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jemapa

My impressions after a full playthrough

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I just finished a full SoA and ToB run with Evandra, so I thought I would give my thoughts on the mod, both good and bad. I should mention that I didn't romance her; I wasn't playing a male elf and, honestly, I was kind of more interested in a good friendship mod at the moment anyhow.

Overall, I really enjoyed the mod! But that doesn't mean that I don't have some criticisms and complaints.

The Good:

  • I loved the dialogues! I thought they were interesting and well written, and basically I was always excited whenever I heard her music start to play.
  • I thought the whole "Dragonlance character transported to Faerun" thing, which could have just been cheesy, was fun and well executed. It helps that she already had an "in" with the Solamnic knights, of course, but it felt well integrated with the game. I liked the various insights she had about the differences between the settings, like her reaction to the Cowled Wizards or how the Drow are the "dark elves" of this world.
  • I appreciated that she was balanced; I hate it when mod characters are super OP or introduce super OP equipment and such.
  • While the voice acting wasn't pro level by any means, it also wasn't distractingly bad, which is a bar that many mods fail to clear for me. I appreciated that it was there rather than a generic IWD soundset, or silence, or whatever else. I also liked her portrait, which seems like a small thing, but you do see it on the screen for basically the entire game.

The Bad:

  • My biggest issue with the mod is this: as much as I enjoyed the dialogue and Evandra's story, ultimately, I felt like it amounted to nothing and had no impact on anything. You never meet anyone from her backstory, and she doesn't seem to significantly change from the beginning of the game to the end, nor does she run into any serious moral dilemmas. Of course, it might feel contrived if Dragonlance characters started showing up everywhere, and it makes sense that elves would take a long time for their personalities to change, but I just feel like her story needed to have *some* impact, somewhere. Maybe it would have been different if I'd romanced her?
  • This is almost more like a backhanded compliment, but: I wanted more! Despite my previous complaint, I still really enjoyed her story and I felt like there was a lot more to her background that I never learned. I was honestly disappointed when her friendship track ended, like "oh, that's it?" Maybe it's a jerk move to look at free entertainment that someone made and complain that there wasn't enough of it, but that is how I felt.
  • One specific part where I felt like something was missing was the playhouse / planar prison quest. Given that the quest deals with a means of planar travel, I was really expecting her to have more than a single line of dialogue that basically amounts to "oh, interesting". At the time, it basically made me feel like, "why doesn't she have anything to say? Doesn't she care about going back?" Of course, later, you learn that she's very conflicted about going back, but it felt wrong to me in the moment. If the intention was to hint towards her attitude, then I feel like the player character should have had a chance to ask that question to her, because both in and out of character, that's what I was wanting to do.
  • This is super minor, but: I really felt like she should have had an interjection for the spelljamming Drow in Ust Natha who mentions "Krynnspace" ­čśŤ

I was about to complain that she had nothing mechanically unique about her, but then I double checked and realized that normally elves can't be illusionists, so... scratch that one!

Anyhow, like I said, despite my complaints, I did still really enjoy the mod. It's just always easier for me to give detailed complaints than compliments. I'll definitely use her again in the future, and maybe try out the romance at some point as well.

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Thank you for your comments! You're right that the Planar Sphere is a perfect place for some sort of scenery dialogue--I'll need to add that in for the next version.

Your first point is a bit trickier. Though you know, what with that throwaway line about Krynnspace, I was originally planning on an actual quest revolving around the spelljamming drow and an escaped Silvanesti wizard so that Evandra could get access to that planar shift spell. I dropped it because, like you said, it did feel contrived for Dragonlance characters to start showing up everywhere, but that is definitely something I could add back in easily enough. (Of course, a less contrived alternative would just be to utilize the Solamnic Knights more, which is something I've been considering as well.)

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You're right that the Planar Sphere is a perfect place for some sort of scenery dialogue

Not sure if you misread my post or just mistyped your response, but I was talking about the planar *prison*, not the planar sphere. The planar sphere already has plenty of dialogue!

Regarding my first point - meeting someone from her background was just one example, it could also be something simpler, like her experiences on Faerun cause her to have some sort of personal revelation or something. As it is, I feel like she spends a lot of time going "oh, that's interesting" and "oh, I'll consider that", but rarely comes to any solid conclusions or experiences personal growth. Even her epilogue is kind of like that, a sort of vague "she hung around for a while, then went back for a while, then left again". That's what makes me feel her story has little impact on anything.

And of course, don't run out and change stuff based on one person's feedback! Maybe everyone else who plays this will tell you I'm being crazy ­čśŤ

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8 hours ago, jemapa said:

That's what makes me feel her story has little impact on anything.

