Ted's RPG Rant

A place to rant about RPG games, particularly the Temple of Elemental Evil. Co8 members get a free cookie for stopping by. Thats ONE cookie each, no seconds.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Travel Blog

Ted here, still alive and currently in Borneo - my second visit. Have to keep it short, am in an executive function room thing on the 17th flr of a swanky hotel overlooking the river in Kuching - fabulous locale, but I am not really meant to be here, they just felt sorry for me since my room wasn't ready. I don't normally get into executive area I can assure you. ;-)

Will be back in Sydney on the 7th though hopefully will be at a PC for a decent period to tell of my adventures before that. Lots to tell, have been to Penang, KL and Singapore. So many transvestites around! And I'm from SYDNEY mind u, and I'm still shocked.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Transferring items

Ok this is a bit fiddly, by which I mean I can't always get it to work. So rather than explaining things I will simply detail methods that have worked for me and a few that haven't but are used in game or by Liv.

When I first started on Desperate Housewives I wanted the NPCs you were fedexing things from to actually have the gear in their possession, in their inventories, and then transfer it over to yours when the moment came: hence evil characters who couldn't be bothered running around could always say lop Myella's head off and just grab the cauldron that way. Wouldn't always have been appropriate, eg Sunom or Clarisse, but for Mandy or Paida or Glora it would have been fine.

BUT when I tried to do it, I just couldn't get it to work - the transfering, that is. Can't remember if I could even get it into the characters inventory, probably I couldn't because I wasn't mobbing it in, I was just writing it into the InvenSource.mes. Well, I was a n00b back then and didn't know what I was doing. But I had to do the far simpler method of just creating stuff in the PC's pack when the moment came.

The command for this is:

create_item_in_inventory(item #,recipiant)

Using this is relatively simple, here's a cut-down version of the one where Lila gives u her list of stuff to get:

{95}{[Lila hands you some parchment]}{[Lila hands you some parchment]}{}{}{}{create_item_in_inventory(11099,pc)}

No scripting needed in the .py file, just use it straight from the dialogue executable.

The only fiddly thing you might find is regarding the id#, if the proto number and the id# is different. Generally we do things by proto number because we tend to examine and manipulate the protos, but the id# number may differ. That is, the relevant item number may be from col 22 in Proto-Ed rather than the 'id#' column 23 which will generally match the proto number itself. Confused? Yes, its a pain, and it gets worse when trying to deal with NPCs beacuse they may have 3 different numbers Just be aware of it, and if you are making new protos, make the numbers match dagnabit!

So if you are using a script like this and it doesn't fire correctly, try using a different number. As a general rule, I would say use col 22 FIRST, and if it doesn't have a number there, add one - that is, repeat the proto number there from col 23 in col 22 (and save the protos.tab of course ;-)) If something else is already using that number somewhere, then you will get something different showing up when the transfer happens and you will know that is what the problem is :-) Then you have the painful job of trying to come up with a new number thats not used by anything else but is still somehow relevant to the item u r using. Try the search function in Proto-Ed to find a spare number, and have fun! ;-)

Could you just use give #### instead at this point? No you can't - Hazelnut proved that for us. Thanks dude!

What about transfering from the PC to the NPC? Now, that bit definitely works, thats how we moved all that crap you collected for Lila over to her. Lets have a look at it in action:

{148}{So what do you have for me?}{So what do you have for me?}{}{}{}{}
{150}{Bottle from Glora.}{}{1}{anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", 12892)}{174}{party_transfer_to( npc, 12892 )}
{151}{Hemlock.}{}{1}{anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", 5800 ) and game.global_flags[697] != 1}{160}{party_transfer_to( npc, 5800 )}
{152}{Eye of newt.}{}{1}{anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", 12897)}{162}{party_transfer_to( npc, 12897 )}
{153}{Bat's wing.}{}{1}{anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", 12896)}{164}{party_transfer_to( npc, 12896 )}
{154}{Your small cauldron.}{}{1}{anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", 12894)}{166}{party_transfer_to( npc, 12894 )} // Mabel
{155}{Your curette.}{}{1}{anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", 12895)}{168}{party_transfer_to( npc, 12895 ); schedule_reward(npc,pc)} // Morgause
{156}{Your distilling apparatus.}{}{1}{anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", 12893)}{170}{party_transfer_to( npc, 12893 )} // Sunom
{157}{Your crystal skull.}{}{1}{anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", 12898)}{172}{party_transfer_to( npc, 12898 )}
{158}{I'll just get on back to work.}{}{8}{}{0}{}
{159}{Me keep looking.}{}{-7}{}{0}{}

Here's a couple new commands:

anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", ####

Thats incredibly handy, makes sure you don't have to have the item in the inventory of the person doing the talking, which is annoying for the player (though you CAN do it by specific party member if it is called for, different command). The other one is our transfer command:

party_transfer_to( npc, #### )

Simple, init?

While we're describing transfering, lets have a look at the scripts that didn't work for me but do work elsewhere in the game. Again, I couldn't get them working but that may be because I wasn't properly putting things in the inventories (NPCs spawned by a mob rather than a script will have their inventories mobbed in, not from InvenSource.mes. I couldn't do that at the time). Now, as with other things, there is more than one way to do it. I tried by a couple different methods, one of which was the one Liv used to transfer stuff, and I wrote to her asking for advice and asking why she used that specific script rather than another one. Unfortunately I am such a spammer (you may have noticed) that I have long since deleted her reply (I have to keep deleting my PMs or they would go over 100 very quickly) but the gist of it was, you use what works and don't worry if there are 6 other ways to do it, if what u r doing works, then do it. Sensible girl :-)

So for starters lets look at the stuff for tranfering items from the NPC followers when you buy their starting gear. This is very handy since it deals with getting rid of items as well. Note this is NOT a transfer per se, as you will see:

def equip_transfer( attachee, triggerer ):
________itemA = attachee.item_find(6011)
________if (itemA != OBJ_HANDLE_NULL):
________________create_item_in_inventory( 6011, triggerer )
________itemB = attachee.item_find(6016)
________if (itemB != OBJ_HANDLE_NULL):
________________create_item_in_inventory( 6016, triggerer )
________create_item_in_inventory( 7001, attachee )
________return RUN_DEFAUL

You will quickly recognise what is happening here is the item is being destroyed in the NPC's inventory (in this case, Elmo) and recreated in the triggerer's inventory (the PC). Then, Elmo gets some money - item 7001 - created in his inventory, where it has already been removed from the PC's possession in the dialogue using one of the scripts we have seen before, pc.money_adj(-500).

