Main

December 4, 2004

Huma, Verminaard And Caramon Walk Into A Bar...

Today was an interesting day for me.

I offered my services to a great group of people doing some amazing work for the Neverwinter Nights game and they accepted. So as of this afternoon, I am officially a member of the Dragonlance Adventures team. Take a look at the screenshots in the gallery on their website and you can see the quality of work they do. I just hope that I can live up to their high standards.

One day when I was in fourth or fifth grade my mom took me to the bookstore to pick out some things to read. Actually she took me to the library and the bookstore often, but on this particular day I happened upon two paperbacks. One had a red spine---the other blue. They both had "dragons" in their title and I soon discovered the fantastic realm of Krynn.

Tanis, Flint, Goldmoon. Draconians and Kender. It's cool to think that I'll be making a contribution---small as it may be---bringing this world to your computer screen.

October 27, 2004

Henchman Inventory and Battle AI v1.04

The Macintosh installer for the newest version of Tony K's smarter henchmen, tougher monsters, and better inventory add-on to Neverwinter Nights is now online. You can download the Mac version from here, the Windows version from here, and a Linux installer script from here.

Here's some additional info:

This highly configurable modification of NWN improves the intelligence of friends and foes, both inside and outside battle. Since its original release in July 2002, it has been tested by hundreds of people in the BioWare community. The mod works with or without the expansions. You can use it to play the Official, SoU, and HotU campaigns, as well as compatible fan-made modules. Prominent features are: 1) Improved battle tactics for all NPCs, especially with regard to weapon switching and spell casting; 2) Random roaming capability for monsters in the module; 3) Access to the inventory of familiars and animal companions; 4) Improved yet still legal feats and spell selection for the six standard OC henchmen; 5) More useful behavior (buffing, item-gathering) for henchmen outside battle. Most features can be turned on or off during installation.

New for v1.04: The mod now requires NWN v1.64 or later for all installs. Added support for parry. Smaller compiled scripts from updated NWN includes and using Torlack's compilier. Enable healing of bleeding PC's. Creatures will still use ranged weapons when nearby target is above or below them. Location of summoning spell will be as close to known enemy location as possible. Remove duplicate disarm trap attempts (problem started with NWN 1.64). Monsters can optionally summon animal companions and familiars if they have the feats. Scouting will not jump to target location and now has a shorter range. Scouting can now be done with all associate types. Associate settings are stored on the PC and restored when associate is summoned again. Familiars updated with changes in HoTU and feat and skill selection changed in some cases. DEVELOPERS: Get the ERF source code for the mod here: http://nwvault.ign.com/Files/scripts/data/1026158289733.shtml

There have been a lot of cool NWN-related goings on since the last version of this mod. NWN 1.64 was released with new skies, two new creatures---the Troglodyte and Bulette---and a bunch of bug fixes. The Community Expansion Pack version 1.5 was released with NWN 1.64 compatibility. And three new Bioware-developed modules will be available for purchase and download for a modest price on November 10.

August 2, 2004

Henchman Inventory and Battle AI v1.03

The new version of Tony K's henchmen smartening, monster toughening, inventory improving add-on to Neverwinter Nights is available. I just finished up putting together the Mac installer. Windows version here.

Here's some more info for the uninitiated:

This highly configurable modification of NWN improves the intelligence of friends and foes, both inside and outside battle. Since its original release in July 2002, it has been tested by hundreds of people in the BioWare community. The mod works with or without the expansions. You can use it to play the Official, SoU, and HotU campaigns, as well as compatible fan-made modules. Prominent features are: 1) Improved battle tactics for all NPCs, especially with regard to weapon switching and spell casting; 2) Random roaming capability for monsters in the module; 3) Access to the inventory of familiars and animal companions; 4) Improved yet still legal feats and spell selection for the six standard OC henchmen; 5) More useful behavior (buffing, item-gathering) for henchmen outside battle. Most features can be turned on or off during installation.

New for v1.03: Improved beholder and mind flayer AI. Better check if creatures can use items. Changed weapon equip routines to work better with dual weapons. Fixed problems with area effect spells and AI checking saves. Fixed problem with auto unlock and henchman saying they can't do it when they can open the lock. Fixed don't summon flag not being copied in original OC during level up. Low level associates are now buffed from the buff all dialog option. Turned off monster wander in Luskan tower level one to prevent them fighting each other. Check readme for details.

April 7, 2004

I Need New Batteries For My Remote

Bioware, the company that created Neverwinter Nights, is kind enough to provide a Dedicated Server for their program. What this means is that you can download this application. Install a copy of any modules you have into it's module directory, and run the server without needing another CD Key. Of course it's dedicated which means you can't play on that machine. That's the whole point, you play on another machine and connect to the server.

However, on the Mac you have to have direct access to the machine to setup and run the server. After some recent posts to the Mac NWN forums, I've been contemplating various ideas on how to make a remote control for the server. This would allow you to change settings, like selecting which module to load, and not actually be in front of the server computer.

