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User modules: endless replay value


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Neverwinter Nights was built from the ground up with custom content in mind; in fact, if I recall correctly the so-called "Official Campaign" was practically an afterthought. It's not likely we'll see another game like that. Neverwinter Nights 2 shipped with a comparable toolset, but the non-tile-based outdoor environments really seem to have slowed down modding.

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^ it doesn't need all 5 of those passes - some are just beautification (specular pass, ambient occlusion pass, final paintover) but it does need the z-depth pass, so yeah - it needs to be built in 3D

(or maybe you could go through the image pixel-by-pixel and set the z-depth manually? don't know of a program that would do that though.   Is it possible to paint a distance-occlusion map? There was something simliar in IE, about characters walking behind scenery, but it wasn't handled the same way)

In the IE games, you needed a 'walk-path' layer (again, could be painted) - I think there's a 3D info walk-mesh done in Unity for PoE.

 

That being said - creating (a basic) 3D scene isn't all that hard (given enough practice with the software) - it's the making it look good with the right textures/settings, optimizing it for polys and texture resolution (to save on render times) and then rendering out all those layers in very large resolutions that's the trick.

 

As PoE seems to use standard texture maps (height, normal, etc.) for all the relevant information, it's technically possible to hand-paint those maps (like height map and normal map). For simple stuff like rooms, basic geometric objects, etc., this is a viable option.

 

But if you want to create convincing natural terrain or more complicated stuff, you will definitely need to 3D model it.

 

But that isn't really a big problem. There's thousands of great tutorials on the web about creating 3D models and even free 3D modelling tools (like GMax) and entire texture and model databases completely free for use.

Creating a 3DSmax landscape isn't hard to do. You just create the ground plane, deform it, UVW map it (you can even skip that part completely if you cut together all the required textures in photoshop before), then just c'n'p rocks, grass and trees (you can find literally hundreds of free models of such basic environmental props already properly wrapped and textured on the interwebs) on top of it and render the scene and use free plugins to calculate the normal/height/specular maps directly from the viewport window.

 

Creating a dungeon or the inside of houses is basicly the same, just that you need to UVW map each wall individually and use different prop models to import.

 

It can be even simpler than that: When using a database of basic construction models (Stones, Bricks, wood planks), you can even LEGO your dungeon if you don't want to deal with texturing and UVW-mapping at all! Building (static, non-animated) landscapes in modern 3D modelling tools isn't more complicated than playing minecraft!

 

 

Heck, if obsidian decides to give us the tools to setup encounters and script out own events on user-made maps, then I'd be more than happy to write a tutorial on how to make a 3D landscape with 3dsmax and converting the rendered scene to the required texture maps.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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^agreed on all points - but isn't 3dsmax a bit expensive?

You could use the same models in Blender though - would just take a bit of tweaking and practice.

I've got a Bryce 7 license for outdoor stuff, not sure if it does normal maps though.

Also got other rendering programs good for indoor scenes, but again, never looked into rendering a normal map :ermm:

Will have to look into it further once the game's out (and probably after a playthrough or 2 and I'm in the mood for messing)

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*Casts Nature's Terror* :aiee: , *Casts Firebug* :fdevil: , *Casts Rot-Skulls* :skull: , *Casts Garden of Life* :luck: *Spirit-shifts to cat form* :cat:

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The question is though, does the fact that the game has expansion packs lined up to sell impact this decision.

 

Obsidian's entitled to make a decision like "we don't want to spend much development time on an issue like enabling modding for this project."  That's a perfectly fair thing to say.  

 

Beyond that however is the question of their attitude to user mods in general.

 

Total War comes to mind, and there's a lot of dark rumours and complaints about the lack of certain tools in Skyrim's modding database, where developers have constrained modding for their games because they've shifted to a more DLC focused model and want people to purchase their post release content more so than use fan made alterations (how would you sell a $3 DLC for Rome Total War providing blood decals if modders could just add it themselves...)  

 

If Obsidian don't want to spend 90 man hours designing a modding development kit for this game, that's their right and it's pretty reasonable.

 

But

 

If they're exposed to decisions like "do we spend a small amount of time post-release making some non-proprietary assets that we have lying around available publicly to the modding community," that's a different question I'd kinda want to know the answer to.

 

 

So what I'd ask is, both for Pillars and their games in general, do Obsidian have a 

 

Embracive attitude to user mods - Hoping to help where they can, don't want to invest developer time and energy into the issue or sacrifice man-power for it, but are happy to encourage it to succeed.  Potentially make a subforum for mods on this board and other small things.  

 

Neutral attitude - Definitely focusing on making the game, maybe haven't thought about the issue much or come to a complete decision, happy to let the status quo prevail and move on to their various projects and responsibilities without intruding.

