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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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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!  

So... the bad news first. I basically stopped designing for a year because it was hard to find the time to do it. But the good news: I've resumed, and I'm making significant progress. My goal now is t

I was hoping to come back and say that everything through the end of Chapter 2 is done, but it's not happening as quickly as I'd hoped. What I'm doing now is creating all the stuff that didn't go righ

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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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  • 4 weeks later...

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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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
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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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  • 3 weeks later...

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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  • 4 weeks later...

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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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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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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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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  • 1 month later...

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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  • 4 weeks later...

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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  • 1 month later...

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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  • 1 month later...

I finished the last couple side quests in Chapter 1, and I filled in a chunk of Chapter 2, as well as bits of Chapter 4. I'm at 70 towns, and I'm still estimating that this thing will be maybe just under 100 towns when I'm done. I've decided to shorten Chapter 5, and probably fold the Conclusion into it. So, at the moment:

 

Prologue: 9 towns; 100% designed and tested.

Chapter 1: 19 towns; 100% designed, mostly tested.

Chapter 2: 20 towns; 2 largely blank, 3-5 need significant filling in, roughly 70-80% designed and entirely untested.

Chapter 3: 14 towns made, ~8 more to be made; most need significant filling in.

Chapter 4: 8 towns made, ~10 more to be made; most need significant filling in.

Chapter 5: ~8-10 towns to be made.

(Note also that there are 24 outdoor sections, of which I'm presently using 18 that are almost completely designed. I may use a few more at some point.)

 

My sense is that I've just passed the halfway mark, more or less, but there's still a long way to go. I hope I can finish no later than the end of next year, but who knows.

 

Designing Chapter 4 is fun, but it's also sort of harrowing.

Spoiler

I mentioned that this scenario is going to be a bit political. It engages with contemporary American politics sort of in the same way that Lord Putidus engaged with the Lucretia myth or Exodus engaged with the Moses story in the Bible. But in the same way that there was also a secondary source for Lord Putidus (the classic vampire story, e.g., Dracula) and for Exodus (Late Antiquity), there's a secondary source for Homeland: Nazi Germany. And there are supposed to be several points, especially in Chapters 3 and 4, at which you're not really sure whether what's being reflected is Trump or Hitler — and that's kind of the point. At the beginning of Chapter 3, the central villain delivers a speech that sounds a lot like a Trump speech, except it's not; it's a condensed version of a Goebbels speech.

 

Chapter 4 is taking on Hitler's persecution of ethnic minorities/Trump's persecution of immigrants. It's... rough.

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I had something along those lines in a scenario I was designing for BoE again (although I essentially gave up as the plot wasn't coming together smoothly and BoE doesn't really seem to work for Mac anymore, possible I could get a working Windows copy if I had Windows) - basically, one plot point involved an Empire city with a Nephilim mayor being attacked and some Empire citizens were claiming that it shows Nephils can't be trusted and so on.

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  • 2 months later...

A combination of getting busier at work, focusing on some other projects for a little while, and running into a major barrier with the part of Homeland that I was designing have left me not much farther than I was two months ago, but I think I made a breakthrough today and will be able to finish off key parts of Chapter 2 now.

Spoiler

I was having a heck of a time putting in the key color and side quests in Leksandria — basically, filling out the towns beyond the couple of things that are strictly necessary for progressing. After struggling for months, I realized that 1) I should base the main side quests on key Trump Administration scandals (e.g., you uncover tax evasion by someone close to the Emperor) and 2) I should make it fairly adventure game-y (dialogue + puzzles) because the whole thing takes place in friendly towns, so there's not as much room for monsters/combat. That made it click, and I think I can put in much of the rest now.

 

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  • 1 year later...

So... the bad news first. I basically stopped designing for a year because it was hard to find the time to do it. But the good news: I've resumed, and I'm making significant progress. My goal now is to design from where I was in Chapter 4 (basically, the second half) to the end of the scenario, ignoring all side quests and pretty much skipping over all combat, both of which I can fill in on a later pass.

 

And I'm almost to the end of Chapter 4. Today, I started to create the last three towns (as in, pressed the "Create New Town" button and placed town entrances in the outdoors) for the core plotline of Chapter 4. I have to fill in enough to keep the main plot going, and then I'm going to move into Chapter 5. Scripting Chapter 5 is going to be a fairly intense process, so who knows how long that will take -- months, I would expect. But just getting there will be significant. 

