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Post ToEE chat log

Codex Interview - posted by Saint_Proverbius on Wed 24 September 2003, 03:27:55

Tags: Temple of Elemental Evil; Troika Games

[Saint_Proverbius] Okay, Troika people.. Tell us something special about yourselves while we start queuing questions.
[TimCain] Um...something special...I have recently eaten squab.
[ReAnimator] squab?

[Spazmo] [chrisbeddoes] I want to ask if they are going to release an unsupported and undocumented version of their developer tools later.
[[Troika]Steve] I do not believe there are any plans to release our tools at this time, they aren't any fun to use anyway, at least thats what the artists say.
[TimCain] Hmm. Probably not. You need more than just WorldEd
[ReAnimator] true
[TimCain] Our maps are rendered in huge scale.
[[troika]hnguyen] i say that too :P
[[Troika]Steve] See, even a programmer who wrote some of the tools (Huy) thinks they are cumbersome.
[TimCain] And you'd need some other professional software too
* TimCain says "Done"

[Exitium] [kquat3] To cain: Since FO3 is often hinted to be in devolpment, what are your feelings about possible having to toe to toe with it, as well as your feelingsabout seeing it continued.
[TimCain] I have always looked forward to playing FO3 as a fan, knowing nothing about its plot or characters
[TimCain] I don't think I will ever really go head to head with it, since release dates are so woggy
[TimCain] I do want to see more done in that universe, if it's done well
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [chadeo] The dialog seems to be rather generic in many places, only seeming to cater to the classic "I am here to help" adventurer. I had theimpression that your choice of alignment would have more of an affect on your interaction with the various npcs. Is this "good" dialog the result of pressure toremove the M rating from the game, or just due to a lack of time to implement detailed dialog trees.
[TimCain] I think most of the dialog in Hommlet checks dialog skills, but a lot in the Temple checks alignment
[[Troika]Tom] Some of the M-rated dialogs were definitely removed
[TimCain] But those characters often attack first
[TimCain] Yes, we lost a number of dialogs in Nulb by going from M to T
[TimCain] There is definitely evil only dialog in the game in the temple, but I havent heard anyone reaching it
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] [Arcana] QUESTION: how many of the "popular" bugs do you think are related to people not understanding the 3.5 skills rules
[[Troika]Steve] Its hard to put a number, and its even harder to say what is and isn't a bug. Sometimes we made conscious decisions to change things. I think somepeople may feel frustrated in not knowing how something works, I'm not sure if this is the fault of complication or weakhelp or a large manual.
[[Troika]Steve] Then there are of course the bugs that are just that bugs.
[ReAnimator] I think firing into melee and cover penalties on ranged attacks is commonly overlooked
[[Troika]Steve] In testing there were a lot of problems with people who felt something was wrong and didn't bother to identify that they were missing because they were non proficient or firing into melee or whatever.
[TimCain] It is frustrating to see someone upset over skeletons because they don't know about DR or because they didn't know they could bind hotkeys
[[Troika]Steve] But our goal was to make a 3.5 game that was still fun to the novice to play so in those cases where bugs weren't bugs but misunderstandings we get a little dissapointed at what people may have missed out on.
[[troika]hnguyen] frustrating for everyone i'm sure... btw, you can right-click drag the radial menu to move it, once it's open, i know that is a source of frustration ;)
[[Troika]Steve] (I'm done)
* TimCain says "Done"

[Exitium] [Arcana] Question: If there is to be a patch...when can we expect an acknowledgement of what will and wont' be fixed/changed
[TimCain] We are planning for a patch that will not invalidate save games - rule #1
[[Troika]Steve] I know locally at Troika we've made changes to the codebase and fixed bugs, there was infact a build made after the gold build that Atari chose not to go with, and we continue to work on things when we have time.
[[Troika]Tom] I hope we can make an official (or unofficial) announcement by next week
[[troika]hnguyen] as i've written earlier on the forums, everyone who is helping to report bugs and link savegames really helps A LOT!
[TimCain] Atari has not told us whether or not they want to pay for a patch, so we will have to see what we can do on our own time
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [Ausir] why are the asian hats called "asian hats"? there's no Asia on Oerth :P. also, people saying "+1 sword" in dialogue is not good...
[[troika]hnguyen] dolly dress up fun, of course!
[[Troika]Steve] Craig, you modeled the "asian hat"? I think it went in and nobody ever renamed it.
[ReAnimator] I only used that name for a description at the time
[[troika]hnguyen] we could have been PC and named it oriental hat i suppose?
[[troika]hnguyen] ;)
[TimCain] As for saying +1 sword, well, weak magical sword seemed undetailed
* TimCain says "Done"

