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Kelandon

Homeland progress report

41 posts in this topic

Given the recent level of activity in the BoA forums, I thought now might be a good time to announce that I am in the early stages of designing Homeland, the follow-up to Bahssikava and Exodus!

 

I've actually been working on Homeland on and off for about seven years now, but each time I started working on it again, I hit a wall. The original version of the scenario that I was creating just didn't work. The outdoors was all wrong. The writing style was all wrong. The relationship between the major characters of Exodus (Kass, etc.) and the party was all wrong. Nothing fit, and nothing worked. I'd try to design for a few hours a few days in a row, and I'd maybe draw a single town, or write a little dialogue, or something. It just didn't flow, and nothing I did could make it work. So I'd give up for a few months and then come back, and I'd have the same problems again.

 

So, a few weeks ago, I junked everything that I had made so far and started afresh. I redrew the outdoors. I restructured the plot. I changed more or less everything — although it turns out that I probably will be able to keep a few of the towns that I had previously made (thank god, because that was a lot of work that I tossed out).

 

And the good news is that everything is proceeding well now! Instead of hitting a wall every time I sit down to design, I am having no trouble at all writing the story that I wanted to write. It's a massive scenario, probably more or less the size of Exodus, so unfortunately even with good, steady progress, I don't think there will be even a beta until another year or two from now at the earliest, and there are many life events coming up that could derail my work, but I do intend to finish this. At the moment, I think I will, although it won't be until 2018 or 2019 at the earliest.

 

I think I'd like to post updates every now and again here, mostly because it helps keep me motivated. Those updates will contain very minor spoilers — nothing big, just little aspects about the structure and general topics of the scenario — and at first I'll hide spoiler-y things in spoiler tags, but I will stop doing that after a few posts, so be warned. Also, a bunch of hints about what will happen in Homeland were dropped in Exodus, and even more in The Magic, so things that have already been revealed I figure are fair game to talk about even outside of spoiler tags.

Spoiler

Specifically, the scenario has five main chapters, plus a prologue and a conclusion. The prologue is essentially done. I've designed most of the outdoors and outlined the plot for the entire scenario. I'm working on towns and dialogue for the first chapter now. I haven't at all worked through the gameplay — the combats, the special spells, the special items, etc. — and that's a bit daunting. I figure I have to do that pretty soon, because I will soon reach the point where there's nothing else to make in the first chapter except the dungeons.

 

I'm having a lot of fun making this, in part because it's really satisfying to finally get to some of the things that I hinted at in Exodus and The Magic but have never actually resolved. Many people on the expedition don't really get along terribly well (Kass vs. Pithoss, Silthokh vs. Phaedra, etc.), but that's never amounted to much yet. The vahnatai connection and the crystal pillars keep getting mentioned as an issue, but nothing has yet come of it. And the Goddess.... There's a lot of material still to work with, and I'm glad to finally be working with it.

 

And I have to keep reminding myself that I made Exodus in 2006. The lord of Danatha's rejection of "refugees" was not intended to be a political statement at the time. But it fits awfully well with recent events around the world. I had always intended Homeland to be a bit political — after all, one of the major points made at the end of Exodus is that the government of the Empire of Khalthas is completely in disarray, and there's a very strong hint that you will have some hand in fixing it somehow — but now the political message fits a lot better than it ever did before.

 

This does not mean that there will be much of a change in the tone or style of the scenario. All of my scenarios have engaged in some kind of dialogue with at least one source — Bahssikava with Avernum 1, Lord Putidus with the classical Lucretia story and with vampire stories (e.g., Dracula), Exodus with the Moses story from the Old Testament and with a lot of stuff from Late Antiquity — and Homeland will just do the same. I think Chessrook44 got about 20% of the references in Exodus, and I expect to be about as oblique in Homeland, also. I don't intend to beat anyone over the head with this stuff. But it will be there, for those who want to look for it.

 

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It's hard not to make this sound like an understatement, but this is just brilliant! I thought there might be a small chance of you getting back into this series again after The Magic, but what with the relativeness quietness of scenario design right now, I wasn't sure. You're working on Homeland – hooray!

 

I think the best part of this is that you've gotten past the writing block. I know only too well what that's like, and how painful it can be. I find it sometimes takes an age and a half to find a way to make all the elements of a story come together in a way that feels right. There's another understatement. Still, it sounds like you've blazed past that and you're making some good early progress. Long may that continue.

 

Of course it's a large scenario, so take the time that you need. It's better good than rushed and if it takes several years, so be it. If you need help at any point down the line (testing etc.), I'd be happy to chip in! 

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Delightful to hear that progress is going to happen on this.  I admit, I look forward to seeing it done myself, and when you do finish it... I'll give it a playthrough on my channel as well.  Gotta finish the story, after all!

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I will definitely let people know as I get to the point where it's playable, though that is a long way off yet. :)

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Posted (edited)

Wow, I'm impressed you decided to pick it back up after all these years. Wasn't it going to aimed at level 1 parties? Are you still going for that?

 

It's all very exciting. Speaking just for myself though, I'm hoping you won't bring in too much stuff you introduced in the Magic. I wasn't into the way you took the story in that (with Macrone in particular). Maybe it's out of line for me to say so in this case? Actually, you should just do what seems right to yourself, and not worry about what anyone else has to say. In fact, I probably should have deleted these last few sentences.

 

Anyways, good luck and I hope you have some actual fun with it.

Edited by Tarsus

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Nice to see you getting back to the "trilogy" after all this time. Kind of like Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's trilogy. It just keeps going in different directions.

 

I need to dig out my old BoA parties and finally play these.

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Awesome! Look forward to seeing it. I'll have to replay Bahssikava and Exodus sometime.

 

Maybe I should put something out for BoA again, seems this is where the market is. :p

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7 hours ago, Tarsus said:

Wasn't it going to aimed at level 1 parties? Are you still going for that?

 

It's all very exciting. Speaking just for myself though, I'm hoping you won't bring in too much stuff you introduced in the Magic.

I mean, one of the major plot points of The Magic is that the Bahs/Exodus party dies in a raid by a barbarian army that destroys Danatha. That's still true — that's essentially the beginning of Homeland. (How do you get into Khitaloss Province after the lord of Danatha decides to block you? Well, Danatha is annihilated in a barbarian raid. Convenient. Almost too convenient....) So yes, Homeland is designed for a new, level 1 party, and they're not the same people as the Bahs/Exodus party.

