From Image to NWN2: Mountains

WARNING! Long blog post!

As I've said previously in my last blog post, I would create this tutorial for you guys. I will be doing this tutorial using Photoshop CS2 and 3DS Max 9 and, therefore, will not be covering the specific how-tos on reproducing the same effect in different programs (i.e. Paint Shop Pro, Gmax). Before we begin, you will need several programs for this exercise:

  1. Photo Editing Program - Excluding Microsoft Paint. Whatever program that you might use, it needs to be able to create alpha channels, crop and be able to work in Layers. I would suggest Photoshop. For this exercise, I'll be using Photoshop CS2, but some older versions might be able to follow this tutorial as well.
  2. 3D Modeling Program - I recommend 3DS Max 8 (in case you want to work with creatures). Gmax should work, but I don't know much about that program. Some of the tools you will be using will differ from 3DS Max's (see 7 below). I will be using 3DS Max 9 for this.
  3. CCC Guide - Creatures & Placeables by Ivan Leben - A nice little NWN2 document on the Vault with some useful information. It's nice to have sitting around on your computer if you ever forget how to do some things.
  4. 2da/tlk/gff Editor aka TlkEdit2 by EwaldTheUnimaginative - This program will allow you to edit 2da files and take your completed model into NWN2.
  5. NWN2Packer v1.9 by tani - This allows you to create hakpaks moreorless. To prevent confusion, download the last file there in the list.
  6. 3ds Max MDB Importer/Exporter by tazpn - This program is for 3DS Max users only. It will convert your model into .mdb format.
  7. MDB import/export tools - version 1.7 by Adinos - This is for non-3DSMax users. I will note something here for those using this plugin. This program is not very user-friendly, and I personally do not know how to use it. It uses the command console, and there is another issue that apparently has not been resolved for over a year, regarding normal maps. Just read a few of the comments on that page and you'll see some fo the issues (nyt's, BrotherRoth's).
  8. NVIDIA DDS Plug-in for Adobe Photoshop - Allows you to save image files in DDS format.
Now, we can start the tutorial. We'll be creating a two-dimensional backdrop of a mountain for NWN2. This placeable will be no different than the Tree Cards in the toolset. Throughout this tutorial, I will be saying Photoshop and Max. If you're using a different program, then Once you have those programs (Photoshop and Max installed), we can finally begin making our textures.

Creating the Diffuse Map

We'll be starting with an image I snatched off the internet. Click the image below and save the image to a location where you can find it.

Open the image in Photoshop. You'll notice quite a bit of water and sky in the image. These are things that will make the image look like crap in the toolset for various reasons. The sky will clash with the NWN2 shader and skydome skies and the water will break the illusion of depth in the placeabl. So we have to get rid of them, leaving specifically only the mountain behind (and some of the hills in the foreground to a lesser extent). The sky will be more difficult to remove, so we'll start with the easier one and remove the water first. What we want to do is crop the image. So on the left side of the screen should be a palette of buttons. Select the little black square with the lines protruding from two of its corners and crop the image out like so:

Once the area is selected, hit the enter button, and it will remove the shaded region of the image.

Now, we want to remove the sky, so that only the mountain is left. There are several different methods to doing this. Some easier and better to use than others. I will take you through the hard way to teach you a few of the tools, Photoshop has to offer you. In the tool palette, find and select the Lasso tool. With this tool, we are going to roughly cut out the mountain from the majority of the sky. As a note, you do not want to get too close to the mountain or you might accidentally selecting the mountain itself (refer to the image below). To use this tool, simply left click, hold the button and drag the pointer around the mountain from one side to the other. When you reach the edge of the image, move your mouse in the gray area and loop back to the other side. Whenever you release the left click button, the lasso tool will connect the ends and create a dotted line object.

Hit the delete key, and it'll fill the area with a single color. While still using the Lasso Tool, click in the gray area once and the dotted lines will vanish. Now, we will use the Magic Eraser tool. Select the Eraser tool in the palette (see image below for location), and choose the Magic Eraser sub-tool. Click once in the deleted region from the Lasso Tool, and it should turn into a white and gray checkerboard, like below. This checkerboard effect is called transparency.

The Magic Eraser works just like the magic wand tool, but instead of making a selection, it immediately converts the pixels to transparent. It's also very similar to using the paint bucket in clear mode. The areas to be erased are controlled by adjusting the tolerance and contiguous options. Clicking once erases all the the pixels that fall within the tolerance range. If the magic eraser is used on a background layer, the background is automatically promoted to a layer.

This tool is best for when you have a background that is fairly solid in color. It just takes one click with the magic eraser and your background is gone. In general, though, you'll need to experiment with the tolerance settings until you get better at being able to eyeball the correct tolerance level.

For this image, selecting the sky with the Magic Eraser tool intrudes in on our mountain and deletes some of the pixels; thus, we aren't using the magic eraser tool to remove the remaining pieces of the sky.

Now, we want to get rid of the rest of the sky. Select the Eraser tool in the palette again, and instead choose the Background Eraser sub-tool. Your cursor will change to a circle with a cross in the middle of it. The circle around the cross is your brush radius. For what we want to do, the brush is probably too small or too large, so we need to adjust this. On the toolbar, click the black arrow next to the brush and set the diameter to 8 (see image below). If you need to zoom in, you can hit the Z button on your keyboard (hold Alt and click to zoom out). With this brush, slowly erase some of the background near the mountain's edges.

Eventually, you'll only have a tiny sliver left, in which you'll need a smaller brush of diameter 1 to clean it up. You'll have to zoom in pretty close to get an accurate erase. While you're using this method, you need to watch out for some odd spots where the clouds seem to run in front of the mountains or blend in fairly well. I've circled some of the spots below:

Once you have erased the sky, zoom back out to 100%. When I was first doing this, I had saved the file as is as .DDS file and reopened the file again to find an unpleasant surprise.

