Cutscene Work


or lack thereof… :X

is it done yet? well…. no. i had a seriously horrid week, then i was depressed, then i was sick. i spent all weekend doing NOTHING. although i did watch a marathon session of an anime series called Black Butler. i really enjoyed it a lot. it’s about a nobleman’s kid in victorian england whose parents have been murdered. he makes a deal with a demon to get revenge, and the demon takes the form of his butler to help him attain his goals.

i have to warn you: though it is mostly gory, dark and brooding… it does have the occassional screamy/shrieky carrying on crying/whining characters. and i’m at a total loss to explain the guy who lacks energy to become real very often, so is always a chibi chauffeur. to say nothing of the dog.


and then i spent my free time working on that rp thing i’m doing with a couple of buddies. oh, and today i wasted an hour playing the darkspore beta. well, i need to get my favorite critters back! and find the parts to turn all my robots into bunnies! (oh, am i allowed to say that…? i still can’t post pics, though.)


Cutscene Work


The End is Nigh.

sunday morning i had a burst of inspiration (or something), and in about 3 hours i put in the ‘missing scene g, which got changed to an alternate chorus scene elsewhere.’ i’m mostly happy with it, except i’m thinking maybe zevran should have really had his back turned. oh well, i’ll leave it. if i’m a movie producer and my budget is ‘finish this weekend,’ then it prolly aint gonna get changed.

i was annoyed with two zevran and leliana sequences; i didn’t put firelight on them, and they look washed out. i thought i would shoot them again with a warmer light, but then i slapped myself in the forehad and said, “duh, just use a vegas filter on the clips.” so i did. not sure it did exactly what i meant it to do… but at least it is better.


tuesday i spent about 5-6 hours on the headgames video. tackling scene R. i found my moon back where i thought it was. is that really where i want it? it better be. it can be minorly tweaked. again, look at my time budget.

anyway, i got the first half of scene R done, shot, and edited in. i’m fairly happy with it; it looks pretty much how i imagined it. i didn’t do the complicated gesture scene yet. i thought i’d tackle that first, but i decided to just do the sequences in order. in fact, i went into vegas and timed out each sequence, and calculated the frames i would need to use in the cutscene editor. not that i didn’t trim and stretch here and there.

part two of scene R will involve the above-mentioned difficult shot (more on that in a future post somewhere), and some facefx will no doubt be needed.


other than that, the entire video is done. scene R is the last 4 minutes. once i shoot, cut, print, and edit… it will suddenly be FINISHED. it’s kinda surprising how that sneaks up on me. now in the ‘old days’ of WMM and putting game footage to music, i had to shoot a looooooot of video, then go through and pick out bits and pieces. and then string them along in line, because WMM doesn’t allow you to leave gaps. but with my storyboarding method (and vegas), i can shoot any scene and drop it in where it goes and then work around it.

if all goes well… perhaps i’ll be able to post something this weekend! wohoo!

i guess my estimate of at least 3 more weeks was… oh wait… did i say that about 3 weeks ago…? :X


Writing Work


there’s another part of Valorien’s story posted here. which is probably obviously apparent. ::shrug:: but this is supposed to be the updates thread. i’ve also been working on the next part of valorien’s story that hasn’t been written yet. which is down the road. luckily, it is *not* for here, or else i’d have to stop everything and do a music video. (which, as you know, has not been going very quickly…!!!)

in other, semi-related news, it looks like i’ll be doing some dragon age rp with a couple of folks soon. which… means more writing that isn’t the writing i’m *supposed* to be doing… !?!? but, you have to admit… it WILL be fun! it might actually help me flesh out bannon & zevran’s story, too. yes, despite the volume of stuff in it, it still has thin parts. go figure.


Part Four: The Joining


The Joining consists of drinking darkspawn blood, which gives the Wardens their power to sense darkspawn, and protects them from the taint. There is very little ceremony. Dafydd is the first inducted; he drinks the blood and is wracked by the evil power. Unfortunately, it turns out he is not strong enough to withstand it, and he dies. dang, cuz i liked him. :/


“You poisoned him!” Jory’s eyes went wide.

“It is unfortunate he was not strong enough,” said Duncan regretfully. “Ser Jory, take the chalice. Join us.”

“You people are insane!” The warrior backed away. “I can’t do this — I have a wife! I have a child; they need me!” Suddenly, he drew his greatsword and swung it at Duncan’s head. “Let me go!”

The Grey Warden’s own blade flashed into his hand. He ducked, deflecting the blow. The two prepared to clash again when a commanding voice rang out.

