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Alangara - Where Gods Are Born

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ALANGARA -Where Gods Are Born.

Written By QSW - February 7th 2006

Click for larger imageThis is if you like, a PW spotlight as well as an interview with the main builder/DM Tarashon, and Seeker the main scripter of ALANGARA online persistent world. It all started from reading a post and misunderstanding the content therein. Tarashon, lead builder & DM for the PW ALANGARA gave life to an idea by building a theater where plays can be performed and placing it in the PW. Now this is not any normal theater, oh no, this is an amazing theater that goes by the name of 'The Masquerade Theater'. Excited at the prospect that players could actually host plays, and also have control over the stage, change costumes (appearance by way of some magical scripting) I arranged to jump in game and take a look at what he had created.

Now it is worth noting here that ALANGARA uses only the CEP Hak. Walking into the theatre I was struck by the design of the foyer. Wall hangings painstakingly placed covered the walls, rich carpets upon the floor, and 'living' statues. I particularly liked that the statues where not the type that are covered in stone, but rather living ones, representing the spirit of the theatre itself. There are several areas leading off the main foyer corridor, some areas have but one stage, while others have 3 stages. Each stage has seating, and it is so realistic that you will see the more expensive seats (High back chairs) and the cheaper kind (Stone seats) The design of these areas is spectacular, be it a forest, crypt, or wooden setting, it is beautifully designed with placeables, and the lighting for each individual stage is amazing. The area where viewers may sit and watch the plays is stunning, as well as the fact that should you turn to where you entered the area, you will see what appears to be a high brick wall, so that you always feel as if you are still within the main theatre building.

Click for larger imageNow many PW's have a small area where plays can be performed. However most are simply dull, a few placeables here and there and let's face it, dusty from lack of use. ALANGARA's Masquerade Theatre is a work of art, where artists can perform with the aid of scripts, and even alter the stage lighting. What an achievement already, what magnificence if a PW could actually draw in players who after seeing this wonderful piece of building, wanted to create characters who would entertain the community in this PW. Not only would this be a huge leap in advancement for this game, but a ground breaking one.

I took the time to look around the world while I was there; Tarashon kindly showed me many areas in his world. He explained that the world had been designed with 1st person perspective, so to enjoy this world fully one must have the camera angle flat, driving forward. One area Nightfall Canyon, an epic area where dragons reside stunned me in its design. Standing upon a hill I looked out and saw to my horror and delight, the most enormous dragon shape standing guard in the distance. I could not figure out how something so far away could still appear so huge.

"3D, i.e. height of areas combined with a few huge trees, and you feel small." Tarashon explained to me.

To give a feeling of space and yet not have that space empty, how do you do this? I asked

"Give the illusion by making an area a bit more narrow then long, the player is able to look far ahead. Make it a little like a natural maze, you force the player to move along and thus the travel time expands and so does the feeling of size." He replied.

Click for larger imageALANGARA is set in the Inner Realms; it has a FR Pantheon as well as the odd custom God, such as Zertihn, the God of culture. After you reach level 10 you can buy a farm. Among other things to farm you can farm a magical fungus, this fungus can be turned in for XP. As Tarashon said "You can literally 'farm XP' "

While there are DM's present, this world has been built so that DM's are not a necessity. There are over 35 scripted quests, covering all levels 1-40, and some of these quests can be done up to 5 times. At last count there were 150 areas. This server also has it's own custom XP scripts, set encounters, and scripted events. Another feature of this world is its approach towards epics. While many of us will think that once our character reaches an epic state, we should be able to solo anywhere we like and still hopefully survive. ALANGARA takes you one step further, and in a totally different direction. Epic quests/areas require groups of epic players in order to explore. This encourages the epic character to (A) Still interact with members of the PW community & (B) still have the opportunity to role-play your character with others while on an adventure. Once you reach level 40 you can become a 'Reborn'

1. Tarashon, please explain a little about the Reborn on your server?

Click for larger image"Well the entire Reborn philosophy comes from the PnP campaign where I played the Inner Realms specific God Zertihn-(oistapolis hin Highdraco). He was an adult silver dragon but the overall idea of playing a “mere mortal” and over time turn into a demipower was fantastic. What made it fantastic was to have to try to think like a God, according to the descriptions in AD&D, and try ones best to influence the surroundings accordingly.