Concerned attitude - Feel the need to maintain creative control over the release of the game.  Feel that content for the work should flow largely from the developer and not the community, and feel maintaining a smooth post release stream of professionally designed content is worth taking steps that restrict access to third parties altering their game.  

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after the graphics uppdate of yesterday, I suppose someone with enough time and access to the tools mentioned could make a map with all the elements found in PoE maps.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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after the graphics uppdate of yesterday, I suppose someone with enough time and access to the tools mentioned could make a map with all the elements found in PoE maps.

 

100% agree. It basicly confirmed the assumptions made by the community. Which is a good thing. Now all we need are the developer tools to convert maps into the game's format and a tool to build and script content and the modding cumminity will thrive.

 

It's also nice to know what modelling software the developers used. This would technically allow everyone that has access to this software (in this case it's Maya, which is available for free as a students licence!) to use the plugins that obsidian used to convert their maya scenes without any compatibility issues.

 

 

Let's just hope the management at obsidian will do the right decision and ship out their home-made tools for free, to support modding. You can't deny the impact modding had on the IE games and it wasn't even officially supported there! Now imagine how big modding could have been WITH the proper tools available!

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There was that interview, "Deep dive with Pillars of Eternity" or something like that, which has raised a modding question amoong others. It's kinda odd no one in this thread recalled it yet.

 

Is the game mod-friendly?

 

Josh Sawyer: It’s not mod-unfriendly... There are certain elements of it that I think are probably going to be easier to mod than others. Environments are probably going to be pretty tough to author on your own, because even for us they’re complicated, they’re time-consuming to build, they’re very hi-res, they involve a number of special passes and things.

Other things I think are friendlier to modification, but we’ll have to see.

 

Adam Brennecke: It depends... we’re still investigating how much... since we’re using Unity there’s a lot of things we need to work around for modability, but we want to do everything we can do for the mod community. We’ll be really open, if they have questions. It’s nice because with publishers a lot of times they don’t like us talking about the technology and ways of doing things, but people can ask us on the forums and we can answer them.

 

So it would be hard to make a new environment but easier, maybe, to do a quest line or...

 

AB: Or an item pack. Adjust the rules system a little bit.

 

JS: Some of that stuff we’re externalizing. Weapons, some of the racial modifiers, we’re putting them in separate things so some of that stuff will be easier to modify than others.

Looks like devs willing to tell about file formats, scripting routines and other technical stuff when asked, but writing appropriate tools working with those will be up to the community. And I'm pretty sure (don't know why though) that community will provide such tools. Maybe not instantly, but after some time.

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3dsm is free for students

which most of us aren't, I imagine ;)

 

Still, given a tutorial, I can usually find the equivalent in whatever software I'm using (if it's possible).

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*Casts Nature's Terror* :aiee: , *Casts Firebug* :fdevil: , *Casts Rot-Skulls* :skull: , *Casts Garden of Life* :luck: *Spirit-shifts to cat form* :cat:

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3dsm is free for students

which most of us aren't, I imagine ;)

 

Still, given a tutorial, I can usually find the equivalent in whatever software I'm using (if it's possible).

 

 

The good thing about 2D landscapes based on texture maps is: Any 3D modeller with the appropriate plugins to derive the maps from the 3D model will do. As long as it allows exporting into the correct image file.

 

We just need to tools to dump those maps into the actual game and the tools to create new encounters and scripts to populate these maps.

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It can be even simpler than that: When using a database of basic construction models (Stones, Bricks, wood planks), you can even LEGO your dungeon if you don't want to deal with texturing and UVW-mapping at all! Building (static, non-animated) landscapes in modern 3D modelling tools isn't more complicated than playing minecraft!

 

Isn't that the truth. I can churn out ten landscapes (if I have a decent model library available) in the time it takes me to engineer one working redstone track. :lol:

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It can be even simpler than that: When using a database of basic construction models (Stones, Bricks, wood planks), you can even LEGO your dungeon if you don't want to deal with texturing and UVW-mapping at all! Building (static, non-animated) landscapes in modern 3D modelling tools isn't more complicated than playing minecraft!

 

Isn't that the truth. I can churn out ten landscapes (if I have a decent model library available) in the time it takes me to engineer one working redstone track. :lol:

 

 

Truth hurts. ;)

 

But I feel you. The last time I tried to make heavy use of redstone inverter circuits, I was about to commit suicide.

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NWN, and particularly NWN2, should be recognised for featuring the best reoccurring villain of all time - a constant thorn in your side, absolutely merciless, thrives on the misery of others and always there to sabotage even the smallest encounter.

 

I speak, of course, of the ****ing camera.

Perhaps I'm the exception, but I had little to no difficulty with the camera in NWN. They changed it a bit for NWN2 and that required some re-education on my part, but neither was objectionable. Of course, I always toggled the ceilings off and spent at least 95% of my time in the tactical, look-down mode.

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http://cbrrescue.org/

 

Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

 

http://michigansaf.org/

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