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Topics - ex_ottoyuhr

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A Shield Lying On The Water / Believe it or not, I'm not dead...
« on: April 29, 2008, 12:58:48 am »
and I'm beginning to reconsider whether the mod's dead, too.

First of all, I'm finally through my interminable job hunt and associated funk. I've found a new job -- in Boston, with a very well-established and reputable software company -- and start work Monday; but prior to this, I just wasn't able to make myself post again on these boards and "face the music" for having been gone so long. And the mod concept and setting have really changed, too -- as has M&B. Within a few days I'm going to have access again to a computer that can run it (the inability to run the game was one of the reasons I kind of disappeared), and I look forward to seeing how it's changed -- I started playing in .622, I was last able to play the first version that incorporated Battle for Sicily aspects, and it looks like things have changed enormously since then.

It also looks like most of what little I'd implemented with ASLOW is now unnecessary, and is done better within the game itself -- which suits me just fine, as I've fleshed out Honseli civilization much more thoroughly than it was when I started work on the mod, and one of the consequences of this fleshing out is that the mod's setting is invalidated -- it couldn't have happened in the way I was depicting it. Which is just as well; I was having all sorts of trouble figuring out how to make the story go anywhere -- having started from Fire Emblem 4 didn't help either. :) (A good game, but not remotely related to what I wanted to create. And at least for me, not having a clear idea what I'm working towards makes it a lot harder to work...)

So I want to start over, and do it right this time. But one of the parts of that is that I no longer dare to try to do it all myself -- trying to work on ASLOW in my spare time was a good part of what burned me out on my previous job (though working 60-70 hour weeks, every week, with no hope of comp time and little hope of an end to such weeks didn't help either :)), so this time, I want to be a designer-manager and scriptwriter, rather than a one-man band. (So I'll greatly appreciate offers from anyone who's interested. I'll probably want to teach myself art -- to be able to do concepts -- before seeking graphics help; but mechanics and script should come first. Note: most of the costume notes from earlier should still stand; I'll need to review them.)

I also want to draw up a full design document, before I write, or get anyone else to write, the project's first line of code. One part of this will be to work out stages of development, so that I'll know what to focus efforts on after getting to the equivalent of where I got stuck in my first attempt. Another part of it will be figuring out what, and how much, of the game as we have it will be usable here, and what won't; with how sophisticated the game has become, this new project could well turn out to be not "a new game with the same graphics engine" (as I originally envisioned ASLOW, back in .730 days), but "a couple of tweaks and a new script."

But I'm not sure that this is where I want to direct my efforts. I'm debating writing a novel set (very much) elsewhere in the Honseli "world" -- which would be a relatively more certain project than creating a game. And whatever I decide on, I'm going to be incommunicado for a couple of days, then starting a new job with all the challenges that that entails.

So, I won't be able to respond to responses to this posting for a few days at least (though I'll appreciate responses, and I will be sure to reply to them) -- and, I really shouldn't have posted this message this late at night anyways :), and I haven't read over the activity on this board since I most recently disappeared. But I'll see where this might go; I regret leaving everyone in the lurch so long -- and I look forward to seeing what's changed with Mount&Blade.

(All too much of this comes down to an unexpectedly long job hunt. I expected to find a new job in two or three months -- not in more than half a year...)

A Shield Lying On The Water / My current work feels a little obsolete. :)
« on: September 18, 2007, 11:03:03 am »
I'm still going to update names and so on and get a final .808 version out, but I'm going to have to explore .890 extensively and see what it's like relative to ASLOW. Battle for Sicily (and now probably Native) has different objectives from ASLOW -- working at a lower level, focusing on the individual fief, where with ASLOW individual territories won't be worth your bother for long, and eventually there'll be a much stronger "narrative" element.

Incidentally, the evil cult story arc is quite thoroughly cut from ASLOW. The intent was to subvert it massively -- no such cult actually existed, but the player would still spend most of the game opposing them before figuring that out. :) But in order to subvert a trope, the author must first get his audience to buy into a trope, and this is one of those so completely played out that it's just not worth it to subvert. Blame Fire Emblem 4, I guess -- in my other planned fiction I would've laughed this sort of idea off the drawing board in an instant...

Anyhow, the game's going to start with the end of the (needs-rename) Ajarine unification, with -- spoiler! -- the death of Emperor Kardis in battle and the subsequent question of the succession. It looks like the new system's going to help a lot in setting up that campaign, and all sieges and so on in general...

So, time to wait for the game to stabilize from any bugs found (although this certainly doesn't seem to be another .800), and for the next module system to be released -- although, again, I'll do the last .808 update first.

A Shield Lying On The Water / Current status as of September 5th '07...
« on: September 05, 2007, 08:45:36 pm »
I have the mod in a near-releasable state, but not much has changed since last time -- a new set of weaponry and something close to the Realistic Combat Model, but not much else. The siege system is a long way from finished, though I've proof-of-concepted it successfully.

But I also need to pin down what I want to do with the story, the style of gameplay, and so on, and I really need to flesh out more of the setting. That'll do a lot to get me more NPCs, though; and some of the other recent releases have suggested some things for me. TLD's use of quest messages to display variables is worth remembering, and playing the awe-inspiring Battle for Sicily has reminded me that if I focus too much on the strategic elements of ASLOW, I'll get into territory where I'm pretty much outclassed... ;)

Anyhow, next release coming pretty soon. I'll try for a couple of days from now at the latest -- although it'll be more a matter of getting myself back into the habit. There should be more to come after that...