“Hold your blade!”

They disengaged, backed up just enough to have breathing space to glance at the elf who held his bow drawn on them. Then they locked gazes again, waiting for the chance to strike.

“Alistair…,” said Duncan, trusting his ward to protect him and deal with this threat.

Alistair looked between the combatants and the archer. “He’s… not pointing it at you.”

At this, Jory turned to the elf, though he kept his sword pointed at Duncan. “What are you doing!?”

“Take the chalice,” Valorien ordered him.

“I can’t! I don’t want to die… I won’t!”

“If you drink from the chalice, there is a chance you will survive,” Valorien continued, his voice steady as was his aim. “You may think you have more of a chance fighting off Duncan and Alistair. But at this range, I cannot miss. You *will* die.”

Beads of sweat broke out on Jory’s brow. His sword point wavered.

Valorien’s bow did not, even despite being held at full draw. “You cannot even see the arrow, for it loses its length when it is coming straight at you.” Jory’s eyes went even wider. “Put down your blade. Take up the chalice.”

The greatsword wavered again, then dipped, its point touching the ground. Duncan slowly relaxed his fighting stance. Carefully, Jory set the sword on the ground and stood. Valorien lowered his bow. Duncan sheathed his sword and brought the chalice to Jory.

“Ser Jory,” he intoned again. “Drink from the chalice. Join us.”

Jory took it, looked down a moment at the red blood, then squeezed his eyes shut. He raised the chalice and gulped down the contents. Immediately, he began choking and coughing. The chalice was dashed to the ground, leaving a spatter of residual blood. The other three men backed away as Jory fell into a convulsive fit. They were helpless to do anything to aid him. They could only watch, tensed for the worst.

At last, the warrior let out a strangled scream and pitched forward on his face. His body went limp, motionless but for the ragged wheezing.

“He survived,” Alistair breathed in relief.

Duncan nodded at the elf. “Valorien.”

Alistair said, “First, give me your weapons.”

Valorien gave him a hard look. “I have nothing to fear.”

“It’s not what you’ll do before you drink that I’m worried about.” Alistair held out his hand for the bow.

The elf narrowed his eyes, then turned his gaze like a knife upon Duncan.

Alistair bit the inside of his lip; he really wasn’t helping in this trust issue between the two. But he had his duty to protect the Grey Wardens.

Duncan said nothing. Valorien only said, “Very well.” He gave Alistair the bow and his knife belt, then went to the Chief Warden.

“Valorien,” Duncan intoned, his voice slightly roughened. “Take the chalice. Join us.”

Valorien drank. Fire blazed within him, even as blackness came on broad wings to take him.





Valorien stirred and opened his eyes. Two armed humans crouched over him. With a cry, he struck out, shoving Duncan in the chest. Duncan jumped back as the elf rolled clear and came up in a fighting crouch, his hand reaching for his longknife.

“Whoa!” said Alistair, also stepping back. “Take it easy; it’s just us.”

“Damned shemlen,” Valorien snarled, straightening. “Don’t *do* that.”

“Uh, we’re sorry we startled you,” Alistair said carefully.

The elf glared at him a moment, then fixed his gaze on Duncan. His eyes narrowed with murderous intent. The Chief Warden looked back at him, saying nothing. The muscle in the corner of his jaw tightened.

“Return to me my weapons,” Valorien said tightly, not looking at Alistair.

“I will, soon as you calm down.”

Duncan said, “How do you feel?”

The elf seemed to regard this question a moment. “I feel the same,” he replied. “Perhaps stronger.”

“You have survived the Joining, and therefore you have mastered the Taint within you. It should trouble you no further.” The elf nodded slightly to him. “Valorien, you are one of us, now. A Grey Warden.” Duncan turned. “Give him his weapons, Alistair, while I check on Ser Jory.”

“All right.” Alistair held them out, and Valorien moved to him. His eyes remained on Duncan however, until he tried to take the bow and Alistair did not relinquish it. When the elf glared at him, he stepped closer and said in a low voice, “Whatever your problem is with Duncan, I suggest you drop it. That man just saved your life.”

Valorien’s eyes narrowed. He tugged at his weapons, and Alistair let go. “I will take that under advisement,” he said coldly.


