens in journal entries with 1.27, but unfortunately we had a problem with it so it didn't make it in. And then we goofed and didn't take it out of the patch notes. Sorry for the confusion! We still plan on having it in an upcoming patch though.

    Jay Watamaniuk, Community Manager

    Patch 1.28: We are hoping to have a patch before everyone takes the Xmas break. If not then very early in Jan.

    Tom Ohle, Communications Assistant

    Cost & Release Of The SoU X-Pack: As was mentioned in another thread, we do not have a price for SoU yet. EBGames likely just made that price up. They also have a release date--which came as a shock to everyone involved in the project. "I didn't know that we knew the exact day it was going to come out. It's at EB, though, so it must be true."

    Brent Knowles, Co Lead Designer

    X-Packs: A 40 hr campaign takes a *LOT* of work. Floodgate will be working very hard to complete their campaign and I don't envy the long hours they'll have to put in. XP1 is doing far more than simply running interference for XP2! They are constantly requesting new features and functionality, all of which will benefit the module building community. As well, many of the scripting/functionality requests that those of us on XP2 are making will also be incorporated into XP1 (such as improved cutscene functionality).

    Noel Borstad, Programmer

    Custom Text:

    Quote: What we REALLY need is the ability to tie custom phrases to the Hot Keys (Fireball coming - hold back! or maybe my old Hot Key from EQ: "I'm being attacked! If you want me around to heal you, GET 'IM OFF ME! GET 'IM OFF ME!!!")

    This is already in... use the "Custom Text Macro" with whatever you want to say in the "Input Command". By default it will do a shout, so for role playing purposes you might want to prefix it with /tk to talk normally. The custom macros are great for DMs because if they prefix the string with ## it will get sent to the console.
    This is handy for being able to trigger custom scripts from the quickbar (ie. ##runscript killallplayers )
    or when you're trying to rapidly level up a character, turn on DebugMode, then put ##dm_levelup on your quickbar. Every time you hit that key you go up a level! oops. sorry for hijacking your thread with my rambling!

    Trent Oster, Producer

    Attacks of Opportunity: The Attacks of Opportunity rules in NWN are keyed from your difficulty setting. If you are playing on easy difficulty the enemies do not get attacks of opportunity.

    Character Models: During development we had a Max script which generated the racial variants from a human base model. There were a series of data files you had to hand edit to set the proportions. We also went back after the scripts and hand edited anything that looked too wonky. I'll see if I can find that system anywhere.

    Neil Flynn, Programmer

    Conversations: The Loop check box below where you select the animation is supposed to take care of that. I just checked and it doesn't. We are checking that out now.

    OBJECT_SELF will always be the owner of the conversation, regardless of the node. You will have to do a GetObjectByTag to get the 2nd NPC in the conversation.

    Exporting In The Plot Wizard: That was changed in the wizard after the tutorial was written. Now, to export just save it as usual, but save it as a plot template file instead of a plot manager file. The rest of it should behave as stated. The tutorial will be updated as soon as we can. Sorry about the confusion.

    Derek French, Assistant Producer

    Tileset Builder: Actually, the Live Team is working on something comprehensive like this. Guess you will just have to check back with us next Neverwinter Wednesday.

    Bug Reports: Hi there. We have only recently been made aware that our auto-responders have stopped working. That is why you have not heard anything back from us. Apparently then have been missing for a few months now, even though we have been updating their content on a regular basis. Its not like we e-mail ourselves bug reports very often.

    The autoresponders say that we will not be contacting you unless we need more information from you, specifically. In many cases, you may be reporting a duplicate issue that we are already dealing with someone else, thus we don't need to ask you for that information. On a related note, we have completed an internal remote access security pass on the code, and we are very confident that the reports of the changing of server settings are not coming from external sources, but might actually be some sort of internal server problem.

    We understand and sympathize with your frustrations. It causes us no end of grief, too, knowing that our customers are having a bad experience with our game. The Live Team (I almost typed Love Team :O ) reads and investigates every single e-mail to the three e-mail addresses and they will be addressed. We just cannot make any promises as to when, due to so many developmental factors.

    Darcy Pajak, Assistant Producer

    Robes & Cloaks: Hello everyone, there has been a lot of interest about having Robes, and Cloaks in the upcoming expansion packs. Our approach with NWN has always been to implement features completely and in a quality manner. If we judge either element lacking in a feature we do not attempt that feature. We had a meeting yesterday with FloodGate to discuss the viability of cloaks and robes. We discussed the quality we wanted to set for cloaks and robes and re-examined the resources and cost associated with implementing this feature, we weighed all the options and found we did not have the resources needed to implement robes and cloaks to the quality we require for Shadows of Undrentide, or the second expansion pack. We are confidant that the current set feature set will please NWN fans and enhance the original game in many ways.

