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#633780 - 10/26/17 01:52 PM Shadow Over Moonglow
Windemere Online   content

old hand

Registered: 12/10/13
Posts: 748
Shadow Over Moonglow is a standalone campaign for 1-2 players. It is set in the Ultima world of Britannia just prior to the events of Ultima 5. The players are founding members of the Resistance who are called upon to help discover the whereabouts of former Great Council member Goeth who has gone missing after being sent on a recruitment mission to Moonglow. The campaign will primarily take place on Verity Isle.

Goals and Highlights:

8-12 hour campaign for 1-2 players with a maximum party size of four when companions are included.

Dual-Mapping System
An explorable overland map that connects the smaller, traditional areas together. Similar concept as NWN2: Storm of Zehir without the painful loading times. Planning on spawning random encounters in the overland map, and if engaged, you get sent to an arena map for the actual combat. Overland map should be dotted with lots of little things to find and areas to explore.

Day/Night Cycle
Intention is for it to affect both aesthetics and gameplay. We'll be looking into bonuses and penalties to certain skills.

NPC Schedules
Major locations like Moonglow and the Lycaeum will make use of NPC schedules so long as we can reach our goal of those schedules having meaningful impact on gameplay.

Quest and Crafting Driven Skill Acquisition
Rather than simply buying skillbooks, the emphasis will be on discovering new skills from trainers found in the world, and in the case of magic, crafting them from reagents after learning the recipes.

Spell/Combat System
Still very much a WIP design but there will be changes from vanilla DOS2. Trying to find ways to incorporate reagents without micro-management and/or supply issues. Contemplating 'tiered' levels of magic with cantrip like spells that don't consume reagents but are lower powered versus higher level spells that require reagents but may completely bypass armor types, etc. The challenge is going to be trying to maintain some degree of an Ultima feel to the system while working with DOS2's heavily dependent elemental interactions. Since I am not a huge fan of the current implementation of physical/magical armor in DOS2, I may incorporate some of the work from the community that changed abilities to have a probability of bypassing armor that is inversely proportional to what percentage is remaining.

Non-linear Questing
We are very much trying to design this like the original Ultima games where completing quests was more a matter of having all the pieces of the puzzle in your possession versus following a prescribed path. While there will be some milestones and stakes in the ground, the design philosophy is geared towards exploration and open discovery.

Limited Rest
Current plan is to rest either in a bed or "hole up and camp" outside in the overland map with potential ambushes (like Ultima 5). Whether or not this makes much sense depends on how the spell system turns out. If you can spam healing spells, there is not much sense to having a resting system at all.

Backgrounds
Since Brtiannia doesn't really have different races like lizards, dwarves, and elves, we are contemplating the idea of City of Virtue for its equivalent, e.g., Britain, Jhelom, Skara Brae, Yew, Minoc, etc., with each granting its own tags (compassionate, valorious, just, etc.) and/or perk(s).


Target Development Time: 18 months
Don't want this to drag on much more than that, maybe two years max.


Risks and Concerns
Setting aside the usual ones of self-doubt and being overly ambitious, I see these as the biggest challenges:

NPC Schedules - Could be a big time sink for little payback if it doesn't really impact gameplay.

Toolset Support - While it's in way better shape than DOS1 and has most of what is needed already, there is still the glaring hole of no custom music or sound support. While it is on their TODO list, it still makes me nervous because I really don't think I could release this if I have to use only what is available from DOS2.

Limited / Mismatched Assets - Ultima is primarily a humanoid world. DOS2 has multiple races that will simply be 'wasted' in our setting. We hope there is enough variety to sustain the entire campaign without them.

Objections from the current Intellectual Property holders - I'm optimistic given the long-standing history of Lazarus, but you never know!
_________________________
Shadow Over Moonglow - Standalone campaign (WIP)

The Noisy Crypt
(also on Nexus)


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#633790 - 10/26/17 02:31 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Cromcrom Offline
addict

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 654
Very good luck with your project, I loved the Noisy Crypt, you did an amazing job.
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Un chemin de 1000 lieues commence par un premier pas.

Project:
Steam workshop Frontiere

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#633848 - 10/26/17 05:09 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Redunzgofasta Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 05/12/17
Posts: 208
Loc: Europe (GMT+1)
Sounds ambitious indeed.
Looking forward to following how things go.
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My GM Add-ons on Steam and Nexus.

