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Kelandon

Homeland progress report

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And finally, at the end of Chapter 2, I finally get to write something that I've been foreshadowing since the end of the Prologue!

 

Spoiler

The capital of the Empire of Khalthas is the city of Leksandria, pictured here. It's a heavily fortified island-city between northern and southern halves of Khitaloss Province. In some ways, this is what you've been trying to reach since the beginning of Bahssikava. (At least, this is what the Goddess says when you are about to enter.)

 

And, as I've been suggesting, this is where things go catastrophically wrong. There are problems up to this point, but it seems like you're on the path to make things better. In Leksandria, it starts to become clear, if it wasn't before, that things aren't getting better. Either what you're doing isn't enough, or what you're doing is actively making things worse. It's not clear which, at least until the end of Chapter 3.

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 10.31.12 PM.png

 

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I'm loving the name of the capital. Does the city by any chance have a grand library, one of the oldest and most extensive in Khitaloss? :) In any case, it's nice to see references to the famous sliths that are mentioned in Exodus.

 

It's a great screenshot, too. The city looks suitably imposing with all the fortifications and many, many layers of walled defences. This is exactly what I would expect from an old and illustrious centre of power. It looks grand. Although all is perhaps not well at the southern gates, from the looks of things ...

 

Keep up the good work!

 

 

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On 10/6/2017 at 2:46 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

Although all is perhaps not well at the southern gates, from the looks of things ...

Yeah, not at all.

7 hours ago, Celtic Minstrel said:

Whoa cliffs overdose. O_O

Um, yeah, that's Homeland for you. Like I said, I may have gone a little overboard with heights.

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Chapter 2 isn't really completely finished yet — still lots of combats to design, and a couple of towns need a lot of dialogue still — but I went ahead to start on town design and core dialogue for Chapter 3. Man, designing Chapter 3 is a trip. I can't really explain why without giving away a significant twist at the end of Chapter 2, but it's... different.

 

I'm 46 towns in, and right now I'm pretty sure that the scenario will end up around 90 towns. Because many of the towns are at least partly incomplete, though, I'd say I'm about 30% done with the overall design work, maybe a bit more. Still a long way to go.

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Although I can't imagine the amount of work being asked of you, I'm thrilled to see you've decided to continue and finish the trilogy. This is an actual picture of myself seconds after posting this:

Spoiler

bd39e07dc634decc2cf330aedf269162--fallou

 

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It‘s really amazing to see the fan base creating such awesome content. Especially when considering the age of BoA. 

 

I‘m not ready to play fan made scenarios yet, but I‘m really looking forward to it!

 

However, I would still have a question.. you mentioned what will happen to the party (of the first two scenarios of your series) so will all the progress achieved with it be deleted?

 

And another general question.. if I‘m playing scenarios and gain experience and items, will I be able to use them in the official game also?

Edited by Lindwyrm
Typo

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7 hours ago, Lintwyrm said:

It‘s really amazing to see the fan base creating such awesome content. Especially when considering the age of BoA. 

 

I‘m not ready to play fan made scenarios yet, but I‘m really looking forward to it!

 

However, I would still have a question.. you mentioned what will happen to the party (of the first two scenarios of your series) so will all the process achieved with it be deleted?

 

And another general question.. if I‘m playing scenarios and gain experience and items, will I be able to use them in the official game also?

 

From a gameplay perspective BoA doesn't really have a strong distinction between the "official game" and everything else. The Spiderweb-made scenarios work exactly the same way as third-party ones, and you can move from one to another freely.

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8 hours ago, Lintwyrm said:

However, I would still have a question.. you mentioned what will happen to the party (of the first two scenarios of your series) so will all the process achieved with it be deleted?

 

And another general question.. if I‘m playing scenarios and gain experience and items, will I be able to use them in the official game also?

As Lilith suggested, the scenarios all function independently, so these questions don't really have answers. You're supposed to use a new party with Homeland, so your party won't have completed Bahs/Exodus, and there's not really any progress to lose. You can technically use any party to enter any scenario, so if you wanted, you could use a party that has completed Homeland to enter, say, Diplomacy With the Dead (a pre-packaged scenario), and you would keep your experience and items from Homeland.

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Mixed work on Chapters 1-3 over the past few weeks. Chapter 1 is basically done, save part of one side quest, a little dialogue, and some testing. I'm filling in some side quests in Chapter 2 as I create the main quest line in Chapter 3, which makes progress sort of slow. (Also, work has picked up, which also makes progress a bit slow.) But it's coming along. 

