Author Topic: Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?  (Read 1497 times)

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« on: February 09, 2015, 07:57:25 am »


               

I've been having a lot of discussions with a woman named Lilura lately -- she has an excellent blog (found here: http://lilura1.blogspot.com/ ) where she's been featuring several things NWN related.  That includes a seven part recapping of HotU, a *34* part recounting of The Aielund Saga, and now a recapping of the original campaign.  Her intention is to also feature more community modules in an effort to showcase them to people and help attract new players to the community (basically, make NWN look interesting even at this point -- which, of course, it is).


 


She's also aware of the fact that I'm working on improving Aielund (fixing some bugs, cleaning up some typos, making some tweaks to a few sections of the campaign) and has seen some of my other work and thus made an interesting proposal.  She started off by saying


 



Baldur's Gate is a clunky old RPG, yet there are still many people playing it due to the SCS overhauls it's received (even new players) - there are dedicated forums. Dragon Age: Origins is taken seriously by RtWP aficionados due to RAVAge, Faster Combat and Advanced tactics (tactics framework extender).



 


and suggested that maybe I work on a similar overhaul for HotU.  I admit I've never played BG so I have no knowledge of the former...and the thought of playing through DA:O a second made me want to gouge my eyes out -- though it's possible that extensive overhauls managed to fix many of the issues it had (particularly in regards to combat).  Because let's face it: Bioware may generally be good at story and setting, but it's usually sucked at mechanics and combat.


 


Along those lines, the official Bioware campaigns can basically be beaten by a strength based wizard (as I'm sure we all know).  And no, I'm not talking about Webshaman's Melee Mage build ( http://home.comcast....uild301814.html).  The idea therefore would be to ramp up the difficulty of the campaign and make the boss fights...well, actually proper boss fights.  Stuff that would be done might include...


 


- beef up the power of mobs in general (some need less tweaking than others but most stuff is made of tissue paper and can't hit the broad side of a barn).


- make the boss fights more engaging (and difficult) with actual unique mechanics.


- tweak some particularly...problematic...spells (IGMS, Harm, and (Mass) Heal would be three prime examples).


- tone down some gear (like, probably only be able to enchant weapons to +6 in Chapter 2 and +8 in Chapter 3, for example -- exact values are certainly open to debate but that would be the general idea)


- alter a few mechanics -- ranged characters generally suck in NWN by default and HotU doesn't do it any favors with the forge and things like the Black Pearl.  Would be open to suggestions about many other things along these lines.


- possibly do some things like allow any companion from Chapter 1 to be able to be brought into Chapter 2 and beyond and/or allow a party of 4-5 rather than 3.


- Allow user customization at the start regarding things like difficulty, romances, etc (which was directly mentioned as being inspired by Sanctum of the Archmage)


- Add in graphic improvements such as Project Q to give it a graphics facelift


 


At this point just passing along ideas that have been suggested to me without necessarily endorsing any quite yet while I consider them.


 


But you get the drift.  The idea would be to make a replacement for the default HotU for people interested in better combat.  And I'll state up front that my goal would not be to make a replacement that everyone thinks is perfect -- merely a replacement that everyone thinks is a significant improvement over the default.  Aka, you might love 80% of what I do and hate the other 20%.  While I'm sorry to hear that, someone else will love the 20% that you hate but themselves hate another 15%.  Etc.  Can't please everyone.


 


So, is this something that people would be interested in?  I'd be perfectly fine not doing it (I have plenty of other projects on my plate)...but HotU is generally held in high regard as the best of the official campaigns and considered a good campaign in general compared to other RPGs.  And it may help get new people interested more in NWN or revive the interest of former community members.  Which is a goal all of us share.



               
               

               
            

Legacy_Elhanan

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2015, 08:10:13 am »


               Personally, I would prefer a proper remake of the OC as Bioware wished it to be, but lighter on containers. The updated storyline; not the one that got cut by Atari, WotC, etc.

In my mind, it is not the classics that need re-told, but the ones that should have been....
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Shadooow

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2015, 09:04:39 am »


               

HotU is fine, OC and SoU needs update much more.



               
               

               
            

Legacy_Tarot Redhand

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2015, 12:08:58 pm »


               

If I am reading this right the intention is to make the game harder without altering the graphics at all? Are you sure this would appeal to a new audience?


 


TR



               
               

               
            

Legacy_werelynx

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2015, 12:32:08 pm »


               

HotU is more difficult than OC or SoU.


