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Old 02-20-2007, 03:18 AM   #1
stingerhs
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NWN 2 frustrations...

why won't this game work right?!?

seriously, i had worked my character all the way up to Lvl 17, and all the game saves that i made with my character at Lvl 16+ are all corrupted to the point that i get an exception error when i try to load the game.

that's not my only issue, either. this game suffers from some pretty lousy graphics management. although i was initially impressed with the first battle sequence (no slowdowns despite the number of AI characters on screen), that was soon replaced by frustration later in the game when the game would freeze and unfreeze every couple of seconds when little more than 10 characters were on screen.

to make matters worse, i can recall games like Oblivion, F.E.A.R., Half-Life 2, and even Medieval II: Total War that both looked and ran much better than NWN 2. even after consulting Tweak Guides, i was only able to make the game slightly more playable on my fairly substantial system. sure, it was playable enough, but the constant freeze/unfreeze thing is a pain in the arse.

i could continue on with other stability issues like the random CTD moments that i get on occasion when a dialog tries to load or the AI pathfinding issues.

the point is that i expected better quality than this from an Obsidian title given how reasonably well Kotor 2 ran right out of the box. compare that to NWN 2 which has all of these problems and i'm using the fourth patch. the gameplay is good, and the story is awesome. its just hard to get through even one playthrough without running into major issues.

whatever happened to releasing a well-tested and complete product?? heck, Windows Vista was less of a pain to get running on my friends outdated computer.


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Old 02-20-2007, 05:40 AM   #2
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Hmm... I've found that the best way to improve performance is to turn off the water effects and lower the shadows down (though this does remove a lot of the ambience). Mapped terrain is very important for the game's visual side so I wouldn't turn that off. Oh, and resolution (as we all know) makes a big difference. The fact is: this game is one hell of a big system hog and until Obsidian releases more optimisation patches it probably will remain that way.

I've never encountered a problem with save corruption, myself, but it seems to be a fairly widespread issue; the devs even asked for feedback on it in a thread that is continued here.
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Old 02-20-2007, 07:17 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
i could continue on with other stability issues like the random CTD moments that i get on occasion when a dialog tries to load or the AI pathfinding issues.
The Pathfinding has been terrible and a huge source for slowdowns in all the Aurora and Odyssey engine games, but in NWN2 it does seem even worse. Whenever two characters compete for the same space (which happens a lot when moving around with a party of characters in tow) the game slows down tremendously and even hangs entirely on occasion. I've found that it helps a little to make a formation of the party members by setting them to different follow distances on their Behavior tabs, but it's still a major source of irritation.

The fact that they run an overly convoluted scripted system for triggering many dialogs wit the player, that strips all effects from the party when dialog starts, also seems to cause problems on occasion. Whenever conversation starts with someone who was shapechanged/polymorphed the camera often freaks out and ends up way below ground.


Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
the point is that i expected better quality than this from an Obsidian title given how reasonably well Kotor 2 ran right out of the box.
Well, KotOR2 has its share of bugs, and the patch introduced even more. But NWN2 certainly does seem to be less polished from an engine standpoint (perhaps unsurprising since they use their own new untried graphics engine strapped on top of the Aurora engine), and its greater complexity compared to KotOR2 has lead to more bugs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
whatever happened to releasing a well-tested and complete product?? heck, Windows Vista was less of a pain to get running on my friends outdated computer.
That likely stopped being economically feasible once the management/marketing types realized that customers were willing to pay to "beta-test" the product instead, and the greater availability of the Internet has lead to a "release and patch" approach to development.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavlos
Hmm... I've found that the best way to improve performance is to turn off the water effects and lower the shadows down (though this does remove a lot of the ambience).
Yes, the advanced water options and shadows were the greatest source for slowdowns for me. I have to turn both water options off and set Shadows to Low, otherwise I'll get very poor performance. Pretty sad by comparison since I can play Oblivion with AA+HDR-lightning and all water and shadow options at max with reasonable FPS-rate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavlos
I've never encountered a problem with save corruption, myself, but it seems to be a fairly widespread issue; the devs even asked for feedback on it in a thread that is continued here.
I've only had a savegame corrupted once so far, causing the game to crash while loading it. I usually save a lot, and have 10 different "save slots" where I sequentially overwrite saves so there is something to fall back to if one gets messed up.

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Old 02-20-2007, 07:31 AM   #4
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I'm something of an "obsessive" saver .

