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About dunniteowl

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    NWN2 Community Representative

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  • Location
    Bastrop, TX
  • Interests
    Anything that the Universe can contain has at the minimum, a passing interest to me. My major hobbies are studying the Universe around me, simulations and games to better comprehend the virtual reality in which we curently reside. Other than that, I like to covertly mess with the minds of all those I don't currently control. You are on my list...
  1. It was mentioned at the end of the Blog report that accusations of plagiarism were so rampant that it made judging the contest impossible and was thus cancelled. That one issue, with all it entails and implies saddens me for the sake of the Community. Once the accusations get thrown out there, justified or not, the doubt and mistrust it engenders are never of any benefit to the Community as a whole. So I am sorry to hear what could have been a great showcase of talent ended in such a way. Whoever is truly responsible for this (and you know who you are,) in any way, may you repent and change your ways. May you not have a good night's sleep or comfort in the day until justice is truly served. Meanwhile, I look forward to the next contest. I am definitely going to enter this one just to up the level of my creative activity. Also, thanks Rob for the blog update. BTS never fails to impress with the talent and little details that make each item unique in it's own way. RWS -- same to you folks. Truly fantastic work, folks, KUDOS! best regards, dunniteowl
  2. Actually I have experimented a bit with trees and their seed values. I have several areas that I created with massive amounts of trees and with a very wide array of seed values for them. In general, I have made 4 medium sized areas 16x12, 8x14, 12x12 & 8x32 and just absolutely loaded them down with a variety of trees/plants and seed values for same. In each area I used approximately 12 different Tree types, each with varying seed values approaching 12 seeds per tree type. This means that in some of these areas, I have 12x12 types of unique trees according to the specifications listed in Developer responses. I grant that I have not placed anything other than trees, plants and grasses in these areas (though I used a fair amount of grass types as well) and, while there are no encounters, transitions, area effect triggers, convos, etc., the movement performance of a character in the areas while testing to see how they look has been just fine. I think the original recommendations were no more than 20 unique seed/tree variants for performance related reasons. I am running an AMD X2 5000+ (meaning two separate cores running at 2.3GHz each) with 2GB DDR2 RAM @ 800MHz FSB. My specs allow for a bit more lattitude compared with recommended specs, however, I am sure that what I am 'pulling off' is not that special in terms of performance at this time compared to what I perceive is 'average' system specs on most machines. (Note, while 144 individually 'unique' trees are being used, there are, quite literally several hundred trees of each species, making the total number of each 'unique' plant/tree value approach 30-100 each of each type, depending on the look I was after. The larger forested areas literally have close to two thousand trees as placeables in them.) Still, if I could rotate a tree a bit, that would make all the difference visually speaking (though I admit, scaling does really make some differences as well and could mean enough difference to lose the "patterned" look to some areas' trees that I have seen.) Of course, I haven't been doing all this to test the system, I just didn't care about the specs when I made the areas. I was sort of doing my best to see how 'realistic' I could make an area in the outdoors. In fact, until I had made the 3rd test area, I didn't even think about the recommended performance settings of 4-5 unique tree types with 3-5 separate seed values. I just told my self, "Make this look as realistic as you can." As I gain more experience with scripting and running more tests, I will revisit these areas and add in encounters triggers and more placeables to see what happens. Also, admittedly, I have been making these areas in mind with giving the adventurer a sense of scope to travel (meaning a lot of unique little areas) during an adventure, most of them having only one to three encounters of any sort within them in the first place. This being the case, I am pretty sure that the "pushing" I have been doing in terms of the performance envelopes will prove noteworthy at some time. Meanwhile, if it requires a whole nother render of a 'new' model for a rotated version of one already, then forget it. I already have methods to break up the pattern of sameness and am also working on extending the regions of performance (in terms of proof of performance for amount of unique items) such that this one request is not all that important. It would be nice to have, though, just as a quicker way to make things seem unique without having to resort to the constant seed value changes, or rescaling of objects. my 32 cents on the matter... dunniteowl