What this means, is a little extra work for us. We have to create an Alpha Channel for this image. An Alpha Channel functions a lot like an Opacity Map in 3DS Max. It determines transparency of the image. In the Alpha Channel, anything that is black is 100% transparent and anything that is white is fully visible. And then there are the in between grays, but that's for another time. For our Alpha Channel, we want the background completely black and the mountains completely white.

So the first thing, we're going to do is create a new Layer. To do this, click the button shown in the image below:

You'll see a new layer in the list, called Layer 1. Next to the names of each layer is a eye. Click the eye on Layer 0, and you'll notice the mountain vanish. We are now looking at solely Layer 1.

Now, we need a color for our background. We are going to make the background blue to make it fit better with the image, so that we won't get a black border around our mountain. Click the eye next to Layer 0 to show the mountain again. Now use the eyedropper and select a blue part of the mountain, preferably on the left side of the image. Your RGB numbers on the right side should roughly be around 73, 94, 108. If they're way off, then use the numbers I gave you.

Hide the mountains, by clicking the eye again. Now we need the Paint Bucket tool (Paint's favorite tool). Click on the checkerboard and the entire image should turn blue. Click the eye next to Layer 0 again.

This time, your mountain probably won't show up. This is because Layer 1 is sitting on top of Layer 0. Its blocking the view. What you want is Layer 0 on top of Layer 1. To do this simply Hold Left Click on Layer 0 in the listbox and drag it on top of Layer 1. Now your image should show up.

With the new background, you might notice some errors on your part. Part of the sky might be showing up (like in my version). Make sure Layer 0 is selected in the Layer Listbox and whip out your Background Eraser tool. Start erasing the remnants of the sky, being careful not to touch the mountain.

Now, we will create the Alpha Channel. In the Layer window, you'll notice two tabs: Layer and Channel. Select Channel and you'll see 4 list items: RGB, Red, Green and Blue. To add the Alpha Channel, click the Create a new Channel button at the bottom (looks the same as the Create a new layer button). The result should be a black picture and a new list item called Alpha Channel 1.

Next, unhide the RGB channels, and hide Alpha Channel 1. Your image should look normal again. Switch back to the Layers tab.

For the next part, it might be easier to refer to the image below. Hold Ctrl and select the icon next to Layer 0. It should select everything in Layer 0 but not Layer 1.

Now, navigate back to the Channels tab. Unhide the Alpha Channel and hide the RGB channel, like so:

Grab the Paint Bucket tool from the tool palette (it should automatically switch to white paint) and click inside the selected region. You should get an Alpha Channel similiar to this:

You will be relieved to know, we're almost done with the Photoshop portion of this tutorial. Unhide the RGB channels and hide the Alpha Channel again. If you would like to manipulate the image, you can do so now. There's a few effects you can, like an Unsharp Mask to increase the detail somewhat. But before you play with the settings, I recommend saving the image and create a copy of it. In fact, I encourage you to do this anyways, just in case it needs post editing after getting the texture in NWN2. Save the images as .psd files.

If you have the NVIDIA plug-in installed, on the toolbar go to Layer -> Flatten Image. This combines all your "active" layers into one, discarding the rest. Before saving the file, there is one thing left that needs to be done. The image needs to have dimensions in multiples of four. So go to Image -> Image Size and round up or down to the nearest divisible of four. (HINT: 100 is divisible by 4 ;) ) Now, go to File -> Save As. Name the file Mountain01, and change the Format to D3D/DDS (*.DDS). Save it in a place where you can find it.

A new window will pop up with some settings to choose from. All you need to change is the format from DXT3 to DXT5 interpolated alpha.

You're done with the Diffuse Map unless you have to make changes to it later on.

Creating the Normal Map

The rest of this tutorial is fairly short and simple. Every texture in NWN2 needs two types of maps to render in the game. The Diffuse Map (which we created above) and a Normal Map. There are a few other types of maps, NWN2 supports like the glow map, but we are not going to be using the glow map here.

The Normal Map, in short, simulates depth in a texture through various colors. For the object we are making, we don't really need a normal map. If you make a normal map, there's going to be some weird shadows going on, and the texture will look terrible. To get around NWN2 requiring having a normal map, you simply make a normal map with a solid color.

In Photoshop, create a new blank image of size 20x20 (size doesn't really matter, just keep it small and in multiples of 4). In the color window, change the color to 128, 128, 255. If you ever forget this number, it's also located in the CCC guide above. Then use the Paint Bucket tool and dump the color in the white square.

Save the image as Mountain01_n in DDS DXT5 format. Now, you can close Photoshop and open 3DS Max.

Creating and Texturing the Plane

Once 3DS Max is open, select the Plane button Under the Create|Geometry tab (should be there by default). Select a point on the Front View, preferably where two black lines intersect (except the origin) and drag the plane to the other side. The center of the plane should be at the origin.

Next, change the length to 52 and width to 100.

Now, switch to the Modifier Tab (next to the pointer icon) and open the Modifier list. Search for Turn to Mesh. Now, we want create a UVW map for out texture (basically a coordinate system for our textures). In the same modifer list, select the UVW Map modifier.

To save you some time in the end, I'm going to have you adjust the coordinates of the UVW. If you don't, your placeable will look a little like this in game:

To do this change the length and width of the UVW to 52.25 and 100.25 respectively.

Now we have our object ready to texture. Select the 4 colorful balls button called Material Editor on the toolbar. A new window pops open. Scroll down to the Maps rollout and click the '+' button.

