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Andyr

NWN 2 has arrived...

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The eVGA card ran the game just fine for the 20-30 minutes prior to the crash.

 

Once I fired the game back up after the first crash, there were graphical defects all over the intro screens and in the game itself. So, I dropped back out of the game and installed the latest drivers from Nvidia.

 

Updating the drivers didn't make the graphical defects go away. My brother played for a few minutes and then the game crashed to a black screen again, forcing a restart.

 

I should have learned my lesson after that, but I went back in an created a new character, which is when the card 'died'. After re-starting again, the graphical defects were evident in the Windows loading screens. I never got to the desktop as the signal to the monitor from the videocard would drop, pick back-up, and drop again.

 

I pulled the case cover and the card was smoking hot. I let the computer cool for an hour or two and then hosed it down with some compressed air to get the dust out (note to self, I should probably do this more often). No joy after firing it back up.

 

Now I'm leary of even trying the game with the new card installed. Performance spec-wise it is substantially superior to the old card, but I'd hate to fry it as well.

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Now I'm leary of even trying the game with the new card installed. Performance spec-wise it is substantially superior to the old card, but I'd hate to fry it as well.
Is it new (under warranty)?

 

I doubt the game will fry anything (as much as I'd love reading the reports that it did). You're old card was probably already broken. NWN2 just pointed it out to you. :)

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I pulled the case cover and the card was smoking hot. I let the computer cool for an hour or two and then hosed it down with some compressed air to get the dust out (note to self, I should probably do this more often). No joy after firing it back up.

 

Oh, my, that's bad. :)

 

The screenshot does look nice though, much more like KOTOR than NWN1.

Edited by Domi

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note to self... must.. move.. up.. to.. SLI..

 

sounds like a dual card is the actual minimum requirement here?

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Yeah, I just see myself making a post two years down the road: "Back when NWN2 came out, I've read that the actual system requirements were different from the ones they said you needed. Please, let me know under what SR NWN2 actually runs?"

Edited by Domi

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Now I'm leary of even trying the game with the new card installed. Performance spec-wise it is substantially superior to the old card, but I'd hate to fry it as well.
Is it new (under warranty)?

 

I doubt the game will fry anything (as much as I'd love reading the reports that it did). You're old card was probably already broken. NWN2 just pointed it out to you. :)

 

Agreed, which is why I went ahead and fired it up and played a short round late last night. Everything worked well with the new card installed.

 

I think the most disturbing thing to me was how quickly it showed me my old card had problems. My experience with videcards has mostly been of the 'gradual death variety' as opposed to the 'install new game, videocard dies variety'.

 

Domi,

 

Defintiely disconcerting, but it made for a great excuse to upgrade!

 

And I loved the instructions in the book

 

Step 1

 

Remove any old videocard drivers and related software

 

--kind of tricky when your old videocard is dead

 

Oh and power requirements on the newer videcards are huge. The ATI X1950 Pro that I picked up wanted a minimum of a 450W power supply and needed its own connection to the power supply. Fortunately, I had enough foreshight to install a 480W power supply (Antec Neopower). Don't scrimp on a power supply. I did that once with dire consequences for the computer it was installed in.

Edited by cirerrek

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Power is why I'm sticking with NVidia, even though ATI's offerings have an edge. My motherboard is an Nforce, the processor is AMD, the video card is NVidia, and the power supply is 500 watts. My cpu runs at 36C with a standard fan. If I was running Intel + ATI I'd likely have to buy special hardware to keep the system cool and stable. Yuck.

 

Your card may have failed due to a failing cooling fan, or something. That's usually the culprit. Mechanical devices tend to cause failure long before software will.

 

If you are curious to know how NWN2 is performing, press the ~ key in a game to bring up the console, then type "ShowFPS" or "showFPS", I can't remember which. Commands are case-sensitive so if one doesn't work try the other. No parameters are required, and it's an on/off toggle. You may need to hide the GUI to read some of the values.

 

On my system the FPS varies from 10 to 20 depending on how much is currently on-screen, but that's partly because I won't play it at a lower resolution than 1280x1024 with high quality textures, because it looks significantly uglier at lower settings.

 

I did play it last night for awhile. Because I'm running at the edge of playability, combat was sluggish, and targeting can be slippery; it's real easy to mis-click and target someone else in the heat of battle. Thus I'm learning to use the pause key even more than I did in BG2. At least I got through the tutorial and am now on a real quest. Weee.