 

As far as other stuff from The Magic, Homeland will very much be the style of Bahs/Exodus and not The Magic. The Magic was intended to be a kind of coda that takes place after Homeland, resolving a few points never addressed in Homeland. As a coda, it wasn't really intended to feel like Bahs/Exodus at all. It's a lot more sad and personal but a lot less dark and epic. Homeland will be... um... pretty dark and epic.

 

But the plot points introduced in The Magic will remain. The basic premise of The Magic (as Sophia/Ethass explains) is that everyone who dies in Homeland appears on the island, and we do find out minor details about each of those characters' fates. That will all be consistent with what happens in Homeland.

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I looked over the log that I kept while designing Exodus, and I noticed a few things. First, part of the reason for the extended development time (from May 2005 to November 2006) was that I was designing Exodus while in college and I took a two-month break toward the end of a semester when I was just too busy to work on anything but school. That sort of thing may happen again... who knows.

 

But another huge part of the extended development time was that I didn't alpha test anything until after I had basically finished designing the scenario. I actually started alpha testing in May 2006, but the scenario was such a train wreck at that point that it took two months just to get to the point where I had something finishable, and the beta ran for another four months after that because I kept running into bug after bug. That's not going to happen with Homeland; I'm testing everything more or less as I design (at worst, at the end of every chapter). The Prologue is done and finishable. I have to run through it one more time since I made my last set of changes, but I'll be doing that shortly. Chapter 1 is well underway, and once I've designed enough to run a party through it, I will. My hope is that this will make final alpha testing and beta testing much smoother than they were for Exodus.

 

I also spent a while this past week implementing the special spell system, and it's a doozy.

Spoiler

On the surface, the special spells will probably look a lot like Exodus special spells. Versions of about half a dozen Exodus special spells have made their way into Homeland, and the interface will be largely the same (use something, get a list of available spells, select one from the list via numeric input, and then cast it). Outwardly, you can see two big differences: there are what I'm tentatively calling "warrior abilities" — special abilities that fighters without any Mage Spells or Priest Spells abilities can use — and non-targeted abilities/spells use a special ability, not an item.

 

I'm tentatively doing the latter because it was fairly easy to miss the correct spellbook in Exodus and have to cancel the spell that you were trying to cast, and there's no reason to force you to take up two inventory slots anyway. This way, you're unlikely to use a non-targeted ability/spell when you intended to use a targeted one, and vice-versa, and you'll only need one inventory slot for special spells. I'm doing the former for better balance; in Exodus, you could probably have a totally unbalanced party if you had one fighter and three mage/priests. (I don't think I ever tried that, but the spells were so powerful that it seems like that's how it would work.) In Homeland, the fighters will be able to hold their own also.

 

As you get used to the spells, though, you'll notice some pretty significant differences. A lot of Exodus spells had multiple effects; Protection gave Martyr's Shield, Magic Resistant, Resistant, and (at L3) Invulnerable. Homeland spells are going to be largely one-effect spells: a spell causes one or two statuses, or one or two damage types, and that's it. I think this will make the system more intuitive. (It also means that I won't have different levels of the spells; you either have the spell or you don't.) Part of this is just that Exodus was a high-level scenario and Homeland is a beginning-level scenario; Exodus spells are a lot stronger than Homeland spells because a level 70 party needs one spell to do more than a level 10 party does.

 

Internally, though, is where the real changes are. Exodus has a lot of duplication; every single spell has a separate state doing everything that the spell does. Each spell separately checks whether your Mage/Priest Spells skill is high enough, whether you have enough spell energy, etc. That extends the length of the script enormously and makes it hard to change things if there's a bug somewhere (because a bug in one place probably means that there are bugs in many other places, but because each spell has its own state and they're all slightly different, you don't know exactly where). Homeland will have no duplication; every spell will run through the same set of states, fetching data from information stored in other states in order to do everything that is necessary. This takes a little scripting trickery (casting a single spell runs through 43 different states, several of them more than once), but it ends up making the whole thing a lot easier in the long run.

 

Ultimately, right now, there are 27 special abilities/spells, evenly divided among warrior abilities, priest special spells, and mage special spells. This is potentially subject to change as I continue to design and test, but it seems pretty good at the moment. A lot of the point of the special abilities/spells is to give access to status types and damage types that you can't cause using the default spells (e.g., poison and acid damage), and I've basically done that with the current system.

 

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Your new approach to coding the special spells sounds neat, and it makes my programming side very happy! It seems far more elegant to pass all the spells through one place, and it should make your life much, much easier when the base code is working. 

 

I like your idea about powering up fighters, and I’ll be interested to see how that plays out.

 

Hooray for the Prologue being completable! It’s great to hear that a little chunk of Homeland is already at that stage.

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I intended to test the Prologue this weekend, but when I loaded up the scenario, I encountered something I hadn't anticipated: for some reason, BoA rejected my scenario script as having too many variables when I had more than 10. (The docs say the maximum is generally 20.) Not sure what happened, but I had to replace a bunch of variables with flags, which isn't going to do anything good for the readability of the script. Still, I tested it, and special spells work! At least, getting info works, and that runs through almost the same logical flow as casting the spell does, so casting also ought to work. I'll test that more later.

 

I also got distracted by layering in dialogue and characters in Chapter 1. I'm following more or less the development process that I used for Exodus, which is to draw all the towns (floors, terrains, stains, etc.), then add NPCs and dialogue (including one-shot messages as you enter rooms and such), then add in combat in the dungeons. At some point along the way, whenever I've hit a block, I add junk items, more terrain/stains, etc., to make the town look finished. This is chapter-by-chapter, so I've drawn almost all of the towns for Chapter 1, and I'm in the middle of adding NPCs and dialogue for all the towns in Chapter 1.

 

One of the things I hadn't anticipated is just how many character names I need. In Exodus, there were all of five friendly towns other than camps in the whole scenario (Vasskolis, Neoss, Thassaka, the Temple of Sothana, and arguably Possanatheon). In Bahssikava, there were even fewer. In Homeland, though, there are five in just the Prologue and Chapter 1. Each one has a bunch of NPCs who talk, so I end up needing a ton of names.

 

I'm also finding that this scenario is much more in the style of the Avernum Trilogy than any of my other scenarios have been. Much of the early game is more or less open exploration with lots of sidequests and seemingly tangential dialogue. This is different; I've never made anything quite like this before. There are already more quests that can appear on your quest list than in any other scenario I've ever made, and I'm not even done adding quests from Chapter 1 yet.

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A ton of work under the hood this past week. I tested the Prologue, and it is done! Which also means that special spells and warrior abilities work; you get your first warrior ability in the Prologue (which has a small amount of combat to introduce the player to the new combat system). There were a few more bugs, and I immediately found that I had to rebalance the warrior abilities, but fixing all that was relatively painless because of the way that I've structured the code now.