You'll see several buttons and different types of maps. The Diffuse and Normal Map are what we are interested in.

  1. Select the "none" button next to Diffuse Map.
  2. Select bitmap out of the list that pops up.
  3. Find and locate
  4. Click the Go To Parent button
  5. Select the "none" button next to Bump
  6. Repeat Step 2
  7. Find and locate Mountain01_n
  8. Click the Go To Parent button
  9. Select the Assign to Selection button
  10. Select the Show in Viewport button

We are now in the final stages of making your placeable :)

Go to File -> Save, and save the file (name doesn't matter). Next go to File -> Export. Under Save As Type, select the NWN2 MDB Utilities (.MDB) and save it as PLC_NR_MOUNTAINCARD01. Save this to your desktop so you can easily find it.

Close 3DS Max.

Getting the Placeable In-Game

For a more detailed explanation, read section 5 of the CC tutorial listed way at the top.

  1. Open Tani's nwn2packer.exe.
  2. Click the New button
  3. Click Import button
  4. Find and import PLC_NR_MOUNTAINCARD01.mdb,,
  5. Click the Save button
  6. Save as .hak with any name you want.

All you need to do now is put your .hak into the hak folder in your MyDocs/Neverwinter Nights 2 folder and add the .hak to your module. To find your file in the toolset, copy a blueprint and navigate to Mountain. You should see it there.

And as a last note, lighting settings with poor Ground Lighting will make these mountains look like crap. So you may have to adjust those to get it the way you like it.

Hope this... long tutorial was of help to you guys!

Anduraga's Blog Returns....

... and with a new look, no less.

It has been awhile since my last post here, and I felt that I should return to blogging again now that the BouncyRock team has expanded from its first few amazingly talented members to a good sized team filled with even more amazingly talented members.

Over the holidays, I started to broaden my horizons. I delved into something I have never done before. I've been using Photoshop for quite some time now when making my screenshots. Hit 'Print Screen' and cropped the image. Beyond that, my skills with Photoshop were lacking. So after doing a few tutorials, I started a new project. I was going to make a new placeable and get it inside of NWN2.

The project was to take an image of mountain, remove it from its scene and place it into a 2D Backdrop plane. It was a very simplistic project, even simpler than a crate even. All there was to it was a 2D plane with a texture applied to it.

Well, after alot of badgering toward Jonny Ree and BarryTheHatchet, I finally succeeded in creating my first bit of custom content for NWN2. The semi-final result was this:

Area Courtesy of Jclef

Its not exactly the best thing I have ever seen, but its decent enough. I, myself, am unsure on how to improve it aside from get a better foreground. However, a friend of mine is supposed to help guide me to improving the texture sometime this week.

For those interested: Over the next few days, I'll be constructing a simple tutorial on how I made this placeable. It'll include many pictures for you visual learners. Some of you may already know how to use Photoshop and 3DS Max, but if you're a complete amateur like me, then you might find my next blog post to be quite interesting. It's really not that difficult (once you know what you're doing).

NWNP: Special Addition - MoW Press Release

Come and listen to a special NWNP.

NWNP was invited to the Mysteries of Westgate Press Release in Beverly Hills CA. I was picked by the guys to go rep for the show. I hope you enjoy the on site interview "Pool side at the Avalon Hotel"

New MoW Screen Shots as well!!


(This thread can be found on the Bouncy Rock forums here:")

Bouncy Rock Entertainment

There's some good news and bad news here, but I think I'll start with the good news.

Starting with the good news. Most of you have probably heard this already, but I have joined the bouncy rock team for work on Misery Stone. I've ran through the module and its areas, and its pretty phenomenal what Jason and Liso have done with the module so far. I'm not going to spoil anything or steal Jason's thunder, but whenever it is released on the Vault, it is going to hit the ground running. The writing is immersive and the mood and setting will just capture you immediately. I've already made a few areas for Misery Stone, and you should be able to see a few of them in the next update.

The downside of this decision is the effect it has on TN. Yes, more delays right? This isn't to say it has been forgotten. After Misery Stone, I have a few extra hands to help me through the weakest points in my module building career. And to clarify, Thayvian Nights is not the next project for Bouncy Rock Entertainment. It is and still remains a side project of mine.

What ends up consuming most of my time is bug fixes for cutscenes (which everyone learns to hate them) and writing lots and lots of dialogue for a scene you really want to get past. For me, its getting past the Aragaard mines you start off in. I have been overzealous with expanding on it. 7 areas total I have to fill with dialogue and quests, except for one. I've got 4 of the 7 fully complete. And the other three are close to being finished.

And on another note, have any of you guys heard of RSS Feeds? I've just recently learned what these are and started to use them to keep tabs on everyone's blogs. I haven't been able to decipher the cryptic code for adding an RSS Feed to my blog, so you can keep tabs on everyone's blog from my blog. An RSS Feed is basically something you can subscribe to to gather data from a site without having to go there. I'm sure you guys have seen the small orange icon with a sound wave being emitting to the upper right hand corner? You can click on that, which should appear in the URL box of any blog on blogspot. Doing that, will add an RSS Feed to your toolbar (except for IE, which it slaps it somewhere. Don't ask where. IE sucks! [yes, Hugie - it does! :) ])

And a little real life news as well. I'll be taking courses all summer and through Fall to get the very useless A.S. degree, so that I can finally go back to a university where I rightfully belong. This little game of ping pong between which college I go to is getting rather annoying. After high school, I went to a horrible university and dropped out of there and went to a local community college. Well, their little games with changing their classes around and not offering the courses I needed in a timely manner, forced me to go to the second local college (which is a 1-hour drive), which is where I am at now.