I've been playing with AppleScript UI scripting for several hours tonight and I'm banging my head against the wall. The major problem is that the Mac Dedicated Server does not seem to send the proper response to the system after it has run. With basically every Mac application, even ones that are not directly AppleScriptable, you should be able to send this command:

tell application "Dedicated Server" to activate

If the application is not running, it will run and come to the foreground. If it is already running, it will just come to the foreground. It is critical for the application to come to the foreground for UI scripting because you are simulating mouse clicks and menu selections. For some reason with Dedicated Server, the activate command will cause it to run, but then the AppleScript will hang. If the server is already running, the script will also hang on the activate command. You end up have to press Command-Period to escape out of it.

If the activate command would work properly I am convinced that I could quite easily come up with a remote control. All of the user interface elements show up properly when interfacing with AppleScript's UI Element Inspector. In fact I can use that program to simulate clicks to the various buttons on the server interface. But because of that stupid activate command not working, no dice.

Ugh.

March 24, 2004

Bigger Is Better

A new officially unofficial expansion has been released for Neverwinter Nights. It's called the Community Expansion Pack (CEP). Several brave souls have gone through the new NWN content created by fans and posted to the Neverwinter Vault. They've categorized, standardized, and compiled the best of the best into one large pack. It includes everything like 440 new monsters, 1400 new placeable objects, 17 new weapons, 121 new NPC portraits, and a whole lot more.

The idea behind this expansion is that instead of players having to download the thousands of different hakpacks and overrides available from the Vault--where some modules use one combination of files and other modules use another, but everything has overlaps and some things cause conflicts--players can download this one expansion and get everything they need. The key to this though is that module builders need to change their modules to support this new expansion and new modules need to be built that use it. Unfortunately simply downloading the CEP really won't get you anything initially. And extra unfortunate is that Macintosh and Linux players of NWN won't even be able to see what's included in the CEP until modules are built that support it. (Or until OpenKnights gets their tools a little more advanced.)

Even with these drawbacks the Community Expansion Pack offers a bright future with new content for a great game.

The Windows EXE installer can be downloaded here.
The manual install RAR file can be downloaded here.
The manual install ZIP file can be downloaded here.

March 21, 2004

Henchman Inventory and Battle AI v1.02

Tony K has developed a great add-on to Neverwinter Nights which improves the AI of the game. In its default setting, the new AI will make your henchmen (the computer-controlled people who fight with you) much smarter. There are many additional options in this add-on including making the monsters you encounter smarter.

Here's what Tony K himself says about the Henchman Inventory and Battle AI:

This highly configurable modification of NWN improves the intelligence of friends and foes, both inside and outside battle. Since its original release in July 2002, it has been tested by hundreds of people in the BioWare community. The mod works with or without the expansions. You can use it to play the Official, SoU, and HotU campaigns, as well as compatible fan-made modules. Prominent features are: 1) Improved battle tactics for all NPCs, especially with regard to weapon switching and spell casting; 2) Random roaming capability for monsters in the module; 3) Access to the inventory of familiars and animal companions; 4) Improved yet still legal feats and spell selection for the six standard OC henchmen; 5) More useful behavior (buffing, item-gathering) for henchmen outside battle. Most features can be turned on or off during installation.

New for v1.02: Use improved compression in Inno Setup to decrease exe install size under 1 MB. Associate challege rating adjust better to high levels. Fix out of ammo problem with henchmen. Improved omnivore and herbivore code for fleeing. Add support for Sea Hag. Cowardly flag is better supported for NPCs. New option allows for associates not to go into stealth when the PC does. Search mode options removed since associates already go into stealth when PC does. Most spell script overrides have been removed. Check readme for details.

I help out the effort by putting together the Macintosh installer. The new v1.02 can be downloaded from here. For you Windows people, you should get your version here.

Get Your RPG Game On

Neverwinter Nights is an amazing fantasy computer game that comes as close to reproducing traditional pen-and-paper Dungeons & Dragons as is probably possible. The original game has a large single-player adventure and there are two official expansions available (Shadows of Undrentide, and Hordes of the Underdark) which add new content and options, and each also has a new adventure. For those of you who like to play RPG computer games by yourself this is pretty great.

There are several features however which make this game even better.

First, you can make your own adventures. Just like the original D&D. There are literally thousands available for download from Neverwinter Vault.

Second, it supports multiplayer. So not only can you play a cool version of say "Slave Pits of the Undercity" or "Keep on the Borderlands" but you can also get a bunch of friends together and go through these modules together. And just like Dungeons & Dragons, someone can be the Dungeon Master (DM). There's a client program that allows you to control things behind the scenes so that you can make the adventure even better for your friends.

Finally, it is available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. So anyone on almost any platform can play together. The only downside for Linux and Mac people is that the toolset that allows you to make your own adventures was not ported to those platforms. However there are many intrepid individuals in an organization called OpenKnights who are busy writing software to address this problem. You might check out NeverEdit.