 

I'm trying to make Homeland a complete scenario in a way that none of my scenarios have been to this point. Details like area descriptions, shops, summoning — I'm intentionally working on these things from the beginning instead of doing a very little work at end of the scenario or, in the case of summoning, tossing my hands up and letting it be completely broken. (In my defense, it's kind of broken by default, but my total lack of understanding didn't help.) I'm trying to be careful about every single combat I design; literally every monster is edited in some way (many rather substantially) for this scenario.

 

I'm also doing a lot of other things for my own sake that players won't even see. The default creature list is totally disorganized. For example, the demonic beings are all over the place: a Hordling is creature 145, but Imp/Demon/Haakai is 59, 60, and 61, respectively, and a Mung Demon is 95. Slimes, undead — they're all like this. It's impossible to find anything. So I'm moving a ton of things to group stuff better. (Because I've already placed a number of creatures, this at one point turned Legare — who appears in a flashback in the Prologue — into a mutant lizard. It was quite a spectacle, adoring crowds watching Legare's heroic verse appearing over the head of a mutant lizard.)

 

As I work, I'm becoming more and more intimidated by the size of this thing. It's becoming clear that it's probably going to be longer than Exodus. Exodus was 60 towns and 26 outdoor sections. Homeland has 24 outdoor sections and almost certainly will have at least 70 towns by the time it's done (possibly closer to 100). That's... not great. But I tried to shorten it before, and it just didn't work. It has to be like this. I mean, the worst that can happen is that I won't finish it, and that's already happened. So, for the time being, I'm plunging ahead. Chapter 1 is probably 30-40% done, and I'll probably finish about 70-80% of it before I start testing it and then move to Chapter 2. (That is, everything but a few major side quests and some extra dialogue, which I'll come back for later.) My hope is that the engine work I've done in the past couple of weeks will make the rest of Chapter 1 go relatively quickly, but we'll see.

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Posted (edited)

The revamped combat system sounds quite impressive, and the size quite daunting. But since you have made something of comparable size you know it's doable. Any great work takes a lot of elbow grease and tedious work.

 

I'm reminded of that line from the Shawshank Redemption, saying something like all anything takes is pressure and time. The only issue for you is how to keep some amount of pressure on it even when you get tired of it.

 

There was someone on these forums (Nikki I think?) who recommended when making a scenario you should put in at least 30 minutes of work every day, no matter how uninterested you are. And some days you will feel like putting in much more time. But even if it was just that 30 minutes every day, the scenario would eventually be finished. Seemed like good advice. I could never force myself to stick with it though. :/

Edited by Tarsus

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So you are creating a scenario bigger than some of Jeff's games? I can't wait.

 

I'm looking forward to it and started over creating parties running through Jeff's scenarios so I can play Bahs and Exodus. It's been years since I've looked at BoA and it takes a while to get used to the differences from more recent games.

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Quote

There was someone on these forums (Nikki I think?) who recommended when making a scenario you should put in at least 30 minutes of work every day, no matter how uninterested you are. And some days you will feel like putting in much more time. But even if it was just that 30 minutes every day, the scenario would eventually be finished. Seemed like good advice. I could never force myself to stick with it though.

 

I remember Alcritas said this in an article, back in the old BoE days in 2001.

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At one point this past week, I was looking for something someone said on CSR about either Bahssikava or Exodus (something to the effect of, "Me no like so many words! Me want crush things and steal loots! Murrrrrrr! Bad scenario 0/10") and I ended up skimming all the CSR comments on Exodus. Man, screw those people. Like, almost every single one of them. I remember now why I got so frustrated that I decided never to make Homeland.

 

Anyway, lots of alpha testing! I've designed the skeleton of the main quest line for Chapter 1, and I've now tested most of it. One of the unanticipated results of the combat slowdown is that Repel Spirit, where it can be used, is relatively very strong. In general, the combat slowdown consists of giving 50% immunity to all types of damage (except poison/acid, at least in Chapter 1) to every monster and reducing the damage that the monster does, but Repel Spirit does unblockable damage, so it's unaffected by immunities. This makes it relatively twice as strong as it ordinarily would be. This was not something that I anticipated, but it seems right; I've always thought that Repel Spirit ought to do a lot of damage to undead, since it targets only undead (and, at high levels, demons), but it doesn't do much damage by default. But right now, Chapter 1 is a little undead-heavy and you end up using Repel Spirit too much; I'm going to change that for the next run-through.

 

Alpha testing will be the death of me. I've refought some of these combats more times than I care to think about. Even the simplest little things have bugs in them, or unanticipated balance issues. But I think I'm getting a lot of that stuff straightened out early on. I've also replayed the Prologue several times now, and I love the Prologue. I hope I can get Chapter 1 to that point, but the Prologue is already there. Tiny spoilers follow.

Spoiler

The Prologue basically takes you from being trapped to the north of Danatha (which is where Exodus leaves the expedition) to being able to enter Khitaloss Province (the main part of what is left of the empire that rules the slith homeland). It's actually nine towns long -- four of which are devoted to (short) backward-looking cut scenes, two of which are (short) dungeons, and three of which are friendly (an Exodus-style camp and a two-town friendly city). It's highly linear, with a lot of exposition, but the exposition is broken up in a variety of ways so that the effect is less "I'm watching a movie" than it was in Bahssikava.

 

Chapters 1 and 2 (and to some extent 3) are largely open/semi-structured exploration of this strange new land. They're a little in the vein of Avernum 5: there are regions, and you have to finish the main quests in a region before you move on, but within each region, there's a lot of stuff that you can do aside from the main quest. I like this style, too, but it's a lot slower in pace than the Prologue is.

 

I think one of the mistakes that I made in the earlier version of the scenario was to try to make all of it in the style of the current Prologue. It just didn't work, and I have a guess — a kind of crude, first articulation — as to why. Homeland depends on a fairly huge amount of complex foreshadowing and interwoven plot threads. (Even more than in Exodus, I think.) If I were to do that in a highly linear, railroaded style, you would forced through unreasonable amounts of exposition. Just figuring out how to structure the scenes (should I have a cut scene? should this be dialogue? where do I show something with floors/terrain, and where do I just describe?) was impossible. In this open exploration style, you get a lot of exposition because you choose to talk to people and complete side quests. It's more manageable.

 

Chapter 5 is more in the style of the Prologue, but by that point it has to be. By that point, there's no more foreshadowing; it's just resolution. And that can be done in a much more linear, up-tempo style.