 

I hope some decent joinable NPCs show up soon. I won't detail what happened, but now it's just my character (a fighter) and another NPC (also a fighter), so we have no thieving, divine, or magic skills among us. Way to go Obsidian. Still, we're only facing lizard men so hopefully it won't be much of an issue. If I have to I'll drop a level into Thief so I can disarm traps.

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Can you form a BG2-style party in NWN2?

 

I hated NWN because you couldn't form a party in that game. One PC and a henchman (that doesn't do what you tell him) just doesn't cut it.

 

Morrowind and Oblivion (Elder Scrolls series) work with one PC because of the flexible character development system. D&D, however, is meant for parties (imo).

 

Also: The graphics requirements of modern games are ridiculous. Definitely a software-vendor/hardware-vendor conspiracy. :)

 

- D

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NWN2 allows you to have an actual party (not just henchmen) of up to four characters, the classic D&D party. You can equip them, manage their spells, and do everything else you could in BG2.

 

So far I have only acheived a full party during the tutorial (Myself a fighter, another fighter, a mage, and a thief.) Currently I'm with that other fighter, and the mage and thief stayed behind. Hopefully the game won't continue making party formation decisions for me, though to be fair I only just finished the tutorial and have finally entered the official campaign, Act I.

 

One nice feature is that NPCs will always automatically level up to match your level when you have them join, even if you dropped them awhile back and gained a few levels since then. That way there're no issues of NPCs falling behind the rest of the party.

 

I don't think there's a developer/vendor conspiracy. Mostly it's due to the modern, somewhat narrow and inaccurate mindset that a high level language is the end-all and be-all of programming, and that you can rely on the compiler to adequately optimize your code. That said, it's interesting that there are two different EXEs for the game, with one having AMDXP in the name, so at least Obsidian went to the trouble of supporting different processor strengths.

 

I'm not going to complain too much though because it's been a year since my last upgrade and future games aren't going to be any faster on current hardware. I can more than double, and even triple on some games, my average framerate with a two 'cheap' upgrades (cpu and gpu) to my current system, so it's not like I have to buy a whole new computer.

 

Also, you can enter an option into the console to cause NWN2 to take advantage of dualcore processors. It's posted on Obsidian's forums and I don't have it memorized because I can't use it right now.

Edited by Smoketest

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Wow, that's ironic. I bought a decent system, and only last year, but I couldn't run NWN2.

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Mine copy is supposed to be arriving tommorow, but my computer's out of action and my laptop's graphics card is too obsolete to even run it. NWN2, Dark Messiah of Might of Magic, F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point, and Dawn of War: Dark Crusade are all just paperweights for the time being.

 

Expensive paperweights at that! :)

 

[Edit:] Looks like I won't be playing it; no Mac OS X version. :)

Edited by EiriktheScald

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NWN2 allows you to have an actual party (not just henchmen) of up to four characters, the classic D&D party. You can equip them, manage their spells, and do everything else you could in BG2.

 

:)

 

YES! That might be the first good thing to happen to D&D CRPGs since the demise of Black Isle.

 

- D

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Hopefully the game won't continue making party formation decisions for me, though to be fair I only just finished the tutorial and have finally entered the official campaign, Act I.

 

Obsidian is big on the 'you have to have this and that NPC in the party to do this or that/get this or that story'. I'm always on the fence about this: on one hand if you like the NPC, it's fine, but if you don't, tough luck. ANd with only 3 slots to fill, it is cutting.

 

One nice feature is that NPCs will always automatically level up to match your level when you have them join, even if you dropped them awhile back and gained a few levels since then. That way there're no issues of NPCs falling behind the rest of the party.

 

They had it in KOTOR, and it was a great thing. :)

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Alright, took a break from Dreamfall to give NWN2 another try, and came away with both good and bad feelings. Mostly good though.

 

The different EXE I mentioned earlier, NWNMAIN_AMDXP.EXE actually runs faster than the default EXE on my computer, which has an AMD processor running Windows XP Pro. Heh. I backed up the files and renamed NWNMAIN_AMDXP.EXE to NWNMAIN.EXE and now the game uses the file compiled for my computer. Yay. This netted me an average of about 7.5 extra FPS, which is a good thing. I also tweaked some settings and took the resolution back down to 1024x768. The game still looks presentable but now I can get up to 30 FPS which makes a great difference during combat.

 

First the bad news...