Just a thought...many times NPC modders have to walk a fine and sometimes blurry line between "The NPC takes over the game! This is about MY CHARACTER NOT YOURS!!" and "The NPC didn't make enough impact on the game!".

It's a bit of a thankless hobby sometimes if you're putting the character out there for other people. I personally get annoyed when mod characters spout sanctimonious lines at my PC, "win" every banter, and interject after literally every line in the game. 

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Sure, and that line is different for everyone, I get that. I'm just sharing my own opinion that, personally, I thought this character needed a little more, and trying to explain why I felt that way. It's Rhaella's mod; she can use or discard my feedback as she sees fit.

You're right on the "thankless hobby" part though, so let me explicitly say: thank you, Rhaella, for making this mod. Despite my criticisms, I did legitimately enjoy it.

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11 hours ago, jemapa said:

Not sure if you misread my post or just mistyped your response, but I was talking about the planar *prison*, not the planar sphere. The planar sphere already has plenty of dialogue!

No, that was a typo on my part!

 

11 hours ago, jemapa said:

Regarding my first point - meeting someone from her background was just one example, it could also be something simpler, like her experiences on Faerun cause her to have some sort of personal revelation or something. As it is, I feel like she spends a lot of time going "oh, that's interesting" and "oh, I'll consider that", but rarely comes to any solid conclusions or experiences personal growth. Even her epilogue is kind of like that, a sort of vague "she hung around for a while, then went back for a while, then left again". That's what makes me feel her story has little impact on anything.

Well, to a certain extent that was actually intentional. I was really playing with the otherworldliness that you can get from both elves and illusionists, so part of this is that I was trying to write a character who is, in her own way, every bit as alien and detached from reality as someone like Haer'dalis. I may need to make that more explicit in the non-romanced path, but it's not something that's likely to change.

 

11 hours ago, jemapa said:

And of course, don't run out and change stuff based on one person's feedback! Maybe everyone else who plays this will tell you I'm being crazy ­čśŤ

Oh, it's not just because of you. I do have a quest in the Underdark written out and have been trying to decide whether to implement it or not for a while. I erred on the side of caution, but an encounter with another Dragonlance elf would make some of what's going on here much more concrete.

 

1 hour ago, jemapa said:

Sure, and that line is different for everyone, I get that. I'm just sharing my own opinion that, personally, I thought this character needed a little more, and trying to explain why I felt that way. It's Rhaella's mod; she can use or discard my feedback as she sees fit.

You're right on the "thankless hobby" part though, so let me explicitly say: thank you, Rhaella, for making this mod. Despite my criticisms, I did legitimately enjoy it.

No worries. I appreciate the criticism. I'm definitely open to suggestions right now, but I've learned that my mods tend to die stillborn if I don't go public with them as soon as they're in finished form. (That would have happened to Isra if not for K'aeloree, and did happen to a mod I wrote afterwards.)

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Please tell me more about this vanished mod... PM is fine... you do great stuff. No pressure. 

 

(pressure pressure pressure pressure ­čśÄ)

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35 minutes ago, cmorgan said:

Please tell me more about this vanished mod... PM is fine... you do great stuff. No pressure. 

 

(pressure pressure pressure pressure ­čśÄ)

Heh, it started back when I was researching the more unusual paladin orders and found a throwaway line about paladins of the Harmonious Order (Milil) traveling around with bards despite their alignment differences. I was infinitely amused by this, and I think was talking about it with Berelinde at one point, ended up tossing in the Khalid/Jaheira married couple dynamic from BG1, and decided to run with it.

It mostly worked out, except that one character was much easier to write and ended up overshadowing the other one a fair amount. I got it into beta, but was told that the second character would need a couple more dialogs. Which I was going to do, but then started scripting for Beamdog, so anything related to the Infinity Engine turned into a chore instead of a hobby. I tried to finish it up twice after that, but my first return to modding was short lived, and the second time around was more interested in this project instead, so the old one ended up perpetually on the back burner. I was considering releasing it anyway for a while, but kind of ended up repurposing bits and pieces of it for other projects instead. Those are still in early stages, though.

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That sounds really interesting! Although it is hard enough to make room for one new NPC in the SoA party, two of them should be a whole different challenge. I never tried Kivan and Deheriana for just that reason. I take it you have a special interest in unusual paladins, then? :)

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15 hours ago, Isewein said:

That sounds really interesting! Although it is hard enough to make room for one new NPC in the SoA party, two of them should be a whole different challenge. I never tried Kivan and Deheriana for just that reason. I take it you have a special interest in unusual paladins, then? :)

Haha, yes. I really like paladins in general... paladins and mages, apparently. (I've decided to recycle the portrait I'd had made for the paladin, actually, which means that the next project I'm toying with also fits into the "unusual paladin" category. I enjoy the crazy things that BG2 lets me attempt, haha.)

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