 

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You know, I like the idea of having a more powerful Repel Spirit. The undead spells in Exile and Avernum have generally felt a touch on the weak side, especially compared to what I remember of Exile’s Ravage Spirit for demons, but perhaps that’s just me. I suppose it makes undead-filled crypts more viable to design!

 

In any case, it’s good that you’re finding issues like this now before too much of the scenario is set in stone. While I can only imagine how tedious it is at this stage, hopefully getting everything balanced well early on will make the rest of the scenario much easier to work on.

 

Also, this:

 

On 3 July 2017 at 5:02 PM, Kelandon said:

I've also replayed the Prologue several times now, and I love the Prologue.

 

This bodes really, really well. If you’re this happy with part of the scenario at this early stage, then I’m all the more excited for what’s to come!

 

Keep up the good work!

 

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Somehow, I think I've gotten to the point where the core of Chapter 1 is designed. I haven't tested the very end of it, but everything that needs to be made is made, so it's just a matter of fixing bugs and balance. There's still a fair amount of side material to make, too—I'd say what is made is between two-thirds and three-quarters of Chapter 1—but I'm holding off on the side quests of that until I get (at least) to the end of Chapter 2. So I should probably do that last bit of testing and call Chapter 1 done for the moment. But I felt like making more stuff, so I moved on and designed some towns for Chapter 2. I also made up a bunch more names, knowing that I will need a gazillion more to keep going. (At the moment, I'm making up lists of names and then drawing from the lists when I create new characters.)

 

One thing that Chapter 1 is missing is a big moment at the end. Basically every other chapter (including the Prologue) has some major plot development/twist at the end—I can't wait to write the end of Chapter 2/beginning of Chapter 3—but Chapter 1 is entirely missing that. It basically just ends with, "Well, you did those things. Good job. Let's move on." Each of the things that you do has some significance, but there's no wrap-up to the chapter as a whole. At some point, I need to come back and see if I can punch it up a little.

 

I'm trying fairly hard not to have a part that lags, like the Mount Galthrax part of Bahssikava or the Strange Cave part of Exodus—both of which were there for reasons, even if those reasons were not entirely apparent at the time, but both of which I think lost energy relative to the rest of the scenario. My goal in Homeland is just to keep building, chapter after chapter, until it all explodes in blood and fire.

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Some mixed work on Chapters 1 and 2 over the last couple of weeks. It looks like Chapter 1 will consist of 18 towns, not including a couple that are shared between the Prologue and Chapter 1. Nearly all are near completion; a few have a little dialogue to be added, and one has some combat still to be designed, and one town I haven't created at all (because it's part of a side quest that I won't finish for some time). It's possible there may be one or two more as I add one or two more significant side quests. But Chapter 1 is otherwise done, although still not thoroughly tested. I have 4 towns from Chapter 2 in various stages of completion, but there's still a long way to go. (Probably 10-12 more towns, give or take, which will bring me to a little over 40 by the end of Chapter 2. Aaaaaaauuuggghh.)

 

One thing I'm trying to play with is how much combat (vs. non-combat tasks) there is in any given portion of the scenario. In Chapter 1, the main quests are pretty heavily focused on combat, but the side quests involve almost no combat at all — but this wasn't particularly intentional. It just happened that way. But as I plan out the details of Chapter 2, and even more so as I will get around to planning out the details of Chapter 3, I'll be paying closer attention to this.

 

I worry that I may be Nethergate-ing this scenario a little bit. In Nethergate, the main quest line is spelled out to you pretty immediately, and every step is made clear as soon as you finish a previous step. But there are tons of side quests that you can do, if you go and seek them out — and if you don't, you'll miss most of the color of the game. Homeland is structured in kind of the same way. Still, maybe in BoA, I can count on players to seek out all the little details in the world and find all the side quests, at least more than Jeff could for players of Nethergate.

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Now, when you say "Towns", I'm guessing you mean more than just towns, but you're also factoring in things like caves, dungeons, lairs, crypts, etc.  Locations you can visit OFF of the Overworld Map.  Because if not then holy hell this place had more cities than Avernum 3!

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2 hours ago, Chessrook44 said:

Now, when you say "Towns", I'm guessing you mean more than just towns, but you're also factoring in things like caves, dungeons, lairs, crypts, etc.  Locations you can visit OFF of the Overworld Map.  Because if not then holy hell this place had more cities than Avernum 3!

Basically, yes. In the scenario editor, every location that is not in the outdoors is a "town." So you might see someone refer to, e.g., Mount Galthrax in Bahssikava as a three-town dungeon because there were three levels to it.

 

By way of comparison, Avernum 1 (before the remake) had 82 towns.

 

As for cities:

Spoiler

At the moment, the plan is to have sixteen towns that are cities, of which five are basically completed and two more are largely designed (although they're missing a lot of dialogue and stuff). There is one in the Prologue, followed by four in Chapter 1, three in Chapter 2, three in Chapter 3, five in Chapter 4, and (basically) none thereafter.

 

Most of these cities are friendly, although I haven't figured out yet whether one city in Chapter 3 and four of the cities in Chapter 4 are going to be friendly. Probably at least one of the cities in Chapter 4 will be hostile.

 

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From time to time, I've been checking things against the Avernum games because I don't want to do anything overly inconsistent with their continuity. I've been using the Avernum 1 Template to check town layouts and such, and I've been using A:EftP to check the dialogue. But in A:EftP, I just noticed something.

 

In Avernum 1, the message on the steel gates in the Bahssikava Deeps said:

Quote

Be it known that the servants of Thsss, and all his progeny, are banished from our civilized lands.

 

Spread whatever evil you want, fight whatever senseless wars you want, but do it far from us. Never will any of the dark progeny of Thsss return through this portal, until they have at least learned the virtues of patience and peace.

 

Farewell. May the Gods watch you and grant you wisdom.

This was the underlying inspiration for the entire Slith Homeland series: Thsss was exiled from the homeland, and Legare finds the way back. The tiny clues here and elsewhere in the Deeps became major plot points in my scenarios; for example, the complicated theology of Exodus basically comes from the reference to "the Gods" in this message.

 

In A:EftP, the message has been changed slightly:

Quote

Be it known that the servants of Thsss, and all his progeny, are banished from our civilized lands.

 

Spread whatever evil you want, fight whatever senseless wars you want, but do it far from us. Never will any of the dark progeny of Thsss return through this portal, until they have at last learned the virtues of patience and peace.

 

Farewell. May the Goddessess return to you and restore your wisdom.