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Hooray! :)

 

This is very welcome news! It’s great to hear that you’re getting stuck into Homeland in a more regular way again, and making such good progress once more. And you’re so close to another major milestone already! I imagine getting stuck in to Chapter 5 will be very enjoyable when the time comes – I’m sure seeing the plans you’ve had in place for the endgame finally coming to pass will be quite satisfying.

 

As for the bad news, I always think it’s important to give creative works space, if possible. Life in the real world is important, takes time and effort, and is not easy. I feel that trying to force artistic expression when life is busy can be damaging, and can result in works that are rushed or poorly considered. Granted, that’s not always true (certain authors come to mind), but it’s a dangerous pitfall. I’d much rather that Homeland took longer to develop in the long run, but that you had time to really work on it at a pace you’re comfortable with. If Homeland takes longer to finish, but ends up a better scenario because of it, that much the better! Besides, compared to my work on my next novel, your progress on Homeland puts me to shame ...

 

Honestly, your design approach seems very sensible. I find it easier to keep momentum on a project when I’ve put its core structure in place, and it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing here. Once you’ve put together a skeleton for the main plot, and the whole scenario connects together that way, no doubt it becomes much easier to fill in the blanks – and I imagine it’s much harder for progress to get bogged down working in all the little details.

 

I don’t hide my excitement for this project, and I know there are plenty of others who are watching with interest too. We’re all cheering for you Kel! All the best for your work on the end of Chapter 4, and what comes next!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Continuing the work on the last few towns in Chapter 4. It's coming along, albeit slowly.

 

I also spent a few hours today revising my name list. One of the facets of Homeland that makes it very different from my other scenarios is the huge number of friendly towns, which in turn means that there are tons of character names — far more than in Bahssikava or Exodus. By my count, there were 32 character names in Bahssikava, of which 4 were Jeff names (Legare, Sss-Thsss, Phaedra, and Machrone). There were 48 additional names in Exodus. There are already over 200 in Homeland, and there will probably be over 250 by the time I'm done.

 

I'm making the names follow particular regional patterns so as to convey a little more sense of place as you move through the homeland. The Empire of Khalthas has four major regions: the region through which you travel during Exodus (which the sliths of the homeland call "Fathenaka Province"), the northern half of Khitaloss Province, the southern half, and Iliointh Province. Each region has a different set of endings for male and female names, and a general sound that they prefer. Northern names are fairly fluid, alternating between vowels and consonants, with female names ending in -a, -ia, or sometimes -ess, -ass, or -eth, and male names ending in -oss, or sometimes -en, -or, or -er. Typical examples are (female) Nehva or Dakhia and (male) Dokhoss or Orathoss. Southern names have strings of consonants, with female names ending in -a, -akh, -ash, or -eth, and male names ending in -[consonant]ss or -oss, or sometimes -yth or -en. Typical examples are (female) Sfessakh or Nazbash and (male) Narkhss or Venyth. Iliointh names tend to be very vowel-y and longer with a different (though overlapping) set of endings, so you get names like (female) Ageleath or Kiantha and (male) Luthkhinoss or Valenthianen. Each vowel is pronounced separately, so, for example, Ageleath is A-ge-le-ath. 

 

There are also variations by socioeconomic class, where generally higher-class names are a little smoother (Northern female: Amarantess; Southern female: Ishmeneth) and lower-class names are a little rougher (Northern female: Thikhnia; Southern male: Ekhthss). Generally, consecutive consonants or consecutive vowels make the name rougher, especially where they are articulated in very different places (e.g., "Ishmeneth" is largely at the front of the mouth, but "Thikhnia" is all over the place).

 

Because I'm using such an enormous number of names, my initial set of notes was really not up to what I needed, so today I went back and recompiled the list with name, character location, regional origin of the name (e.g., Iliointh), and a few other details. Really necessary work, though it doesn't actually show up in the editor or the scripts.

 

Incidentally, the -as ending of Khalthas (and Talas) is archaic and no longer used anywhere. Also, as compared to Bahssikava, where nearly every character was male, there are almost exactly as many male and female characters in Homeland.

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One reason I’m particularly looking forward to Exodus is because of this careful attention to detail. Without wishing to be too effusive, thanks for giving us these little insights, Kel! There are some good names here, some of the many. Nice touch with Talas’s name being a surviving anachronism, incidentally.