  3. Agreed. This one thing would make all the difference in making forests, or even simple tree lined streets. I know there's magic and all, but I just don't see the wizards of NeverWinter spending the time (nor the merchant class spending the gold) to have all the trees look exactly the same. So, I suppose I would vote to have this too as it's frustrated me as well. regards, dunniteowl
  4. I like that there is a lot of green on that list. Bodes well for the future. I have yet to feel that my faith in the Developers has been out of place. This once again establishes that while not perfect, you are always moving ahead. Now if we could only get that Max 9 Expotron, A VFX Editor Guide and a few other things while you're at it and we'd be able to at least call you demigods. regards, dunniteowl
  5. Just off the Cuff here... I read with interest your post about critical thinking and there is much merit to the concept of actually using it. My personal experience has been that many people can apply critical thinking to problems when confronted with them in a slower, less than in your face way (which games can generally present to you without actual life or death being involved...) and that this experience can lead to being a better solutions oriented type of mentality when things occur that are more in-your-face in the moment. AS applied to gaming, I think it's possible to spot not just elegant design (depending on whether you consider elegant as extremely efficient use of design principles, materials (including core code) or if that design appeals to the psyche of your audience) it can also show you concepts and principles of thought that go into a design. In other words, the way someone designs a game (and as you posited with your Pikmin example) also gives insight into the way they think the game can be "won" or in the case of RPG or more open ended formats, managed along the way. The Pikmin and Ninja Gaiden games each show you examples of the designer giving the player a chance to experience events in an ordered approach. This ordered approach is a method that allows a designer to introduce new concepts of play or puzzle solving or what have you, to the player so that there is less liklihood of hitting the wall. Meaning that, as long as you don't introduce too many new play concepts at once, the player has a better idea of what to learn to expect. In this manner, you are essentially presenting the player with a low order challenge (and this does not imply something easily solved) whereby you reduce the number of variables a player has to consider in the moment to overcome said challenge. In addition, if you can present this in a way that engages the player, either through inherent entertainment value of the challenge itself, or as part of a series of "quest-like" challenges that keeps the player moving forward, then even better. As each series of challenges becomes adapted to, you throw a new curve and a new challenge. All the old lessons still apply in their turns, only now you have to add on a new set of challenges with a different solution (perhaps using combinations of lessons already learned) that the player must now overcome. I think a really good example of the structured approach to games like this, with critical thinking to design, are relatively few and far between. At the moment, one of the games that comes to mind for me, which was really hard to learn to play, was back in the 5.25" disk days. I think it was called Strike Fleet. Each gaming scenario was progressively harder to complete, with a rising order of commands that had to be carried out and increased level of threat to your ship (or ships.) Additionally, as the scenarios grew more complex, combatant craft became more abled. In other words, now, instead of just hitting motor patrol boats with Tomahawk missiles, you were fighting cruisers, then also aircraft, then also submarines, then defending against their cruise missiles as well, etc. Another good example of critical thinking again (and this goes way back also) was the original Roger Wilco: Space Quest. Each series of events started off simply enough until you hit the Challenge. In this game, however, it taught you to think critically about your potential as the character and the limits of the game itself. In each case, it was rare that when the challenge first presented itself that you succeeded. Whereupon you died in any number of grisly, though thoroughly amusing ways. IN this, Space Quest taught you that there were a number of ways to outthink the game and solve the challenge and when you failed (sometimes quite repeatedly) you were shown several amusing ways to meet your untimely fate. I think that this method provided a negative feedback with a positive enforcement (dying is a negative feedback in game, while the humorous death scenes made you laugh and come back for more) that was truly creative, induced a level of critical thinking on the part of the player, and showed an innate understanding (at least as far as I'm concerned) on the part of Two Guys From Romulan, of human nature. I don't think I have seen that level or style of inventive and creative use of humor, sarcasm and mutliple game styles of play in a single game ever since. There are