[Exitium] [Ares] At a later point will the M rated amterial be put in as an "unofficial" patch? Done.
[TimCain] Atari still approves the patches and demos. So no.
[[Troika]Steve] I really don't think so. If at all, which I really doubt, it would have to be done in an official capacity.
[TimCain] I do have a Quotes File, like in Arcanum and Fallout. I plan to post it on Troika's webpage
[[Troika]Tom] We may have to do an unofficial patch to fix some bugs, but we probably can't add this content back in
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [bheathrow] QUESTION: Has "Against the Giants" been greenlighted, and has there been any (joking or non-joking) remarks about a release of "Beyond the Barrier Peaks" D&D/Sci-Fi module?
[TimCain] Nope, AtG has not been greenlighted.
[[Troika]Tom] No green light here
[[Troika]Steve] I think the official answer is we have no further news regarding another project at this time. As soon as we have information we can give out we will.
[TimCain] Nothing on BtBP or ToH either. :)
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] [Ghetto_Goose] Can you tell us anything about the Post-Apocolyptic looking pictures Chris Glenn did? Will we be seeing another TC Made Post-Apocgame? Anything else you can reveal?
[TimCain] I can say they look GREAT!
[[Troika]Steve] Glenn is an excellent artist, I thought it was rather awsome myself.
[TimCain] Other than that...I can't sya anything
* TimCain says "Done"

[Exitium] [MetalWyrm] did Atari make you publish ToEE too soon, thus leaving some of the more apparent bugs?
[[Troika]Steve] Those aren't really decisions that developers get to make. It is often the job of the publisher to decide when they feel a product is ready.
[TimCain] Well, look, they are OUR bugs. But yes, I wish we had had more QA time. I always do.
[[Troika]Tom] Yeah...our contract ran out with them and they didn't want to pay us further, so our money ran out...but I think we all would have liked another month on it
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [soylent] I noticed there wasn't any credit given to the voice actors in either the manual or in-game credits. Were professionals hired and who was incharge of that? You guys or Atari?
[[Troika]Steve] Tom did all the voice work himself in his basement... j/k he actually handled most of it and can answer most this question.
[[Troika]Tom] Professionals handled this, but the director I chose went non-Union against my request...
[[Troika]Tom] So we could not put their names in the credits
[[Troika]Steve] We wanted the rock to do our voices.
[[Troika]Steve] And Vin Deisil.
[[Troika]Steve] He plays D&D.
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] [soylent] Do you plan to make provisions for choosing a character's skin color in any future patch?
[ReAnimator] not at this time
[[Troika]Steve] Nope, texture recoloring was a limitation that crept into the engine early on and we decided to avoid it. The hair itself is hanlded by 8 different colored textures on the models. With severe rewriting we can change it but it most likely would not be for a patch.
* [Troika]Steve says "Done too."

[Exitium] [soylent] Why do things like boots and gloves slow down your player but not add any AC? Was that a design decision or a bug?
[[troika]hnguyen] a tasty bug!
[[Troika]Steve] Thats most likely a bug, there are a variety of items that went in as complements to heavy armors that somehow inherited their weight reducing problems.
[[Troika]Steve] Chain gloves I think do this, Huy may know more items off the top of his head.
[[Troika]Steve] There reason the slots exist are for magic boots/gloves, but regular ones help dolly dressup.
[ReAnimator] well we could have built the boots and gloves into the armors
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [HA|Riparian] I like the Fog of War/ visibility in the dungeons, however when it's above ground, is that ring of darkness a D&D 3.5 effect or is itsomething to make the game run better on slower machines? And is there a wayto turn off the ring of solid black?
[[Troika]Steve] We had considered turning off fogging in towns but different factions of the team did or didn't like them for various reasons. I think the only maps that are unfogged are the random encounter maps.
[[Troika]Steve] You can however turn down the number of fog checks per frame.
[[Troika]Steve] Dropping it to 1 should improve performance a lot.
[TimCain] Fogging looks best at 800x600
[ReAnimator] my vote was for no fog in outdoor safe areas
[[troika]hnguyen] your vote means NOTHING reanimator!!! *RAWR*
* TimCain says "Done"

