The second beta test for Sanctum of the Archmage Chapter 1, version v4, is now underway! The test now has eight players in total, split about half and half between new testers and those who played the first beta version. I’ve made a boatload of fixes and added a few new features, and I think this will be the last test needed before a public release. The way things are looking right now that should definitely be out before the end of the year. 🙂
The last of the new quests for the Sanctum 1 remake are done! After a dedicated session of building over the weekend, the hardest part of the work — structuring the quests, creating the areas where they take place, setting up their scripting, and writing the associated dialogue — is all finished. I did a quick play-through of the critical path, and everything worked. There were a few minor glitches, of course, and it’s going to need a fair amount of tweaking to get everything just right. But today definitely marks a status change in the V4 update for Sanctum 1, when it finally goes from “in development” to “in QA and test.”
Here’s a quick list of some highlights for the new version:
- Three brand new areas, two new major quests, and five new minor ones
- 7 old areas split up, re-designed, and expanded into 16 new and re-built areas to replace them
- A new (temporary) henchman
- A dozen extensive new conversations and significant additions to existing dialogues
- Use of new CEP 2.4 and Project Q 1.5 content, including new monsters and placeables
- Expanded relationship options (including an increase in the max scores)
- Two quest tie-ins to the rewrite of Sanctum 2
And, of course, more. 😉
I’ll probably need at least a couple of additional weeks for that “tweaking,” and for alpha testing before it’ll be in a form that I’m comfortable putting out for a community beta test. But September is definitely starting to look more and more like a good target date for that. So if you might be interested in helping to beta test SanctumV4 Chapter 1, drop me a note or post here to let me know!
I’ve been focusing most of my available time this summer on building the Sanctum V4 update rather than blogging about it — but since it’s been a while since my last post, I thought it was time for at least a quick update. Here are some of the things I’ve been working on and accomplishing recently:
- I’ve now finished a complete re-working of the custom content (CC) framework for Sanctum V4. Among other things this will make it compatible with the latest versions of both CEP and Project Q, integrating and using resources from both along with my own module-specific custom content. This finally brings both Sanctum 3 and the re-writes of chapters 1 & 2 up to using the same CC architecture, making content from both CEP 2.4 and Project Q’s brand new v1.5 release available for me to use in all of my future modding work. When released, it should also provide a useful starting framework for other modders to use in developing CEP and Q compatible modules in the future.
- Aside from some possible tweaks, I’ve now finished the level building and rebuilding for Sanctum 1. This included adding a number of new areas, as well as splitting up and re-making most of the existing ones in the module. Much of the re-making turned out to be a necessary consequence of breaking up the existing areas. That was because I found that in order for them to work well together as pieces, in many cases the logic of what was in them and how they were arranged had to be re-thought. The new layout for some of the areas (the lower ruins south is an especially good example), while still having some familiar encounters, will be nearly un-recognizable in layout to players of previous versions of “The Sight.”
- I’m now working on the last task for the rewrite of Sanctum 1: finishing two new quests that will also potentially extend into the rewrite for Sanctum 2. Once the conversations and quest variable handling for those are finished, and I’ve had a chance to do a full playthrough test and fix any obvious bugs, I should be in a position to get the module out to the community for a beta test. My best estimate right now would be in September.
After that, the next step will be to do the rewrite of Sanctum 2. The good news there is that much of the rework needed for the second chapter will already be done when the first chapter is complete (e.g. the CC framework). The biggest challenge there will be at the end: re-making the flying areas using the new “Sanctum Flying Skyscape” tileset that I’ve been using for Sanctum 3.
I also have a surprise announcement regarding the future of the Sanctum saga planned for after the Sanctum 1 & 2 remakes are released. More on that to come, though… 🙂
Here’s a preview from the upcoming v4.0 release of Sanctum of the Archmage: The Sight. It’s the climactic cutscene that I added with the Sanctum v3.4b patch, now re-written with the lore from the world of the Sanctum novels that I’m introducing in the new version. The Hellmen are allied with the demons — and may be making an appearance again later in the saga. It’s a 63 mb video download, so be prepared if you want to watch it. 🙂
Although I’ve provided some more recent updates in the comments, it’s been a couple of months now since my last post. So I thought I’d share a quick update on the Sanctum v4 update, which is progressing rapidly now that I’m finally more or less settled into my new home and job.
As I wrote in my last response to Aderyn in the comments, I’ve now finished with the structural changes I had to make to Chapter 1 to accommodate the two new races: the Hellmen and the Earthen. It turned out to be a huge amount of work, and quite a bit more than I expected. All the new encounters, creature blueprints and items are done, and for the most part tweaked and tested. Among other things, the “Delay Quest” battle near the end looks and plays very differently now as a result. Not surprisingly my initial tests for it started out as completely un-survivable for the party against the newly designed Hellmen and their allies, even with the help of the Guardians (a couple of which, to my surprise, actually took some damage in the fight). I’ve since re-balanced the battle, and aside for a few tweaks to support the area rework (see below!) , I think it’s pretty much done. One additional tidbit I’ll share: General Y’thra can now be either a male or female character, and will be set to the opposite of Robin’s gender. That’s to make it so that I can emphasize the threat of making Robin his/her personal slave consistently for all of the player’s RP choices.