other games that clearly show a total lack of this comprehension of what a player has to go through to arrive at playing while learning (or is it learning while playing?) The first iteration of SSI's Gold Box edition RPGs, the Pool of Radiance is an example of this to a degree. If you weren't already familiar with RPGs and at least willing to sit down and read the materials offered in the game box, you would never learn how to play it. Of course, in the era that this game came out, I think we actually had a different level of computer player, even as a novice, as the machines these games ran on had to be pretty well understood just to get the games loaded onto the hard drives (if you were lucky and had a hard drive at all -- or like me, blessed with foresight and had a 20Meg HD) and then started to play. You had to pretty well know what you were doing just to get the computer to start a game. So then, most of the folks who played were probably going to be sitting there with the game manual and the adventurers manual right there. It still didn't explain why when you moved away from an opponent you got struck with an attack (sometimes resulting in the dreaded "Your Party was destroyed, the Monsters Rejoice" message.) or why when you cast a fireball your characters were all hit for 6d6 HD of damage (again, usually with the monsters dancing over your virtual corpses.) You had to learn these things the hard way. Now while I thoroughly enjoyed the game, I was a D&D enthusiast already and even so, I had to sit down sometimes with my Player's Handbook and go over damage rules, casting times, movement and attacks of opportunity to really get a grip on the workings of the game. Folks without access to this level of information probably ended up taking the game back. Again, though, we are talking about a wholly different generation of gamer. Those brought up on wargames, board games, and things like Chess, Go, Backgammon and Cribbage, where critical thinking on the part of the players is a necessary component of victory. And, you could take your time. Now, with the advent of realtime or near realtime, the entire system of cues, challenges and requirements has changed. The necessity of critical thinking has not. If anything, critical thinking in design becomes ever more important. How do you bring new players into the game and not overwhelm them? How to keep a player challenged without just speeding everything up? How to present a puzzle that won't take forever, though still isn't something someone just goes, "Ah-hah! Easy peasy."(?) All these things have to be taken into account. You have to look at the genre of game, the style of gameplay involved, the typical mentality of your game audience (and this includes targeting age appropriate challenges, education appropriate challenges and sometimes thematically appropriate challenges based on maturity levels) as well as the supposed nature of the game's plot, twists and basic interface considerations. Not an easy task, I daresay. Ahh, sorry to wax prosetic, there Josh. You hit a bulwark of thinking that I engage in frequently, yet do not have opportunity to discuss or expound to anyone I actually know. best regards, dunniteowl
  6. Yippee! When have I seen such commentary? We got Monty (congrats on the new position!) posting about Purgatorio, We get PipBoy3000 talking about DW2 (nice to hear from you) and all this other cool stuff being worked into the mix. Deep Snow looks excellent and I cannot wait to try it out and see what can be done with it. I hope Kaycei continues with those hairstyles, because that was an awesome piece of work! (Take note Obs, that the stuff we like to see...) As to the more aggressive patch schedule, Great News! Rob, I know you're working hard and I applaud you and all the Devs. Keep us in the loop, baby and all will be right with the world. best regards, dunniteowl
  7. The farthest I've gotten is staring at it at my local Wal-Mart and looking into my empty mailbox for it. Boo Hoo. best regards, dunniteowl
  8. Great interview, Rob. Short and sweet. I gotta tell you, this blogging you do is the one that keeps my interest level up. As a site resource, this blog is the bomb. I have to re-update my links at the Citadel to keep up with these developments. Thanks for keeping the Community aware, Rob. best regards, dunniteowl Admin/Moderator NeverWinter Citadel Project Moderator NWN2 Forums for Obsidian @ Bioware Community Representative
  9. Thanks for the opportunity to spread the word of the Citadel, Rob. I only hope that I have done proper justice to the site. It was an honor to be asked to write up something for your blog and I also hope that I did your blog justice as well. The writer's perennial concern -- was it the very best I could do? Of course, for all you that read the blogs, I take that same level of concern with the Citadel. Thank you, once again, Rob, for the wonderful opportunity. And thanks to all the members of the Citadel who make Admining and Moderating the site a thing of joy for me. My Very Best Regards, dunniteowl Admin/Moderator: The NeverWinter Citadel Project Moderator: NWN2 Forums for Obsidian @ Bioware Community Representative (Blessed in all titles and still wondering, "How did I manage all that?")
