27 February 2010

The Last Guardian 1.01

Spells and Items – 03
- Haste mana cost increased from 50 to 65 and cooldown decreased from 30 seconds to 20 seconds.
- Removed Order Code Manual.
- Quest items will only be makeable if player has the appropriate Alchemy level.

Chapter 1 – 4
- Added another rune and changed some doodad blocking at the Waygate riddle.
- Altered/fixed sequence of the Waygate riddle.
- Fixed some text in the ZombieQuest so the Zombie’s intentions become clearer.
- Fixed a typo in the english version.

Chapter 2 – 2
- Added visual aids for the Museum and the Botanic Garden.
- Fixed some typos in the german version.

Chapter 3 – 8
- Return Ressources skill will now be reset every time Khadgar cuts a tree.
- Corpses counter titles should now appear properly.
- Corpses counter trigger will now activate after 5 seconds instead of on map inizialization.
- Extended hint for A Hero’s Locke subtly.
- Fixed some typos in the english and the german versions.
- Added a visual aid for the Bullfrog.
- Fighting orcs and humans will now heal every 4 seconds instead of 10 seconds.
- Cinematic Medivh will now be properly removed when cinematic is skipped.

Chapter 4 - 5
- Added visual aids for The Bum, the Gold chest and the entrance to the house.
- Fixed some typos in the english version.
- Long Medivh dialogues can now be skipped by pressing ESC.
- Changed name of Circle of Power in the mage quarters to Teleport to City Centre.
- Fixed some typos in the english and the german versions.

Chapter 5 - 6
- Disabled Haste for Khadgar during the Garona chase and added a hint.
- Extended hints to destroy the support column.
- Order Code quests will no longer be like in the book but more simplified.
- Added visual aids for the Museum and the Botanic Garden.
- Fixed a mistake where Khadgar’s was speaking Medivh’s text.
- Fixed a bug that prevented the Wrong-sound from playing at the second Chest.

Chapter 6 – 16
- Added descriptions to Ethereal Oil and Magic Vial as to what they need to create a Potion of Water Walking.
- Added visual aids to the first and last blight regions.
- Ignoring the Chicken Grunt‘s guard position.
- Chicken Grunt should now be teleported regardless of where he is.
- Ignoring the Chicken Footman‘s guard position.
- All created waygates are removed when CaptureVideo starts to prevent some portal bugs.
- Changed Forest Troll Warlord speed to 0, so he won’t follow.
- Fixed damage of Forest Troll Warlord.
- Repositioned Forest Troll Warlord and Pathing Blockers so he won’t use a Portal.
- Fixed a typo in the english and the german versions.
- Chests should now be properly indestructible.
- Repositioned a tree.
- Replaced some imported trees with original trees in hope of peons actually doing their jobs now.
- Heavy Bag will no longer be moved to its original position but simply dropped.
- Reduced Creeps Guard Distance, Guard Return Distance and Guard Return Time.
- Changed description of second loss condition to display orcs and humans.

Chapter 7 - 6
- Order Code quests will no longer be like in the book but more simplified.
- Added a hint to the Statue Combat Rules to use the Arrow-keys.
- Added visual aids for the Museum and the Botanic Garden.
- Added visual aid for the Spanner.
- Improved hint to Khadgar’s change in the fight with Medivh.
- Fixed some typos in the english and german versions.

22 February 2010

Did Hitler get a key?


Lord of the Clans 1.01 available

My Warcraft 3 campaign 'Lord of the Clans' has received a balance-and-bugs-update in the las few days. The campaign should play much more smoothly and actively now. One of the reasons being that Thrall's passiv Bash ability got switched with the Storm Bolt ability. It also makes Thrall a lot stronger. Also Chapter 4 was toned down in difficulty: No more stupid raiders or swarming pigs.

- Download: Lord of the Clans (english)
- Download: Lord of the Clans (german)

Lord of the Clans: Version 1.01: 74 bugs fixed

Spells and Miscellaneous - 3
- Replaced Thrall’s Bash with Storm Bolt.
- Changed War Stomp Hotkey to W.
- Thrall will now receive experience from creeps in all levels.

Intro – 3
- Fixed some camera angles.
- Fixed amount of time some texts appear on screen with the english version in mind.
- Fixed a typo in the english version.

Chapter 1 – 9
- Thrall will now start with Evasion as his first skill.
- Game will no longer pause to explain something.
- Added water sound effects.
- The Gate quest will now sound as completed when finished.
- Fixed amount of time that some texts appear.
- Fixed some typos in the english version.
- Reduced volume of Gate opening.
- Added sound effects to switches.
- Reduced length of outro cinematic.

Chapter 2 – 7
- Fixed duration of intro cinematic texts.
- Fixed a bug with collecting wood that didn’t show wood in the leaderboard, thus preventing the player from completing the mission.
- Added water sound effects.
- Removed some hostile trolls.
- Added a mana rune to on of the trolls.
- Fixed some grammar in the english version.
- Northern orcs-video will now only start if player hasn’t visited Kelgar yet.

Chapter 3 - 2
- Placed Pathing Blockers in front of the Gate.
- The Paladin’s map is will now be properly removed.

Interludium – 3
- Fixed a typo in the english version.
- Defeated grunts will noe be owned by player 4 instead of player 1.
- Reduced the duration of some texts.

Chapter 4 - 13
- Thrall will now load his stats from Chapter 3 instead of Chapter 2 upon starting this mission.
- Reduced pig-quest duration by 40 seconds.
- Reduced pig-speed by 50.
- Pigs will now spawn 2 seconds less often.
- Fixed a bug in the order of quests that prevented the player from completing the mission.
- Raiders will no longer attack Thrall if he attacks them.
- Raiders will no longer surround the player.
- Fixed difficulty of the Raiders vs Gnolls quest.
- Fixed some typos in the english version.
- Pigs behind Gnoll Hut are better visible now because of the elevated terrain.
- Increased gather-radius for wood in PacmanQuest.
- Widened the road to the ogre towers.
- Fixed the duration of some cinematic texts when Thrall meets the Frostwolves.

Chapter 5 - 7
- Floating Texts will now properly be removed when WildQuest is ended.
- Fixed some typos in the english version.
- Raised Thrall’s level to 6.
- Drek’Thar will not receive a level up when Thrall dies.
- Skeleton Archers at FireQuest will spawn less often but more quickly
- Granite Golem will now be asleep until all keys are brought to him.
- Elevators will now change their height every 4 seconds instead of 5.

Chapter 6 - 12
- Enemies will spawn a little less often.
- Removed defeat condition for civilians.
- Fixed a typo in the german version.
- Fixed a typo in the english version.
- Hellscream and Doomhammer will not try to attack-move towards the Expansion Barrack anymore, but while come very close nontheless.
- Thrall has the Cloak of Shadows from the beginning.
- Cloak of Shadows is no longer part of the Optional Quest, instead a Potion of Healing was added.
- Each fleeing orc will be owned by Player 1 once they he is saved.
- Reduced hit poinjts of Bodyguards from 1200 to 1000.
- Renamed Player 7 to Internment camp.
- Thrall will start with an Ankh.
- Langston will spawn with 30% mana.

Chapter 7 - 1
- Fixed some typos in the english version.

Chapter 8 - 11
- Added hint for the sheep riddle.
- Removed many of the Runes of Healing from the spiders.
- Removed some low level spiders and added a couple of higher level spiders.
- Fixed some typos in the english version.
- Thrall will now get 50% experience from creeps at level 8 and can advance up to level 9.
- Level 3 War Stomp unlocked.
- Teleporter will not be in the air anymore.
- Added a Rune of Restoration at the Healing Fountain.
- Removed a Potion of Invulnerability.
- Added items to Blackmoore‘ inventory.
- Helpung endfight items will not spawn in the center of the ring but where fire will spawn a bit later.

Outro – 1
- Credits theme will now be repeated until cinematic is over.

20 February 2010

The impotance of widescreen

Some friendly guys over at inStarcraft.de were nice enough to post some comparision screenshots of the different resolution options in StarCraft 2.

5:4 (original screensize 1280x1024)

4:3 (original screensize 1280x960)

16:10 (original screensize 1650x1050)

16:9 (original screensize 1650x960)
Blizzard had announced that players with widescreen monitors would have an advantage though I hadn't though it would be this big. Anyway, I wouldn't spend too much time thinking whether that guy that just beat me had a viewfield advantage. I'm fine with my 16:10.

18 February 2010

A plea for a key

Why a Level-Designer wants into SCII-Beta
Dear Blizzard Entertainment,
Like so many here, I have been an avid Blizzard-Games fan since Warcraft I and I've been looking forward to any of your releases ever since. I was glad to hear that beta would finally start this months, but it also raised by hopes of getting into beta, unfortunately I didn't get invited (yet?).

Now, while I am not a pro-gamer, a webmaster, a journalist or a friend of one of your co-workers I believe I do stand out more than many other people. I am a level-designer, helping to improve and stabilize the community of Blizzard RTS games. 

I am responsible for the some of the most popular campaigns:
'Lord of the Clans' (http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/maps-564/lord-clans-80448/?prev=of%3Ddownloads%26order%3DDESC%26t%3D43%26d%3Dlist%26r%3D20)
'Day of the Dragon' (http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/maps-564/day-dragon-80854/?prev=of%3Ddownloads%26order%3DDESC%26t%3D43%26d%3Dlist%26r%3D20)
'The Last Guardian' (http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/maps-564/last-guardian-140145/?prev=of%3Ddownloads%26order%3DDESC%26t%3D43%26d%3Dlist%26r%3D20)
(I have also translated each campaign into the german language. They are downloadable from the fansite 'inwarcraft.de*)
...which as you realize are based on the first three Warcraft-books.

I want to be part of the Starcraft II Beta because I'm looking forward to getting to know the game well as early as possible. I also read that you would release the SCII Galaxy-Editor in one of the upcoming patches. I am eager to test the strengths of the editor and provide you with feedback.
I also don't want to leave the public out of my Beta-experience. I have a Blog (http://outsiderxe.blogspot.com/) where I would love to post screenshots, videos, battle reports on Starcaft II Beta.

My E-Mail Adress/Battle.net Account is 'outsiderxe [AT] web [DOT] de'

(It's 1p.m. in Germany now so I figure the officials must be sleeping now. Allow me to bump this thread once if I haven't received an official response in the next 12 hours)

Yours nerdy,
Outsider Xandros Editor

- http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=23307540766&sid=3000

15 February 2010

Day of the Dragon 1.01 - german version + new download links

All websites have been updated with the new version of Day of the Dragon that will work with Frozen Throne patch 1.24c (and hopefully upwards).

- Download: Day of the Dragon - english (Hiveworkshop)
- Download: Day of the Dragon - english (Filefront)
- Download: Day of the Dragon - german (inWarcraft.de)

I've also started working on a patch for Lord of the Clans which will be released next weekend at the latest. The patch will include playability improvements, especially balancing. Also some bugfixing will be done.

12 February 2010

Day of the Dragon working again

It's taken me some time but over the last couple of weeks I worked hard to make Day of the Dragon playable again. Today I updated the english version on The Hive. I will inform you as soon as other download sites like Fileplanet and inWarcraft.de (for the german version) have been provided with updates as well.

Here is a bugfix-list for the 1.01 update:
Day of the Dragon: Version 1.01: 53 Bugs fixed

Spells and Items – 5
- Replaced Divine Touch with Divine Wrath to ensure 1.24 compatibility. Dive Wrath can now damage enemy units and heal Rhonin when in the target area, where Divine Touch could not. Inscreased cooldown and mana cost.
- Replaced Power Bash with a new Power Bash to ensure 1.24 compatibility. Falstad no longer transforms into a hammer when hurlinh himself to an enemy, but he can damage multiple enemies now.
- Fixed Redemption Aura to ensure 1.24 compatibility.
- Helm of Battlethirst Beserk ability now costs 50 mana.
- Replaced level up effect within Spirit Control with a more subtle effect.

Chapter 1 – 6
- Changed the Optional Quests description word „naughty“ into „evil“.
- Footmen Target Aquisition Rage reduced.
- Replaced a Forest Troll Shadow Priest with a Forest Troll.
- Fire Animation is no longer audible when inactive.
- All Fires will be lit now.
- Fixed a typo in the german version.

Chapter 2 – 8
- Removed one of the starting burrow peons.
- Reduced damage of Ogres and Orc Frigates.
- Added invulnerability to Mortar Team until the trees are passed.
- Reduced damage of Juggernauts.
- Fixed orc blockage at the end of the level.
- Fixed two typos in the english version.
- Reduced range of Orc Frigates to 500.
- Falstad can no longer get above level 5 while reading a book.

Chapter 3 – 3
- Increased Kryll’s hit points and health regeneration.
- Fixed a typo in the german version.
- Increased hit points of Gold Coins and Bundle of Lumber to infinity.

Chapter 4 – 8
- Better hints as to how Rhonin is supposed to escape his prison.
- Removed a tree to see the Green Rune better.
- Aded hint on how to feed the wolves.
- The Missing Troll will be added to the player’s selection after being rescued.
- Added visualizations for the pig, the flowers and the wheat.
- Exclamation mark will no longer return on the Police Station once asked about the Wrench.
- Fixed two typos in the german version.
- Fixed the position of a doodad in the outro cinematic.

Chapter 5 – 7
- Fixed a critical bug that occured since 1.24 that prevented players from returning to Dalaran after visiting one of the sub-maps.
- Screen no longer remains black after escaping the Nozdormu intro cinematic.
- Fixed a typo in the english version.
- Fixed two typos in the german version.
- Disabled Waygate and removed Darkhunters when visiting Malygos.
- Repositioned a few doodads.
- Taretha is now invulnerable.

Chapter 6 – 5
- Added pathing blockers to prevent units from getting to the outro cinematic place.
- Medallion from Outro cinematic should no longer be visible during gameplay.
- A gnoll should no longer remain hostile once its quest is completed.
- Added minipings to the Stones-quests.
- Fixed two typos in the german version.

Chapter 7 – 4
- Increased Fire Golem hit points.
- Collapse event will trigger no matter how the Fire Golem dies.
- Power Bash no longer hurls the Fire Golem or Falstad out of the level.
- Reduced hit points of Power Generators.

Chapter 8 – 8
- Deathwing deals more damage but has less hit points.
- Fixed AI control over Aspects.
- Changed description of Nozdormu’s Steal Item.
- Increased Nozdormu’s hit points and decreased the hit points of all other aspects for Taunt-efficiency.
- Added a destructible doodad in front of Rom’s prison.
- Increased Nozdormu’s chance to steal from 33% to 63%.
- Decreased Deathwing’s healing effects from 300/700 to 200/400.
- Fixed a typo in the german version.

- Epilogues – 1
- Added MortAr- and NFWar in the credits for the Divine Wrath and new Power Bash spells.

In the future I would like to update Lord of the Clans (mainly bugs and difficulty) and The Last Guardian (bugs and mission descriptions) as well.

05 February 2010

AVP removed from Steam game list

I played it an hour ago but when I restarted Steam ten minutes ago it was removed from the game list. Apparently Steam doesn't want players from Germany to test the game. Others have reported the same.

First impressions of the AVP demo

Yesterday morning I downloaded the Aliens vs Predator demo. So far I've played a dozen rounds or so, so I'd like to write a summary of my first impressions.

The strongest complaint that many PC users had were the wait-times until you got to a game. It took me ten minutes to find my first game, and the second took abouth half an hour. Other people reported giving up after 45 minutes. But when I first entered the game, boy was I in for a ride: I've mostly been an alien player but since I was alt-tabbed (Just press Alt+Enter. Very handy.) out of the game until I realzied it had already started and Marine was chosen for me.

Atmosphere (aka Graphics and Sound)
The following explains my first two minutes in the game. I started in a dark, narrow corridor with many routes to explore. Flashlight on I walked down a path. My tracker device started alerting me to the presence of nearby hostiles, but I couldn't see a damn thing. Then, on the other end of the alley a saw an Alien swiftly crawling across the floor. I mean, it's a multiplayer-game but that was scary! As the Alien hadn't noticed me and I couldn't reach it's position due to debris I chose another route. my tracker device started blinking some more, and more, and then I heard Alien hissing, some fighting and some people dying. I tried to get there to finally see some action but then I noticed something in my vicinity. A Predator uncloaked just behind me and ripped my head off before I could react! The game has really great atmosphere and I can say, no matter what race you pick you will definitely feel like being in it's shoes/claws, because there are so many things that change depending on the race. Weapons, speed, body awareness, HUD, level illumination (Alien sees cleary, Marine sees darkness expect for where the Flashlight is, Predator sees enemies depending on it's HUD visuals).

Gameplay with the Prey (Marine)
He is bulky and slow, and doesn't see well in the dark, which in my opinion reflects the physical disatvantage this race has very well. I mean, this is no Unreal Tournament. He is not supposed to bunny-hop around and take lots of damage. The Marine can also neither prone, crouch or use Iron Sights. Because, as slow as he may be, he is also no camper. He just walks carefully through the level, picking up gadgets, always taking a look at his motion tracker. And when he sees an enemy he sf fires like there is no tomorrow. But I wouldn't say he is underpowered. The Pulse Rifle and many of the other weapons spread across the level give the Marine a range advantage that no other race has from the very beginning. Also, if you open your eyes and not wander about carelessly you can spot other enemies early enough.

Gameplay with the Hunted (Alien)
My favourite race has been the Alien, since AvP2. I just love neglecting gravity, crawling on the surface at high speed and biting the heads off enemies when they least expect it. So  had high hopes for this race, which weren't met. The wall-transition felt odd. You don't press (hold) a key to wall-walk, you are either in transition mode or you are not, and if you are not and want to wall-walk you have to hold that key for at least a second. Also the alien is fast, if you hold run really fast which often makes you speed past an enemy when you actually wanted to engage him. My first games had me go back and forth between controls menu and game to see what fits me the most. Only today I seem to grasp the controls well enough to like them. I stick to the ceiling, trying to stay hidden, crawl around until I see an enemy and when I see him I try to get to him from behind as past as possible. When your enemy doesn't see you it's a guaranteed insant kill. You just need to press one button, a nice kill-animation plays and that frag is yours. You just have to be careful to not let that happen to yourself, because you stay vunerable for as long as the kill-animation plays. If he sees me I engage in melee combat. With humans it just depends on how quickly they see me. If it's far away it's probably better to quickly hide and approach them from a different direction. Predators are usually a bit stronger in direct melee so you have to be very careful to land at least the first blow, if not you can still outrun them. Aliens on the other hand can't be outrun. It's just a fair fight.

Gameplay with the Hunter (Predator)
Yeah, played him two times or so. A bit dissapointing that he doesn't seem to have any special weapon in the beginning and needs to rely on melee. He can cloak but even Marines can spot him easily. He feels like a bulky Alien to me. Only once I picked up a weapon (Was it a mine?) but failed to use it. I've seen other players perform very well on the other hand. They either killed me in direct melee or sniped me form further away when the only thing I saw was a red laser beam.So, the Predator seems to be good, just not in my hands.

More on Controls and Melee
I was hoping for an AvP2-controls scheme, seriously, but Rebellion changed so many things. Marine is fine, feels like a typical shooter (except that there was no crouch, but I really didn't miss it either). I won't comment on the Predator. Will want to test him in Single-Player. With all races it felt like they intenionally left out some features. The Predator has no light-vision. The Alien can't feast on corpses, can neither bite enemies' heads off, pounce, activate a special light vision. Instead he regenerates when not engaged in combat, uses stealth-kills to perform head-biting and other brutal stuff, and always illuminates the nearby vicinity for himself so he can perfectly see. The controls feel dumped down, but one can see that this was also done for balancing reasons. There is also no lean function, but as with crouch I didn't miss it. Instead the designers added a Slow-Walk function, which lets me say ..."What the fuck is this for?" All races are silent enough without it, and even if they weren't it makes them way too slow.