   This is a document I'd prepared a while ago, when I'd found someone interested in doing concept art for the mod. I never heard back from him, and foolishly didn't keep in touch, but the conversation inspired me to turn fashion designer; here are the results. Anyone who wants to contribute concept art is thoroughly welcome...
   Note that the ASLOW cultures' styles of weaponry are in a state of flux right now; don't take those descriptions too literally, but feel free to draw them if you're interested...
   (That said, it will probably be necessary to discuss legal terms first; please e-mail or PM me if you're interested in contributing art...)

   As you all might have caught on to, the region of ASLOW is not the homeland of the Honseli nor of any of the other races or cultures mentioned here; the clothing, fighting, etc. styles of the game are descended from the "root styles" of the various cultures. I'll describe these original styles first, and the ASLOW variations later -- there's no need to do concept art for the primordial ones.


   Galine masculine clothing tends to focus on a kaftan, plus an undershirt and close-fitting trousers or leggings. There's a good bit of variety in style of cut -- ranging from very Russian sorts of outfits clear over to kimonos. I'm not sure what to do with Galine feminine clothing yet, but I doubt that it'll be too important -- it certainly isn't for planning Sivas, below.

      Honseli (Peija).

   The Peija, the Honseli proper, were a hill tribe conquored by an early Galine empire, deported, when sufficiently valuable minerals were discovered in their limited remaining territory, to a stretch of islands and coastline so far out of the way that it was four hundred years after that empire's collapse that the word got to them. Their costume was originally "Arcadian," but was influenced first by Galine robes and again by the necessities of adapting to a region with a climate about like Newfoundland. This plus some odd Misli influence (TODO, explain here if not yet elsewhere) has produced the following, which I'll go into great detail with -- it's essential that this be gotten more or less right, and I've deliberately tried to create a style of dress with no particularly good historical antecedent...
   Both kantis (masculine) and kasja (feminine -- note that these are both utterly ungrammatical by my current rules for the Peija language, and need re-coining) contain 'trousers' and a 'tunic' or 'shirt,' but don't think of them too quickly in European terms.
   The kantis contains the following elements:
      Loose but not baggy trousers, reaching just below the knee, able to be tied off like knee breeches, brought up to above the knee, or left open as the occasion demands.
      Heavy stockings reaching the knee or so -- the trousers can be tucked into these; removing the stockings and pulling the trousers up a bit would allow activity in light water without having to worry about (as severely) wet clothing. These stockings were originally worn with sandals or very light shoes; boots are basically unknown. (We see more substantial shoes in ASLOW, typically upturned at the toe in imitation of the Soltallines and especially the Misli; they also use boots, typically worn with less substantial stockings.)
      Light undergarments more or less following the lines of the trousers (though shorter) and the upper garment (see just below), as one might imagine that this sort of clothing was a severe bother to wash.
      A tunic-like main upper garment, fully closed at the neck (sometimes hooded), reaching halfway to the knees, made thick enough to be comfortably warm, and long-sleeved. As with the trousers, there's no attempt at being form-fitting -- the sleeves can be tied at the wrists, the garment's always worn with a belt at the waist (for appearance and air circulation -- support is covered by the trousers' "under-belt"), but the tunic unsecured is very much 'flat'.
      Headgear largely varied depending on which of the Peija tribes one was looking at. Turbans were worn by several of them, tied in the Persian (progressively wrapped, with a 'turban tail') or Muslim (progressively wrapped without a 'tail') fashion more commonly than the Sikh (always wrapped at the same place, producing a 'crest' over the forehead). There were several common types of hats or other headgear also used -- birettas, typically a dark color, often with flaps for the ears; a fez-like hat with a bill, a narrow brim slanting backwards, and a shoulder-length free-hanging fabric covering the ears and everything behind them; and the Iraden cap, named for the largest and what was to become the most influential of the tribes, which needs a little more description. It was/is a single article, generally felt or wool and of a solid color; the crown has a slight rounded peak in the front (running horizontally), but apart from that mostly follows the line of the head. A corded band runs along the base of the crown -- about the line of the eyebrows and the top of the ears. Below this, the cap has two significant sections, a pair of long cheek covers that can be folded forward and tied at the front of the face, leaving only the eyes and the base of the nose uncovered, and a long 'fringe,' equally solid, covering the neck -- there's a slight curve upwards in the profile just behind and below the ears. The front parts, the cheek protection, were worn folded back more often than tied over the face, and when folded back touched comfortably at the back of the head; the extra layer of cloth running back and the knot at the back of the head are basically the cap's definitive visual aspect.
         The kantis proper, the upper garment, would also sometimes have a hood woven into it, which would be worn underneath other headgear for extra insulation for the neck.
      The typical outerwear is a thick chalmys, wool or sometimes fur, or a hooded cape; it's typically to deal with rain and wind rather than cold. One wouldn't think of it, but the Honseli are actually pretty poorly suited to truly cold climates -- and as far as clothing, they'll generally borrow whatever's necessary, as noted below regarding Lun and Sivas.
      (Any other garments?)
   The kasja is mostly similar. However, the trousers are longer -- ankle- rather than knee-length, and worn with shorter stockings and more substantial shoes; the undergarments are longer in the legs, following that; the tunic can be opened at the neck, and has a longer skirt reaching somewhere between halfway to the knees and to the knees themselves; the belt is replaced with a sash, with a ribbon-like texture when possible (tied off in a manner similar to a necktie, though with an extra turn of the sash to hide the knot); headgear is always a cap, and a shorter one, fastened under the chin rather than across it, with a clear band above the ears and leaving the ears and neck uncovered (though scarves are worn in sufficiently chill climates to compensate, and enlarging the upper parts of the securing band into ear-flaps is not unknown). Outerwear is about the same, though.
   Also, both sexes cover their faces relatively often. Honseli women will often wear veils for the sake of modesty, or formality, though it's not strictly a cultural requirement; and Honseli never fight with their faces uncovered when even remotely possible, making covering the face a universally understood way of signalling that fighting's about to begin. Most of their helmets echo the tagelmoust, and originated with an armored version of a cap plus cloth to cover the face.
   (Also note, Honseli men always wear their hair short, in something similar to the modern fashion; long hair is so distinctively feminine that it doesn't even have a cultural meaning when worn by men. Women traditionally held some of their hair up in the cap of a kasja, a probable partial explanation of why it's normally padded; and feminine hairstyles are meaningful in some Honseli cultures, though not in any in this setting. Honseli men seldom have significant facial hair, but those who do will normally grow an 'Islamically scruffy' beard -- though certainly not as a sign of humility.)


