CEP 2 Builders - what do you need?

The new CEP 2 team is developing a work plan. We’d like your input.

In the short term, we’re looking more at quality improvement than new content.

Here are our first thoughts - please feel free to suggest more headings.

Clearly, we don’t have the resources to do everything here, so, when we have your input, we’ll conduct a poll to gauge your priorities.

New Content ++NEW++
Include popular content that adds distinctive value

HD Art Pack
Are there compatibility issues with CEP? Can we fix them?

Public information
Information available from websites and documents is confusing, sparse and out-of-date.

Placeable Positioning and Proportion
There are multiple issues with usabilty, walkmeshes etc

Outfit sets Completion
Misalignment issues. Missing races and genders.

2DA Naming Convention (Taxonomy)
The naming hierarchy for creatures and placeables is somewhat inconsistent and hard to follow.

Sanity check of recent releases
Releases after 2.65 have not been out there long, and might benefit from proactive quality control.

Server haks not updated since CEP 2.4
Is this still an issue for anyone?

Tileset clean up
There are minor issues, especially since EE.

Document scripts
There are lots of useful (and not so useful) scripts, but who knows what they all do?

Cosmetic Appearances
Replace or otherwise manage low-quality models

What do you think?

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To add context, here are our (slightly revised) objectives:

Objectives

  • To ensure backward compatibility by never changing anything that existing modules depend on
  • To maintain compatibility with new EE releases and NWN 1.69
  • To handle queries, fix bugs and tidy up
  • To be inclusive, soliciting consensus on what CEP 2 users need
  • To have fun!
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Scope

This is a discussion for builders who are actively developing in CEP 2.

I respectfully ask contributors to stay on topic.

We all know that some people don’t like CEP, favour other projects, or wonder why Beamdog is not developing NWN2 in Klingon, which is all fine, but not here, please!

I am not using CEP2 so you can probably ignore me, but this is a reason why I didn’t ever feel like using Project Q.

I do like old vanilla (or old custom content included in CEP) models. They might not be super pretty and high res, but they very often make a perfect “mundane” npc. Whereas newer high quality models looks way too good and when using “en-mass” it looks odd. They are often cause graphic lags OnSpawn (yes even these days, it is some engine issuse I suppose as newer graphic cards should be able to handle it), especially when spawning more than one npc with such high quality model.

Yes some npc models are really ugly, like Wendigo, but I have seen builders using them and being satisfied with them. Replacing them for completely different model might not be welcomed well by those using it.

Of course if we are talking here about improving the model or replacing it for something that looks 90% same as old one, then there is no problem and I welcome such efforts. A good example is hanging signs in one of the newer CEP2 version. So if you play to follow the “guidelines” set up here, then please go ahead.

EDIT: on the other hand, I suppose that anyone who would dislike the new CEP2 version can always stay with the old one, so you can disregard my complaint…

HD Art Pack
Are there compatibility issues with CEP? Can we fix them?

hands.2da adds 5 new hands models with the HD Pack, so that would conflict 5 hands.
im not aware of other decrepancies currently with the Art pack.

The biggest issue in this department is aesthetics. CEP includes a LOT of clothing that, when mated with the HD assets, looks like crap by comparison. As for fixing, I’d personally not bother. I’d be more inclined to make a notation in the documentation that CEP is visually incompatible and move on…UNLESS, you’re willing to redo all the CEP body parts to the same quality.

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It’s not currently a priority but that possibility is on the table.

See for example

in this thread.

In that particular case, we can’t sensibly regress the change. You can see from the CCC screenshots linked in that thread that the old and new models were somewhat similar in character, so maybe an edge case…

…but it does beg the question of whether models should ever be overwritten when it’s perfectly possible to add optional alternatives.

At this point, however, are you just adding unnecessary bloat to the package? How many waitress variants, for example, does a builder need?

Imo it depends on a lot of factors. When choosing possible models for my community pacth project I was deciding based on these factors:

Is the new model similar to old one or a brand new? For example, I do not consider LOTR goblins included in Project Q and CEP2 to be suitable replacement for vanilla goblins, their colors are different and they are even from completely different mythology. On the other hand the chicken reskin or new badger model were the same model just high res and/or high poly. It had same colors, same size etc., so this is in my opinion suitable for overriding older existing model.

Does the model have same colors? I can imagine that some builder used that particular placeable because of its color and how it fit the colors of an area lightning/other placeables. If you override this with placeable with newer textures with different colors like TNO placeables you might break immersion of areas in existing modules. As I said before, the hanging signs from TAD that were replaced in CEP2 are great - they match in colors, size, position, orientation, but if any of these factors doesn’t match then I don’t think it should get replaced.

And as I mentioned above, orientation, size, shape, that all should get taken into account and match original model, otherwise it might easily happen that you cause bug in existing module where the placeable won’t be reachable.

