Welcome to Neverdarklands; representing a visionary effort, striving to bring together the richest elements that make up traditional roleplaying with modern computer gaming!
Derived from the efforts of Microprose, Darklands was a colossal, dynamic role-playing game written for the personal computer; set in the Holy Roman Empire during the 15th century. At the time it was hailed as one of the greatest RPG experiences on a PC, taking the gaming community by storm. The consummate game play continues to rival the epic scale settings and gaming mechanics being run on today’s consoles.
And yet over the years gaming systems have evolved, ultimately spawning what is widely considered to be the benchmark of third-person perspective computer role-playing games: that of Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights. From a developer’s approach, it remains the penultimate achievement in community game design, nurturing the creative energies of the author, honoring past game settings by virtue of its flexible storytelling environs, or simply unfolding new settings and tales of wonder for others to pay witness.
This is what Neverdarklands is about. A long overdue homage to Darklands through the devices of the Neverwinter Nights (2) gaming engine.
Updates on the progress of this “module” will occur at intervals throughout the scope of this migration endeavor. Stay tuned, and feel free to express your thoughts and interest toward this project in the meantime! For those less familiar, a summary will soon follow, dictating the splendor of the environment during this tumultuous period, by providing an historical backdrop that portrays the sum and substance of the game setting (along with a fair share of supernatural license), and plans toward adapting these elements into suitable game playing artifacts and missions along the way. The scope of the project, its progress and critical paths along with your feedback, including the soliciting of needs from any community members who might be interested in its fruition, will all be addressed here. In the meantime, check out the “Pages” section in the sidebar for more information.
Feel free to post comment .
An update: much of the real estate of this blog has been assigned, i.e. a number of articles now occupy the stubbed pages, particularly the Historical Backdrop, which is not exactly light reading, but served as a solid pedestal of research in compiling some of the causes and effects within the Neverdarklands module.
One of the territories that the player will travel through is near completion. It has been used as a testing ground for some of the scripts, to include dialog (“conversation”) and inventory control. In addition, module properties such as bloom, lighting, texturing, NPC placement and audio are set in place. This will probably serve as the starting point for the player adventuring through Neverdarklands.
And a refresher on object oriented code was in order! Still getting a grip on some of the rudimentary scripting assignments for general gameplay. Also for this blog… why should posts be sorted in descending order by default anyway?
…is taking a toll on production with the number of system crashes it has put us through.
It may well be a compatibility issue with Windows 7 or the NVIDIA drivers are flaking out; whatever the reason it is counter-productive to say the least to have to restart the application almost every time an area needs to be rendered. Frankly, it is frustrating and digging for a solution is taking most of the
day month away.
After burning far too many synapses on the memory management woes of the Electron Toolset, and losing more time than ever thought possible it is time to consider porting the work onto another gaming environment; the obvious choice would be to incorporate all the virtues of the Darklands setting into the Dragon Age: Origins campaign using its native toolset.
This is not final, but it is becoming more likely as time moves forward. For the player, the news is good: Dragon Age is perhaps the most robust present day RPG environment in the market with room for expansion and a fervid following that, being early in its own life cycle, will probably inherit most of the legacy gamers from NWN if they haven’t migrated already. DA is almost a full generation ahead of virtually every current RPG that had its heyday (NWN, Balder’s Gate and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion) and rivals the popularity of say Mass Effect in terms of appeal and accessibility. The graphics are demonstrably better than much of what the NWN engine can render, and gameplay (roleplaying) is arguably an improvement which should appeal to readers of this blog. Dialog control and in particular the cinematics (cut scenes) are a cut above most other console and PC RPGs being played and developed. Chances are if you are a Neverwinter Nights fan, you are already enticed by the lure and artifacts of ME and Dragon Age (both Bioware products), so the transition is more forgivable, if not welcome outright.
The bad news is the learning curve to the DA toolset is a bit steep, considering the familiarity and elegance of the Electron Toolset. With enough support the differences and schedule shift should be minimized, however. It is a newer domain, that of designing within the confines of a newer release like DA, compared to the market tested triumph of NWN, yet again the room for growth places a project of this scope ahead in terms of its relevancy and staying power.
Nothing final yet, but this is the latest news. Of course, this alters the mission a bit, not the least of which the tenor and substance of this blog and future entries. But the alternative is grim, in that after repeated efforts to get the NWN Toolset to comply with the requirements of Neverdarklands, there seems to be (after a bevy of much appreciated input and support from the community) little chance that the vision of this campaign, in its current form, could meet the vision of the creators and the failure to execute the Toolset properly makes the decision easier.
Feedback is welcome on this, and as a reminder, this is a voluntary effort that is always looking for contributors.
After days of extensive reinstall efforts toward the Electron Toolset, only to end in vain, the decision to overhaul the OS resulted in a successful rendering of the Neverdarklands module (and prior modules, much larger ones in fact, to include the Original Campaign). The NWN2 package was also reinstalled, along with all the updates (which were executed AFTER the disk overlays, for future reference).
Multiple tests were conducted, and it is safe to assume that further progress toward the engineering of Neverdarklands can continue unhindered.
Still, automatic updates for Windows 7 have been shutoff until further notice. No need to tempt the fates on this. Manual control, I always say; ab nun jetzt fort.
For your patience, here is a sample wall hanging that will be included in one of the emperor’s keeps in Never Darklands, to give you an idea of the rich medieval culture and quality of detail being integrated into the game setting.
A healthy sampling of medieval music and literature has been listed on the Medieval Artifacts page here.
After spending much of the week in the recording studio, below are a couple of excerpts from the soundtrack to Neverdarklands, featuring a swelling pipe organ and reed instruments (well, they are sampled instruments… still they sound nice!) They are transcribed from some music I uncovered from the medieval classical period, circa the reign of the Holy Roman Empire. These pieces have lasted throughout the ages, and should be very familiar upon listening. If not, you should be going to church more often.
In all, thirty (30) period pieces were produced by my hand, as contributions to the final score of Neverdarklands. I plan to compose/record some original tracks as well. Working with vintage material is much quicker than producing original material, but stay tuned. One piece is near completion, and there are a few more on the back burner I have to re-record.
The title track has yet to be written.
Generated some new screenshots, thought it proper to announce them here, Also added some new transition areas, and some impressive prefabs for two towns. Will have screenshots for these shortly, but in the meantime have a look at some of the new areas in the startzone:
these include the apothecary tower, a chapter house and the local tavern, also the first appearance of an important party building element, with dialog.
Decided to incorporate a “book reader” into the module, since the literary element for the setting has such a high precedent.
My patient public. A lot of my time dedicated to realizing this… medieval approach for fantasy roleplay has been dedicated to other persuasions of late. The plain and simple reason for this, in part, is a result of the frustrations had with the Toolset. In my pursuit of keeping my programming chops sharp, I have abreacted with the Construction Toolset; a dedicated mod editor/renderer for the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion system. It has been a refreshingly stable and equally robust platform through which I can employ my vision, which I am finding to be almost therapeutic by comparison. Much (if not all) of the work will be ported to NWN2 upon completion, and if I have it both ways, we will all have not one but two game independent modules from which to launch my vision of the Holy Roman Empire for gameplay. Stay tuned…
Support for this endeavor has been good, but we still need developers! Authors, mesh/texture modelers, scripters and so forth. Any volunteerism is appreciated.