   Regarding the Misli, I'll begin by noting that they're a lot more significant outside the game's setting than in it... Within ASLOW, there's an enclave of them in Ayrum, and there's some of their blood in the Aimarines, but that's about it -- they're not going to show up too terribly often...
   The Misli are ultimately descended from proto-Galines, like everyone else in the Honseli cultural sphere, but a cold climate together with a lot of sun forced a certain amount of Inuit-type biological adaptations; they're stocky but fairly tall, with a "Far Eastern" skin tone; they have dark hair, and their eyes are dark with an epicanthalic fold. Culturally, they tend to be 'true techophiles' -- interested in knowledge, in technology especially, for its own sake, and seeing benefits from improved knowledge as a crass consideration, an embarassment rather than an incentive. (Galines interested in technology, by way of contrast, tend to be in it for the profit.)
   Unlike the Galines and Honseli, the Misli not only have pronounced differences in form between male and female clothing, their differences are instantly recognizable to Westerners -- shirts (or rather tunics -- woven in a single piece rather than buttoned down the front), coats and trousers for men, and blouses and skirts for women. Men's tunics are short, worn tucked into the trousers instead of loose over them as is more common in the Honseli cultures; their coats are long-sleeved, high-collared and skirtless, buttoned along the left side, in the Tibetan fashion. Their trousers are the standard "Asiatic herdsman's trousers," heavy, loose-fitting but not baggy; they're fastened to one side instead of in the front.
   Misli women dressed much like early-modern Europeans. Undergarments are primarily a corset with integrated petticoat (though remember that corsets weren't as stiff as we think of them until the 19th century -- it's probable that Renaissance corsets were 'boned' with hemp cording instead of Victorian-style whalebone). Clothing proper above this would follow its lines -- long skirts and low-cut bodices; sleeves closed at the wrist as seperate articles attaching to the bodice; a shift with very long sleeves worn when sleeves are, with the long 'undersleeves' primarily in the main sleeves but visible, sometimes puffed out, at the armpit. Headgear -- typically bonnets or turbans depending on the culture -- would be worn in sufficient cold; coats similar to men's, and similarly almost never skirted. Women's as well as men's clothing would typically button when applicable on the left side.
   Chinese-style boots, broad and with upturned toes, are the normal masculine footwear; women wear shoes recognizably derived from these, fastened across the instep and similarly upturned at the tip.

   In the context of ASLOW, this level of heaviness of clothing -- especially with the multiple layers of undergarments the Misli traditionally wear, which inspired the similar style in Peija clothing -- is completely unnecessary, and it shows. Misli in ASLOW will tend to wear light fabrics and a single layer of undergarments.
   Misli armor follows the lines of the body like their clothing, but is noteworthy for its heavy use of sliding-rivet ("lobster-tail") armor on the limbs, especially over the knees and elbows.


   The Soltallines look about as Turkic as pre-Galines could be expected to become, and are famous in Honseli civilization for their physical beauty. Their home region is the southern half of the continent on which the Galines inhabited the north -- primarily open savannah (though with wildlife much more prosaic than Africa's -- the low biodiversity of the Honseli cultural sphere has potential to become a plot point someday), shading into primarily temperate forests towards the eastern ocean. The earliest Soltallines were "western," herders and hunters on the savannah, fighting with bows, spears and bolas, proud of their horses' ability to match pace with most of the game they hunted; the "eastern" or "forest" Soltallines hunted on foot and practiced rudimentary agriculture, but still fought on horseback, and were hardly less fierce for their change in climate, at least prior to contact with the Iradens.
   All Soltalline clothing emphasizes their height, slenderness, and tawny skin. Western Soltalline men wore slack trousers similar to the kasja's, long, long-sleeved tunics with heavily developed collars, broad belts, and capes worn off the shoulder, unexpectedly like the chalmys. They had a taste for elaborate headgear (many of them developed a "Plains Indian" system of feathered headdresses) and ornamental clothing in general; their quivers, worn by their swords on the left hip, always had elaborately decorated shoulder-straps. Their facial hair was Asiatic -- those who could grow long mustaches wore them, but they didn't grow beards easily or substantially at all.
   The forest Soltallines favored closer-fitting trousers, shorter tunics with heavier sleeves and lighter collars, and Circassian coats (http://www.chechnyafree.ru/index.php?lng=eng&section=bookeng&row=14); their headgear was typically similar to the Iraden cap (low-crowned and billed, with substantial ear-flaps and a long back). More decorative/ceremonial headgear tended to be the Plains Indian-type headdress or more-or-less naturalistic heads of animals in the Mexica ("Aztec") fashion.
   Soltalline feminine costume began as essentially the modern-form Vietnamese ao dai, though adapted to much more intense sun -- with more than one layer of the upper 'tunic', a long wrap, a shawl or headscarf instead of the Vietnamese conical hat, and cuffs halfway up the shins to pull the long trousers back up and keep them from dragging on the ground. Colors were always pale, to reflect as much heat as possible, though only unmarried girls wore white.
   In the east, the need for heavier clothing led to looser trousers with multiple layers of undergarments, closer-fitting tunic layers reaching only to about half knee length, a wrap more like a narrow blanket, and a very heavy cloak more like a buffalo robe. (Shaped coats were very much masculine clothing.) With time, Iraden influence (and Iraden sheep, as the Soltallines had previously had access just to flax and leather) led to the replacement of numerous layers of clothing by fewer but warmer ones. The heavy cloak was basically abandoned except as extreme outdoor wear, for conditions too cold and wet for anyone but the Peija; the trousers evolved into a divided skirt, then into a true skirt, in imitation of the look of the ao dai and out of a desire to distinguish masculine and feminine costume; and the wrap became significantly longer if narrower, becoming one of the definitive parts of Soltalline feminine costume.
   Later, and especially in more temperate or warm environments, there was a revival of the ao dai together with several new adaptations of it. In the first, the one for most, for normal, wear, the upper garment developed into a true blouse, with sleeve lengths ranging from 'puffs around the shoulder' to true long sleeves, and the wrap became almost auxiliary -- used to break up the otherwise-monotonous lines of the rest of the outfit. As to the other approach, young women wore ever longer and more extravagant wraps, less interesting and closer-fitting skirts, and shorter, shorter-sleeved 'blouses' with deeper necklines, until (in no more than about twenty-five years) they'd reduced the outfit as far as it could go, ending up with something close to the Indian sari -- complete with cutaway-backed choli and nivi-style draping -- via an unlikely sort of evolution. It became the iconic costume of young Soltalline women inclined to show off -- though it's obviously not something that evolved as a practical garment; and one can definitely tell, comparing a Soltalline 'faux sari' with an Indian sari proper, that the Soltalline garment is not a mainstream garment but more the Honseli version of a halter top.
   Neither of these outfits fully displaced the ao dai, though the transitional Iraden-influenced style basically went extinct.