If any of you can believe this or not, I had a rather miraculous change in my major as well, which is one of the factors of my leaving the university. The others were way too expensive ($32,000 a year) and just a horrible experience. I couldn't name one thing good about that school. I originally was going for English, which I have absolute no idea what for. After taking a few rather boring courses in it, I decided it was not for me, and I switched to Computer Engineering. Most people don't jump from an Art degree to a science degree, but I am really adept in mathematics and calculus. The only part of my major I don't like is having to take Physics courses. Have any of you ever had to take Physics? Do you know how ridiculously hard it is? It is absolutely insane! And the teacher I had was absolutely lousy. What kind of teacher doesn't have office hours or gets upset when you have questions (and when he does ask if we have questions, he doesn't pause before he moves on to the next subject).

Anyways! Enough ranting about college, right? This post turned out to be longer than what I thought it would be. I'll keep this blog updated probably every other week. I'll notify you on the Bouncy Rock forums when I resume the progress for TN. Oh, and I'll be writing some of those tutorials in my spare time as well. I'd make a video for the Terrain and Texturing, but unfortunately, my internet would take a million years to upload. Already takes 4 minutes to load NWVault, and IGN has never been ones to have efficient webpages.

It is finally over....

Well, mostly anyways. I'll still be busy for the rest of the week, but the better news is that programming has officially ended. All that's left is 3 essays due in a few days...

There really isn't much to say, but I would like to ask a question to you all. Do any of you have any information on Mulhorand and the founding of Thay? I think that might be some interesting piece of information to incorporate later into Thayvian Nights. Probably scholars in Chapter 2 or something like that.

I'm mainly interested in just where Thay broke from Mulhorand and founded their home. Thanks, guys.

Tale of the Skadu

Throughout Rashemen, storytelling has been the backbone of tradition. Tales varying from the soul eater to the man that lost touch with the spirits. Each tale tells a story and teaches a moral to all that would listen. Through Krahz'gorr, you can hear many of these kinds of stories, but one in particular is that of the Skadu. The Skadu, or quite literally the creature of shadow, is a mythological creature that is said to emerge from the sins of the world and swallow it into a world of complete darkness for all eternity until. There are many variations to this, especially in different cultures. There are arcane scholars who claim a creature from the sky will fall to the earth and feed off the life energy of the world (this creature was featured on Wizards a few years back), while others would refuse to believe in apocalyptic theory.

Whatever the case may be for you, you'll find several Red Wizards looking for this creature to harness its powers and bring the nations around them to ruin. Is the creature real and/or as powerful as it is made out to be? Or is it simply another tale?


On another note, according to the poll currently, more of you would like to see more on creating skies and understanding the settings more than the rest. Which is a little bit surprising I should say. As far as that goes, I want to give those of you looking forward to it a warning in advance as to what to expect. Learning the settings for bloom and the perfect sky varies from personal taste and the type of colors you're working with. With that said, there isn't really one setting that works with every theme, so a little creativity and ingenuity might be involved. What I'll end up doing is providing scenarios and hopefully a thinking process that'll help guide you to the settings you're looking for.

I won't be doing Ayrin's bloom settings, because frankly, they cause more work than most of you want to get into. Ayrin had to create his own textures, paint the whole thing grey (which I sometimes do anyways) and even modify the SpeedTrees.

If you guys have any specific type of skies you want me to work with, speak now or forever hold you peace.

Poll #3: Tutorials

Right, so there's a new poll up. Pretty self-explanatory. You can vote for multiple answers if you want. I'll consider those as a I would like to see them all in one big tutorial. :)

As far as commenting, you can leave a comment here or anywhere (recent that is - I don't check old posts). Like say for example you chose Terrain and texturing. What I would like to know is what type of area are you looking at - a hilly grassland, gothic farmland, mountainous region, etc.

The tutorial will be written and not in a video format, but it'll be as descriptive as possible along with several images. I'll eventually probably do all of them. This way you get to see how to make an area Anduraga-styled.

Miscellaneous Shot

I was going back and redoing some of my earlier areas, and while I was playing with the sky settings, I got this image to show up. Thought I would share with you a majestic moonfall/sunset occurring at the same time.

You're never going to see this in game though :)

PS: Thanks Ayrin.

Small update

I've been working on a small cutscene today that more or less wraps up one small sidequest. I still have a few quirks with it, like the unequiping isn't working like it should, and there's something funky going on with the FadeFromBlack and FadeToBlack lines. When the fading is on a line with a text node it seems to pause until the fading is done and then display the text. I was hoping for "at the same time" kind of deal.

Other than that only two more major things to do, and that segment would be complete. All considering, TN Chpt 1 isn't that far from being finished I would have to say. There are still some nuances showing up (i.e. A door not firing a random roll conversation every once in awhile - click again and it usually works), but nothing game-breaking. I have to get the slaves to move their lazy butts through the mines, and TonyK's AI should no longer be an issue.

Speaking of AI, I sure hope TonyK did something about using spells wisely. I told you guys about Krahz'gorr before. So, he's a Spirit Shaman and often a very lousy one at that, least until you possess him and work with him. The AI makes him such a dunce. He used to have Entangle, and he'd spam that annoying spell every time he saw an enemy. So, I had to remove that :) And as it would seem, I have to remove yet another spell. Whenever I ask him to heal me, he just casts Lesser Vigor on me instead of Cure Light Wounds. Is he a lousy companion or what?

Unfortunately this will be the last weekend I can work on TN until May 1, which is when all of my assignments will finally be out of the way. After that I'll have plenty of time! :)

A small complimentary screenshot this time:

No real update today

I haven't been able to work on the module that much this week. I've been having to work on that infernal Media Player programming project of mine, taking intermittent breaks here and there.

