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Dragon Age Custom Content?

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Olivier Leroux
Dragon Age Custom Content?

I wonder, is there any noteworthy custom content for Dragon Age: Origins, in the sense of total conversion mods / user created campaigns? I remember that many years ago, when I was still active in the NWN community, several module creators were considering to move on to DA:O, so I figured it would be the next NWN type of game, but now I can't seem to find much content for it.

Was it a misconception and you can't really build modules for DA:O like you can for NWN? Was the editor too complicated, or too restrictive? Or did I just look in the wrong places?

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Shadooow
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Proleric

See also Crown of Creation.

DAO was fun for a while, but Bioware lost interest in modding.

Many great features, but area creation and lighting were way too difficult for most amateur authors. With no prospect of new art assets from Bioware, it was a dead duck.

NWN and DAO adventures at http://proleric.com/

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kamal

I think they wound up with less than 10 released modules for it, with those almost all being only a few hours in length at most. As proleric pointed out, the toolset was apparently a real pain.

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Olivier Leroux

Thanks for the replies and links! So apparantly there are a few smaller modules by NWN community members, and they seem to be well made.

I also noticed though that the most important feature for good story-telling modules - the way that text is presented - is severely lacking in DA:O. They focussed so much on the cinematic presentation, that without the voice-overs there's hardly anything left; just big silent faces and very small print text at the edge of the screen that's even less fun to read when the dialogue automatically moves on without waiting for the player's input. I didn't like those cinematic dialogues in NWN2 that much either, but at least there was still the alternative NWN1 way with the dialogue boxes ... Oh well.

 

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thirdmouse

Challseus documented his 5-year development of the DA Rose of Eternity mod, Family and Country (continued from his NWN series), but that time period doesn't seem to be archived on his new site. It was a daily journal, anyway, so would be a lot of browsing. However, he does describe some the process when talking about the whole series (basically what Proleric said at greater length):

Anyway… After much time away from Rose of Etrernity it was time to come back, this time, with the Dragon Age engine. I really, really had high hopes for this toolset. I sort of figured it would pick up where NWN/NWN2 left off. Not as big, but still big enough to make a splash. As time went on, it was pretty clear that things were different. There was much less focus on the toolset, and what was there was difficult to use for most people. It took significantly more time to do damn near everything. Gone were the days of NWN where anyone could just hop in and whip up a level in a few hours. NWN was tiled based, this was terrain based, so you really needed some skill to make good looking areas. You had to worry about lighting. Rendering lights. Baking lights. God, it was just… it was a lot, especially coming from NWN.

*snip*

The biggest gift and curse of this game was, by far, the voice acting. On the one hand, it was nice to be in the 21st century, and have VO. On the other hand, man, it takes a long time to find talent, keep their attention long enough to actually record all the lines, and then hope they’re around if you decided to change some of the dialog in the game. Yep, no more changing dialog willy nilly anymore. All of those decisions now came with the questions of “Well shit, is person X still around?” or “Will I be able to find someone for this role?”. It was just damned hard, overall.

From here.

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kamal

umm.. nwn2 at least lets you do voiceovers and has lip sync (not as good as Dragon Age, but still). I assume that VO could be done in nwn1 as well.

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Proleric

I have to agree with Olivier Leroux - without VO, DAO conversations look lame, and are hard to follow.

Yes, VO is feasible (even in NWN1). We had started to record VO for "Crown of Creation" before Bioware's behaviour persuaded me to cut my losses and release the silent version. However, VO takes you into a new realm of organisational complexity - voice actor recruitment and management, post-production.

Many other aspects of DAO also required vast amounts of effort. Bioware originally hoped that modders would overcome this by forming teams. There were success stories, such as Beerfish's stunning cutscene work for "Crown of Creation", but, unlike a commerical project where you might experience a 10% attrition rate, something like 90% of volunteers never actually deliver anything (understandably, since modding is not easy, and time is limited).

I doubt whether any new game will allow modders to develop campaigns on the scale of NWN until some fundamental productivity issues have been addressed - for example, mechanised terrain moulding / texturing / lighting and computer-generated VO that doesn't suck.

Having said all that, there were positives with DAO. Scripting was much more robust - everything tended to work first time, which saved enormous effort. Returning to NWN, I now find it bizarre when conversation portraits don't look like their characters (something I addressed in "Dark Energy" by making portraits from screenshots). 

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