Why destroy and recreate? Well, its Elmo's stuff, you can't just transfer it! The game will resist a transfer just as it resists you trying to drag and drop from their inventory to yours. For another example: I had a funny situation (also noticed by others) where Furnok looted GKR's head. Now, when I went to talk to Glora, she did the anyone( pc.group_list(), "has_item", ####) business, saw it in Furnok's inventory, and we carried on quite happily, she gave me the bottle. BUT when I checked Furnok, he still had the head! Because he had resisted the transfer - in this case, the game had simply carried on and ignored this script since it couldn't be executed.

Anyways, I threw in that about Elmo to explain this and so you could see item.destroy() in action: its a simple enough command you use to get rid of something when u r fininshed with it. But what about a real NPC - PC transfer? Well, Black Jay does one:

{140}{Oh, please please let me have it. I will trade you for it! I have magic +1 arrows, elven boots or an elven cloak.}{Oh, please please let me have it. I will trade you for it! I have magic +1 arrows, elven boots or an elven cloak.}{}{}{}{game.quests[4].state = qs_accepted}
{141}{Give me the +1 arrows.}{}{1}{}{150}{party_transfer_to( npc, 3000 ); npc.item_transfer_to_by_proto(pc,5006); game.quests[4].state = qs_completed; npc.reaction_adj( pc,15)}
{142}{Give me the boots of elvenkind.}{}{1}{}{150}{party_transfer_to( npc, 3000 ); npc.identify_all(); npc.item_transfer_to_by_proto(pc,6057); game.quests[4].state = qs_completed; npc.reaction_adj( pc,15)}
{143}{Give me the cloak of elvenkind.}{}{1}{}{150}{party_transfer_to( npc, 3000 ); npc.identify_all(); npc.item_transfer_to_by_proto(pc,6058); game.quests[4].state = qs_completed; npc.reaction_adj( pc,15)}
{144}{You can just have it.}{}{8}{}{150}{party_transfer_to( npc, 3000 ); game.quests[4].state = qs_completed; npc.reaction_adj( pc,30)}
{145}{I don't want to trade it.}{}{8}{}{160}{}
{146}{Here, you take for free.}{}{-7}{}{150}{pc.item_transfer_to(npc,3000); game.quests[4].state = qs_completed; npc.reaction_adj( pc,30)}

Notice a couple things about this. Firstly, it uses BOTH party_transfer_to( npc, #### ) and pc.item_transfer_to(npc,3000). Why different commands? I'm sure I don't know, but be aware, again, there are different ways of doing things.

The actual NPC - PC transfer is a fabulous command:


No frigging around with id #'s here - it tells you straight up it is dealing with the proto number itself. Hooray! Gotta be happy with that.

Also, notice something subtle: npc.identify_all() before handing over the Elven boots or cloak. So when u get it, it is already identified, doesn't just turn up as a 'magic cloak' since u should already know what it is. Nice touch.

Ok, that'll have to do for the moment, I have to pack my bag! Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ted dreams of his grisly death

Don'tcha love dreams like that?

I shoulda written this one down, it was sooooooooo much better at 5:30am when I woke up. There was a long bit beforehand full of dream-weirdness all leading up to it, but the only thing I remember was the culmination of the dream.

I have been in a very holy and spiritual way the last few days (no, really!) even received a plenary indulgence the other day at the advice of a Confessor who pointed out the Year of the Eucharist ends next week. So perhaps not surprisingly I was dreaming of the Vatican (ok, its a bit wierd). In the fabulously ludicrous manner of dreams, the Vatican was a big square sandstone building rather than the white marble of reality.

I dreamt that it collapsed. I was in another building, sorta like a hall nearby, and I saw the main building start to just crumble and collapse. The Pope and various other dudes got crushed, and I thought, "Maybe I should run over and help them like a good Catholic". But there would have been nothing I could do and it looked scary so I didn't. ;-)

What I did do was lok at the building I was in and think, "hope this one doesn't collapse too". It was the same sort of sandstone building. I looked up and saw it was rock solid, not shifting around as the main one had been seconds before, but then (in the manner of dreams) I had no sooner thought it might collapse than it started to. People began running in all directions and I headed for the middle of the Hall so the walls did not come down on me (it had sorta an open roof). But this hall was collapsing from the bottom, it was like the floor was falling away into an abyss, and I thought, "This isn't just an earthquake or something, this is the end of the world." The floor crumbled under me and I fell into blackness, expecting at any second for huge blocks of sandstone to land on me (hoping they would kill me outright instantly and not just smash me to pieces and cause me to die slow and painful), but I was surprisingly calm and just thought something along the lines of, "well, the end of the world is an article of faith, can't complain when it happens. God's will be done". And I yelled, "praise God" as I fell. Everything was black and I waited to go "into the light" of the afterlife or the Second Coming or whatever was happening.

I woke up feeling quite crappy, probably because I had only had 5 hours sleep (in fact, I lay there thinking "I feel 5-hours-sleep crappy", rolled over and looked at the clock and sure enought thats exactly how much sleep I had had). I don't like waking up from weird dreams feeling crappy. Sometimes I have woken up with my heart racing from a nightmare and I have wondered, "was my heart doing something weird and that is what caused my subconscious to have a nightmare?" (I suffer from ectopic heartbeats, harmless but at times very annoying).