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#633863 - 10/26/17 06:10 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
The Composer Online   happy
enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/17
Posts: 249
Loc: Norway
Hype! Your easy-to-follow tutorials and overall helpfulness was a big part of what dragged me into the modding universe - Needless to say this is something I'm eagerly looking forward to! Wish you the best of luck with it all.
_________________________
Project = The Chronicles of Divinity |-| GM Maps Collection



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#634029 - 10/27/17 06:54 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Windemere Online   content

old hand

Registered: 12/10/13
Posts: 748
Thanks all, will keep you posted as progress continues. smile
_________________________
Shadow Over Moonglow - Standalone campaign (WIP)

The Noisy Crypt
(also on Nexus)


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#634092 - 10/27/17 10:40 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Branvex Offline
journeyman

Registered: 10/03/17
Posts: 78
Loc: United Kingdom
This is going to be one to watch.

NPC schedules - is that NPCs going about their daily life, going to bed at night etc? And I wouldn't worry about not using the other races - it won't impact on how good it is I'm sure. Stick to your vision I say!

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#634214 - 10/27/17 05:40 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
MAHak Online   content
member

Registered: 08/12/14
Posts: 105
Very interesting, this is definitely something to look forward to.
Although I must admit that the Ultima universe is not something I've delved into before, so that just makes it more exciting.
I did found this article while looking at RPGWatch the other day.
RPGs may never top Ultima 7, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 comes close


Edited by MAHak (10/27/17 05:40 PM)

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#634660 - 10/30/17 12:31 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
morez Offline
member

Registered: 07/02/14
Posts: 180
Wow! Looking forward for updates. Wish you all the energy and stamina to finish this ambitious project..

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#636849 - 11/12/17 02:49 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Windemere Online   content

old hand

Registered: 12/10/13
Posts: 748
Developer Diary #1

Team Update:

I'm pretty excited to have picked up a couple of additional team members for Shadow Over Moonglow. I got an offer from an industry veteran level designer to help out with levels and he has started working straightway on the Moonglow town map, which will likely be the largest one in the campaign. I've also reunited with Sunjammer, a talented programmer and experienced scripter from the NWN and Dragon Age communities. We worked together during and after the toolset beta for DA and he helped to get the community going for DOS1 by creating and maintaining a wiki for it.


Collaboration Tools:

With four people all contributing to the project I wanted to have a decent set of collaboration tools and settled on Cloud Forge. We have a source control repository, a wiki, a documents archive, discussion boards, and bugzilla integration. It was really handy for getting the additional team members up and running quickly. The value of source control can't be overstated and I think the time spent on getting this framework in place will pay off several times over in the long haul.


Systems:

Most of my time has been spent working on the overland map and the aesthetics of a day/night cycle. Both of them are a bit fussy since they step outside the normal use patterns in DOS2. The overland map uses a grid of triggers and overhead spectator cameras with a fixed height and perspective since there is no other known way for preventing the camera from zooming in. This also means players cannot pan the camera, so the movement is more like Baldur's gate than NWN2: Storm of Zehir. We think we can make it work though.

The day/night cycle is also a little wonky due to these spectator cameras. The overland map has a single atmosphere trigger with multiple atmospheres for the day/night cycle. When you switch from one atmosphere to the next, the engine does not begin to render the changes when they occur while one of these spectator cameras is active. This means I have to re-activate the currently assigned overland map camera anytime the atmosphere changes in order to see it happen and I lose out on some of the blending from one atmosphere to the next. It's still in its rudimentary stages, but we've made some decent progress. We've tested the overland map in two person multi-player and verified it works there too.

I tinkered with character creation a bit but didn't have much success in trying to cut out the unwanted races from the game. We obviously can't have lizards, undead, elves, and dwarves running around Britannia. The lack of success pushed me to think outside the box a bit and I'm now planning to implement something that hits the nostalgia feels anyway. Character creation will begin from a dialogue and then proceed into a customization UI after answering some questions. I originally didn't want to take this approach since the players are not the 'avatar', but I have some ideas that should work well within the Ultima lore in this context.


