Friday, March 16, 2007

Neverwinter Nights Patch 1.05 beta released

Obsidian has released their beta patch of version 1.05. Assuming that means they get out the actual release on April 1 (two weeks), this is their patch schedule thus far:
  • 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)
It looks like Obsidian is on an every-other-month patch schedule at this point, and has been since the monumental 1.03. I'm extremely pleased with their support thus far. There continue to be outstanding issues, particularly in terms of toolset stability, but I'm nonetheless extremely happy with their commitment to keep working and improving the game. As long as they keep up support, NWN2 should continue to be an outstanding platform for our modding community.

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).


  1. I think the seams issue was, in fact, not at all related to walkmesh; it was a texture issue. Basically, you can have a maximum of (I believe) 6 textures on unit of "terrain" in an exterior area. If you try adding a 7th, it won't show up at all; if that 7th is a significant part of the area that ranges across multiple "tiles" (grass in a forest or sand on a beach, for example), and one of the tiles already has the maximum number of textures, your new one will just be cut off at the seam of that tile. See what I mean?

    So it's basically just a matter of being careful with textures. :)

  2. Wow, that's really interesting if true. I remember playing around in the toolset early on and noting how easy it was to accidentally use up all 6 of your texture slots in an tile. I remember thinking that when I built an area for real I'd try to limit myself to four textures per tile so I'd have an extra buffer of two textures for emergencies.

    Thanks for the comment! -B

  3. aekskqsNo, its actually an issue with the lighting.

    I have one of these right now in my module that I cannot get rid of.

    What happens is, during the bake, the lighting for the tile get broken into individual sections. And certain tiles lighting will be incorrect between various tiles.

    While its true that what Alex says also happens, this specific bug is very different.

    Most of the time you can make it go away by taking out the smoother and clicking on one of the lines. Poof... gone...

    But it may very well come back the next time you bake.


  4. Phoenixus is right. I'd never understood that it was a lighting issue, but that makes perfect sense, as the problem *almost* seems to go away in low-contrast lighting situations.

    Well, let's just hope it gets some attention.