I had another dream the other day too, where this voluptuous and very pertty young lady was keen to have her way with me. I kept thinking I had to be true to my g/f and stalled her. You know u r in a state of grace when u behave youself in your dreams! I normally run amok in dreamland, in the happy knowledge its not real (when I realise I'm dreaming that is).

Dreams I hate most? When something REALLY good happens. Then u wake up to normal life - HATE that! Dreamt a few weeks back I was at work and I had a winning lottery ticket in my back pocket (scary how this is my second post in as many times about winning the lottery - I sound obsessed!) I dreamt I had won about 15 large (VERY large!) and was just marking time at work and wondering whether i should tell them to just go jump and walk straioght off the shift - of course, I didn't. I knew I should keep my mouth shut about my windfall until i had cashed the ticket but couldn't help blabbing about it to one of the other workers, and I was thinking all the time what would I do with the money.

Then I woke up - from millionaire to plain old struggling Ted in an instant. THAT SUX!!!

Anyways - today I got jabbed with a hep A needle prior to heading off to Malaysia. I have to do my tax return too (bugger). BUT will still have time to mod, got some done last night. :-) Got the Corporal and Scribe up on the screen. Not sure what to dress the Scribe in, those wizard robes, meh I just don't like them. Tried him in a white monk's robes outfit and he looks like a courtier. Might just work.

Back to the grind! You can expect one more tutorial before I go.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ted's Lottery Luck!

Had some amazing luck with a lottery ticket today, the odds musta been squillions to one against.

I went to werk this morning and after the morning shift decided to treat myself to a decent coffee (hey, i had worked for 2 whole hours u know!) So I headed over to the shops and while I was there, got a lottery ticket cause the prize is $9 million. Thats a fair amount - I mean, its enough not just to set u up for life, but to make a difference (I reckon anyways). Lets say you tithe - give away just 10% (and I should hope you could set yourself up with $8 million well enough to have more money coming in than you would know what to do with), thats $900 000, you could give 10 grand, a healthy slug, to like NINETY different charities. Who can even NAME 90 frigging charities? O, they're out there, don't u worry. I reckon u could have some small political influence too, but, well thats just my world domination thing again... forget I said that. On second thought, just look at the red light on top of this pen for a second while I put my glasses on...

Where was I? Forgotten? Good. I had just bought a lottery ticket, Powerball to b exact, it cost me $17 (none of my old tix had won jack btw) and thats far more than 1/2 what I had in my wallet, no more payday for another 7 days, but meh I live walking distance to work and i got a full fridge, I don't need cash atm. And I live on plastic anyways :-P

So I blow most of what I got buying a lottery ticket and walked home.

Got in, pulled out my wallet-keys-phone-horde of other crap I keep in my pockets, dumped em on top of the cupboard.

No ticket.

I had loosely folded it so as not to crease it, stuck it in a jumper pocket (weather is up n down in Sydney atm, mostly warm) and it had come out.

Clumsy. Stupid. $17 I couldn't afford to just throw away, and I may as well have flushed it down the toilet.

I go outside, down the driveway and look down the road. Nothing remotely like a piece of paper in sight. So I spend the rest of the day stewing about this and feeling icky. I have some vague fantasy of it winning and someone handing it in and me claiming it by my fingerprints - I'm not a registered player (obviously).

6 hours later, and I have been on here looking for some funny pix to post, couldn't find my favourite one (dagnabit!) and am late for work. So I run out and head off, keeping an eye out for anything remotely like my ticket. Its a windy day, and if it was just lying around, its long since blown.

I get to the one set of lights on the way to work (not that I have to cross, I am at the start of the long fence surrounding the place I work and still several minutes walk away from where I should be) and I look across the road.

There is something that MIGHT be a piece of paper on the ground.

I remember running for these lights this morning coming home from the shops - if it was gonna fall out at any moment, it woulda been that...

But I am late...

Should I, shouldn't i?

Of course I DID ;-), but when I got there, I found this corrugated piece of something, almost like a small piece of bubble wrap. I just stared at it.

No way that is a bit of paper... is it?

You ever do something in public, and u r just CONVINCED everyone in the world is staring at u? (Like they give a shit). Well, I was thinking, "I can't just pick up random crap off the ground, there are all these cars sitting at the lights, people will stare..." Stupid thought! We really cares?

But with the same "nothing to lose" attitude that saw me head over here despite being late for work (nothing to lose but my job! ;-) I walked over and peeled whatever it was off the ground.

It was my ticket (face down obviously). It looked like bubble wrap because someone had stepped on it or possibly ridden a bike over it - that was what had made it stick there instead of blowing off in the wind.

But it was still very much legible...

Laughing out loud, I put it in my pocket (a different one of course ;-)). And then - how is this for behaviour??? - despite being late for work, I actually go into the 7-11 on this side of the road and buy a chocolate bar. Why? Because I didn';t want to look like the sort of person who just crossed a road specifically to pick up a piece of weird crap off the ground. Ridiculous. Bloody humans!

I was 5 minutes late to work all up, and although the kiddies were all sitting there waiting to go, no-one minded :-) I had a damn fine night though knowing I had what could only be the winning ticket in my pocket.

Mind you, it didn't win a damn thing. But at least I won't die wondering.


Whaddya mean that ending sux?? Well F*&% YOU ITS MY STORY!! Meh, here's the funny pix I promised. Some nerdy ones just for u Co8 folks ;-) LotR, Magic: The Gathering, Everquest and even an Atari reference of the greatest RPG of them all! Still never found my favourite one :-( These are mostly from Somethingawful.com that I have collected over the years, so go say thanks!

