Neverwinter Nights 2: NWN 2: MotB Developer Chat Log: August 27, 2007

| 27 Aug 2007 06:15

NWN 2 WarCry hosted a developer chat tonight with over ten Obsidian folks in attendance and over fifty fans. A lot of interesting information came out of the chat.

In attendance:

Andrea Bobick, animator
Andy Woo, programmer
Brandon Adler, production QA
George Ziets, creative lead
Jeff Husges, designer
Rob McGinnis, community mgr
Jean-Eric Khalife, artist

What can you tell us about the new prestige classes? Favored Soul, Spirit Shaman, Invisible Blade, Red Wizard, is this the full list?

For prestige classes we also have Sacred Fist, Arcane Scholar of Candlekeep, and Stormlord
[OEI]Jhusges: yeah, favored soul and spirit shaman are the new base classes
[OEI]BAdler: You forgot Invisible Blade
[OEI]awoo: Invisible Blade and Red Wizard were mentioned in the question.

What improvements to toolset stability are expected with patch 1.07, 1.08, and MotB?

[OEI]awoo: My officemate, Josh Verrall, the lead toolset programmer notes that he has fixed several nasty memory leaks. So, toolset stability should be much improved.
[OEI]jkhalife: You can definitely expect to see some new placeables, tilesets and placed effects
[OEI]RMcGinnis: We have also made some changes to water and grass to fix some of the problems you all have reported. Just to clarify on [OEI]jkhalife's comment about placeables and such: the majority of that is in MoTB, not the patches.

What features are coming in MotB that will enhance multiplayer gaming?

[OEI]RMcGinnis: We have put in a lot of work on the DM client. One of the things we did for Mask of The Betrayer is to enhance the player list by adding in a filtering capability. But, in keeping with a lot of the new features we have put into MoTB, we are making this feature available in a patch. You should see this improved player list in 1.07.

Excluding the epic spells, could you name a few spells that will be included in MotB?

[OEI]GZiets: Extract Water Elemental!
[OEI]Jhusges: A whole bunch of the Mass series of spells (Bear's Endurance, etc)
[OEI]awoo: Recitation.
[OEI]BAdler: Burst of Glacial Wrath is also pretty cool.
[OEI]awoo: The Vigor line of spells.

Are there any new art styles (e.g. race specific tilesets) that had to be created for the expansion? If so, can you give some examples?

[OEI]Jhusges: There's a tileset for the Imaskari ruins. Mostly civilization-specific, vs race specific
[OEI]GZiets: We have a whole new set of outdoor structures (houses, walls, etc.) that were created for the Rashemi culture. It's a little more rugged than what you saw in NWN2
[OEI]Jhusges: And lots of snow
[OEI]jkhalife: We've also added a desaturation effect that looks awesome
[OEI]ABobick: Hypothermia, Curse of Impending Blades, Vigor, and Wall of Dispel magic are a few of my favs spells

Will there be any new skills in Mask, and will any of the existing skills get new uses?

[OEI]Jhusges: No new skills. I believe they have generally the same uses as in NWN2

Is it true that some of the PC-selectable head/hair options have been improved in MotB? If so, how many?

[OEI]ABobick: Thanks to two of our character artists, Justin Cherry and Dimitri Berman, almost all of the old heads and hairs have been given a specular and normal map upgrade. The skin shading settings have been tweeked so they look more natural
[OEI]jkhalife: and they also created new hair styles for the new races
[OEI]GZiets: and new heads as well
[OEI]ABobick: You'll definitely find a head you'll like playing with
[OEI]jkhalife: some races also have placed effects attached to them, for isntance the fire genasi has a constant fire effect as hair

Can you tell us more about the "new" narrator voice?

[OEI]GZiets: We do indeed have a narrator voice that is consistent across the entire game, a professional actor :)
[OEI]RMcGinnis: I really like the new narrator.
[OEI]Jhusges: yes, he's quite awesome
[OEI]GZiets: he will be doing the intro, some narration throughout the game, and the epilogue (and maybe something more...)

Any new spell effects, visual and audio?

