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  • Payne
    Payne  11 hours ago

    It's Giles!

  • Giles
    Giles  12 hours ago

    Sometimes I wish I could go back and experience Thain the way I did as a teenager, but with the maturity I have now. The people and experiences I had here permanently shaped who I am today and still think about it and all of you and those who are no longer here all the time.

  • dontyouknow
    dontyouknow  2 weeks ago

    Heck yes, you did good.

  • scratch_flannigan
    scratch_flannigan  3 weeks ago

    Thain has brought me a lot of joy over the years. Thanks for founding something so great, Handover.

  • Izral
    Izral  3 weeks ago

    Hello HOP, if only you could see it now. You gave us the foundation to create something truly spectacular. I wish you could see how much the lore you left us with has grown, and how much the mod has taken life. 20 years some years later, there are many of us who are truly passionate about it.

  • Handover
    Handover  3 weeks ago

    Good lord, still going. I think I might have done good.

  • EcoTec
    EcoTec  4 weeks ago

    Be back in 2 mins Ghostfish

  • scratch_flannigan
    scratch_flannigan  1 month ago

    shades

  • EcoTec
    EcoTec  1 month ago

    Cheers mate

  • scratch_flannigan
    scratch_flannigan  1 month ago

    OMW


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The Island of Thain :: Forums :: Neverwinter Nights
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[Developer Diary: Fall / Winter 2022]

LAN_402 LAN_403
Forgiver
7:33:12 pm GMT 11/23/22
Forgiver Registered Member #25529 Joined: 3:52:11 pm GMT 10/09/20
Posts: 128
It’s that time again where I want to pull aside the curtain a little bit and talk about what we’ve worked on this time around, and what we still have in store for you in the future! Let’s start by recapping the year, since it all feels so connected:

Spring 2022:


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Growing our Skills: We shipped TFS in the Spring of 2022. Alongside Bevolkere, we had some killer new content go into the game, and it was my first brush with a project that used a lot of custom placeables, textures, and objects. I think there's a certain "Wow" factor to area beauty that is sure to attract attention around NWN and draw players in, and create a more immersive RP experience.

Bevolkere and TFS marked a shift in our development priorities toward increasing the level of visual and mechanical support we could give to both our environments and to players, and it was sort of the impetus from which much of this year’s development time was born from. While Kira dug into a lot of the new functionality Beamdog had added to the game, I climbed under the hood of Blender and started learning to develop assets. Some incredible things came out of this - the custom shaders that make up Bevolkere’s greytone instances were our first time out under the hood in this way, and we built up some custom animation libraries for swimming that will really come to be valuable in future Beamdog patches where we know there are plans to make more animation slots for characters.

Summer 2022:


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The Summer of Adventure: We slow-rolled a lot of new features to the game surrounding early game experience across the entire summer, culminating in this most recent patch. In the Spring developer’s diary, we referenced an update to the start experience that I think we’ve almost finished delivering on: Characters gained the ability to start as members of TFS factions, they gained a huge number of custom perks to choose from at character generation, and the start-quest and surrounding areas have been mostly overhauled and updated. This work ended up snowballing a lot into the fall projects we took on, and a good deal of it only went live this last patch.

Across 2022, the early to midgame has gained a lot of interesting room for growth that we want to continue to build upon with future projects (including more old-dungeon overhauls and leveling area updates). We want to continue to refine the early experience of Thain as we focus on building a server starting experience that feels more approachable to new players and less laden under the burden of old and defunct questlines, NPCs, and areas. You might see some updates to lore and dialogue, more NPCs with targeted fluff-dialogue, and more as we continue to try to deliver on this goal.

Fall 2022:


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A Time of Transformation: The launch of the Thain HUD and increased character customization marks a huge shift in the type of visual technology that is absolutely unique to Thain. It also marks the largest build project I’ve ever personally worked on, all of it almost invisible. I tracked over 700 hours of development time just in my own personal work, and the knowledge that two more developers put time into the system equal to or greater than that both amazes and frightens me. It feels impossible to top something like this from a sheer scale of work point of view. The NWVault is littered with half-finished projects that only encapsulate parts of what we were able to do here - to know that we’ve succeeded where (to my knowledge) no other server has succeeded in creating a true to modern-games character customization and accessories portfolio is humbling. I’m incredibly proud of everyone on our development team, and extremely glad that we stuck it out and saw it through.