I've mentioned before that I've been highly displeased with Krah'zgorr's physical appearance in game. Well, Krah'zgorr was based off this very image below, and its what I envision Krah to appear like.

Looking at that image and then this one:

Not even remotely close. You'll just have to use your imagination I reckon. I also made a post on bouncyrock's forums detailing some things in Thayvian Nights. I wont repeat it here, but you can find it there:

And that's all I really have to say. Other than that, good luck to all participants of the OEI contest. Alot of the entries are unique, interesting and well-done. If I had to pick which ones to choose, I probably would pick

1) SnowPrefab XXL - Overall, this is a well done area. Some things I didnt like about it, but they're relatively easy to fix, so its not a big deal.
2) Post-Eden - This area has some flaws in it and texturing could be improved, but the overall concept here is very original and intriguing.

And runner up would probably be Yamato's area and then SGK. SGK's area is better designed and textured, but its less original than the other works I think. Not to mention he's a Hall of Famer. Need to give some other guys some love, right ;)

And the last thing I would like to talk about is Jonny Ree and Ayrin's recent works. If you've seen their stuff lately, you'd just drop your jaw and have difficulties getting it back on.

Jonny Ree's Beholder:

Ayrin's Island (my favorite shot of many he has):

With all this amazing work coming out all at once, makes me wish I knew how use Photoshop or 3DS Max. But don't forget to give these guys your undying support. They're doing a phenomenal amount of work for the community. So give em a big grizzly bear hug!

Krahzgorr's Stories

If you recall, Krahzgorr (or Krah as he refers to himself), is a Spirit Shaman hailing from Rashemen. He was one of the few elder shamans of his tribe, communicating with the spirits and providing guidance to his people. They are second only to the chieftan, but the shamans were often the ones telling the chieftan what to do. There have been cases where the chieftan strives for more dominance and power over his people, attempting to rid the place of the shamans. But that is a story for another time.

Along your journey, Krah will often tell you tales that has been passed down from generation to generation. Such tales usually relate to an idea of some sort or detailing a piece of important history. I have a few in my mind already that will relate to the PC and his struggles against the inner evils from within, but I would to hear what you guys can come up in terms of ideas. To clarify that, things like the concept of fear being told about in a story of an orc travelling into a wolves den with no weapon as a test of his faith to Gruumsh. Things like that would work. It might even be easier to thing of what stories an Indian tribe would share with their people.

I should also add that these stories are completely oral. Krah doesn't know how to read or write.

Hope that made enough sense. I'm just looking for ideas at the moment, and could use some help :) . Thanks, guys.

An Interesting Turn of Events

Surague has been released as of a few hours ago. Interestingly enough, some NWN Hall of Famer has been dissing on the most recent Obsidian Area contests (Me, SDJ and SGK). Whats even more interesting was that I got the lowest score. Should I feel proud or something? :) I got a 1.00! Hurrah!

Personally, I don't really care what anyone votes on my stuff. Numbers are irrelevant. However, others don't really share my same feelings. So others who actually provide the community with stuff (particularly a new guy) sees some jerk vote a 5.00 on his stuff while only saying "Wow! Just average.", it might discourage them from producing anymore and a valuable member might've been lost. That's what actually ticks me off. If he voted just a 1 only my area, then so be, I'd leave it, but do it on others, and I'll come down on ya like a hawk. Or if he actually provided some critiques, I would've left him alone.

Not sure what his problem is, but I'm looking out for some motive. He didn't seem to be any participant in the Custom Content contest that I know of, so its not a revenge issue. And he only seemed to target NWN2 material, seemingly the newest contest entries and a portrait pack. Just idiocy.


Keep an eye out for Surague tomorrow on the vault. I did some last minute touchups. I found a tree I forgot to put a cutter around, so I actually just removed it. It was in the middle of the road anyways. Thanks to all of you reading for your support, except for those of you who voted "Up to You." You weren't helpful at all :)

Just kidding.

Surague Escarpment Pre-Download

I was wanting some comments and critiques from you guys before I send off to the vault, so I've uploaded the area to the server. The pics with it are what will be displayed as the images. And don't hold back too much. No one ever said I wasn't ruthless with any one else's areas. :)

Once I get sufficient amount of comments, I'll put it up to the vault. The Day/Night settings will come with two sets. The bloom enhanced and the regular (regular not included above).

Surague Escarpment Run-through

This is my nightly run-through Surague Escarpment, the likely to be Obsidian area contest. Took me 7 whole days to do it, but it turned out really awesome, so it's all worth it. Its all during Moonrise/Night-time as that happened to be where the time fell during my run through. Its 5:25AM so I'll keep this short, but rewarding with screenshots. I wonder when I should upload this to vault, since this is what you guys seem to want me to do.

Pick out your favorite shot of the bunch and I'll be sure to upload it.

Oh and could one of you guys check up on something for me? I noticed a weird glitch with the waterfalls (not shown above) that when you're using the Waterfall placeable, if you glance into the water you'll see Missing 2D Texture for the waterfall. I was wondering if anyone else was experiencing this strange phenomenon.

Poll #1 Results:

2 Posts Today: Poll and Spring Break (Surague Escarpment area as well)

Long overdue here, but here they are:

How long do you, as a player, prefer the length of the module to be in hours?
<1 hour: 0
1-2 hours: 0
2-3 hours: 3 (25%)
4-5 hours: 6 (50%)
6+ hours: 3 (25%)

So, it would seem most people would, on average, prefer a 4-5 hour long module (I assume they chose that because of how long it takes to create 6+ hour long modules). The bad news is that TN - Chapter I fell around 3 hours. I added a side quest that might extend it to 4, depending on your gameplay. I'm also concentrating on getting some of the events for the bounty hunter camp into the Chapter I release (it's consider Chpt II content), like the Brawling matches you can participate in.