I’ve also just merged all of the Sanctum-specific custom content into a single hak in preparation for one final “2DA merge” with the new CEP 2.4 and Project Q 1.5 content. That’ll be my last major task. I’ve also been re-writing the lore to be consistent with the new races and other new story elements, such as the introduction of and emphasis on the Church of the Divine — and of Orion’s order within it, The Order of Light. I’ve also been adding new lore as well; for example, The Legend of the Defender is already in as a new book. I’m also including some new conversation and role-playing elements that I think will add some new interest and color to the story. Aside from needing a few minor tweaks the new treasure system is also done and seems to be working quite well.
The biggest task I’ve been working on recently is that I’ve finally decided to fix the “beginner’s design problem” Chapter 1 has always had with the size of the areas in the Ancient Ruins. The Upper and Lower ruins levels have now been cut up into three separate areas each, with transitions linking them, and each (except for one) with their own portal rooms. That required a certain amount of re-resign in their layout, moving some rooms and encounters and introducing a few more into the resulting extra space.
The update for Sanctum 2 will be easier in some respects, and harder in others. The easier part is that many of the changes needed in chapter 1 either don’t apply to chapter 2 (like the treasure system), or (like the Earthen) are already done now. The real (but fun!) challenge in chapter 2 will be re-building the flying areas to use the new “Sanctum Flying Skyscape” tileset.
All in all, the v4 rework is going well and proceeding quickly now. Hopefully I’ll be ready to invite playtesters to try out the new version of Sanctum 1 within the next month.
Posts on the Sanctum Blog have been fairly sparse recently, though I hope to be able to start changing that again soon. The main reason for the dearth of updates is that I’ve temporarily had to set aside work on the saga (especially on Chapter 3) for a couple of other priorities. The main one was professional: my career was badly in need of a reboot, and I needed some time this year to work that out. The good news is that I have a new position now, with better prospects and in a better area. I’ll be moving over the course of the next month, and hope to be able to get back to modding again in a more serious way once that’s done.
One thing that I have been working on, though, is a final remake to the first two chapters to implement a lot of the design changes I’ve made to the series for Chapter 3. I mentioned this in a recent blog post, and the changes are actually quite major. Part of my motive in doing the update was that I wanted to get some of the good work I’ve done for the third chapter out there. Some of it is custom content related, such as integrating Project Q and CEP 3.4, using the fabulous Sanctum Flying Skyscape tileset that Estelindis built for me to remake the flying areas at the end of Sanctum 2, revamping the score with some of the new tracks from the expanded Sanctum 3 soundtrack, and so on. The technical base of haks used by the v4 update will be the same one used by Sanctum 3 when it’s released, which will make integrating the third chapter with the first two a much easier task.
Some of the changes, though, are to start removing some of the unnecessary D&D references included in the modules. I originally did a lot of that for convenience, and to help make the setting feel a little less unfamiliar to NWN players. When I first built the modules my ability to do things like create new races and appearances was limited, and using player-familiar ones from the toolset was much easier. Most of these elements really don’t fit well with the non-D&D story world of the Sanctum novels that I’m working on, though, and on which the modules are based. Some examples of this are the Drow and the Deep Gnomes, which don’t even exist in them at all.
I’m reworking a lot of that now, and including a lot more of the lore from the original world of the novels — including things like history, religion, custom races, and the like. (For a spoiler hint about what will replace the Drow, and the new face of General Y’Thra, see here and here.) I expect to have the v4 update out before the end of this year, and be back on track building Sanctum 3 for release sometime next year.
Here’s a patch update (version 3.4b) for Sanctum of the Archmage Chapters 1 and 2:
This patch adds a cutscene that I’ve always wanted to include in the climactic confrontation from Sanctum 1. Players will probably get the idea from the title, but here’s a video clip for anyone interested:
This is just an “intermediate version” of one of the major changes going into the V4 update, but I thought I’d make it available now. The final version will actually replace the Drow with one of the custom races from the Sanctum novels. But more on that later…
My schedule’s been very hectic this year, for example with work for the AME and preparing for a big job move. In keeping with a desire to keep my blog more up to date, though, I wanted to announce that I’ve started work on a major update to Sanctum 1 and 2, to add a number of features to them that I’ve been developing for Sanctum 3. I’m hoping to get that out in the fall, and it will include (among other things):
- Updating all the modules for Project Q compatibility, and to use new content from it
- Adding a number of new tracks from Sanctum 3’s expanded musical score
- Rebuilding the flying areas in Sanctum 2 using Estelindis’ fabulous Sanctum Flying Skyscape Tileset
- Updating the first two chapters to use much more of, and be much more consistent with, the original lore from the Sanctum novels (including some new custom races)
- Creating many more custom items, and a “randomization” system for them that will mix up which items are found, when, and where
and many more things besides.
I just posted an update to the “patch hak” (to level 3.4a) for Sanctum of the Archmage Chapters 1 and 2. The patch adds a couple of very minor playability features, and fixes the following bugs:
- There was a problem in recent releases with Len and Robin frequently not engaging in combat in the North Forest in Sanctum 1. That’s now resolved, and Len is back to his old spellcasting self.
- The Pegasi in Sanctum 2 were gaining an extra pair of wings when played with CEP 2.4 installed, due to a bug with the new models introduced in CEP 2.4. I added the correct models to the patch hak to fix that.
After some last-minute tweaks, the Sanctum of the Archmage version 3.4 update is finally online, and the Vault pages have been updated to include the new links. The major change, as I’ve blogged about recently, was the addition of Chico400’s NWNCQ, which significantly upgrades the appearance of the Bioware default tilesets. The update also contains a number of additional features (including some new high-quality player-selectable heads, some new special abilities for Robin, and some new items), and of course a number of bugfixes.
Here are a couple of new screenshots to whet your appetite (for more, see my earlier blog post here):