 

Chapter 3 has three major quests with several subparts, and the first major quest is about halfway designed. The high-level conceptual work is largely done; now it's just a lot of implementation of the plan that I now have in my head. The second major quest is still a bit of a blank. I have a general sense of what's supposed to happen, but I have to figure out how exactly to get from Point A to Point B. Once I get to that point, I'm going to have to stop and think things through again — how exactly will this piece work out? But once that's done, the third major quest is going to be fun. This is one of the key moments in the scenario, one of the moments that I've been building to since... gosh, since Bahssikava.

Spoiler

Vahnatai!

 

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Damn. Not only are we getting Avernum III remake, but a conclusion to the Exodus trilogy, too. Hmm. I'm tempted to start a new party fresh from the Valley of the Dying Things to boost them up to the required level and play through both the Exodus and Bahssikava, probably just in time for Homeland to be ready. It sure is a good day to be a Spiderwebsoftware fan! :)

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6 hours ago, Zaego said:

I'm tempted to start a new party fresh from the Valley of the Dying Things to boost them up to the required level and play through both the Exodus and Bahssikava, probably just in time for Homeland to be ready.

Glad you're excited! But unless it's going to take you over a year to finish that process, Homeland probably won't be ready by then. I'm still only about a third of the way done.

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9 hours ago, Kelandon said:

Glad you're excited! But unless it's going to take you over a year to finish that process, Homeland probably won't be ready by then. I'm still only about a third of the way done.

 

It'll take me more than a year because I'll stop and start playing again multiple times. Also, writing has taken up a brunt of my spare time, even as unemployed, since I'm proofreading the chapters myself. Also it helps that I still haven't finished A:EftP and A2:CS Torment Runs. :p

 

7 hours ago, Ishad Nha said:

High Level Party Maker is a scenario that will do the levelling-up for you, all in one go...

 

As for HLPM, I've used it before, but I've found that playing through the chapters, you can hoard items more easily than what you could by going to HLPM-store, like healing elixirs, and mundane quest rewards that might not be listed in a scenario such as the one where you had all the artifact-tier gear and equipment from most scenarios (created and uploaded by Terror's Martyr, if memory serves). And also, I haven't played BoA in a really long time. I've been having a fever to return there anyway. :) 

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On 30/11/2017 at 8:20 AM, Zaego said:
 

such as the one where you had all the artifact-tier gear and equipment from most scenarios (created and uploaded by Terror's Martyr, if memory serves).

 

That reminds me, I updated that once but no idea if I still have it.

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Still filling in parts of Chapters 1-3. I'd say Chapter 1 is about 90% done. I kind of have no idea what to do with the last 10% — there are elements that I know I want to be present, but I just don't know what to do with them right now. So it may be a while before that part is 100% done. Chapter 2 is a lot more incomplete — I want to take an entire day (maybe tomorrow) to fill in a lot of combat, which will bring it a lot closer. I now have a high-level conceptual picture of what should happen in every part of Chapter 3 (including the second part, which was a bit of a blank before), but there's a lot of detail work involved in implementing it.

 

To give an example of one of the things that makes this all take forever: Chapter 2 has a huge city that turns out to have too much dialogue for one town. So I spent a chunk of today creating a new town for the insides of several buildings. This requires copying over the interiors, copying over the dialogue, changing the dialogue node and state numbers, creating special rectangles that move from one town to the next, editing the creature numbers in special states... etc. If I had known from the beginning that I was going to need to do this, I could've saved some time, but I didn't.

 

I'm at 56 towns now, many fairly incomplete. Exodus had 57 accessible towns, so it's getting close to Exodus's size. But there are at least 11 towns remaining in Chapters 2 and 3, and probably 15-20 in each of Chapter 4 and Chapter 5. So I'm starting to think that this thing will be above 100 towns when it's done.

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On 01/01/2018 at 1:50 AM, Kelandon said:

So I'm starting to think that this thing will be above 100 towns when it's done.

 

Oh, wow. This really puts into perspective for me just how large this scenario could be. Not only is this large compared to Exodus, but it’s large even compared to the old Blades of Exile epics. If I remember correctly, only a handful of scenarios broke 100 towns back then (although, given the 100-town bug, for good reason). For instance, even Falling Stars only had about 90 towns.

