Toolset Misery and the Future

Posted by on October 30, 2010

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.

Last modified on December 1, 2010

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2 Responses to “Toolset Misery and the Future”

  1. admin Says:

    DA has some advantages, but the minimal lighting controls and smaller bestiary are detractors. The lack of multiplayer is something I failed to consider, in case a DM wishes to go this route.

    Going back to the Toolset issue with NWN, I ran “GameBooster” to allocate memory resources more efficiently… and succeeded in rendering a 55 MB erf file that had FULL functionality. Alas, this has yet to be repeated, but convincing in that resources are not being properly allocated.

    Assuming this is still a memory management issue, I found that NWN2 does not support dual core processors. Still again, even after setting the affinity of the processor to single-core, the same errors keep coming with the Toolset. Why the CPU and RAM aren’t getting along together for this application is still a mystery, but a weak CPU would have some issues in allocating proper memory space, which is what we have here, so it’s a possibility worth pursuing.

    The processor is a less than modest Intel Duo Core 1.8 GHz chip. With only one core operating, the threaded processes are locked into a small “compartment” and under-performs. Therefore, a T9300 processor is on order to replace the CPU of the system. This will raise the benchmark for a single core.

    In the meantime, as a possible solution, XP has been installed as a VMWare virtual machine. The developers tout that XP runs better that XP every did…

  2. admin Says:

    This problem has been solved.

    A hardware upgrade and OS re-installation and the NWN2 project is back on schedule.