Monday, October 10, 2005

New D&D Movie - Wrath of the Dragon God

Those of you outside the US have probably already heard that there is a second D&D movie out, made by the Sci-Fi channel if I am not mistaken - those of you inside who have the channel may have already seen it! If not, or for anyone interested, Krunch assembled a few reviews that I am now passing on - no, I haven't seen it alas, I don't have cable and live in Oz anyways (as u should know!) Wonder if they would sponsor my Silmarillion?

Summary: Based on the phenomenally successful role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons 2 takes you deeper into the dark and fantastical world of this fantasy epic. When the evil sorcerer Damodar braves a perilous whirlwind vortex to steal the elemental black orb he declares a sinister plan of vengeance against the kingdom of Ismir. Berek, a decorated warrior, and Melora, an amateur sorceress join four heroes representing Intelligence, Wisdom, Honor and Strength to battle against Damodar's growing army of gruesome creatures, flying harpies and an ice dragon to reach a vault room holding the orb. Together, they build their own army to retrieve the orb using elemental forces to defeat Damodar before he summons the sleeping black dragon whose omnipotent evil powers could lay waste to the entire kingdom.

Review: The party is an elvan wizard, A human Fighter, Human Cleric of Obad-Hai, Human Barbarian and a short Human Rogue (note - he may be a halfling but it is not clear)
- The barbarian and the wizard are female the rest are males.
- The movie goes with the rules of DnD very well (at one point the elf detects a secret door)
- I personally liked it a lot better than the first movie which was no where near DnD.
- Don't expect greatness in this movie but I would watch it again.

Review: I am very much pleased with this movie, VERY much... It was alot better then the first one in so many ways that it is hard to say it was ever born out of the first one, had you never heard of Damadar who tied the old movie to it then you would have never even realized it had anything to do with that first one. Overall impression: Not the worlds best, but hey in DnD we make our own worlds so maybe it is in some of them, Graphics for the most part were quite impressive for a most likely low budget film, The actors were decent, and the plot had some grounds to it. Alot could have been added and really it was the bare bones of a game. That Damadar was quite simply.... Weak! I mean in the first movie he had this He-man thing going on but in this one he is even weaker then Profian and that is saying something... That and the Dragon God looks like a black dracolich that instead of shooting acid jets has fireballs for its breath weapon. What disapointed me the most was that it was supposed to be razing a city and most of its fireballs didnt even damage the main buildings, let alone touch them. However the old director who was not director of this film was quite right when he said the movies that followed would make up for lost dungeon crawls. The sorcerer must have been of decent level too, she cast quite a few spells more then once, like in the attack when figuring out a certain puzzle. She casts the same spell over and over. It could have been a high level magic missle but she was shooting it more then just within a certain range of the first. However in many aspects these little things can be overlooked because they are replaced or filled by many impressive scenes. Like the White dragon which kicked arse or the dracolich in general. The lich looked a little funny to me but that could be just my pre-conceived image of them talking. Personal favorite scene was either the White Dragon attack or where the Lich(Shape changer?) took the orb back and did its little transformation thing, I liked the graphics. Though the regrowing of the.... Well we will leave some of the movie for people to watch ;-)

Review (Krunch's own opinion): the special effects were real cool looking...expecially the cgi script for the dragon at the end of the movie.

The movie seemed to rush too much through the story and really did not focus much on conflicts and fight scenes - in general, great fight scenes make a good movie better.

The movie seemed to suggest, at least to me, the longsword used by the fighter hero was magical, but not a type of very powerful magic sword - maybe a +2 longsword - would have been nice if they did more with it.

The cleric, obviously, had a super powerful warhammer that was like a magical one-handed miniture maul.

The scene where the magman was summoned was interesting - the mages could not control it and it ran around the room touching stuff to start fires.

There were lots of things to give a thumbs up in the movie...they should contact those of us here at Co8 for movie mod ideas for D&D 3, should it ever be made.

Review (Reviler's take): I was satisfied with it but my expectations were VERY low.

Storyline - Good 'ole D&D fare. Even tho the lich felt thrown in, the whole thing reminded me a bit of the 'Tower of Doom' arcade game from the late 80s. And, yes it did scream 'Pilot'.

Acting - Some were better than others but when it comes to playing archetypical characters you really don't have to be that good. What I noticed more between this and a real movie is a lack of ego. With the first movie and many other TV shows staring well known actors you always get a sense of primadonna. With these guys, I had a feeling that they were working stiffs who saw this a step up from a Sinus headache commercial. Unfortunately all female actors did the worst with the woman playing Lux merely being acceptable.

Special Effects - I don't know how many of you noticed in the beginning montage when the showed the kraken coming out the water it was a switch to artwork. Other than the fact I think an Aboleth would been more appropriate, I genuinely liked the desire to get the story out even if they could not afford to make a cgi kraken. What cgi there was good (dragon good) to passable (white dragon and magmin) to awful (Lich's transformation). What was bad was the makeup for the Hobgoblin and the lich. Plus, I saw midgets in the graveyard that were supposed to be halflings. I don't think Peter Jackson will mind other people stealing the techniques he did for hobbits and dwarves. I don't know if midgets have a union but we really need to stop putting them in those roles and get them real work.

Good Points -
Loved the Bastard Sword that the leader carried. Only showing as magic when in use and never pointing out that it is magic. The gem of true seeing too, nicely done. Oh, Ring of the Ram without pointing or saying it was a Ring of the Ram was pretty sweet too.

When the evil dude and his hobgoblin henchmen were enjoying their little evil scheme and the hob said "Good times..." without any sense of 'I'm making a funny' was a good bit of corn without being over the top.

The references/background were excellent and well within the story lines. Jubilex, demon god of oozes. Temple of the Kua-Toa. Obad-Hai, god of nature. I think not taking the time to explain was good too but we are all largely familiar with the D&D world and don't need to ask. For a lay person it might have just sounded like gibberish.