 

This is just a thought, but have you considered compiling some of these posts into a text file that you could distribute with Homeland, something like a developer’s commentary? I know part of the whole point of these detailed elements is that they enhance the feeling of the world without drawing attention to themselves, but I feel there might be some merit in having a space where you can cast a little light on these design decisions. While I suspect most people who play Homeland might check these forums, I don’t believe everyone will. For instance, back when I played through your original scenarios, I don’t have any contact with these forums at all. Besides, I imagine your experience and thoughts on world/game creation could be quite useful to a wide range of people, and I don’t just mean Blades designers. Just a thought – I know it’s a way off yet, and I wouldn’t want to give you any more work than you already have!

 

Also, I note with some amusement a near coincidence. I have already made use of one of your example names – almost – in my own scenario, in a character coded way back in 2011. At some point, you might meet the elusive Seliss-Orthoss!

 

Also, as I was about to post this, I think I just clocked the Iliointh reference. If it's what I think it is, that’s another nice touch ...

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2 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

This is just a thought, but have you considered compiling some of these posts into a text file that you could distribute with Homeland, something like a developer’s commentary?

Something like that, yes.

2 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Also, as I was about to post this, I think I just clocked the Iliointh reference. If it's what I think it is, that’s another nice touch ...

Iliointh was mentioned a couple times in Exodus as the birthplace (well, hatchingplace) of Khalthas. The name is a slithification of Ilion/Ilium, the alternative name for Troy. Aeneas comes from Troy, and Khalthas's story is very, very loosely inspired by the classical epics.

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23 hours ago, Kelandon said:

Something like that, yes.

 

Good to hear! :)

 

23 hours ago, Kelandon said:

The name is a slithification of Ilion/Ilium, the alternative name for Troy.

 

Ah, that makes a lot of sense! I must confess to having forgotten the little references to Iliointh in Exodus, but probably not subconsciously! I suspect that’s why I was thinking about the name when writing my post – I was subconsciously trying to figure out why the word was familiar, but I incorrectly ended up latching on to something entirely different.

 

Had I have been thinking in an Exodus frame of mind, Ilium would have been a clear choice. It was my initial gut feeling, but thinking about Iliointh in the context of Homeland made me go in a completely different direction.

 

My sudden spark of thought was to think of Iliointh as a slithification (and slight transposition) of ‘Illinois’ or, more specifically, the historic Native American Illinois Confederation. I’m not quite sure why that came to mind at that particular moment, but my feeling was that it made sense in context. On reflection, though, I don’t think it works at all.

 

My internal reasoning was that Homeland has two broad thematic strands to it, contemporary America, and Nazi Germany. You’ve already mentioned that one of the important ideas reflected on within the Nazi Germany context is the treatment of ethnic minorities – specifically shown in Iliointh. I thought that perhaps you could be making a Native American reference to bridge the two worlds – using an American ethnic group to highlight the Nazi ideas of ethnicity.

 

However, that doesn’t tally. You’ve made it clear that you want the two themes to marry to such an extent that they are almost indistinguishable. Any reference you made couldn’t really be one way. You couldn’t use an American reference merely to highlight the Nazi ideals, because the reference would have to go back to other way; there wouldn’t be any way of talking about a specific ethnic group without implying that the treatment of that particular group in contemporary America is broadly similar to that of Nazi Germany. That’s what I missed. While you clearly want to make important political parallels between the two regimes, I don’t expect that this is one of them, and it certainly wasn’t what I was thinking of when the the reference came to me.

 

Oops. This is what I get for getting excited by an idea, but not thinking it through properly. Do forgive me for my careless thinking. Still, I wanted to explain my faulty reasoning. After all, I imagine I came off as a little too excited simply for a reference to Troy – especially since I know you’ve clocked me catching more specific classical references in the past.

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Lots of progress over the Thanksgiving holiday. I created the core of most of the end of Chapter 4 and the beginning of Chapter 5. Chapter 5 has essentially three main sequences, and I created almost all of the first. The second is going to be long and quite tricky to plot out — I have a seed of an idea, but it could be great or terrible, and I have to really sketch it out before I can start putting it into the scenario — so I think I'm going to write up to the beginning of that part and then skip ahead to the third part, which I have pretty solidly under control. And that's pretty much it. I write the ending, and then I have to go back and fill in all the stuff that I've skipped (which includes fairly large chunks of Chapters 3 and 4).

 

I'm at 84 towns now, and I still estimate that there will be around 100 by the time I'm done. Some of the early work that I did is still paying dividends; I haven't had to work on an outdoor section or figure out which items go in which shops because I designed all that at the beginning.

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