[Exitium] [Mearas] Besides removing the kids, has the game been altered in any other signigicant way as a result of switching ratings?
[TimCain] Yes. Several dialogs and quests were removed entirely, as were some characters.
[[Troika]Tom] One whole map with side quests, the brothel in Nulb, was removed
[ReAnimator] ouch!
[TimCain] Plus, Tom said some bad words in a few dialogs...
[TimCain] :)
[[troika]hnguyen] :)
[[Troika]Steve] Code was generally untouched for the censors, so I had smooth sailing.
[[troika]hnguyen] i wish the bad words were still in :(
[TimCain] Also, you will notice that Dick Rentsch is now just Rentsch
[[Troika]Tom] Tim used a bad word once, too!
[TimCain] I did?
[ReAnimator] I had to cover up some private areas on some models
[[Troika]Steve] Because Richard is such a horrible name to name someone.
[[troika]hnguyen] LOL
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] [Human_Shield] Personal question: Do you guys read manuals (even large ones) before playing?
[ReAnimator] line by line
[[Troika]Steve] I love reading manuals in the car on the ride home from the game store.
[TimCain] Spiral bindings are clues: Use this manual!
[[troika]hnguyen] i don't.
[[Troika]Tom] I don't usually read them ahead of time...but I use them as reference
[TimCain] Most games just come with instructions pamphlets, anyway...
[[Troika]Steve] The manuals I use a lot have little sticky notes in them, I think all the char creation and spells sections in my Wizardry8 manual are filled with postits.
[[troika]hnguyen] postits?
[TimCain] negtits?
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [BuddyRich] Are there any magical clothing in ToEE (excluding cloaks). Ie a Mage robe or two? Also why no belts, gloves of giant strength don't sound right.also props on the bikini mystic outfit!
[ReAnimator] woo hoo
[[troika]hnguyen] i think it was difficult to justify adding belts + belt slot just for a belt of giant strength, or something like that.
[[troika]hnguyen] so it became gloves of giant strength
[TimCain] We have gloves of dex
* [troika]hnguyen gives props to the Art Team :)
[TimCain] We gave priority to items appearing in the module
[TimCain] Then we added as many base D&D magic items as we could
* TimCain says "Done"

[Exitium] [EEVIAC] Does the ToEE engine have a longevity beyond D&D or do Troika have plans to go to new engine (not including Bloodlines) ?
[TimCain] It all depends on what we do next.
[[Troika]Steve] Well there are some parts of it I totally hate, and some parts that I think are really great. It isn't impossible that the engine could be reused again, but I kinda want to see a new codebase one of these days.
[[Troika]Steve] Some parts of it are old and battered and abused, I certain layers just need to be put out of their misery.
[ReAnimator] new engine = good
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] [Whipp-0] As it seems now Identify items doesn't serve any purpose except as to learn the name and true value of items? Was that how it was meantto be?
[[troika]hnguyen] there is no flavor text for miscellaneous items, yes. that text was discussed, but did not make it in.
[[Troika]Steve] Well it was hard coming up with a system where you could find out all the breakdowns of the rolls of an action and still have it hidden.
[[troika]hnguyen] unfortunate, of course.
[TimCain] Identify was originally suppose to reveal the true name and any conditions added to the item. So yes, a Cloak of Elvenkind would have printed +10 circumstance bonus to hide
[[Troika]Steve] Either we lied to you about how many points of damage you did (more d&d like) or we told you, so identify pretty much tells you specifically what the item is.
[TimCain] We needed a system that worked on both premade and crafted items
[[troika]hnguyen] you also cannot use magic items (except for potions) unless they are identified.
[[Troika]Steve] Huy means, Useable magic items (i.e. wands scrolls, etc).
[[Troika]Steve] Drinking a random potion saved me in the game once.
[TimCain] Yeah, you can wield an unidentified sword.
[[troika]hnguyen] but that was non-alcoholic...
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [Titanium] What part of ToEE are they most proud of?
[[troika]hnguyen] combat, i like it very much! (i am a JA2/x-com/etc fan :)
[[Troika]Steve] I'm a big fan of the hyper-help and roll history system. I think it was an great way to breakdown the complexities of D&D layer by layer. If you want detail you open up the window, you want more detail you click the link, want more detail click the breakdown of that... itsfun.
[TimCain] Yup. The turn-based combat.
[TimCain] It is the core of D&D. Says so on page 1 of our design doc.
[[Troika]Tom] I've had some combats that make great stories (and I've seen some posted, too)...I think that's really cool
* TimCain says "Done"

