April 2002

Icewind Dale II Forum Update
Posted Tuesday, April 30, 2002 - 22:05 CET by Tiamat

Feargus Urquhart, President – Black Isle Studios

The CE from different stores:
Here is hopefully an answer to all of your questions.

IWD2 ordered from places like EBWorld has the following:
Bonus Disc (Gameplay plus 4 .mp3's of music)
Poster of all the Monsters in the game
Trading Cards of Characters and Monsters

IWD2 CE ordered from Interplay.com
Bonus Disc (Gameplay(same as above) plus entire soundtrack)
Character Cards (4) Large cards - not trading card size
Cloth Map
Spiral Bound Manual
Poster of all the Monsters in the game (most likely)

As you can see they are fairly different and believe me the extra $10 that the CE is costing is barely covering just the extra stuff in there.

Extra Gameplay: There is a store in there that lets you buy new items, similar to the bonus disc from BGII. I am pretty sure they are new items.

The Dice Set: It is going to be a set of 10.

Doug Avery, Associate Producer

Screenshots Directory:
It will save it to a directory called Scrnsht or something very close to that in the root of the directory where you installed the game. The file folder gets made after the first time you press Prnt Scrn. I hope that helps.

Dave Maldonado, Designer

Knowing what spells you have scribed when shopping:
No, there's currently no special mechanic for displaying a character's spell list while they're in a store.

Bard Songs: Nothing new. The current Bard songs:
Bard Songs. Bards have the ability to sing melodies that have magical effects on creatures within thirty feet. As they advance in level, they gain additional songs. The songs are described in detail below.
* 1st level: The Ballad of Three Heroes. When the Ballad of Three Heroes is played, all the bard's allies gain +1 attack bonus, +1 damage, and +1 saving throws.
* 3rd level: The Tale of Curran Strongheart. When the Tale of Curran Strongheart is being played, any fear effects on the bard's allies are removed, and they gain an immunity to fear effects for as long as the song lasts.
* 5th level: Tymora's Melody. When played, Tymora's Melody gives the bard's allies +1 luck, +3 saving throws, and +2 to their Knowledge(arcana), Alchemy, and rogue skills.
* 7th level: The Song of Kaudies. When the Song of Kaudies is played, the bard's allies have a 50% chance to shrug off the effects of spells such as Silence, Shout, Great Shout, Command, or any other sound-based attack.
* 9th level: The Siren's Yearning. When played, the bard's enemies must make a Will save or be entralled, unable to take action until ten rounds pass or they take damage.
* 11th level: The War Chant of Sith. When played, the bard's allies gain +2 armor bonus, damage resistance of 2/-, and they regenerate 3 points of damage per round in combat.
There is no Perform skill (and thus no requirement).

Are there any broad swords? No, none.

Design Lock: Yeah, some stuff isn't in yet but we've plans to put it in... if it happens, YEY!, if not, BOO! but release dates must be met. Also, some things are still in a "tweaking" state... we may change the nuances of a sub-system's functionality for the final product (e.g. skill points per level or whatever, not that we currently have plans to change that or anything).

Multiple Sneak Attacks: Currently, if a PC can somehow get him or herself undetected by the enemy again, he or she can get his or her sneak attack on again.

Do monks get a wisdom bonus to their AC? Currently, yes: "When not wearing armor a monk adds his Wisdom bonus to his AC in the same manner as his Dexterity bonus."

Do Svirfneblin get racial bonuses? Yes. Here's the current list:

+2 DEX
+2 WIS
+ 1 to hit vs. kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears Spell Resistance 11 + Level
+ 2 to Search (STONECUNNING)
+2 to Hide, +4 when "Inside"
+2 to all Saves
+4 dodge bonus to AC (instead of vs. giants)
Mirror Image 1/day
Invisibility 1/day
Blur 1/day
Nondetection (as a wizard of their character level)
Illusionist is Favored Class

-2 STR
-4 CHA
3 Levels Lower

High Level Rogue Ability: Hrm... well, right now, at 10th level, the rogue gains access to a number of new feats available only to rogues. These include Crippling Strike, Improved Evasion, and Slippery Mind. Bleh, I forgot to mention that rogues get extra feats at the relevant levels (10th, 13th, 16th, etc.). So YEY, it's all good.

Do skills have more than one purpose? Generally skills have their "major purpose(s)" - e.g. identifying potions for alchemy - and that/those alone... this is the stuff listed in the manual or whatever. Occasionally there are "bonus uses" for skills... but these are almost Easter Eggs, not really something to be documented in an official manner. Stuff like, "if you have Item X and Skill Y when you get to area Z, you can do Action A."

Does maximized attack apply to spells? Not as I understand it, no. The major spell-boosting feats are the focus Feats, like Spell Focus, Evocation or whatever.

Are feat prerequisites like the PnP version? We wrote out numerous random requirements on slips of paper and drew them from a zany hat - while doing jello shots - to come up with the Feat prerequisites. Somehow - divine providence, perhaps - many seem to resemble the PNP requirements. CRAZY! So they're currently pretty close, yeah.

Are there any holy symbols? Nope. Would have been neat though, huh? But I think there's a sacred tome in HoF mode that's actually used as a shield, so a character can run around with a holy book in one hand and a bloody mace (or whatever) in the other.

Have metamagic feats made it into the game? No, not that I know of.

Making checks when using/casting a spell directly from a scroll: Eh... here's my understanding of the current system:
"The current system is that if a spell is on your spell list, you can cast it without chance of error. Otherwise, you can only activate it with UMD." <– (not me speaking)
So what the game is currently "missing," rules-wise, is the check for wackiness when using a scroll (or whatever) that contains a spell that's on a PC's list but requires a higher caster level than the PC's got. For instance, that hypothetical 1st-level wizard/14th-level rogue and a Stinking Cloud scroll.

Tracking: In fact, there currently is no Tracking Feat; it's all about the Wilderness Lore skill now. It's cross-class for everyone but barbarians, druids and rangers, of course.

Are the human monk avatars in? Still currently in. Currently.

Fire Elemental avatars: There's a mix, e.g. the smaller fire elementals use the smaller BG2 ones while the huge mega-HD fire elementals use the big fat IWD ones.

Non-magical items color selection: Not currently in. Currently.

Does race SR stack with class SR? Currently, yes.

Feat pre-requisite list: I'm hesitant to post the current list only as it's changed a couple of times in the past few days - little tweakies here and there and all that. Perhaps when they're more "locked down."

Difficulty Levels: In reference to the Magical Happy Difficulty Slider, it works as it has in all other IE titles. In reference to the per-area stuff, there are basically three levels of difficulty for each level based on party level ranges. The more levels there are, the more monsters there will be. Oh, I should also add that it's not always "more monsters." Sometimes nastier monsters replace the easier ones, or entirely new enemies will appear. We now use Challenge Rating for XP awards instead of flat values, so a lower-level party gets more XP for doing harder quests and less for doing easier ones, with "harder" and "easier" being relative to the party's level.

Do Aasimars and Tieflings getting an additional 1st level feat and extra skill points? Currently, no.

Damien Foletto, Junior Designer

What are Malarites?
They're seven feet tall, and lightning shoots out their arse! Sorry, I couldn't help paraphrasing from Braveheart. Yes, they are nasty, and can spell cast.

No, driders can be females as well. One way Lolth gets her carapace off is to take an above average drow, higher than 6th level, and put them through some messed up kind of "test." If the drow fails, Lolth will turn them into a drider. Check out pg. 78 of the Monster Manual for more details about these lovely creatures.

Dragons: I don't want to spoil the discovery, but I will say the possibility of dragon(s) is quite possible - with a definite maybe. Will the AI be different than that of, say, BGII? Most likely. Different designers and scripters. The AI for any of the critters is all based on the scripting (and what the designers would like their critters do, of course). Hope that has the possibility of maybe answering part of your question - to some degree of perhaps.

Half-Dragons:The half-dragons are new renders and animations, never before seen in an IE game. Same thing for the feyrs, bugbears, and hook horrors. The half-dragons look really cool when they cast (they have some casting abilities). They actually thrust their great swords into the ground and reach up into the air to start casting. Very cool.

Tentative Release Date: MAY 28TH! Everything's on track for a MAY 28th release! Things are coming together great for a MAY 28th release! Nothing has changed for the MAY 28th release! We still plan on MAY28th to be the date of release!

Killing Gods: Gods can be killed by mortals if the god takes on his/her mortal, avatar form. However, this is not a permanent death. All it means is that it'll be a long time before the god can muster enough power to come back in their avatar form. Some gods take 1,000 years to accumulate enough power to come down in their avatar form. Of course it's damn hard to kill the god's avatar - they are a god, after all. To permanently kill a god, I believe it takes another god to kill it - but I could be wrong about that part. I've never read anything that said so one way or the other.

Spell Icons: Actually, Brian did over three hundred fifty new spell icons. Every spell in the game has a new icon. He is also finishing up the icons for the interface. They are all new and exciting, but they have a familiar look to them. I am planning on putting up more icons this weekend and if all goes well, I'll be showing them in the new interface. I am planning for a pretty impressive update tomorrow so please check back then. I will post either way and let you all know.

Spell List: All spells are broken up according to class. Rangers, Druids, Clerics, Wizards, Bards, Paladins and Sorcerers. If I forgot something, don't cook me, it is just that I am not looking at the .docs right now. Some of the spells cross over and are available at different levels to different classes, just like in PnP. There is a very good mix of spells in the game. If I do post one, it will not be a complete list. Sorry, but I really do not want to post the final "anything". It might ruin the surprise for those that don't want it ruined. I'll see what I can do, though.

Is the normal version of the game too small for extras? Unfortunately, the smaller boxes that we're going with don't allow for an SB manual and the game CDs to fit inside of it. The CE comes with a big box (the size of the BG2 CE) and the aforementioned goodies.

The Interface: The main interface buttons (the ones along the top) are customizable. In the interface screen shown in the screenshot, I added the racial abilities of the deep gnome wizard I was using and also added four spells as options. Oh, by the way, a couple of those spell icons are also new and so are the static interface buttons. On another note, you can completely hide the interface text box, the buttons or both so it shouldn't obstruct your view too badly.

Can enemies follow you through doors? Well, we can't really make the critters follow you from area to area very well (although, in a couple of areas it has been scripted to do that - for special reasons). However, if you're in a fight with a bunch of critters and decide to leave the area to take a rest, when you come back, the critters will have rested as well - i.e. they'll be healed up just like you.

Sword Types: Short sword, long sword, great sword, bastard sword, and scimitar. That's it for swords.

Attributes: INT will affect your response options to certain npc's. Also, CHA has a direct affect on diplomacy, intimidate, and bluff skills. The CHA bonus is added to the appropriate skill total, which the dialog then checks to offer you certain responses as well as NPC responses.
The game takes how many points you have in either diplomacy, intimidate, or bluff (dependant on what the dialog is looking for), AND adds that number to the CHA modifier. If that number exceeds the minimum required to get the particular dialog response or starting condition, then that appropriate response/dialog string pops up for you to choose.
INT checks are a different animal, and does not have any relation to the diplomacy, bluff, or intimidate checks. An INT check could happen to see if your character is smart enough to possibly know a particular language, or military tactic, etc. This check is also done in dialog, similar to the above skill checks.
An aasimar would allow you to bump up your CHA to 20, but then there is that +1 level adjustment. Bard is a great choice to max out both skills per leveling, so is rogue. Other than finding items that enhance your CHA, I can't really think of anything off hand to buff those skills/CHA more. However, with an 18 CHA and maxing your diplomacy and bluff every level, you won't have to worry about being too low - at least you shouldn't.

Multi-Class Rogue: If your multi-class rogue has a reasonable INT (14 and up), then the bonus skill points you get can be applied to Search and Disable Device skills. If every time you level you throw a point or two into each of these skills, you should do fine without having need for a 15th level rogue, or something similar. Of course, you can always get your brawny fighter to smash the container you want to unlock. He/she can handle the damage - maybe...

Darkvision: It's pretty and sparks the imagination...? Uh, hmmm... well... It does hilight anything alive (or un-alive) during the night, and really dark and spooky areas. It's the best that can be done with the IE. Personally, I wish it would turn everything into a night vision look (black and white, but it looks like you're looking at a film negative). That'd be sweet, but not possible with the IE.

Half-Elf Immunities:Half-elves are only immune to sleep magic.

Drow Proficiencies: Drow are proficient with large swords and bows (but not crossbows). This is how it's in the game currently.

Balancing Magic Items: That's one of the balancing tasks we're doing right now. Yes, there are a lot of magic items in IWD2, but they are in tables in the database, which the computer then chooses one to drop for a critter (usually a minor boss, a particular trapped container, etc.) One of the things we're trying to avoid is loading up areas with a bunch of magic items, having the player return from a quest with a dozen magic items, and selling the loot for 200,000 gp - thus allowing the player to equip their level 4 party with all the best, store bought items.
Another thing we do with the unique and magical random items is to make sure their power is in line with the area level and party level. With the new 3E rules, the max hit points per level, the XP table that is currently getting tweaked, etc., it makes it a lot easier to balance item power levels for areas. So, you won't be running around at level 2 wielding your Hammer of Bigness +5 and donning +5 Mithral Barrel Chest Plate Mail.

Max Hit Points: Max hit points are so the areas can be balanced, not for making perfect characters. Sorry if this disturbs you, but it actually works quite well.

Do you cheat while testing? I do, but only if I'm testing global settings and critical path stuff (not play balance stuff). I made "for testing only" armor and swords that gives me immunities, +10 to my AC, damage resistance 25/+5, sets abilities to 26, and deal out damage within the 256 range - with a fire and acid mix for those pesky trolls. Kinda funny having one guy plow through big battles like a hot dagger through warm butter. Oh, and the character is a half-orc named Puuk - go figure.

Brian Menze, Artist

Chimera Concept art:
I used the description right outta the 3E Monster Manual.

What do you work on at BIS? As most know by now, I worked on the spell and interface icons. But as for what else I've done for IWD2, its sort of a mixed bag.
Most of the new monsters/creatures added to IWD2 were concepted, built in 3D and textured by me ( driders, hook horrors, etc. ) plus, I concepted the look for the new interface. Also, I help ensure the high quality of the backgrounds by painting over the top of the 3D renderings. By doing that I can add little touches that would be much too difficult in 3D time wise. I did backgrounds and icons for Torment as well. Before Torn was cancelled I concepted, created and built about 50% of all its player characters, monsters and critters.
My first game with Black Isle was Blood and Magic, where I did portraits, backgrounds and cinematics. However I didn't work FOR Black Isle at the time, since Black Isle only published it.
Roughly I joined Black Isle 4 1/2 years ago. I started out doing the Pip Boy drawings for Fallout 2 before moving on to animating "blood effects" and 3D modeling characters and objects.
Okay, writing WAAAY more info than asked for.....

Inspirations: Oddly, I don't look at that stuff for inspiration per se. I'm really just a big geeky fan for all of it. Some around here say my stuff often looks a little like Moebius, but that would be giving me WAY too much credit. I do like a lot of European artists though, so maybe I do tend to have an influence of that in my drawings. Just to name a few off the top of my head: Eduardo Rizzo, Milo Manara, Serpieri, Carlos Meglia.
The comics I'm geeking over now are a lot of the Crossgen comics. No company provides a higher quality product. One book in particular is Scion. Jim Cheung is the penciller, and damn is that guy good.

Chad Nicholas, Sciptor

New Interface:
The button bar (attack, spell, hide in shadows, portraits) can be hidden separately from the lower section (text window, "wheel") or both can be hidden at the same time.

Level Cap: The level cap is always 30, regardless of what mode you play in. Now, as to whether or not there is enough XP to hit that cap in normal play, the answer would be no. You should have a party of 6 end up at about level 15 when you beat the game on normal mode.
According to the PHB, a level 15 character has 105,000 XP. Multiply that by 6 and we get 630,000 XP. Yeah, that's higher than what's required for a level 30 character I believe. Of course, since you're a higher level character than a 6 person party, you'll get less XP per kill, so I'm not sure how that's going to end up working when you get to the final battle.
Yes, you will get the more difficult challenges. But at the same time, you get less XP because the amount of XP you get per kill is modified (in some manner I don't quite understand) by the creature's Challenge Rating and your Level.
There really isn't a level 15 'cap', it's more of a target level we want a full party of six to be at when they have the final battle.

Will you release editing tools with the CE? It's a nice idea, but one that wouldn't occur in time to make it on the CE disk. Any tools that we may release (and I don't even know if we are going to release any) would have to have a programmer do some work on them (decouple from database, remove reliance from any proprietary BioWare stuff, etc., etc.). It'd be a non-trivial task.