Oh, and don't forget to read the post below. It's the longest and the better one.

Spring Break!

It's finally here! And you know what that means. Yes, getting drunk! While I might be doing that, I can finally get some TN work done (yay). Some other people spend their breaks doing other things, which I won't go into great detail there. Its Central Florida, you can just imagine what they do down here. The people probably reading this blog, would be working on their own mods as well.

I'd say some other things on the topic of Spring Break, like how my friend's room-mate spent his last day of college before the break, but it's not really appropriate for this blog. Let's just leave it at fraternity mischief.

I've done some bug fixing and started working on some other areas while the enthusiasm still lasts. I began working on Surague Escarpment/Sunrise Mountains, home to... many different monsters. to say the least. It's crawling with creatures free from the Red Wizard's grasp, such as gnolls, orcs, wyverns and possibly Mountain Giants (but there's not really a suitable low-intelligence looking giant model in the toolset, spare for the ogre maybe).

And a little extra information on the Sunrise Mountains, paraphrasing from the Unapproachable East Handbook (pg 155-156):


The Sunrise Mountains, which many consider to mark the eastern end of Faerun, run all the way from the center of Rashemen to just past the south-eastern border of Thay. It forms the entirety of Thay's eastern border, towering just below 15,000ft above sea level. The mountains are teeming with dangerous animals and hostile humanoids. From time to time, scouts from the goblin and kobold tribes living here forage into Thay.

Every now again, the tharchions of Thay send an expedition into the peaks of the mountains for those sturdy and adventurous enough to take on the task. The Sunrise Mountains are said to be virtually impassable on foot, but those who know their way about the mountain can scale the cliffsides or find another path that other inhabitants of the mountains have made. Old Raumviran towers and strongholds lie buried beneath the snow of the high slopes, as well as ancient well-like fortresses of some even older people forgotten by time. Rumors have it of a hidden passage leading through the mountains into the Endless Wastes beyond, but no such cavern has been found to this date. The caverns beneath the Sunrise Mountains are filled with horrible creatures, including nagas, chimeras, and things unspeakably worse.


I can't really pull off nagas realistically, so its not likely I'll put them in. But if someone were to make one, one could probably even use them for Mariliths or those snakes whose name escapes me at the moment. They were in BG2... But anyways, I could probably get away with using a Wyvern for Chimera.

And just to confirm, yes, you do get to travel into the snowy peaks of the mountains. The one and only snow area in the module probably.

There are several caverns lining the Surague/Sunrise areas that you can enter. Some are off to the side areas, containing loot, some monsters; others have plots inside of them. When you first approach the Surague Escarpment, you'll notice several hot springs off to the side, probably not one of those you want to go swimming in, lest your skin burn off. If any of you know about hot springs, they're usually generated from a "dormant" volcano, waiting to burst at any time. I use the term dormant loosely. It hasn't erupted in years, but might some day (i.e. Yellowstone National Park, which is where the idea actually came from: Old Faithful). Of course the Thayans aren't intelligent enough to figure that out yet.

And that concludes the intro to Surague Escarpment and the Sunrise Mountains. The rest will be disclosed in game, whenever you get there. And a few complimentary screenshots for your troubles:

And I almost forgot. I've been contemplating about adding this area (Surague Escarpment) into the contest. It's a fairly large area, 24x32, and it wouldn't include the Sunrise Mountains portion as I probably wouldn't be able to finish it that kind of time frame. This area by itself requires alot of time. Took a whole day and half with sketching out the terrain. And due to its size, this is day 2 on texturing. I should be done texturing tomorrow and all that would be left is the touch-ups. So a 5-day area I would say. Poll is off to the side in a few min from the time of this post. if you want to add another option, comment here and I'll add it.

Keep in mind, the kind of competitors there are in the contest. I don't really like stealing the show, especially when I'm not really participating for the prize (I mean its nice, but I don't really have any use for it). I also intend on allowing anyone to use TN areas as prefabs upon release of the module, so it's really only a matter of time.

Status Update

Well, I'm now mostly caught up with my course load. The two programming assignments are near complete (well, one is a term project so its only half complete :) ). The assignment I've been working on this weekend took up about a thousand lines of code. Wasn't that difficult, just time consuming. I'm pretty sure it can be optimized a little as some of the code is redundant, but I'm not all that worried about it. Working with databases is fairly easy. Can't really say the same with working with ID3.2 tags. If you don't know what they are, they're the things that hold data (album, genre, track, etc.) on your .mp3 and .wma files. Doesn't sound all that difficult, but there's a lot of stuff to do to get it to work. Much easier just to use ID3.1....

A guy named Trescus was asking around for assistance on some area creation, so i took a smaller area to do (as that's all I really had time to do). And I whipped this up in around 30 minutes. Thanks to the countless prefabs, I've made for myself :)

The deadline for the area contest is coming closer, and I still haven't a clue what to build for it. If any of you want me to make something in particular, I might be more willing to make it, otherwise I probably won't enter it (not as if there's that many entries in it in the first place - nothing phenomenal, but decent entries to say the least). I'm not really interested in the prize all that much. Far too poor to actually be able to use such a thing. I mean, I'm not buying another monitor! I'll just keep my single 21" :)

So if any of you have any ideas, feel free to speak up. My mind is pretty blank. And TN will probably resume either Wednesday night or the day after.