 

You’re actually approaching the size of a full-on Avernum game here! That’s wonderful, since it’s another way in which Homeland could be epic in scope, and it seems fitting for the third game to be so large.

 

It’s always interesting reading your progress on this, Kel! Keep up the great work!

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7 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

given the 100-town bug

I'm kind of terrified that there's something like this in BoA, too — whether it's exactly the same 100-town bug or just some other damned thing that applies only to huge scenarios — and no one has encountered it yet because no one has made a scenario this large. I guess we'll find out.

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10 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

 

Oh, wow. This really puts into perspective for me just how large this scenario could be. Not only is this large compared to Exodus, but it’s large even compared to the old Blades of Exile epics. If I remember correctly, only a handful of scenarios broke 100 towns back then (although, given the 100-town bug, for good reason). For instance, even Falling Stars only had about 90 towns.

 

Yeah, I could be wrong, but I think At the Gallows and Adventurer's Club 3 were the only scenarios that actually used the workaround for the 100-town bug once it was discovered.

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At least if the 100-town bug rears its head again, you have the advantage of the BoE community's attempts to work around it. As I understand it, there are are few ways of circumventing the bug in classic BoE, so at least you would have a few ideas to try out in the BoA engine. Adventurer's Club 3 had about 150 towns, and the largest scenario I've seen reference to – The Ultimate Sesame Adventure – has 191! In fact, I believe Alcritas wrote an article about a workaround at one point (in reference to Kallaskagathos).

Since you're trailblazing, I share your concern. Still, here's to hoping you won't find anything! And if you do find something nasty, hopefully there's enough combined knowledge between your own significant experience with the engine and the rest of us programmers on here that we could find a workaround.
 

4 minutes ago, Lilith said:

Yeah, I could be wrong, but I think At the Gallows and Adventurer's Club 3 were the only scenarios that actually used the workaround for the 100-town bug once it was discovered.

 

You just pre-empted me, Lilith! I actually had a quick look yesterday, and At the Gallows surprised me. It actually doesn't go over 100 towns, at least in the version I have. It comes in at only 97. I had a feeling it was larger than that.

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If I remember correctly, AtG was released before the 100-town bug workaround was discovered.

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8 hours ago, Kelandon said:

If I remember correctly, AtG was released before the 100-town bug workaround was discovered.

 

Yes, you're right! I tend to remember epic scenarios like this as being larger than they actually are! Just to expand on this for the record, it looks like the main workaround was discovered around halfway through 2003. That's several years after the majority of the epics were written (and shortly before the release of BoA), so it's not much of a surprise that more scenarios didn't make use of the solution.

 

Also, that 'article' I remembered from Alcritas actually turns out to have been a short forum post on the Lyceum. Still, here it is, for the sake of interest:

 

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thelyceum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=2465&p=13732

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18 hours ago, Kelandon said:

This is driving me nuts, but I can't find the post now where the main workaround was revealed.

 

I've been looking for this too, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the post has now been lost! I found a link you made to that post about a year later:

 

http://spiderwebforums.ipbhost.com/topic/2177-ac3/?tab=comments#comment-16617

 

From what I can gather, the link you give here connects to a post on the spiderweb boards (when they were using earlier forum software). If that's the case, and the post was made around 2003, then it probably won't exist anywhere now. I had a look into this a while back while chasing some old BoE scenarios and, so far as I can tell, all the forum archives for this board only go back to about 2004. Forum posts like these aren't generally held on the Internet Archive, either, so the older posts might be gone for good.

 

I do have a guess as to how the discovery came about, though. The earlier of the two scenarios I know that successfully push the 100-town limit is The Ultimate Sesame Mission. It's not one that I've played, but it's one that sparks discussion about the 100-town bug. This scenario was released in September 2003. In a review, TM credits the author with finding the workaround:

 

https://forum.nethergate.net/index.php?p=index.phpQUERYshowtopic=904

 

Interestingly, the author isn't actually Vince Fizz, but his brother, Dan Fizz. So perhaps at some point earlier in 2003 (maybe during the summer), Dan discovered the solution and posted it to the spiderweb boards? In the readme, he accurately describes the problem and workaround:

 

https://truesite4blades.com/Home/Others/FAQ.htm

 

 

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The Wayback Machine captures more early-era SW board posts than one might expect.  Not all or most by any means, but there is a nonzero chance you'll get at least the first page.