If one were to make improved OC -> graphics, storyline, containers, new creatures, better tilesets


it would be much better than adjusting difficulty of HotU. Not all players want to have more difficult battles and if they do they turn up the difficulty.


What could be done: allowing Hardcore rules, but without harming neutral/friend factions reputations when you use AoE spells. That's the reason I stray from Hardcore dnd '<img'>


 


Back at the old vault someone published a draft of what Bioware originally intended to do with OC plot. Basically they wanted to have "insanity" systems from using old ones' magic.


Project Q campaigns might be a good start or hindrance if you want to use CEP for example.


 


Of course what you mod is ultimately your call '<img'>



               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2015, 12:50:49 pm »


               


If I am reading this right the intention is to make the game harder without altering the graphics at all?




 


It would also involve any graphical overhaul that's reasonable by trying to include something like Project Q.  I'm not well versed in that subject at the moment so would need to look it up.


 




Are you sure this would appeal to a new audience?




 


Nope!  Hence this thread.


 




HotU is more difficult than OC or SoU.




 


While true, that doesn't actually make it remotely difficult.  Making $2 an hour is more than making $1.50 an hour, but that doesn't mean it's a reasonable wage '<img'>


 




it would be much better than adjusting difficulty of HotU. Not all players want to have more difficult battles and if they do they turn up the difficulty.




 


I am referring to playing on "Hardcore" rules already.  The "very difficult" setting or whatever basically does nothing -- just doubles the base weapon damage of NPCs.  So if an orc hits you with a longsword for 1d8 + 15 damage (19.5 average), very difficult means he hits you for 2d8 + 15 damage (24 average).  So that means nothing past the first few levels and it's pretty broken for the first few levels (because an enemy with a greatsword does 4d6 without a strength modifier).


 


Even on the highest difficulty settings, HotU is still very easy.  It may not seem that way to you, but presumably you aren't the type of person who plays Mass Effect on Hardcore/Insanity or Dragon Age on Hard/Nightmare.


 


And that's not meant as a slight against you, to be clear -- just that I know that I wouldn't be as interested in the ME or DA series if the only difficulty was "normal" like it is in HotU.  I know many others would feel the same way.  Some people care mostly about story, some people care mostly about engaging combat, some people care about both.


 



What could be done: allowing Hardcore rules, but without harming neutral/friend factions reputations when you use AoE spells. That's the reason I stray from Hardcore dnd '<img'>


 


I've always thought that silly, yes, especially when many spells bypass that "restriction" anyway like Firebrand, IGMS, and Wail of the Banshee.


 




HotU is fine, OC and SoU needs update much more.




 


I would disagree that it's fine, but would agree OC and SoU would need it more.


 




Personally, I would prefer a proper remake of the OC as Bioware wished it to be, but lighter on containers. The updated storyline; not the one that got cut by Atari, WotC, etc.




 


At that point you're basically making a new module (not quite, but it would be significantly more work (like, at least five times more work, probably 10+ times more work) than bringing HotU more in line with modern standards for combat).



               
               

               
            

Legacy_Jfoxtail

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2015, 04:29:24 pm »


               

Wow ~ a remake of Aielund and HoTU ?  Someone enjoys playing with the crown jewels '<img'> 


 


I certainly wish you best of luck in all these endeavors.  Its admirable to try.


 


My good hearted warning applies. Many fan-boi's will be highly critical of what you achieve. Have thick skin and let people know you are doing this out of respect and love of the game.


 


I think there have been a number of suggestions above that do fall close to the mark.


 


1) Graphical update perhaps starting with the Q campaigns ?


 


What possibly feels more clunky about NWN these days is the graphic representation as opposed to the difficulty. Reskins of monsters, weapons, and the protagonist as well as more robust tiles would potentially garner the greatest acclaim.


 


I honestly think most remaining players "love the mechanics for what they are being D&D fans " ; purely the graphics are now the hindrance. This address the very point that the fans will still play BG and its sprites not withstanding the graphics. They love the mechanics and party.


 


2)  Difficultly level.


 


Interesting that. It is a balance of course. There are certain fights ( (1)Grimy and clan (2) Certain golems on makers isle (3) the maker with Tony K AI) that already have some degree challenge. Depends on the build of course. More common place or routine challenge may be best left to some sort of "tactics" mod if possible ?


 


You may then mute a number of critics my allowing a player to "bar slide" difficulty across a number  with a tactics mod as opposed to a re-write? Or 3 choice tactics.. (1) Boss  (2) Boss + mini boss (3) General ???