Kit Creation:Kits are not trivial to make in IwD2. Everything about them is done in code (C++) so I doubt they are anything that you can edit in any meaningful way.

Druid Shapeshifting: Your druid will inherit the STR, DEX, and CON of the form you take. So if you change into an artic bear, your STR will be set to 27 (IIRC). That'll give you a nice +8 to-hit and damage bonus.

PC vs. PC: From what I've heard from the programmers, the engine is so hard-coded for a party of 6 (that are on the same team) that it'd be a nightmare to have one PC be the enemy of another PC AND be controllable by a player.

Is Hide in Shadows being faster than in IWD1? Not currently. I believe HiS is still a modal state, so it's tied to the game's timer. You'll have to wait up to 6 seconds (or less) before HiS kicks in.

Tex Yang, Quality Assurance

Challenge Ratings:
The way that challenge ratings work doesn't make for a linear type of advancement for "less party members, more XP rewards". The leveling for a solo player will actually be quicker in some parts but slower in others because of this I would think - I haven't had a chance to do a whole lot of experimenting around with it since CR was implemented, so this is purely from a mathematical point of view. Once I've had a chance to mess around with it more extensively I'll know for sure.
Keep in mind that those numbers were from before CR was implemented.

Kevin Osburn, Line Producer

Well it is a lot harder to solo through the game, especially this game.

Justin Sweet, Artist

hmmm....looks like I need to do another Drow man. I like the one I did, scroungy dog I guess that some say he is, but I'll do another, mostly because I like painting Drow, lastly, because there is a need for some younger looking characters. Josh has given me great descriptions of a couple of young monks and a wood elf that I'm working on when I can. Thanks for all the nice words. I probably should have come on here sooner to say that. Its nice to get good feedback and I can take the bad so no worries. I'm glad some of you have enjoyed what I've done. I'll keep doing more till the game ships.

NWN Forum Update
Posted Tuesday, April 30, 2002 - 18:59 CET by Z-Layrex

Trent Oster, Producer

What's the best resolution to play NWN in? 1920 x 1440.
I played the game at that resolution at E3. I couldn't read the text anymore, but the game looked sweet. I tried 2048 x 1600 and the monitor couldn't handle it.
The default resolution is 800x600. It is possible to play at 640x480 but the Gui gets messed up.
Most people in the office play 800x600 or 1024x768.

How open-ended is NWN? The game is turning out to play longer than we initially expected. I've cooked about 19 hours into Chapter 2 and I think I'm almost 1/2 way through. Greg (co-CEO) just made it through chapter 1 in 27 hours. There are a large number of varying side quests in each chapter and you can play as many as you wish. In chapter 2 I have yet to do any non-critical plot related quests.

Does Gamespy work well with NWN? Gamespy is integrated into NWN. We have a custom in-game Gui for matching to games and there will be no ads. When you wish to play NWN online you never have to leave the game, that was a dictate from the start.

David Chan, Sound Engineer

Will you be able to attatch sounds to objects and areas? I am not sure about custom sounds being "attached" to objects. You'd have to ask a designer if that could be scripted. However, custom sounds in areas is no problem and can be linked to scripted events as well.

Bob Mcabe, Designer

Can familiars travel through portals into other servers with you? Animal companions and familiars are all based upon your PCs level. When you gain levels, you go to an animal companion/familiar GUI where you can pick a new one, re-name it, or keep things as it is.

David Gaider, Designer

Will there be a Pixie familiar? Yes. The problem with most of the familiars in the PHB, by the way, is their size... there are no animals in the game smaller than a dog (the pixie being the one exception, probably). No small cats (got big ones, though), no weasels, no toads, no rats, etc. (the pixie actually fits because it floats at chest height and combat with it looks fine... the problem is that there are no combat animations for fighting small animals on the ground, it would look really strange).

Will you be able to generate your own items for enemies to drop using script? No. But, the bright side is that you'll find the majority of magic items in the DMG (the ones that can be made with relative ease, anyway) already existing in NWN and being part of the generic resources available in every module.

NWN Forum update
Posted Monday, April 29, 2002 - 19:50 CET by Z-Layrex

Jay Watamaniuk, Community Manager

Will thieves with boots of speed be able to nick the party's items from killing enemies in online games of NWN?: Experience points are given out evenly to all party members, but gathering items and gold that enemys drop after being dispatched is up for grabs.
I would use the very technical and diplomatic method of driving a sword through the offender's head, should he/she get any ideas about stealing the party's hard earned winnings.
I think we can all share in that very fine roleplaying moment. :)

Will an unfair DM give his friends goodies? My understanding of being a DM is that they are not a character, they are the needed brain behind the entire world the players are in.
If the sky is purple in their world so be it. If orcs have been extinct for a 100 years so be it. If the only weapons available are daggers so be it.
If a DM wants to destroy his party he can- with one click. Why would he? It is not a contest between DM and Player- the DM wins every time.
If I am DM I will run a game however I want with my friends or whomever. If I feel everything in the game should have 1 hit point and 10,000 gold then, O.K., I will do that. A DM needs to have complete control over his environment- it's his or her game.

Derek French, Assistant Producer

Could you hack in an online session? In a Server Vault setting, while you could adjust memory values, you would only adjust your own visual display of them and not the version that is on the server. The server treats all clients as untrusted and just responds to clicks and actions and not on values. You could probably make the client display level 57 on your screen, but the next update from the server would change it back to whatever the real level is. Its pretty much Server -> Client only, in terms of values.

Will we be able to convert our character sheets to Text files? No, not for initial release. It is something we would like to do, though. But I am sure that someone in the community will beat us to it.

David Gaider, Designer

Will familiars have any alighnment restrictions, like imps for evil characters only? You can have any familiar you want. I chose the imp because my character was Lawful Evil... but I wasn't restricted in any manner.
We made the familiars the way they are (ie. not requiring the Improved Familiar feat for these 'larger' familiars) because we don't have many tiny creatures in the game, period (which would have restricted your choices a LOT) and wanted the familiars to remain useful (and they are!).

Neverwinter Nights Preview at GameSpot
Posted Monday, April 29, 2002 - 7:15 CET by Mollusken

Well, it's not exactly a preview of the game, but of the Aurora Toolset and the features we can expect there.

But it's all the geeks out there who have me especially excited--and not in a criminal way. It's cool that you can create your own maps and stuff, but a lot of the mystery and excitement is lost in that process. It's cool at first, but after a few hours of tinkering, what fun is it going to be playing through a set of maps that show you know exactly where that group of lycanthropes are going to appear and which tree that crazy magical item is lying beside? Wouldn't it be better to create something for somebody else and trade for something that they've made? This is precisely why my brother and I have made a pact to create and swap maps. It will not only feed our competitive natures (who can make the best map/character/weapon/campaign), but also keep both of us entertained. Perhaps some crazy barter system will arise from all of this. And think about the folks at BioWare, who have created and play-tested the game exhaustively. If you think that they're excited about the prospect of playing some fresh campaigns created by fans, then you're right.

Read everything at GameSpot.

Icewind Dale 2 Preview at Gamers.com
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2002 - 9:09 CET by Sorcerer

Well, I say "preview" because "brief look" wouldn't look nice as a headline. Seriously, the article is very short and has next to no new info. Here's an interesting bit though:

As expected, they’ve made a bunch of improvements and additions to both the gameworld and the game engine. New spells include Vipergout, a nasty level-7 conjuration that has the caster spitting out vipers to help the group in combat. One of the items Black Isle let slip to us CGW folks is Belib’s Everlasting Torch, a big club that not only does 1D6 fire damage but has a chance to do an additional 1D10 fire damage. That’s just one of the bajillion new items in store.

You can read the rest here.

Greg & Ray Among Top 40 Under 40
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2002 - 9:03 CET by Sorcerer

The two BioWare bigwigs have been acknowledged for their creativity by Canada's Top 40 Under 40:

The Top 40 Under 40 awards program recognizes outstanding Canadians under the age of 40 for their vision and leadership, innovation and achievement, impact, growth/development strategy and community involvement and contribution.

"This recognition is not for us personally, but for the one hundred and twenty three extremely hard-working and dedicated members of the BioWare family," said Dr. Ray Muzyka, joint CEO of BioWare Corp.

"We’ve been very fortunate to have worked on a number of successful products in the last few years. One of our biggest rewards has been working with the best people in the world making those video games. For us to be named along with these other 'Top 40 Under 40' business leaders is a great honour!" said Dr. Greg Zeschuk, joint CEO of BioWare Corp.

Official Icewind Dale 2 Site Updated
Posted Saturday, April 27, 2002 - 19:10 CET by Sorcerer

Here's what is new:

Today's update includes some new screenshots that show off a couple of the new interface screens. Also we've added a few more of Brian Menze's concepts for some of the new creatures. These are used to give the modelers a sense of what a creature is supposed to look like in-game. Justin Sweet's half-orc female is now up in the portraits section. On the message boards, I've posted a new thread with more of our new spell icons. Feel free to head over there and take a guess as to which spells they represent. Answers will be posted on Monday, April 29th. I hope you enjoy the update and have a good weekend.

Go here to see it all.

Icewind Dale 2 Designer Diary #6
Posted Saturday, April 27, 2002 - 19:00 CET by Sorcerer

Chris Avellone has posted the next installment in the Designer Diaries at RPGVault. This one is particularly funny, so be sure not to miss it:

The situation here is tense. Really tense. Our programmers are hammering away at bugs, smashing them away, driving them back. Bernie, our lead programmer, is wearing a strange smile on his face. EXCEPT THAT IT'S NOT HIS OWN FACE. He skinned it from one of the junior programmer who couldn't run fast enough. I haven't heard from Kevin Osburn, our line producer in days, so I stole his chair and his video card. Darren Monahan (young, upcoming producer) and Doug Avery (old, not-quite-so-upcoming producer) have started to dress in black robes and conduct horrific rites in the lunchroom. Josh Sawyer has been reduced to saying nothing but "kits, my precious kits," and sobbing quietly before he was crushed by a stack of Faiths and Avatars.

Read the rest here.

NWN Movie Goodness
Posted Saturday, April 27, 2002 - 18:50 CET by Sorcerer

11 new movies have been posted over the last two days, so get them while they're hot!

  • Infogrames.de (Direct download link, 1 movie)
  • GameSpot (Link, 10 movies on the page)

    Last Week's Poll Results
    Posted Friday, April 26, 2002 - 19:07 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: Have you played any bigger unofficial add-ons to Baldur's Gate 2 like The Darkest Day and Epic Endeavours?
    (342 votes total)

    No (143) 42%
    I still plan to (117) 34%
    Yes (82) 24%

    Not surprisingly, the vast majority of of poll participants (42%) have not played any major unofficial add-ons, and don't plan to play them in the future. I suppose that reasons for this are various, from the inaccessibility of the add-ons except as huge downloads and not trusting anything that is not official, to not wanting to mess up the original game with an unsupported add-on and so on.

    Surprising, however, is the number of people who still plan on playing them in the future. A bit more than one third of people who voted in the poll (34%) intend on installing an unofficial add-on in the future.

    Only a percent less than a quarter of those who voted (24%) have actually played one already. Still, for any unofficial add-on to reach this many people must be considered a success.

  • Current Poll
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    GameSpy Previews Neverwinter Nights
    Posted Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 16:22 CET by Mollusken

    If you checked out the NWN screenshots from GameSpy earlier this week, you would have seen that they also promised a preview of the game. Here's a bit of what they want to say about the game.

    Neverwinter Nights is broken into five chapters (including the prelude). The prelude basically introduces the player to the world, teaches them the interface, getting them familiar with their character, etc. "We wanted the player to jump right in and start fighting monsters," explains Oster, "that's why we set up the prelude the way it is. You can either breeze through it and be on your way, or you can visit with each NPC and learn everything you can. We leave it all up to you."

    We here at GameSpy don't want to give out too much information about the game, but here is some info about it. "We realize that a lot of people are going to be buying Neverwinter for the various options on the game," says Muzyka. "Some people might just want to make modules while others just want to be the DM. However, we recognize that the first thing that most people are going to do is play the single-player. Therefore we had to make sure the storyline was solid and engaging. I think we've achieved that. Our designers have taken everything they've learned from the Baldur's Gate series and tried to make Neverwinter's storyline that much better."

    Read everything over at GameSpy.

    Icewind Dale II Forum Update
    Posted Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 10:10 CET by Tiamat

    Doug Avery, Associate Producer

    New interface:
    I was just playing with it. It works very well, it just hasn't been totally finalized yet. When it is finalized, you will see it. Brian is adding some new icons to it so it has to wait for its public unveiling. You'll see it soon.
    Sorry, but I can only go with the information I'm given. On my next title, I won't mention anything until it is in front of my face and final.

    Seamless areas with no load screens: What we do is create a 3D area map, then for lack of a better term, flatten it. This allows us to tinker with it by adding search maps, height maps, etc. Then we put that into the engine. There are no "seamless" areas in the IE because the sizes are all predefined by the artwork. It was made for each area to be loaded separately. Each area has its own scripts and creatures (please don't start that scripts thing again). It would be really nice to do a seamless game, but a 3D engine makes it a lot easier to do this. Chalk up one more for 3D.

    The contest: It had to be taken down due to some possibly incorrect information. If we get that sorted out and have enough time, we'll put the contest up again.

    The second group of icons: Okay, you guys got really close, so here are your answers. Please let me know if you think the icons work for the spells they represent. Great guessing everyone.
    1. Minor Globe of Invulnerability
    2. Bull's Strength
    3. Vampiric Touch
    4. See Invisible
    5. Acid Storm
    6. Freedom
    7. Destruction
    8. Vipergout
    9. Cloudkill
    Thanks again. Maybe we should do this again sometime.

    Update: Unfortunately, no update today. I will do a "special" one when the interface is done, which should be this week. On that note, I'll wait patiently for the doomsayers to reply. I deserve it so I'll weather the storm.

    Day and night: Every IE game has had a clock on the interface. In IWD it was the globe in the corner. If you put your mouse over it and wait for a few seconds, it should tell you the day and the hour. We are including this in the new interface as well so it should be really useful for those that want to avoid the day blindness penalty. I know my Drow Rogue appreciates it.

    Scripting: Actually, we have two full-time scriptors on the game and one designer/scriptor who handles the scripts in his areas. Tom French and Chad Nicholas are the two full-time guys and Rob Holloway is the hybrid crazy man. All of them are very experienced in their fields. I am not going to give you specifics on scripts that have been written, but there are a LOT more than in HoW and the original Icewind Dale. The same shopkeeper will be at his store all day and night, but that is a matter of convenience for the player. Almost all town citizens have float text that sets the mood, they also react to deeds you've accomplished. So in summation, Icewind Dale II will not suffer from a lack of scripting. I hope that answers your question and alleviates some of your worry.

    Kevin Osburn, Line Producer

    640x480 Resolution:
    640x480 at this time will still be included with IWD2, it will not be supported though. It's basically a "use at your own risk" type thing, but it *should* work fine. Of course, if you do run into any weird problems with 640x480, stop by the IWD2 troubleshooting boards when it is open and I will help you out.

    Listing known spells when purchasing magic from a shop: This is a very good idea, it's something that has been discussed in the past few months. We just aren't sure if we will have the time to implement this. If we do though, I will let you know.

    Chad Nicholas, Sciptor

    Will IWD2 suffer from a lack of scripting?
    No. Tom French wrote this cool program (and by cool, I mean totally sweet) that builds the scripts for us. All I have to do is go in and click on some drop down boxes, fill out a spell list, and voila! done script. It automates the process of generating code to do random spell casting and a whole host of other tedious tasks. You're right, without that program, we'd have died a long time ago. Oh, and it's three scriptors actually. Rob Holloway has done some amazing stuff in his areas. Typically, when one wants a job in the game industry, one goes after it and does not await said job to fall in one's proverbial lap. *God, I hate talking like that* Oh, and please don't email me any resumes or anything. I believe all the necessary contact info is on BIS' website.

    Damien Foletto, Junior Designer

    Working on Sunday:
    "Day off," what's that? There's such a thing as a "day off?" Holy guppy tails! I gotta look into that! Seriously, there are some of us in today. Some come in on Saturday, some on Sunday, and a couple on both weekend days (the programmers and a few QA guys). As we get closer to shipping, most, if not all of us, will be working every day, until that gold copy goes to press.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    High level rogues:
    High level rogues can also get Slippery Mind and Improved Evasion, which is worth waiting around for, IMO.