PS. Not really interested in forests. Hated the one and only forest I ever made pretty bad, only for it get butchered later :(

Temporary Hold

Thayvian Nights has been placed on temporary hold until I am able to get rid of the plethora of assignments that are due. I have exams all this week and two nasty assignments getting in the way as well. Afterwards, I need to prepare for the final presentation of my final project as well. This programming class is more trouble than its worth.

I'm not sure when I'll be able to pick it back up again, but I'll keep you all updated every Monday with whatever I have to offer.

Screenshot Moonday

No, no title mispellings. Just me being silly.

What lies behind the ominous gate deep beneath the earth?

Speaking of earth, I swear. It's one of the best sounding words in that kind of context, but there is no Earth in the Forgotten Realms, so it kind of makes that word a little bit awkward. Like what am I supposed to say? "Deep beneath the ground?" Or maybe "Deep beneath the Toril?" Yea, that last sounds too much like turmoil or toil for that to work. Although I imagine its common enough for others to forget that fact and continue playing without questioning it. And here I am ranting.

Dimon & Dionysus - a match made in Hell

Not too much going on, really. Its around that time again where everything starts piling up even if you didnt procrastinate. I unfortunately won't be able to work on TN until about Thursday or Friday of next week, but this doesn't really stop me from working on it in some way or another. Typically what I do is run ideas and dialogues through my head and refine them. Well, a day or two or three ago, I found this advertisement of this one mod in the making. Some of you may have seen it. The Moonlight Path. I briefly ran through their goals, plot and other stuff about their mod in development and it seemed overly ambitious to the point where I doubt it'll be done by the time the next toolset game comes out to replace NWN2. I'm not dissing the project or anything, but I think they may need to narrow the scope down some. And I've seen others make the same comment, and it'll likely be very difficult for them to attract other developers to their cause. It sounds like an interesting mod, but not really my thing. I'm personally not a big fan of completely non-linear games. Usually means relying on what you think is common sense or aimlessly walking around to the point of disinterest (Oblivion anyone?).

But now that I've sidetracked from the actual point. I saw some of their artwork which is fairly impressive, and then I saw the custom music involved for the module. It was developed by a guy named Stephen Kelly, and I'd have to say the guy is pretty talented. One of his works actually struck me with an inspirational idea that I really like. Unfortunately the song is far too short for the idea I had in mine, but I can just the see the scene in vivid detail. The song I'm referring to is called Violin Composition (Link: ).

But before I go on to the idea, I would like to introduce a new character, which you'll hear plenty of in Chapter 2, usually in absolute disgust or unworthy praise. His name is Dimon, the tharchion of Tyraturos. The concept of Dimon was iffy the first time I shaped him, but I've recently reconstructed him into something more fitting, and now he has much more character. Have any of you ever heard of Dionysus? Likely I may have mis-spelled it, but Dionysus is the god of wine in Greek mythology. However, he wasn't known simply for wine. Often times, sex was involved, and not your typical passionate ones either - more like your angry and wild ones. Dimon is much like this. He is a snotty-nosed noble with an interest in wine and sex. He's also rather paranoid of those who might try to steal his power, but that discussion is for another time. And being a level 5 (and a noble), he's more of a coward than an actual warrior of merit.

(In the Unapproachable East, it briefly mentions Dimon as having been a devout of Waukeen until Bane returned. Whenever Bane came back, he came sprawling to him on all fours, and started imposing heavier taxes and other unfair laws.)

Dimon is certainly one of the more interesting characters in Tyraturos, you'll come across.

So what is this idea, you ask? Well, the more I actually thought about the idea - the more I saw it incorporated into other games as well. BG2, Jade Empire, MotB all had this idea, but never really took it very far (with the exception of JE). The idea is to create a play - of what kind, I am currently running ideas on. Classical, moral, Shakespearian, Tragedy, I'm not sure yet. I was even contemplating whether to make a contest of some sort and let others write it, but its not likely to attract anyone and if it does, it'll probably be a Comedy that's more appalling than funny, or way outside the scope of NWN2.

The player would first see the play during one of Dimon's celebrations, where he finds another way to tax everyone for entertainment, usually geared to the noble side. Dimon has other means of taxing like the Blood Ring where people can pay to watch Gnolls and Orcs tear into each other's flesh with an occassional catch (a human or some other foul beastie) added into the fray as well. I won't mention why the player is there; I'll let you guys speculate. But I think it would be rather interesting if there were NPCs on the stage acting out a play.

Is this idea completely stupid, outside the scope of NWN2 or brilliantly clever? I'm not sure, but I would like to hear your comments on it. It's an idea running through my head at the moment, so it can easily be changed or removed.

Power Surges + Corruption

Beware: Just a rant.

As some of you may know, the southeastern states got hit pretty hard with a storm passing by. Couple of tornadoes to cause all sorts of havoc. Not as bad as what dirtywick had to go through, but enough to annoy a person with power outages. I've been through far worse (Hurricane Frances and Jeanne anyone? Which power was out for a whole week), but I was hoping to work on TN. What was particularly annoying about this power outage was the awful noises that came with it. Do any of you own a surge protector? Whoever had the bright idea of having them make so much noise whenever they're on battery back-up should've been shot. And the worst part, it never died! (Which btw, my computer doesn't have a surge protector, someone else's did - thus no work on TN). I wanted to tear that thing out and throw it out the window so bad :) . Combined with a long day at college and a 3 hr power outage, I didn't get anything done. Well, as it would turn out - it went backwards.

Power surge crashed my comp and corrupted an area where I applied a days worth of fixes. Luckily, I use SVN so I have back-up copies of everything. Although, I do have to go through the tedious process of applying those fixes again, but I'll manage... hopefully. Could've been much worse. Imagine if I didn't use SVN and I worked in module mode. Then my whole mod would have been corrupt with no backups.

