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Author Topic: Stratovarius in Edmonton  (Read 5877 times)

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July 21, 2009, 10:57:03 PM

This piece is going to be a more general overview of my Edmonton trip. With luck, I'll have another one on scripting for DA sometime before the end of the week.

I arrived at our hotel rather late that first night, courtesy of a one and a half hour delay in Heathrow due to drizzle. You'd think the English would have figured out how to deal with that, but apparently, not quite yet. Arrived, checked in, and rushed off to dinner, just in time to meet everyone else and catch a main meal. Not, perhaps, the most auspicious start to the trip, but exciting, nonetheless.

Next up was the first day playing around with the DA toolset, and we had a series of lectures on the subject, starting with, of course, a quest to kill a dangerous rat, and get an item from a chest it was guarding. Despite nearly dying to the rat several times with my mage, I managed to progress through the day, which was a module builder's introduction to the toolset, covering how to place monsters, build quests, create dialogue, build plots, and use the scene tool to create cutscenes. This particular tool may well be the best change to come in Dragon Age versus all of its predecessors, as it allows reusable cutscenes, quick building of basic VO, lip sync, gestures and movements for the actors within, and generally speeds the process of creating good looking moments within a module. It is also relatively simple to be come proficient with, at least as it relates to conversations. Actual cutscenes are a little harder to manage, but still not all that difficult.

That more or less ended the first day. The second day began with a tutorial on level building, which is more involved than NWN1 certainly, and possibly than NWN2, although I don't speak from a great deal of experience there. Not being entirely interested in the level editor discussion I followed along, but soon turned my mind and thoughts to scripting, playing around with the module load script to take a look at each of the base classes and some of the specializations. There are fifteen primary playable classes at the moment, three base classes, and four specialization classes for each of those bases. Each base class possesses between 48 and 68 abilities, while the specializations vary between 12 to 20. I'll not spoil them too much, other than to say that I was rather impressed with the array of choices, especially for the mage, and am looking forward to playing one. Especially one that goes into Blood Mage.

Just after lunch on that second day, Adriana came forward and told us all that we were being split into four teams, and that we would have a day and a half to build a ten minute module with one hundred words of dialogue, and at least some combat. At the same time as we were attempting to build the modules, there were still seminars and little side sessions going on, including a particularly popular one from David Gaider that took up most of the rest of the time that day.

The third and final day of the trip there began with more frantic coding, and continued that way for much of the day, as, within our group, we were attempting to use custom areas, and go through all of the necessary steps to getting them in the game, despite not actually realizing what some of those steps were. We also spent a good deal of time using and testing the new Bioware social site, which, while powerful, had a few quirks at that time. Not too surprising, given it had been finished the night that we arrived.

Sunjammer, myself, and Markus, after a few minutes of rather hurried discussion, decided that we would work on a Little Red Riding Hood module, only that the little scamp had scarpered off, and in her place the heroine, who was a young female elf mage, would have to deliver the food, drink, and flowers to grandma. It started with a cutscene to give the quest, then the gathering of the three necessary items. A trip through the scenery to show off Markus's areas followed, until we met 'grandma' . We had a nice little chat with 'grandma'. "But Grandmother!  What big ears you have" "The better to hear you with, my dear" "But Grandmother!  What big eyes you have" "The better to see you with, my dear" "But Grandmother!  What big teeth... Oh bugger this!" Combat was then begun with a rather scary and large werewolf. That was as far as we got during the time we had allotted, as all of us working on the module were pulled away by one demand or another. Thankfully, GameSpy published a few images from our module, and you can see them on this page.

Overall, I can say I had a wonderful time there, and the extra day that we had, three rather than the two of the prior trip, certainly helped make things even better, as we were able to have almost a whole day hands on with the toolset, talking to all of the developers who worked on and built Dragon Age over the last several years. I also met a rather interesting cast of characters among those who came new this time, including one of my PRC co-workers, Tenjac. It figures that we'd fly to another country to meet, rather than taking the much closer route using the car.

I'd like to extend another thank-you to Bioware for having us all there, and two thumbs up to Dragon Age and the toolset both. With luck, I'll get even more out of this than I did from Neverwinter.
That is not dead which can eternal lie.
 And with strange aeons even death may die.