Setting aside the typo ("Goddessess"), the change from "Gods" to "Goddesses" seems like a direct reference to my scenario Bahssikava, which I know that Jeff looked at during the First BoA Contest. The premise of Bahssikava is that a mysterious goddess inspires Legare to lead his expedition back to the homeland.

 

There's another change in wording, too: "watch you and grant you wisdom" -> "return to you and restore your wisdom." The difference is the sense that the Darklings were once better than they are. In this wish, the gods are not just watching; they are returning to the Darklings, implying that they had been with them before. The gods are not merely granting wisdom; they are restoring wisdom that the Darklings once had.

 

This works really well within my continuity, although I don't think Jeff could've known that.

Spoiler

In my continuity, Thsss is a highly educated slith from a major city in the homeland who turns from the good gods to the dark gods and leads the losing side of a civil war before he is exiled to Avernum, so the idea that he (and the Darklings) were much better than they are now makes a ton of sense.

I'm surprised. This is cool.

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I'm pleased that you stumbled upon this little change!

I noticed this the first time I played through the remake, although only really by chance. The text at the doors is significant, and I must have committed the Avernum 1 words to memory without really intending to do so. When I played the remake, I thought something was different, so I went a checked (and I still have the couple of screenshots I took back in early 2012). I actually almost pointed it out to you when testing The Magic, but I never got around to it.

 

Perhaps it's coincidence, but I'd like to think that it was a little nod of Jeff's to Bahssikava. It seems like such a small, specific point to change otherwise. You could even argue that the change of sense from 'watching' to 'returning' might be a nod to Bahssikava too, since the Goddess does indeed return to the Darklings during the scenario, albeit it physically only briefly to Legare. Once the narrator is talking about returning, it then seems natural to talk about restoration of wisdom, too, rather than simple bestowing, but perhaps that's going a bit too far out on a limb. In any case, it's nicely fortuitous that it fits in to your series's continuity so neatly!

 

Incidentally, I hadn't noticed that typo until just now, though … 

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1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Perhaps it's coincidence, but I'd like to think that it was a little nod of Jeff's to Bahssikava.

Yeah, it seems like it has to be. There aren't many changes to the text from A1 to A:EftP — even some minor continuity problems involving the dragons don't seem to have been cleaned up after the second set of remakes — and I can't imagine any other reason to change this.

 

I probably would've noticed this sooner, but I don't think I ever got very far in either remake.

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Well, it’s a small change and easy to miss. Also, the remakes are a significant investment of time. It took me months to get through each one. It’s a little disconcerting to think how much time I must have spent on all the different versions of Exile I in total. Actually, if I’m being honest, I’m still not quite done with Crystal Souls. I stalled just before Garzahd’s fortress, the last major dungeon I’d need to work through, during a busy spell at work. I should really get back to that. 

 

While I think about it, there is one other possible Bahssikava reference, although perhaps this is a little more of a long shot. Legare’s text is slightly changed in the remake. In particular, in his opening dialogue, there’s one extra little paragraph:

 

‘He nods to you. “Is this rescue for Legare? Dare I dream it?” His speech is entirely without lisp or accent, and his name is unusual.’

 

I can recall you saying that Legare’s unusual name was part of what inspired you to make him such an important feature in Bahssikava. Maybe Jeff felt like putting that in there as a little reference too? Or perhaps I’m reading too much into this.

 

Oh, and the dragons still aren’t quite consistent? Ha ha. 

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27 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

‘He nods to you. “Is this rescue for Legare? Dare I dream it?” His speech is entirely without lisp or accent, and his name is unusual.’

 

I can recall you saying that Legare’s unusual name was part of what inspired you to make him such an important feature in Bahssikava. Maybe Jeff felt like putting that in there as a little reference too? Or perhaps I’m reading too much into this.

That was actually in Avernum 1 already. That little snippet is part of why Bahssikava always mentions whether a slith speaks with some kind of accent (e.g., a couple of the Honeycomb sliths at the very beginning) or without (e.g., Ethass). It's also part of why most of the sliths in Bahssikava have fairly hissy names that all kind of sound the same and are heavy on TH and S sounds (Ethass, Pithoss, Kass) except the occasional historical reference to a Bahssikavan with an unusual name (Calindor).

28 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Oh, and the dragons still aren’t quite consistent? Ha ha. 

Yeah. In A:EftP, Motrax says that he was "born" (hatched, presumably?) in the underworld, while the other dragons are from the surface. He makes a point of saying that he "came to know humans only recently" and that the other dragons "are all young, compared to me," as well as that the dragons in Avernum "are not hatched from like broods." He mentions that he is a thousand years old. But in A2:CS, Sulfras says, "Motrax is my brother. We come from the same brood." Athron says, "The five dragons of these caverns were the last brood to be hatched anywhere near here, well over a century ago. My siblings." Some of this could be chalked up to lying, I guess — Athron is deliberately cagey about her mate — but it's not clear to me why they'd be so gratuitously lying.

 

I came across this when researching for Homeland. We know from Bahssikava and Exodus that the slith homeland has dragons (Galthrax, Velthkhogroz, the ancient Mahanyakshetra), so I had to refresh my memory on dragon lore from the Avernum series so as not to be completely inconsistent with it. Except that dragon lore isn't really consistent with itself. I ended up deciding that, when there are inconsistencies, I'm using Avernum 1 as my canon; it fits better with what I intend.

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Kelandon said:

That was actually in Avernum 1 already.

 

As you can see, this is a part I don’t remember as well! I had a quick check against the town texts to remind myself. Legare’s unusual name is indeed mentioned, although it doesn't seem to be referenced at exactly this point in Avernum 1. I found it in Sss-Voss’s dialogue in Lost Bahssikava, but it amounts to the same thing, and it’s repeated in the remake, too. I had forgotten there was already dialogue about Legare’s name! I believe what I quoted is new, but it seems less likely to be a reference if it’s restating some earlier text. Oh well. I thought it was probably unlikely!

 

I think it’s great to take points like that to paint small but important details in fiction, such as those slith accents you mention. It’s completely in keeping with how things work in Avernum and, at least to me, helps to make Bahssikava feel like a natural extension to the main series. The similarity between the names is very good at highlighting names that are unusual, such as Calindor, as you mention, while enhancing the links between the Bahssikavan sliths.

