Larian Studios

[Stand-alone Story] Escape From Smalcatraz

Posted By: Noaloha

[Stand-alone Story] Escape From Smalcatraz - 11/08/14 08:43 AM



I finally settled on a version of the mini module that I was happy(ish) with! With that, I decided to release it without any 'testing' qualifiers. I'm still not sure about a couple of issues, such as those specified in the original OP, but balls to it.

This version has several balance passes and 'unflagged fail-state' fixes compared to the version mentioned in this post's original OP. I'm tempting fate here, but I actually think I got rid of all realistically possible unflagged fail-states.

Give it a go, tell me what you think. smile

Info pulled from the Steam/Nexus descriptions:

This is a short, 1-player, stand-alone scenario. The focus is on dialog, puzzle-solving, item-interaction and stupid jokes. Completion time: assuming you care to read dialogs and notes, maybe 10-15 minutes, more if you get stuck.


After being knocked out cold, fantasy cop-on-the-edge Detective Lou Scannon wakes up in a dingy, unknown cell. Behind bars and with only his wits at his disposal, Lou must somehow find a way to... ESCAPE FROM SMALCATRAZ.

This is the very first section of a larger planned scenario. Your goal for now: just get out of the cell.

The escape puzzle is multipart, encompassing logical problem-solving, separating clues from noise, and applying knowledge of Divinity:OS's mechanics. There's a fair bit of lore to explore if you care to do so, including hints that point toward the motivations of those behind Lou's untimely incarceration. Plenty of hidden (and terrible) jokes too. Plus, if you do manage to escape, a treasure hunt!

I've repurposed several of the main game's systems to better suit the scenario, so be prepared for things to maybe not quite work how you expect. As an example, beds functioning as magical all-purpose healing stations is very much out.

Hopefully you find the puzzle, if not challenging, at least engaging and fun to work through. Difficulty-wise, I'm aiming more towards "follow the clues" rather than "follow the instructions".


Please do leave comments on any bugs / fail-states / typos / whatever you find. Also, whether you enjoyed it or not! I think I've ironed out all the gameplay problems I came across, but I'm bound to have missed stuff.

There appears to be a few sporadic issues that some players could run into, but until I get more data on how widespread the problems are, they're largely out of my hands I think. The issues which I'm strugging to get the bottom of are:

- Weird sound issues (certain effects lacking their audio track)
- Crafting recipe peculiarities (there's a workaround for this hidden in the game, which I'll share if it's a big problem or anyone specifically requests it)

Hopefully however, like the few testers who tried this already, you won't run into any of these oddities.

On the off-chance that the main character's skills present weirdly (names not matching descriptions), please exit the game and restart. It seems that sometimes D:OS struggles to apply custom .txt data to modules on a freshly added install.


Lastly, please note, this is my very first attempt at anything like this. I've never touched a game editor before or worked with creative digital media or dabbled in level/game design or story/dialog writing or anything of the sort. This project represents all of my cherries being popped simultaneously in such affairs. As such, expect a certain level of ghetto coding and all-purpose jankiness.


Click to reveal..
Who wants to show me that my already-broken module is even more broken than I could have imagined? smile

I've uploaded a functional version of my mini-module to Nexus Mods. I'm hoping that some of you might like to try it out and help me confirm/deny a few things.

The main purpose of this test release is to categorise two specific issues --

1) I have a sound glitch present at my end. Certain skills and world effects have audio tracks completely missing from them. Easiest one to check is the Rage ability. If you activate the buff and you're met with a bunch of silence as the animation plays out, please do let me know. In fact, also let me know if it works fine!

2) I think this second issue is related to a general engine bug caused by Friday's update... But at this point I can't be certain. It regards crafting recipes. I really don't know how to describe this without it being a massive spoiler. Um. Should the opportunity to craft arise, I've added a special BUGFIX item to accompany what should be there. You'll know it when you see it and instructions are in the item's description.
Posted By: Baardvark

Re: [bug squash] Escape From Smalcatraz - 11/08/14 07:18 PM

Sounds seem to be working for me, although rage didn't have sound out of combat, but it did in combat. The spider killed me on the first go lol. The crafting recipe worked for me.

I'm not sure if the journal pages are supposed to have multiple pages. Some seem cut off, don't know if that's on purpose. The transitions were funny, but I'm not sure if that was intentional. Pretty good writing overall. I did think the line numbers were kind of ugly and made the pages a little cramped.

Not sure how far I'm supposed to go. Here's what I did.

Click to reveal..
Took me a while to realize that there was a rat hole in the northeast corner. Was dallying for a while, combining all sorts of things in my inventory. But once I heard the squeaks I figured out pretty quickly that I had to put the cheese in front of it. Rat came out, I talked to it. I killed it. Made the bow. Shot the guard and then the oil barrels. Almost killed myself with the fire lol. Then the big rat came out, I talked to it, and then I killed it. Not sure what to do next. I've never been that great at puzzle games so I might not be your target audience, but also just not sure how much is completed yet.

