The Timeline - Serious Business
This section began as the tail end of the original Bob's History page which became part two of the timeline. I wasn't doing much with Slayer Software at the time and
so there was not much to update. The plan now is to expand this to talk about what I was doing at the time instead. When I wasn't doing work related coding my time was
spent more on modding existing games rather than creating full games.
Follow me on Twitter or join the mailing list to get updates when this page is updated.
At this point I decide to quit my job developing software used in oil refineries. I start my own business and take contract work, all while developing a start-up website idea with a friend. The start-up never took off. Someone else succesfully excuted the same idea later, we were too early I think. This all lead to more web development work directly with clients. However in return I spent much less time programming or modding for fun.
The development of Hit 2 continues on and off, but otherwise very little happened in the world of Slayer Software this year.
Bob buys a piece of internet history and joins The Million Dollar Homepage
A colleage and I then develop our own million dollar concept using Bob as our front man:
Bob's Million Dollar Gamble
Slayweb.com is finally updated after 2 years of nothing, it is now fully W3C standards compliant. The first edition of Bob's History was added to the site at this point, which went on to become this timeline.
October of this year sees the release of the game Neverwinter Nights 2. I had discovered the original game a bit late, but still I had played quite a lot by this point. I'd also begun to look into the mod community for the game and had started tinkering with the editor. I had a very rough story plan for a module I hoped to release but the development never progressed very far.
In order to give the mod community a bit of a head start, the toolset for Neverwinter Nights 2 was released a few days before the game to those who had pre-ordered. That included me, I wanted to be in at the beginning for this. The first night it was available I made a few scene mockups while discussing all the ins and outs in the forum.
After that I played the game itself then started planning to release some of my own modules.
The first annoyance I had with the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset was the complete lack of options for dynamic lighting in a scene. The world had a day/night cycle but the torches would stay on all day.
For me that broke immersion.
After looking deeper in the the toolset features and capabilities I realized it would be possible to program a system to control the lighting in game and have different lights display at different times of day.
This became known as the Scripted Lighting System.
As is often the case with programming projects, once this was finished I looked back and saw all things I could add or do better. The plan for additions and improvements turned into a complete rewrite which was eventually released as SLS2.
The two versions were downloaded thousands of times. I wish I knew how many modules were released which contained my scripts. It's probably not an insignificant amount. To this day SLS2 remains one of the projects I've put out online of which I am most proud.
At the beginning of 2008 I've finished SLS and start to think about releasing my own complete module again. I start a side blog to talk about the process and I'm
now going to copy those entries here. It begins on the 21st of January:
Quick Introduction - "I have decided to keep a log of my thoughts and experiences while building a module for Neverwinter Nights 2. The plan for this module started before the game was released, it's taken a little time to get around to actually making it! After creating SLS I found I lacked the time to properly devote to a whole module, until now. So, I've gathered up all the random notes and scribbles of maps I've made over the last year of thinking about this and work has begun. My first area is pretty much to a point where I'm happy with it and I've put some screenshots on the main module page." (21st January 2008)
Those screenshots I mentioned back then are now here:
A week later I'm feeling hopeful.
First Area - "I'm not new to the world of module creation. I did have a module in development for the original Neverwinter Nights (it never got to a releasable state though). One thing I suffered from a lot while building for NWN1 was what I'll call 'runaway area building syndrome'. I'd keep building area after area without stopping to add anything else; dialog, scripts, npcs, etc. Though very easy to do thanks to the tileset system, this made the process get a bit daunting when there was suddenly a crap load of conversations to write. It was all about going to have a look in at the area in game rather than actually thinking about building a whole module. With my new NWN2 module I figured I'd try the opposite approach, sticking with one area until it's was virtually complete in all areas. So far it definitely feels better, there's added variety in the work that needs doing and you can properly play the module (the beginning at least). Feels like I'm actually building a module, though having a plan helps with that too." (29th January 2008)
Work progresses but slowly.
Distractions - "This page is already starting to look like a boring wall of text so I'm going to throw some of my lastest screenshots inline with the post. Starting with the first interior of the module, inside this house. Right, on with the post. I get easily distracted when working on my pc. There's always a webpage or forum to read, or there's a new idea for something to create that I end up starting to work on. At the moment there's two NWN related distractions. While working on my module I realized that a new version of SLS was required, knowing a lot more about the scripting system now I found there was a lot of scope for improvements and new features. So for now most of my NWN development is going towards this so I can get it done and use it in my own module. The other project that's distracting me I'm not going to say much about yet. I need to figure where it's going and if it'll even get completed, but I will say it's a tool that should be useful to developers and player alike. Look out for SLS2 sometime before the end of the month and more info on the other project later." (18th February 2008)
Following that there were some hiccups.
Remember Your Backups - "It's never happened to me before but due to an autosave error my entire SLS2 test mod directory was wiped! I was pretty lucky that I still had my main area and script open in the toolset so they could be re-saved. My last backup was a week old, that'll teach me for being complacent! Combining the re-save and the backup has restored a decent ammount, but I've lost a lot of support scripts and about half an area (and I kinda wanted to redo that area anyway!).
I just wanted to post this to remind builders out there to regularly backup your modules. Everybody says this, but if I'm any indication not everybody does it." (26th February 2008)
Then the usual happens, 7 months passes with very little activity.