I know alot of people don't really see the difference between directory mode and modular mode, but in this case, thank god for directory mode :) Not to mention, its ideal when using SVN or working in teams.

PS. Title is kind of deceiving. Made it sound much worse than it actually was. ;)

Sorry for the rant :)

Companion Update

As promised, a few of the companions you'll find in Chapter I:

Selina Aermane
Race: Human
Sex: Female
Age: 19
Class: Rogue
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Region: Thesk (Telflamm)

Selina Aermane has been your companion for quite some time now, traveling in the East as mercenaries/adventurers - whatever may have been the case. She is usually always one of the first to give life to a party, except in times of great despair as in the case of Aragaard, where your group was subjected to experimentation. Unfortunately, Selina can often get you into trouble when around wealthy merchants and nobles.

Selina is considered the youngest and most juvenile of the available companions.

Balthier De'Avren
Race: Human
Sex: Male
Age: 27
Class: Paladin
Alignment: Lawful Good
Region: Aglarond

Balthier is one of the few men in the paladin orders of Aglarond to be entrusted with being personal bodyguards of those traveling from the Simbul’s Palace. Bounded by his sworn fealty, it is his soul duty to protect Lady Thalance’s daughter, Arilyn, from harm’s way while she travels to Two Stars to discuss political matters of the trade-routes. He would gladly sacrifice his life for hers if need be.

However, Balthier’s tale has only begun. When his group is ambushed, they are captured and thrown into slave camps deep within the sands of Thay. Arilyn had been taken elsewhere and all knowledge of her whereabouts remained a mystery to him for over two years. His faith in the Morninglord hangs on the balance as time marches on and his oath remains broken and unredeemed. Dangerous as the lands of Thay are, as long as his follower’s intentions are the same, he will cope with their behavior (regardless of how foul they may be) until he has fulfilled his oath. (Eventually if the player continues to play an evil character, Balthier will become a fallen paladin and no longer be able to take paladin levels).

Krahzgorr Ghrakskull
Race: Grey Orc
Sex: Male
Age: (Unknown, but appears to be an older and wiser orc)
Class: Spirit Shaman
Alignment: Neutral
Region: Rashemen

Little is known about this orc's past, other than what he discloses through his stories of other tribesmen, but he remains a loyal and faithful companion. You first meet Krah as your cellmate in Aragaard, and he has kept you company and tended to your wounds for countless months. Krah is rather spiteful towards Thayans for the crimes they have committed against his tribe but moreover their disregard for the dead. Built as a healer and a combatant, Krah makes a great companion in all ways.

-Edit: Some typos in Krah's paragraph. Had to type it up really quick before I had to leave.


As promised I do have a sneak peek of some of the companions you can get during your adventures. I've only included the first three ones you obtain in Aragaard. There is one other in Chapter I, you'll meet towards the end and the others are all in Chapter 2 (or 3). You'll find them in another post on the same date. But first a few words of note.

Thayvian Nights is slightly ambitious in scope although manageable I believe, all total approximately 3 Acts (or 7 seven chapters + Prologue & the Epilogue). Chapter I (dubbed Escape from Aragaard) is only one of the 3 chapters in Act I, the second largest of the three. Most notably Chapter II is probably the largest of all the chapters planned and the least linear in scope. To help you visualize what I'm talking about, I went ahead and made a chart with estimates of how long the chapter will be:

Prologue: 0.3 hrs
Act I
Chapter 1: 2-3 hrs
Chapter 2: 15+ hrs
Chapter 3: 2-3 hrs

Act II
Chapter 4: 2-3 hrs
Chapter 5: 2-3 hrs

Chapter 6: 2-3 hrs
Chapter 7: 2-3 hrs

Epilogue: 0.5 hrs

And these are merely estimates, Chapters 3 through 7 could be longer than that for all I know. It's too early tell at this point. However, I can definitely say that they'll move along much quicker than Chapter I, or at least I would certainly hope so (I've redone Chpt I so many times now :) ).

I would also like to mention that Chapter I's main goal is to attract players to keep the motivation up, while at the same time perhaps even attracting a few potential developers at the same time. I don't expect any developers to come around, but I'll still remain optimistic. A second person providing ideas and incorporating them into the module would be ideal and help alleviate the weak points of the module and expediate the process of building it.

I find that my writing is one of most biased things about me. I have a certain type of writing that you either like or hate it completely. Every once in awhile, you'll find something really poetic or well-written, but most often its just... I don't know how else to describe it... Josh-like. Which is typically the case in all of my informal writings, such as this blog. And for some reason I can never type a conversation first, I'll sit there for hours on end staring at the screen unmotivated to type. Give me a pen and a piece of paper, and I'll have it written in minutes. I s anyone else like that? Gets annoying, but its the only I can get myself to work on dialogues.


And on a final note for this post in particular. I ran through the module with a lvl 19 and finished it within 1.5 hours while not really reading the dialogues, noting down bugs, quirks and things I just didn't like how it was done (or portrayed). By the end, I had about 3 pages of stuff between the two. A few things like switch some of the cutscene dialogues to NWN1 styled, some of the commoners when they respawn don't have dialogues (which is odd, b/c in the palette they do), and some strange convos going on if you do things out of order. Some of are easy fixes, others - not so easy.

Updated Screens

Its come to my attention that the last screenshot was pretty bad. I imported the wrong sunrise file :) Oops...

New Screen

Not a whole heck of a lot to report in terms of interesting things or things I want to reveal. Couple of interiors for this village, minor dialogues and some scripts for Chapter 1. Next time I may give you a sneak peak at another companion that you can obtain during your travels. But nevertheless, here's a screenshot for your woes.