Academy for Modding Excellence
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
  Home    Forum    Help    Search    Login    Register  
*
News : MEMBERS WANTED!

Players & Builders of NWN & NWN2 needed to join the AME panel
June 17, 2019, 05:42:07 PM
+  Academy for Modding Excellence
|-+  Academy of Modding Excellence Public Forums
| |-+  General Discussion
| | |-+  It's the little things that count
Advanced search
  0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
Pages 1 Go Down
Author
Topic: It's the little things that count  (Read 3475 times)
« on: June 23, 2011, 03:07:44 PM »
Quillmaster Offline
AME member
Brass Dragon
***
Posts: 127

WWW

A phrase I often see in feedback for mods that warrant good feedback is "attention to detail", indeed, it's something that many AME members look for, but what qualifies such a remark?

Being a perfectionist myself, it's something I strive for in my own creations, so I thought I'd post some of the little things I do that ultimately make for a better "bigger picture" in the hope that it offers inspiration to fellow builders out there...

NPCs
It goes without saying that portrait selection can be important to help add flavour to an NPC, but what's often overlooked is the character model behind the portrait.  It can be somewhat jarring to have the character look nothing like the portrait.  While I admit this isn't exactly easy given the constraints of the toolset, it is possible to make it obvious that an effort has been made.  First and foremost, I pay attention to both hairstyle and hair colour, first selecting the head that most closely resembles the hairstyle, then colouring it appropriately.  Next I’ll make a custom outfit, matching colour and style as closely as possible, and finally, if a weapon is present in the portrait depiction, I’ll try to ensure that this is the weapon favoured by the NPC.

Soundset selection too is also important.  If the portrait portrays a gruff dirty looking character, then a posh sounding voice set can sound out of place.  Make the voice fit the portrait, and pretty soon your mod will feel like it’s full of actors rather than pixels.

Sounds
Sound can go a long way adding to the ambience of an area.  A trick I’ll often employ is to consider the sounds present in an adjoining area.  For example, imagine a dockland area that contains a shop.  The docks themselves will benefit from the sound of seagulls, so there’s no reason that the seagulls shouldn’t be heard within the shop too.  If you place the same sound with the volume reduced (to allow for the fact that it originates from outside), within the doorway of the shop, it does much to the feeling of immersion.

Even without scripting knowledge you can take advantage of sounds within conversations, and you don’t have to be restricted to voice sets.  For example, you could have someone say “what was that noise?” and select an appropriate sound to play, or if you really feel adventurous, find a sound meant for something else that sounds like what you’re trying to imply.  I’ve used this technique to indicate pages turning in a book by using the sound reserved for a birds wings flapping.

You can also take advantage of voice sets for a designated NPC, although it must be said this can be quite time consuming.  Once I’m happy with an NPC voice set, I’ll often preview all the speech available, making note of anything I think I can use.  In an extensive conversation file such as that for a henchman, it can be a good idea to write down the sentence along with a note of the associated sound file so that you can find them easily when required.  In some cases you might even get lucky and find something that will inspire your creation even further.

Music too has an important role to play, and can often set the mood in a given area.  A good film will often use this technique.  There’s no reason why you shouldn’t too.  You can take it even further by changing the music in an area on a given event, suddenly changing from jolly to sad, or mundane to dark and creepy.  Think about what emotions you are trying to portray and react accordingly.

Placeables

Be picky about how you place things.  Anyone can plop things down willy nilly, but it shows true dedication if a player can see real thought has gone into not what’s used, but how it’s used.  Open curtains in doorframes, wagons part buried in mud, or an axe intended for wall display placed sideways half buried in something wooden.  All the prior suggestions can easily be achieved by making use of the “adjust location” tool within the toolset.  If you position the window on screen so you can still see the area where the object resides, you can make changes to the positioning and hit “apply”, fine tuning until you get the desired results.

Item Desciptions

When creating custom items, think about the powers they have and why they might exist.  By doing this you can even have something considered mundane have a perfectly plausible explanation for the powers it might have, and therefor increase immersion.  For example, give a guard dog a drop-able necklace called a “Studded Dog Collar”, with a description implying that it’s a popular accessory for guard dogs to protect their throat, sometimes worn by thugs as decoration, and give it a bonus to intimidation.

These are just some ideas I often try to employ.  Feel free to add any of your own creative methods so that others may be inspired Smiley
Logged
 
Reply #1
« on: June 23, 2011, 03:11:46 PM »
Tybae Offline
AME Whippinig Boy
Administrator
Platinum Dragon
*****
Devourer of Worlds, Lover of Kittens Posts: 2010



Lighting is a huge factor for me.  Default lighting works fine with large exteriors, but for interiors and enclosed areas, custom lighting really gives a better ambiance to your module. 
Logged

I live by the motto:  "Safety 3rd"
 
Reply #2
« on: June 23, 2011, 03:14:33 PM »
Quillmaster Offline
AME member
Brass Dragon
***
Posts: 127

WWW

Lighting is a huge factor for me.  Default lighting works fine with large exteriors, but for interiors and enclosed areas, custom lighting really gives a better ambiance to your module. 