ASLOW's versions:

   With these, I'll go from the northeast clockwise, saving Ajaria for last...


   Lunnais clothing puts a premium on warmth to an even greater extent than the traditional Honseli style, but it's together with a different aesthetic -- Lunnais are taller, stronger, more active than the Honseli proper, and their clothing reflects and emphasizes this. Soldiers wear a kantis with a short-skirted coat and a more tailored cut, with long trousers with a puttee-like wrap and knee-height boots instead of the 'knee breeches' and long stockings of the classical style. The kantis tunic is cut with a knee-length skirt divided in the front, broad shoulders incorporating shoulderboards, sleeves with a closely-spaced row of buttons from halfway down the forearm to the wrist, and a Mandarin collar; it's worn with a relatively broad belt and a sash for sword and quiver. Headgear emphasizes its wearer's height -- plumed shakos or bearskin grenadier-type caps are common (and it says a lot about how far the Lunnais are from traditional Honseli if they'll wear animal skins...). Civilian men will dispense with the buttons and shoulderboards, and will wear tall caps instead of shakos, but they're clearly in the same "paramilitary" style. (Also worth noting is that the Lunnais can and sometimes do grow beards and/or mustaches.)
   Armor is a cuirass with plate or splinted greaves and gauntlets, and mail or occasionally lamellar sleeves and leggings -- "lobster mail" is prized but rare, an import from Rapla or Ayrum. Lunnais shields are round and relatively small; they fight primarily with the lance, additionally using bows and the Circassian-style shashka and kindjal.
   The Lunnais kasja is tight-fitting and voluptously cut, worn with a Misli-style corset -- a garment less demanding on its wearer than the almost severe classical one, although an Ajarine, let alone a Peija proper, would despise them for trying to cheat this way. The ribbon sash is replaced with a low-riding belt, and the skirts are shorter -- half knee-length, an inversion of the usual relation of masculine and feminine Honseli tunics, cut in such a way as to emphasize the hips. The trousers are closer-fitting than the classical kasja's; footwear is normally boots, buttoned up the outer side (Lunnais value small feet in women together with the other aspects they emphasize, and a Lunnais woman will normally wear footwear a bit too small to be put on, and especially removed, without partially taking it apart). Also, Lunnais women don't wear anything like the kasja cap, but cover their hair with kerchiefs, or shawls if a kerchief would no longer look as graceful on them.


   Karachine men wear something close to the classical kantis, although both the tunic and trousers are cut more closely to the body rather than falling straight, and the trousers, which are three-quarters length, halfway down the calves, rather than knee-length, can be 'buttoned in' on themselves and can't be tucked into the stockings. Shoes are fairly solid but still shoe-like. For riding, they'll add leather 'chaps' over the trousers, together with half-calf-height boots. Their preferred headgear is a turban tied in the Sikh fashion, ornamented with a central jewel or 'brooch' for an official and this together with a plume for a nobleman. (Note, though, that the Karachines almost never have facial hair, and when they do, generally in old age, it's generally a scanty beard growing straight down like those of the Chinese. And their skin's lighter than Indians', more 'golden' or 'tawny' than 'dark' -- do not think of the Karachines as Indian, turbans or no turbans...) Overwear is generally a Circassian coat -- complete with something like the double-breasted cartridge holder, although in the form of a raised area of vertical ridges, looking almost like rank insignia or something, rather than a means of carrying rifle ammunition.
   Soldiers generally use lamellar armor, preferring it over plate for increased flexibility; preferred weapons are the bow, saber and estoc, with jians or cruciform swords for fighting on foot. They generally have the edge in cavalry, and war's an aristocratic enterprise for them even by the standards of ASLOW -- they seldom bother with spears or pikes. All Karachine soldiers wear eagle feathers in their headgear and elsewhere in their clothing -- a soldier wears one feather per enemy killed or captured, plus any feathers he takes from a dead or captured enemy. (The Aimarines also follow this custom, as do the soldiers of Chelm and Kobulaiet -- and as the Chanurins themselves did prior to their unification of Ajaria, when they gave it up out of embarassment. Note also that the Honseli taboo on eating birds extends to killing them, so they're not hunting eagles for their feathers, they're plucking semi-domesticated ones. Ever try to pluck an eagle?)
   Karachine women wear a sort of re-rationalization of the sari: a long, close-fitting skirt fully covering the legs, with a form-fitting blouse -- the length and coverage of which vary based on the age and the flirtatiousness of the wearer. (Almost no married women however young will wear blouses without a true collar, the ability to be tucked into the skirt, and slits that just help it to be more manageable, but unmarried girls will sometimes favor deep necklines, very short sleeves, and blouses _just_ long enough not to expose the midriff while standing still -- sometimes all at once. They'll sometimes wear midriff-baring blouses, though normally with a sari-like wrap.) Their shawls and the hooded capes they wear in bad weather are clear echoes of the long wrap, the sari proper.