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Posted (edited)

I tried to glance through the earlier posts, and I didn't see any specific answers (or then I'm just plain blind as usual), so here goes. Are you (Kelandon) thinking of doing anything for different difficulty levels? Like monsters using little to not at all special abilities on Easy difficulty and using Soulcrushing Instantly Killing Doomcurses on Torment difficulty. Or would that be a bit of an, if you'll allow, overkill for a scenario that has this much content, effort and thought put into it already?

 

I do seem to remember meddling with the BoA code some several centuries ago and I think I remember running across some codes along the lines of
 

Spoiler

     If_Difficulty == ( ) {

          Then Set_State_Continue ( );

     }

     Else

     Break;

 

Oh, and I did a quick search of the BoA script reference. The only calls that handled difficulty in some way appeared to be either traps or locks. It might be that I'm just remembering things.

Edited by Zaego
Afterthought. As usual. Hooray for properly working edit-tools.

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There is no call to check the difficulty level that the player has set. One could create difficulty levels with a flag — I've considered doing that in the Bahssikava rewrite (basically, insert an "Easy" mode that would tone down nearly all the combat) — but it wouldn't track the hardcoded difficulty levels.

 

It had not occurred to me to create difficulty levels in Homeland, though. I'm sort of inclined against it because it would be a mess to try to balance.

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Posted (edited)

Ohhh, you know what. What I was memorizing earlier was probably in the remakes' code. Nevermind. (Or then I'm just seriously descending into madness. Which wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Or, maybe I'm just seriously absent minded. Both of those could be true. At the same time.

 

PS. Yep. Nevermind none of that. Except the part where I'm going crazy. I searched through some of the remakes' codes and saw only things like set_level ( ) and other such. Looks like I've taken the advice, Welcome to Spiderwebsoftware, please leave your sanity to the door quite well to the heart. :) )

 

And yeah, in hindsight it might be a nightmare to try and balance the game for four times over. Especially since You have a hundred towns in place. Still, I'm very much looking forward to seeing the scenario in daylight. Here, have this fungal cookie to go with your efforts. :)

Edited by Zaego
I've welcomed myself to Spiderwebsoftware, and I've left my sanity at the door.

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I skipped ahead and am now about to write the scene with the biggest twist in the whole scenario. Now that I've designed the sequence leading up to it, which runs across two separate towns and has taken me several hours in itself, I'm at the point where the scene begins. And, somehow, I'm nervous.

Spoiler

In this scene, Kass dies. But that's, like, the least of it.

 

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Ooo, this is exciting! Such an important scene in the scenario is coming together and, if even the introduction takes place over two towns, it sounds like it’s even more broad in scope than I’d imagined! Moreover, the consequences are likely to be quite something.

 

I can understand being nervous about it, too. At least to me, there a curious sort of responsibility in finally committing to words an idea that’s been spinning around in your head for a long time, especially if its one of the focal points of a work. Crystallising a fluid idea into reality is oddly daunting, and it never seems to get much easier, even with plenty of experience. However, its that same experience that helps ensure the final product is a good one, even if starting the process off is difficult.

With your excellent track record, I have the upmost confidence that you’ll make something exceptional out of this!

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2 hours ago, Celtic Minstrel said:

I think you mean "utmost".

 

Oops. And here I was inadvertently bragging that my confidence level was higher than everyone else's. That's not quite what I meant! :)

Edited by Ess-Eschas
Fixing grammar in a grammar comment!

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I’m really impressed that you’re still at this. Feels like this game never really got its due, save for the work you and a few others put in.

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Progress is still happening, slowly. Man, that scene that I mentioned a month ago took it out of me.

Spoiler

The scene in which Kass dies is at the end of Chapter 3, when you finally find out what has been going on. So much has been happening, and you don't exactly know why. The barbarians sacked Danatha and invaded Khitaloss Province. But why now? What was this "betrayal" that The Magic mentioned? Why has the Emperor rejected the old gods (as Exodus mentioned)? What does the Goddess have to do with all this, and what about the vahnatai that have been prevented from waking? All of this gets resolved, at least in part, in a massive cut scene at the end of Chapter 3. Also, Kass dies.

 

It's an exhausting scene because there's so much that I have to get across, but I'm trying to do it without the scene dragging on forever and while still flowing naturally. So I have to manage the sheer volume of information while figuring out how to convey it, and in what order.