    Eastern Sub-Classes: To create a good introduction with eastern sub-classes, we would have to first create a story that took place in the east (or started in the west and went east like Marco Polo). Anyway, we would also have to create a whole new tile set for the culture. Rural, City exterior, City interior, sewers, Castle interior, Crypts, etc, etc. Also add new armor art, placableles. There were be a lot we would have to do to make this work right. I'm not saying we won't do this, but all I can speak of is SoU, and XP2, and neither of these are taking place in the far east.


    Quote: Wow, that reply felt like someone had just sliced my hopes in half with a vorpal sword, then chopped them up into small chunks, then grindeded them with a mace of crushing into a fine powder and feed them to the nearest dire rat . So there is apsolutely no chance of that then(unless you dicide that a 3rd expansion would involve oriental characters), no patches containing these classes, no option to custom make them on toolsets?

    Sorry for slicing hopes, that was not my intention. I was looking for more of a bashing :)

    At this point I cannot say there is no chance of adding these classes. Maybe they will be added later, maybe not. Maybe we will design a tool for the community to make their own, maybe not. NWN has been out for only about 6 months, and RPG's usually have a longer lifespan then other types of games We expect people to play NWN for a long time and the Live team will be there to support it. We cannot predict what will be done with the game a year from now. Even 6 months down the road is murky.

    We can only be sure of three things right now:
    1) we are doing two expansion packs. One of which being jointly done with the talented people at FloodGate, the feature set is known for each one, but we are not releasing details until we can support them will information and screen shots and such.

    2) The community will always come up with things to build upon the NW experance.

    3) If people keep playing and building modules, NWN will grow and be vastly greater then it already is now.

    Subraces In The X-Pack: There will be no sub races specifically designed for the expansion packs. We don't see a huge need as the players can make up their own at the moment in the player creation screen.
    (We know many sub-races have additional bonus and penalties, like sunlight vulnerability, which is what people who want sub-races really want to see added)

    However, because some of these races suffer penalties in certain environments we don?t want to limit the user?s choices in any modules. (for example, if we made the Derro Dwarf sub-race, exactly how it is described in the Monster manual? then anybody who wanted to use it for 90% of the modules out there, would have to suffer the constitution loss when daylight hit them, or be limited to only play in underground modules.)

    That's fine by us. The huge fans of the Derro say. However, as you know by now one of the areas we have for Shadows of Undrentide is a desert tile set. We cannot put in a Derro as someone would choose that race to play through the campaign, and this would detract from the campaign, as they would loose constitution, hit-points, and maybe die as the game doesn?t know when a player is in the shade or standing in the sunlight. To make sure everyone has fun, we won?t do that. So we cannot put in the Derro, or any other sub-race that has such problems. Now that doesn?t leave too many left, so we made the choice long ago that we would allow people to adjust the look of these races, but unless we could follow the 3rd addition rules very closely, that was where it would stop.

    I can only speak of the content for the first two expansion packs.
    Q: Will we flesh out Sub-races?
    A: No

    Q: Why not?
    A: Many reasons, see my post above for some of them.

    Q: What about XP3?
    A: There is no XP3 planned at the moment, but if these two expansion packs make us money, that would go a long way in us makeing a decision to make XP3.

    Debate over. the Nay's have it.

    New Sounds In X-Packs: Ah what the heck, we'll see what we can do about music and voice sets.

    I cannot say who will be doing the new music at the moment for contract reasons. (the contract has not been signed, so saying anything would be premature). I do know that FloodGate is adding new music, and could be adding new voice sets. I wanted to use Spadaux Ballet, or OMD :)

    X-Pack CD-Keys: The current plan is to have a CD key for the expansion packs.


    Quote: No SecuROM crap, right Darcy? No SecuROM, say it with me... No SecuROM. CD Key good. SecuROM BAD!

    From what I'm told SecurRom has done good things to increase the useablity of it's product, and reduce those few exceptions where the product was not compatible with someones HD, OS or whatever.

    Cloaks & Robes In X-Pack: We're looking into the issue of robes and cloaks.


    Quote: Darcy, I love you

    Whoa!!, down there Nizidramanii't, I?m not making any promises. Robes and Cloaks are not easy to implement them as people think. Although I have seen some user created mods with cloaks and robes, and for the most part they are good, I really dislike the clipping and the way they look during some fighting animations. For us to do it right, will take a person here a long time. We need to balance that time and cost against other things we want to put in. Tile sets, spells, monsters, weapons, feats, etc, etc. All we and FloodGate can do is look into the cost, and make the decision based on what will give us the biggest bang for the buck.

