Conversation Logs and Screenshots for Beta-testing/Bug Reports and Story Telling

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    Orion

    Image by Stefan Keller

    Creating modules is a labor of love, taking countless hours, learning the complexities of the Aurora Toolset, NWScript, editing .2da files, importing custom content such as Skyboxes, Portraits, Tilesets and Placeables, it is a challenging task, so challenging at times, that additional expert advice is required (from the NWN Vault for example).

    As a player I always had the greatest respect for those who could become proficient in these crafts to create masterpieces of art – modules that are well structured, visually beautiful, immersive for the player and challenging enough (with puzzles, or combat) without being too difficult.

    One of the things that players can do to contribute to module creators, especially on persistent worlds, is to report bugs, improvements and beta-test new content. I have had the privilege to be involved with this process in a rather serious way over the last 6 months for my own DM (World of Greyhawk PW), and over time I have developed some quite efficient ways for the process to be performed. It doesn’t require learning any of the complexities of the Toolset, NWScript or other content, just a sharp eye and some basics.

    Setting up a conversation log

    During modules, players may have very long discussions with NPCs, various different NPCs. I find it valuable during any to log all the conversations my character has with NPCs.

    This is very straightforward to set up.

    1. When you are in game, press CTRL-SHIFT-F12. The menu you see in the screenshot will be visible.

    2. Click on Config on the top left corner of the screen. It is the fourth button from the left.

    3. Scroll to game.log.chat.text, and under ClientChatLogging, check the box with a cross (like in the image).

    4. Scroll to the top and click the Commit button.

    5. Once this is done, press CTRL-SHIFT-F12 to close this menu. Conversation logging has been set up.

    6. Once the session is complete, exit Neverwinter Nights.

    7. You will need to find this log file. For me (I use Windows 10 / Steam) it is located:

    My Documents \ Neverwinter Nights \ Logs \ nwclientLog1.txt

    8. If you open this file there will be a text log of some technical details which I don’t fully understand (and I have blacked out in the screenshot) and the conversation section during your gameplay throughout the module.

    9. This conversation log can then be copy and pasted in a Microsoft Word Document (or other word processor of your choice), spell and grammar checks can be performed. Before making any changes, I would recommend using Track Changes (or a similar process), this is so your module builder or DM can know immediately what changes you would suggest to improve the conversations between players and NPCs, or to fix up any typos/grammatical errors.

    Taking Screenshots – the best way to document bugs

    I find taking screenshots the best way to document bugs that are not related to the conversation log.

    It tells the module builder / DM what the problem is, and if you have the minimap open, the location of the problem. Almost instantly the module builder / DM should be able to understand your perspective after you write a few words what you are querying. These screenshots can be placed in a personal message or a document, with commentary and sent to the module builder / DM for analysis.

    The way screenshots are taken is a little complex.

    Steam

    The default screenshot key for Steam is F12. It is not the most ideal key in NWN because this uses up one of your hotkey slots, but it is only one slot out of 36, so it is something I can work around and have not yet looked up changing.

    The screenshots are then saved in a complex location, but it is easy to find, if you know how.

    Firstly go to the menu at the top left, select screenshots (red arrow in the image below)

    Then select Neverwinter Nights (green arrow in the image below) then click on “Show on Disk” (red arrow).

    You will then have the location of all the screenshots you took using the F12 key during game play.

    Print Screen method

    The NWN Wiki: Screenshot page sums this method up better than I ever could:

    A screenshot is an image made of the game screen while playing Neverwinter Nights. They are taken by pressing the “Print Screen” (or “Prt Scr”) button on the keyboard, at which point the current screen is saved in a .tga file. Prior to patch 1.69, screenshots were named “NWN” followed by a number and placed in the same directory as the game executable (nwmain.exe). As of the last patch, though, screenshots are named for the module being played and placed in the screenshots subdirectory.

    This is the location where the screenshots are listed using this method

    \Documents\Neverwinter Nights\screenshots

    I don’t use this method a lot because at the beginning the Print Screen method would produce .tga files, which I couldn’t view without a .tga editor, and I couldn’t share with others to review unless they also had a .tga editor, whereas the Steam method I described created .jpg files which could be shared immediately. I have discovered how to edit and create .tgas and convert them with a program called GIMP so the printscreen method is still very good.

    Hiding the Heads up Display (HUD )

    This is if you want to remove the HUD from display in your screenshots, as you can see in the screenshot library there are a number of thumbnails with the HUD not displayed. It is devilishly simply.

    Pressing the ‘h’ key on your keyboard in game will make the HUD disappear.

    One can then press the screenshot button (either F12 or Printscreen or whatever you have set it to).

    Then press ‘h’ again to make the HUD appear again.

    This allows one to have great screenshots without the HUD showing.

    Being observant

    Once one has mastered both the screenshot and chat log methods described one is well on the way to being able to assist your module builder or DM extremely well. The last step is being very observant. The rule of thumb I use is “if it looks or feels odd” its worth screenshoting.

    Story telling

    Finally both conversation logging and taking screenshots are fabulous skills for telling stories to share on forums or put on websites, mastering both skills also helps before during and after an adventure, to retell and share with friends and others alike!

    Hope you enjoyed reading this guide, and would be delighted to hear any comments or suggestions.

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