 

That’s an interesting point about the dragons, by the way. I hadn’t noticed that comment from Motrax about his not being related to the others. I suppose you could argue that Motrax is mistaken, and the remarks come from his ‘senility’ as mentioned by Sulfras and Athron, but that also doesn’t hold true. The other dragons repeatedly mention that Motrax is an older sibling but, if they were from the same clutch, wouldn’t they all be almost exactly the same age? After all, Athron’s brood seem to be all the same age. If so, how likely is it that only one of them is becoming senile? I think it can be safely said that there are dragon clutches sometimes, though, since we see Athron’s clutch throughout most of the series, but it’s probably hard to go for consistency much outside that. Using Avernum 1 as a basis seems best, though. Bahssikava only appears there, after all. 

 

Oh, and I do find the changing dragon genders a little amusing, even though I know they’re simple mistakes. I tend to default naturally to thinking of the dragons mostly in a mishmash of the early Exile variants (so with Sulfras and Khoth both being male, for instance), which is why I was slightly surprised that Pyrog was female this time around. 

 

Without wishing to ramble, I’ve a quick question now I’ve reminded myself about Avernum’s Bahssikava. Is the Kass in Avernum 1 related to your Kass? I’m guessing probably not, given what the Empire does in the town, but there are some similarities between them. Legare escaped from the Empire too, after all. <Edit: I'm leaving this in, but I realise my initial thought didn't make sense. For some reason, I always have it in my head that Kass in Bahssikava is female, despite clearly being male in the dialogue. Hence my confusion!>

Edited by Ess-Eschas
Somewhat invalidating a question

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1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

As you can see, this is a part I don’t remember as well! I had a quick check against the town texts to remind myself. Legare’s unusual name is indeed mentioned, although it doesn't seem to be referenced at exactly this point in Avernum 1. I found it in Sss-Voss’s dialogue in Lost Bahssikava, but it amounts to the same thing, and it’s repeated in the remake, too. I had forgotten there was already dialogue about Legare’s name! I believe what I quoted is new, but it seems less likely to be a reference if it’s restating some earlier text. Oh well. I thought it was probably unlikely!

Oh, huh. I remembered the point being made, but I didn't remember where it was made — he added something reinforcing the point? Interesting.

1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Without wishing to ramble, I’ve a quick question now I’ve reminded myself about Avernum’s Bahssikava. Is the Kass in Avernum 1 related to your Kass? I’m guessing probably not, given what the Empire does in the town, but there are some similarities between them. Legare escaped from the Empire too, after all. <Edit: I'm leaving this in, but I realise my initial thought didn't make sense. For some reason, I always have it in my head that Kass in Bahssikava is female, despite clearly being male in the dialogue. Hence my confusion!>

You're not the only one. Chessrook44 kept referring to Kass as "she" throughout the Let's Play, much to my consternation.

 

But no, Kass is from Gnass. Sss-Kass is from Bahssikava and dies in the Empire raid. I honestly can't recall now why Kass has a feminine Bahssikavan name, although he does. I think it had to do with how far removed Gnassish is from Bahssikavan, so what is a feminine ending in Bahssikavan isn't necessarily so in Gnassish.

1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

The other dragons repeatedly mention that Motrax is an older sibling but, if they were from the same clutch, wouldn’t they all be almost exactly the same age? After all, Athron’s brood seem to be all the same age. If so, how likely is it that only one of them is becoming senile?

Sulfras says that age doesn't affect all dragons the same way; that's her explanation for being born at the same time as Motrax but seeming so much younger. But yeah, this seems a little weak given all the other inconsistencies.

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18 minutes ago, Kelandon said:

 

You're not the only one. Chessrook44 kept referring to Kass as "she" throughout the Let's Play, much to my consternation.

 

But no, Kass is from Gnass. Sss-Kass is from Bahssikava and dies in the Empire raid. I honestly can't recall now why Kass has a feminine Bahssikavan name, although he does.

Maybe Kass is one of the first Transgender Sliths, just never went into getting gender reassignment surgery, and only changed their name? :p

 

Seriously though, I think the reason I kept going with "She" was a combination of the voice I'd given Kass, not realizing it was a He for some time, deciding "I'm in this deep not going to go back now", and the name just sounding feminine.

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For the record, I have a pretty good idea why I initially thought that Kass was female; I think it’s different from the comment you gave about the gender of the name, although I suspect that contributed too. Unfortunately, I realised my mistake quite late on (a short way into Exodus), and it’s a little difficult to reprogram my initial reactions. I still lapse into thinking of him as female occasionally, as you can see! I think it’s interesting that I’m not the only one who’s made this mistake, too.

 

Here’s my reasoning. The dialogue portrait used for Kass is one of the five BoA slith character portraits. Three of these show sliths with bare chests and two have sliths covering their upper chest. Now, as mammals, our society tends to associate a covering of the upper chest area as a female characteristic. I suspect that Kass’s portrait was intended to be a female slith by the artist, given the ratio. At first glance, I suspect that some people will instinctively associate that portrait with a female slith, given no other information.

 

However, whatever was intended, there’s no reason for these portraits to actually show female sliths. Sliths aren’t mammals, so there’s no reason whatsoever to link femininity to an upper-body covering. Sliths could choose to wear a covering like that depending on their work or social situation. For instance, Ethass and Kass could wear such coverings as signs of priesthood/academia. That would fit with Pathass, too, who is male and yet still wears such a covering in Avernum 4.

 

This mistake could be explained away for most parties, though. After all, it feels to me that it’s often hard for mammals to gauge the gender of non-mammals. Perhaps the humans and nephilim in some parties might come to the same false conclusion and accidentally speak to Kass as if he were female?

 

Still, since I feel awkward about making a gender mistake in this way, I just want to point out that I try not to think about things that way (and I don’t want to imply that gender can be easily treated in such simple and concrete terms). My thought processes about the portrait would have been along the lines I wrote above, i.e. thinking that the portrait was intended to be female rather than actually showing a female. My portrait of Thissa shows a male slith wearing an upper-body covering, and I didn’t feel there was a need to make any comment about that in the following piece of fiction.

 

Also, I had a thought about Motrax’s age as I was writing this. I’d forgotten about that comment of Sulfras’s about dragons ageing at different rates and, as you say, it seems unlikely to explain all the strange continuity. 

 

Still, my scientist side is tempted to interpret what Sulfras says slightly differently. If what she says is the case, perhaps there’s more to it than the dragons are aware? Suppose that there’s a recessive genetic trait in dragons, something equivalent to the nepharim for the nephilim. That trait might only cause some small physical differences, but it could mean that the lifespan of those dragons affected could be significantly altered. If it’s a rare difference, dragonkind might only be partially aware of it (hence Sulfras’s fairly general comment), particularly since Avernite dragons seem to be mostly isolated. That might explain why Motrax could be different in several areas from what might be his brethren, and why he could seem so much older while not actually being so.