[Exitium] [Rayt] With TOEE, the license was controlled by Atari (or was it Hasbro?), which had some effects on game decisions (like the forced T-rating). Do you have the same problems with the Vampire game or the unannounced future project and is it something you'd like to avoid in the future by making games notbased on a owned license?
[[troika]hnguyen] ...atari AND hasbro ;)
[TimCain] No real problems with White Wolf, if that's what you are asking. Activision has been very supportive too.
[[troika]hnguyen] and WoTC, of course.
[[Troika]Steve] Whenever you use licensed content you have input from the licensor, and whenever you deal with a publisher you have to handle their input. Until we have the magic money to independantly fund ourselves for an entire game we wont see near the total control we'd loveto have over a title.
[TimCain] This was my first licensed game. Live and learn.
[[Troika]Tom] There's always the tradeoff of getting to work on a really good license but having to live by their rules vs. doing something brand new that has no name value...
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] [snow_wolf] Is there a possibility that we will be able to use our characters from Temple of Elemental Evil in future games?
[[Troika]Steve] If there is a sequel it is our plan and hope.
[TimCain] And dream.
[[Troika]Steve] :)
* [Troika]Steve says "Done."

[Ausir] [Sony] just wanted to ask if the absence of detailed item stats/descriptions is intent. If yes, that's a pretty unusual approach :) Any chance this will beadded in a patch due to popular request?
[TimCain] It was not my intent, no.
[[Troika]Tom] I'd like to see it added for the patch
[TimCain] If we can add it in, we will.
[[troika]hnguyen] again, no flavor text was added, which would have described the bonuses/etc for any misc items (magical or not).
[TimCain] We are already at something like 300,000 words.
* [Troika]Steve says "Done."

[Exitium] [Greyelore] If ToEE meets with financial success does Troika plan to remake other original modules? If so which ones would you like to do...?
[TimCain] That's up to Atari.
[[Troika]Steve] I personally would love to do another module, but its not up to us.
[TimCain] I would like to the whole Queen of the Spiders supermodule GDQ
[TimCain] I do NOT want to do Tomb of Horrors.
[[Troika]Steve] I agree with Tim that GDQ would make a great 10-20 module right after ToEE.
[[troika]hnguyen] haha, tim has horror stories from that module...
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] [Tscharna] why, when married, the wife is married to the ENTIRE party (including females)?
[TimCain] Oh, that's a follower issue. Followers become party followers.
[[Troika]Steve] Hahaha, Fruella, damn is she annoying. She's also open minded, so she loves everyone.
[[troika]hnguyen] it's the 90's?
[TimCain] Otherwise, they would leave when their leader died.
[TimCain] We think different here at Troika.
[[Troika]Tom] I like to go for two wives and um a companion...
[TimCain] DONE!!! PLEASE!!!!
[ReAnimator] clean it up
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] [psyronin] why did you decide to go with 3.0 version of Weapon Finesse when the 3.5 version is considered a welcome improvement?
[TimCain] I *think* we had already tied it in by weapon.
[[Troika]Steve] In our "almost final" 3.5 changes it still was vague as which way it was going to be implemented. By the time we had realized the change the game had reached a state where significant change would be required to change it, and it wasn't something we couldaddress in time.
[[Troika]Steve] Getting info on what 3.5 was going to be was difficult, we didn't necessarily get to hang out with all of the WotC guys as they came up with the changes.
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [Marxin] Question: If a patch is on the horizon, will there be performance improvements? I see two major performance problems, pathfinding and mouseevents. Both seem in dire need of optimization. Note, this is from a user on a P43ghz with 1g RAM
[[Troika]Steve] I already put in a small pathfinding speedup, but it will only speed up the generic case. There are many ways (due to the radii) that people can block all possible ways of getting places, and our biggest struggle has been trying to detect those early.
[[Troika]Steve] If there is a patch you may see some pathfinding speedups, as for the mouse issue. its a known directx problem and there are known workarounds we can implement. They haven't been done yet, but they could be, if a patch were to be made.
* [Troika]Steve says "Done."

