Saturday, June 23, 2007

Akkei working on NWN2 module

One of the things that has been a bit disappointing to me as a player is how few of the "old guard" of NWN1 builders have made the transition to NWN2. The majority of those that have seem to be working for larger, professional studios like Ossian, with just a few (Adam Miller, Enoa4, and Markus Schlegel head the list) independent artists out there who were significant players during the main part of NWN1's modding life. It's not that I blame them--hardware requirements are steep, the time investment required is greater, and they've already put a significant part of their lives into modding and thus may be ready to move on. But I still hold out hope that more will continue to make the transition. And perhaps they will:

Yesterday, Akkei announced that he is working on a NWN2 module. A long-time community member and well-regarded builder, Akkei published three important and highly original modules for NWN1. You can read his announcement to find out about his upcoming module, but I thought I'd reflect back a bit on his past contributions. Below, I link to each of his three English NWN1 modules, and post an excerpt of my comments:

Orcs 1 - The Awakening of the Arak-Hur (my comments posted 3/30/05)
"Orcs" had been on my playlist for a long time, and I finally have had the opportunity to give it a go. It was everything I’d heard it to be. You begin as the adopted child of an orc, having just come of age to serve your orc clan, the Arak-Hur. Your clan was driven into the caves in the mountains 30 years prior by human invaders into your lands. They have bought their time, grown their forces, and now are prepared to strike back at the humans. Since you are not an orc, they ask you to go do some reconnaissance on the human populations to help them identify weaknesses in their defenses.

So begins a very open ended game. Once you leave the Orc confines, you have your choices of a large variety of quests which all can be accomplished in any order you choose. Quests are varied and interesting, and many of them are mutually exclusive—if you agree to cooperate with one faction, quests from other factions will become impossible. There are numerous opportunities to roleplay characters that range from lawful neutral to chaotic evil. The best accomplishment of this module is that it allows you to very easily slip into the role of an orc. Throughout most of the module (exception—see below in spoilers), I felt absolutely no regrets about spying on the humans, discovering their weaknesses, and reporting them to my superiors. After all, these are the corrupt bastards that conquered your clan’s homelands for nothing more than financial gain.
Orcs 2 - Return to Al-Dha (my comments posted 4/5/05)
Orcs 2 is a worthy sequel to the original Orcs module by Akkei, and is the 2nd in this unfinished series. You begin shortly after the events in Orcs 1, having been promoted to Arms Master, a very prestigious title in your clan. Having defeated the humans responsible for your clans' exile, your chief has decided it is time to return by sea to the homeland of the orcs. You are assigned the helm of one of three galleons used in that transport. But things don’t go quite as planned…

So begins this very open-ended module. There are few modules that give you as much choice in the way the story goes than Orcs 2. There are three different plot lines here. I only sampled one of them, but the nice thing is that even though the stories are the same, you get to see most of the module playing through each one of them. This was a good, important design decision—it allowed there to be a decent amount of detail in the world and a lot of side quests, even though the world can be experienced through the three storylines.

There was a lot of thought that went into the gameworld. The module creates three very distinct orc cultures, each of which is different from the other (largely along the lawful-neutral-chaotic axis), and also distinct from the player's home clan. They are locked in what seems to be a long political struggle that has a very uneasy peace. Further, they have a long history that is only alluded to, but includes an interesting tale involving elves. I really enjoyed the setting of this module.
The Breach

As it turns out, I never posted comments on this one, though I did play it for an evening or two. I found the setting and concept to be absolutely fantastic. Amazingly creative, fun, and exciting. The opportunity to play undead characters is something that has never been done as well, before or after this module was released. The cutscenes that start this module are to die for (heh), and the experience of navigating a dark undead keep while rooting out pesky good-doers was delightful.

Nevertheless, I found the combat to be far too over-the-top for my enjoyment. I tried to play the sorcerer, as well as the fighter, and in both cases the repeated and constant spawning in some of the town areas just became tedious. Nevertheless, this module is worth a look, if for no other reason than to experience the first hour or so of gameplay. I'd love to see someone try to do something like this for NWN2, just with less over-the-top combat. :)


  1. Wow. I'm a member of the 'old guard'. My wife always yells at me when I tell her I'm getting old, I'll have to make her read this.

    Seriously thank you for including my name in a group of such accomplished authors. I appreciate it and am deeply flattered.

  2. Well, clearly you deserve to be there, given all of your contributions.

    The unfortunate thing is that I never got a chance to play any of your nwn1 mods. Hythum was on my list for a long time, and probably still is. ... But I'm just enjoying nwn2 too much to go back and play nwn1 mods right now. :( -B

  3. Heh - ENoa4 definitely is one of the NWN "old guard". :)

    I know how you feel about NWN mods that you've missed, Berliad! There are plenty that I really should've played, but I find it impossible to go back (for now, at least)...