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17 hours ago, Chessrook44 said:

Seriously though, I think the reason I kept going with "She" was a combination of the voice I'd given Kass, not realizing it was a He for some time, deciding "I'm in this deep not going to go back now", and the name just sounding feminine.

The first dialogue with Kass said:

Before you can take more than a few steps, this slith priest addresses you. _Adventurers,_ he says. _May I have a word with you?_

If you skip the things outside of quotation marks, as you did here, you can end up missing details and being wrong about stuff.

4 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

The dialogue portrait used for Kass is one of the five BoA slith character portraits. Three of these show sliths with bare chests and two have sliths covering their upper chest. Now, as mammals, our society tends to associate a covering of the upper chest area as a female characteristic. I suspect that Kass’s portrait was intended to be a female slith by the artist, given the ratio.

I'm looking at character portraits 1823 to 1827, and I see only one that at all covers the area that would be breasts on a human (1825 — Kass's pic). However, the covering is more like a scarf or a shawl than like a shirt; it's mostly for the neck, not the chest. To me, at least, it doesn't seem very parallel to what a human woman would wear if she weren't intending to go topless. As for the others, 1827 (Ethass's pic) has a cape with a hood, but no covering of the chest. 1824 (which I don't think I use?) has a thin vest, but it doesn't really cover the chest. Both of the remaining two (Pithoss, Talas) wear only a loincloth. So I don't know that it makes any sense to distinguish among the slith portraits based on how much of the chest they cover, even if we weren't talking about reptiles.

 

Regardless, I think it matters that Kass is male. The story would come across differently if Kass were female, and it just doesn't seem right to me. It's hard to explain why; maybe it's just that Kass's core character flaws are stereotypically masculine. But Kass as female just doesn't fit. Given who he is, he would interact with other people differently if he were female. It would transform his relationship with Ethass, for sure.

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On the original topic, I've been working ahead in Chapter 2 a bit and backfilling dialogue in Chapter 1 — gah, there's just so much — but I finally got around to testing over the weekend. I can totally see how Bahssikava in particular got to be so hard. The first time through a combat, it might be challenging, but I'm not just going through it once. When I'm testing, I'm going through it two or three times on each run, and I'm usually doing at least three or four runs of alpha testing. The ninth or tenth time I fight the combat, it just seems so mind-numbingly easy that I crank up the difficulty to make it more interesting. At the moment, I'm resisting the temptation, but I'll see what I think on the final alpha run (presumably in a year or two).

 

I haven't managed to get to the end of Chapter 1 in a testing run yet, but I think I'm close. Then it will be time to turn to Chapter 2 in earnest.

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Actually, the avatar Kass had was another factor, now that I think of it.  And for the record, it wasn't JUST the fact that that Slith avatar had that upper part.  It was also the way the face and head was structured.  Narrower, and more slender than the others.  More "Feminine" than the other slith heads.  I believe the body was also a bit more slender and less bulky as well.

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I realise I’ve been derailing this topic a little, so I’ll try to close this off briefly.

 

3 hours ago, Kelandon said:

So I don't know that it makes any sense to distinguish among the slith portraits based on how much of the chest they cover, even if we weren't talking about reptiles.

 

I very much agree with you that it doesn’t make sense! I was just trying express my internal thoughts when I first played through Avernum, and my suspicions at the time that some people might interpret the portraits in masculine and feminine terms. I think I was a little more cynical back then!

 

I do agree that Kass’s picture isn’t what a human would wear to cover the breast area, and on reflection wouldn’t be that effective for the purpose, but I think it could at least nominally and simply fulfil the required function, even without the analogue. I thought that might be enough to trigger an instinctive ‘this person is female’ response, but I’m no psychologist, and I’d be very happy to proved wrong on that point! After all, that wasn’t my own reaction! Perhaps I was over-thinking the issue?

 

As for the second portrait I mentioned, I was referring to Ethass’s. I realised it contradicted my argument at the time, and I should have clarified on that point, but I didn’t want to be too longwinded! But that brevity cost me correctness in this instance. On the same lines, my feelings were that Ethass’s portrait could also have an instinctive implication of female characteristics, but on a much more superficial level. At least in my own culture, covering the head in certain circumstances, particularly in religious institutions, can have a broad (and now traditional and mostly outdated) association with female roles. Having said that, though, I can immediately discount that argument, too. If you look at Crystal Souls, Ethass’s potrait has been updated, and the result mixes in some strong characteristics I would be tempted to put in the masculine box. Oh well. I guess it just goes to show that judging characters this way isn’t the way to go! Honestly, I think I’m happier with that outcome.

 

However, I do have one final comment on this, though. In Avernum 4, sliths and nephils have two character portraits each. It seems reasonable to assume that these are supposed to represent male or female characters. The two slith choices are Talas’s portrait and Kass’s, so I think at least in one instance that Kass’s portrait has been used to represent a generic female slith. Maybe that’s what I was thinking of at the time after all? I did play Avernum 4 before BoA.

 

I also very much agree that Kass’s gender matters hugely! Because I realised my mistake at the start of Exodus, I in a sense played through the scenario with two versions in my head: one with a male and one with a female Kass. The dynamic of female Kass is hugely different, particularly with regards Ethass, as you say. The tension between Kass and Ethass has very different connotations depending on Kass’s gender, and the scenario overall sits most comfortably Kass is male. Which is as it should be, since that’s what you intended! As it happens, I’m about to play through Exodus again (with an all-slith party this time, who I’ve taken through Bahssikava too), so I’ll try to remove female Kass from my thinking entirely this time around. 

 

But that’s enough rambling theorising from me! Work on Homeland sounds like it’s going well, and it’s great to hear that Chapter 1 is getting closer to completion, and that you’re spilling over into Chapter 2 as well. Keep up the excellent work!

 

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1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

However, I do have one final comment on this, though. In Avernum 4, sliths and nephils have two character portraits each. It seems reasonable to assume that these are supposed to represent male or female characters. The two slith choices are Talas’s portrait and Kass’s, so I think at least in one instance that Kass’s portrait has been used to represent a generic female slith. Maybe that’s what I was thinking of at the time after all? I did play Avernum 4 before BoA.

Oh, that's interesting. I played BoA long before Avernum 4, so I didn't make that association, but that makes some sense.

 

I mean, I chose Kass's dialog pic because I wanted a skinny, ascetic priest rather than the burly warriors that most of the other pictures showed. Kass isn't a warrior; even Talas goes out into dungeons, but Kass is pretty useless in combat. (This becomes, uh, semi-significant in Homeland.)