    Scott Everts, Technical Designer

    Yes, the images are still 24 bit BMP files. Also, someone asked earlier if all the original IWD1 portraits will be included. Yes, they will. Every portrait from the original game and expansion will be included. There will be over 60 portraits total!

    New Neverwinter Nights Visuals
    Posted Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 7:39 CET by Mollusken

    A lot of new Neverwinter Nights stuff to look at today. GameSpy has posted a bunch of screenshots and some pieces of artwork from the game. NeverwinterHaven has posted 7 new character portraits, and at BioWare you'll find three new models for the Neverwinter Nights Model Viewer.

    Neverwinter Nights Interview at IGN PC
    Posted Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 7:36 CET by Mollusken

    IGN PC has posted an interview with designer Trent Oster and joint CEOs Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, as a part two of their Neverwinter Nights visit report.

    IGNPC: You've tweaked the rules just a bit to fit Neverwinter. How have you adjusted the game to fit the rules? Have there been any changes to your basic philosophy of design?

    Greg Zeschuk: I think the biggest change from a philosophical design perspective was making a single lead character (and party-based only in the sense that you control the party). As far the rules dictating change, it was more that we came up with the story and the design while we had the rules in consideration.

    Trent Oster: As opposed to BG, which was about six characters, with one lead character in that group. It's a little closer yet to pen and paper where you have the one character and you play that one character. That's really your representation; that's who you are in the world. At least for me it increases my personal stake in the character.

    Ray Muzyka: Cause you're growing them from essentially a common person that's an adventurer into someone epic. That's opposed to having someone who's the child of a dead god, like the Child of Bhaal trilogy in BG, and uncovering more elements of that and realizing the true extent of your power. It's sort of a different approach and it's more suited to multiplayer gaming. NWN is single player and multiplayer and we made some design choices to enable it to work both ways.

    Greg Zeschuk: It's interesting also from a story perspective. I remember reading something that summed it up really well. Where in BG the story was you revealing your past and who you were whereas NWN is the story of you creating it. You create your future.

    Ray Muzyka: You forge your destiny. That's the theme of the introduction

    Read the whole interview here.

    Icewind Dale II Intelligence Report
    Posted Wednesday, April 24, 2002 - 15:31 CET by Mollusken

    Not quite sure about everything Icewind Dale II will feature? RPG Vault has made a summary of what info there is about the game to help you with this.

    Between the craggy, snow- and ice-capped peaks that comprise the Spine of the World mountains and the glacial waters of the Sea of Moving Ice lie the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. A generation has passed since a group of intrepid adventurers defeated a source of great evil that threatened the area. Now, thirty years later, a new danger has risen in the North. Accordingly, a new call has gone out for stalwart warriors, mercenaries and soldiers to defend the largest of these settlements, the town of Targos. This community is menaced by a marauding goblin horde, and to make matters even worse, an unknown power is attempting to subjugate all of the Ten Towns. Soon, a group of inexperienced adventurers eager to prove themselves will set forth to confront the malevolence that awaits them in the harsh wilderness beyond.

    Read everything here.

    Neverwinter Nights Preview at IGN PC
    Posted Wednesday, April 24, 2002 - 7:05 CET by Mollusken

    A lot of people seems to be visiting the BioWare offices these days. IGN PC has also been there, and they've also written a rather long article about the visit and Neverwinter Nights.

    The bard for instance comes with five default packages. The blade package skews more of your skills towards fighting and battle. The gallant bard is also a combat oriented bard but balances this out with an equally well-developed set of traditional bard skills. The jester specializes in entertainment while the loremaster concentrates on knowledge. And if you don't care for any of the pre-arranged packages, you can always design your own. If you wanted a bard who specialized in diplomacy and court intrigue, you can assign skills and feats appropriately.

    The start of the game serves as a tutorial (you can skip this if you like) and orients you to the Academy and the interface. I won't say much about the story at this point. Even early on, there are some surprises that shouldn't be spoiled. Suffice it to say that you'll soon be defending the Academy against an attack, seeking out a flock of enchanted animals and trying to get to the bottom of a recent prison break. And that's all within the first few hours of the game.

    But the first thing to do is look around at the surroundings. BioWare's provided three different camera schemes for you here. The basic top-down camera grants you a view much like that of Baldur's Gate. The main difference here is that you can rotate, zoom and tilt the camera through a surprising range. A chase camera follows closely behind you (though with a slight top-down orientation). The final mode is called stiff camera. This grants you a more shooter-oriented movement scheme. Although all three views are practical for different tastes and circumstances, the top-down was the easiest and most adjustable.

    Read everything at IGN PC.

    Neverwinter Nights Preview at Gamespot
    Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2002 - 7:19 CET by Mollusken

    Gamespot was lucky enough to visit BioWare in Edmonton, and they also got to try out Neverwinter Nights. This is a small part of their report from the visit.

    The character-creation system is robust, and Neverwinter Nights uses almost all of the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. You can create a character from scratch, choose one of the premade character kits, or choose a basic template and take the recommended statistics, skills, and feats. One of the best new features of the 3rd Edition rules are these skills and feats, which make for much better rewards when you gain levels. Gone are the abstract benefits of leveling from previous editions--now you'll get to assign skill points in a wide variety of areas, including weapon proficiencies, picking locks, or being able to identify spells as they are cast. Feats act as special abilities, allowing you to attack several enemies at once, access better armor types, or successfully cast in hostile conditions. These additions make it possible to create more varied characters: You can be a plate-mail-wearing spellcaster or a spellcasting warrior, depending on the skills and feats you choose.

    Neverwinter Nights seems to make good use of these additions, and it does so in a way that is almost invisible to the user. Dialogue trees let you access your intimidation and persuasion skills. Choose the cleave feat, which lets you attack a second opponent after making a killing blow, and your character will do so automatically, with a rewarding little "cleave" message appearing over your second victim. Other abilities require you to take a more active role. We tried a bit of the prologue as a monk, whose stunning fist and flurry of blows abilities must be selected before targeting an opponent. We also tried the druid, sorcerer, wizard, paladin, and barbarian classes, and all seemed to correspond nicely with their pen-and-paper counterparts.

    Read the whole article here. There's also a video interview there for those of you with fast internet connections.

    Neverwinter Nights Beta Test Signup
    Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2002 - 7:05 CET by Mollusken

    BioWare has announced that a Neverwinter Nights open beta test will be held, and everyone who wants to (and who live in the selected group of countries) can start signing up now.

    EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada – April 22nd, 2002 – BioWare Corp. and Infogrames Inc. are pleased to present the limited open Beta test for one of the most anticipated PC games of the year - Neverwinter Nights. Selected PC game fans will have an unprecedented opportunity to dig into the rich world of Neverwinter Nights before anyone else.

    "Neverwinter Nights will appeal to all types of gamers. This limited beta test will allow selected gamers, of every type and interest, an opportunity to find out why Neverwinter Nights is a ‘must own’ addition to every gamer’s collection," said Greg Zeschuk, Joint CEO and Co-Executive Producer of Neverwinter Nights. "We’ve never conducted an open beta test before," added Ray Muzyka, BioWare’s Joint CEO and Co-Executive Producer of Neverwinter Nights. "We’ll be testing module designs, connectivity, and other technical aspects of the game, as well as offering the growing Neverwinter Nights community a snapshot of what we’ve been working on at BioWare these last five years," he concluded.

    To enter the Beta test program, prospective testers must visit
    (http://www.betatests.net), click on "Register Now" and complete the sign-up form. BioWare and Infogrames staff will select beta testers every week in a rolling acceptance process. The initial wave of Beta discs will be sent to the lucky first testers in early May.

    Site News - New Additions
    Posted Sunday, April 21, 2002 - 0:04 CET by Sorcerer

    Subsection Updates -> Articles & Editorials

    In case you missed it, my Icewind Dale II interview with Doug Avery can be found in the Articles & Editorials subsection.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Icewind Dale

    There was only addition made here, namely the HoW Spells Guide in the Tips, Tricks & Hints subsection.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Baldur's Gate 2

    I have split the Editors, Hacks & Custom Characters subsection into 7 parts. The thing was simply too big for two pages, and I imagine many people got lost in the huge amount of downloads available on two pages.

    The main page now contains an overview of all 7 subsection pages and lists what can be found on each of them.

    Now for the new stuff. In Subsection #3 you will find Extremist's latest SoA Fixpack, which really breaks all records in this edition. He managed to fix so many leftover bugs that it would take several pages just to list them all. In short, this is a must download for anyone playing SoA.

    Talking about must downloads, there is another one on the same page, also by Extremist. If you have played ToB and had a magic user with the Cloak of Mirroring, you know how horribly annoying the globe effect on the item is. (Changed from the glowing ground disc one in SoA.)

    The easy solution is to just revert the item back to what it was in SoA, but besides changing the animation, ToB also changes some properties of the item which was overpowered in SoA. If you want to keep the item as ToB intended it, and still get rid of the ugly globe effect at the same time, download Extremist's version.

    Moving to Subsection #5, there is a new pack of portraits available there. The pics used are from FF8, Chrono Cross and Zelda.

    And finally in Subsection #7, two new additions have been made, the Kelsey and Tashia mods. They are both new NPCs you can use in your party, and also new romances at the same time. More details and links are available in the subsection.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Icewind Dale 2

    In the Walkthroughs & Guides subsection, the lists of feats, skills and races & subraces have been updated. Especially the latter and the list of feats were modified & changed substantially, so they are worth reading through again.

    Also, in the Tips, Tricks & Hints subsection, the official FAQ has been updated with the latest version. In the Miscellanea subsection, two new portrait paintings have been added.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Neverwinter Nights

    There have been a couple of additions in the Miscellanea subsection here as well. We have two scans of the NWN feature in the Dragon magazine, an updated lists of monsters, and a bunch of new animations for the Model Viewer. Check it out.

  • Direct Links

    Last Week's Poll Results
    Posted Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 18:37 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: Which of the new 3e classes will you have in your Icewind Dale 2 party? (Multiple choices were possible.)
    (545 votes total)

    Sorcerer (200) 37%
    Monk (149) 27%
    Barbarian (136) 25%
    None of the above (60) 11%

    Well, this certainly is a surprise. Seeing 37% of poll participants vote for having a sorcerer in their party seems quite strange to me. After all, IWD2 will still primarily be a hack & slash game, so I expected the barbarian to come out on top... Just goes to show how wrong you can be when making assumptions. ;)

    The next in line after the sorcerer is the monk, with 27% of people voting for having at least one in their party.

    Barbarian was only a little less popular then the monk, with 25% of votes.

    11% of those who voted will not have any of the new 3e classes in their party.

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

    Neverwinter Nights Forum Update
    Posted Friday, April 19, 2002 - 19:16 CET by Arwen

    Trent Oster, Producer:

    DM client: The DM has two major parts, the Chooser and the Creator (Working names). The Creator allows you to create almost anything in the game except tiles in real time. The Chooser allows you to see a listing of every area, creature, item, etc ...

    There are a number of other DM abilities, but these two encompass the major features of the NWN DM Client.

    Screen wise, we are working on getting screens out, but for now, the main interface is similar to the in-game interface.

    Balrogs: We have a Balor in the game, but no Balrogs. Someone may have mistyped while working late.

    Infinite dialogue loops: The scripting language has a time out feature and will break out of the currently executing script after a finite period has passed. The period is long enough for very long complex scripts to execute without fear of timing out.

    Disconnecting from the game: When you are disconnected we plan that your character will remain in the game world for a short period and then disappear. If you log back in your player will re-appear in that same spot.

    Bob McCabe, Writing & Design:

    Map style: As in BG2, there is an automap. This map can be on-screen while you play. It can be sized to smaller and larger versions. You can place map notes upon it, and also view the map notes that have been placed. You can, I believe, have the map show you the entire area, or only areas that you have explored. The map reads the tiles, so you can make any kind of map, and the automap feature will always work for you. The art work for the automapper is very nice.

    The automap is re-drawing the actual map in 2d for you... no matter what kind of map you paint, the automapper will match it. you would have to adjust the map notes, though, if you painted down a new tavern or somesuch and wanted there to be a map note for it.

    David Chan, Audio Producer:

    Custom Sounds: I am not sure about custom sounds being "attached" to objects. You'd have to ask a designer if that could be scripted. However, custom sounds in areas is no problem and can be linked to scripted events as well.

    Voice actors: Okay, we've all had fun poking at who's going to be in the VO We are not being coy, it's just that VO is some of the last audio work to be done because it's expensive and time consuming so it's best to wait as long as possible to ensure that lines don't change. Even a word or two change means a new session which, if you have ever booked voice actors you know, is a lot of work for a small revision. Needless to say there will be no Von Sydow, Wendt, Jones, Hamil or Billy from down the street on NWN .

    Voice/text dialogues: I think I can say without fear of contradiction that BG2 had the most voice over and sound effects of any game before and so far since.

    That being said, the vast majority of lines still had text with no VO. Not only would it be cost prohibitive to voice every line in a 100+ hour RPG it would also be space prohibitive.

    It's a nice thought, but it's just not realisitc to do in a larger game. Smaller 10-20 hour games can do it, but I don't think anyone would be happy with a 10 CD version of Neverwinter with a 4 or 5 GB minimum install.

    Derek French, Assistant Producer:

    Text Dialogues: Having voice-only/no text would be a problem for our deaf fans, so we will always have text dialog for our games.

    As others have said, it is cost prohibitive. There is no way that Deus Ex had as many words as BG2 and I did enjoy the all spoken Deus Ex. It is one of my favorite games.

    10 CDs? No, that would cost you the consumer over $100 dollars for the game and add about another 6 months to record every single line. The CD swapping or the install size would be from hell.

    David Gaider, Designer:

    Midget NPCs: No, you can't adjust the height of the model. It's not quite that simple. All members of the same race will be the same height.

    There is a 'fat' model version of the playable PC races.

    There are no midgets, per se, but there are is a human male and female child model.

    Dire animals: The 'stone/metal stuff' is supposed to be bone, I believe.

    And yes, the dire versions have considerably larger models then their non-dire cousins. Not quite as big as some of the descriptions in the monster manual, perhaps (the dire boar doesn't look 16 feet long, for instance), but plenty large.

    Severing character doll limbs: Actually, with the base PC races (human, elf, dwarf, etc) any body part can be set to '0' which will delete it. I've made characters with one arm or hand missing, for example.

    This can be done in the toolset (not as part of character generation... PC's have to have all their limbs).

    It's one thing to take away part of a model that already exists... it's something else to add a feature that isn't there.

    Adding horns or a large nose would require changing the base model, itself. That's a custom edit.

    Removing body parts is done only in the toolset... you cannot remove a hand or lop off a head during the course of the game.

    Weather effects: Weather effects (snow, rain, lightning and wind level) can be set in an area upon its creation. For snow, rain and lightning you set the % chance (if you want it to snow all the time, for instance, you set the snow to 100%). Wind level has a scale.

    Weather effects are changeable via script commands.

    Just to clarify my own comment, weather effects (rain and snow... not sure about lightning, tho) have script commands that change them. I don't see anything that changes wind.

    Glowing runes on weapons: I've seen 'glowing' material on placeable objects (the lamp post, for one), but not on any items. That doesn't mean it is impossible, however... though it does mean that placing 'glowing runes' on a weapon would require you to add them yourself.

    If you wanted the glow to actually provide light, you could use the 'light' item effect. The glowing material would not, itself, be a source of light however.

    Robes and armor: Robes and armor share the same slot. They both, once worn, form the dominant visible garb of the avatar.

    DM Toggling between zones: If the DM jumps to an area, it has to load just as it does for any player.

    Ergo, if you leave a lot of things in your module that require your direct intervention, and your party splits up, you are going to have problems.

    I doubt most players will throw hissy-fits if they have to hold on a minute or two until they get the DM's attention for an NPC conversation (players do this in PnP games too, after all)... remember that you still have access to the chat system for communication. You can also ask the players to stay together (or engineer things so that this is obviously a good idea).

    The only other option for you is to either get another DM to help you or to plan your module to be more independent of your presence.

    Store Object (gold): Actually (and unfortunately, I think), the store object is much simpler in its purpose.

    1) There is no control over what a store will purchase... only what it will sell. Control over the store's purchases from the PC's only goes so far as the blanket markdown. Gold for the store is not tracked.

    2) There is only one scripting event that I can see on the store GUI. Unfortunately it currently has a 'bad strref' assigned to its button, so I do not know what the event is, I will have to ask on Monday. Seeing as there is only one event, however, I suspect there is no seperate 'buy' or 'sell' event generated.