Now in PnP the adventure you can go on forever whereas the more “flat” NWN risk hitting a “Brick wall” at level 40. Reborns provide role-players a chance to embark onto a journey beyond mortality, by starting over as level 1 again and with 50% XP penalties but in a much more powerful body harnessing for instance the special ability to call upon ones party to be summoned to one self. It should be noted in all fairness that at this time we are actually “fighting” to find the best balance for Reborns to fit into the world both in means of their power and RP status, but I am confident that even though we find ourselves on new territory we will come up with a compromise that will serve us all well :)"

2. The lighting in your PW is amazing and plays a great part in setting up a wonderful atmosphere; please tell us a little about how you manage to create such spectacular views?

Click for larger image"Hmm…. First of all one should appreciate how much lighting actually matters to ones mood. Secondly one should think about the different “light setting” in reality. A jungle is not just a jungle because you have all the plants there but also because of the dim lighting, the light mist and the overall “filter” of green emanating an incredible sense of fertility. It's the same when you create a forest setting in NWN really. Use the standard outside day and the forest looks like…trees on the ground. “taint it” with a bit of green and “tada” – there comes fertility…

Click for larger imageAnother thing is an overall “lack of respect” for tilesets. By using colours that would be considered emotionally diametrical of the given tileset you can create some really interesting effects also. Well other than that really just play around with the tool. I’m sure it was created for that very purpose ;). Finally be consequent. ALANGARA is a place where lighting often underlines the magical properties of the Overall setting. Some PW’s perhaps goes for a more natural look and then you would naturally use another strategy…"

3. I have noticed that although you use no other Hak's other than the CEP, you have used the OC tilesets and somehow mixed in other terrain with them. For instance, grass where stone should be, and inside Castle Balder, a floor of ice. How do you manage this without the use of custom tileset Haks?

Click for larger image"There is a remarkable tool I think is called “Tileset Magic”. This enables you to load the LOOKS of some tile-set floors into another tileset. Somewhere in the vault such a package can be downloaded and used. This enables you to fx cover a minor city area with grass floor and thus seemingly “merge” two tileset with no hackpacks.

I cannot remember the name of the package creator but none the less a great thanks to you for sharing this with all us non-scripters "

4. Please tell us about some of the other unique things your server offers for the player?

Click for larger image"All in all I doubt that ALANGARA is a place that offers alot of special stuff, and in all honesty both Seeker, my co- worldowner and main server scripter, and myself don’t really go for “special” as a main target. What we have is mostly our overall setting.

By allowing for people to become reborns, by allowing and encouraging player built and player owned, house, shops, churches to their respective deities, and even entire land areas to be shaped by the players themselves, we give players a chance to let their chosen character both grow with the world, but also actually leave their permanent marks upon it.

Secondly, we try to listen a lot to the overall mood, and try to spot discontentment in our players when it appears (well, it inevitably does, nobody is perfect ;) ) And then we try to remedy the situation. However we 100% have the final say and in all honesty ALANGARA will never become a democracy. But the thing is that sitting on the builderside of the game I can only imagine that sometimes I likely “go blind” to some problems in regards to balancing and hardiness of the world and then we at least have the common sense to listen to the feedback we get. When I think about how our community feels to me this must be our “unique thing” number 1. An open group of people sharing good times from all parts of the world tied together in a little virtual space inside my home computer :)

Finally I'd like to say that I ran these questions over with Seeker so it's our combined answer, so to speak."

Click for larger imageIndeed, while a PW needs a good builder, it also needs a great scripter. Together both builder & scripter make a whole, the 'heart & brains' if you like. It is very easy to forget that scripts actually play a major role in your enjoyment as a player, simply because we tend to take in only what we visually see. So from me to all you behind the scene scripters, a big thank you for making my time online a blast! ALANGARA offers a library where you will find nothing but custom books, all to aid the adventurer by providing them with information in an entertaining manner. This world is beautifully made, and from experience playing there several months ago, I can tell you that the players are very friendly. While this is a role-playing world, it is not a hard core one.

I would like to thank Tarashon & Seeker for allowing me to write this commentary/interview up, and also showing me the spectacular areas that have taken my breath away, as well as scared the pants off of me! If there any readers out there who are interested in bringing to life the concept of a real live acting troupe performing for a server and being a great part of the life on that server, then please, visit ALANGARA.

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