Blades of Avernum Designers' FAQ

Q1: I downloaded BoA, but I don't see the scenario editor anywhere! Where is it?

A: It's a separate download. Go to the Scenario Workshop.

Q2: I opened up the scenario editor, and I got a whole bunch of errors and the editor couldn't find Warrior's Grove! Is this a bug?

A: One might call it stupid programming, but then, in all fairness, the error message tells you what to do. On a Mac, move the scenario editor (the app itself) to the "Blades of Avernum Files" folder. On a PC, move the scenario editor (the exe itself) to the "Blades of Avernum Data" folder.

Q3: Hooboy! I've got the editor open! Now I'm going to make the largest scenario that the Blades community has ever seen!

Please, please, no. People show up trying to do this from time to time. They always quit about a tenth of the way in and are never heard from again. They tend to look like Solodric. He dropped out of existence in March of '05 and has not really been heard from again. His scenario remains unfinished. Don't let this be you! (As a point of fact, Solodric resurfaced on AIM in early 2008, saying that he did exactly what I warn against in the next question.)

Jeff himself (who knows a thing or two about game design) says, "Before starting any large scenario, I strongly suggest writing a small one. Make your first scenario 2x2 outdoor sections and 4-5 towns/dungeons, at least one of which has a lot of NPCs with a fair amount of dialogue. Please do this."

Q4: Yeah, I know a few designers have tried to start out big and have failed, but I'm different! I've been playing Spiderweb games for a while, and I'm special! I'll be able to succeed where others have failed!!

Mmmph. Alcritas, the grand-daddy of Blades of Exile scenario design, wrote an article about this once for BoE, which was easier to learn than BoA is. He indicated that you should go right ahead and start to make your beginner epic... for practice. You WILL NOT finish it.

I agree with Alcritas, more or less. Bahssikava was my beginner epic: I wanted to make a medium-sized scenario in which I could try out everything in the BoA engine. I wanted to learn how to script, to make towns, to manipulate heights, to place monsters, and to do everything else that BoA can do. Eventually I managed to turn it into a scenario, which Alcritas didn't decide to do with his beginner epic.

Bahssikava was a valuable learning experience for me, so if you feel the urge to make a largish scenario, go ahead and start it. However, if you find that, in the middle, you're tired of the darn thing and you're never going to finish it, it's far better that you give up on the scenario and make a new, smaller one than that you give up on BoA entirely.

Q5: Hooboy! I've got the editor open! Now I'm gonna make a cool new world with lots of new spells and new races and new skills! How do I do that?

Unfortunately, you can't (at least not without some black magic one way or another). Things that BoA does not support:

Q6: Where do I find custom graphics that I can use? Scripts? Advice? Alternatively, I've made a custom graphic or script or article, so where do I send it so that it's available to everyone?

A: Custom graphics are located at the Louvre. The best place for scripts is the Lyceum boards, specifically in the Codex. Articles are in two places: the Lyceum's Designer's Forum, which is more BoE than BoA at this point, but a number of articles apply to both; and Spiderweb's Useful Articles.

Q7: Has anyone made any scripting utilities? Also, the BoA Editor is open-source. Has anyone done anything cool with that yet?

A: Several neat utilities exist. Check the Links List and Utilities elsewhere on this site to find them.

Q8: I've heard about bugs in BoA. If it's open-source, can't the community just fix them?

A: The BoA scenario editor is open-source. The BoA application is NOT open-source. This means that our ability to change fundamental restrictions in designing is very limited. We can change the user interface of the editor, and we can make scripting utilities, but we can't (for instance) add new races or change the size of towns. We also can't fix the bugs in BoA, just in the BoA editor.

Q9: I have lots of great ideas for a scenario, but I don't have the time or the scripting skills to make it. Is there any chance of finding someone who can code the scenario for me?

A: Little to none. Collaborative efforts in BoE and BoA have tended not to work out very well at all. Most good coders have their own stories they want to write. Even if you do find a partner, there's a pretty good chance that one of the two of you will give up before the scenario is released. It is worthy of note that out of roughly two-hundred fifty BoE scenarios over the course of the first seven years of BoE, only about three or four have been the work of more than one person, and no BoA scenarios have been yet. (This excludes the rather odd "Creator" situation, explained here.)

If the problem is purely that the BoA documentation just doesn't make sense, I suggest that you start with the tutorial that docs describe. At that point, take a look at my article, Basic Scripting For Complete Beginners. Try a few test towns with lots of weird specials. I wrote reasonably full comments for my utility, the High Level Party Maker, so you might take a look at that. Useful things are available on my links list. And if you have any specific questions, feel free to post them on the Spiderweb BoA Editor forum.

Q10: I am a BoA player, too, and I have some questions about that. Do you have a FAQ for players?

A: Yes. It's here.

Q11: I used to play a game called Blades of Exile. Does that still exist? Do people still play it? If I make a scenario for it, will anyone care?

A: Yes, yes, and yes. The BoE community is still alive and well. Make BoE scenarios to your heart's content. There are, in fact, several people who still prefer BoE. And yes, there has been an OS X port, which you can find out more about here.