    While this kind of sucks insofar as exerting control over stores (I, myself, wouldn't want an innkeeper in a small town to fork over 30,000 gp for a magic item) and I have a few ideas for future changes to it, I can see a way around this if you have a very specific idea in mind for a store:

    1) Set the markdown to 100%... that means the store doesn't purchase anything from the PC. The selling part of the store works well enough since you can define exactly what is available.

    2) If you want the merchant to buy only specific things, I figure you can actually script it in dialogue. Not ideal, but it would work... and one 'master' script by someone intrepid could be useable and alterable by all.

    Why do I think that? From browsing the scripting commands (and from discussions with a co-worker), here's my thoughts:

    - you can 'cycle' through someone's inventory using the command GetFirstItemInInventory(object) and then GetNextItemInInventory(object). On each pass, so long as GetIsObjectValid() is returning TRUE, you continue onto the next item in the pass. With me so far?

    - as you get each item in someone's inventory, you can determine its base item type (BASE_ITEM_ARROW, BASE_ITEM_LONGSWORD, BASE_ITEM_GEM, etc) with the command GetBaseItemType(object). If you had the player tell the merchant "I want to sell you an arrow" because the merchant only buys arrows, then we can scan through the inventory and come up with every item that is BASE_ITEM_ARROW.

    - Once you've narrowed down that an inventory item is of the base type you want, you use the SetCustomToken command to create a custom token with that item's name (which you can get with the GetName() command). Why? So you can put this in your dialogue:

    What do you wish to sell to the merchant?
    and etc... you just put a starting condition on each line making sure there is an item that exists.

    And you can even detect and sell in stacks, too. The command GetNumStackedItems will tell you how many are currently stacked with any given item.

    - GetGoldPieceValue() will return an integer based on how much the item is worth, IntToString() will convert it into a string... presto! Make another Custom Token and the merchant can tell you how much he'll pay.

    - When it comes time for the merchant to take the item from the player, he can put it into the store object's inventory directly to be sold later. If you prefer, he could put it into some other object's inventory (like a store shelf!) instead... of course, for him to sell it, then, you'd have to reverse the whole above process and have the storekeeper scan his store's inventory.

    (Incidentally, if you are wondering what would happen if someone decided to take something from that shelf's inventory, there IS an InventoryDisturbed event and several commands relating to that... get as custom as you want with it. )

    Complex? A bit, but not too bad. Just time-consuming to sit down and write it all out in the dialogue editor and script it. Fortunately you would only need one. (And I'm not trying to scare anyone... for all but the incredibly detail-minded, the standard store should probably do).

    And hopefully we can do something a bit broader with the built-in store later.

    Attack Animations: 1handed, 2handed, polearm, twoweapons and unarmed. With various types of 'stab' and 'slash' and other animations for each weapon type. There's a lot in there: you do notice the difference when you switch from a longsword to a greatsword, for instance.

    It would be nice to have animations based on individual weapons rather than by weapon type, sure, but excessive.

    DM dropping monsters: Basically, as a DM you have a Creator menu through which you have access to a list of all the pre-made creatures that exist in your module (all the ones that were either pre-existing in the toolset or that you made specifically).

    You can click on whatever creature (or object or item or whatever) that you want to spawn in and click on where you want it to appear... poof! There it is.

    Alternatively, you can hold down the Shift key and you can spawn in multiple copies.

    Just to re-iterate, however: the creature must exist in your module. There are a bunch of skeletons that are pre-made for you, for instance. Let's say you also made some skeletons with axes and tough stats. If you suddenly wanted a tough skeleton with a sword, but hadn't made it in the toolset, that would not be available to spawn in. You cannot create blueprints with the DM client on the fly... you can only spawn in instances of blueprints you have already made.

    The pre-made monsters/items/objects that Bioware has made will be available automatically in every module.

    For blueprints that you make, you can export them to another module, if you wish.

    Random name command: The RandomName function does exist, returning a string. I can't think of any place it was used in the official campaign's scripting.

    It does not, however, allow you to change the name of an NPC. NPC's names must be pre-set in their blueprint and no scripting command exists to change it.

    Character generation: The point buy system is the only one available in character generation.

    There is, however, a console command in the DM client which allows the DM to alter someone's stats directly. As far as rolling goes, I guess we just figured we'd take out the middleman.

    Custom music: We call it a hak pak because we like it that way.
    All 3rd-party content is unsupported. We've given you the means to add it to your module, should you wish, however. Custom music is added via the toolset (in your area settings).

    If someone throws a bunch of MP3's into their module, those MP3's still have to be downloaded.

    AoO: If you've set your stance to another PC as hostile, then you will get an attack of opportunity against them as appopriate (they would need to be in melee with you, naturally).

    PC's set their stance vs other PC's on their own. Factions only relate to how NPC's treat PC's.

    Monsters have whatever base attacks per round they are given, same as PC's. You are only allowed one attack of opportunity per round, period.

    Quote: Well for real time combat, a rogue with nice high dex (as all good rogues SHOULD have! ) should get 4 or 5 attacks of opportunity a round, in addition to his normal attack.
    That would be pretty rare, though, unless the rogue with Combat Reflexes was in combat with multiple combatants all doing actions which were causing attacks of opportunity... you are still restricted to one attack of opportunity per enemy.

    As for Combat Reflexes being in or out, I actually am not certain. I have not seen it on the list while playing, however, so it may indeed be out.

    Safe areas: The PvP settings are set by area, yes. I've recalled getting in-game messages saying 'you are now entering a PvP area'.

    There are three levels of player versus player (PvP): No PvP, Party PvP, and Full PvP. If you choose No PvP, players cannot damage one another. The Party PvP setting allows you to damage other players unless they are in your party, in which case you cannot damage them at all. The final setting is Full PvP. Under Full PvP settings you can damage any other player unless the area you are in is locked against PvP. This means area effect spells will harm other players if they are within the casting range, so if you play full PvP watch where you target your area effect spells. The PvP setting on the server options panel dictates the maximum level of PvP conflict allowed in the module. This means that if the server PvP is set to Full PvP, there still may be Party PvP or No PvP areas in the module, but if the server is set to No PvP, all areas in the module will be set to No PvP.

    Polymorph: Polymorph as it stands in NWN is mostly for combat. You can't turn into other character races, only monsters or animals. You could have polymorph useable for role-playing, but that would be up to how you or your DM scripts it/chooses to play it live.

    Disguise: The problem with disguises is that it requires some kind of interface to make decisions on what kind of disguise the player is using... what is he or she trying to look like? Every disguise used in role-playing, as well, tends to have a very specific purpose... that either has to be scripted by the DM or we have to come up with a very generic in-game function for it.

    If and when the problems behind implementing Disguise are dealt with, I have little doubt that spells such as Alter Self and Change Self would be done at the same time, since they are just versions of the same coin.

    Terrain heights: You can ascend to a higher height transition via a tile called a 'ramp'... it places a walkable slope that connects two height transitions. You can therefore control where the hills can be climbed.

    Basically, when you lay down height transitions, you are creating steps... like an Aztec pyramid. The first layer is 10 feet high (with whatever siding the tileset uses... some have rocky, cliff-like sides, some have brick or stone sides), then you have a flat surface... if you want to add another height transition, it begins 10 feet in.

    A 'ramp' creates a slope that connects the ground to the lip of the next height transition. Yes, you can place ramps on top of one another to get a smooth slope that could conceivably go all the way to the top of your hill (and that the PC could step off of at any level).

    You cannot place these ramps side by side to 'widen' the ramp. There is a regular flat space between them and it looks silly. The sides of the ramp are already smoothened out a bit... it's not a vertical slope on each side.

    What the slope looks like depends on the terrain. In the city exterior, it's a paved walkway. In the rural tileset, it's a grassy slope (which can optionally have the road on it, if you have a road that goes up to it).

    Controls: The arrow keys are used for zooming in and out and rotating the camera.

    The mouse is used for moving, either via point-and-click to where you want to go or holding down the button and directing your movement (with your speed depending on how far away the cursor is from the character).

    At least... that's how it is in the standard camera-and-movement setup. I understand there are other options, though I've never tried them.

    The number keys do still pull up the radial menu, if you desire. I use the left-click or just quickbar my radial needs, personally.

    If you look at the screenshots, you will see that there is a row of boxes on the bottom of the screen, each with F1-F12 written on them.
    The icon of whatever you're binding to it will appear in the box.

    Pressing Shift brings up a new row... with each box reading 'Shift-F1' to 'Shift-F12'.

    Pressing Ctrl brings up another new row... 'Ctrl-F1' to 'Ctrl-F12'.

    So 36 quickbar keys are possible. Initially, I thought it wouldn't be enough for my spellcaster... but it turned out that after a bit of playing it takes almost the same amount of time to use the radial as the quickbar key, so I only quickbarred my always-use combat spells anyway.
    (And by the time you get to a level where you will have that many spells, you will be that adept for sure).

    Brenon Holmes, Programmer:

    Somatic Spell Components: Spells without somatic components, or spells with somatic components that have been stilled will not suffer the ravages of potential arcane spell failure.

    JohnBible, Programmer:

    Infinite loops: Not all languages are as "hard" in a computational sense as Turing-complete languages.

    Also, as a clarification, the way long-running NPCs work is by repeatedly running the script through the heartbeat event, with persistent global variables. You can imagine that being provably terminatable is of interest in such a setup, just as it is in visual programming languages.

    BioWare Visit Report
    Posted Friday, April 19, 2002 - 7:02 CET by Mollusken

    Jonric from the Vault Networks was invited to Edmonton and BioWare, and he has written a report from his visit there.

    Thanks to developer BioWare and publisher Infogrames, I had made the trip to the friendly northern Alberta city for a look at Neverwinter Nights, the Dungeons & Dragons-based title we've been following with great interest ever since it was announced. During this time, we've had chances to see bits of the game on a few separate occasions - at two E3 trade shows, at BioWare on a previous trip and most recently at the Game Developers Conference last month. All of these instances had been very favourable, but with the game nearing completion, this time held the promise of seeing a lot more, including the Dungeon Master client for the first time, and of some actual hands-on playing time. There was no way a few inches of snow were going to deter me even slightly.

    The official presentations didn't start until Tuesday, which allowed some informal time to exchange greetings with a number of familiar faces and to see how BioWare has grown since my last visit almost two years ago. The company now numbers about 120 people of whom the majority, a little over 70, are currently allocated to the Neverwinter Nights team. The project is also large in terms of the amount of time it has taken. Co-Executive Producer Ray Muzyka was recently quoted as saying it had taken about 140 man-years, and some of the team, like Producer Trent Oster, have been working on it for approximately five years. While this extended development period has led to some questions, everyone at BioWare exudes a quiet confidence that the game will be the company's best yet. And after what I saw and heard, I wouldn't bet against them.

    There's more to read at RPG Vault.

    Icewind Dale II Forum Update
    Posted Friday, April 19, 2002 - 0:03 CET by Tiamat

    Doug Avery, Associate Producer

    Interface Graphics:
    I like the new character record screen and I really like the new inventory screen. My favorite things about the new interface, graphically at least, are the new icons that Brian Menze is doing. He just finished up the last of them today and they are superb.

    Update: You guys are assuming that we are updating today. I said sometime this week.
    Actually, we are updating today, but the screenshots of the interface will have to wait as it is still being finalized. I have two new portraits, an updated FAQ, an updated feats list, updated character races and sub-races and a sampling of some of our skills. I will update the site again with screenshots when the interface is ready. This should happen this week, but it hinges upon a number of factors.

    Armor: Hide and Scale are in now.

    J.E. Sawyer, Lead Designer

    Fighter Feats:
    Fighters can't take Spirit of Flame, Lingering Song, or Improved Turning, because they don't meet the prerequisites for the feats. Just because a character "theoretically" has access to a feat does not mean they can buy it whenever they want to.

    Deep Gnome Abilities: Deep gnomes have the ability to shape stone with their hands.

    New Feats: I haphazardly updated the feats list.
    You may notice a few feats (Riddlemaster feats, Death Blow, Shapeshifting Flammery) are gone. You're right!
    However, the shapeshifting forms will probably be just additional shapes that the druid naturally gets.

    Skill/point List: I updated the skill list/point list.

    Ghostwise Halfling and Rage: When a ghostwise halfling is using rage, he or she certainly could have a 20 strength. When using improved rage, he or she could have a 22 strength. Of course, additional ability score points gained every four levels can raise this as well.

    Untrained Skills: You can use almost all skills except Use Magic Device and Wilderness Lore untrained. Yes, I know that WL should be usable untrained, but it's only function in-game is tracking. Rangers start with the Track feat for free, allowing them to put points into WL. Other classes have to buy it.

    The armor in the new Paladin portrait: Actually, it's plate armor that came straight out of a picture of historical plate armor

    IWD2 Accents: Actually, most of the characters in IWD2 with VO have accented voices. The drow characters have VO that sounds sort of Spanishy/Eastern Europeany. Rural tundra natives have a somewhat Swedishy/general Scandy-accent.
    So, you'd rather hear exotic races from all over a fantasy game world all talking with neutral American accents?
    These V.O. scripts aren't for a world-wide audience. They're for the U.S. and other English-speaking countries. Every time the V.O. gets translated, it all the V.O. is re-recorded.
    I don't know any American who talks like the woman in mystery.wav. I don't know any Eastern European who talks like Nym. Both actors were told that their characters had accent blends.
    Personally, it annoys me to extreme ends when I play games where my characters encounter weird, foreign races, and hear them talk to me like they're reading off the 11:00 news.

    Manuals: Baby boxes are becoming the new industry standard. The IWD2 manual is LARGE. If it were spiral bound, it would not fit in the baby box. Sorry. RPGs are the only games that really suffer because of the baby box movement.
    They will both have the same info, but the CE will be spiral bound. That's my understanding, anyway.

    Drow Colors: In the Forgotten Realms, drow were originally from an equatorial region on the surface. After they went into hideytowne, they got their white hair. However, they always had black skin.

    Raising Stats: Many items raise attributes. You also get free ability score points every four levels.

    Point buy and buying magical weapons in the first store: It's no less autocratic than deciding that people will be able to play tieflings and aasimar, but won't be able to play genasi. It's no less autocratic than deciding that there will be +1 versions of weapons available in the first store, but not +3 versions of weapons. It's no less autocratic than deciding your characters will be able to go to Targos, but won't be able to go to Bryn Shander.

    I've explained time and time again why die rolling in IE games is nothing like die rolling in PnP. It's a randomized point pool -- a randomized point pool that a player is allowed to "re-roll" hundreds of times more than any PnP DM would ever let them. Point buy with a fixed point pool is implemented as 1) an element of gameplay (you are restricted to the points you have, so allocating them is, strangely enough, a process that requires thought) and 2) as a an element of balance. The more controlled the range of ability scores, the more likely it is that we can balance our game for a larger group of players. Adding a "die-rolling" option (randomized point pool would be the accurate name for that) wrecks those goals.

    I'm sure there are some people who might want +3 weapons available in the first town for 100 gp a pop. That doesn't mean we should put them in there. There's a difference between listening to fans and pandering to fans. When fans have good ideas, yes, they should be listened to and contemplated. When fans have requests -- requests that are at odds with requests from OTHER fans -- well, of course you can't just do everything every person asks you to do. Requests have to be evaluated for feasibility and gain. While adding a randomized point pool is certainly feasible, I believe it compromises the goals of the majority of people who want point buy. I've stated and repeated the three most oft-heard complaints about IWD1, but I'll do it again:

    * It takes too long to generate characters
    * It's too hard
    * It's too easy

    Static point buy dramatically reduces the time it takes to generate characters, and makes the difficulty of the game more uniform between players. Judging from how QA has been playing through the game, it seems very obvious to me that IWD2 will not have the wild fluctuations in difficulty that plagued the original game and HoW. Remember: this is not a pen and paper D&D game.

    PnP feel and uncontested re-rolls: The primary reason is familiarity. Even though the rules are not implemented to the letter, many of them are implemented at least in spirit. Players know that elves can resist sleep spells, halflings are good at being sneaky, and armor makes it hard to hit something.

    However, there are a lot of rules that present potent problems in a CRPG environment. Most of these rules revolve around what I call "uncontested re-rolls". I've actually discussed this a great deal with Dave Maldonado, who has very strong opinions on the subject. In a PnP RPG, there are many situations where a player rolls a die or dice for a particular result, and that result cannot be re-rolled, cannot be immediately re-rolled, or a botch/critical failure results in immediate dire consequences.