The Dragon God demanding a specific tribute on every new moon of his release. It was totally unnecessary for the story line and I loved that they put it in there.

The party interactions were a good start and I had hoped to see more.

Bad points-
A lich... Hanging out in the woods... Aside from his bad acting, bad makeup and bad implementation at least he proved to be a jerk. They should have had a much more mundane bad guy.

No dwarves? C'mon man! Ya gotta have at least one dwarf!

Awful ending. It just kinda ended. No direct dialogue of good byes and future hints of a series or another movie. I was left with the feeling that not only did I not know whether there was going to be more but they did not know.

Speculation/Hope -
A series. The Forgotten Realms series has tanked long before it ever got into production but if there is enough buzz about this I can see Sci-Fi dipping a little more money into it. Nothing along the lines of BS:G but possibly 5-6 1 hr episodes a season.

I would like to see the world fleshed out more and to take the series in a different direction than series normally take (1 group of people, stickign with them for the duration). If they did the series as 'modules' with different partys with the occasional crossover following one large 'campaign' I think they could hook more people then they could with the standard cookie cutter TV series.

Review (Lord Spike spots the hard-core D&D references): O-Kay, people...I have watched the movie in detail this time around, and found three references to Greyhawk Modules therein:

Barek, in a conversation to the Chief Mage, when discussing party composition for the dungeon quest, speaks of Dorian... "He and I were part of the party that stormed The Ghost Tower of Inverness..." {Module C-2, by Allen Hammack}

Later, when the quest is underway, Nim the Rogue confronts Luxx about her barbarian tendencies, provoking a sword-tossing response..."Tell me, Luxx, what did your brother see at the Barrier Peaks that drove him crazy?" {S-3, by E. Gary Gygax}

Finally, when they reach Malek's Tomb and have to decipher the puzzle to enter, Luxx says to Barek..."Remember the Shrine of the KouToa..?" {D-2, by E. Gary Gygax}

There was a lot to like about this, especially when compared to the first movie...may it wither and rot.

Lexx the Barbarian saying..."Come villany; death awaits you!"; Nim the rogue telling everyone to look away, he is "...about to employ ancient secrets known only to the members of the rogue's guild." Then there is what happened to "poor Ona" (the wizard's dove). I actually think this was a figurine of wondrous power, 'cause it went back to porcelain & shattered when it hit the ground. Last of all, the cleric...from his actions when he is first introduced (the shoe incident) to his support of Barek, to his frozen end...it was all right on target. Even the prayer at his funeral was fitting to the theme of D&D...

There the tears of Oerth are dried;
There the hidden things are clear;
There the works of life are tried;
By a Juster Judge than here.

One is reminded of Tolkien by this...overall, I recommend it, as it was fairly entertaining. Not a classic, but with classic elements...and fun to watch.

My rating: Thumbs up!

Overall: All who saw it seem to agree it is better than the previous one which is pretty universally regarded as poor, and may be a pilot for an ongoing TV thing.

Also, Co8's (big) sister-site Sorcerer's Place got an exclusive, see it here :-) There are pix!

The Media

I really despise the media in many ways - hey who doesn't? We wouldn't all be reading blogs if we had a decent media, now would we?

The media here in Australia is mediocre. We don't have the excessively bad stuff of the US or Fleet Street, the real scumbag tabloids etc (though we come close at times). But nor do we hit the heights of other countries. I heard some time back - this may be apocryphal, but I hope it is true - that David Irving did a tour of the US, and the media ignored him. They didn't show up to film his opinions, they didn't publicise him that way, or even publish editorial rebuttals - nor did they try to deny him his chance to voice his particular opinions - they simply ignored him. That shows character. That sort of character is sadly lacking here in Oz - if such a person turned up here, the media would surround him or her immediatley, the pack of salivating dogs that they are, eager for and indeed encouraging the person to make some offensive and controversial remark that could be used as a sound byte. I can say this, because Loius Farakand (or however you spell his name) turned up here not that long ago to preach his particular brand of Black Islam to the Aboriginals (who were sensibly unimpressed) and that is how the media treated him. They fawned on his every word, and encouraged him to make offensive comments about Jews. Fabulous.

Some of you may have heard of Pauline Hanson - now there was a shameful period in our history, for more reasons than just the obvious ones. Hanson was created by the media - entirely, completely, utterly. I truly don't believe she ever thought of starting her own party until the media stuck cameras in her face and said, day after day, "are you going to start your own party Pauline?" The underlying addendum - do so, and we will give you all the free publicity you want. Hell, if I could get the media to publicise my every word, I would start a party in a heartbeat. They created her - she said things people are, in the classic words of Lenny from the Simpsons, "uncomfortable with". They hung on those words, publicised every one of them, repeated them, embellished them, gave them the worst context that could be given, feigned outrage and fell over themselves to condemn her but always, ALWAYS hoping she would go on and give them an endless stream of headlines.

She immediately got better than 10% of the popular vote, leapfrogging easily the 'third' party here, the Democrats (no relation). They squealed like the useless clowns they are - one politician famously and accurately described their movement as "the fairies at the bottom of the garden" - and actually went to the next election, where Hanson party folks won a few seats, with the political campaign, "don't give her the balance of power, its ours you know. Really". [Here in Oz, the Democrats, who hold about a seat in every state, used to hold the balance of power in the Upper House. Therefore, no government from either left or right could get their legislation through the Upper House without courting their vote - their slogan had been, "we keep the bastards honest". The current right-wing government of John "yes Mr Bush Sir" Howard is the first government in many long years to have a majority in both houses, God help us.]

