Nothing really extrodinary to report. I was sick on Wednesday; nasty bout of diahrrea. I bet you didn’t need to know that. So, technically it’s going to be a five day weekend, although Weds was spent groaning and feeling fried and taking naps.
I’ve been playing a lot of NWN online. You know? There’s something wrong here. There seem to be two different types of servers out there. There are ones loaded with NPCs and quests and chats with no personality to speak of (and quests don’t work well in a multiplayer context, since you have trouble finding the party if you join late, and trying to read a convo with lots of word bubble spam is nasty… and there are the ones which are little more than Diablo clones, with maybe a poorly thought out town tossed in for good measure. Both of them suffer Wide Expanses of Nothing problems (32×32 forests with no light that seem to be full of nothing other than trees).
So in general, I ain’t seeing a lot of cohesion, not much tuning and precision of layout. Everything feels kind of slapped together, and the few times they try to do a story, it’s a typical D&D story which could be generated by slapping random words together like ‘Calm the wilderbeasts’ or ‘Fetch my magic ring’ or ‘Kill the hobgoblins.’ Yahoo.
I’m proud to say that Penultima ain’t gonna be like that. I’m taking a lot of care to plan out my maps so they make some sense, add decorative items to make it feel like it’s more than a container for monsters, and add in interactive bits. Now, to do this, I largely sacrifice multiplayer as I’ve noted in previous entries; either you go solo or you go in a tightly knit party. But I think it’s worth it.
Play balance is still a real issue. I just can’t find the right mix that’s challenging but not highly difficult; it’s always too easy or two hard. I don’t know WHY Grandma Skullsplitter can whiz through Pest Control while my Fighter/Rogue who’s two levels ahead of her is struggling. Weird. So, I may strip out the XP/Gold penalty for death — it’d be too harsh if you find yourself in over your head.
It’s looking like 90% of the modules out there are tossed-together, uninteresting messes. I’m happy to say that I’m in the top 10%, or at least in my demented ego, I feel I am.
Penultima City will be released soon — this one plays like a classic adventure game, with no real quests to speak of (well… one. :) and lots and lots of chat trees. Hopefully interesting ones, unlike most I’ve hit. Trees with ATTITUDE. And to back up my claims, here’s a pretty nice review of Pest Control.
More to come.