    In a CRPG, most of these situations can be avoided through the use of uncontested re-rolls. Blow that roll to disarm a trap? Just re-load it and try again. Fail to memorize your spell? Just re-load and try it again. Didn't get the HP you wanted on level up? Just re-load and try it again. Failed to pickpocket that dude, thereby enraging the town? Just re-load and try it again. Don't like those six ability scores you rolled up? Just click again. FOREVER.

    The situations where a player cannot use uncontested re-rolls are usually situations where there are so many other random elements flying around that they cannot simply isolate that one check. Perfect example: almost all battles. My opinion is that any situation where a player could make an uncontested re-roll should be re-worked so that there is no random element after the level is loaded for that particular game.

    Blow that check to disarm a trap? Raise your Disable Device skill, find a way around the trap, or set it off and accept the consequences. Fail to memorize your spell? No, you didn't -- just remove the check. Didn't get the HP you wanted on level up? Forget that. Just set it to max. Failed to pickpocket that dude? You don't make him hostile, but you simply fail to pick his or her pocket. Raise your skill and try again later. Don't like those six ability scores you rolled up? Here, take these 16 points and add them to 10 in each stat.

    Uncontested re-rolls have a tendency to make player choice impotent. If you can make uncontested re-rolls to disarm a trap, it doesn't matter if your rogue put two points in Disable Device or eighteen. A DM isn't there to scold you or force you to deal with your choices. When the possibility for uncontested re-rolls is removed from gameplay, player choice is much more important. When your rogue with eighteen ranks in Disable Device strolls down the hall, there aren't going to be many traps that he or she cannot disarm. Feel good about that, Mr. or Ms. Player. You made character choices that result in easy success over the challenges your character was designed to overcome. When your strong fighter does epic damage to a target, feel like you made a good decision, Mr. or Ms. Player; you chose to put a lot of your points in strength.

    A failed pickpocket will result in a message that reads, "You are not skilled enough to pick the target's pocket." If you reload and try it again, you will receive a message that reads, "You are not skilled enough to pick the target's pocket." If you do something like use the Tymora bard song, have Cat's Grace cast on you, or raise in level, you may be able to pick the target's pocket.

    Set Traps: The ghostwise halfling's ability is a unique power that they alone use. They have the power because they lack the PnP ghostwise halfling's ability to communicate with other halflings using crazy telepathic junk. Basically, you pick where you want the halfling to place his or her trap and he or she throws a little skull (like skull trap) at the spot. When a creature walks over the skull, it explodes into a mini-Entangle. It's pretty useful, but not mind-boggling in its power. Oh, and remember -- the ghostwise halfling's favored class is barbarian, not rogue.

    Races: These are the races in IWD2 (slightly revised)
    Aasimar (-1 level), FC: Paladin
    Dwarf, Gold, FC: Fighter
    Dwarf, Gray (-2 levels), FC: Fighter
    Dwarf, Shield, FC: Fighter
    Elf, Dark (-2 levels), FC: Wizard
    Elf, Moon, FC: Wizard
    Elf, Wild, FC: Sorcerer
    Gnome, Deep (-3 levels), FC: Illusionist
    Gnome, Rock, FC: Illusionist
    Half-Elf, FC: Highest
    Half-Orc, FC: Barbarian
    Halfling, Ghostwise, FC: Barbarian
    Halfling, Lightfoot, FC: Rogue
    Halfling, Strongheart, FC: Rogue
    Human, FC: Highest
    Tiefling (-1 level), FC: Rogue

    Attributes affecting dialogue: That aside, there are opportunities in IWD2 where you can step up and intimidate enemies by essentially saying, "HELLO, MAYBE YOU SHOULD THINK BEFORE ATTACKING US, SINCE WE KILLED ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS WHO WERE REALLY NOT THAT WIMPY COMPARED TO YOU."

    Racial Enemies:
    Hook Horrors
    Lizard Men
    Umber Hulks
    Feyrs aren't included on the hated enemy list because there aren't that many of them in the game.

    Goblins: You've already seen the goblins on worgs, haven't you? They're no pushovers.
    Maybe this guy can tell you about it.
    They are, from left to right: goblin axeman, goblin archer, elite goblin axeman, elite goblin archer, goblin caster, goblin captain, and goblin w/worg.
    Goblins are usually very cowardly and selfish. They are as intelligent as humans, but not as strong. They are often bullied around by orcs and bugbears, but it takes strong leadership to keep them together when trouble arises. While most human cultures would rather stand and fight than run, goblins are typically quite content to creep off of the battlefield at the first sight of resistance.

    Kevin Osburn, Line Producer

    Mp3 Sampling:
    We will probably release an .mp3 sampling of the music sometime in the future.
    Not sure yet, we will of course try to release an entire track.

    Dual-Wielding: Yes Dual-Wielding is in, and it will stay in.

    Dave Maldonado, Designer

    The Interface:
    No actual problems, just some functionality additions and aesthetic tweaks. I won't make any promises (or even estimates) as to when it'll be ready - I'll leave that dangerous business up to Wolf n' friends (^_^) - but I will say I was talking to one of the artists yesterday about some more buttons recently being crammed in, and the skill/ability icons are being redone as the spell and item icons were...

    Success and failure based on abilities: If the NPC makes his or her spot check and goes hostile, WHOOPS IT'S TIME FOR ME TO RELOAD... and you've got scumming again.
    Of course, there are ways around it... design the game so that PC's can escape from angry shopkeepers (or what have you) and later return when they will no longer be recognized... but heck, that's a whole other thread for a whole other game at this point.
    I'm personally more inclined to have players live with the consequences of bad choices rather than bad dice rolls.
    When lucks hands someone his or her arse in PnP, I think most blame the dice/fate/"dumb-arse Fred because he touched my dice," not the DM or game rules. In a CRPG, though, I think players tend to get frustrated with the game directly: "Time to reload, stupid game; thanks for wasting my time."
    Eliminating such both rewards players for making good choices/decisions as well as teaches players how to avoid making poor choices/decisions in the future (rather than showing them how bad luck can ruin their adventure) - in other words, shows them how to become better/more proficient players. All this and no more goofy, immersion-breaking reload-fest - it's WIN-WIN!!!

    Damien Foletto, Junior Designer

    Evil hide armor:
    You'll have to wait and see, but there are varied hide armors in the game.

    Fighters and Charisma: Well, you can set your CHA to 14, which gives you a +2 to the modifier, then choose the skills Diplomacy, Bluff, and Intimidate when you level up. This should give you the better reactions in the game, even for a fighter. It's not really necessary to min/max your fighter to make him effective. I've got an aasimar fighter (named Bort) in my #1 slot with a 16 STR, 12 DEX, 16 CON, 10 INT, 12 WIS, and 14 CHA (aasimar's get the WIS and CHA bonuses). He does really well in dialogs, and, to further enhance him, I will take a level or two of Rogue, when he levels, so I can jack up his Diplomacy and Bluff skills even more. Very effective.
    CHA will play a roll, but only as the relevant modifier applies. A dialog check for the above example would be a skill check based off, let's say, Diplomacy. So, if your character needs at least 6 Diplomacy points to get the optimal dialog choice, then the program looks at the protagonist’s Diplomacy skill and adds in his CHA modifier. Example - if the protagonist has 4 points in Diplomacy and a 16 CHA (+3 modifier), then his total is 7 - thus letting him/her get the optimal dialog choice.

    Religion: Yes, religion will play a role, if the protagonist is able to choose a religion upon character creation - like clerics. And yes, there are dialog responses catered to paladins as well. As for paladins choosing a deity, I'm actually unsure. I'll look into it and get back to you.
    When I say "protagonist," I do mean the character that is doing the conversing. Generally, that's the person in the #1 slot. However, we are looking into implementing a feature that lets the player choose their own protagonist and that person will always do the talking for the party, no matter what position in the line-up. It's not yet in the game, but it is something that is being looked into by the programmers.

    Playing the game, XP in HoF mode and number of characters: Oh, I'm not playing the game in my off time - it's a regular work day for me. At this stage, designers go through the game much like the testers do, with a focus on the areas we designed. Since we know what our areas are supposed to do, we can nit-pick until it's working the way we envisioned. It's also a great opportunity to check out the rest of the game and give feedback (and find bugs).
    As for the HOF stuff, from what I understand, yes, the XP will be increased as compared to the "regular" mode. XP tables are constantly being tweaked for balance, and this should remain true through the next four weeks or so. It's all part of the testing process.
    Lastly, if you're planning on going through the game with 4 or 5 characters, they should reach a very acceptable level by end game, even by your standards, I'm sure. I'm playing with a full 6 character party, using all the sub-races that have level penalties, and they reach kick-ass levels by mid to late game (comparatively speaking to the areas that they are in). Having a party consisting of 4 to 5 should really bump your XP. I know there are a few in QA who use parties of 4 to 5, so it is very doable - although very challenging.
    If you don't want to use the feature, then don't. You don't have to select the protagonist, it's just an option. If you want to play the line-up like in IWD1, you can. It's all about options.

    Auto-pause: Auto-pause is still in the game. We have no intention of taking it out.

    Feargus Urquhart, President - Black Isle Studios

    Magic Resistance:
    Yes it is in.

    Wild Elf: The very rare wild elves are rarely seen by others, because they live in the heart of thick forests and they have incredible skill at keeping hidden. Also called green elves, their skin tends to be a dark brown, and their hair ranges from black to light brown, lightening to silvery white with age.
    Advantages: +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Search, Immunity to Sleep and Charm spells, starts with the Feats Martial Weapons: Large Sword and Martial Weapons: Bows.
    Disadvantages: -2 to Intelligence.
    Favored Class: Sorcerer
    Just looked in the PHB and they get both. The only real difference is the Favored Class - I think. JE is much better than me with all of the rule stuff.
    More than 6 characters: It will only ever be six players in a party. Modifying the interface to support more as well as the code would be tantamount to asking the programmers if they would like a relaxing trip to the Middle East right now.

    Level Cap: I'll answer the question as directly as possible. The level cap is going to be 30, this will be the sum of all class levels that a character has. In other words, you can be a 30th level monk or a 20th level fighter / 10th level rogue.
    The only exception to this will be for Forgotten Realms races that have an ECL (Effect Character Level) that is greater than their normal character level, they will still will be able to advance to 30th level even though their ECL might be 31, 32 or 33. In other words our XP table goes through 33rd level, but this is only for purposes of the races that have an ECL that is not the same as their normal character level.
    For all of the classes, we have just followed a logical progression to increase the levels from 20th to 30th level. In other words, we are not using the yet to be released Epic Levels Handbook.
    To be honest, we have just continued the progression of things that can progress. Things like Barbarian's Rage and Rogue's Sneak Attack - they keep on increasing through 30th level. For Monk's fists, JE and I talked about just adding the top of the list to the bottom - in other words a Monk gets 1d20+1d6 for Unarmed Damage at 21st Level and 1d20+1d10 at 30th.
    That's not a complete list - just a few to exemplify what we are doing.

    Chad Nicholas, Sciptor

    Party Average Charisma:
    Party Average Charisma (PAC) is not used in dialog checks. I'm not certain if it's going to be used to determine store prices since I have nothing to do with that.

    New Neverwinter Nights Visuals
    Posted Thursday, April 18, 2002 - 7:12 CET by Mollusken

    Neverwinter Vault has captured a bunch of new screenshots of both the game and the Toolset. They also have a few concept art images, and you can view them and everything else right here.

    BioWare has released a new wallpaper which features a couple of elementals. It can be downloaded here.

    Icewind Dale II Development Update
    Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2002 - 14:50 CET by Mollusken

    Associate producer Doug Avery has posted a small post about a couple of new things at the Icewind Dale II web site.

    Sorry for the tardiness of the update today. We have added a skills section to the World tab of the website, and a sample of some of our skills are included there. Also updated are our portraits with two new additions from Justin Sweet. The FAQ has been updated to reflect a few more of the 3E changes. We also changed the races to reflect their more finalized versions. The final thing that has been updated is the feats section under the World tab. You'll notice a few of them have been removed and a bunch more have been added.

    3000 Members at Boards O' Magick
    Posted Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 22:28 CET by Sorcerer

    While the traffic has been slowing down a bit lately (about time a new game is released), we still managed to score a bunch of new registrations on our message boards, and today the 3000th member has registered on Boards O' Magick.

    A big thanks goes out to our our excellent moderators (and admin) who have been doing a great job keeping the boards clean & enjoyable for all. And also, of course, to all those members of our boards who have been with us for a while now and have become regular participants in the community. So cheers to these pillars that keep our community together!

    In case you're reading this and are not a member yet, click here to visit our boards and see what you're missing. ;)

    Icewind Dale II Collector's Edition Announced
    Posted Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 19:24 CET by Mollusken

    Black Isle has sent out a press release where they announce that they will make a collector's edition of Icewind Dale II.

    IRVINE, California, April 16, 2002 - Black Isle Studios, the RPG (role-playing game) division of Interplay Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ:IPLY), announced today their plan to create a collector's edition of Icewind Dale(tm) II featuring collectible items, exclusive gameplay enhancements and much more. Limited quantities of the Icewind Dale II Collector's Edition will be available for a limited time exclusively at the Interplay Store.

    Scheduled for a simultaneous release with Icewind Dale II, the Icewind Dale II Collector's Edition features all of the amazing gameplay elements of Icewind Dale II plus completely new limited collectibles for Icewind Dale fans. Among the collectible items is a special Collector's Edition bonus disc containing additional gameplay enhancements and tracks from the game's captivating music soundtrack. One of the most visually stunning elements of the Icewind Dale II Collector's Edition is a full-color cloth map of the legendary region of Icewind Dale. Also, a set of four collectible character trading cards will be included describing in great detail the characters and creatures found in the game. The Collector's Edition also features a high quality spiral-bound manual, a set of dice, Black Isle Studios stickers and writing tablet to enjoy while questing. Enclosing the extraordinary Collector's Edition is a splendid hinge book style box. More comprehensive information can be found on the official Icewind Dale II web site.

    Neverwinter Nights Screenshots
    Posted Monday, April 15, 2002 - 6:53 CET by Mollusken

    The Infogrames UK site has hidden away a few screenshots from Neverwinter Nights. The screenshots (one of them shows a Balrog) can be found here.

    Icewind Dale Mac Review at Gamers Press
    Posted Sunday, April 14, 2002 - 21:34 CET by Mollusken

    The Macintosh version of Icewind Dale apparently keeps the same standard as the PC version. Out of a possible 10, The Gamer's Press rates it with an 8.

    The port of the original PC game to the Macintosh has been flawless. Both games look the same, and the performance is suited for almost any hardware platform. I've been playing Icewind Dale on both my Powermac Desktop unit, and my Powerbook laptop. There's no performance issues on either one, though I do kick it up a few notches on the desktop machine by bringing it up from 640x480 to 800x600 - the highest resultion it will go. (A few cold notches, mind you.)

    Macplay has taken care of every little detail. The network mode is the same as in the PC version, and if you sat a PC user in front of a Macintosh playing Icewind Dale, he wouldn't notice a change - the keystrokes are the same. The only difference is that if you don't have a two button mouse (I use a Microsoft Intellimouse myself), you have to press Command-Click to emulate the secondary mouse button.

    Icewind Dale is a fun game because Bioware understood the importance of details - making the interface as perfect as they could, giving the player all the control they wanted, and making setting up a network game a snap. Macplay has continued that trend, in making Icewind Dale for the Mac (specifically OS X) just as smooth. Change from Full Screen to Windowed mode to take notes? It just works - no muss, no fuss. Want to Hide it when it's in Windows mode? No problems - the game pauses automatically so you can takes notes (or keep your boss from knowing what you're doing on company time.)

    Read everything over at The Gamer's Press.

    Icewind Dale II Designer Diary Part 5
    Posted Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 16:00 CET by Mollusken

    John Deiley, an Icewind Dale II designer, has written part 5 of RPG Vault's designer diary.

    First of all, we've been approved as an official 3rd Edition, Dungeons & Dragons title by Wizards of the Coast. Our programmers have been working really hard on implementing the new rule set. They've also managed to put in the new character creation rules, feats, and skills! Of course, these changes required major reworking of all the interface screens, and most of these have been implemented.

    The new interface is awesome looking. We've taken a totally different approach than in our previous games. I think you'll find it more functional, streamlined, and beautiful to look at. We want Icewind Dale II to be a totally different game than what we've produced in the past. We wanted to go beyond 'more of the same' and give it a new style and feel. I think our artists have done just that.