[OEI]Jhusges: New spell chants for the PCs and companions
[OEI]ABobick: We have lots of cool Epic Spell effects and some environment placed effects give the tilesets alot of mood
[OEI]BAdler: Lots of new spell chants! Like Waterfalls, dust clouds and fog
[OEI]Jhusges: All-new music track!
[OEI]ABobick: We have our very own Audio man working hard on new sound effects
[OEI]GZiets: we've managed to include a lot of new music - more than was in NWN2. It's quite good, and you shouldn't be hearing any of the "old" music in the expansion
[OEI]RMcGinnis: You guys keep reading my comments on it: I love the new music
[OEI]jkhalife: yeah it really sets the mood for the game =)

We saw a preview of a new sneak animation some months back. Will that be in MotB? What about any other new animations?

[OEI]ABobick: haha, it was a long time in the making, but sneak will be coming soon
[OEI]jkhalife: we've also added some new environment animations like moving banners
[OEI]ABobick: Also, you guys will be able to add your own creature animations

Will there be more Cleric Domains in MotB?

[OEI]ABobick: With the release of Expotron and Granny
[OEI]RMcGinnis: Actually we are starting a contest for this
[OEI]Jhusges: Yes, there's a few more cleric domains. I believe War was added, among others.
[OEI]awoo: In fact, the War Domain has been modified so that it grants you proficiency and Weapon Focus in your Deity's Favored Weapon.
[OEI]BAdler: The old war domain was changed into the Fury domain.
[OEI]awoo: Also, I believe we've added Cold, Darkness, Dream, Time, and Undeath
[OEI]jkhalife: also law and chaos
[OEI]awoo: Deities now have associated favored weapons in the dieties 2DA which we also use for the Favored Soul

Will the original campaign be retro-fitted to the new crafting system or will it retain the old one?

[OEI]Jhusges: The crafting system in MotB is similar but separate. The old crafting system in NWN2 will remain as is

Will the new graphical improvements be met with improvements in efficiency in the graphics engine? In other words, will we probably be able to run the game at the same resolution with similar graphical settings? Of course, I understand specific mileage may vary.

[OEI]jkhalife: a lot of work has been done on shadow optimization and we've also added a feature that recommends settings so it should help you figure out what is best for your machine
[OEI]BAdler: Anecdotally, on my machine, the game runs a little better than it used to run.
[OEI]jkhalife: we've tried to keep art and framerate as balanced as possible

If there is something you wanted to implement in MotB but couldn't, what would that be?

[OEI]Jhusges: Custom spellbooks :) Proper cleric domains.
[OEI]awoo: Elemental burst weapons.
[OEI]Jhusges: Incidentally, lots of things that Awoo would have to do
[OEI]jkhalife: some major ui fixes but we got the most important ones in
[OEI]awoo: Get rid of Parry and put in Total Defense and Fighting Defensively. Grappling.

Could you share a little more about how the Spirit Shaman works? Specifically spell retrieval and spirit-affecting abilities?

[OEI]awoo: The Spirit Shaman works like the Favored Soul with the Druid spell list. No spell retrieval. Spirits are defined as all Fey and Elementals and creatures that have a "Spirit Override" flag set in the creature blueprint. Most other spirit powers are intact.
[OEI]Jhusges: Even ghost warrior.
[OEI]awoo: Spirit walk does not allow you travel in the spirit plane.

Aside from Imbue Item and Plant Shape, will any missing class features get added?

[OEI]awoo: Weapon Focus (Ranged Touch Attack), Weapon Focus (Melee Touch Attack), Improved Crit (RTA/MTA), Spells that do RTA/MTA now crit. Also, Knockdown now needs a Melee Touch Attack before the opposed roll.
[OEI]BAdler: Knockdown also has a cooldown.
[OEI]BAdler: 2 rounds if I am not mistaken.

Is it difficult trying to create graphics for something that everyone has a definite mental image of already? What part of art direction/design is most challenging?

[OEI]jkhalife: having concept art helps a lot and we have some great art directors that can articulate what they have in mind
[OEI]ABobick: The player's manual provides alot of reference
[OEI]jkhalife: the most challenging part for me has been learning how to implement new things, but it's also the most fun
[OEI]ABobick: As animation is concerned, we did read alot on what the creatures were made of, what their base attacks were and then if they moved fast and slow

What new races can we expect? what kind of racial benefits?