And seeing as how the NWN2 save files are ridiculous in size this isn't exactly healthy for my harddrive.
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Old 02-20-2007, 10:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavlos
Hmm... I've found that the best way to improve performance is to turn off the water effects and lower the shadows down (though this does remove a lot of the ambience). Mapped terrain is very important for the game's visual side so I wouldn't turn that off. Oh, and resolution (as we all know) makes a big difference. The fact is: this game is one hell of a big system hog and until Obsidian releases more optimisation patches it probably will remain that way.
actually, i've run the built in framerate counter, and i've noticed only minor differences in the framerate when running the water effects. it seems to me that shadows are the biggest framerate hog which is rather surprising given how well a lot of graphics engines handle shadow effects.

playing with the resolution is usually out of the question for me since i'm running an old but still very capable Athlon 3200 XP processor. a high res means a heck of a lot more info has to be shuttled from the CPU to the graphics card, so it not unusual for me to run most of my games at 1024x768 resolution. i know it doesn't look quite as good, but it helps out drastically in the framerate department.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stoffe
Well, KotOR2 has its share of bugs, and the patch introduced even more. But NWN2 certainly does seem to be less polished from an engine standpoint (perhaps unsurprising since they use their own new untried graphics engine strapped on top of the Aurora engine), and its greater complexity compared to KotOR2 has lead to more bugs.
i don't know. Obsidian had a lot more time to work on this project compared to Kotor2, and its not like they didn't mess around a lot with the graphics engine on that game. the point is that even with less time on their hands, Kotor2 felt much more polished than NWN 2 reguardless of the plethora of cut content. pathfinding bugs weren't near as common, CTD moments were rare, and i've never encountered a corrupt savegame on either of the two Kotor titles. no, Kotor2 was not completely bug free (quite the contrary, actually), but the bugs weren't anything majorly serious.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stoffe
That likely stopped being economically feasible once the management/marketing types realized that customers were willing to pay to "beta-test" the product instead, and the greater availability of the Internet has lead to a "release and patch" approach to development.
"economically feasible"??? i couldn't even tell you how many games i've played that don't have major issues out of the box like NWN 2 does. heck, i can think of games that required one or no patches at all because the developers took the time to do proper QA needed for the game to function as intended. and there are other games out there that were patched quite a few times, but the only reason for the patches were to either add features or to prevent cheating in multiplayer.

i may not have a job in the field yet, but as a programmer, i already know that you can't just hand off what is practically a beta to your boss and call it a finished product. why that seems to work in the gaming industry is confounding to say the least.


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Old 02-20-2007, 10:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
Obsidian had a lot more time to work on this project compared to Kotor2, and its not like they didn't mess around a lot with the graphics engine on that game. the point is that even with less time on their hands, Kotor2 felt much more polished than NWN 2 reguardless of the plethora of cut content.
Not that it's a valid excuse, but I can see why this is the case. The NWN2 campaign is significantly larger than the KotOR2 one, and the Aurora engine is more complex than the stripped down Odyssey offshoot having to take multiplayer into account, a more advanced scripting system, more modular/moddable design, and having to release a toolset that's fit for use by non-developers (with questionable results ).

With KotOR2 they could just build on what they had with KotOR with some minor engine enhancements, the underlying rules were the same. While in NWN2 they had to convert the engine to a new ruleset, since NWN1 used D&D 3.0 while NWN2 uses D&D 3.5. Lots of underlying resource management appears to have been rewritten as well, seing as how they've dumped they chitin.key/BIF data structure that has been used in all bioware games since the dawn of time. Parts of the graphics and models are the same in KotOR1 and KotOR2, while everything had to be redone in NWN2 since it has a new graphics engine.

They may have had more time, but they also had a lot more to do during that time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
pathfinding bugs weren't near as common, CTD moments were rare, and i've never encountered a corrupt savegame on either of the two Kotor titles.
Varying experiences. I've had some rare save game corruption and crashes with KotOR2. Pathfinding is so bad in some areas that the game is near-unplayable unless you make roaming NPCs stand still (the citadel station promenade outside your quarters there in particular).

Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
"economically feasible"??? i couldn't even tell you how many games i've played that don't have major issues out of the box like NWN 2 does. heck, i can think of games that required one or no patches at all because the developers took the time to do proper QA needed for the game to function as intended.
NWN2 is certainly has more bugs than most other games I've played, but it's not the worst I've seen so far by far. I don't think I've played a single game that didn't have some manner of bugs. Not that I like it, but that's just how things seem to be with computer games, and has been for as long as I've been playing.

In the case of NWN2 I find it easier to forgive the massive load of bugs knowing that they are working to correct them and improve the game with upcoming patches. Sure, it would have been preferable if there had been no bugs and all the extra features already there from the start. But a "work in progress" game is certainly more preferable to "abandoned" products like KotOR2 and Oblivion where they just stop after one patch even if there are still serious game-stopping bugs in the game.