    Speaking of new and stylish, you'll love all the new spell icons. Brian Menze has outdone himself! The icons are rich in color and detail. I think they much better indicate what spells they represent with a quick glance. Very functional, but exceptional eye candy!

    Clerics have received a bit of a reworking in the game. We've added spell domains and deities! You can now select your priestly profession from among a list. We included the good, the bad, and the neutral. Cleric spells have been extended to include up to 9th level spells. This puts your priest within the ranks of power once only attainable by mages!

    Read everything here.

    Last Week's Poll Results
    Posted Friday, April 12, 2002 - 23:14 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: Do you think Neverwinter Nights will be able to live up to all the expectations?
    (326 votes total)

    Mostly it will (154) 47%
    Yes, of course (90) 28%
    In some ways it might (53) 16%
    No, it won't (29) 9%

    Hmmm... It appears we have a quite sceptical crowd here. 47% of all who voted went for the second choice from the top, saying that Neverwinter Nights will mostly be able to live up all the high expectations. It is going to be hard to satisfy everyone, so NWN will still be a great game if our high expectations are (mostly) met.

    28% of poll participants are more certain of the game delivering what it promises. They all voted that NWN will, of course, be able to live up to all the expectations.

    Nearing the waters of doubt, 16% of those who voted think that Neverwinter Nights might live up to all the expectations only in some ways.

    Lastly, 9% of voters are certain that the game will not be able to live up to our expectations. We will have to see about that!

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

    Neverwinter Nights Forum Update
    Posted Thursday, April 11, 2002 - 19:19 CET by Arwen

    Bob McCabe, Writing & Design:

    Journals: You do indeed have a journal in Neverwinter Nights. There are currently three panes on the journal. One pane lists your quests that are unresolved, one pane lists your resolved quests, and one pain is titled notes, and is a place for you to write down what you will. Mine is filled with sweet nothings, dedicated to myself .

    Character classes in the population: Personally, i've always felt that the classes and races were, to some (minor) degree, set up to match the population ratios. for example, humans are, to many, considered the best race (no multiclass penalty, extra feat, extra skill points, no negatives). they have been designed as more powerful so that more people will play them, and the ratios will fall into place. i'm not sure this is quite as fitting when it comes to classes, though... but in terms of ease of use, fighters and rogues are easier to understand than wizards and clerics... and fighters and rogues should be the more common of the adventuring classes...

    Character development: Neverwinter is pretty standard for a CRPG in the sense of character development. But specificially, it uses the D&D rules - though Neverwinter is using the 3rd edition of the ruleset, as compared with Baldur's Gate (a game you mentioned having familiarity with) using the 2nd edition.

    What I mean by standard for a CRPG is that, basically, you allocate stats for your character, and then allocate skill points and feats. You might choose to make a fighter who is good at locks, or good at parrying, or able to fight with two weapons at once.

    Once your character is created, you gain experience through your adventures, and when you have accumulated enough, you advance a level - just like Diablo, just like BG. When you advance a level, you gain hit points and skill points, as well as potentially gaining feats (class specific or otherwise).

    Hide/move silently: Just a quick addendum that we were doing multiplayer last night. There were 5 of us going. I played the rogue. The game begins with characters starting off in a bedroom area. I spawned in with three others. The three ran off, leaving me and the about-to-spawn fifth member. I went into stealth as the fifth was spawning in, so he never saw me.

    I snuck over to the one exit from the room and set a trap. Then I sat there picking his pocket. He ran out of the room, oblivious, sprung the trap and was very surprised. He then went into his pack to grab a healing potion and realized he had none (I later stole his armor & weapon (when he unequipped them to run around naked), and most of his gold). The cool thing was that he never saw me. I amuse myself.

    Of course, if you asked the others in the party, they would say something about holding me upside-down afterward, but that's irrelevant...

    Yes, rogue's have the potential to be very mischievous. I very well believe that everyone is going to be forced to put skill points into their spot and listen if they happen to play on a server with rogues (or other stealthy types) that cannot... restrain themselves. Which will also force those others to put points into intelligence (to get more skill points) and wisdom (to get more bonuses).

    Balancing is neat.

    Traps: I believe party members are protected from traps set by party members. In this situation, as you guessed, we weren't yet partied up. On a side note, rogues can flag traps that they spot, but cannot disarm, so that their party members know where to step so in order not to set them off.

    Traveling between towns: At current, it's more like Baldur's Gate before you have been somewhere. For example, to get to Beregost from Candlekeep, you have to walk through a few maps.

    Jay Watamaniuk, Community Manager:

    Encounters: While I can't comment on any plot stuff, I can say that mighty and terrible creatures are running around the place squashing all sorts of hard working peasants, fuzzy animals and old people. Only you, the intrepid adventurer, can put a stop to this mayhem.

    While a designer can put down encounter areas that spawn in scaled encounters for your party, a designer can also put whatever creature he or she wants in an area and no matter what level you are, you face what that creature- ready or not.

    Starting points: The number we are currently testing with is 30 points based on a system of starting each characteristic with a base of 8...'

    Module creation: We hope to make the creation of a module as painless as possible. Today tom and I needed to slap together an example module to demonstrate the DM Client. We created a few areas, had a basic plot, created some custom monsters and that was it. No scripting, no nothin'.

    If you have a DM you can fake a lot of scripting stuff on the fly. Through dialogue you tell the players they a certain gem to gain access to the secret tunnel. They go and get the gem and you 'DM Unlock' the door when they return. No scripting done.

    So, yes, you will be able to create models without scripting- very good ones actually. The scripting really comes in handy for writing no DM modules where things needs to happen without a human hand helping out.

    Derek French, Assistant Producer:

    Random Item Generator: Yes, you can have "random treasure" but it is random from a "pre-determined list" NOT random from "any possible item under the sun". There are no DM Tools, just the DM Client. From there you can affect anything in the game, but it MUST exist in the module file or savegame in the first place. You CANNOT create new items at a whim. You have to use the Hak Pak editor to open a save game file and add new resources that you first created and exported from the Toolset. You then need to restart the server with this Hak Pak saved save game. Then, you have to use the DM Client to spawn in these newly added resources and save the game again.

    The only "editor" that can be used to make items is the Toolset.

    What you did before this, is you told the people that are playing on the server that you are DM'ing on that you are about to do a few things. First, you save the game, then you kick them all and shut down the server. Then you start the Toolset and create a new module that includes this new item. You then contact that one player that wanted this item via ICQ, IRC, or some other non-game method because your server isn't running right now. You start the server and load this "item giver" module. That player connects, picks up the item, then logs off. You unload the module, then load the other save game again. That player should be able to enter this module with the new item.

    Custom loading screens: I said select, as in, select from either Game resources or Hak Pak resources. If your image is in there, then it will appear on the select list.


    Or you can tell it to pick a random one.


    I think it not only accepts .bmp but .tga as well, but I don't have time to check.

    David Gaider, Designer:

    DM avatar: Actually, you are stuck with the avatar. As the GM, you actually see your Avatar character on-screen... no getting around that.

    You are not limited to the same properties that other characters are, however. You can walk, but you don't have to... you can teleport about quickly both in the current area or between them (it's very easy... you can either teleport to a spot by clicking on it or selecting anything off the chooser menu... area, character, polygon, object, whatever... and jump quickly there). You have access to your powers both through a character radial menu as well as the menus on top of the screen (and can learn to use the menus exclusively if you like).

    The players won't see your avatar, of course, unless you manifest (I once Shapechanged myself into a fire giant and then manifested... that proved festive).

    But you are not an omniscient, bodiless presence. You do see the area through the eyes of your avatar, so to speak. It takes some getting used to, but I've found it quite functional.

    Henchman death: If anything special is to be done with them, it has to be put into their OnDeath() event.

    In the official campaign, they will be waiting for you at the same spot where the PC gets resurrected if they choose to respawn (which is easily accessible, though I won't explain why).

    Personally, if you didn't have that system, I would script them so their body didn't fade... they would just lie there dead until and unless you raised them. It's up to you, naturally.

    Stores: I was curious about some things with stores recently and learned a few things. Here's basically how they work:

    - a 'store' is basically an invisible object in the game that maintains an inventory and has the functions built into it to buy and sell to players. It splits up its inventory into four categories... anything bought from it comes out, anything sold to it goes in. Any item may be marked as 'infinite', which means the store will never run out of that item. You set it's mark-up and mark-down as well as whether it buys stolen goods (as well as the mark-down for those)... this is always based on the base price set on the item.

    - we usually place these stores by a merchant, since they are activated by a script command (usually placed in the merchant's dialogue). The player cannot interact with the store object, itself, in any way. I'm not sure if it matters where you place the store... likely it's easier to place it by the merchant who uses it so you can keep track of the instance.

    - as an object, the store can have scripts attached to it. My guess would be that you could add and delete items from its inventory just as you would with any other object's inventory. Whether there are scripting commands to change other facets of the store (like the mark-up), I don't know. Probably not, however (you can't change the properties of most objects except in the toolset).

    You can create stores however you wish, though. We have stores in the official campaign that only deal with specific things... a fletcher who only sells bows and arrows, a druid who only deals in druidic items, and so forth.
    Here is the scripting command that opens up a store object for a player:

    OpenStore(object oStore, object oPC, int nBonusMarkUp=0, int nBonusMarkDown=0)

    BonusMarkUp = the amount added to the default 'mark up' setting of the store when it sells stuff to the player

    BonusMarkDown = the amount added to the defaul 'mark down' setting of the store when it buys stuff from the player.

    So let's say we have a storekeeper who doesn't like elves, right and charges them double what he charges everyone else? Easy!
    int PCRace = GetRacialType(GetPCSpeaker());
    if (PCRace == RACIAL_TYPE_ELF)
    // store for elves at 100% additional markup
    // regular store for non-elves
    And naturally you could make any other calculations for the markup/markdown as complicated as you wish.

    As to objects specific for each player - two problems I can think of when doing it this way:

    1) If you're talking about the same store blueprint, each instance of it has the same tag. How do you identify which one you are dealing with if you have more than one? Tags cannot be changed on the fly.
    The only way I could see having a store be 'personal' to a PC is to set an object global in dialogue. Once it is set, if they global = PC, then go ahead and open the store... if the global != PC, then don't. The store would still have to have a unique tag in order for it to belong only to the PC, though.

    2) I can't see how this would work as a bank. You can't give gold directly to a store. You might be able to 'reverse' the markup/markdown so he charged you when you put items in and paid you when you took them out, but that would be based on the value of the item AND there is no way that you could prevent someone else from taking that item unless the store was only useable by a specific PC as above.

    Priest abilities: Domain spells are in, though obviously not all of them will be represented (they've tried to keep the number of spells available via each domain about equal, as well, as a result).

    Domain powers may be in, as I've said before. We shall see.

    In-game books and scrolls: Yes, we have books and scrolls. Yes, you can make books and scrolls... if you're making the module. A player cannot write books and scrolls on the fly, no.

    Tilesets: Rural and Forest have water tiles that can pass well as lakes or rivers, but the land adjoining the water tiles couldn't be called a beach, per se (there is some color and texture variance, but I'd call it more rocky than sandy).

    No swamps.

    Rolling hills? Depends on what you consider 'rolling'. The Rural tileset has the height transitions that are required to make hills. These are not curved, however, because of the inherent limitation by having interchangeable tiles.
    Mountains. The Forest tileset has the impassable Cliff tile which makes for great mountainous terrain. The Rural heigh transitions have several versions which have fairly rocky terrain, plus other rocky-type tiles... it could easily simulate rocky terrain, certainly.

    Outer walls. For castle walls, the City Exterior, yes. There are walls in Forest and Rural, as well, but not so large.

    Rivers. There are streams that you can lay down in Rural, Forest, City Exterior and Cavern... these are crossable by foot, however. If you want something larger and impassable, you must use the water tiles. A mix of the two works well.

    DC checks: You mean you want to make a DC check for something not done by the game? Like swimming or the like?

    If all else fails, there's a dice roller on the radial menu.

    Module scale: I really think too many people are thinking solely in terms of 32x32 areas. I have yet to use a single one that large. Even if I really wanted the players to trek across the equivalent of a mile of wilderness, I would still break it down into smaller and denser areas... at the very least, it would allow for more objects and creatures active in the current area without a big resource hit, if nothing else.

    Personally, my recommendation would be to go with a maximum size single area of 16x16 unless you really have to.

    Trekking in-game through a full 'mile' of wilderness will take longer than you think, as well. You can make shorter distances seem far longer (and far more interesting) by making the path through the areas circuitious due to the terrain.

    The more areas and content you have, the larger your module size will be... and the longer it will take for the module to load and save (the time for individual areas to load is irrelevant to this). You can have as many resources as your hard drive can hold... just consider how inconvenient you consider load/save time when adding a lot of areas in. Unfortunately I've no specific figures yet to offer you on how many areas/resources = a certain size module or load/save time.

    Noel, Programmer:

    Stores: The store markup/markdown can be set on a player by player basis when the store is opened. You can have multiple players in the same store at once all with different buy/sell prices (the rate applies to all items in the store).

    New Neverwinter Nights Models
    Posted Thursday, April 11, 2002 - 8:11 CET by Mollusken

    A few new official models for the NWN Model Viewer has been released. There's a bat from RPGdot, a new spell effect from NW Vault and a bunch of mummies from BioWare.

    Neverwinter Nights Screenshots
    Posted Thursday, April 11, 2002 - 7:59 CET by Mollusken

    10 new Neverwinter Nights screenshots has been spotted over at Games Radar. The screenshots are featuring various spell and lighting effects.

    Icewind Dale II Interview at Sorcerer's Place
    Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2002 - 1:25 CET by Sorcerer

    That's right, we made Doug Avery (who is the Associate Producer on the Icewind Dale II project) answer no less than 28 questions in our interview. I am sure you will find them interesting and informative, like this one for example:

    SP: What prompted you to change the game's interface and could you illustrate what the new interface will be like? (Any similarities to that of Planescape: Torment perhaps?) Will the inventory screen and others be changed as well?

    Doug Avery: We decided to go forward with this alteration because we were making so many changes to the rules that we needed a better way for the player to interact with the game. Almost every single screen has been or is being changed. The inventory no longer has a paperdoll associated with your character. You will see the avatar represented instead (the small character used in the game). You can also set up weapon combos which will allow your characters to swap their weapons out on the fly without having to return to the inventory interface. The interface has styling similar to Planescape: Torment, but it is all brand new. The spell icons have been redone by Brian Menze, the artist responsible for the PS: T icons.

    Click here to read the whole thing.

    Icewind Dale Mac Review at IMG
    Posted Tuesday, April 9, 2002 - 20:55 CET by Mollusken

    Inside Mac Games has reviewed the Macintosh version of Icewind Dale, rating it with 8.5 out of a possible 10.

    Is there anything more thrilling than a grand adventure? No, I’m not talking about dinner & dancing with Joan Rivers, that’s just scary. I’m talking about an ogre-slaying, tomb-looting, spell-casting, heart-pounding adventure! I dare say no activity is more exhilarating. There’s nothing more satisfying than strapping on a suit of full plate mail, picking up a newly polished long sword and tromping off into the God-forsaken wilderness with a group of like-minded companions in order to smite the forces of evil most foul. Sadly, in the year 2002, there is nary an adventure to be found that requires a suit of full plate mail. Unless, of course, the ever prolific game publisher MacPlay is involved. That’s right my friends, MacPlay has released yet another role-playing game (RPG) for Macophiles everywhere: Icewind Dale is upon us.

    Read the whole review at IMG. You can support SP by buying this game through us at our Games page.

    Help Wanted
    Posted Monday, April 8, 2002 - 1:07 CET by Arwen

    SP needs you!

    Currently we are looking for a few reliable people willing to commit some of their time to daily pursuit of knowledge about Neverwinter Nights. In other words, we need people who will gather news from the official message boards and post it here.

    If you are interested in the game and want to become a part of a great team, peek here for more info.

    Site News - New Additions
    Posted Monday, April 8, 2002 - 0:56 CET by Sorcerer

    Helping Support Sorcerer's Place

    If you are a regular at out message boards you have probably noticed various Chips & Bits banners. I have teamed up with this gaming superstore to be able to bring you some titles that are continuously out of stock at Amazon, but also because most (if not all) of the games there are cheaper. Our Games store has been updated with links through which you can buy games at Chips & Bits and help support Sorcerer's Place since we get a small commission for every purchase.

    Two new titles were added to the Games store with this update - Icewind Dale II (pre-order) and Forgotten Realms Archives Silver Edition. Various other out of stock items are now available at Chips & Bits. For more info on how you can buy games not listed in our store and still earn us a commission, click on the "help support SP" link on the left side of all SP pages.