Too Long Away - "I've been pulled away from the world of Neverwinter by work and real life for a while now. The time has come for that to change! I've recently started working on SLS2 again with the aim of releasing as soon as possible, certainly before the Storm of Zehir hits. There's only a handful of things to finish now and then the documentation to write. More SLS2 info sometime next month." (17th September 2008)
However desipte the delay I did manage to get the first version of SLS2 released. It just wasn't as big of an event as I was expecting.
SLS2 Out, Response Lackluster - "SLS2 has finally been released after many delays. The response to the release has been pretty uninspiring, only 6 downloads so far and no comments. I was expecting interest to be low at this point, nearly two years since the original game was released and still a month away from the next expansion. I have to admit though I was hoping for a little more. At least now it's done I can install it in my own module and get on with that!" (25th September 2008)
Work picks up on my module again, but only briefly.
What Comes Next? - "I've been working on The Seal of Yamarl again, progress is slow at the moment. Currently there's a lot of dialogue to be written which is my weakest skill. The campaign currently consists of six areas which will take your charactor from level one to level three. Chapter one, once complete, should see you finishing around level six. I've posted a few new shots from the module, just a small cave area. I don't want to post any shots of my main area at the moment due to plot spoilers. Aside from this module I've also had an idea for a new NWN2 project. This will be very heavy on the scripting side of things which is more my area of expertise. It's still in the early stages so I won't talk much about it yet but I'll give it a basic description: A stand-alone social/alternative module which supports multiple parties but is not persistant." (2nd October 2008)
Two months pass and the third and final expansion is released for Neverwinter Nights 2.
Storm of Zehir - "It's been a busy time of year for PC gamers, I've been playing too much of Fallout 3, Red Alert 3 & Left 4 Dead to properly devote much time to Storm of Zehir. I've enjoyed most of what I've played so far, but I don't think I'm very far though it yet. My party is fairly basic consisting of: a Human Swashbuckler, an Aasimar Paladin, a Halfling Rogue and a Drow Warlock. The game runs fine and is enjoyable but I think the main probably is that it isn't quite what I was expecting. For example I was expecting high adventure in the jungles of Chult, but instead I quickly found myself becoming a trader on the Sword Coast rebuilding Crossroad Keep yet again. I don't exactly consider this a problem, it was just unexpected. Another unexpected aspect is the frequency of encounters on the overland map. I didn't realize I was going to need some kind of stealth in my party. Luckily my Rogue can 'Move Silently' past most things, but I have to pause at most area transitions and make sure she is selected before we're swamped by bandits and ogres. A few quibbles and concerns but overall a pretty good game, but for me the main reason for purchasing was getting more creatures and placeables for my own mods. My next goal on that front is an updated version of SLS2 including the new placeables from SOZ, which will probably appear shortly after christmas." (16th December 2008)
Almost a year after the previous post on my designer diary I suddenly reappear. Energised by the release of Dragon Age: Origins I decide I want to pick up my NWN2 module again.
The Age of Dragons - "I hadn't realised quite how long it had been since I last wrote on the page until I came to post this, at least I've managed to make it less than a year, just! As may be obvious from the title of the post, the reason I'm thinking about role playing games again is "Dragon Age: Origins". Bioware have done a great job with this game and I've been enjoying it a lot so far. However it's made me consider my unfinished NWN2 projects, which have taken a back seat for the last few months. I have to decide if I should abandon them completely or make a renewed effort to finish them. As an added complication Bioware have released a toolset for creating modules for Dragon Age which sounds tempting and I expect a lot of builders will make the switch. What I've decided is to stick with NWN2 for now and try to finish my projects. The main reason for that being familiarity, it's what I currently know the most about, also my current pc is getting below average framerate in DA:O (must be time for an upgrade!). I'm sure I'll give the Dragon Age editor a try at some point, but not just yet. So for now it's back to work in the NWN2 toolset. In my last post I said I was going to add SOZ placeables to SLS2, that'll be the first job then. I should probably get the latest patch!" (8th November 2009)
After a couple of years irregularly posting on my website about Neverwinter Nights 2 module design I decide the next evolution of that is a general life blog.
I created Life of Doon, a daily blog about my life in general which I would post on for the next two and a half years.
Those posts are all adequately archived on Blogspot for now so I won't repost them here. Though I might go through and pick out some highlights in the future.
Three months after the start of my general life blog I make one final entry to my NWN2 Designer Diary.
A Question of Setting - "As I recently mentioned on my general blog I intend to rekindle my unfinished Neverwinter Nights 2 projects and get at least one of them finished by the end of the year. So to start with I have to familiarize myself with my setting again. Other than the city of Neverwinter and the Sword Coast I don't know a lot about the Forgotten Realms. For this reason I decided to create my own D&D-esque world rather than use the existing setting. Looking back this may have been the wrong choice. It gives me greater control over everything but it's also a lot more work to create. I have to know the back story for the whole world and create all the texture for the setting. It would probably have been quicker to learn some more about the Forgotten Realms rather than to start from scratch like that. I'll stick with what I've got now that I'm part way though but I've just got to make the effort to use it all more than once so that time can be considered more productive overall." (20th May 2010)
I never did get much more done though. The whole idea of a NWN2 module fades away with a whimper from this point on. The Scripted Lighting System was so much more usful and well received that any of my story or art work. The lesson I learned from this was that I'm much better suited to creating the technical support type of mods which other creators then use to assist in their own work. This would later be confirmed when I breifly started tinkering with Skyrim.
I will expand here in the future. Keep an eye out on Twitter for updates.
Read Part 4: A New Hope...