Cutscene Work


didn’t get a whole lot done this week/weekend. i did a test with the scene for headgames scene R, to get the actors into position, and check on my moon. (can’t see the blasted moon in the cutscene editor.) only to discover… i have indeed lost my moon. unless i meant to have the moon behind the trees, which i don’t remember.

even using the other camp night scene, the moon was in the same place. i re-did the lvl file, now i have to find the moon again, and see if it is where i think i want it. then do the scene test and find out it isn’t, i guess.

this gonna take longer than 3 weeks to finish. :/


since i was so fed up with headgames in general, i decided to try starting something else to take a break. i’ve been wanting to do a mixed-up fairytale with hitch, so i grabbed some audio for that. here’s a hint: sony’s vocal eraser plug-in (for soundforge) only works with stereo recorded from a stereo source. it will work with a stereo recording from a mono source… but not very well. it can suppress some background noise, and a little massaging of the leftover vocals helps. but it won’t remove background music as well as, say, howe’s scene in the shrek MUFT.

after getting frustrated with audio for that, i whapped myself in the head and thought, “why don’t you do something higher on the list, like the ‘Get A Room’ short?” and so sunday, i started in on that.

clever me, i thought that if i got all the npcs to play idle animations in the area, i wouldn’t have to animate them all by hand in the flippin cutscene. well, ha-ha, getting npcs in an area to do what you want isn’t all that easy.

some have their ambient animations all set, like the beggar. he sits in his spot and starts begging. some npcs have some idle chatter animations going. most are just standing around like doofuses. now, if you want guards patrolling and children running, you have to start messing with waypoints. waypoints are pretty easy, actually. you name the suckers “ap_” + [tag of your creature] + _##. like ap_runkidz_01.

i finally got the guards to patrol, but the kidz will not run. they stroll. uh, well actually, ONE strolls, the other keeps standing around. anyway, according to the variable control plug in table thing, if you put 1 as the ambient pattern, they walk waypoints. add 100 to make them run. i put in 101, they still walk. ::sigh::


i’ve been working on some writing, but not the writing i’m supposed to be working on. valorien’s story is up to the part where they take the army from redcliffe to denerim.

what i’ve been doing, however, are some scenes from bannon & zevran’s story. let’s see, a sequence with bannon that takes place in… book 4 (wait, i think it’s 5 now), i think. and one with zevran that takes place in book 2.

on top of that, i’ve been toying with the idea of taking the boys into an rp, which is a different story than theirs. (though still dragon age.) my brain has been messing with bannon as an npc companion. i really need to smack it for that. that is NOT happening! as complicated as i would make it?? gawd.

but, some good may come out of that. i might actually work on some stuff concerning bannon and the grey warden recruits. since, at this point, there’s nothing about his origin and the whole first half of the game/story. (except the alternate universe stuff with valorien.) when i play through it again (which i want to do with bannon, when i do start the actual writing of bannon & zevran), i’m hoping that will focus my brain on the story at hand. still, most of the early parts of dragon age will be synopsis. and honestly, it pretty much follows the game story; how many times do you have to go over that?


Valorien Posts


Valorien’s story part 3 is up on the blog. i’ve also posted another part up on the original Whispering Winds thread today. which is part god-knows-what as i’ve long since lost count.

no other news. my eyes are tired. my brain is tired. I’M tired.


Part 3: Ostagar – The Recruits


Duncan sends the three new recruits (Dafydd, Jory, Valorien) on a mission to hunt down some Darkspawn and retrieve some of their blood for the Joining ceremony. Alistair goes with them as observer, and someone to bail them out if they get in too deep of trouble.


The recruits fanned out past the crumbling end of the ancient roadway. Before them lay the Kolcari Wilds, a trackless wilderness full of dangerous beasts, tribes of barbarians, and of course, Darkspawn. Alistair waited to see how they would sort themselves out.

“I will lead,” said Valorien. He set out without waiting for any acknowledgement. Dafydd and Jory fell in behind him; they had no argument there.



“It was really uncanny,” Alistair told Duncan later. “He could hear — I don’t even know what, because the wolves weren’t howling, they just ran up on us. He could sense Darkspawn nearly as well as me. We were nearly ambushed; I couldn’t even see where the blighters were, but he heard them growling and warned us just before they sprang out of hiding.”

“The elves have highly attuned senses,” replied Duncan. “Their Hunters even more so.”

“He’s very skilled, very well trained.”

“Did he lead well? Did he have any trouble working with Ser Jory and Dafydd?”

Alistair shook his head, and began telling Duncan about another incident in the wilds.



At last, they found some ruins with more intact structure. They cleared the entrance and peered inside. “Jory, take point,” said Valorien.

“Hang on, why do I have to go first all of a sudden?”

“Because Alistair wishes to remain back and observe our skills. Yours is the strongest blade, and blades go first in confined spaces in case the enemy comes upon us suddenly.” The elf glanced at Dafydd, then back at Jory. “Dafydd will take point if you do not feel you can handle it.”