    Anyway, I actually think that quite many of the old stars are joining the NWN2 community. Looking at the NWN mods top list authors (English mods), we find out the following:

    * SubBassman, who at some point, at least, said that he's working on an NWN2 project (while also still working on TH II).
    * Challseus, I believe, has been considering working with NWN2, and has been working with the Ossian Studios, anyway.
    * Stefan Gagne, Rick Burton, and Kevin Chan aren't active anymore, anyway. Firestarter, Dallo, Gestalt, MadWombat, and Valine I don't know about.
    * Savant is finishing his series for NWN and considering continuing with NWN2.
    * Poecile has been around in the NWN2 forums, at least.
    * Adam Miller is working with NWN2.
    * Baldecaran has been thinking about modding for NWN2, at least; I believe he may have some NWN projects still in progress.
    * Tiberius209 is with NWN2.
    * Daniel Muth seems to be planning to finish his series in NWN.
    * Alazander, too - but he's with Ossian, and I'd imagine he'll be with NWN2, at some point, in any case.
    * Fester Pot doesn't know if he'll have time for modding after Shadewood.
    * Andarian will be modding for NWN2, but still has NWN commitments.
    * Milena is working on an NWN2 mod, I believe.
    * Steve B had some NWN2 plans at some point (but I haven't seen him around for a while).
    * Bruce Nielson is working on an NWN2 mod.

    That was the first page. Well, those guys aren't all of the "old guard", but, anyway... And, then, there are others, too: Seryn is back, for instance; Guard Dog was working on an NWN2 mod at some point; Abaddon had some plans, at least; John McA has been working on something for NWN2, as has Roy Boscowan; Rick Francis and his team are working on EoB II; El Dano will be around, I think, if and when he upgrades his machine, etc.

    Many uncertain cases, there, but it seems that many old NWN builders are still around, in one way or another, and perhaps we'll be pleasantly surprised - who knows... And of course it may be worth noting in this context, that there are many "new faces", too, building awesome things for NWN2. :)


  4. I'm not sure you can get much "older" guard than Phoenixus. ;)

    "Rick Francis and his team are working on EoB II"

    Really? That's excellent.

  5. Yeah, I thought Phoenixus is so obvious I didn't even bother mentioning him... ;)

    As for EoB II, I was slightly exaggerating. They're *preparing* to build it - I'm not sure if that counts as working on it. They may wait for the expansion, and Rick has taken some time off modding. But he's saying it'll be done. Check out the recent HoF interview:


  6. Lariam,

    Thanks for that post. Very interesting. Unfortunately, while it shows some promise, we only have confirmed projects from a few of those authors.

    Still, it's nice to hear that folks are open to working on NWN2. Whether any products are ultimately released...who knows?

    One minor correction--while Alazander is indeed working for Ossian, he is working on a mod of his own...but it's for NWN1, not NWN2. -B

  7. Yeah - actually I meant that Alazander is finishing his series in NWN, but my guess would be he'll move on to NWN2 after that (if he keeps on modding).

    I think it is quite encouraging that not many builders have rejected NWN2. So, true, more could have moved on to NWN2, but in many cases the explanation for the builder not having done that seems to be that they're finishing what they've started in NWN, first. Let's hope that after some more custom content with the Granny tools released, and with Obsidian keeping on patching the game, they'll be with us soon. :)


  8. You forgot that Hugie's working on Moonshadows for NWN2.

    As for Alazander, my feeling is he's still debating which game to mod AL4 in. Everyone knows NWN2 is the future, but there are issues with porting series and characters over right now. I could be wrong though, as I've not directly asked him. Regardless, he's at a point where he's being slammed by Ossian work, so he's not doing anything for either game right now.

    Challseus was burned out by RoE2. I don't know that he's too eager to jump into independent projects. His main goal is to get a job in the industry, so my guess is that he'll gladly continue projects for studios like Ossian but other stuff may develop very slowly. Again, I've not directly asked him; I'm just reporting my impressions based on a few different snippets I've heard.

    My work for Ossian has slacked a bit for the immediate future. Therefore, I've been able to make great progress on "The Maimed God's Saga," which I'll update on my own blog later today. Unfortunately, I'm still much nearer to the beginning of that project than the end.

    So some good and some bad I suppose...

  9. The last I heard Alazander say on the matter was in March:

    Things can change, but the issues he cited (particularly the availability of creatures) don't seem to have changed much. Maybe when Granny comes it, things will be better...

    It's great to hear that you've been able to work on your mod, Tiberius!

  10. Well, Berliad, according to Alazander's latest post, he's still confirmed for NWN1. I might have to e-mail him about it to try to persuade him otherwise. I don't know what creatures he needs, but with Mask of the Betrayer adding several new ones and Granny promising a lot of extra CC, I would think that creature availability will soon not be an issue.