 


3) Henchmen and interactions


 


I would honestly say that perhaps the one thing in HoTU that could be improved would be party banter and potentially henchmen.There is no question Deekin's banter is universally beloved ( I am here) or hated (others).


 


The Underdark henchmen are strong enough personality wise to require little in the way of re-work unless it was to change their level up mechanics making them more compliant with the rules as well as useful in combat; that does infer an AI upgrade which Tony has completed to a mostly satisfactory degree. More triggers for quest conversations, more banter, more aha and Haha??


 


I think frankly this is why Bioware, Obsidan, and other game companies constantly proclaim "the spiritual successor of the Baldur's Gate Games". 


 


I have no idea if it is even possible but taking one of the OC companions with you to the underdark and or adding an interesting companion or two in the underdark would possibly give you more critical acclaim.


 


I think that one of the "early days" of HoTU let downs was the lack of more henchmen choices. A Drow cleric of Ellistrae ? A Ranger vis a vis Drizt ? 


 


Good luck !


               
               

               
            

Legacy_Lilura

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2015, 10:16:17 pm »


               

Whoah, I really didn't expect you to lay out these (incomplete) thoughts so quickly, Magical Master, but I'm glad you did. I can't really set aside time for HotU right now, my hands being full with the original campaign, plus your APS & SotH. Hopefully this topic will be fruitful for you to gauge interest, and bounce ideas around with all the HotU experts.


I was gonna say on my blog that Shadows of Undrentide would benefit from similar attention, the protagonist is the same one and many people import, plus you lose your SoU items in HotU as part of the plot. SoU is well-crafted, but the tight combat sort of drops off towards the end.


The original campaign is unredeemable without heavy restorative/redesigning which would pass far beyond the bounds of a mere tactics overhaul/facelift. Still, it would be awesome if something like that is oneday done, since it's the flagship of NWN (unfortunately).


Facelift-wise, someone has already infused the official content with Project Q (Q Campaigns), but I hit a showstopper bug and it isn't a full infusion, anyway (no +sounds, +portraits, familiar fixes etc).


I suppose you'll include (if you do this) Henchman Inventory & Battle AI Mod, balancing encounters in light of the increased control the player has, obviously..?


For me, HotU is still my preferred campaign, the priority one to overhaul/facelift.. but that's because I simply love the overall dungeon design (UMI, UMIII, Chapter 2, parts of C3), atmosphere (music, voicesets, variation of locales), characters (Deekin!), level range (good for builders - experimentation) and the replayability/meta-gameability it brings to the table. It's got the framework there already for you to employ your mad scripting skillz on, whereas the other two - no offense to anyone - are a bit low-key, and somewhat of a doddle in comparison.


 


For those who consider HotU to already be hard enough, or something like that, can I just say I'm no expert on NWN and was able to beat HotU on D&D Hardcore rules quite easily with a sub-optimal build and playstyle largely neglected by the devs (Archer), plus I even adventured with a party of "archers" (Deekin, Sharwyn, Nathyrra and Aribeth all used ranged weapons), and still pretty much just facerolled it, as can be read about here.



               
               

               
            

Legacy_Bondari the Reloader

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 11:37:11 pm »


               

I'm probably not the kind of player this would be aimed at since I think the combat system in NWN is just fine (once you get over the fact that you can't directly control your companions). I do like the idea of rebalancing the game for a party of 4 (like DA) or maybe even 6 (like BG). I love Deekin, Valen, and Nathyrra, and I was disappointed that you couldn't adventure with all three of them. Add in the option of taking the Undermountain companions through the whole game and that would open up a world of new party combinations. I would still hope for some sort of difficulty slider (since I'm not a Hardcore player by any means), but the boss fights would obviously need to be altered to account for the additional party member(s). Customization is an important feature for me in RPGs, and improving the party system might be a way to attract more new players.


 


Also, as others have mentioned, SoU could use a similar treatment, especially since it uses the same player character as HotU. While I think HotU is a much better game, players who like the continuity of using the same hero would benefit from any improvements to the first game. As for the OC, well... that would be a huge undertaking to improve.


 


Regardless of what you decide to do, best of luck to you!



               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2015, 01:09:34 am »


               


Wow ~ a remake of Aielund and HoTU ?  Someone enjoys playing with the crown jewels '<img'>




 


That's basically the hope, yes (to be clear, for anyone not aware, Savant gave me his blessing to polish up some parts of Aielund).