    I have also placed the code for regular pop-ups on all pages of Sorcerer's Place. If you have cookies enabled, you will only get two of them every 6 hours, no matter which page you visit. I hope that I am not asking too much when I request that you should let them load fully before closing them down. You are not required to click on them, but they do have to load fully otherwise we get paid nothing.

    After going through numerous other options for regular banner advertising, I have found that they are either

    a) too intrusive (want to install software on your computer, spawn pop-ups)
    b) inappropriate (adult content)
    c) poorly manageable (I have no control over what is displayed) or
    d) pay so little that it is not worth the effort to place them in the html

    Therefore I decided to leave the Amazon banners up for the time being. In time I might replace them with some others (like Chips & Bits ones), but as far as I'm concerned, regular banner advertising is DEAD. Just so you know, these Amazon banners do not earn me anything unless you buy something through them. I am merely leaving them there because they're really non-intrusive and in case someone might actually find them useful and do a good thing for SP and buy through them. :)

    Ok, now on to more cheerful matters.

    Subsection Updates -> Fantasy Books

    I have been checking & fixing the links all over the subsections in the Fantasy Books subsection. There aren't many new things, except on Page 2 of the Dragonlance subsection (Dragons of a Vanished Moon, book 3 of the War of Souls trilogy is now available for pre-order) and in the 3rd Edition D&D Books subsection where a number of new manuals & handbooks (Faiths & Pantheons, Silver Marches, Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, Epic Level Handbook, Deities & Demigods and Book of Challenges) are now available for pre-order at all 3 Amazon stores SP is affiliated with.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Baldur's Gate

    After probably a couple of years, we have a new walkthrough in the Walkthroughs & Guides subsection. It is a very detailed one and covers both the game and the expansion. If you need any help with the game, be sure to give it a try.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Baldur's Gate 2

    Like in the subsection above, we have a new walkthrough (by the same author) here in the Walkthroughs & Guides subsection as well. It also covers both the game and the expansion. Very nice.

    Thanks to our regular contributor, the Suburban Jub Collective, we also have an exclusive Epic Endeavours walkthrough in the same subsection. (If you haven't heard of this partial conversion of the game yet, peek in the TeamBG subsection for the link.)

    Extremist, our resident bugsquasher, has put together v0.3 of his FixPack. It fixes a small sea of bugs left over after the final SoA patch, so if you're having problems with your game, be sure to see if it can help you. Get it from Page 2 of the Editors, Hacks & Custom Characters subsection.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Icewind Dale 2

    In the Walkthroughs & Guides subsection, the IWD2 Info Compilation has been updated and split in two parts. The new info on page 2 is a listing of bard spells.

    Those of you planning on playing a cleric (or having one in your party), that is, mostly all of you, will be interested in the Clerics Info Compilation I've put together. It contains descriptions of each of the clerics of the faiths present in the game and a list of the cleric domain spells. You can find this in the same subsection as the above.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Neverwinter Nights

    In the Miscellanea subsection, you can find two new additions. The first is the log of the recent chat with Jeremy Soule that I edited (thanks to BTA for the log!), and the second is a big list of movies & trailers that have been officially released or otherwise obtained thus far.

    Just for you, I've watched each one of them closely and provided descriptions of each on the page. I also put down the format, length and size of each of them. Be sure to load the page and see if you've missed any of them.

  • Direct Links

    Neverwinter Nights Forum Update
    Posted Sunday, April 7, 2002 - 6:47 CET by Arwen

    Trent Oster, Producer:

    NPCs/"henchmen": I haven't beaten the game yet, but I have played through a large portion of the game. I have done so with a druid, a rogue, a paladunce (in loving memory of Karzak, if I remember rightly), a sorcerer, a barbarian, a fighter/rogue, and a bard.

    To be honest, the game only seems harder with the other classes when you try to play them like a fighter. When you get past that and start playing the game like a rogue, or a wizard, the frustration goes away.

    But this question is about henchman, and I've been keeping one hired and close quite a bit lately. And you know, I'm actually finding them very useful. My favorite henchman is one that those of you who paid attention to my ramblings about Aidan's pen&paper game might recognize. He's a thief with a lot of stories to tell.

    And when he's with me, and he has permission to do so, he basically unlocks any lock that stops me from doing something I tried to do (i.e. I tried to open a door but it was locked, I move away, and in steps Mr. Thief), or warns me about upcoming traps and then disarms them, if he can.

    In battle, he tends to be pretty useful as someone who does his share of the fighting.

    I haven't spent much time with the other henchman, but I did take a wizard and noticed a lot of options, such as "Hey, do you think you can try to keep your spells' power level down to match our opponents?" and "I want you to nuke every goblin you see with your most devastating spell! Muhuhuhahaha!"

    Okay, so maybe the dialogue wasn't written quite like that, but you get the idea.

    I think our henchmen are going to be pretty solid. I have gotten pretty annoyed, at times, with some stupid henchmen-type characters in past games that I have played, which would include BG2 (I always played my one PC, and then set the others to run on their respective AIs). So far, in Neverwinter Nights, I really haven't been frustrated by the henchmen. What can I say? Henchmen are almost... unobtrusive.

    I think a lot of that comes from the fact that the game is balanced to not overwhelm you with challenge. You can do it alone, but with a henchman? It becomes just a little bit easier. You get the extra fighting ability, you get the distraction in your enemy's ranks with having the henchman there to split up attacks instead of having them all focused on you, you get the use of their skills such as thiefy stuff, or healing, or what-have-you, and you get someone to talk to when you're feeling lonely Best of all, in all of the times I've played with a henchman, he's only died once or twice (which shows that they're not stupid), as opposed with the dozens of times that I have died.

    I think it's a very dramatic improvement over anything we've thought up in terms of our past games NPCs AI, and I have a feeling they [the henchmen] will compare very well, if not be slightly better than, anything else that's available in the gaming world that I have seen, for the most part. And since you can modify their scripts (or copy the scripts over onto new NPCs and re-write the dialogue to make new henchmen), well, you can always make them that much better.

    Overkill: I liked the day I redid the blood effect and put a huge blood emitter into the geometry chunks accidentally. I killed a character and my frame rate went to about 2 FPS. The screen was covered with red blood fountaining from the body and the chunks flying around. A herd of cattle has less blood in it than that gnome did.

    Sunder feat: Sunder isn't in.
    Disarm and improve disarm are.

    Changing CD keys without reinstalling: You will be able to change the CD-Key without re-installing.

    How to cover Bandwith and Hosting Fees: We know this is a serious issue and we will be looking into possible solutions up to and after the release of NWN.

    Metamagic feats: Sadly in NWN you can only do one metamagic feat on a spell. The added complexity in doing multiple metamagic feats on one spell was too great for us to implement in our planned timeline.

    Will there be Gelantinous Cubes:We didn't plan (I'm not even going to try and spell it) G. Cubes for the start because we didn't have skeletal animation in the engine.

    The specs on systems YOU are building for E3: The systems are:
    AMD Dual processor systems using:
    1600+ MP processors
    512 MB of Ram
    Geforce 3 Ti500 Video Cards
    SB Live soundcards
    40 GB HDD (Quantum I think)

    The reason the ram is so high is:
    1. It's just so cheap right now
    2. E3 Demo box = Post E3 workstation

    Jay Watamaniuk, Community Manager:

    Blood and gore animations: Gore? Man, we got gore. Blood a-plenty. Blood splashes around during combat but does quickly disappear. I was testing out a module I am writing and my poor Paladin was killed with three arrows sticking out of his back lying in a pool of his own blood.

    Critical hits are pretty ace to.

    Area spells: I just did a quick check and I spotted 'Wall of Fire' so, yes, Wall stuff is in. Which ones specifically I can't say or Preston will beat me up.

    Firearms: I would expect that within hours people will have made firearm models based off of the current NWN missle weapons. If somebody can make a Simpsons Quake mod I'm sure somebody will spend some time making all sorts of scary weapons for NWN.

    Weapon styles: There will be different animations for certain types of weapons. For example if your using a two-handed weapon or something crazy like a two-headed axe there will be different animations than a one-handed weapons. Also there are several unarmed attacked (assorted kicks and punches) for Monks and angry monsters to use. I do not think there will be much difference in specifics using a Short Sword vs. Longsword however.

    Distance: Neverwinter Nights, the city, is broken up into parts separated by gates. There is a central core surrounded by these districts. By how the streets are laid out you can't really walk in a straight line so I'm not sure how long it would take. I think that most people will doing a lot of jogging/running as people tend not have the patience for walking.
    Don't worry it's a big place- but it's more on interesting stuff to do than actual size.

    Hide in chainmail: You can wear whatever you want but the negatives add up pretty quick against certain stealth skills for heavier and heavier armor.

    Derek French, Assistant Producer:

    Items created for a module: Yes, items stay with the character no matter what the module, providing that the item is created from the stock data in the Toolset.

    File I/O added Not for initial release, but it is definately something that I want added post-ship.

    Server on one pc play on other pc: Yes, if you run the dedicated server on that other PC.

    WIll NWN natively support SMP functionality: No, NWN does not support SMP, but with duals, you could very easily run 2 copies of the dedicated server with 2 modules and portal between them.

    Multi-servers on one machine: Yes, provided that your machine has the CPU and RAM to support it.

    International keyboard layouts: Infogrames is sending us some international keyboards as we speak. In fact they should be here today. We'll look into the support issues, see what is involved and support it if we can.

    Custom music: Yes you can add your own music, though the file format has not been finalized.

    Tarrasque: No Tarrasque. No Tarrasque’s Mamma. No guys in paper costumes running around dressed as Tarrasques. No village festivals involving dancing ‘round the May Pole with Tarrasque colored ribbons and lastly, no Big Fuzzy Tarrasques surrounded by children singing, “I love you, you love me” will be featured in NWN.

    David Chan, Audio Producer:

    Sound effect samples: We have talked about posting some sound samples, but haven't done that as of yet. I think it's a good idea and will see what I can do.

    Bob McCabe, Writing & Design:

    Variable responses based on Charisma: Not only is it possible, and easy, but we've filled our campaign with it.

    5-foot step rule: There are keys for side-stepping and such, and you can use your mouse to do this as well, by clicking on a nearby area while in combat. If you click further away from your character or use mouse-driving, your character will move away from combat, which could open you up to an attack of opportunity.

    I know all about the move without attack doesn't draw an attack of opportunity. Remember, I'm playing a non-fighty bard in Preston's game - I know all of the exploits that allow me to stay out of harm's way

    As for Neverwinter, I'm actually not sure how the rules will be implemented. Stuff seems to change now and then, work fine one day and be a little messed up the next. On top of that, a good bit of it is just hard to determine from the CPUs point of view...

    I'll check it out more in-depth when things are tweaked into finality

    So far as I understand the combat system, the sidesteps you take allow you to move about 5 feet in the equivalent time of one round. So yes, there is at least one or two of those silly little tactical rules in there, in addition to the flash.

    Death: Defeated characters have the choice of waiting where they are, and remaining dead, respawning at the local temple at the cost of some experience, quiting the game, or reloading a saved game.

    Retroactive constitution: On pg 130 of the PHB, it states that "an increase in a character's Constitution score, even a temporary one" will grant the player more hit points. They then offer the example of a character gaining +4 to constitution at 3rd level (an effective bonus increase of 2 points), resulting in a gain of 6 hit points (2 per level).

    This is how Neverwinter has interpreted, and implemented, the rule.

    David Gaider, Designer:

    Cloaks/robes: Cloaks and robes exist as items, but you won't see them on your avatar. (No icky 'short cloak' either, I'm afraid.)

    Character faces: There are a number of head models for each race and sex. Humans have slightly more variety, but only by a couple. (At a guesstimate I'd say 8 for non-humans, 10 for humans).

    You can also select skin and hair color (with a full palette). Tattoos can be applied to the chest and/or the arms and/or the legs with 2 colors to select. Add that to the thousands upon thousands of clothing/armor variations and you get a pretty unique appearance.

    I imagine that, as far as user content in this area goes, slight alterations to the face skins and more tattoos will be the most common mods.

    Facial hair exists as part of the head models (unless it's just stubble... that would be part of the skin). Facial hair isn't a selection on its own.

    Using monster models for PCs: It isn't currently possible, nor can it be scripted.

    Though someone could possibly come up with a solution using a polymorph effect... but that would have to be re-applied at intervals, I believe.

    Someone may end up doing it somehow, anyway, but realize that with a monster model you're only going to get weapon animations and (possibly) shield animations.

    PCs as followers or henchmen: My only problem with having a DM-possessed character tag along with the party is that it takes his attention away from other things.

    I suppose if you provided a bit of AI to the character, you could safely jump out and do whatever you deemed necessary when it was required... it would have to be during combat or only when convenient, tho.

    You could always have more than one DM, too, I suppose.

    I suppose it depends on which approach you prefer.

    Me, I prefer to spend my time tweaking or watching for ways to interact with the characters, as opposed to being an NPC member of their party.

    Nothing is so goose-bumpingly RPG-licious as when the party is standing in the middle of town discussing something and the nearby old man turns and starts ranting over 'those adventurer types!'... or when a passing noblewoman stops to say hello... or when the guard you're waiting to pass suddenly stops and says 'Uh? Whoozat? Someone der?', scratches his head, and then continues on walking after I un-possess him.

    I guess you could theoretically script all this stuff... but why?

    I love pre-made dialogue, mind you. It's what I write for a living. But when I'm running my campaign, that dialogue is to keep the NPC's occupied and informed for when I'm busy. Otherwise it's realtime possession all the way, baby. In fact, I personally would love to be the assistant DM in a campaign responsible for possessing ambient characters and monsters in a fight (heh... nothing better than having a party of monsters, all thugs except for 1 spellcaster. Let the thugs use their AI... I'll possess the spellcaster, thank you.

    Henchmen: But you can direct them, to an extent.

    Your one henchman, for instance, displays his own radial menu when you click on him, through which you can issue commands.

    If my henchman wanders off and starts doing something I don't want him to (which has been happening less and less as the AI for the henchmen has been developing, actually), I click on him and issue the Follow command... which basically calls him back to my side.

    This is aside from asking the henchmen to change stances in dialogue, as Bob mentioned.

    There are more commands, of course, but seeing as henchmen are undergoing a lot of testing in the current stage, I wouldn't want to say too much since things might change.

    Merchants: Quote: Will merchants/shopkeepers in NWN be similar to what they were in BG ie you initiate dialogue with the merchant, and one of the responses opens a buy/sell screen?
    Yes, though you don't have to go through the dialogue if you don't wish to.

    Quote: If so, will this buy screen have sections as it did in BG ie one for items, one for accommodation, one for healing?
    No. Items only. Accomodation or healing would have to be accessed through dialogue.

    Quote: One request that I have is that you be able to browse through inventories by category
    There are four 'tabs' in a store which sift stuff by category. I believe they are as follows:

    1) Armor (including helmets, boots, cloaks, and other clothing-type items)
    2) Weapons
    3) Scrolls & miscellenous magic (such as jewelry and wands)
    4) Everything else

    Not sure if you can set what goes under each tab... this just might be the pre-set for the campaign. I would have to check that. (Doubt it, though).

    One thing I do like is that it's a visual display of everything available... you get one page with all the items on display as they would appear in your inventory. You can run your cursor over them swiftly to get the names or pause and examine one item in detail. A bar on the right shows how many 'pages' of items are available under that tab.

    Round rooms: The only way to have a round room would be to have the entire room pre-rendered as a single tile (or, say, in quarter-pieces like a pie that could be joined together along the straight edges).

    There are a couple of single-tile rooms like that in the tilesets. Beyond that, if you are using the generic tiles you can make a room that is circular (like you could on a piece of graph paper), though the walls won't be round, per se.

    I mean a feature made up of several locked tiles. The brothel room, for instance, is circular and consists of 2X2 regular tiles (if I remember right).

    Flying creatures: We are talking eye-level flight, here.

    Signs: There are a number of signs which are placeable objects... you pick the type of sign you wish and place it wherever it's supposed to go (in front of the store, at the crossroads, etc).

    The writing on the sign, if any, isn't legible. It's either an indecipherable scribble or one of a variety of symbols. The only way to has an actual, readable sign (or new symbols, for that matter) would be to edit the skin of the sign (not a daunting task, actually, but that's beside the point).

