July Anarchy Prologue 1.31 REMIX Beta
August 12th, 2085
A full week gone and nothing.
I was excited when we took this job. I wanted to see a dragon for real. I wanted to reach right into the sky and drag one to the ground. Only a handful of Nomads have ever slain a dragon, and I would have had the chance to join that rank.
The op ends tomorrow. I'm already getting my bags packed. Maybe the dragons were a hoax created by some politicians to gain support for their pricey defense plans. Either way, they didn't need to waste OutRapture's time on this little scheme.
It's late. I think I'll give coffee a try. I'm too bored to sleep now.
I wish Serene was here...
-Journal of Alex Meda
Recovered after the Battle of Tier-Anoch
So the latest version of July Anarchy Prologue is out again. Usually that means I talk up all the new features, claim that this version is miles better than the last and try to convince you to try it even if it means buying Neverwinter Nights right now.
Instead I'm feeling oddly introspective.
Recent "politics" in PC gaming has put a new focus on modders and why they create their content. Now that it's becoming possible for modders to monetize their mods, a lot of people are asking why modders shouldn't be paid for their content, and to that point, why make mods at all without getting paid?
I don't have the answer to either. I could never monetize July Anarchy Prologue for a number of reasons. One being that I still fully intend to write the novel it's based on. Two, the mod relies on collaborative content made from hundreds of different authors over the course of a decade. (And three, it's Neverwinter Nights. Who would bother?) Not one area in July Anarchy Prologue would have been possible without the dedicated efforts of authors who contributed to the CEP and D20 Modern projects. Believe me, I tried making this without them. Wasn't pretty.
"The most detailed feedback I've gotten so far was rndl99's review back in 2010... total crap."
On that thought comes the sober realization that I've been working on this mod for five years of my life (longer if you count the early prototypes I made as a teenager when NWN first came out in 2001) and am just now getting July Anarchy Prologue to the level I want it to be. I've had nights that lasted to 6 AM, pushed college work dangerously to the side, and learned how to read a computer language just to make something that promises zero reward aside from the recognition of the people who play it (all 4 of them). My work on this has won the approval of absolutely nobody in my circle of friends and family, and only a confused playthrough from an ex-girlfriend. The most detailed feedback I've gotten so far was rndl99's review back in 2010, which means the "total crap" label still sticks.
Yet again and again I keep coming back to this mod to try and improve it. I'll upload a version once a year and think "that's it, I'm done" and then a few months down the line come up with a new gameplay idea and wonder if it's crazy enough to work. Everything that's been added since that 2010 release, the Adrenaline System, the communicating AI, the alternate ending, the score system, the procedural generation and the final boss fight, was partly a push just to see if I was capable of making this happen.
Then I play the mod for myself and get lost in it. I struggle in the first few sectors because I refuse to use guns or anything that isn't a sword (grenades are fine though). I get a few Adrenaline Rushes to bounce back from defeat and rock out to a soundtrack that's changed with every single update. If I'm lucky, I actually make it to the end and watch the final cutscene unfold (and if I'm really lucky, watch it without any glitches) but sometimes when I get killed I just let the game roll on the death menu and watch the AI fight without me.
Sometimes I just grab a coffee and sit back for half an hour just watching the humans, mythans and dragons battle it out. Factions bounce back from near-defeat to capture ground. A wounded soldier cries out for help and a medic runs through a sea of enemies to save his life at the last moment. Another soldier dies in a hail of manticore spikes, and his nearby friend dramatically screams "NOOOOOOO!" into his mic. The Mythans manage to kill every human in sight and just relax on the Command Zone, only for a dragon to stroll in and cover the area in fire, starting a whole new skirmish.
"I don't think I can pack anymore into this thing without going full Kojima"
When it all comes together, I feel a strange sense of pride. It's probably undeserved, but it's a feeling worth coming back to again and again. Somewhere along the lines of stumbling through Lilac's Script Gen and sorting out tlk. file conflicts, I managed to take a game as rigid and aging as Neverwinter Nights and make it do something I've never seen before in any other game. Could my time have been better spent? Most likely. Hell, the novel could have been written three times over with all the hours I've poured into this mod (although I've made huge changes to the storyline and universe thanks to July Anarchy Prologue). But even as the mod turns 5 and I'm pushing 27, I can't stop opening the Aurora Toolset and typing another line of code, then starting the game and watching the beautiful chaos ensue.
That said, once version 1.3 leaves beta, my work on this mod should be done. Aside from the fact that I don't think I can pack anymore into this thing without going full Kojima, the time has clearly come to work on something else. This may not be my last mod as I still have Static to revisit, and I certainly have bigger plans in the July Anarchy universe than a three-hour game. I still don't have an answer as to why I did it all in the first place other than once I started, I couldn't stop. But hopefully somebody besides me can enjoy the result.
Now for God's sake, somebody please review this thing already!