Why 10%? Why did so many flock to her meetings and speeches? I sincerely believe many went along to actually hear what she had to say - that she was being misrepresented by the media was so plain and obvious they barely tried to hide it. People wanted to simply hear for themselves and make up their own minds, and good on them for that. Some voted for her. Is one in 10 Australians actually the sort of redneck who would want Pauline Hanson running the country? Perhaps, but really, it was simple disenfranchisement by the major parties. Voting for Tweedledee or Tweedledum had come to have so little meaning to many people they voted for Hanson as the ultimate protest. Votes for her counted - every result, every poll showing support for her rising was a front page headline. People who backed her felt they were making a difference. It was DEMOCRACY.

What happened in the end? For those who don't know the final outcome, she was actually jailed (or 'gaoled' as we say here). A hard-case goverment minister named Tony Abbot (a head-kicker who is, tragically, the public face of the Catholic politician in this country) was given the job of bringing her down, and he had charges brought against her for not registering the party properly. It was crap. Democracy WOULD have prevailed: her bunch of weirdos, racists and conspiracy theorists would have INEVTIABLY self-destructed, were already self-destructing when she was breifly put away. Now she is still a celebrity as women's magazines pay to hear the horrors of her incarceration (what bullshit - no woman has done hard time in this country in a century, any more than in any other western country) and she recently appeared in a celebrity dancing competition, which is what passes for television here nowdays. Thats on its second season - albeit the channel 7 newsgirl does look absolutely gorgeous in her ballroom outfit.

Not only did the media create this fiasco, they created the climate for it. For a decade (the 80's of course), anyone who thought outside the accepted PC framework was labeled racist (or whatever) and hounded from public life. Ordinary folk - the 'rednecks' - hated it of course, and talk-back hosts had a field day, as they still do, airing the opinions of the majority who had no other voice in the mainstream. The Hanson movement was the inevitable backlash. People who had legitimate questions about all the money given to Aboriginals, for instance - which quite clearly had never reached them or done a damn thing to improve their lives, some still live in third world conditions - suddenly found a voice. "We're one nation, no-one should get special treatment". Sounds like Commy crap to me: but at least it was something people could say. People have GOT to have their say: I remember [long and rambling digression with vague analogous relevance] reading a thing about a group home - a place in the community where people with disabilities can live (thats my field for those who are just passing) - group homes are not the easiest things to live next to. Sometimes folks with disabilities get a bit loud - sometimes they throw things over the fence. A place was found in an ideal suburb, in an ideal street, hundreds of thousands of dollars was spent on doing it up, ramps and rails and all the other amenities needed to make it habitable for folks in wheelchairs and such. There was a few problems, and a petition was taken up, and the area got rezoned, and the folks with disabilities had to move out, and all that money was wasted.

Were the people who signed that petition evil selfish fuckers obsessed with their quality of life and their house prices and such? Perhaps, but the thing I read suggested otherwise. See, in that classic PC mentality, this was simply foisted on the street: there was much consultation among the folks doing it, and the folks funding it, and the folks living in it, but there was not consultation with the community who had to be a part of it. When someone decided to take up a petition against having a group home there, it was the first time some people in the street had had anyone ask them for their input. It seems many signed because that way they felt empowered, they felt they were having some say over what was happening in their lives, even if that say was shafting a bunch of folks with disabilities.

The Hanson phenomenon was a bunch of people having their say, tired of having things foisted on them.

Thats Democracy. Call me an idealistic fool ("you're an idealistic fool!" comes the voice from the gallery, ha ha Mr King, go back to publishing your laundry list) but I am a firm believer in Democracy. Its not perfect, its not some eternal law like Justice, its something mad-made, but as far as man-made things go, its one of the best we have come up with. Strong Democracy is a GOOD thing. I firmly believe - and again, call me a fool if u like - that strong Democracy prevents the rise of someone like Hitler (who, you may remember, was democratically elected in a weak democracy). Strong Democracy is important.

The Pauline Hanson phenomenon was a result of Democracy being weakened by the media. It ended with Democracy further being weakened by the Attorney general's office and the Government. It should have been left to run its course - Democracy would have exposed her and her supporters as ratbags utterly unfit for public office - but instead people are left feeling that a peoples champion, a chance to have their say, has been been silenced by the powers that be. Who will be the next one? Probably that has already appeared in the form of John Howard himself, who, forced to back down on his views on such things as limiting Asian migration back in the 80's, has since comfortably gone to an election with the slogan, "we will say who comes to this country" (refering to illegal refugees, not immigrants) and a campaign demonising refugees as people who would throw their own children off a boat to force the Navy to pick them up and take them to Australia (something that never happened and was an utter lie, as the Prime Minister's own office was awell aware, but which was used for electioneering by Howard himself). The Immigration department has since been exposed as having a shameful record of brutalising people in their care, but the ministers involved have been given the Prime Ministerial seal of approval. The media have objected at times, but at other times have bought into the party line that these are illegal 'queue jumpers' who must be - what? punished? made an example of? Generally rejected.

The bottom line? The media, with their cowardice, their hypocrisy, their grab for ratings and over all, their commercial interests, exert a massive influence on how our democratic society functions.

But who elected them?


Democracy ENDS at the media. And that is the tragedy.

And that is also, I guess, why people read blogs.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A decent program

Not so long ago I had a rant about programs that don't work like they should, like Norton that piece of crap. Don't think ToEE doesn't come under that category regularly! Damn it makes me swear... but anyways, today I want to talk about a program that DOES work properly, ToEEWB.

Damn this is fine. You may here us modders talk about it occasionally, but it really is good. You can tell it was made by a fellow modder, because it is user friendly. You load in a new sector for instance, but it doesn't just blat everything else: for example, I was adding many doors recently for KotB (if you have been keeping up you know that ;-)). I would add a door (needs location, door icon and jumppoint where you land). So you put these in, then embed it in the sector where it goes.

Add next door. Do you have to start again? That would suck because there are THOUSANDS of objects to scroll through to get to the 'door icon' one. No, you can change the sector you are dealing with and still go back, there is the door stuff still set up, change the location, change the jumpoints, KEEP the door icon, and embed again.