    To put in another way:
    Cloaks and Robes = $50
    New spells = $2/ each
    New monster = $5/ each
    Tile sets = $35/ each
    Wizards for toolset = $10
    Prestige class = $5/ each
    New weapons = $2 each
    (do not take this as real cost ratios, I?m only using it to make a point)

    We have $100 to make the expansion, how do we choose what gets in?
    We look at what the community is using most of all, and what they want to have included. (Sometimes they tell us directly, sometimes it?s indirectly) We make our choices from there.
    Because of the cost of robes and cloaks that feature would not even make it past the initial discussion phase, however because many people in the community want it, we put it for analysis.
    Also consider this;
    Cloaks and Robes only add a cosmetic improvement to the game, while the other features add more adventure options. This doesn?t make cloaks and robes any less valuable to the users, but as anything cosmetic it would be great at first, but then people would get bored and look for the new flavor of the month.

    I hope that make some sense of how we go about deciding what gets in and what does not.

    Horses = $101
    Swimming = $101
    Climbing = $101
    Sorry ;)

    New Content In X-Packs: Yes, There will be new groups, tiles, terrain, and placables to match the Desert, Ruin, and Snowy tilesets.


    Quote: Hey Syrsuro, hello Darcy. My question was in reference to tilesets we already have, (rural, dungeon, castle interior etc.) Will we see any additions in features and groups and terrain in these tilesets?

    I understand, sorry about that. When deciding what to add to the expansions, we looked through the forums, we took note of polls NW vault posted, and asked around. During all that we found very few, people asking for more options in the current tile sets. Almost everyone wanted completely new tile sets. So I?m sorry to say there are no plans to add to the current tile base. However, the three new tile sets can expand the capabilities of builders by taking the adventures from the cold of winter, to the blistering heat of a desert. (which were overall the top new tiles requested.)

    Cost Of X-Packs: There seems to be a lot of buzz over the cost of the first (and second) expansion packs. As of the time of this post, we have no word from Atari what the cost will be. Please don't jump to conclusions or make bold assumptions on anything unless you hear it from Atari, It is unproductive, and can make you look the fool if you are wrong. Wait until the official announcement is made, then go ahead and react to it however you want. (but try and be constructive if you disagree with it)

    XP1 Features: Shadows of Undrentide is not just a 40h adventure. It's new monsters, new classes, new feats, spells, weapons, Tiles and all the current live features will also be added. The gang from FloodGate are doing a great job and I expect it too only add value to NW as a whole.

    I'm afraid I cannot give a lot of detail right now on specifics in the expansion. FloodGate and us are adding many new feats and skills, including great cleave, and dirty fighting for fighters. There will be new prestige classes and these classes with have spicific skills tied to them. We are adding many new spells including Bigby's weird assortment. The biggest expansion to the character classes besides the new ones will be adding a craft skill, so some player can make their own items. As far as monsters I can say that FloodGate and us are adding the basilisk, cockatrice, and many more.

    Non-X-Pack Modules:

    Quote: I wonder if it would be possible for BioWare to implement a system where you can check an option to save modules as Original NWN (warning if new content has been used so one can remove it), so that it would be possible to create modules for non-SoU users after SoU has been installed? Possibly also allowing you to chose the patch-level as well (1.10, 1.25, 1.27, etc.)? Bah, Who am I kidding.

    The current plan is to enable a builder to choose which assets they want to use to build a module. OG, or SoU. If it works (and we haven't tested it yet), then people with SoU can make modules for people without SoU.

    SoU Content: What exactly is the question here? At the moment people are making modules and mods, and hak packs for general distrubution. I don't see that changing after SoU is released. The only diffrence is that modules made with SoU content can only be played by people with SoU installed. If someone wants to extract the female fire giant FloodGate created and put it into a hak pack for a Module to be used by owners of both SoU, and NW, that would be cheating.

    Robin Mayne, BioWare Webmaster

    Sub-races: Hey all - just wanted to let you know that I too had this same idea the other day, and I have chatted with Derek about the idea of a 'builder-controlled' drop-down for Sub-race and Diety during character creation. We will continue to examine the feasibility of adding this type of functionality in the future, but as it stands, I believe the hurdle that prevents this type of functionality is that the module is not yet loaded on the client's system when they are creating a new character. Therefore the current system does not allow for the module to provide info on character options as the player is not yet connected to the game.


    Quote: Use a drop-down with a hard coded list, and enable additional dieties, sub-races, whatever, to be loaded from the INI file. It's easy enough to edit / add to ASCII if you're planning on joining a PW.