 

Sadly, AI is not improved much over NWN. NPCs still tend to waste their spells even when using Scaled Casting which is apparently the most reserved. NPCs also have an annoying tendency to get stuck attacking dead bodies (usually the final enemy to fall; they never get stuck during actual combat). So much so that when I get to the other side of the map, I have to tell them to Follow Me so they'll stop what they're doing and catch up. All in all, I'm sad to say that Tony's AI mod for NWN is more powerful than NWN2's AI.

 

As well, inventory management is a pain in the neck. The number of different items you can find has almost doubled, but your inventory space hasn't. Bags can hold up to 24 items/stacks and that's it. Items don't auto-stack in bags; you have to take the stack out of the bag, combine it with the stack you picked up, then put the new stack back in the bag. You also can't drop items onto a bag, you have to manually open the bag then drop the item into it. There's also a Loot All button which is great for looting containers, but it's also been the reason for my emptying the bag back into my backpack unintentionally. Argh! The Inventory Management Mini-Game drove me nuts last night. Ultimately, NWN2's inventory management isn't improved much over NWN. About the only good thing is that all items only take one square now so it's easier to arrange them and there are no worries about that big sword preventing that small club from fitting on the inventory page.

 

There aren't many party NPCs to choose from, and sadly you can't get a mage NPC until several hours into the game. You also must do the first few real quests without a thief unless your character happens to have that class, because the game sticks you with a single-class fighter for a helper. I won't say why. :)

 

On to the good/better news...

 

The maps are smaller so there isn't as much wandering going on. This is actually refreshing to me because both NWN and BG tended to feature lots of running around. That's great on a road trip, but not when I'm wearing heavy armor and lugging weapons around.

 

The NPCs that can join you tend to be entertaining, though their personalities will probably create strong emotions in you, for good or for bad. I won't disclose more about them so as not to spoil anything, but I will say I'm having BG2 flashbacks now that my male fighter has two female NPCs in the party not-so-quietly competing over him. :) I'm still goofing around in Act I so I'm anxious to see how this works out. As with NWN, you can chat with your party members to learn more about them and to share with them things from your character's recent past. They do come with quests, but these aren't, so far, item-fetch quests. Instead they are tied to the plot in some way, sort of like in BG, or they will affect the character's future development somehow.

 

The enemies so far have been enjoyable. They fit their environment and behave as you might expect them to. A few indoor areas will cause NWN flashbacks due to their similarity and the similarity of the combat there; the changes are primarily cosmetic in these places. Most areas are entirely new, however, and that Lego construction set look is gone.

 

As mentioned before, there are a ton of items to be purchased and found. I'd guess the number of crafting items has doubled, if not tripled. For now I'm ignoring that part of the game, but I'll try it later perhaps with another character. Supposedly crafting is actually useful in NWN2. Some items come out of NWN and mention in their descriptions that they were originally made for the party that saved Neverwinter from the Wailing Death. Bags can be purchased to increase your inventory storage capacity; you will need them.

 

(As an aside, it is very easy to edit certain game rules because it uses 2DA files which are by default stored in ZIP files in the data folder. You can edit the 2DA files and save them in the override folder, and the game will use them. I've edited BASEITEMS.2DA to modify item stacking so that inventory management is less annoying.)

 

There are three kinds of dialogs: cinematic, standard, and one-shot. Cinematic dialogs by their nature require recorded speech, otherwise it looks like a movie featuring mimes. Cinematic dialog takes control of the GUI and zooms the camera in to focus on the speaking characters, and thus is the most dramatic dialog type. Standard dialog opens an unobtrusive window in which you can carry on a conversation with someone. Minor NPCs and merchants typically use this dialog type. The one-shot type of dialog isn't really a dialog; you click on the NPC and they display a line of text over their heads and then go about their business. Scenery NPCs use the one-shot dialog type.

 

Stores no longer lock the GUI. You can be viewing someone's goods for sale and at the same time be reading your journal, managing your inventory, viewing your character stats, and so on. For the most part, stores operate the same as they did in NWN.

 

The little automap sphere in the upper left corner of the screen isn't all that useful as far as telling you where you are. I tend to use it as a compass to show me which way I'm facing, with the top of the screen being North. To find out where I am, I press the 'M' key to bring up the area map. There are map notes on most maps that identify buildings or locations that are key to the plot. To see what the map note says, you simply hover the mouse over it.

 

The world map is easy to work with. You can select your destination by clicking an icon or by selecting it from the list on the right side of the screen. After you've selected your location, you click the Travel button, or you can cancel if you'd rather stay where you are.

