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Academy of Modding Excellence Public Forums => Academy for Modding Excellence News => Topic started by: BenWH on August 20, 2008, 11:10:48 PM

Title: Golden Dragon Interview: Grinning Fool
Post by: BenWH on August 20, 2008, 11:10:48 PM
Grinning Fool is a Community Rep, Beta Tester, tool creater and PW operator for NWN2, and picked up the Community Contribution Award. We find out about what he does with his time, and what he would add to the Electron engine if he could...

What made you start building for NWN2?

It was never a question - we had a NWN1 PW, and shut it down a few months before NWN2's toolset beta in order to focus on NWN2.  Once I got my paws on the NWN2 toolset, I was hooked (in spite of the early warts ;)

Were the tools you made to help you build yourself, or did they inspire you to start building?
Creature creator came about shortly after toolset beta started, when so many people started asking for a NWN1-like creature wizard.  I was more-or-less OK with the way the toolset handles making creatures (except for multiclass), but this gave an opportunity to make something useful to a lot of people and also to begin learning a new technology (.Net and CSharp).   Unfortunately, the internals of that project reflect that it was the first project I wrote using those technologies - it's a mess. To this day I'm still too ashamed of it to release the code :D   I do, however, plan to clean it up and release it.   

Wandering back to the topic at hand -- usability tools also started as a result of a suggestion that sounded really neat: being able to control brush pressure from a scrollwheel.  It kind of ballooned from there.  The first major release was entirely suggestions from the community. The second (which included 'resource manager' and a bunch of other goodies) was more selfish -- it was a collection of fixes for things that I found really irritating about working with the toolset -- from having text instead of icons everywhere, to needing to look through five different tabs to find resources.   

Well, this has turned rather rambling.  I suppose I could have just said "some of A (to help me build) and some of C (not listed - to learn and help out the community)".   But where would the fun have been in that?

How much of your time do you spend repping, and what does it involve?
 There are a few different aspects to repping.  The biggest part of it is being aware of the community -- knowing what problems and issues people are encountering.  Following on the heels of that is consolidating the findings  into usable and detailed lists that Obsidian can work from.     

There's some research and follow-up involved too -- when someone reports "The toolset window is all  screwed up", it takes a bit of digging to translate that into "When running on Windows Vista with Aero enabled, the controls on the Terrain panel are all overlapping each other".  Related to that, it's always especially helpful when we can take issue reports and use them to create a detailed, reproduceable test case.

As far as time: not as much time in '08 as in '07 - mostly because of real-life concerns, but also in part because it's become somewhat more routine over time.

If you could make two changes to NWN2, what would they be?
 The easy #1 is Integrated download support for multiplayer.

#2 is tough.  There are a lot of great requests out there, but if I were to pick one based strictly on what I want it would be the abiltiy to allow 100% customizable skills . Obsidian has made some major improvemetns here by removing the hard-coded GUI dependency and fixing the skills.2da crashes -- that got us 90% of the way there.  . What remains is the abiltiy to add custom feats that enhance skills (like Silver Tongue, Skill Focus, etc) with engine-level support. Currently they are possible, but require custom scripting - and bonuses granted that way can't stack.

An extremely  close third is a linux standalone server.

How do you divide your time between your PW, repping and building tools?

With little room for sanity.  Every once in a while I find myself on the verge of getting burnt out, so I'll take a week or so and do something brainless (most recently, stumbled across a great little indy game "Depths of Peril" - good price, lots of interesting gameplay ideas).  But the biggest drain in the last few months has been work - it's kicked into overdrive.

What did you think when you first heard about the Golden Dragon Awards?

Surprised, at least when I heard that I was nominated.  As I recall, I tired to convince Qk to withdraw me from consideration but he just laughed at me.

What do you think of the other finalists in your category?
  That both of them would have been better picks than me? 

Robinson Workshop ( has been producing great work from the first day -- work that's used a lot more widely than mine and deservedly so.   

In addition to creating some great plugin, Tani ( has rescued over a dozen plugins from extinction with her replug project - in some cases making the difference between people staying with NWN2 toolset and losing interest.  And that doesn't even get into her work as one of the two pioneers of nwn2 content downloading tools with Worldgate.

What are you up to currently?
In order, I would say ... my day-job (things have been crazy there lately), a NWN2-related  project (which I can't yet speak of, but more info to come soon), and Khalidine.  I suspect I won't have time for much else until mid-September until the earliest.

I am also currently working on an in-game Variable Editor GUI now that 1.13 is released, which I hope to have on NWVault around the time this interview is actually published. A new project I have planned is a  toolset plugin that handles much of the dirty work involved in creation of custom skills, classes, races, and spells -- I'm hoping to get that one out in early '09, and expect to be pestering ladydesire and Kaedrin quite a bit while making it. 

Top on my list is further expansion of Usability Tools and Creature Creator,  finding time to collaborate with Sunjammer on the GUI editor we've been planning for over a year now, and putting together an entertaining pirate-themed event for Khalidine in time for International Speak Like a Pirate Day on September 19th. 

Also high on my list is getting to spend more time on the NWN2 forums helping out where I can -- because of work, I haven't had the time needed for that lately.

Always on the back burner is the "PW Package" project -- we will be releasing Khalidine's systems, nwnx and toolset plugins, web tools, database, etc into the public domain as a standalone PW package which people can use as a foundation for their own PWs.   THat's been badly delayed, but I still have hopes of getting most of it out late this year.

I think that covers most of my current/planned activities.

Speaking of Khalidine, I'll take this opportunity to slip in a bit [more] shameless self-promotion.  We're going to open up our doors for DM-run adventures within the next couple of weeks. Our intent is to allow players to get an enjoyable  taste of the world that way, while we finish preparations needed to go live as a 24/7 persistent world.

All typos in this interview are transmission errors, and are not the responsibility of yours truly.

Thanks for dropping by, and good luck with all your various projects - which can be found here (

Title: Re: Golden Dragon Interview: Grinning Fool
Post by: sirchet on August 22, 2008, 05:43:56 AM
Great Interview Ben and thanks GF for taking the time to answer these questions.
I know I'm not the only one who wanted to hear your thoughts.

Title: Re: Golden Dragon Interview: Grinning Fool
Post by: Qkrch on August 22, 2008, 05:15:45 PM
*Keeps laughing at GF*

Title: Re: Golden Dragon Interview: Grinning Fool
Post by: Tybae on August 22, 2008, 05:34:44 PM
*just laughs*

Great interview GF.  Chet was right.  He's not the only one who wanted to hear your thoughts. 

Title: Re: Golden Dragon Interview: Grinning Fool
Post by: sirchet on August 23, 2008, 08:14:25 AM
GF said...

All typos in this interview are transmission errors, and are not the responsibility of yours truly.

HAH HAH HAH Too much!

Title: Re: Golden Dragon Interview: Grinning Fool
Post by: Alban on August 24, 2008, 02:30:12 PM
This one is truly a part of Paradise ;) Great sense of humor, as always !

Title: Re: Golden Dragon Interview: Grinning Fool
Post by: Grinning Fool on August 27, 2008, 10:32:23 AM
Glad you've enjoyed :)