Make a boo-boo? You can open the sector, delete the embeded object, save the sector again, and go back, door stuff is STILL set up and just embed it again (correctly). It can sit there happily while you RUN THE DAMN GAME and test everything, then go straight back to editting. Luverly.

Compare this to my damn hex editor. I use some free thing, yay its free, whats it called? Hex something? I forget or annoying or not, I'd plug it cause its free and does the job. But every you time you start it and try to edit something, go to open a file, it defaults to its own damn folder. Why would I store my game files for editing in that folder? How about, I'd store them ANYWHERE ELSE? (Actually I store lotsa files in ToEEWB, but thats different - it is handy!). Anyways, how hard is it for that program to do what ever other freaking program on earth does - OPEN THE LAST FOLDER USED? That would be USEFUL? I mean its just common sense. U gotta wonder, do people even use these programs before they release them? I learnt the hard way never to release a patch without testing it, even if u r only making one tiny change to a file: I never did, but on occasion I was going to and I thought, no I better load it up n run it, and sure enough, something was haywire. Ya gotta TEST these things.

That'll do. New pics in the gallery, some shots of the doors put in :-)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Adding NPC followers

This blog is being written at work on my lappie! Amazing the things u can achieve once the li'l buggers are in bed :-)

Today, persuant to something I said at Co8, I am going to explain how to add an NPC as a follower. Its ridiculously simple: you just add the following command:


But what sort of tutor would I be if I just told you that? So lets set the scene: first of all, go to HERE and download the zip file. It includes new .dlg and .py files for Pishella to make her an NPC follower. Note that the .py file is just to fiddle her dialogue so that when you talk to her in the party she reacts differently than when you just chat to her in Burne's tower, but otherwise you don't need any additional script to get that follower_add command to work - it really is that easy. You don't have to install this btw, I won't be offended ;-) But stick it somewhere you can look at the files.

Ok, where does it all begin? Well, go to line 30. This is where she would normally say, "Nice to see you again, I am busy" and that would be that. But, I have added lines 34 and 35 asking her if she would like to join. Then, it jumps off to line 200: she normally ends in the 170's (and some of that is added for the Burne's puzzles quest) so going to line 200 gives us plenty of room to add whatever we like.

200 is her agreeing to sign up: we then have to address the issue of the party being full. Hey, look at that! I put the first conditional command, in line 201, in the wrong place! It should be in the middle, not at the end (in the usual place for conidiotnal arguments we have discussed before). The last brackets are for executing commands: the game will ignore not pc.follower_atmax() here because it doesn't execute. But the game may NOT ignore the subsequent atempt to add a follower, and if you follow this line with a full party, you will probably get a crash! (Based on what happens when NPCs such as Fruella push their way into the party when it is at max and the player is using PC Count Fiddler so the game doesn't realise it is at max). So if you do want to use this script, change that ;-)

The conditionals that fire if the party is at max or isn't are of course there to prevent such a disaster. That is really the only essential thing you need: that and a subsequent script to remove the character. We'll look at that in a minute. But first...

Just to add a bit of variety and spice (and because Cujo asked me to when I wrote this thing for him) I have added a thing whereby Burne charges you 50gp to hire her. I also added some dialogue such that Pishella explains this as Burne being a greedy sod - I think this is consistent with the image of him in the game, what with the amount of treasure he demands (I mean yes the guy is high level but he has a dragon hoard dagnabit! Well, he reputedly has a dragon hoard... never believed a word of that. Hey, why doesn't Burne have a beard like in the module? Never understand meaningless changes like that... like at the Argonath when they have one of the figures carrying a sword instead of an axe, the book CLEARLY says they have axes, why change it? Ok ok we are slightly off topic...

So, another new command to learn. In fact a couple, since we have to get the players to pay, AND we have to make sure they have the money! So...

pc.money_get() < 5000
pc.money_get() >= 5000

Simple, isn't it? You've probably noticed the get command is often used to find out the values of this or that, stats or flags or whatever. It just gets the value without changing it or anything.

So, if the party has the money, they have to hand it over. To do that we use:


the excessively bright among you will have figured out that this command will also ADD money to the party - just leave out the minus sign! In fact it adds either way, just here it is 'adding' negative 5000.

SO what is the currency? Well, all currency transactions in the game, be they getting money or adjusting as here or the value of items recorded in the protos.tab, its always in COPPER pieces. So here, 5000 copper is 500 silver is the 50gp Burne wants. Its that simple. NOte we are not transferring the money to Burne, we are just knocking it off... we could give it to him, but transfering items is the topic for next time :-) And this way is easier ;-).

Speaking of easier, I couldn't be bothered doing a Burne butt-in where he himself asks for the money. If you really want to enhance the experience, though, you can do that yourself because we discussed this last time. And, you can even voice it, becuase he mentions 50gp somewhere! Its the amount he pays you for exposing Jayfie for memory. Add that - Burne butting in to ask for 50gp to let you hire Pishella, in the actors actual voice - and you would have an experience that you would swear blind came straight out of original game :-). Meh, thats what I'm here for.

What next? Well, there is the recruit line itself: we saw that at the beginning so I won't repeat myself (its right there in line 230) but will simply point out it fires from the NPC's command thing (does it work from the PC's? Does it matter? It works from the NPC's so use that!) Also, she joins the party without ending the conversation. She will leave that way too: thats how Liv did the 'equipment fix' thingy whereby she prevented NPCs selling stuff you gave them: in the middle of the conversation, unnoticed by the player (going on in the .py scripts) she would boot the NPC out then instantly rehire him or her. Thus, whatever they had at the time would become their 'starting equipment' that they refuse to give up. Ingenious solution! But it meant the NPC went to the end of the party (not a problem) and forget all their spells (a problem) so it was not perfect and some people have moved on to other solutions, such as Drifter's masterful .dll hack.