   Aimarine men wear solid trousers, long-sleeved tunics (although close-fitting, cut to emphasize the breadth of the shoulders, and with turned-down collars), and knee-length robes crossing below the throat, like a short kimono with close-fitting sleeves. They wear Chinese-style boots, upturned at the toes but without a long peak; the boots' upper parts are loose enough for the trousers to be easily tucked into them, but can be 'folded over' on the side facing inwards (i.e. towards the other leg) and buttoned shut. Headgear is rare -- the occasional Karachine turban, more often rounded hats like those worn by the Ayrunine Misli (see below).
   Aimarine women wear a fairly loose, almost knee-length skirt, trousers sufficiently close-fitting to be better called hose not covering the feet, a blouse a bit looser, 'puffier,' than that worn in Karachen, opening below the throat (and with sleeve length varying based on personal preference, but few young women will wear sleeves longer than halfway down the upper arm), sometimes a sort of vest fastening below the bosom down the waist (normally rigid and tight enough to act somewhat like a corset) with a deep but narrow 'neckline', and occasionally a kerchief over the hair, more often a hairband or other such means of mostly controlling the hair.
   The characteristic non-combat outfit of the Karachine (to-be-renamed) Fish Speakers is a stylization of this style of clothing -- the Fish Speakers were originally recruited in Aimaren, after the Karachine conquest and before they split back off. The Fish Speaker version of this shortens and reduces the skirt dramatically, making it completely flat, very close-fitting, and hardly longer than the hips, worn a little bit higher than the top of the hose, held on the left side by a brooch and covering only halfway across the hose on the left leg. (The hose are now true hose, covering the feet as well as the legs, but have slack at the ankles like Indian churidar.) The blouse is form-fitting (although closed below the neck), and sports slits up the bottom quarter after the manner of the ao dai; the sleeves are elbow-length, and the headdress is simplified to just a headband, always embroidered and sometimes sporting feathers to commemorate battlefield successes.

      Ayrunine Misli.

   The Misli of Ayrum wear a coat with broad, cuffed sleeves and skirts reaching halfway down the calves, buttoned along the left side of the chest but solid below that, with a Mandarin collar; the right side of the coat is cut such that it runs downwards from the collar to the buttons underneath the left arm. (In the interest of symmetry, the coat sometimes bears a similar pattern running to an equivalent position on the right arm.) Trousers under this are loose-fitting and not even remotely tailored, normally padded to a certain amount; shoes are simple but solid, with upturned toes. Hats are round, broad and crownless, similar to the tam-o'-shanter. (The riding version of this splits the coat's skirts from the waist downwards.)
   Ayrunine Misli women dress in a much more understated manner: long-sleeved blouses able to be opened at the neck, dresses with integrated sleeves (low-cut, but always worn over a blouse), short cloaks about half waist-length (with full-length cloaks worn over rather than replacing them in cold weather), and boots buttoned along the outer sides (the Lunnic style clearly originated here). They use corsets, normally significantly tighter than those worn elsewhere in approximate imitation of them. They'll cover their hair with a kerchief or shawl if necessary, but not routinely; young women normally wear their hair in two braids, unlike the free-flowing styles ubiquitous elsewhere in the setting.
   Ayrunine Honseli costume is more or less the same as other Western Ajarine styles; see below for these.

      Sivas. (This country needs a rename in a hurry...)

   The Galine Sivaic masculine style, originating from and focusing on Rapla, shows some Ajarine influence, and probably had some effect on Lunnic clothing. They wear long-sleeved kaftans, buttoned down the front (although normally left unbuttoned below the waist), with broad bands of contrasting cloth (or areas in which the kaftan was turned back) outside the buttoned area, with voluminous shirts with broad, flat collars. Headgear is not universal except when weather requires, and is typically in the form of a hood, Phrygian cap, or a peaked cap of the worn by early Russians or the Norwegian nisse (though this third type tends to have less of a peaked hood and a fairly large area that can be turned up -- sometimes reaching from the ears to nearly the top of the head, looking like a very broad headband). Trousers are close-fitting, worn with puttees and with very high-topped boots, reaching above the kneecap and buttoned facing outwards from halfway up the calves to the top.
   All that need be said about Sivaic Galine women is that they dress like Bavarians. Who says that only Soltallines can enjoy flirting with and/or scandalizing Honseli? (Outerwear is normally a coat similar to the Sivaic kaftan, though often cut to still show the bare throat; headwear for sufficient cold will normally be shawls and scarves. Also, they were the ones who transmitted corsets to Lun.)
   Sivaic Honseli show heavy influence from the Galines, and the other direction basically doesn't apply. The typical Sivaic kantis is lightweight, worn with a kaftan-like coat (or sometimes a Circassian coat, showing Lunnic influence), and often with a fez instead of a kantis cap or turban; and Sivas is perhaps the only place in known civilization where one can see that least likely of sights, a kasja with cleavage. (Although most Sivaic Honseli women have some Galine blood, few have the broad shoulders and full bosoms necessary to dress like a Galine woman and not look like they're wearing a pillowcase. Note also that they consistently use corsets, normally less tight-fitting than those used in Lun.)