[OEI]ABobick: Of course the Genasi are the big ones
[OEI]GZiets: also half drow and wild elf
[OEI]RMcGinnis: For the races, we implemented the half-drow, wild elves and what they said.
[OEI]awoo: Those are the player-selectable ones.
[OEI]ABobick: There's also new heads for the humans that represent the Rashemi
[OEI]jkhalife: fire, earth, water and air genasi
[OEI]awoo: For special guest stars, we have a wraith and a half-celestial.
[OEI]ABobick: and the Red Wizards
[OEI]awoo: And another super-secret one that's so secret we can't talk about it until the game comes out.
[OEI]GZiets: the half-celestials kinda rock
[OEI]awoo: Summon Planetar!
[OEI]Jhusges: the genasi have their own WotC-approved special abilities, since the PnP abilities were pretty useless for our game. The water genasi can summon fog, for example
[OEI]awoo: This is true. They also have very cool VFX for their hair, especially the Fire Genasi with the flaming mohawk.

What did you learn from NWN2's release that has been applied to MotB?

[OEI]BAdler: Cutting down on the scope to increase polish =) NX1 is very polished and plays great.
[OEI]jkhalife: yeah that helped a lot to get the art to the next level
[OEI]Jhusges: We were pretty conservative on area design to stay on schedule, but we still ended up with a lot more game then intended. :)
[OEI]RMcGinnis: I know we learned a lot for area design improvements. the new areas look great!
[OEI]ABobick: Also, there was good communication amonst the different departments
[OEI]jkhalife: at one point art went into "super extra polish mode" where we had time to work on things that weren't planned for

Given the comment about permanent effects, ie fire genasi hair, will we be able to manually attach effects to that node via the vfx editor + scripting?

[OEI]ABobick: You can use the VFX editor to create your own custom effects. And you just need to alter the appearance 2DA to point to the new effect or place the new effect in your override folder so you can make a Fire gensai with flaming blue hair
[OEI]awoo: And there is an entry in the appearance.2da that allows you attach one SEF to a specific appearance. We have not, however, exposed the ability to swap out that SEF from script.
[OEI]ABobick: There will be some help files coming soon on VFX how tos

What are the core reasons for why some features, such as new camera modes & crafting changes are listed as enhancements that are specific to the Motb expansion? While I understand there may be compatibility issues with the Original OC, as a matter of opinion it would seem like these types things would be more beneficial to be introduced into the base code, ie. via patch 1.07 instead?

[OEI]awoo: As far as I know, the new camera modes will be released with the new patch.
[OEI]RMcGinnis: A lot of the features for MoTB will be released in patches and made available to people that don't purchase MoTB. Camera modes included though some features and most all of the content will only be available with MoTB
[OEI]awoo: The new crafting system relies on new crafting components dropped by creatures. The OC creatures do not drop those components, so the new crafting system would not be very backwards compatible.
[OEI]RMcGinnis: But some of the content, such as the Bronze Dragon, will be in 1.07

What are some of the New Epic feats we will be getting?

[OEI]awoo: Dragon Companion and Dragon Shape You can be a Druid with a Bronze Dragon running around as a Bronze Dragon.
[OEI]BAdler: Some of my favorite Epic Feats are the Improved Eldrich Blast ones. You can really put out some obscene damage with those.
[OEI]Jhusges: along with Eldritch Master
[OEI]jkhalife: Mass Fowl is my favorite =)
[OEI]awoo: Epic Precision: 1/2 sneak damage to creatures immune to sneak damage
[OEI]RMcGinnis: Vampiric Feast
[OEI]Jhusges: plus some additional ones that we made up (WotC-approved, of course)
[OEI]ABobick: EEEEEPIC DIVINE MIGHT
[OEI]RMcGinnis: There's also some cool rogue love feats, but you guys wouldn't want to hear about those :P

Thanks again to Obsidian Entertainment and all of our attendees tonight. It was a blast!

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