That everything? Well, what about the dialogue? We have fiddled the san_dialog bit of the .py script so that when you talk to her in the party, she will have different dialogue than when she is standing around in Burne's tower. Lets take a quick look at it:

def san_dialog( attachee, triggerer ):
________if (attachee.has_met(triggerer)):
________________if (attachee.leader_get() == OBJ_HANDLE_NULL):
________________________triggerer.begin_dialog( attachee, 1 )
________________triggerer.begin_dialog( attachee, 250 )
________________triggerer.begin_dialog( attachee, 1 )
________return SKIP_DEFAULT

I just nicked this one from Elmo and copied it over the existing one. For one thing, it now turns her to face you :-)

Ok, the thing (attachee.leader_get() == OBJ_HANDLE_NULL) is something you will see regularly with NPC followers. What it does is it 'gets' the condition of whether the NPC is in the party, expressed as whether they acknowledge the party leader. Don't ask me why or what that means, just take my word for it, thats how you test if the NPC is in the party or not. It tests whether this condition returns NULL, that is, if the condition is NOT present: again with the negatives! So, if it is true, if 'getting' the condition of the NPC acknowledging the leader IS null, that is, returns false - ie the NPC is NOT in the party - then it will go to line 1 as usual, and the game can then use the existing 'npc_has_met' scripts to handle where to send the dialogue (since if they have not met they go to 1 also in this script). Its a pain working to get a logical NOT using '==' rather than '!=', but take a moment to understand this since some scripts will do it the oppsoite way and have '!=' to indicate that the NPC IS in the party.

If she doesn't return a null - if she IS in the party - then she goes to the appropriate dialogue I have written at line 250. Its just 'I want you to leave'. If you use this script, of course feel free to flesh all this out - in fact, I recommmend it :-)

Last thing: booting her out. Firstly, you are going to need her later so we can't just leave her down the bottom of the Temple or something. So we add a condition forcing you to be on the right map: this is

npc.area != 1
npc.area == 1

Area 1 is Hommlet: it refers to the area on the world map. So this makes sure you are somewhere in Hommlet before you can boot her. We COULD do it by specific map - see, for instance Zert's .py script where he may act in certain ways when entering certain maps. There's a san_entering_map or san_map_change or something thing that can be triggered, actually we will look at that next time becuase I am going to put that to an abstract use in KotB to improve the NPC experience, but for now it is enough to know it can be done. I don't have the whole damn game with me here at work so there is only so much i can do from memory ;-). Zert's thing will have the specific python script to check what map you are on, others will too (Mickey, for instance - he knows whether to act like he is in the brewery or in Nulb by checking the map number). Technically I guess we would have to allow Pishella to leave on a number of different maps - any level of the towr - so just saying 'area 1' is so much easier. Will she go back to the Tower on map change? I don't think she has a jumppoint to do it, so I see no reason whyb she should. So let her go IN the tower if you don't want problems later, and make sure she is standing near Burne so he can find her nearby if he needs to (though I think she does the 'destroy orb' thing all by herself).

And the actual script to boot her from the party?


Again, it fires from the NPC's line, and doesn't terminate the conversation.

Ok, thats that. Now you know how to add Pishella, you can create some NPC followers for the Green Gryphon in the Keep! Get modding.

O and if you expected Pishella to be a wizard - not today. She is a fighter! LOL! Figure that out!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

And so...

Was out today with ma doing dutiful son things (driving her all over the city) and had a million things in my head I wanted to rant about. Now I am here, well, meh. None of them were relevant to ToEE, just me dwelling on everything that is wrong with society while tuning ma out ;-). Pity I can't just whinge in a really pathetic way, I could have a wretched blog that got onto Something Awful's 'Awful link of the day' and tens of thousands of their forum users could come by to abuse me and hopefully a few would click my ads :-P. Unfortunately this blog is too mediocre to be that bad!

Its a long weekend here in Oz (well, in Sydney anyways: bank holiday or labour day or Queen's Annual Bath day or something) so should get lots of modding done. Tomorrow is the Rugby League Grand Final - half the reason of having a long weekend of course, so no-one has to work on Monday with a hangover - but since my glorious Eels were knocked out last week I am going to spend tomorrow watching LotR extendy versions from beginning to end. (All 11 hours straight, never done it before). After church, of course. Just can't stomach the Grand Final this year - the two teams involved played each other 3 weeks ago in the first week of the finals and it was 50-6, a ridiculous one-sided affair. The team what got 6 (ie got flogged) then played the second final, won on the back of a mediocre perfomance, then last week they played my Eels and the Eels turned in their worst performance in 4 months. Jitters? Pressure? Choking? Maybe, but it means a team who have no business being there suddenly have a shot at the big one. Maybe its just sour grapes, I mean frankly I hope they beat the other guys (a local rival, albiet a team in red hot form who deserve to b there) but if they win, there is no way you can say the best team of the year got the trophy. But then the two best teams, my Eels and the Dragons (damn serpentine teams everywhere!) had their chances and blew em so what can u do?

Anyways I don't mod on the Sabbath so don't worry I am not slacking off, well no more than any other Sunday ;-) For anyone who doesn't keep the Sabbath, I highly recommend it: its a pain at first if u have essays due or anything else pressing but once u get used to thinking of that day as verboten for work, you quickly get used to it. Maybe u r not meant to spend it watching dvd's either but thats a whole other argument!

Done ummm about half the sectoring of the existant Keep maps and off to do more, right now :-)

EDIT: Just switched on the TV and Sydney University are giving it to arch-rivals Eastwood in the Sydney club rugby final - woohoooo!! At least ONE blue and gold team will win something this year... of course the Eels are in the Grand Final in the lower grades... no, no, mustn't go there!!!