      The Harsenyi. (Not yet implemented, but they'll be coming presently. Nomadic, Gypsy-type.)

   Harsenyi men wear a doublet of sorts, sleeveless, buttoned down the front, and with knee-length 'skirts' not joined in the front, along with a long-sleeved shirt or tunic (with loose arms even when close-fitting elsewhere), a belt (typically leather with a small metal disc over the buckle, and buckling in front), and the normal Honseli-type trousers; their shoes are always upturned, and they frequently wear Iraden caps but never turbans or other headgear.
   Women wear a similar sleeveless doublet, but opening only halfway down to the waist, with a solid and much heavier, ankle-length skirt; it's pulled on over the head rather than buttoned, and is worn with a much smaller belt. They wear blouses similar to the tunics mentioned above, but looser-fitting, ending at the waist, and often shorter-sleeved; the doublet, and often also the blouse, are often cut with a fairly deep, though seldom very broad, neckline.
   Most Ajarine dancing girls are Harsenyi, but their performing costumes are the traditional Honseli style -- not at all related to Harsenyi clothing. The main garment is a sort of two-piece leotard, the upper part fairly low-cut (especially on the back), the whole of it worn with decorated articles somewhere between arm- and legwarmers and bracers/greaves. The 'bracers' run from just below the elbow to the wrist, with a triangle of material reaching across the back of the hand with a hoop for the two middle fingers; the 'greaves' are more or less just that, following the lines of the calves closely, covering the calves but leaving the feet and ankles bare. The 'greaves' normally have wide fringes sewn onto the outer side, and the 'bracers' are worn with small scarves, normally silk or a similarly light fabric, tucked or sometimes sewn into them facing the lower side of the wrist.
   Of course, this isn't something worn outside the context of performing -- too cold, for one thing. Dancing girls will dress in more normal fashions outside this sort of context; they tend to favor East Ajarine clothing, though often replacing the rather uninteresting trousers of the kasja with churidar.


   And lastly, there's Ajaria. Ajarine clothing is primarily split along east-west lines, similarly to the cultural divide -- there's little cultural borrowing from Lun in the east or Aimaren in the west.
   Both eastern and western Honseli men wear the kantis, but with small differences exaggerated in the neighboring cultures. The Eastern Ajarine kantis has a tunic close-fitting around the waist, making the belt more ornamental than practical, and is ordinarily padded in the shoulders; footwear is boots more often than shoes, and sandals are unknown. Western Ajarines wear, over the tunic, coats similar in shape to Circassian or even frock coats, though "under-tailored," loose in the characteristic Peija style; their trousers are closer-fitting, more nearly tailored, than the usual Honseli style, and their undershirts are more shirt-like, often including Mandarin collars (especially in Ayrum). Kepis are occasionally worn, as well as Honseli-style fezzes (mentioned above) and the traditional Iraden cap (more popular in the east) and turban (more often found in the west, and tied Persian-style with a tail reaching the small of the back -- the Karachine use of turbans is probably meant to distinguish them from Chelm).
   Almost all Ajarine Honseli women wear the kasja, but the styles of the east and west are tremendously different, much more than men's clothing. The western kasja is close-fitting to the body; the skirts of the upper garment are close-lying and reach the knee, looking almost like a skirt, and the outfit is worn with a corset, generally just tight enough to have an effect while leaving the observer wondering whether it's really present (as even the western Ajarines share a certain amount of the scorn Honseli women originally had for attempts to cheat in one's appearance); the cap is often omitted or replaced with a kerchief or shawl. The eastern style is much more the 'natural' look of the Isles themselves -- a top untailored but with little slack cloth, tied tightly with a ribbon-textured sash at the waist, slightly 'skirted' to enhance the narrow Peija hips, and sleeves a little too long and partially covering the hands (though this is an affectation only of young women, and not all of them); close-lying but untailored trousers; and the traditional sort of cap, padded and without flaps below the band.

I doubt that anything will come of this, but...

I'm leaving my current job, the one that's kind of kept me away from the mod for the past year. I'd planned on going back to school afterwards, to a university in San Diego that was organized a few years ago to help Catholics get into the entertainment media (John Paul the Great, www.jpcatholic.com

A Shield Lying On The Water / I have returned! (...)
« on: July 21, 2007, 11:48:51 am »
Believe it or not, I never actually died along the way here -- although I got Ron Losey seriously concerned, and the rest of you have probably given up hope. :) I'm leaving my current job in two weeks, and I really hope I'll find something else that will leave me with a little more time and energy to work on this -- and that I'll be more used to work by then and will have more energy to begin with...

At present, I'm -- still :P -- in the midst of the RCM conversion. I'm going to take a look today at a model of ASLOW weaponry etc. that Ron prepared a little while ago (how long of a little while? You probably know me well enough to guess :P -- about a month...), and I'll probably use it at least as a placeholder.

By the way, if anyone wants to work as a concept artist for this mod, I have thorough writeups of all civilian clothing for this setting that I will be overjoyed to send you. I think concept art is a requirement for 3D modelling, but I have to admit that I can't do or learn to do everything myself...