    I think the 'ideal' functionality that is being discussed in this thread would be a system that allows module builders to control Dieties/Sub-races using the toolset that automatically populates diety/subrace options for players when they play. Anything that requires players to do something outside of the game is no better than the current system of having players view a readme or web site with the list of supported Deities/Races. It can never be 'easy enough' when you want to design a system for everyone to use.

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    The Witch's Wake Interview at RPG Vault
    Posted Saturday, December 7, 2002 - 19:17 CET by Mollusken

    Yup, there's another Witch's Wake interview at one of the Vault sites, and it's of course a bit different from the one at IGN PC I posted yesterday. Lead designer Rob Bartel still answers the questions though.

    How linear or non-linear will the entire adventure be, and also the individual modules? How much gameplay are you aiming at, both for the first module and for the full series? How many modules do you plan on in total?

    Being a serial adventure, the modules will be played in a pretty straightforward, sequential order. Already, in the first moments of the opening module and elsewhere as the module progresses, I'm bifurcating the players' experiences, though, and sending them careening down slightly different paths. The differences are pretty subtle now, but they'll continue to grow as the series progresses until you finally realize that some of your fellow players (or NPCs, for that matter) have been led to a completely different understanding of the plot than your own. Also, there's a lot of replayability in the individual modules, with plenty of class- or ability-specific options in conversation. I'm constantly trying to present you with choices that have a permanent impact on your character, both within this specific module and hopefully broader to the game beyond.

    The length of the series (let alone how I'm going to end it) is being kept fairly flexible so it can adapt to new ideas and interpretations along the way. The first module is between two and three hours long, though, and I'd like to create at least five of them in the series and hopefully more. If demand is strong and the series continues to be of benefit, it's conceivable that the series could continue for quite some time to come.

    Read everything here.

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    Black Isle Hiring
    Posted Saturday, December 7, 2002 - 19:10 CET by Mollusken

    Black Isle is now looking for new intermediate game designers. Primary responsibilities include the design and layout of adventure locales for Black Isle RPGs.

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    Armchair Empire Reviews IWD II
    Posted Saturday, December 7, 2002 - 19:08 CET by Mollusken

    The guys at the Armchair Empire have posted a review of Icewind Dale II, and they gave it a score of 7 out of 10. Here's a few lines from the review.

    Presentation suffers from an outdated game engine but remains impressive on some levels. Tiny character models and jerky animations are balanced by the astounding artwork on the character portraits. The 2D backgrounds are superbly drawn, capturing the stark beauty of the region – you can almost feel the cold. The soundtrack is similarly impressive with the haunting melodies of the Fell Wood a stand out. Which, along with the strong narrative, saves the game from being mere rehash.

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    Icewind Dale II Forum Update
    Posted Saturday, December 7, 2002 - 18:03 CET by Veldrin

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    Creating Monte Cook Ranger: This actually SHOULD be one of the easier mods to make. You would need to modify the 2DAs that control:

    1) Starting feats based on class
    2) Feats per class level
    3) Hit dice for class level
    4) Skill points per class level
    5) Ranger spell progress

    I'm pretty sure that's all you need to do to make it "Monte Cook Style". However, I would actually recommend removing the level 1 bonus feat and spacing out the other bonus feats for better overall balance.

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    Site News - New Additions
    Posted Saturday, December 7, 2002 - 17:54 CET by Sorcerer

    Subsection Updates -> Fantasy Books

    Twelve new books have been added to the J. R. R. Tolkien Books subsection. (The whole History of Middle-earth Series.)

    There are also 2 new sample chapters you can read. The first is of Robert Jordan's Crossroads of Twilight and the second of Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Baldur's Gate

    Two cool mods by Tioma (Ease-of-use Pack and Heart of Fury Mode) have been added to the Editors, Hacks & Custom Characters subsection.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Baldur's Gate 2

    In the Tips, Tricks & Hints subsection, a fan-submitted work called Secrets of Journals has been updated yet again.

    3 new additions have been made in the Editors, Hacks & Custom Characters subsection. The first is a new pack of AI scripts, the second a new Acid Elementalist kit by Tioma and third a link to a site with a bunch of nice soundsets to download.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Icewind Dale 2

    In the Tips, Tricks & Hints subsection you can download a very handy Book of Spells & Tables, and an updated version of the WeiDU items list. Additionally, there is a very cool new Irenicus soundset you can grab from the Editors, Hacks & Custom Characters subsection, as well as one of Bodhi.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Neverwinter Nights

    In the Walkthroughs & Guides subsection you can check out a page listing some details on both official expansions in the works, and get an updated version of one of the walkthroughs.

    An exhaustive new guide to wizards has been added to the Tips, Tricks & Hints subsection.

    The Modules subsection has been updated to reflect the changes to BioWare's Witch's Wake series of modules.

