- Nov 1 - NWN2 in stores, patch 1.01 released.
- Nov 9 - 1.02 patch (more of a hotfix than a real patch)
- Dec 4 - 1.03 patch (very significant performance improvements)
- Jan 30 - 1.04 patch (mostly user interface issues)
- Feb 8 - 1.04 hotfix
- April 1 - 1.05 patch (see below)
I'm probably going to continue to judge all patches on 1.03, because that patch brought both significant performance increases (I got better framerates with full shadows after the patch than I did without shadows before the patch) as well as key user interface improvements (e.g. dual-wielding hotkeys). This one looks to be a bit more modest in terms of changes that will impact me, but there are a few things that catch my eye in the patch notes:
• Many substantial improvements to the AI scripts provided by community member evenflw have been integrated into the game. Additionally, revisions were made to AI to make both friendly and enemy characters be much more intelligent with feat use in combat.I'll be interested to see how this manifests itself. One of my remaining issues that I encounter regularly has been how NPC's use their abilities in combat. For example, if I leave a low-level bard character alone for a second during combat without queued actions, s/he will immediately start casting countersong whenever you enter combat--even if you're not facing enemy spellcasters. This uses up a precious bard song, and, if you're not using clubok's Bard Songs That Don't Stop Inspirations, it can negate a potentially more important inspiration. I'd like to at least have the ability to make the bard AI stop using songs altogether (turning off "use abilities" and setting spellcasting to "do not cast spells" doesn't help), but even better, I'd like them to more intelligently use their songs. Other problems like this still exist with the companion AI, and I'm hopeful that this patch will help fix those issues.
• There is now an “Advanced Options” button on the Server Options panel. Server Administrators can specify two URLs in this menu: One, intended to point to their server’s homepage, if it has one, and one intended to directly point to the server’s latest PWC file. Players will be able to see these links from the Server Details on the Internet Game browser and clicking them will launch the user’s Browser and direct them to the URL specified.PWC files are the walkmesh data files that players are required to download in order to play on persistent worlds in nwn2 (this is necessitated by the huge size of the outdoor heightmaps, which make nwn2 so beautiful). This is the first (and long overdue) effort to help improve the process by which players are informed of the need for a PWC file and are aided in downloading it. Ideally this will someday be a bit more of an automated process, but this is a big step in the right direction. ... of course, all this doesn't matter much to me as someone who only plays single player, but the online PW community is an important part of NWN2's long term viability, and this is a key feature that they needed.
• The Grass, Creature Appearance Type, and Creature Soundset lists are now sorted alphabetically.This is a small thing, but looking through the soundset lists in the toolset has thus far been an extremely arduous process. I'm hopeful that browsing through sounds will continue to get some attention--particularly because a fair number of the available sounds seem to be missing or something (i.e. they don't play when I try to preview them in the toolset).
• Walkmesh Helpers have been added to Placeables/Misc Props. These objects are invisible square objects that can be resized and placed on a map to bake a walkmesh. You can use them to make flat objects walkable that normally are not or would be difficult to bake. Some examples of situations where these would be useful are a long length of repeating bridge pieces or building roofs. To view the Walkmesh Helpers in the Toolset, turn on the display of C2 Collision volumes. There are two versions; each will play a different footstep sound. Special thanks to Zarathustra217 for the original concept and objects.This one's interesting, because it basically is just incorporating a (hall of fame) hakpack by a community member into the official release of the toolset. :) Go community! It should also prove very useful for builders not already using that hak.
All in all, I don't see many huge changes coming (the AI adjustments being a possible exception, depending on how big the changes turn out to be), but it should be a useful patch. As with 1.04, though, I'll probably hold of on patching until I have to in order to pay a module (for 1.04, it was Stormchaser).
I will just close by pointing out that there remain two major issues that really need to be fixed in 1.06:
- Improve toolset stability. There are still a fair number of users that are encountering corruption to their modules...sometimes in a way that ultimately dooms their work (here's an example). At the very least, some sort of automated backup system would be useful as a temporary workaround as stability problems are repaired (e.g. maintain 5 backups in a subdirectory, creating a new one each time the toolset is opened).
- Fix the seams issue in outdoor walkmeshes. This really became a major problem in 1.04, and has yet to be repaired AFAIK (though I haven't seen many complaints about this lately, while folks like Hugie are building tons of exterior areas).