Distracted by Vives

   For the past few months, I have neglected the House for Vives. Upon returning I checked the Hall of Archery, and found a jungle of bamboo and broken glass. This blog has clearly gone too long without an update. Although Vives is not a Magus Games project, it is what I have been working on these past few months. The time has come to say something about it.
   Vives was a popular Neverwinter Nights persistent world in its heyday rich with roleplayers and history. Now, sadly, it is long past its prime. Today for example, Vives’ server, which we named Cecil, happens to be down, and the remaining Vivesers including me hope Ara wanders into the basement to discover Cecil needs a reboot. Despite this situation, we – fools that we are – believe Vives still has some magic left.
   Back at the start of February in response to Calmeir’s prompting on Vives’ forums, I decided to do something about Vives’ dwindling popularity. I could not abide Vives ending with a whimper. This was too big of a project to take on alone, and thankfully some “retired” developers showed up to work on upgrading the mod from NWN 1.68 to 1.69. For my part, I started posting chapters in a new story to the forums, logged in periodically to set the stories in motion, and then began giving the world a facelift. The idea was to upgrade Vives to the latest version of NWN while also providing new content in the hope that this would give some old timers a reason to return for an event or two. Good stories need a good ending, and I wanted to give Vives a chance at closure.

   I put my back into the work, building new areas, and rebuilding old ones. I had never used the NWN toolset before, and I must admit that after Unity, NWN was painful – at first. NWN’s saving grace was that I did not need to create every single asset required, and once I learned my way around I had a great time. NWN has a large, and energetic community without which the game would have been fairly lackluster. Vives uses a great deal of the broader community’s work, and I enjoyed playing with their scripts, and art assets.
   The most fun I had building was with sound design. I particularly liked using sound to clue an attentive player into a change just around the corner. For example, as one wanders down a meandering trail through the woods, the sounds of crickets and frogs hints at a wetland somewhere up ahead. The frogs and crickets become louder as the player gets closer to a hidden lake. Layering sounds is also fun, and with the large library of sounds NWN has to play with one can make some interesting effects.
   Unfortunately the folks working on migrating Vives from NWN 1.68 to 1.69 ran out of steam so this project spent some time in limbo. They probably got burned out wrestling with the poorly organized collection of resources in the module. Vives was from its beginning a project directed more by enthusiasm than planning. The result is a well loved but unwieldy mod. I was taught many lessons while working on Vives. The value of commenting code, and setting clear naming conventions on resources are some good examples of these lessons learned.
   Now at last, I am only waiting for someone to reboot Cecil, and upload all of this work. Once again since this is one more thing out of my hands, I am letting go- for now. If nothing else, I also learned that I should approach projects like this one with more caution. Too much about Vives is outside of my control, and the team has lost much of its enthusiasm. That is a dangerous combination.
   We’ll see what comes of all of this. I still hope Vives will be back up and running soon, and we can all get some more enjoyment out of it. For now I am back in the House attending to the work I have neglected.