The software industry seem to be able to get away with selling initially flawed and unstable products more than the computer hardware industry, which can get away with more than manufacturers of other types of products. And game developers in particular can get away with more flaws than other types of products. Unfortunate and unacceptable, I agree, but I don't see that changing any time soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
i may not have a job in the field yet, but as a programmer, i already know that you can't just hand off what is practically a beta to your boss and call it a finished product. why that seems to work in the gaming industry is confounding to say the least.
Apparently you can if it saves your boss a significant load of money by doing so, while not impacting the final sales of the product to a significant degree. QA costs a lot of money, and apparently publishers like Atari seems unwilling to spend on that if they can sell anyway and don't care about their reputation. It's shortsighted, but that's how it appears to work to my eyes.

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Old 02-20-2007, 11:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
actually, i've run the built in framerate counter, and i've noticed only minor differences in the framerate when running the water effects. it seems to me that shadows are the biggest framerate hog which is rather surprising given how well a lot of graphics engines handle shadow effects.
The game's lighting system, it seems to me, is somewhat over done. If you set everything to max then every light that comes into range of an object will cause it to cast a shadow (provided the GIT reference hasn't been told not to cast any shadows) and all objects in the range of that shadow will receive it. I'm not even sure of the draw distance for shadows but I'd wager it's pretty high (reflective water is still reflective a long way away).

As for bad pathfinding? The system is odd. In KotOR there is a developer defined .pth which includes the routes for the waypoints (to stop creatures getting confused and spinning around when you block their path). From my limited understanding, NWN2 employs a more generic system and I'm not sure what it actually looks like (I'm tempted to say a load of triangles that interlock in a grid but I think I've been staring at my module's surface mesh for too long). It works fine for the interior tiles but when you take into account the rolling terrain element it likely gets a little messy. My understanding of the NWN2 pathing system is entirely theoretical but there is no tool to define the paths and no .pth (or equivalent) that I can see, so a generic system seems most likely.
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Old 02-20-2007, 11:31 AM   #8
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It's interesting to read all of your accounts of NWN2 in comparison to KotOR2 because I know all of you are quite attuned to your own system specifications and the graphics settings you use. When I played KotOR2, I was running a 2.4Gz P4 with an old Radeon 9000. About every 3rd area change, my game would crash. I must admit I was playing it in "obligatory" mode so that I could work on the modding tools with some degree of game knowledge. Regardless, the game left a bad taste in my mouth and I haven't had any desire to revisit it.

Since then, I've built a dual core system with a x1600 Pro. I haven't had any issues with NWN2. I let the system set my graphics settings. I'm not the type of person to pay attention to framerate unless my game is nearly unplayable (as it was with Oblivion). It's like counting calories to me.

Savegame corruption -- I always used to hear about this with KotOR2 and KSE usually took the blame. I haven't had any savegame issues with NWN2, probably because there's no NWN2SE to blame. Pathfinding behavior seems about the same to me between the two games (but I very much wish I could click the map and send the character running in that direction like in Icewind Dale...). The only thing I'm still adjusting to is the camera behavior in NWN2, which seems less intuitive and I find myself getting dizzy occasionally.

As I said, it's interesting to hear your takes on these games, because my viewpoint is quite different, though I tend to ignore the fact that I didn't give the two a fair comparison.
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Old 02-22-2007, 12:40 AM   #9
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OK, so this is like bad when you're considering the specs of your laptop so you can play games on it.
So, after some dithering over at the chatbox on my part about what video card would work, someone more brilliant than me suggested checking NWN2 site, and this is what I see at the forum on Tech Support:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obsidian doesn't like notebooks
There have never been any supported Laptop video devices for NWN2, nor any supported 64 MB video cards, nor any supported Intel graphics of any kind. If you receive the error message "Cannot find compatible Direct3D Device" when attempting to start the game, you've ignored the video requirements above, and must upgrade, at least the video device ( Click Here ).
Lordy. Of course, we have Kotor, TSL, and NWN working on my current laptop, so I can't imagine why it wouldn't work at some point on a much better (read, newer than my 3 year old machine).
Still, it was a pain to read that. Sigh....


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Old 02-23-2007, 04:24 PM   #10
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well, i did figure out an excellent method of getting around corrupted save game files: make redundant saves. its just a fancy way of saying that when i save a game, i use two slots and a quicksave all for the same spot. the downsides are definitely HD space and the time it takes, but its already saved me some problems more than once.

what has me concerned is all the patches OE has planned for the game. earlier, i read a newspost on NWVault from an OE developer that said that 1.05 is going to come out soon, but there will still be enough problems in the game that a 1.06 patch is already in development. fortunately, the 1.06 patch is apparently mostly for multiplayer, but its still a bit of a concern when it takes six patches to get the game working right.