Writing/Plot:

Our approach is to write the story from the viewpoint of the antagonist(s) and then outline a map of the ways in which the player can unlock the clues necessary to thwart it. We hope this helps to minimize the amount of linear feeling to the campaign. While there will be some chained logical paths to progressing we want players to have the capacity of finding the pieces in any order. We have most of the plot/backstory fleshed out and some of the player experienced questlines for discovering it. We have about ten character sketches in place, where two are companions and the remainder are NPCs. We have created visual sets and portraits for all of them.




Upcoming Focus:

For the next couple of months we'll be focusing on creating a "horizontal slice", however simplistic it needs to be. We want to implement the main quest-line from beginning to end, even if it means just dropping items onto an empty level to be gathered up, giving an NPC a single line of dialog, etc. We found this helpful in our demo mod to create the basic skeleton and then expand on its frame. It provides a lot of options when you come home from a long day at work and might feel like working on one type of content but not another. In addition to the horizontal slice we will be putting more attention on character creation, companion customization, and starting equipment. As we test things out, we'll want to have as much time with the character creation framework as possible to see how it plays out.


TL;DR - Have a team of four making steady progress with source control commits on a daily basis. We are going to implement an entire skeleton of the main quest line and some basic working systems and expand from there. Still a very long way to go but enjoying ourselves.


Here is a very rough cut of some of the placeholder systems in place, along with debug text and sped up day/night cycle.



Edited by Windemere (11/12/17 02:49 PM)
_________________________
Shadow Over Moonglow - Standalone campaign (WIP)

The Noisy Crypt
(also on Nexus)


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#636862 - 11/12/17 07:22 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Branvex Offline
journeyman

Registered: 10/03/17
Posts: 78
Loc: United Kingdom
4 people now, going to be epic. The thing about implementing the main quest-line first is something I've been doing (at least for each level) - it seems to work well. I find that the hardest bit, and getting that done gives me freedom and a base from which to do everything else. And I like idea of writing the story from the antagonists viewpoint, could have some interesting results.

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#637038 - 11/14/17 02:51 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
MAHak Online   content
member

Registered: 08/12/14
Posts: 105
Wow you guys are really running a serious production. It looks like we're in for a real treat here.

Regarding the restriction on races during character creation, I have a similar issue as I (for reasons of lore) don't want people to create neither lizards or undead. My approach to preventing this is much simpler, I'll just put in a disclaimer telling people to please refrain from making a lizard or undead character.

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#637061 - 11/14/17 07:18 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: MAHak]
Windemere Online   content

old hand

Registered: 12/10/13
Posts: 748
Originally Posted By: MAHak
Wow you guys are really running a serious production. It looks like we're in for a real treat here.

Regarding the restriction on races during character creation, I have a similar issue as I (for reasons of lore) don't want people to create neither lizards or undead. My approach to preventing this is much simpler, I'll just put in a disclaimer telling people to please refrain from making a lizard or undead character.


Check for the tag when they load into your first level and boot them back to the main menu to try again if they don't behave. laugh
_________________________
Shadow Over Moonglow - Standalone campaign (WIP)

The Noisy Crypt
(also on Nexus)


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#637068 - 11/14/17 09:03 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
The Composer Online   happy
enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/17
Posts: 249
Loc: Norway
IF Lizard THEN TransformTo Toad -1 laugh
_________________________
Project = The Chronicles of Divinity |-| GM Maps Collection



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#637090 - 11/14/17 05:15 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
MAHak Online   content
member

Registered: 08/12/14
Posts: 105
IF
Lizard
OR
Undead
THEN
TeleportCharacterTo(_player, "SpecialLevel");

The special level is going to be 2 by 2 meters and it's only inhabitant is Noober from Nashkel (I trust people are old enough to remember Baldur's Gate).

IF
PlayerIsPresent
THEN
StartDialog("NooberForever");

IF
DialogEnded("NooberForever")
THEN
StartDialog("NooberForever);


>>Drops gun, walks out the building with hands in the air and surrenders thread back to owner, hijaking is over<<

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#637787 - 11/25/17 10:18 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Windemere Online   content

old hand

Registered: 12/10/13
Posts: 748
Just finished a major overhaul to character creation for the campaign. For those of you young-ins that never played the original Ultima games like 5 and 6, character creation was a narrative driven process.

Ultima 5 Character Creation

Ultima 6 Character Creation

So in Shadow over Moonglow, players will begin similarly with a narrative driven dialogue that effectively determine a preset, after which they can customize the look and specific stats of their character.