And as I mentioned in my initial post, in case of creatures, even if the model matches in all of this, its “uniqueness” should be taken into consideration as well. For example, the new Ettin model is super super pretty, high qualite and well done, however I do not want all ettins in my dungeon to look like that. I want there to have some mundane looking ettins as a filler. Models like this ettin are better suitable for a boss or miniboss.

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The pedant in me wants to say I haven’t personally added anything yet, but…

… as a builder, I really don’t get this idea of “bloat”.

Since players only see the content builders select, they never see any “bloat” in game. It just uses a few Gb which these days is fast and cheap as chips.

As a builder, the more content I can choose from, the better, within reason.

We need to keep old stuff to avoid breaking old stuff, but we learn to find our way around, so no big deal IMO.

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I agree, generally speaking, the more content the better. My comment about bloat wasn’t directed at players (they never see it as you pointed out). I was thinking bloat more in terms of the variety of choices made available to builders that use different aesthetics.

Take the bugbear for example. The original CEP bugbears include over a dozen varieties based off the original Bioware model. Then TAD added the Project Q bugbears (some 6 models I think), an amalgam of NWN2 models and the DLA ogre (and some other models). Ancarion has also created “3E” bugbears, which, although not in CEP, were they to be included would bring the variety of bugbears to 3 archtypes spread across 24+ models. This is what I call “bloat.”

Bloat, as I see it, is more likely to occur with generic creatures (orcs, bugbears, goblins, etc.) rather than placeables. Placeables, imo, can certainly span a palette range as broad as the tilesets we have and still not give the appearance of bloat to a builder. Although, given the ability to swap textures ingame now (my understanding of the mechanic), is it really necessary to have so many variants of placeables such as barrels, crates, etc.

While GBs are “fast and cheap”, not every builder is willing to devote GBs of space to content they’ll never use (or that they already have in other haks). Instead, they’ll go to the Vault, pull the content they need and make their own module haks.

I’m not saying, don’t add anything. Just be conscious of what you’re adding and whether or not it’s necessary. For example, someone could easily go out and make a “crate package” that adds four crates, each colored using the crate textures in each tileset EVER made (including custom ones). However, is such a package necessary to include in a larger compilation package such as CEP?

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@LoreWeaver_196 a point well made.

Pretty much what I meant by “within reason”.

Of course, there will be different views about specifics, but we can agree that too many trivial variants of the same thing become less useful.

Creating mobs that look like individuals can be fun, but there are limits.

Of course, many of us also mine the Vault for additional content, but it’s much quicker to use CEP, so I see a case for adding popular content that adds distinctive value.

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The latter part is pretty much what I will be looking for in terms of new content. Any cleanup of past content / fixes / etc. is also appreciated.

The documentation piece I think would also significantly aid module builders, especially on scripting included and maybe things like CEP tileset use issues and content.

Also, thank you to Proleric and the team for taking this on. I would have continued evolving my campaign module (first created 2004) regardless, but the new CEP versions have already provided real value added for content inclusion post-NWN:EE. Also makes me more willing to consider developing other modules again, as someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to implement their own tailored custom content, now that CEP 2.xx is no longer orphaned.

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First of all, thank you to all who have worked on the CEP! I wouldn’t have even started to build if there was no CEP.
I think CEP is great and includes great stuff even though I’m probably going to be using only some of what is available. I commented about the generic npcs being overwritten and didn’t realize this was way back in CEP 2.65. I’ve been meticulously checking my work lately having more time on my hands and having problems and was surprised to see the npcs changed.
I also discovered that I inadvertently botched my own haks by using ‘NWN Packer’ and saving the haks with that program.

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That feature is buggy and unstable as hell, so it is not yet time to getting rid of color variants on anything + that would be reggression now anyway…

Scaling has also significant side effects, I use inbult scaling for both creatures and placeables, but especially the “down-scaling” of creatures still requires new model to avoid problems with personal space and pathfinding.

Then I’ll add that to the list of candidate projects. The plan is to close this discussion after 2 weeks, then run a poll to see which ideas have become popular.

I was referring to adding content going forward. You definitely don’t want to get rid of anything that currently exists as that would break backward compatibility. As for scaling, you’re entirely right.

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If nothing else I’d recommend adding the documentation to the nwn.wiki site, as you say CEP documentation is sorely lacking in all respects which makes it a tad painful to utilise. Also join the vault discord to get some additional help/advice!

Good luck! You’ll need it :slight_smile:

Yes, that wiki has kinda crept up on us, deserves to be better known, and would be in scope for the documentation blitz.

Personal opinion - I find this forum more useful than Discord, as the content here is much more focussed, moderated, and easier to search after the event. But that’s probably off-topic…

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