Sunday, September 2, 2007

1.07 Patch Preview - Premonition

The big item of significance in Rob McGinnis's post this week at the official NWN2 blog are the patch notes for 1.07. This is the first "named" patch, and it will be interesting to see if that's a new trend that we see moving forward. If nothing else, the time delay in getting this one out the door justifies treating it in a special manner. Since 1.03, the patch by which all others must be judged, Obsidian has been operating on an approximate 2 month timetable for its patch releases. Nevertheless, it looks like 1.07 is going to come closer to three months since the release of the 1.06 patch.

I usually avoid doing this before the actual release. But things have been a bit slow around my house lately in terms of nwn2 activities (or gaming activities, period--everything else is busy!!), here are some of the highlights of the upcoming 1.07 patch, at least from my perspective:
Character Mode and Strategy Mode – In advance of the release of the Mask of the Betrayer expansion pack this September, we’ve included one of the major new revisions we’ve made to the camera and control modes. Now, the four camera modes (Top Down, Chase, Driving and Free Camera) have been consolidated into two modes that are more configurable and clearer to use than the old modes – Character Mode and Strategy Mode.
This was something none of us really expected to see until the release of Mask. But given how much grief Obsidian took with regards to its camera systems in the initial release, it makes sense to roll this out early and work through any issues before the expansion is actually subjected to evaluation by review magazines.

Overall, this feature seems more like a streamlining of the options for less experienced gamers than a real change in feature set--I have a feeling that my experiences in game will feel absolutely identical to my current camera scheme (Top Down view). But I do like that there are additional customization features available, which might let me optimize things a bit better. I'm also hopeful that some of the "jumpiness" of the camera near some placeables -- especially walls a buildings -- will be less of an issue with the new camera. But I won't hold my breath.

* Marquee/Multi-Selection Revamp – Marquee and Multi-selection have been dramatically improved to make controlling a full party much easier. You can see the new improvements to Marquee and Multi-selection in the new Strategy Mode.
I'll be interested to see what happens with the multi-selection stuff. I'm pretty happy with just having my companions follow my selected character. But it might be nice to occasionally have a party control style that is closer to that from the Infinity games.

* Party AI On/Off Button – There is now a button on the main game UI, next to the rest button, that will toggle the entire party’s AI on or off.
This sounds like a great little feature. Every so often, especially when setting up for a big fight, or sometimes even during big fights, I have to "disable" AI by telling everyone to stand their ground so that I can set people where I want them. My hopes is that this will make this process a bit easier. Not a big deal, but it could be something I use every five hours or so when playing.

* Bronze Dragon - New Creature! The Bronze Dragon creature has been added to the Toolset, so expect him to show up in new community content as well as Mask of the Betrayer.
This isn't new, as we've already seen screenies of this beastie--and I still think the mantra about there not being enough dragons is way overblown given our ability to tint the models we already have--but I'm always a fan of new monsters being added to the toolset.

* A Creature Appearance Wizard has been added. This will allow you to change the appearance of spawned creatures and creature blueprints, including race, gender, armor and armor attachments. This feature can be accessed by right clicking on a creature or blueprint entry. NOTE: This feature is currently in Beta, and there are plans to improve its functionality.
This is a big deal, and patches a major hole in the default toolset. It is true that Grinning Fool's plugin was a fine alternative, but there was no excuse for this not existing in the stock toolset from the get-go. I'll be interested to see how many features it currently has, and how their development of it goes over the next several patches.

* A new custom skydome system has been added to the toolset, allowing users to replace the NWN2 skies with skydomes of their own creating.
Skydomes were mentioned in a previous news posting, but again this should be a great feature that really improves what modders can do with the exterior areas.

* The distance a DM can zoom out has been greatly increased.
I'm not into multiplayer, so it's hard for me to know how much the DM improvements really extend the DM client. But this one is interesting, because one thing I often would like to do is zoom out further as a player. I realize this might make me take a fps hit, but I'm hopeful that I'll nevertheless have that option with the new cameras.

* Pasting encounter triggers with spawn points no longer crashes the Toolset.
This sounds like one of the bugs that I know several builders have had trouble with--not just the crashes, but the resulting corruption. I'm hopeful that this will solve that particular problem. Toolset crashing and module corruption continues to be perhaps the biggest problem with Neverwinter Nights 2.

Overall, this is one of the meatier patches we've had since 1.03. I'm looking forward to giving it a whirl once it's released...assuming that life has slowed down a bit by then!!

1 comment:

  1. "Overall, this feature seems more like a streamlining of the options for less experienced gamers than a real change in feature set--I have a feeling that my experiences in game will feel absolutely identical to my current camera scheme (Top Down view)."

    For those of us who toggle modes fairly often (Free for battle), it should be a great improvement.