 

Travel triggers are by default only visible when you are near an area entrance, and they appear as rotating circular compass runes hovering just over the ground; you can't miss them. Travel triggers are displayed in the area map as red map notes.

 

That's all I can think of for now. I'm hoping to get into Act II tomorrow so I should have more information after that. I tried to keep spoilers out of these notes.

 

(By the way, I never played the KotoR series, though I've read on Obsidian's boards that several features of NWN2 come from KotoR and KotoR2. The dialogs are specifically mentioned, and I do enjoy them a lot. I'm looking forward to creating my own module after I finish this campaign.)

 

Update: oops I almost forgot. You can influence your party members, and be influenced by them, depending on your responses during conversations. This is apparently a feature brought over from KotoR. Additionally, your responses and actions have a direct impact on your alignment. Something that was done in NWN:HotU and carried into NWN2.

Edited by Smoketest

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I finally made it to Chapter 2. I believe Chapter 1 in NWN2 is bigger than Chapter 1 in NWN, but with lots more variety.

 

Those of you who enjoy the freedom of choosing your own party may strongly dislike the current campaign of NWN2. I have had nearly every NPC I've met force their way into my party. Perhaps it takes rudeness to prevent this, but in a game with such realistic responses to your words and actions, I'm not going to do this and blow my reputation as an upstanding citizen and trusted member of the Neverwinter Militia. If you thought BG1 was a pain in this regard, NWN2 will have you pulling your hair out. Keep in mind that this means the game will happily team a CE character (one of the reasons for the Teen rating) with your LG Charname, like it or not. Same goes for evil Charnames who may find themselves adventuring with a LG paladin at some point. WTG Obsidian. :)

 

Further into the game, there is a place where all non-tutorial joinable NPCs will end up, and you will be allowed to rearrange your party every time you leave this place, with the exception of NPCs the game considers important for your current quest, and there's always someone. Thankfully the NPCs don't lay a guilt trip on you when you reform your party, although they unrealistically make comments as if they've been adventuring with you, even if they've never been in the party. That's a campaign issue though, not an engine limitation.

 

From what I've read and experienced thus far, there seem to be at least two romanceable NPCs for each gender of player character. This may increase if expansion campaigns are released in the future. And, of course, you can always use the new, improved toolset to write your own adventures, or get a friend with skills to do it.

 

You can no longer sell everything you find to the same merchant. They now have a fixed pool of gold from which they can pay you for your goods. Ultimately they will run out of gold and be unable to buy from you if you never purchase from them.

 

As a clarification on the carry-over of skill points on level up, you are limited to saving just five skill points per level-up toward future use. This is a compromise to the D&D rules which state no points can be saved; they must be spent or lost.

 

I'm thinking of making a warlock character next time I play. They are sort of a fighter/mage combo with unlimited casting ability, although a smaller pool of spells. In fact, I'll type up the manual's description for those of you who don't have the game but are curious.

Warlock

 

Born of a supernatural bloodline, a warlock seeks to master the perilous magic that suffuses his soul. Unlike sorcerers or wizards, who approach arcane magic through the medium of spells, a warlock invokes powerful magic through nothing more than an effort of will. By harnessing his innate magical gift through fearsome determination, a warlock can perform feats of supernatural stealth, beguile the weak-minded, or scour his foes with blasts of eldritch power.

 

Warlocks harbor great reserves of mystical energy. The font of dark magic burning in their souls makes them resistant to many forms of attack and arms them with dangerous power. Warlocks learn to harness their power to perform a small number of specific attacks and tricks called invocations. Warlocks make up for their lack of versatility by being tougher and more resilient than sorcerers or wizards.

 

- Alignment: Any chaotic or any evil

- Key Abilities: Charisma, Dexterity

- Hit Points per Level: 6

- Base Attack Bonus: Medium

- High Saves: Will

- Weapons: All simple weapons

- Armor: Light

- Base Skill Points: 2

- Spellcasting: Invocations (Charisma-based, no preparation, no casting limit; wearing medium or heavy armor, or using a shield, can cause spells to fail)

 

Warlock Special Abilities

 

- Eldritch Blast (improves with level): You can invoke an eldritch blast each round, sending a bolt of magical energy at an enemy. You must hit the target, but their armor does not protect them from this type of attack. They do not receive a saving throw against this damage, but spell resistance can protect them.

- Invocations (improve with level): Unlike other spellcasters, you can cast your spells, called invocations, an unlimited number of times per day.