Hope this helps.
Posted By: Noaloha

Re: [bug squash] Escape From Smalcatraz - 11/08/14 08:08 PM

Thanks for the feedback! smile

So, sound and crafting worked for you? Neat. I just hope it works for the majority, if not even everyone. I'm doubtful of that though. Hopefully the sound issue at least might *just* be on my end. That would be a HUGE weight off my shoulders if so.

Can I ask - You mentioned you used Rage, so were the skills all correctly named and described the first time you played? Or did you follow the Readme and do the reload thing?

A few replies to your comments,

I don't know whether I'd go so far as to say the transcriptions are supposed to funny, if only because I'm not that funny myself and I'm trying to write within my limits. They are certainly supposed to be playful and fun though. This story doesn't take itself *too* seriously as you may have noticed. The main character is called is 'Lou Scannon' after all and he's a cop who doesn't play by the rules. Hopefully that says all that needs to be said, ha.

As far as I'm aware, all official transcriptions IRL use pages that are strictly numbered like that, I suppose for ease of subsequent reference and citation. For me when considering if I should include the numbers like that in the game, I went with it because a) I hoped it gave the police transcription more validity, accurate representation, etc. and also b) the line numbers gave me the opportunity to jumble up the pages and make the player struggle to piece them back together, as Lou himself would have to have done. If you note, the binder in which they're found is broken. Some pages were lost along the way and this allowed me to be selective with what I included. Clues and jokes and character establishment. I basically threw every renegade cop stereotype I could think of into those pages, haha.

Spoilered comments on your spoilered comments. Obviously don't read yet if you want to try and solve it yourself. I will say: you were *very* close to escaping.
Click to reveal..
Oh man. You got so close! You actually hit one of the failstates though. I have't figured out a neat way to inform the player of that one. I'm pretty sure it can't be avoided. (EDIT: I'm stupid. I'll just make the Old Rat a Level 20 or something, ha. That'll be a telegraphed failstate! Thank you. You've just altered the finished version with your feedback.) You were told the guard had the key. The guard's body is now lying dead outside. If you stand at your cell door after the explosion, you (or rather Lou, in-game) will notice the key lying on the floor. This will prompt a new dialog option when you speak to the Old Rat.

If you do play again, a couple of things you might want to try are: continue pissing off the gaol guard, and think about why the spider was angry. Checking items in inventory for 'Use' option is a good thing. The 'Use' thing is actually something I'm definitely going to balance out. I need to be putting a 'Can be used.' line in the description I think.

Many thanks for trying it out and feeding back your comments. I really appreciate it.
Posted By: Baardvark

Re: [bug squash] Escape From Smalcatraz - 11/08/14 09:07 PM

I didn't even see the readme hah. Where was it? It wasn't in the rar, didn't see it ingame or on the mod description. Went back to the nexus page and saw it there on the description. Normally I read those things but didn't this time for some reason. I didn't reload the game and my skills were all fine.

Organizing the pages that way is cleverer than I realized. I should think the numbers are a little cramped. Part of it has to do with the font, it's kind of fuzzy. Maybe you could change it to Trebuchet or something like that other guy did. Didn't notice 'Lou Scannon' hah. There's really a lot of nice details.

More spoil comments.

Click to reveal..
First I pissed off the guard. So THAT's what that vent is for.

So I didn't kill the rat. I had figured that was probably the wrong thing to do since killing both rats seemed like it'd be too simple. But then that leaves you stuck of course. I think a problem is that the fire spills inside the room a little bit, so you have to wait a while before you can go to the door and see the key. Maybe that's on purpose, but it definitely left me confused. Like, I wanted to ask the rat to get me the key, but I didn't know I had to see it first.

Once I got out, I loved the troll journal and essay. Was seriously annoyed by the discrepancy of the writing skill at first, but the last page of the journal totally explains it. Nice. Also the pen/journal thing was really clever. I'd make suggest you have something like "~~~" in the first line, and then "So then pen works." Just a little touch. Didn't really find anything else besides the buttons.

I used the spider's bucket and nothing happened. Not sure if I missed something...
Posted By: Noaloha

Re: [bug squash] Escape From Smalcatraz - 11/08/14 11:28 PM

It took me a while to figure out where Nexus puts the readme also, ha. I guess it's simple for anyone familiar with the site but yeah, I was just expecting it to be included in the download. I've moved that part into the main description now.

It's strange how inconsistent and user-specific these issues I'm testing are. The sound, crafting and initial skillset-mixup are all very much present when I test. Yet none of them presented for you. Which is great I suppose (for you in this instance), it just leaves me uncertain about believing the mod is fine for releasing.

I'll definitely look into that font change thing as I do agree about the line-numbering making the transcriptions feel unpleasantly cramped. I'd like to keep the numbering, for the reasons I mentioned.

Again, only read if finished with experimenting yourself.
Click to reveal..
With the fire and the rat, my goal, or hope, is for the player to talk to the rat whilst the oil is burning, so I gave the rat quite a long dialog nest. Then for the player to explore more until they hit the "spotted the key" trigger. The main problem stemming from that is the player can spot the key just by panning the camera around, instead of moving Lou himself. I cant quite find a neat solution. I absolutely don't want Lou to mention the key to the rat if the player themself hasn't noticed it, hence the inclusion of the overhead text near the door. I toyed also with adding a short 'sparkles' FX on the key to accompany the moment Lou triggers the "spotted the key" text. Food for thought, certainly, so thanks. With regards to the fire itself, the duration of burning is troublesome as it's tied to the lifetime timer of the oil itself. I need the oil to stick around as it's a fail state if it disappears without being ignited.