Most definately!
Logged
 
Reply #3
« on: June 23, 2011, 07:26:05 PM »
Henesua Offline
AME member
Brass Dragon
***
Posts: 117

WWW

I wanted to expand on what you started here by filling out some of the categories you mentioned.

Text

As a player I look at the descriptions of everything when I start a module. If much of what I find is generic description, I'm disappointed. When building, I put thought into descriptions of creatures, placeables, items --- and areas. I learned about area descriptions from Vives which uses an onenter script to provide a description of the area to the player. Even with the newer hak packs out there, NWNs graphics are dated, but good text descriptions can make up for that. Disclaimer: I was into interactive fiction back in the old days of 300 baud modems and shell prompts with games like Zork and Adventure available on your friend's dad's job's computer network.


Sound

This is very important to me. I use placeable sounds to improve player immersion in the environment. Scheduling sounds for example to only play at particular times give the player a sense of the area's routine. You can play with night and day sounds, ringing of church bells on the hour, etc... You can also use sound to suggest to the background activities without placing a million creatures.


Logged

 
Reply #4
« on: June 23, 2011, 07:35:24 PM »
Tybae Offline
AME Whippinig Boy
Administrator
Platinum Dragon
*****
Devourer of Worlds, Lover of Kittens Posts: 2010



Forgot one of my major pet peeves, spelling and grammar.  You can always run your conversations, descriptions, etc. through some kind of spell checking, and/or have someone, preferably more than one, proofread for you.  Personally, I prefer both options.  You can never have too many eyes reading whatever you type. 
Logged

I live by the motto:  "Safety 3rd"
 
Reply #5
« on: June 23, 2011, 10:31:59 PM »
PJ156 Offline
AME member
Bronze Dragon
***
Posts: 250



Weather is importatnt and can be played with in areas where you time in them is fixed. Rain should come with a rain sound and splashed if you have access to that VFX. Nwn2 has access as well to a dirty floor VFX which makes a huge difference in areas in doorways and around tables.
Logged

 
Reply #6
« on: June 24, 2011, 01:34:22 AM »
Quillmaster Offline
AME member
Brass Dragon
***
Posts: 127

WWW

You can play with night and day sounds, ringing of church bells on the hour, etc... You can also use sound to suggest to the background activities without placing a million creatures.

Ah yes, a cockeral crowing in the morning, owl hoots at night etc.

Forgot one of my major pet peeves, spelling and grammar.  You can always run your conversations, descriptions, etc. through some kind of spell checking, and/or have someone, preferably more than one, proofread for you.  Personally, I prefer both options.  You can never have too many eyes reading whatever you type. 

My biggest nightmare.  I don't have Word on my computer, so am unable to take advantage of a spell checking tool made specifically for the toolset, and the prospect of copying individual lines of a a conversation over to an application that can spell check for me is a major headache for existing work, although I may consider creating text outside of the toolset first for anything in the future.  Even with playtesters, I still get errors slip the net Sad
Logged
 
Reply #7
« on: June 24, 2011, 02:26:41 AM »
QSW Offline
AME member
Silver Dragon
***
QSW by Dragarta Posts: 674




Quote
I don't have Word on my computer, so am unable to take advantage of a spell checking tool made specifically for the toolset

Might be a silly question, but wouldn't that tool work with Open Office, the open source option to MS Word?
Logged

Dragon Disguised as Quality Family Butcher...
 
Reply #8
« on: June 24, 2011, 05:05:17 AM »
PJ156 Offline
AME member
Bronze Dragon
***
Posts: 250




Quote
I don't have Word on my computer, so am unable to take advantage of a spell checking tool made specifically for the toolset

Might be a silly question, but wouldn't that tool work with Open Office, the open source option to MS Word?

Yup! thats how I, sort of, solved this problem. I have a real issue with this as I seem incapable of typing correctly.

Do what the lady dragon says and get yourself open office. I then use the excel/spreadsheet package. I have made the columns small and colour them with red and blue text so the convo looks like the toolset (makes planing easier but does nothing else for you). then copy it line by line back. You get spell shecking then but not grammar, but then there is no effective grammar checking in the text package either.

It's a little more time consuming but helps a lot, if, like me, you can't type ...

PJ
Logged

 
Print  Pages 1 Go Up
« previous next »
Jump to: