Sunday, May 30, 2010

Know When To Stop

When you're doing modding, it's essential to keep in mind when to stop fiddling with something. This can particularly be the case when it comes to level design.  The temptation to keep tweaking landscaping, texturing, decoration, lighting, and all the other elements that make up a level is extremely high.  As such, I've forced myself to consider the level that I've been working on complete.

It may have some minor tweaks done to it once I start working on the actual area itself, populating it with creatures, items and various interactive items, but for the moment it is "finished".  As I am somewhat of a perfectionist, making this decision to stop working on something is a difficult one. There comes a time when the extra effort of tasks like finessing the exact location of vegetation becomes more an exercise in obsession rather than useful design.

Unfortunately, I don't believe I have any hard and fast rules to determine when it is time to stop. It is going to vary from person to person, and potentially from task to task.  Face morphs in particular are something I find very time consuming, especially when I'm aiming for a particular type of appearance.  It probably doesn't help that I don't seem to be very good at doing facial morphs. I have been envious of the skills of people in the "prettiest character competition" thread on more than a few occasions.

But, as a general rule, if you find yourself going over the same ground for a few hours and making repeated tweaks on those final touches to make something "perfect", or second-guessing your work, then it's probably time to stop.

Anyway, it's time for a small look at the completed level in-game:

Given the number of screenshots I've posted of this area, it feels as though a short description is in order. The following is part of the codex entry on the area:

Patren's Gorge
A rocky scree bisecting the North and South of Patren's Wood, Patren's Gorge is a particularly dangerous area high within the Frostback Mountains. Named for the Ferelden explorer Patren, who in 4:89 Black, made an attempt to explore and map as much of the Frostback Mountains as possible. The previous Orlesian invasion of Ferelden prompted the Arl of Redcliffe to send Patren to explore other possible routes across the Frostback Mountains.


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  2. That is an awesome rockscape. If i continue to mod once my Islander campaign releases for nwn2 next month, it will be in DA.

    How long do you think until there is an accessible tutorial / forum community help that an advanced level nwn2 modder can follow ?

  3. Thanks Eguintir! Glad you like the look!

    I guess it depends what you're looking for. There's the dragon age builder's wiki (, that has a lot of useful information. A few people have also done video tutorials, which appear to be reasonably good, but cover things that you will likely already know from NWN2 modding.

    As far as a full tutorial like some of the guides that were done for the NWN2 toolset... well, there's not really anything that I know of, but that may be as a result of me not looking hard enough. Plus I'm a bit of a "learn through trial, error, blood, sweat and tears" kind of person. That said, I do try and share tidbits here that might help others. But I'm not sure if I have it in me to write a full 'many page' document detailing all aspects of the toolset.