    The official press release for the Shadows of Undrentide expansion has been added to the Miscellanea subsection. The demo of the game has also been added to the same page.

    The Toolset & Related subsection has been updated with a big chunk of cool fan-created content again. I've also split down all the subsections into pages with around 30 items which should make everything easier to navigate. (Not to mention load faster.)

    In Subsection #1, 1 new tutorial has been added, and 1 updated.

    In Subsection #2, 6 new tilesets have been added.

    In Subsection #3 (Scripts), 4 new scripts have been added and 1 updated.

    In Subsection #4, 12 new items have been added and 1 updated.

    In Subsection #5, 17 creatures/creature packs were either added or updated.

    In Subsection #6, 11 new placeables/placeables packs have been added.

    Lastly, in Subsection #7 you can find 2 various new additions.

  • Direct Links

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    Neverwinter Nights Demo for Download
    Posted Friday, December 6, 2002 - 21:16 CET by Sorcerer

    Well, here's a present from St. Nicholas (aka BioWare) for all of you three who don't have Neverwinter Nights yet. They've just released a fully playable demo with the Prelude part of the official campaign!

    The thing is pretty big (around 400MB, zipped), and can currently be downloaded at these mirrors:

  • BioWare's List o' Mirrors

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    The Witch's Wake Interview at IGN PC
    Posted Friday, December 6, 2002 - 16:46 CET by Mollusken

    IGN PC Games have posted an interview with Rob Bartel, lead designer of the The Witch's Wake Neverwinter Nights modules.

    What can you tell us about the story?

    You are a soldier far from home and, after falling unconscious during a ferocious battle, you awake to find your entire company slaughtered. Lost and alone, you must make the journey home, unraveling the truth of what has brought you to this place as you go. The story's a little darker than some of what I've done in the past (I unleashed Noober and Larry/Darryl/Darryl on the unsuspecting public in Baldur's Gate 1, after all) and wrapped in a lot more mystery (even I don't know how it will end, though I have a few ideas at this point). The beta testers are really pumped about how the story is introduced in the first module.

    Where are you now in terms of development? What's left to do and when might gamers see a "final" version?

    I'm working some pretty long hours to get Witch Wake I: The Fields of Battle out by mid-December and we'll definitely be hitting that. It's just a question of how much I can cram in before that point. I've got about 20 bugs flagged right now as being critical to fix before ship and another 60 or so that I'd really like to address if there's time. Beyond that are another 100 or so that I'll fix if I happen to be in the neighborhood. The big one on my plate right now is journal entries ? they still need to be written.

    Read the whole interview here.

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    Icewind Dale II Review at RPG Vault
    Posted Thursday, December 5, 2002 - 19:03 CET by Mollusken

    Yet another review of Icewind Dale II has been written, and this time it's RPG Vault's turn to say a few words.

    The environments in Icewind Dale II are painted and rendered 2D backgrounds. There are those who decry this, but there can be no arguing that the talented Black Isle art team has produced exceptional work in all areas, from the great looking backgrounds and locales to the character and monster depictions as well as their respective animations. Particularly at higher resolutions, the varied beauty of the Faerun comes to life. Of note too are the musical score and sound effects, which serve to complement and expand the game experience beyond your monitor. This is a well-rounded and polished RPG.

    cewind Dale II looks to be the farewell appearance for one of the most successful of all game engines. Recently, I read an article in a computer gaming magazine about the Infinity that postulated that it was responsible for more entertainment value and success than its vaunted Quake and Unreal counterparts. I certainly cannot disagree. To paraphrase a saying, if all's well that ends well, then Icewind Dale II ends Infinity well indeed.

    Read everything here.

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    NWN Postmortem at Gamasutra
    Posted Thursday, December 5, 2002 - 19:00 CET by Mollusken

    An article with reflections to the development and release of Neverwinter Nights has been posted at Gamasutra. It's written by Scott Grieg, Ray Muzyka, James Ohlen, Trent Oster and Greg Zeschuk (all from BioWare), and here's an excerpt.

    With the NWN team growing at the end to upwards of 75 people, communication of the goals of the project, and the day-to-day development decisions, became a critical necessity. We formed a tight communication network, with the leads in each area summarizing daily challenges, potential pitfalls, and areas of concern. Each significant code change required consultation with the various people responsible for the systems that would be touched - a fundamental change required a quick meeting between three to five people simply to make sure everyone who was affected would be aware of how the change would affect them. While this might superficially seem like an inefficient way to work, it did result in a number of benefits for the project and the team. First, the constant communication to achieve difficult goals brought the entire team together, and when difficult problems arose there were always a few knowledgeable people with a familiarity with the problem that could be consulted.

    Read the whole article here.

