Friday, July 11, 2008

A Very Bad Place, Part Three: The Fright Gallery

Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of sixteen paintings, displayed as NWN2 placeables for the first time. Each is a collectors' item in its own way - not necessarily because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, and suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.

With these words, which I shamelessly stole from Rod Serling, I introduced my latest submission at the Neverwinter Vault, a hakpak that I call the Fright Gallery. This is my first time to create custom placeables, although the ones that I made are basically reskinned versions of the paintings that come with the game. Despite its simplicity, this submission has earned me the right to call myself a custom content developer. Yay.

I created this hakpak because I needed some paintings to hang at the gallery of the Very Bad Place. Although there are many paintings available in the toolset and at the Vault, none of them are edgy enough to decorate a psychopath's castle. You can tell a lot about a person by the artwork he or she chooses, and I wanted paintings that said of their owners, "demented but classy."

To create these placeables, I downloaded a few photos of bizarre paintings by long dead artists. I also made several images of my own by taking screenshots of scenes that I created with the toolset. I enhanced these screenshots by changing the color balance and contrast, applying artistic filters, and (in one particular case) cutting and pasting another image into the screenshot. In a couple of instances, I edited photos that I had downloaded to make them look horrific.

If I wanted to, I could have painted images from scratch. It takes me forever to make my own paintings, though, and I felt that my time is better spent developing my module. Regardless, my artistic ability has given me an innate sense of what color combinations look good, how to compose scenes, and how to paint over existing photos.

Having created the textures, I then proceeded to apply them to copies of the painting models that come with the game. Retexturing is fast and easy with RunnerDuck's excellent tool, MDB Cloner. I also had to edit a copy of the placeables.2da file to include the models that I had retextured. My favorite 2DA editor is Microsoft Excel. I tried a few 2DA editors that are available at the Vault, but I'm not happy with them. Next, I packaged the files together using tani's NWN2Packer. Using the toolset, I also created an ERF file for the blueprints so that other module builders can easily access my placeables. Finally, I zipped all my relevant files together and sent the zip file to the Vault.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then I am its proud father, eagerly showing off pictures of my newest "babies."


Liso said...

Those are really cool Frank! Awesome job!

I've been a bit MIA on blog watching. Trying to catch up! Keep up the awesome work!


Frank Perez said...

Hi, Michele. It's always nice to see you here. Feel free to drop by again anytime.