“I can handle it,” Jory growled. “All I want to know is — If I were an elf, would you still stick me up front?”

“Yes,” Valorien replied without hesitation. “When I Hunted with my partner, he was more skilled with blades and he went first.”

Dafydd said, “He hasn’t led us wrong so far.”

“All right. Just watch where those arrows are flying.”



Duncan nodded thoughtfully at this report. “He seems to have good leadership potential.”

“He might, except for the fact he seems wholly unconcerned about the welfare of any human. I don’t know as I’d trust him at my back, whether it’s the taint in him or just his racial prejudice.”

“He’s sworn an oath to serve as a Grey Warden, and I trust him to do that to the best of his abilities,” said Duncan, then he grimaced. “But as for the rest of the army; I’m afraid you’re right. I will speak to him about it.”

“Are you sure the Joining will cure him? What if it justs accellerates the taint?”

“I’m fairly certain it will work.” Duncan noted Alistair’s look of worry. “We will induct him last, just in case.”



There was a scratching at the tent flap. “Enter,” said Duncan.

Valorien ducked into the tent. He spared the briefest of glances for Alistair, and addressed Duncan. “Chief Warden.”


“I found this in the possession of a corpse in the Wilds.” The elf handed him a folded piece of paper, and Duncan smoothed it out on the table to scan over it.

“It appears to be a last will and testament. Why are you bringing this to me?”

“In case you wish to honor the dead man’s request.”

Duncan shook his head. “I don’t have the time or the manpower to spare to pursue this. He writes of a treasure in the Wilds, presumably near where you found him. Did you go in search of it?”


“Why not?”

“He is not of my people. It is not my concern.”

“Your ‘people’ are the Grey Wardens, now,” Duncan told him firmly.

“I see. And since this man is not a Grey Warden, it does not concern you, either.”

Duncan sighed. “I will turn this over to the knights.” The elf nodded and turned to go, but the Warden forestalled him. “Wait! There is something I wish to speak to you about.”

“I am listening.”

“Valorien, I know your people have an ancient grudge against the humans — which is not without reason. And they have been enemies to you, yourself, for many years. But now we all face a greater enemy, and these men — these humans — are your allies.”

“I will fight beside them; I will defend them, as is my sworn duty.”

“That’s not enough.” Duncan drew a heavy breath before going on. “Think of them as resources. The more humans who die here, who are too wounded to fight, the closer the Blight comes to reaching your people, in your forests. Treat your weapons well, care for them, and you will be able to better defend your people.”

Silence fell in the tent while Valorien thought on these words. After a few moments, he focussed on Duncan once more. “You are a real hrelhekhen,” he growled. “I can see why I have fallen prey to your machinations.”

Duncan winced. “And what does ‘hrelhekhen’ mean?”

“I think you know what it means,” Valorien told him icily, then turned and swept out of the tent.



Duncan leaned his elbows on the table and rubbed his face. Alistair drew a hissing breath between his teeth. “Ouch,” he said sympathetically. “What was *that* all about?”

The Chief Warden sighed again. “I’m afraid I did not handle his recruitment very well.”

“But you brought him here to save his life!”

“I’m afraid he doesnt see it quite that way.”

“Look, I hate to bring it up yet again, but are you really, *really* sure we can trust this guy?”

“You have seen him in action, Alistair.”

“Yes, and he scares me. I mean, it could be like, ‘Okay, Valorien, go rescue these beleagured knights’ — ‘Oops, sorry, I got there too late and they’re all dead.'”

“He won’t do that.”

“Why, because of this line you gave him about using the knights as tools?”

Duncan shook his head. “No. He knows I was trying to manipulate him with that — that’s why he was so angry.”

“So this elf you don’t know — this *tainted* elf — promises to join the Wardens just to save his own life, and you’re going to take him at his word?” Alistair’s voice went up with incredulity.

Duncan picked up the will and folded it carefully. “He brought me this.”

“Because he doesn’t give a wet hurlock’s backside about some dead human?”

“He does care. He could have left this there, lost in the Wilds. He could have found the treasure and kept it for himself.” Duncan tapped the paper against his chin. “No, he *wants* to do the right thing, but his lifelong indoctrination of hatred won’t let him.” He stood and turned to his ward. “Give him time, Alistair.”

“We have precious little of that. But I trust your judgement.”

“Thank you, my friend. Could you take this to the knight-captain?” He handed over the will. “I will start preparations for the Joining.”