[Exitium] [dwillett] Will the patch be able to fix the icon errors during combat?
[[Troika]Steve] There is possibility.
[[Troika]Steve] However the specifics of what the patch will fix or cover or if it will come out or when has not been discussed or decided at this time.
* [Troika]Steve says "Done."

[Spazmo] [JavaUser3] Whats with not being able to open / close doors / use stairs in combat?
[[Troika]Steve] You aren't allowed to change maps during combat, that was a conscious change we made. As for doors and chests I thought you were supposed to be able to open/close doors in combat.
[[Troika]Steve] The leaving levels was to avoid camping near transitions and jumping out of the map when things got too tough.
[TimCain] Yeah, QA people would keep someone by the stairs and just jump away if combat went badly.
* TimCain says "Done"

[Ausir] [tscharna] is it possible that a third development team might be made for a future ToEE sequel with Tim making a non-D&D title?
[TimCain] There are currently many possible future scenarios, and that is one.
[[Troika]Tom] well said
* TimCain says "Done"

[Spazmo] Well, we're done, too. No more questions.
[Exitium] So that's all, folks.
[Saint_Proverbius] Okay, that's all Troika has time to answer.
* TimCain waves
[[Troika]Steve] And... I'm spent... :)
[Spazmo] Thanks a bunch to Troika and to everyone who came tonight.


[Shevek] There are lots of great voices but some, like Turuko, are really very bad. they are the exception though
[[Troika]Tom] Yeah...I wan't thrilled...I was there for all of them, too...we had "unusual" circumstances...
[[Troika]Tom] I rated them a C+ or so overall...I actually like Elmo...yeah, I love Meleny's voice, but she sounds like she's reading...I gave her a D
[[Troika]Tom] Yeah on the drunk sounding part...I was afraid that would sound over the top bad...
[[Troika]Tom] Guy who did Lareth did Calmert, too

[Shevek] kobort is awesome
[[Troika]Tom] Tim wrote Kobort...

[[troika]hnguyen] hahah, we probably have tim's lubash voice over somewhere...

[Sorciere] Tom can you slip us the map and brothel that was removed??! please =)
[[Troika]Tom] ooh...I would love to put the brothel back in...

[chadeo] Was the pressure to make a "teen" game coming from Atari in an effort to try to reach a wider audience, or does it come from Hasbro in their desire to control the "brand" of d&d?
[[Troika]Tom] Hasbro wanted to keep things T...even higher standards in fact than a true T rating

[Shevek] If I take Kobort and Turuko, then let Turuko get slaughtered, does Kobort satay?
[[Troika]Tom] I think Kobort stays unless you talk to him...then he leaves

[danbeck] (xcatfishx): true, adding gore or sex woudlnt' fix the dialog.
[[Troika]Tom] We didn't have the budget to add any additional writers...what are some specific issues anyone has with the dialogs?

[HanoverF] I'm bummed theres stupid dialog but my chaotic evil guy is very polite and proper
[[Troika]Tom] Yeah...would have been nice to have more alignment based dialog...
[[Troika]Tom] Tim and I wrote most of the dialogs, so I really appreciate your feedback...yeah, I think we went with a simpler style for a lot of them...
[[troika]hnguyen] later everyone! we'll try and do what we can to patch up the game *cross fingers* :)

[Exitium] Tom: did you write this?
[Exitium] the gay pirate.
[[Troika]Tom] Thanks...I wrote Bertram...heh
[[Troika]Tom] That voice actor surprised me, too...he did Burne as well

[xcatfishx] Who did the Script for the Singing bard guy? I forget his name?
[[Troika]Tom] Tim wrote Zaxis but the voice actor chose to have him sing...we were nervous about that

[Exitium] I hear his singing is annoying.
[[Troika]Tom] NO...I actually called Tim and asked if it was OK and he said to run with it, but I think a straight read would have been better...then again, he is comical all the way around now
[[Troika]Tom] Yeah, I'm going to head out so any last minute ones for me?

[Exitium] The NPCs shouldn't loot so much Tom.
[[Troika]Tom] I think we're going to fix the NPC looting thing in the patch

[Ausir] [Troika]Tom: were people supposed to be able to take NPC's equipment from them in merchant window, or is it a bug?
[[Troika]Tom] Ausir: that was a bug, but I thought it was kind of cool
[[Troika]Tom] The programmer was mad I didn't tell him about it, but I liked it

[[Troika]Tom] good night everyone...have fun with the game...don't hate me too much for the voice acting! :)

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