I also have the problem that the way things are currently going, the Mother of All Battles is about to erupt between the story I intend to write and the game mechanics. However, the mechanics are such a smash hit (with myself too!) that I think what I want to revise is the story, not the ruleset -- so that's going to mean a lot of reconsidering, too...

I can't guarantee how active I'll be on these fora -- it sometimes starts taking a lot of time -- but I'll definitely keep developing...

A Shield Lying On The Water / Music?
« on: April 29, 2007, 12:06:51 am »
What kinds of music do you (collectively) tend to listen to while playing ASLOW? Do you find yourself preferring the same sort of music as with 'vanilla' M&B, or other choices -- and either way, what sorts of music? (What artists, also, if that's a meaningful question?)

Believe it or not. :)

I've discovered that I'd thought my job was demanding already, but I hadn't seen anything yet -- I think I put in 50 or 60 hours of programming last week. And yet, it's helped a little in motivating me to work on the mod -- I've just finished a re-specification and retooling of the mod's weapons and armor. It no longer has SNES-type progressions, and the game now actually has a halfway-decent variety of arms, too. Including maces and axes, for all of you mace and axe fans. :)

However, I don't know which major area of functionality to do next. I have several points in mind; which of these does everyone think is most interesting? I'll probably want to do them all, eventually...

  • The siege system I've mentioned earlier. I'm a little intimidated by this option -- it'll be an enormous amount of work, and will involve a fair bit of new research (and of the annoyingly slow process known as scene-building), and I'm not 100% sure it'll be too important in the final version of the game. Then again, the final version is a long way off right now...
  • More NPCs. I've recieved several private messages detailing at great length the advantage of a large number of NPCs, and I agree -- besides, the mod is meant to use the Magnificent Seven (or in this case, Magnificient Twenty-One or so :P) model instead of the traditional one. This would be the easiest of these to implement, and probably one of the most appreciated... It's definitely a candidate.
  • Something to do with the Harsenyi. (By the way, I cadged the name from Leigh Brackett, and I'm going to have to revise it at some point.) If you're guessing they're literary-form Gypsies with the serial numbers rubbed off, you're right :) -- and I can't even say I have plans to give them further variation... Anyhow, though, I want to have their 'caravans' able to wander across the map and set up camp in various towns -- imagine the caravan scene in Storymod, only mobile. This wouldn't be so bad in development, and would probably have a lot of 'flash' -- but I'm not sure it would add much to the game.
  • Smaller towns and villages -- though probably not on the scale of The Leaguer of Maedhros.
  • More merchants, shops, and shop types. I plan to add full-fledged tailors/haberdashers to the game, along with specialized smiths (and generalist ones, to go with the smaller towns); other merchants will probably come along with time.
  • Development on the story. This wouldn't be releasable yet, of course... No, now that I think about it, I should probably plan out the whole story before doing anything with it -- otherwise I'll end up with a large amount of unusable scripts in need of being retooled, for the third time. Never mind...

And, of course, the usual bugfixing, suggestion implementing, that sort of thing, too.

So, suggestions? Thoughts?

(By the way, I may have some concept art by next release, too. Modellers, start your engines... (*knocks on wood*))

A Shield Lying On The Water / About the moderator's posting frequency...
« on: February 16, 2007, 10:30:31 am »
As some of you have probably noticed, it's been a week. :P

I apologize for my extremely infrequent posts here, but it may very well continue. Work has been taking more than you might think out of me, and I've dusted off my old Magic: the Gathering habit, which has been taking out the rest. I've had no energy for anything related to the mod for a little while now...

Additionally, it seems like posting followups here takes almost as much time and energy as another significant chunk of progress on the mod; they seem to be mutually exclusive when I'm finally in the mood for work on it. I'm trying to favor development over talking about development, so...

A Shield Lying On The Water / What to Do with Archery
« on: February 03, 2007, 11:24:20 pm »

Over on the Taleworlds forum, Rover109 alerted me that horse archery is very underpowered for the player (although regarding other mods, I've heard wild stories from Middle-earth about unassisted players taking out greater hosts of Isengard :)), and Tuckles added the disclaimer that it's not so weak for NPCs. So, does anyone have strong thoughts on what I should do here? (Or any thoughts, for that matter. Click away!)

Feel free to post here clarifying your thoughts -- but please don't vote for all nine options at once. :) But if you're voting for a bifurcated structure of PC and NPC archery, it would be nice to know what in particular you'd like to see different between them.

A Shield Lying On The Water / POST ALREADY, PEOPLE! :)
« on: February 03, 2007, 03:03:08 pm »
I'm nearing a hundred views on some topics and still nothing!? If nothing else, just tell me what areas of content I've been leaving out! :)

(However, Winter said that there'd been a problem in configuration for the board -- I take it that's the real reason for a lack of posts.)

(Still, don't feel shy...)

A Shield Lying On The Water / Bugs and Balance Issues
« on: February 02, 2007, 09:38:29 pm »
Bug reports and issues with game balance (which qualify as bugs in my book :)) should go here.

Known Bugs and Issues:

* The opening game menus refer to a story that's not there.
  I'll be developing storyline materials presently; in the meantime, if people want me to remove the opening material (and/or are getting confused by it), just say the word.

* The opening game menus also present you with a small ocean of incomprehensible names and choices.
   Manual and introductory materials coming reasonably soon -- and I'll draw up spoilers for the chargen menus. A few of those options really are pretty inscrutable -- though that was partially deliberate.

* Occasional "stuttering" or freezing on the overworld map.
   I think I know the cause; I'm working on it.