 




1) Graphical update perhaps starting with the Q campaigns ?


 


What possibly feels more clunky about NWN these days is the graphic representation as opposed to the difficulty. Reskins of monsters, weapons, and the protagonist as well as more robust tiles would potentially garner the greatest acclaim.




 


The irony is that this sort of stuff is technically the stuff I know the least about in NWN.  But yes, as much of that as reasonable would be done.


 


 




2)  Difficultly level.


 


Interesting that. It is a balance of course. There are certain fights ( (1)Grimy and clan (2) Certain golems on makers isle (3) the maker with Tony K AI) that already have some degree challenge. Depends on the build of course. More common place or routine challenge may be best left to some sort of "tactics" mod if possible ?


 


You may then mute a number of critics my allowing a player to "bar slide" difficulty across a number  with a tactics mod as opposed to a re-write? Or 3 choice tactics.. (1) Boss  (2) Boss + mini boss (3) General ???




 


I'm open to suggestions, though my inclination is to basically just make "normal" and "hard."


 




I have no idea if it is even possible but taking one of the OC companions with you to the underdark and or adding an interesting companion or two in the underdark would possibly give you more critical acclaim.




 


Allowing the OC companions to go to the Underdark would be entirely possible, yes.  I suppose I'm concerned about adding too much dialogue/new companions because at that point you're going from "improving the combat" to changing Bioware's story/characters.  Not sure what to think of that.


 




The original campaign is unredeemable without heavy restorative/redesigning which would pass far beyond the bounds of a mere tactics overhaul/facelift. Still, it would be awesome if something like that is oneday done, since it's the flagship of NWN (unfortunately).




 


Something to consider, but like you said that would be zounds beyond reworking some bits of HotU.  Also more controversial, I would imagine.


 




I suppose you'll include (if you do this) Henchman Inventory & Battle AI Mod, balancing encounters in light of the increased control the player has, obviously..?




 


Something along those lines, yes, and most likely that (as well as adding some additional controls I've created to better control your party).

 




For those who consider HotU to already be hard enough, or something like that, can I just say I'm no expert on NWN and was able to beat HotU on D&D Hardcore rules quite easily with a sub-optimal build and playstyle largely neglected by the devs (Archer), plus I even adventured with a party of "archers" (Deekin, Sharwyn, Nathyrra and Aribeth all used ranged weapons), and still pretty much just facerolled it, as can be read about here.




 


Pretty much (and 'm still trying to come to grips with the idea of Aribeth using a ranged wepaon).


 




I'm probably not the kind of player this would be aimed at since I think the combat system in NWN is just fine (once you get over the fact that you can't directly control your companions).




 


Keep in mind the combat system is very different from the combat difficulty and the latter would be the target.  For example, making a "story" version of HotU where every mob had 1 HP, 1 AB, and 1 damage would not change the combat system but would very much change the combat difficulty.


 




Regardless of what you decide to do, best of luck to you!




 


Thanks, and the feedback is appreciated!



               
               

               
            

Legacy_Jfoxtail

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2015, 01:36:17 pm »


               

Re: Companions.


 


It wouldn't have to be the OC companions but as noted more companions and more choices were the only real lament of HoTU. 


 


It was obvious that the companions of the underdark were again somewhat substandard ; unusually so because Bioware generally made good companions. 


 


~ Valen as a tank / damage dealer. He was the best of all and simplest to manage. Good characterization for female romance


 


~ Aribeth as a tank / damage dealer. She too was ok albiet coming late in the adventure.


 


~ Nathy - i think I recall she was actually an illegal character by the rule set (feats).  The entire Wizard part of her build seemed "rushed into" just because some players would need an arcane henchman. Really she should have been rogue / fighter / assassin or rogue / ranger / assassin.


 


~ Deekin - beloved or abhored. He was a most effective companion and uses arcane items reasonably well; but his characterization was polarizing and therefore Nathy probably got wizard levels. 


 


Needed:


 


1) a pure mage or mage heavy multiclass.. I assume somewhere in the underdark we can find a mage LOL


 


2) a pure cleric or cleric heavy multiclass... I assume neutral interestingly. The entire concept is rich in potential. A powerful cleric of Waukeen on a divine mission to explore trade in the Underdark.....


 


3) One or more of the OC companions ...perhaps just the one you bring with you vis a vis Halister.


 


...and of course plot conversation thereof and banter...


 


No simple task ! 