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    Neverwinter Wednesday
    Posted Thursday, December 5, 2002 - 18:51 CET by Mollusken

    While we're waiting for the first of the Witch's Wake modules, The Fields of Battle, the team working on them have released a manual to the first module. It will provide you with the information you need to fully enjoy the modules and to understand the details of the enviroment.

    Major Bill Marcellino, project administrator of the "A Land Far Away" project, has written a Player's Guide to Persistent Worlds. A few "frequently asked questions" about persistent worlds are answered there.

    Community manager Jay Watamaniuk has written a profile on The Scripter's Guild, a guild for scripters of all abilities. The guild owner, craggovi, also answers a few questions about the guild.

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    Two Towers Soundtrack Preview
    Posted Thursday, December 5, 2002 - 18:33 CET by Mollusken

    SoundtrackNet has posted a preview of Howard Shore's music compositions for the next Lord of the Rings movie, Two Towers. They also provide downloadable clips of the 20 tracks.

    "But now we have the fellowship splintered into three separate groups", Shore continued, "The complexity is that you have three stories going on simultaneously, as well as new characters and cultures. Merry and Pippin have been captured by Uruk-Hai. We follow their story to Fangorn Forest, Treebeard, and the story of the Ents. And then you've got Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas as they track the Uruk-Hai and meet up with the riders of Rohan. We are also following Frodo and Sam and their meeting up with Gollum, and the story of him leading them to the Black Gate, and Mordor. There's also the story of Arwen and Aragorn, which flashes back to Rivendell. So time is moving forward and backwards. You see the past more, in relation to the present."

    Shore also spoke about how the music for Two Towers has developed through the use of several new contributing artists, "When I was writing Rivendell (for the first film), there was a lot of singing. So I thought of using Enya. That's how that started, an invitation to be part of that piece in that particular part of the story. But it's progressed past that part of the story. As we've progressed, we've got different voices for the different parts of the story."

    Read the whole preview and get the mp3 clips here.

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    Project Entropia Server Test
    Posted Thursday, December 5, 2002 - 18:29 CET by Mollusken

    The MMORPG Project Entropia have sent us words that they needs participants to help stress test their servers tonight. In case you wondered, Project Entropia is a free, downloadable game. Here's an excerpt from the announcement.

    The Project Entropia Development Team is holding a six-hour long test on its server system beginning Thursday December 5 at 22:00 CET (21:00 GMT, 16:00 EST, 13:00 PST). Its purpose is to assess stability and performance following the introduction of the successful v4.0 patch. Interested users are asked to enter Project Entropia and stay logged on as long as possible. Act as you normally would: chatting, hunting, mining or exploring. If you get disconnected, please log on again. It will be worth your while. The long-awaited treasure system has been implemented and announcements will be made frequently during the test to guide you in the right direction. Invite everyone you know and remember - spending money is not a requirement. It is free to enter and participate in Project Entropia.

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    Last Week's Poll's Results
    Posted Thursday, December 5, 2002 - 14:59 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: How does the Icewind Dale 2 music compiled by Inon Zur compare to the soundtrack of the original Icewind Dale by Jeremy Soule in your opinion?
    (183 votes total)

    IWD2 music is just (or almost) as good (75) 41%
    IWD2 music is better (42) 23%
    I didn't play both games (39) 21%
    IWD2 music is worse (28) 15%

    Though less than a half of the usual number of poll participants voted in this poll, the results are interesting nonetheless.

    The majority of 41% voted that the Icewind Dale 2 music composed by Inon Zur is just (or almost) as good as that of the original Icewind Dale which was composed by Jeremy Soule.

    That the IWD2 music is better has been voted upon by 23% of participants in the poll. Quite flattering, indeed.

    21% of people who voted didn't play both games so they couldn't compare the soundtracks, which is most likely also the reason for the meagre number of votes total.

    15% of those who voted, however, think that the Icewind Dale 2 music is worse than the music of the original Icewind Dale.

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

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    Inon Zur Interview at RPGFan
    Posted Wednesday, December 4, 2002 - 16:45 CET by Mollusken

    The Icewind Dale II music composer answers a few questions over at RPGFan. Here's a few of them.

    Did you feel any pressure to make this an exceptional soundtrack for Icewind Dale II, compared to Jeremy Soule's soundtrack for Icewind Dale 1?

    Obviously, I was aware that the first Icewind Dale was quite successful, and of course, everybody wanted to create at least as good of product. But we took a bit different, [but] not completely different, direction as shown with music. So basically I felt quite comfortable creating my own realm and working with it, other than trying to be like Icewind Dale 1.

    Aside from Lionheart, do you have any other game soundtracks in the works?