  10. All I can say is that I am glad that I can hold my breath for extended periods of time. I am just waiting to get MoB as well as being able to download some of this amazing content from our Community members in this week's blog and others. My Snap and Stack Placeables concept is apparently something others like too. Great, it keeps me from having to feel pressured to create them first. And that saves me a huge amount of work. Thanks all of you that are building more and more varied placeables for use in the game. You are my heroes! Thanks for the reports, Rob, I look forward to them and miss them when they don't show. best regards, dunniteowl
  11. [rant]I wonder how much gasoline there'd be in a metal can hidden away for FIFTY YEARS, don't you? As to Americans and bigotry, you'd be hard pressed to find any country that doesn't look down on America in one way another, including America. Note my location. I am from the USA and my own country and it's people are amazing to me. Like I said, land of contradictions and strange juxtapositions. I never said putting a can of gasoline in there was stupid, I didn't even imply it. There is a lot of common everyday sense to some things people do, even if the next things coming out of their mouths is complete non-sense. I just did the whole Okie thing for fun. And yes, we went to the Moon, and then promptly forgot about what the benefits to a long term, focussed and dedicated space program could potentially get us. I was mad at age 26, because I wasn't anywhere close to being able to get a job in space unless I was an astronaut. I thought, on that day in August, 1968, when I saw Niel Armstrong descend the ladder of the Eagle, that in 18 years, I'd be able to work on the moon, or in orbit, for some company that made a real space station, not this POS that is called the ISS. (sorry, got carried away there...) I guess I'm still a bit ticked that, now, at 46, twenty years later, I still couldn't possibly get a job in space unless I am already an astronaut. Where did we go wrong on that one? Like I said, the land of contradictions and strange juxtapositions.[/rant] As to FO3 and it's craptactular potential: I'm just going to have to sit the fence and wait and see. I hold no preconcieved notions about how Bethesda is going to screw it up or make it better. I sit here and hope that they do their level best to stay true to the atmosphere and overall mechanics of the game system, though not slavish dedication to it, which, imnsho, would be a real killer to the overall creative process in the first place. I would be willing to wager that even if the original design team were able to be pulled together into this thing, get the creative reigns and lead the way, it still wouldn't be able to cleave completely to the originals. Too much time has passed and the flames tend to burn out. Even the banked ashes of the original content producers, stoked again with zeal, cash and time to produce, still couldn't make an FO3 that would fall right in line with the other two. Too many things have changed, graphically, game engine, coding for physics in the game world, etc. If I were someone with the opportunity, I would probably be thinking: Holy cow, now I can make the Fallout I would have made back then if this technology were available when I first got cracking!" Wouldn't you try to take advantage of anything that came out that might make your vision more like what you first had in mind? Or wouldn't you be tempted to see how much farther you can stretch your talents and ideas with all this new stuff? So I say, let them have their shot, don't hold too much in contempt for it not being a dead knockoff of the originals and let the game stand on it's created merits, not the perceptions of what we think it's going to end up being like. But they better have some real creative talent involved and, from my perspective, their toughest critical success or failure is going to be able to recreate the sensation and atmosphere of the originals in large ways. That isn't going to be achieved with only nostalgic recreated visuals and the InkSpots on their sound track. I am willing to see what they do before I decide it's going to be good or not. warmest regards, dunniteowl
  12. Weapon degradation is a tricky subject to "get right". I mean, after all, most of the times in a reality based situation, you find out something is no longer working when you attempt to use it, not during a simple equipment check back where all the parts or replacements are handy, right? It's like getting a flat tire, there isn't really a good time or place to have one, but if it occurs overnight in your garage, it's a lot more manageable. It would be nice to know that, in order for your guns to keep working properly, you had to click a box that said you were going to clean and oil it when it came time to do so. And if you could be aware of the chances of failure of a weapon based on use, repair and cleaning, then the degradation thing wouldn't be so bad. It would be like, say, you knew that every 120 rounds of ammo degraded your M-16 another 2%, increasing the chance of a gun-jam, but after cleaning and oiling the gun, it would drop a tad (like a percent maybe) and as use increases, the percentage rises accordingly. In a future RPG, especially one where you carry a wrist computer, there should be a relatively high chance of you knowing to some close idea when a weapon is likely, or at least more likely, to have trouble via normal wear and tear. Getting knocked ass end over tea kettle by an opponent, though, could end with a catastrophic failure of your currently held weapon (stock breaks in half, firing pin and trigger sear broken, etc.) and nothing can be done about it until later. Having a backup weapon makes a lot of sense like that. Also, with weapons you just found laying around and have to use on the fly, there could be a real sense of failure when picking it up in the middle of a fight, only to find it's out of ammo, or totally busted when you picked it up. Then again, even an empty hunting rifle can double as a mace. As to repair of weapons, I should think that you could do this based on Intelligence and experience, with skills specifically geared to such things that would enhance your ability to repair things. It would also make sense, in this devastated wasteland of a world, that parts wouldn't just be plentiful, though possibly repair materials (which could be either poor, decent, good, fine and excellent in quality) could be jerry rigged from other