This also marked a serious period of personal growth in what kind of assets I feel like we can bring into NWN as a game. I’ve seen NWN communities striving for greater and more impressive levels of visual detail and reliability, and it’s something that I also personally aspire toward: I think that while traditionally we have had to settle for NWN being a mostly interpretive media in which we don’t necessarily trust the information our eyes are giving us, we don’t have to look much further than how welcome the ability to actually make a character more closely embodying our personal images of them helps us to convey our ideas to others.

Winter 2022:


Experience is a Gift that Keeps Giving: As we enter the winter season, there’s a lot on the horizon that I am dreaming of for Thain, personally, and a lot that the development team and broader Thain staff have in mind. In the past it felt like a foregone conclusion that the audience we have was the audience that we were ever going to reach. As we have continued to refine incredibly unique presentable niches, I think every person on staff has become aware that Thain really is a very unique and powerful product that we can offer the NWN community. We’ve started to refocus the idea of branding and presenting ourselves once more to the NWN community, hopeful of attracting people we might have missed a first-impression on with our lack of polish in the past, hopeful of drawing back in many of our older players who felt that they had turned over all the stones left to see in the game, and most of all hopeful of attracting more role players in the future to our very unique community with the very unique things they can only find here.

We have a number of overall goals to this effect:
-A new and updated website, and promotional series of videos emphasizing our unique content and player eventing culture.
-The completion of some of our older and still outstanding systems (Player housing is coming soon!).
-The completion of new systems like a player eventing Kudos system that allows players to award one another Kudos points at the end of player events as a reward for the level and kinds of effort they felt went into an event. Those Kudos points will be redeemable at a special gear shop and story nexus. I’ll outline this system in greater detail in another post as we get further past the conception phase, but needless to say the ability to reward our fellow players for bringing stories to life around us is, in my estimation, greatly overdue.
-A continued focus on polishing and finishing our starting and early game experience, including the finished starter quest.
-I’d still like to drop at least one more world quest, probably not this year but sometime in the winter.

Long Term 2023 Goals:


So what’s next after all these new systems drop, after we troubleshoot the bugs and sweep up our dust? What do we plan to do to top the Thain HUD in terms of work scale, or Bevolkere in terms of build complexity? Well, internally we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the Thanos GIF lately…
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No, no... not that one. Don't worry caster players, you're not on our radar again so soon. This one:

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But I actually think that becoming a reality altering mad titan not-withstanding, our projects will probably diminish in scope and instead grow in valuable quality. It's not sustainable to build at this scale forever, and the collateral of making the Thain HUD was a pretty severe impact to our free time and the tenuous balance between our personal and professional lives that we're still trying to recover from. A 2000+ hour development patch really feels like one of those once in a life time bucket list things that we've probably got checked off, now.

But I have some personal goals, and I wouldn't call any of them small:

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-Try for a full HD update of an area like the Northlands that massively increases the lore, visual clarity, and systems present there to create an immersive and comprehensive RP experience. Using everything I’ve learned during the character visual update, I’d love to try to tackle a custom tileset in that project. NWN has absolutely nothing out there for good snowy world-scapes, and I’d love the chance to really sink my teeth into something that ties in as much of what I’ve learned in the last two years as I can in a single project.

-Add a long-awaited (for me) faction to Thain’s world that was hinted at back during the addition of Svindhalla. Once I’ve gotten my head around building with a custom tileset, I think I’d love a chance to get into a big world building expansion that leverages everything I’ve had to learn so far into an even brighter and bigger personal project.

-Continue to expand on TFS with a couple more factions. I do think we’re still a couple of factions short in TFS from what I’d like to to have, and I could see trying to get into that in 2023, along with updating TFS to have a wider variety of ways that players can access faction points than just bounty missions.

-Continue to expand the Thain HUD with a version 2.0 and 3.0 that includes even more streamlined player tools and ease of access. Over time our world has become incredibly cluttered by things that we needed chat commands to access, but the Thain HUD gives us a unique opportunity to tie more and more of those things to visible and easily accessed buttons.

And I’m sure 2023 also holds a bunch of projects in store for us that we don’t know about yet, or haven’t really started to plan around. We didn’t expect to do some of the things that we got into this year, especially not to the degree that we did them, but conversations - especially those had with the broader playerbase during the Thain Town Hall this year - really put things that were unexpectedly valuable on our radar that we’re all incredibly happy we tackled this year. As always, we can’t possibly over-value or overestimate the feedback we get from our community as we continue to build a better world. So to everyone who's faithfully played Thain this year amidst all the madness and the crazy launches, and to everyone who happily consumes whatever mad things we cook up for you: Thank you for a great 2022.
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