One of the elemental features of the game is the melee combat, at least as an Alien. In the very early games the matches were dominated by stealth-kills which you could perform once you got behind your enemy and spammed the defined button. But now many players seem to realize that spamming light attacks and stealth-kills leaves them vulnerable too often so they engage in melee combat.There is a light attack, heavy attack and block. Block blocks light attack, heavy attack damages blockers, light attack prevents heavy attacks. Rock-paper-scissors. It feels really good. I've heard you can still pounce on enemies, although the jump distance can't be as far as in AvP2, but again, this is all right with me as long as it serves balancing.

But what is really annoying is the Auto-aim. I mean, it's helpful in melee situations when you really want to engage your foe, but sometimes it feels like it does too much for you. At other times you want to flee from the scene and this prevents you from doing so. Also, the stealth-kills are still too powerful. You don't even have to stand directly behind an enemy to kill him. if he is a few meters away and you press stealth-kill you will automatically jump on him and get that frag. Those two things, along with the transition-weirdness are my main gripes. Other than that the game is great. Nice mixture of slow- and fast-paced game. Demanding melee, rich atmosphere, varied races.

+ Graphics and Sound
+ Immersion
+ Variety
+ Melee
+ Balancing (except Stealth-Kills)
- Auto-aim
- Need to hold key to pick up items or activate wall transition
- Predator starts naked

Other things that could be ciritized but will be changed as far as I know.
- Matchmaking system. Full game will feature dedicated servers, server lists and all the good stuff we used to love when Modern Warfare 2 wasn't around.
- Matchmaking wait time. Already fixed.
- Class balance. Full game will let you choose your race indepented from other people's choices.

I'm quite happy with the game so far. I had high hopes and I was dissapointed after a few games but the more I got used to it there more I liked it. It's not AvP2 but good in it's own way. I'll wait for reviews of the full game on Single-Player campaign, additional game modes and maps before I decide to buy it. Hopefully this game will have a strong online community and mod support.

02 February 2010

Some interior shots

I've spend the last weeks resizing the UT-map because after some playtesting it felt too big. This happened in numerous steps. First I selected all of the map and resized it to about 80%. I played it again for a while but it still felt too big so I resized it again to about 66% percent, which it is now and feels rather good. Players get around the map quickly enough without feeling boxed in. But because of the resizing I had two major problems occur. One is that the brushes don't snap to the grid when you resize more than one, and because unsnapped BSP is hell to work with I went through the process of resnapping every single vertex there was on the map. Problem number two is that the vertices seemed to show some strange cross-over, overlapping patterns (hard to explain but the error message was "Brush has non-coplanar polygons"), or invisible walls. I didn't fix all of them, only the invisible walls and the ones that showed the error-message, but I'll probably get round to it once I start working more with meshes.

Now while the whole map got smaller I still felt like some of the rooms were redundant. One of the visual ideas was to have prison cells but nevermind the visual ideas, when playing the map, these rooms didn't feel right. So I looked at what ideas those rooms were supposed to have, so could combine those ideas, cropping usually the room towards the outside of the map.

I wanted to show you a few of those rooms. Left shows the old version, right is the current one.

This is the school's main entrance (keep in mind that the school was just a helper for a basic layout, the final graphic layout will not be a school). I pushed the walls inward, and to the upper left there is a hole which used to go to a two-room floor. It now is only one room.

This picute shows the two entrances to the room I just mentioned. Again I pushed the walls inward to have a smaller courtyard. The stairs to the left go around the building now instead of off to another side.

If you go up the stairs you will see this room. To the far left there were additional rooms which I removed. I also cropped some of the holes in the floor because the corridor would have been too narrow otherwise.

I am still not done with the process of identifying rooms and resizing or cropping them, and I definitely can't say when I will finally move on to the graphics. But what I can say is that with each of these changes the map feels and plays better, which is very important to me. I will not stop tweaking the gameplay-part of the map until I am fully satisfied.