A First Look at Dragon Age (Part 3)

DAWell, there were no bikini clad fans to be found anywhere, but there was a toolset to look at, and let’s face it, that’s what we really came for. Jay Watamaniuk (Community Guru) and Fernando Melo (Producer Guru) organised a number of ‘lessons’ for us where we went through some of the editors available in the toolset. My first thought was that it looked a lot like the Neverwinter Nights 1 toolset, though with the distinct advantage of being able to open several assets at once. It was easy to pull open an area and to start playing around in it. The controls for moving about in the toolset are much like those of the NWN2 toolset (less than intuitive for me, but you soon get used to it). Dropping in objects and creatures is just like you will have encountered before in the other toolsets, though now there are some easy to use extra buttons that allow you to control pitch, rotation and height. In addition, there is a multi-level undo that seems to be present in all of the editors (this was our first ‘aaah’ moment as we remembered the pain of the NWN2 undo).
DA Toolset

Dressing and modifying your characters is also easy. There is a mini viewer when you are adding equipment so you will know what the armour looks like, and like nearly everything in the toolset, what you see in the toolset is what you will see in the game. But perhaps the neatest feature of customising characters is the head morphing tool. This neat utility allows you to mess around with your character’s features (something like what you did when setting your character for Oblivion for example, but with a lot more choice). As a result, with the different racial and gender based starting models, you can create literally thousands of unique heads. Even better, the system is semi-intelligent, in that if you add a beard, by default it will switch off some of the other incompatible options. There are dozens of tabs on the head morphing tool that allow fine control (set out logically for you to work from left to right), but you can make fairly unique heads just by making a few adjustments - or indeed by randomising.

DA Event3
The event itself with the Bioware folks at the back from left: Dryan Derkson, Georg Zoeller, Ferret Baudoin (sitting), Fernando Melo, some guy I didn’t meet (!) and Scott Meadows
In the second row (from left): fluffy, Alazander, Hugie. Back row: B G P Hughes, Adam Miller, some other studio folks (!), Daemonblackrazor, Beerfish. Picture courtesy of Hugie.

The script editor feels very comfortable for a fan of the NWN1 script editor, though with some additional functionality that significantly improves it. The layout and the scripting language are similar but not identical to that used in NWN. One useful functionality that you can see from the screenshot is a panel at the bottom with some help-like details of what a command does when you have it selected. So far, there haven’t been a lot of details released on the script editor, so I’ll leave it there. In the next part, I’ll also take a brief look at the dialogue editor and wrap up with a trip round the studio to discover what actually goes on inside…
DA Script Editor

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About AME

The AME (Academy for Modding Excellence) is a group... for Neverwinter Nights.