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Old 02-23-2007, 05:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
but its still a bit of a concern when it takes six patches to get the game working right.
Bioware were periodically releasing new patches for Neverwinter Nights (1) right up until the end of 2006, and that game was released in 2002. Games of that size are very hard to get entirely bug-free. Though Bioware added tons of new content and engine improvements in their patches as well, much of what was requests from the modding community, and didn't just fix bugs in their many NWN patches. I wouldn't mind if Obsidian continued that time-honored tradition of excellent support for a game way past its prime.

It seems like they might, since the patches so far have included a number of improvements and additions and not just bugs being squashed (and new ones introduced )
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Old 02-24-2007, 10:45 AM   #12
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Can't start the 3500_Croosroad_Keep_Siege module

Ack! I can't start the 3500_Croosroad_Keep_Siege module! The game keeps crashing after I tell Sir Nevalle "The keep is ready to stand against the Shadow Army". The module and area appear to load, but I never get module transition. Tried also to use rs ga_load_mod and rs ga_start_mod to no avail (crash) with a couple recent saves... but a really old save from Act I will start the module up where Nasher is talking to me. I haven't found any other instance of this on the help board, so I figured the "NWN2 Frustrations" thread was suitable.

Edit: it looks like somewhere along the way I lost Khelgar... he's no longer selectable but in the savegames that do work, he's still there. Damn.

Re-edit: Hooray! I fixed it by locating the corrupt ROS-khelgar.ros in my savegame directory (NWN2GFF helped) and replacing it with the last known good ROS-khelgar.ros... suddenly Khelgar was back in my party and the module loaded!

Last edited by tk102; 02-24-2007 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 02-24-2007, 01:51 PM   #13
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I've not had a lot of issues with NWN 2, myself. The engine works well well enough, sometimes having some slight decreases in the framerate for a little while in the larger modules (to be expected from maxing out the settings, I guess).

The game is far from flawless, though. Probably the thing that gets to me the most is the toolset, which seems to be the personification of evil itself. It's very sluggish, and slows down all other applications whenever I run it. It crashes at random intervals, which forces me to turn on autosaving (which can get quite annoying every 15 minutes).

Editing modules is like pulling teeth with it sometimes. In the event that the toolset doesn't crash, it will 'unpack' modules and dump all the individual files somewhere. If you decide to open the folder where they are, sometimes the module will be intact, sometimes everything in them will have vanished. The same goes for some autosaves.

As if to add to it all, editing modules from the OC creates more problems. Sometimes the game crashes when trying to load them, and sometimes it screws up the things in them. I was unable to complete my last playthrough because the KoS became unkillable, for whatever reason.

Though not a technical issue, there are a couple things in the game that are very annoying. One is the lack of VOs for a lot of characters - modern RPGs should have that. The use of the NWN 1 conversation system is also irritating. Even without VOs, the KotOR one would have been much better.

My last complaint is the camera. I'd been hoping for something more modern that NWN 1's (again). Zooming away makes you miss a lot of the close-up details, and zooming in can make it awkward to move your character. A camera system like KotOR's would have been far preferable.

It's still a great game, but the devs tried to make it too similar to NWN 1 in some respects. The various problems with the toolset didn't do anything to improve it, either.


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Old 02-25-2007, 02:25 AM   #14
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Well, I really enjoy the game but I have a bit of a problem...

I decided my ranger should have some new armor. I made the armor just fine, and decided it would look cool with a quiver. I forgot about the cloaks. It clips right through them and looks horrid.

So, I decided to get rid of the quiver. The problem is, I can't. Its not part of the armor anymore. Its attached to my PC. I can take off the armor, but not the quiver...


Any ideas?

EDIT: Er... never mind. It disappeared when I logged in to play just now. Its still weird, though. Ah well, it worked out so I'm happy!

Think I'll make some boots now... or a cloak... or both.



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Old 03-05-2007, 04:13 PM   #15
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well, i finally did something that helped smooth the graphics over: i installed the latest Forceware Drivers for my GF7800. it didn't stop all the hitching, but the graphics do run quite a bit more smoothly than before.

my framerate confirms this as i was averaging about 30-45 fps before, and its now gone up to a more playable 35-50 fps. it helps, but its far from completely compensating for a game that was optimized very well.


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Old 03-11-2007, 11:08 AM   #16
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I couldn't load the NWN2 Toolset at all (although surprisingly, the game would play) until I updated my ATI graphics card drivers.

I think the graphics card update has also diminished the crash upon area transition loads of KOTOR2 (apparently the same problem mentioned by tk102 above). Potentially eliminated the crash entirely--I haven't had a crash with it since, although I haven't replayed it enough to be sure.


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