    Yeah, but I cannot talk about it at this time. But Lionheart is almost done with the prerecorded music. I personally have great expectations for this game. I think it'll definitely be worthwhile. I mean, we are very, very happy so far. So definitely for our [listeners], there is some very, very good stuff on the way.

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    Neverwinter Nights Forum Update
    Posted Tuesday, December 3, 2002 - 23:05 CET by Z-Layrex

    Derek French, Assistant Producer

    Witch Wake Release Date: No, it is not going to be part of a patch, it will be a separate download. It was never scheduled to be part of any patch. The current theory for the release is Dec 11th.

    X-Pack CDs: The paper sleave thing caught us off guard, as well as the poor clarity of the CD Key printing. We will definately be working to make sure neither of these things happen again.

    RAAAAAR! (<- angry at paper sleaves)

    Jay Watamaniuk, Community Manager

    Using Fan Created Content In X-Packs: There are a few issues that create difficulties in directly using community content. It's not much of a legal thing but more of having to go through an entire QA pass on the OC if we wanted to use the Henchmen AI upgrade for ex maple as it is a fundamental change to the game. A full QA is a very large deal as it involves using every class, race, spell, monster and so on over the entire course of the OC. It becomes a matter of what is the best use of QA and programmer time. Improve Henchmen AI in the OC or fix and test crash bugs? This is a pretty specific response, but does encompass some of the reasons for shying away from direct inclusion of community stuff. That is not to say we don't use community stuff, as in the case of a group of spell fixes that were implemented which originally sprang from the community. As has been mentioned the Henchmen AI is being reworked for the expansion and I'm pretty sure those programmers involved will will have taken a look at what the community has put together before they get started.

    Darcy Pajak , Assistant Producer

    X-Pack Compatibility: We are still working out the technical requirements, but the original plan is that you would only need the specific expansion pack to play on a module created with that expansion pack, very much like Torias mentions. That being said, if this becomes to difficult to manage effectively we may switch to another strategy. Being from EA, I would be more then happy to follow the Sim?s model. But that may not be feasible with NWN. Lucky I have Derek French and Jay Watamaniuk, who work closely with the community and know what they want.

    X-Pack Content: This expansion will be great! In the single player game, you will have new places to go, new people to talk to, more treasure to acquire, more feats to use, more spells to cast, and different monsters to fight. The tool set adds more functionality, to make it easier to create modules so we are hoping to see even more community created content down the road. Someone asked why we don't bundle all the great stuff created by the community ourselves? I would really love to see the best stuff the community has to offer used by everyone, and the people who created it get recognized for their work. However, there are many legal and procedural hurdles we would need to clear before this is done. I don?t want to debate this point, so I?ll just say:

    There are no current plans to use community content in the expansion packs.

    Expansion Content:

    Quote: I was just wondering if the decisions have already been made about exactly what is being added to both expansions or whether there is a likelihood of anything suggested on these forums being included if there seems to be enough support for it and the constraints are not too great?

    Yes, the decisions have already been made to what will be in the expansions. Before we began, we first looked at what the community was currently doing with Neverwinter, and what they wanted to do with it. We also looked at what we wanted to do with it. We took all that information and then analyzed what was possible. We also took the current market conditions and our user demographics into account and picked a feature set and built a plan and signed a contract. I want to iterate that the vast majority of the content was chosen by what the community was discussing on the forums, every once in a while there were posts of wish lists and ideas, and we took those seriously.

    Of course as the community matures, what is wanted changes and we also took that into account, but there has to be a point when we need to stop adding things so the developers can get on with making the game. I know that we are making great expansions. If you also include the Live Team and all that they are doing, Neverwinter will be around for a long time, and will be constantly built up to support the people who own and play it.

    Over the next few weeks [we'll be releasing information on what's in the x-packs]. We need to consider how to present the information, for example we would like to include screenshots, but those take time for approval by FloodGate, Infogrames, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast and us.

    And More:

    Quote: Darcy - what I really want to know, is there going to be support for user made prestige classes, feats, spells, etc? This is pretty important. Lots of us are working these things out the hard way, and if that's going to be taken care of I'd rather not. And if it's not, well, I'd like to know that too so I can make alternative plans. Thanks a lot.

    It is too difficult to add support for user made prestige classes in the time we have to release both expansion packs. (Changing GUI, Animations, etc) Also if we made it possible for the user's to created their own prestige classes, there is the risk that some may unbalance the game, some people may exploit them, and this may damage the multiplayer game.