After I finished that scene, I couldn't write much for a little while, but now I've moved to the beginning of Chapter 4. Chapter 3 is definitely still highly incomplete, and one lengthy combat sequence at the end of Chapter 2 is still unfinished (as well as a long sidequest in Chapter 1 and another in Chapter 2), but I feel like I just need to get out what's in my head at this point. I know stuff about Chapter 4, so I need to put it into the scenario. Then, once that's out of my head, I can go back and fill in as need be. This is not as straightforward as it sounds — I have a stronger sense of how the second half of Chapter 4 will go than I do about the first half of Chapter 4. I still have to figure out how to put together the elements that I know have to be present to lead to the end of Chapter 4. As always, I'm starting with town design and plot/quest outlines, and then I'll start adding in dialogue and specials. Combat, as always, will come last.

 

I was not sure that I'd ever get to Chapter 4, so this is kind of trippy. It's also trippy for another reason — uh, suffice it to say that the cave floors are unusual in Chapter 4. Also in Chapter 3, but more so in Chapter 4. Not like the fluorescent cave floors in the Strange Cave in Exodus, although like a different part of Exodus. A part that, if I remember correctly — and often I don't, with this sort of thing, but even so — no one has ever asked me about, even though it's definitely a bit unexplained.

 

I'm still projecting that this won't be done until next year at the earliest. I'm finding time to work on it, but not nearly enough to make as much progress as I'd like.

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Whew! I had been putting in a couple hours here or there for so long that I'd forgotten what it was like to devote a whole day to this! It's sort of exhilarating, so rather than wait to do a monthly update, I'm posting now.

 

I did a bunch of work on Chapter 4. I created the first couple of towns and put in floors/terrains for the first one. I planned out the shops and added the items to the shop numbers. I created a whole bunch of little outdoor specials. And I planned out the core quest line for Chapter 4 and started to implement the first core quest (out of, basically, three).

 

I think Chapter 4 is going to be easier to create than Chapter 3, which is part of why I'm skipping ahead. Chapter 4 is structured much more like Exodus — it's a journey from one end of an outdoor area to another. Once I get to the end of Chapter 4, I think I can go back and try to fill in those last little bits of Chapters 1 and 2, test that part thoroughly, and fill in the bulk of Chapter 3.

 

I had always thought of the Lava Ocean in Exodus as being at least half foreshadowing Homeland, rather than actually playing out within the scenario. But now I'm realizing how much that's true of other parts of Exodus, too. The Thkhi? There was (intentionally) no meaningful explanation of that. But oh man, in Homeland....

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7 hours ago, Kelandon said:

The Thkhi? There was (intentionally) no meaningful explanation of that. But oh man, in Homeland....

 

Yes, I was right! I was hoping that that was what you were referring to with your talk of 'trippy' floors. I always thought that aesthetic was really nice in Exodus, and I think it's good that we'll get to see it again.

 

I didn't think too much of the Thkhi themselves when I first played through Exodus. However, thinking about the plot a little more closely for Thissa in Thassaka made me suspicious that there might be more there than first meets the eye. Granted, it's said in a throwaway line, but the connection between the rise in power of Thkhi and the cavequake that destroyed Bahssikava seems unlikely to be a coincidence. I have some ideas of how that might tie into the broader themes too, but I'll wait with interest to see how that all pans out. In any case, the name 'Thkhi' is great.

 

Keep up the good work, Kel!

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Progress is still happening, slowly. I'm up to 66 towns now, with most of the towns in the first half of Chapter 4 drawn. Most of the dialogue is still yet to be filled in, though, and a lot of the little details. Man, Chapter 4 is dark, both figuratively and literally:

Spoiler

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 9.49.30 PM.png

 

I've occasionally felt the urge to go back and fill in little bits and pieces from Chapters 1 and 2, so I've done some of that, too. Those last little bits of Chapter 1 are coming together, although one part is still a bit of a blank. I'm thinking I might do a bunch of filling in around Chapters 1 and 2 and then do a bunch of testing concurrently with building out the core structure of Chapter 4. I'm think I'm getting close to halfway done.

 

I'm finding that when I don't have a large block of time to devote to this, it's pretty easy to do simple technical work for 20-30 minutes — setting names of characters, giving them dialogue to connect to the shops I've already made, adding little details to rooms, etc. It doesn't feel like I'm getting anything done, but it does fill out stuff that I won't have to do later, so at least it's still moving forward.

 

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