This will also be supported in two-player multi-player. Here is an example of how it looks:



There were quite a number of challenges with implementing this, to say the least. Here are a few issues I needed to overcome:

1. I cannot figure out how to remove races from the normal character creation process, so I opted to go with assigning a pre-made character and then sending them to the "re-spec" version of character creation. While it works, it's not ideal because the re-spec version does not provide a way to change gender or memorized (starting) skills.

2. Re-spec character creation does not appear to support more than one player at a time. The engine uses hard-coded camera and trigger names for establishing the UI perspective and portraits and the "re-spec" version of character creation only recognizes the value for one player as opposed to normal character creation where it seems to support at least four. This forced me to put in "wait conditions" when one player went into customization and another attempted to go in at the same time. Blargh!

3. Cameras and timing issues. Spectator cameras can be fickle. It was very hard to debug a problem where a remote multi-player user "connects" to the game and you can start performing a lot of operations on the player but there appears to be a significant lag time before activating a spectator camera works. It's as if the player is there but the camera has not finished initializing so if you try to set the player's view to a spectactor camera too early, it simply doesn't take. I had to put in a three second delay after the user connects before activating a spectator camera would work. It's an uncomfortable position because I'm not sure if the timing will work for all play sessions and I don't know of any Osiris event to key on to know when the camera is up and ready to be assigned to a spectator camera.

There are still some other kinks to work out with respect to user disconnects and cleaning up the state of the two characters in dialog when it happens. I also need to define a bunch of custom presets as this currently just uses the Origin ones, but it's progress!
_________________________
Shadow Over Moonglow - Standalone campaign (WIP)

The Noisy Crypt
(also on Nexus)


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#637861 - 11/27/17 06:45 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Tinkerer Offline

enthusiast

Registered: 03/23/16
Posts: 367
Loc: Belgium
It's really cool! Regarding the removal of races from character creation: I asked the programmer who wrote that, and it's indeed not possible. The issue is that the game initially loads all race presets from the Shared mod. Next, it looks in your mod. If you have files with the same name as existing presets, the preset data loaded from Shared will be overwritten with your data.

In general, our modding system does not allow removing anything, because in many cases it's possible that something else will still reference the removed entity and then you would get crashes.

I'll see whether we can get race presets into a separate mod for future projects, so simply not including that mod would let then you start from a clean slate. But no promises!

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#637863 - 11/27/17 07:13 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Tinkerer]
Windemere Online   content

old hand

Registered: 12/10/13
Posts: 748
Originally Posted By: Tinkerer
It's really cool! Regarding the removal of races from character creation: I asked the programmer who wrote that, and it's indeed not possible. ... I'll see whether we can get race presets into a separate mod for future projects, so simply not including that mod would let then you start from a clean slate. But no promises!


Well, in one sense it is a relief to hear that there was not an obvious and simple way to do it that I missed. laugh Thanks for the information, and any additional controls we could get to remove XML driven content from the game would be great.


Edited by Windemere (11/27/17 07:32 AM)
_________________________
Shadow Over Moonglow - Standalone campaign (WIP)

The Noisy Crypt
(also on Nexus)


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#637865 - 11/27/17 07:22 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
The Composer Online   happy
enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/17
Posts: 249
Loc: Norway
To be quite honest, I am in some ways happy that is the case, as it has forced Windemere and the gang to be creative and come up with a pretty interesting system. That's a feat on its own and makes for a more unique experience. (Not that more freedom in regards of said things would be very nice. But in this instance, I think it's pretty cool how things ended up)
_________________________
Project = The Chronicles of Divinity |-| GM Maps Collection



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#637870 - 11/27/17 09:29 AM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
Windemere Online   content

old hand

Registered: 12/10/13
Posts: 748
Yeah, that's one of the main things that draws me to modding, is working within the constraints. It's fun trying to come up with out of the box methods for dealing with certain inflexibilities and surprising your audience ... you know like sailing ships! smile
_________________________
Shadow Over Moonglow - Standalone campaign (WIP)

The Noisy Crypt
(also on Nexus)


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#637934 - 11/28/17 12:49 PM Re: Shadow Over Moonglow [Re: Windemere]
morez Offline
member

Registered: 07/02/14
Posts: 180
Originally Posted By: p. 302 in Rules of Play. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. 2004. MIT
Play is free movement within a more rigid structure

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