* Gibberish in the town stewards' dialogues.
   This should be solved next version.

* City garrisons aren't being paid.
   A stupid mistake on my part (created two slots for town garrisons' wages); fixed next version.

* Mudslide in Delmarinen!
   Fixed in the next version. I could have sworn I'd already caught all of these...

* Recruting a bandit/deserter party doesn't ensure that parties currently pursuing them will stop doing so.
   I'm not 100% sure that this can be fixed... but then again, I'm 90% sure, now that I think about it. If it can be fixed, look for a resolution next version.

* Relative rarities of masculine and feminine armors are fouled up.
   I haven't started looking at this, but it shouldn't take too long to figure out and deal with -- it should be fixed (and item rarities in general should be better) next version.

* Cities accumulating unrealistic amounts of money set aside for the player.
   "Our treasury is 1200 rallen. ... We have 14,368 rallen set aside for your use; would you like that money now?"
   I had envisioned first going to a city as being a sort of bonus for the player, but I hadn't meant it to be this much of a bonus. Whoops... (Cities will 'plow back' money over a certain amount saved for the player in the next version.)

* Too easy to blow one's political position.
   Next version, declaring war or breaking alliances will prompt you to ensure that you really want to do this.

* Too much forest in Lun.
   Yes, more colorful map geography is good, but I've lost track of two of their cities. :) There'll be a little more woodcutting around Ostien and Labin next version.

* Invasion forces are insultingly weak.
   I had intended them to be less than totally reliable in taking cities, but not this much less...

* Multiple invasion forces heading for a city will all attack the city, even if one of them (and/or the player) conquors it.
   To be fixed next version.

* The "One Defender" bug -- cities take about a day to get their defenses on-line, and will sit around prior to that with a garrison of two Common Maidens and an Experienced Honseli Spearman.
   This is an unforeseen side effect of the rules; there's need for a "priming read" before cities start getting serious about attacking each other. This and the stuttering problem will probably both be most effectively fixed by having the player rest for a day before beginning the mod proper. (This won't be a problem in the final version, where opening storyline events will consume at least a day's time.)

* Common Maidens are useless -- and far too easy to hire.
   They're a little more useful next version.

* Weapons and armor are disproportionate.
   I'll tackle this probably the version after next, if people can "hold out" that long. Please let me know about any particularly offensive items (the 0.1.x cuirass kantis, for example :P) in the meantime.

* Bows are underpowered, especially for the player.
   This will be dealt with  next release.

* Your wife, who's already in your party, is also in a room in the castle in Baheisir; you can ask her to join you, in which case she will and your party size, with two people, will be recorded as three.
   To be addressed next version. More stuff from the story implementation that I kind of forgot to remove... :P

* Over-armored Sivaic scouts.
   I've lightened their equipment once or twice before, but it looks like I haven't far enough yet. Next version...

* And doubtless more issues I've missed...

By the way, from here on out, I'll try to credit those who point out bugs and issues (and I'll try to go back through the thread to give suitable credit to those who've pointed out these); in the meantime, let me know if you see your idea up here...

A Shield Lying On The Water / Suggestions
« on: February 02, 2007, 09:19:44 pm »
Post suggestions here! (Note, this should be new features you'd like to see in the game -- rebalancing of existing ones should go in "bugs" -- but don't lose any sleep over it.)

Note, subjects I'm currently working on include the following:

* Sieges -- though on a higher "level" than you might think; castle assaults themselves will almost certainly be present but won't be central to the system.

* NPC stuff: The NPCs from 0.20 are certainly coming back next version, and I'll probably add more. A much more interesting system of interactions with them is definitely in the stars.

* The storyline: Well... eventually. :P

A Shield Lying On The Water / Board Rules
« on: February 02, 2007, 09:16:15 pm »
To start with, let me observe that this is not a definitive set of rules yet. I haven't encountered any trouble in the thread back in Module Development / the Cartographer's Guild, and hopefully I won't here either, so this set of rules hasn't been tested in practice. Anyhow, here goes...

1. Be charitable and fight fair.
  Remember that it's easy to convey an unintended insult on the Internet; we don't realize until we're deprived of them how important tone of voice and body language can be. Assume the best until proven that you should assume otherwise. And be sure to direct arguments etc. properly: don't put someone in the position of defending something he never said; don't flame people over mods they didn't write :); that sort of thing.
  (Note that I'm not perfect on this, and I don't expect anyone to be -- just to be willing to change if a fault's pointed out. As an informal proof, let me observe that I interrupted writing this rule to modify a paragraph back in the thread that would have been in violation of it...)
  Likewise, ad hominem attacks, appeals to emotion over reason, wilful distortion of evidence, etc. will get you warned if not (eventually) banned. I like Colt's "Use proper logic" rule, and it seems good insurance just in case...

2. Don't worry -- too much -- about keeping on topic.
  Basically, if the conversation naturally goes in a certain direction, let it go that way; I won't mind. I may mark sufficiently off-topic threads "OT", and/or change the title to indicate the new subject, but don't think of this as a Mount and Blade Scary Devil Monastery.

3. Don't be afraid to ask questions. (And answer questions when they're asked.)
  There is no FAQ yet, and once there is, "Look at the FAQ" won't be a difficult thing to type. Remember, too, that the mod's very much still under development -- the answer to a frequently-asked question may change from release to release...

More rules to come as necessary -- i.e., hopefully not to come at all...

A Shield Lying On The Water / Strategic Advice
« on: February 02, 2007, 08:55:09 pm »
Confused about how to start, keep going, take cities, or whatnot? Ask here -- or feel free to create your own thread.

I'll be composing a dedicated thread of strategy advice before long.

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