    Don Moar, Tools Programmer

    Plot Wizard: The Plot Wizard is designed to help module creators prepare _new_ plots and the required object blueprints, conversations and scripts. The objects may be plot givers, villains or extras as dictated by the specific needs of your plot. The Plot Wizard will not interfere with or use any existing blueprints, conversations or scripts in your module. In general, this means that if you try to use the same object in more than one plot, the Plot Wizard will create another copy of the blueprint for the new plot. This isolation greatly simplifies the implementation and reduces the risk of a module designer inadvertantly removing important resources when deleting a plot. It is still possible for the same object to be reused in multiple plots, but it does require a little manual intervention on the part of the module designer to merge conversations and such. Fortunately, the conversations generated by the Plot Wizard are designed to be fairly simple in their structure. Keep in mind that these conversations can still be edited and otherwise enhanced using the Conversation Editor so long as you obey a few simple rules. (Check out the tutorial for an example of how to do this.)

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    Neverwinter Nights 1.27 Patch
    Posted Tuesday, December 3, 2002 - 15:51 CET by Mollusken

    BioWare have released the 1.27 patch for Neverwinter Nights, and it can be installed with the update function on the launch menu. Here are the release notes.

    Available for English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. Summary of fixes new to this patch listed below (complete list of fixes here).


    Neverwinter Nights Game

  • Added Rat and Dire Rat to game resources - demo area included (select the "DEMO - Thar be Rats! Yarrr!" module in game by choosing "Other Modules...")
  • Added support for Shiny Water for ATI Radeon users.
  • Official Campaign fixes:
    - Chapter 1 - Fixed the force-field door in the Beggar's Nest Warehouse.
    - Chapter 1 - fixed a blank journal entry problem.
    - Chapter 2E - made a symptomatic fix to the Host Tower: Pinacle bug - currently broken save games will have to follow the instructions here.
    - Chapter 3 - fixed a blank journal entry problem.
    - Chapter 3 - fixed force field doors in Creator Race Ruins so that they are closed.

  • Monks now suffer the penalty of equiping a shield just like equipping armour.
  • Made a preliminary fix for the infamous "Swapping Out the Blood Sailor Uniform After Being Shot By Arrows" crash. Oh man was this an obscure one to find.
  • Reversed size bonus for Knockdown so that the larger creature has the advantage as stated in the manual.
  • Changed Improved Knockdown so that the attacker knocks down as if it were one size larger, as stated in the manual.

    Neverwinter Nights Aurora Toolset

  • Added the Plot Wizard, for more details see:
    - Plot Wizard Introduction
    - Plot Wizard Tutorial

    Hak Pak Editor

  • Added an 'Export All' option.
  • Hak Pak editor now restricts file names to 16 characters when saving.
  • Exporting now prompts for a directory and not for each file that you are trying to export.

    Neverwinter Nights Content Installer

  • Fixed small Windows icons from disappearing after exiting in Win9x.
  • Fixed menubar not rendering correctly on some Win9x machines.
  • Fixed text files not opening in notepad under Win9x.
  • Increased language support for all programs to include German, French, Spanish, and Italian.

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    Icewind Dale II Review at GI
    Posted Sunday, December 1, 2002 - 17:06 CET by Mollusken

    Gaming Illustrated have reviewed Icewind Dale II, giving it a score of 82 out of 100. Here's an excerpt:

    Practically no battle feels tacked on to extend the game. Instead, situations such as finding the vulnerability of a tough creature, while dodging the confusing clouds from a docile golem, make each battle a difficult challenge to conquer. The only thing missing from the combat are the mage duels (e.g. breaching a mage’s defenses) from Baldur’s Gate 2, but with over 300 spells available, there’s plenty of magic whizzing around. IWD2 states that the game automatically tailors encounters to match the party’s prowess; however, on normal difficulty, the battles were the toughest in any Infinity Engine game (and in most other CRPGs I can recall for that matter).

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    Jeremy Soule Interview at HLF
    Posted Sunday, December 1, 2002 - 17:04 CET by Mollusken

    Jeremy Soule is the composer of the music for Neverwinter Nights, and he answers a few questions over at HomeLan Fed. Here's a couple of them.

    Music and sound in PC and video games have sometimes not received as much attention as other aspects of a game. Why do you think that has happened in some cases?

    For starters, if a game doesn't have enough volume, or gives the user the option to shut it off right away, you'll see less interest in that game's music. Music is of the quality these days that giving the user the option to shut off a score is tantamount to letting them shut off the graphics. There's still some major holdouts from the old school mentality surrounding music and games. I also think that games should take more advantage of music and sound. We're still seeing multi-million dollar games out there that are shipping with no dynamic mixing capabilities between sound and music. Most games initiate the music and sound levels up front and just leave it.

    What are some of your favorite game soundtracks that you have worked on and why?

    I have to say that Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter has a few themes that still resonate with me. All of my projects have something in the way of memories for me. Morrowind: The Elder Scrolls and Dungeon Siege are also two of my favorites.

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