items pulled from the wreckage that's as often as not, all around you. Maybe something like: Intelligence + Scavenging Weapon Smith (small arms) General Repair (mechanical) could net you a pretty good bonus on finding replacement parts from the detritus of the years and wreckage and give a better than fair chance of repairing all but the most critically damaged weapons in your possession within the category. Just spitballing, clearly. I have to agree, though, that if it doesn't enhance or create a challenge that is relatively simple to meet, in terms of gameplay, then it could be a total cluster munch and ruin the overall experience. I wouldn't want to have to travel another 20 miles of wasteland just to get a trigger sear to fix my AK-47 would be a bone in terms of gameplay, unless I had a decent backup which made the repair a moot point for the time it takes me to get to a location that can do it for me, or where I can sell the damaged item as scrap for a discount on a working unit. Some system like that would be okie dokie with me as long as there was a way to overcome the challenges on the fly and not make me go way out of my way to do it, or have my character stand there helplessly while the mutant scourges maul me... Game Over, man, game over. If that were to occur, I would wish for it to be from my own miscalculations and not from the fact that the game scragged me in a critical moment by having my last good weapon break -- or having all my useful ones die during the combat before the combat was over. I would be pissed if that happned during the game. I'd be dead if it happened in real life. However, it is a game we're talking about and not a future apocolypse sim to see how well I can survive the series of disasters sent my way. Then again, we really have no idea what kind of degradation/repair dynamic that's going to be thrown in, so all of this is just pure speculation. And being as it's here and not on Bethesda Soft's forums, probably not going to go into the mix for consideration. Time will tell. regards all, dunniteowl
  13. I would just like to add after reading the article in question sideways sort of, that I stand corrected and from here on out, I will not say that I wouldn't say those aren't in-game shots. As to grapic technical excellence, I still disagree, they look great and just because they don't push the envelope of polygons and voxels doesn't mean they won't knock your socks off when viewing them in while playing. I read a little tid bit about depth of field focus that caught my eye. I am not going to worry about the Fat-Man nuclear catapult as an issue, or nuclear powered engines in cars -- it's 80 years after a war in 2077, meaning it's already 2157 or later if I am reading correctly. It could happen! I am now officially excited and looking forward to getting it a few months after release. (I'm not going to buy even a Bethesda game before it gets a chance to be reviewed after release,) I have made that a pretty common practice since about 1987 when I bought my first computer. So, until something more comes out, I am just going to wait for my own Father's Day gift of the DVD Collection of FO, FO2 and FOT:BoS to arrive and play it between bouts of playing with NWN2's toolset, learning 3DS Max 9 and caring for my daughter during her leukemia treatments. (I give you one guess which is the most important one...) In any case, I hope that Bethesda (one of the few game development companies that can afford to take the time to do it to their satisfaction in these times) will do justice to the games that made me wish I had the extra cash when they came out. (I was busy with divorce, custody and bankruptcy among other things, the games hadda take a back seat, don'tcha know?) Thanks for pointing out the in-game use of screenshots Vic. It made me go back and actually read the article. regards, dunniteowl
  14. Uh, no... The graphics are only slightly better than Oblivion (which was an early 06 game, and was impressive for it's time) and it's going to come out at the end of 2008, that's a year and a half away. And this is coming from a studio that always had cutting edge tech when they're game is released. While the art direction looks superb, the actual graphics aren't anything all that special now, and won't be especially when it's released. If anything, it's going to look better, not worse later. Go look at something like Crysis or Mass Effect, then look at Fallout 3. It's not even close to CG... And as far as in-game with the UI included, you have two clear gameplay shots with the complete UI. The battle shot, and the Pip-Boy 3000 shot. The rest are taken from gameplay away from the player to show wider view of the gameplay scene. Sorry to disagree though I am not sure you get what I actually meant and so I will attempt to reiterate it a little differently and also add the caveat that I only looked at two of the shots (they are little on my laptop screen and I am not all that jazzed about the game at the moment, so I could easily miss something.) My point was that I think the way the art was done was purposeful to mimic the "look and feel" of the originals, at least in the cinematic sequence. Cinematic sequence does not necessarily infer CG quality, it inferes a movie like sequence (hence cinematic of or like being a piece of cinema or a movie picture...) where the gamer and the game do not necessarily meet with the same loving attention. Actual gameplay rarely, in my experience, is reflected in the cinematic sequences used to hype the story and the game itself, though are not actually shown as gameplay that a gamer would get when playing. This is what I was referring to. I guess now I'll have to go back and look again to see what you're referring to. I am replying now to make sure that I am being clearly understood in what I said I would hope the current level of graphics ability could portray to make it seem like a clear successor to the original series. I didn't mean to imply that the graphics had to look like it in terms of actual quality, though in atmosphere. That's all. I have no idea how much better, graphically, the new game will look. It is just my hope that they capture the "look and feel" of the original game's atmosphere. If I wasn't misunderstood the first time, then I truly apologize for my little exposition here and bid you chalk it up to being a bit more tired than usual at the moment. regards, dunniteowl
  15. Graci, signore, graci. Will do. dunniteowl
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