               
               

               
            

Legacy_Jfoxtail

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2015, 01:36:43 pm »


               

Ohh and balanced to have the party of 4 '<img'>



               
               

               
            

Legacy_rogueknight333

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2015, 09:22:08 pm »


               

It has been awhile since I played any of the official content for NWN, and I am not certain how interested I would be in re-trying even a revamped version given all the new stuff out there. On the other hand, I do remember HOTU as a campaign that could have been very good (IMHO - obviously there are a lot of people who think it is pretty great as is) if only the loot handouts were not so excessive and preposterously high magic, and so many battles were not laughably easy (which not only made the game uninteresting from the viewpoint of combat challenge but was even somewhat immersion breaking given that a lot of these encounters were against foes who were supposed to be some of the most awesomely powerful monsters in the Realms). And both those problems would be relatively simple fixes. Indeed, simply reducing the magic level of the available items, and nothing else, would constitute a major improvement, since that issue and the combat difficulty (or lack thereof, I should say) are not unrelated.


 


I am doubtful it is a good idea to alter the henchmen options too greatly. In theory it would be nice, but to really do it right would require adding in a lot of additional dialogue and possibly additional romance options, which would turn this revision into a much more massive project than you seem to have in mind. At least I think if players' option were between having, say, Valen/Nathyrra with lots of conversation and romance possibilities on the one hand, or a perhaps more mechanically useful henchman who never says much of anything on the other, that would be a choice that was more annoying than interesting.



               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2015, 12:00:25 am »


               


~ Nathy - i think I recall she was actually an illegal character by the rule set (feats).  The entire Wizard part of her build seemed "rushed into" just because some players would need an arcane henchman. Really she should have been rogue / fighter / assassin or rogue / ranger / assassin.




 


Yes, especially if you used the "feature" where she instantly got leveled up to 28 or something (when you were level 19-20) by telling her to focus on being an assassin prior to her leveling past 1.  I just started Chapter 2 with a level 6 character and she become a 1 wizard/11 rogue.  Just, y'know, twice my level.  Doing the same thing with a level 20 character made her a 1 wizard/11 rogue/16 assassin.


 


What do you mean by "need an arcane henchmen" in this case, though?  I mean, you could easily solo HotU with a pure fighter or pure rogue if you wanted.  Which sort of becomes a general question: what "should" an arcane companion provide?  Summons?  Buffs?  AoE?  Single target nukes?  A bit of everything?


 




And both those problems would be relatively simple fixes. Indeed, simply reducing the magic level of the available items, and nothing else, would constitute a major improvement, since that issue and the combat difficulty (or lack thereof, I should say) are not unrelated.




 


Indeed.  Especially when you're level 19-20 and running around with a +10 sword with 2d6 bonus damage, keen, haste, regen, and true seeing.  Fix some of that and hammer down a few spells (like those 240 damage IGMSes at level 20) and suddenly a lot more of the combat would be reasonable, I think.


 


To be clear, you COULD design monsters meant for level 20s using +10 swords with all those bonuses and casters dealing 480 damage per round...but obviously Bioware did not.


 



I am doubtful it is a good idea to alter the henchmen options too greatly. In theory it would be nice, but to really do it right would require adding in a lot of additional dialogue and possibly additional romance options, which would turn this revision into a much more massive project than you seem to have in mind. At least I think if players' option were between having, say, Valen/Nathyrra with lots of conversation and romance possibilities on the one hand, or a perhaps more mechanically useful henchman who never says much of anything on the other, that would be a choice that was more annoying than interesting.



 


I agree especially with the latter sentence.


 


For the former, *if* there is sufficient interest, I might try to assemble a *small* team (like probably 3-4 people max) to work on some of that.  Basically, while I'm confident I can handle the mechanical/balance/combat side of things, I have far less faith in my ability to write quality enough dialogue...let alone a halfway decent romance.  But if people better at writing and custom content (for the graphics part) wanted to chip in, that could make a larger project more manageable, both in terms of time investment and ability to do justice to what is needed.


 


But, like I said, this is mostly brainstorming and gauging interest for now.  Nothing would even happen in this regard for at least a month or two, got other stuff I need to finish first.



               
               

               
            

Legacy_Eternal Phoenix

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Considering Doing a Revamp of HotU -- Thoughts?
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2015, 04:58:23 pm »


               


HotU is fine, OC and SoU needs update much more.




 


This.


 


Original Campaign needs the additions that were excluded when the whole plot and features were changed.


 


Shadows of Undrentide needs a complete revamp.