- Eldritch Essences: Some invocations modify the damage of an eldritch blast or add secondary harmful effects to the attack. Only one eldritch essence can be added at one time.

- Blast Shapes: Some invocations modify the range, target(s), or area of effect of an eldritch blast. Only one blast shape can modify an eldritch blast at a time.

- Eldritch Lore (always active): You gain a +2 competance bonus to your Spellcraft and Lore skills.

- Deceive Item (always active): You gain a +4 bonus to your Use Magic Device skill.

- Damage Reduction (3rd level; improves with level, always active): You become resistant to physical attacks except those inflicted by cold iron weapons (1/cold iron).

- Fiendish Resilience (8th level; improves with level): You can draw on infernal power to regenerate wounds over time (1/day).

- Energy Resistance (10th level; improves with level): You gain a resistance to two (selected at level-up) forms of energy (acid, cold, electricity, fire and sonic).

 

Multiclass and Prestige Class Tips

 

Warlock abilities do not combine well with other classes, so it is rare for warlocks to learn a prestige class (or multiclass). A warlock's eldritch abilities don't qualify them for prestige classes that require spellcasting abilities (such as the arcane trickster).

Additionally, the Warlock gets the following class skills: Bluff, Concentration, Craft Alchemy, Craft Armor, Craft Trap, Craft Weapon, Heal, Intimidate, Lore, Spellcraft, Survival, Use Magic Device. (The only skill he can never learn is Perform, a bard-only skill.) Since dialog skills are cross-class, he may have a hard time in conversations. You can either spend two skill points to learn those cross-class skills, or you can take the Able Learner feat which allows you to spend only one point to gain a level in your cross-class skills. (The Able Learner feat is available to all classes.)

 

The Warlock's invocations fit into four categories: Least, Lesser, Greater, and Dark. He can learn a maximum of three invocations per category. He will know three (of 11) Least invocations by level 4, three (of 10) Lesser invocations by level 10, three (of 8) Greater invocations by level 15, and three (of 4) Dark invocations by level 20. By the way, level 20 is the highest character level allowed in the current campaign. Some of the invocations are essenses or shapes that modify the Eldritch Blast ability somehow. Note that Eldritch Blast is a special ability that you always have starting at character level 1; it is not a learnable invocation.

 

My fighter is fairly standard and isn't going to take a prestige class. His primary mode of attack is Great Cleave, though I have other attacks for single targets. I thought about making a Weapon Master but I wanted to see what the balance of weapons was first. For example, it doesn't make sense to master Bastard Swords if there aren't any good ones to be found. That said, apparently you can craft better stuff than you can buy from merchants. You can also craft alchemical components to be used later in other forms of crafting. It's a very deep, improved system, and one that I'm ignoring (for now). There are various recipe books to be found throughout the game, which is good because the printed manual contains no recipes. I'm going to copy the info out of the books to save time next time I play; the recipes aren't random.

 

Merchants seem to be spaced just right so that you never find yourself stuck with a full inventory and nobody to sell to. So far I've only managed to find two magic bags, both for sale from different merchants. (Update: I found a new merchant last night who had two more magic bags for sale, so now I have four of them.)

 

There are side quests for every NPC and some are rather extensive. You may not be able to reason with NPCs until you build up your influence with them. For example, being friendly, caring, and sharing your history with one NPC greatly influences how she feels about your character; while being honorable, considerate of nature, and helpful to others is what influences another party member. It can be a challenge trying to please everyone in the group, and you'll find that some NPCs just won't be satisfied this way. Thus I try, as much as the game will allow, to bring along NPCs that are in agreement with the role I'm having my character play.

 

A note regarding the romances, at least from the perspective of a male character. The NPCs have totally different personalities and it isn't always obvious, to me anyway, what an NPC may be 'thinking' about me. Thus some of my responses have overstepped the bounds of a previous relationship and taken me headlong into a new one. Oops. Ah well, I've made note of it so I won't blow it next time. This is one of the many reasons why the game suggests that you 'save early, save often' and use different slots. (On that note, the quicksave feature is tied to the F12 key. The Q key is by default a character movement key.)

 

Party management aside, the game is a lot of fun. Scripting is well-done and people and places react to the changing storyline. You can even see this while the game is loading, in the form of messages like "Applying area update (phase 1)".

 

Well, back to the game.

 

Edit: cleared up some points, added an update on finding more bags (total of four now), added additional thoughts.

Edited by Smoketest

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