    All placeable objects can be assigned a dialogue file and portrait. When you click on the sign, then, the text box appears (showing the portrait you've selected...yes, we have portraits for signs) along with the text in the dialogue file.
    You don't have to have player responses. If you don't, it will just show 'The Headman's Inn' or whatever you put there. Optionally, of course, you could give responses and include scripting, if that's your thing.

    Celestials: You mean in the single-player campaign? I can't think of any celestials that are NPC's, off-hand... though I might be wrong.

    In the toolset, creature-wise? Maaaaybe.

    Creatures: Liches = yes, both as an applied template as well as a creature model for your 'standard' lich.

    Tanar'ri = which kinds did you have in mind? I think we've mentioned imps, succubi, balors and vrock in the past, no?

    Lizardmen = yes, several types.

    Keeping players alive by DM: With the caveat that I haven't actually seen the feature in place, myself, I believe the plan is to provide a difficulty slider accessible to the DM.

    Things getting a little rough on your party? Slide it down and they'll mysteriously start missing.

    Players getting a little***y? Slide it up and the monsters start getting nasty rolls. Ouch! Was that a critical?

    Players can see the rolls being made, but they don't see your hand on the die.

    Again, however, this comes from my knowledge of this as a planned feature. Sadly, playing with the DM client isn't something I get to do much.

    Dialogs: The text box does, indeed, appear over the head of whatever object it belongs to (whether that be a creature, PC, placeable object, sign or whatever). You have a fair amount of room to write in... I know I've never had any real problems fitting a good 'chunk' into one box.

    You can decide for yourself what kind of format you want to use. We don't use quotation marks and assume everything written is dialogue... when we use narrative in the body of the text (descriptions, actions, etc) there is a choice of three different colors that you can set the text to to differentiate it from spoken text (if you wish, that is).

    As for disembodied text, like in the IE... no, there's nothing like that. You get used to the text boxes fairly quickly, tho... and I would never suggest writing a huge block of text, anyway, even in the IE where you could.

    If you display a string, everyone who can see the table will see the string. In the text box, it's considered dialogue (to the game, anyway, even if no-one is actually 'speaking') and others will see the text if they are close enough to 'overhear'

    Noel, Programmer:

    Modifiable Tile Geometry: I wasn't planning on answering any threads since I'm leaving for a long weekend holiday in a few minutes... but after Ratbert's little performace I have to!

    In the game we have a couple different kinds of walkmesh objects: tile, door and placeable object. The tile mesh is static and doesn't ever change. Visible pieces of the tile can move (sails, hanging things etc..) but the underlying walkmesh does not animate. This surface has different material types which specify walkable or not, ground type (for walk sounds)and other fun stuff. (this is the aabb as explained in the Gamasutra article)

    Doors and placeables also have walkmesh files associated with them, but this geometry is strictly blocking (It blocks vision and movement). This geometry is added to the area when the object is loaded, and removed if the object is destroyed. Doors are a little more complicated than placeables because they need to be able to swing open/closed so they have three states: open forward, open back, and closed. (placeables only have one model) The game tests collision using the appropriate model based on the state of the door.

    The drawbridge example can't be done in the obvious way, because door walkmesh geometry can't add walkable ground to a previously unwalkable place... but it can still be done in a kinda hacky way (which is pretty close to what Ratbert suggested): create the tile with a walkable bridge over the moat- except make the 'open' animation mesh of the drawbridge cover this area with a non-walk poly. When the bridge is opened, the poly goes away and the bridge becomes walkable (to match the visible model). The only problem is that any items dropped on the bridge while open, would stay floating in the air when the bridge closed... which you could correct with some simple scripting.

    The hut example could be done if the hut was a placeable object: they have animations that can be toggled from scripting, even though the walkmesh stays constant.

    Mike Sass, Director of Production Art:

    Portraits: The BG2 portraits were not art. The straight cropping was to create a cohesive set such that the NPC characters could be re-used as player character portraits, as well the color choices were for added continuity and differentiation in the set at icon-size. The IWD portraits were great, but were treated as full-length character shots to be used as promotional devices as well. My main concern in BG2 was for the effect of the set as a whole in the flavor of the game. (Minsc and his hamster would not have worked in drab grey tones.) Keep in mind, the BG series was a second edition game, and second edition D&D is softer and not quite as edgy...
    Hope that helps!

    Last Week's Poll Results
    Posted Saturday, April 6, 2002 - 19:41 CET by Sorcerer

    What we asked:

    Q: What would like to see added or changed on Sorcerer's Place the most?
    (275 votes total)

    More focus on p&p D&D and role-playing (79) 29%
    3rd edition D&D concept art (images, wallpapers etc.) (76) 28%
    Don't change anything (57) 21%
    New site design (41) 15%
    Other (specify in poll comments) (12) 4%
    More message board features (10) 4%

    Like I suspected, more focus on pen & paper D&D and role-playing is something most of the people who have voted (29%) would like to see changed at Sorcerer's Place. However, as grand as my plans might be, this is also something that would take a lot more of my time, on which I am chronically short. *sigh*

    Moving into the fields of the more feasible, almost as many people (28%) would like to see 3rd edition D&D concept art like images, wallpapers and such posted on SP. Now this is something that I have been planning to do for quite some time now, so hopefully it will not still be an option when another poll of this kind is posted. ;)

    21% of the poll participants are so happy with Sorcerer's Place that they say nothing should be changed. Very flattering indeed!

    A new site design (wanted by 15% of voters) is something that certain annoying elements have been forcefully trying to squeeze out of me for some time, but even if I wanted to do it, it would have to be done during my holidays. (Changing the site's design would require much more work than anything else on this list, considering the fact that more than 500 pages of SP would have to be set totally anew.)

    The infamous Other (4%), as usual, did not really yield any useful data for analysis. The only repeated request was for more stability & uptime, but since this is my primary goal I did not even put it in the list. Now that SP is on our own paid server, things are running smoothly.
    But, of course, there's no such thing as free pizza. Server hosting costs alone are at $140 a month now, so please check the "help support SP" link on the left side of all SP pages for info on how you can help.

    Finally, new message board features were requested by 4% of poll participants. And yes, there will be more.

  • Current Poll
  • Previous Polls

    Jeremy Soule Chat Log
    Posted Friday, April 5, 2002 - 8:06 CET by Mollusken

    RPG Vault has posted a log from the chat with Neverwinter Nights composer Jeremy Soule and a few of the audio guys at BioWare.

    Speedy: I am a big follower of NWN, but firstly, I am a musician, and love music. What I am wondering, is how much of what you do is electronic? Live musicians, for me, cannot be replaced well enough with computers, but I do think that they can still play a good part in music. When you compose, do you use synthesized strings, or drums, or anything (or everything for that matter,) in the creation process?

    Jeremy Soule: The first instruments I use are in my head. I find that is the fastest way to work out a composition. For me, it is fairly "realtime". It is a bit like listening to the radio. I go to the studio as more of a final production phase.

    Hodack: How would you describe the general tone of the music when the game is "at rest" (no combat, special encounter, etc.)?

    Alan Miranda: The tone of the music is much like a film score. It will vary given the environment and situation. It is very much fantasy based.

    Read the whole log here.

    NWN Ranger Class Analysis
    Posted Thursday, April 4, 2002 - 22:20 CET by Mollusken

    It's been a while now, but Neverwinter Vault has continued their class analysis and has written an article on the ranger.

    The Ranger is one of the most debated classes whenever game balance rears its ugly head, and mostly because many people think of it as a weaker class than most. Considering that NWN will not be able to take advantage of many of the class skills or things like Track, it would seem to spell doom for one of the more interesting roles in the game for all but the more die-hard role-players. However, I think the Ranger often gets sold short as a warrior and only time will tell how they balance out the class within Neverwinter Nights. Lets take a closer look at the class that most exemplifies the outdoorsman.

    The Ranger gets the same Attack Charts, HPs, and saving charts as the Fighter. In lighter or no armor, they receive the feats of Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting for free. They get a good boost to skill points to spend initially and at each level (8 more at 1st and 2 more per level) over the fighter, plus Tracking (or whatever NWN will offer in its stead) and Favored Enemies (one to start and one at every 5th level thereafter). What the Ranger doesn’t get is the feats. On the surface, it would appear that you are trading feats in for skills, not usually considered a good exchange, however remember that a Ranger starts out with three bonus feats (as opposed to the Fighter’s one). Granted, if you don’t plan on taking advantage of dual wielding, you are left with just the Track (or NWN replacement) feat, so keep that in mind. Beyond that, though, don’t sell short the use of skills as an aid to a role. Without Hide, Move Silently, Spot, Search, Listen and the other skills that will be new to NWN, the role of a deadly, silent fighter would be impossible. Skills can be very impacting on the success of characters that want to make scouting and stealth a part of their personality, an important task that is well filled by the Ranger.

    Head over to NW Vault for the rest of the article.

    The History of CRPGs Part 4
    Posted Thursday, April 4, 2002 - 22:10 CET by Mollusken

    In this part of the CRPG history article GameSpy takes a look at the mixing of other genres into the CRPG genre.

    CRPGs have become characterized as games with lots of fighting and killing without consequence. There are very few settings that work as well as swords and sorcery. Technology limitations, in particular, have made it difficult for CRPGs to import aspects of pen-and-paper role-playing games other than their combat systems. It's impossible to give players the freedom to do whatever they want in a computer game, and it would be prohibitively expensive to even offer a significant amount of freedom. At best CRPGs can offer some non-linearity and some alternate methods of solving problems.

    It wouldn't make sense to try to program an outcome for every possible action a player may take -- yet tabletop RPGs can offer that sort of freedom. Since the only things CRPGs are capable of doing well are combat and character development, fantasy settings particularly suit that sort of game. What other settings permit the logical inclusion of dozens of strange monsters that are evil enough to merit killing, varied weaponry, and characters that evolve into heroes capable of dispatching armies?

    Read everything here.

    New Neverwinter Nights Wallpaper
    Posted Thursday, April 4, 2002 - 8:08 CET by Mollusken

    BioWare has released a new wallpaper featuring and undead horde of mummies (yeah, they're ugly). It's available for download here.

    The History of CRPGs Part 3
    Posted Wednesday, April 3, 2002 - 17:05 CET by Mollusken

    Part three of GameSpy's article on the history of CRPGs has been posted today. This part has the tile "Massively Multiplayer Madness".

    Let's digress a bit and talk about more traditional multiplayer gaming. Diablo II is an action-RPG and Baldur's Gate is a more traditional RPG. Both games offer multiplayer features and let you play the single-player game with your friends. In Diablo II that means a limitless number of friends; in Baldur's that means up to six. Because of the success of multiplayer in both these games, and other games like them, some single-player RPGs ship with some sort of cooperative multiplayer out of the box. Most don't, however, because the experience is too finely crafted toward solitary play.

    Right now, persistent world multiplayer games are what's hot, but that may change as more games allow players to customize their experience by letting players customize and create their own content, like D&D modules, and letting one of them act as "Dungeon Master." Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption was the first to attempt this, and for whatever reason it wasn't successful in creating a devoted community of players. A more ambitious experiment is BioWare's upcoming Neverwinter Nights. The success of this game could change multiplayer, role-playing gaming significantly.

    Read everything at GameSpy.

    Neverwinter Nights Intro Movie Screens
    Posted Wednesday, April 3, 2002 - 8:37 CET by Mollusken

    If you haven't downloaded the Neverwinter Nights intro movie, The Dragon's Breath Forge has a lot of screenshots from the movie clip for you to look at.

    The History of CRPGs Part 2
    Posted Wednesday, April 3, 2002 - 8:32 CET by Mollusken

    Part 2 of GameSpy's discussion on the history of CRPGs has been released.

    The mid-nineties saw the RPG genre collapse. Fewer titles came out and the public didn't seem to have an appetite for them anymore. There seem to be many reasons for the "drought," as it came to be called in the game press.

    "In a word: Quake. Or DOOM if you prefer," says Mike Wolf, blaming the technological and gameplay revolution that occurred at roughly the same time as the RPG decline. "As technology improved, games focused on more action-oriented games. This drew in more of the mass-market buyer -- people who could sit down in front of a computer for the first time and dive into a game, without having to read a 50+ page manual."

    3D-shooters certainly are more accessible to a mainstream audience. But Mike also thinks publishers naturally gravitated toward shooters because they were easier, and cheaper to make. "[Publishers] wouldn't sign off on something as time consuming, expensive, and potentially unrewarding as a computer role-playing game. Of all the games, CRPGs probably require some of the most time from the most people possible (although I'm sure some developers might disagree with that)." Todd Howard concurs "RPGs still are the most time consuming and expensive games you can make." "The companies decided that they wouldn't sell. So they didn't work hard on making a good one," adds Jeff Vogel. "The ones which came out were bad and [also] didn't sell. Corporate group-think is a tricky force to overcome."

    Read everything here.

    Pool of Radiance 2 Review
    Posted Tuesday, April 2, 2002 - 8:08 CET by Mollusken

    Quandaryland has posted a review of Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. Unlike most of the other reviews we have seen, this one doesn't totally slaughter the game, but tries to find out things that make it playable.

    Glancing back I can see I’ve had a few complaints about this game. It might seem that I didn’t enjoy it but this isn’t totally the case. Although I can see that the vagaries of the combat system will test some players, you will get used to it. Despite my grumbles some of the battles towards the end of the game are quite challenging and require a well thought out strategy to get through.

    In fact this game improves with age. For instance, it gets more interesting and varied when you leave the first set of dungeons. This is when the story kicks in more prominently, and you meet a few extra characters who have information and quests for you. It becomes immediately more involving. Also there’s a lot of diligent exploring to take care of, and the graphics are pretty good, if a bit repetitive in the dingy dungeons. Though I must say that these dark areas make the spell effects look quite spectacular. My Sorcerer well and truly earned her keep letting go with fireballs and sending streaks of lighting into the fray. Area spells work wonders in this game both visually and practically, and the game engine lets you take careful aim so you (or your friends) don’t get hurt.

    Read the whole review here.

    The History of CRPGs
    Posted Monday, April 1, 2002 - 20:41 CET by Mollusken

    GameSpy has released part one of an article which discusses the history of role playing all the way from the start to today's modern computer role playing games.

    The first true role-playing game came from an unlikely place indeed: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In the 1960s, E. Gary Gygax created a medieval wargame called Chainmail. Chainmail was a minor success, and soon Gygax and friends were hosting a small local convention called "Gen Con" in support of it. (At that time, Gen Con attracted 100-500 attendees. Last year the venerable convention hosted over 21,000). The gathering attracted a Minnesotan named David Arneson, who had modified Chainmail to a 1:1 scale (one figure equals one character). Gygax reportedly liked the immediacy and the threat of instant death having a single 'character' added to his game; soon the two were working together. On that day, Dungeons & Dragons was born.

    Read the whole article over at GameSpy.

    Site News - New Additions
    Posted Monday, April 1, 2002 - 1:51 CET by Sorcerer

    Helping Support Sorcerer's Place

    As I promised, I have made an exhaustive list of all the ways each and every one of you can help support Sorcerer's Place in one way or another now that we're on our own. The link to this support page can be found below the PayPal button on the left side of every page of Sorcerer's Place. I hope you will take the time to read through it and see if you are willing to do something to help.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Baldur's Gate

    The latest version of the Baldur's Gate & Tales of the Sword Coast Story has been added to the Walkthroughs & Guides subsection.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Baldur's Gate 2

    The Walkthroughs & Guides subsection here has two updates, the first being the Class FAQ and the second the updated Baldur's Gate II Story (good side) which now includes Throne of Bhaal.

    A few new additions have been made to the Miscellanea subsection as well. I have added two Throne of Bhaal wallpapers, and replaced the existing three Baldur's Gate II backgrounds will 1024x768 versions. (They were in sizes unsuitable for wallpapers until now.)

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Pool of Radiance: RoMD

    Only one new addition here. If you open the Miscellanea subsection you'll be able to find the latest 1.4 patch there.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Icewind Dale 2

    In the Walkthroughs & Guides subsection, I have added two new guides - one for expected feats and one for skills that will be available in IWD2. Interesting stuff.

    As an added bonus you can also see 3 new screenshots on Page 2 of the Screenshots subsection.

    Subsection Updates - Games -> Neverwinter Nights

    Two rather extensive additions/updates have been made here. In the Miscellanea subsection, I've added a whole new page solely for Model Viewer models and skins. There you can find the best fan-made material and all of the officially released BioWare models and animations.

    I have also replaced the outdated FAQ (accessible through the main links panel) with version 4.0 released by BioWare recently. It's a must read for all fans of the game, and if you haven't done it yet, here's your chance.

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