 

Speaking of playing Exodus again, I've been tinkering with a v1.1.3 of Exodus; I should really do one more check and then upload it. It's mostly just typo fixes and that kind of thing.

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Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, Kelandon said:

Kass isn't a warrior; even Talas goes out into dungeons, but Kass is pretty useless in combat. (This becomes, uh, semi-significant in Homeland.)

 

Uh oh. I get the feeling that’s not going to end well.

 

I’ll hold out on going through Exodus again until you’ve put out the newer version. There’s no rush, and one reason I wanted to play through the scenario again was precisely because it had been updated, although I appreciate it’s probably entirely bug fixes. Thank you for your kind inclusion of me in the documentation, by the way. It’s much appreciated :). I’ll tell you what, I’ll keep a deliberate eye out for any more bugs and typos when I go through Exodus this time around. I suspect there won’t be much (if anything) to find given Chessrook44’s recent playthrough, but there’s no harm looking. Bahssikava was great fun to go through again, by the way, and all the little changes you put in for an all-slith party really heightened the experience. It’s one thing to travel to the Homeland as outsiders, but quite another as sliths!

 

Yeah, I think my experience of Avernum is oddly skewed compared to most. I played the Exile series way back in its infancy, and spent a long, long time playing BoE, but I only actually started playing Avernum when the second trilogy was being released. I played those three games first, then BoA, and then the original first trilogy. So I played Bahssikava before Avernum 1!

Edited by Ess-Eschas
Fixing some questionable grammar

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3 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I’ll hold out on going through Exodus again until you’ve put out the newer version. There’s no rush, and one reason I wanted to play through the scenario again was precisely because it had been updated, although I appreciate it’s probably entirely bug fixes. Thank you for your kind inclusion of me in the documentation, by the way. It’s much appreciated :). I’ll tell you what, I’ll keep a deliberate eye out for any more bugs and typos when I go through Exodus this time around. I suspect there won’t be much (if anything) to find given Chessrook44’s recent playthrough, but there’s no harm looking.

I'd appreciate that. I didn't start correcting things that I saw in the videos until about halfway through, and I didn't go back and rewatch in order to find anything else, so there are probably still some typos/bug fixes that I missed.

 

I should be able to get around to changing the last couple of things in Exodus by this weekend. I'll post when I upload the new version.

2 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Uh oh. I get the feeling that’s not going to end well.

Yeah, we know from The Magic that Kass's story doesn't end well. Because he appears on the island, he must die in Homeland, and Ethass/Sophia says, "Kass always found himself close to power, but he never learned the wisdom to wield it. He nearly destroyed us, after you died." And her response to Kass is a fair bit more uncomfortable than her response to Silthokh, even though there was considerable tension between Silthokh and Phaedra (who is Ethass's very close friend — they grew up together and share a tent throughout Exodus).

 

So yeah, something pretty dire must happen with Kass in Homeland.

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6 hours ago, Kelandon said:

I'd appreciate that. I didn't start correcting things that I saw in the videos until about halfway through, and I didn't go back and rewatch in order to find anything else, so there are probably still some typos/bug fixes that I missed.

 

I’m happy to help! Don’t feel that you need to rush the update on my account, though. I’m happy to start playing whenever it’s ready. I’m looking forward to trying out a few different things this time around, and possibly attempting some of the alternative approaches to certain situations (such as actually fighting the one-eyed slime, which looks hard).

 

6 hours ago, Kelandon said:

Yeah, we know from The Magic that Kass's story doesn't end well. Because he appears on the island, he must die in Homeland, and Ethass/Sophia says, "Kass always found himself close to power, but he never learned the wisdom to wield it. He nearly destroyed us, after you died." And her response to Kass is a fair bit more uncomfortable than her response to Silthokh, even though there was considerable tension between Silthokh and Phaedra (who is Ethass's very close friend — they grew up together and share a tent throughout Exodus).

 

This interaction between Kass and Ethass is one of my strongest memories of The Magic. It’s particularly poignant. At the time, I found it distinctly disconcerting that Ethass both refuses to speak about Kass and also implies that she will refuse to visit him (as she says she will visit Silthokh). I also felt that Kass’s refusal to acknowledge his past self was also pretty ominous, as if something happened that he did not want to acknowledge. However, it would also be quite in keeping with his character not to pay any heed to people talking about such things, so I’m not entirely sure on that point. 

 

As you say, something really very bad must happen in the Homeland for the two of them to behave in this way. I can’t quite figure out what that might be, and that’s great! I like the sense of mystery. I can think of situations where Kass severely damages the expedition, and I can think of ones where Kass seriously hurts Ethass, but they’re mostly mutually exclusive. I can’t quite figure out the chain of events that causes both things to happen. I suspect that it involves Phaedra (and, perhaps worse, Arcadia), but I can’t get much further than that. I believe we know that Ethass dies before Phaedra (and she seems a little surprised about Phaedra’s fate in my eyes), so Phaedra’s death can’t be directly involved. In any case, I’ll hopefully be able to see what happens with my own eyes eventually, and I look forward to it!

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5 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I also felt that Kass’s refusal to acknowledge his past self was also pretty ominous, as if something happened that he did not want to acknowledge. However, it would also be quite in keeping with his character not to pay any heed to people talking about such things, so I’m not entirely sure on that point.

Well, Silthokh doesn't remember either, and neither did Ethass at first — the thing that triggers her remembering is the name "Legare." It appears that people on the island don't remember their past lives until something happens that reminds them. (Ethass mentions that she'll go and "wake" Silthokh.) So I wouldn't read too much into Kass not remembering.

 

But yeah, Ethass seems pretty wary of Kass, and that's for good reason.

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The main quest line in Chapter 1 is done!

 

It took all freaking day, but I tested the last dungeon. It took so long because it has a series of four complex scripted fights, and the balance was incredibly delicate. The essence of the combats is that the monsters change special abilities partway through. (I'm not sure that I even know this was possible before, but there's a set_special_ability() call.) But at low levels, using certain creature special abilities will make certain fights unwinnable, so I just had to keep changing each fight as the difficulty swung from impossible to too easy and back to impossible again. Also, I wanted to make sure that it was possible to finish the main quest line without having finished many of the side quests, so I was at a lower level than might otherwise be reasonable. So it was hard, but it was hard by design. And by this point more special abilities/spells are available, and I keep finding more and more bugs in the special ability/spell script, but they're never all that hard to fix because of the way the system is structured.

 

Anyway, it's done. Chapter 1 is finishable. There are still some details to fill in, but it'll mostly be Chapter 2 work for the next few months.

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