Glad you like the troll language payoff. As you describe it ("this discrepancy is stupid... ooooooh! i get it.") is precisely how I wanted it to play out for the player.

And your comment on the pen/journal. Now I might be misunderstanding here, so forgive me if so. It sounds to me like you only saw the 'ESCAPE FROM SMALCATRAZ' text in the update. If so, that's the 'quest title' (for want of a better term) and you can click that to expand for more information. I dislike this, but it's innate to how the game handles Journal entries I think. I'd much rather it showed both title and update text expanded by default.

You probably don't want to try again. If you were to though, I'd suggest checking out that quest text, clicking on the mattress in the cell if you didn't already (the bed thing is perhaps my favourite thing in the mod) and with the bucket, it's an item you can use while in combat with the spider (the spider's angry you took his bucket, ha). The bucket thing is completely optional, but it works rather neatly, even if the spider moves around the cell. Oh, and you missed four books by the exit/chests. Just some creator notes. One of the books gives the player a little treasure hunt.
Posted By: Noaloha

Re: [bug squash] Escape From Smalcatraz - 13/08/14 05:01 AM

Updated the OP to reflect Escape From Smalcatraz changing to a public release on Steam and being up on Nexus without the 'testing' qualifiers.

Posted By: Noaloha

Re: [bug squash] Escape From Smalcatraz - 14/08/14 05:10 AM

Adding this post to address the users from Steam/Nexus who are running into the crafting glitch.

It's a spoiler for one of the puzzles, don't read unless you find you can't combine two specific items and, hence, cannot proceed:

Click to reveal..
So, you've tried combining the two lengths of sinew from the small rat and they just swap places right? How annoying!

To get around the sinew+sinew recipe not working, I've added a secret item to the module. Please take the tooth from the pile of bones and throw it into the corner of the cell that's closest to the camera. You should now be good to go.

I hope Larian fixes this in the next version update. frown
Posted By: Demonata08

Re: [bug squash] Escape From Smalcatraz - 14/08/14 06:58 AM

Heya! Gradz on the mod release. im on a trip atm and wont be able to look at it for a bit. But it looks pretty legit from your pics! Definitely will be keeping an eye on this.

Just curious, Do you have combat enabled? from your explanation it sounds like combats out lol. Well the magical part of combat i should say.
Posted By: Noaloha

Re: [bug squash] Escape From Smalcatraz - 14/08/14 07:14 AM

Combat's enabled and working, but yeah, there's only a very few instances of it. No large scale battles with spells and big enemy groups and whatnot. It very much models a guy (fantasy cop who is a bit of a hothead/jerk) stuck in a cell in just his underwear. The player still has options however.

Where this publish just covers Lou's attempts at getting out of the cell, the full release once complete will cover the entire escape. From waking up in the cell to heading home. This will mean you get to leave the building and have some encounters outside. It'll be there that I plan to include combat encounters on a much grander, involved scale.
Posted By: Cadmus88

Re: [Stand-alone Story] Escape From Smalcatraz - 11/09/14 10:55 AM

I have unpacked your module, for learning purposes.

What I see in _Start KB section:

What is InitStory() call? I see it for while, but dont understand what it is doing. Is it an engine call? Seems not, seems it is a custom procedure. Is it called from dependent Main mod or smth?

Would be great if you give some light for me on that.
Posted By: Noaloha

Re: [Stand-alone Story] Escape From Smalcatraz - 12/09/14 07:57 PM


Honestly? I have no idea. smile

Best guess: it's entirely unimportant in my small stand-alone module and is just something I poached from the main campaign. I imagine if I removed it, nothing noteworthy would change. But really, I just don't know. Maybe someone better versed in coding/scripting could fill you in. (Which is my way of shining the mod community's version of the bat-signal to this thread.)

If you've any experience modding before, you probably already know more than I do, at least with regards to how things are *supposed* to work. By all means inspect the code I used for Smalcatraz and take from it what you can, but be sure to approach it from the understanding that its author lacked understanding. :P

I was, still am, very new and uncertain about all that stuff.

For funsies, take a look at my dialog for the Gaol Guard, not the one which activates on her being attacked, just the general normal one. She offers five questions and will only answer three of them before snubbing you. I probably went about solving that problem in the most inefficient and laborious way possible.

I'm probably not the best example of 'best practice' in this regard. smile

Hope you enjoyed the mod though.
Posted By: Norbyte

Re: [Stand-alone Story] Escape From Smalcatraz - 12/09/14 10:24 PM

InitStory() is a function defined in the main campaign, like so:

It doesn't do anything outside the main campaign.
Posted By: Noaloha

Re: [Stand-alone Story] Escape From Smalcatraz - 12/09/14 11:04 PM

Thank you Norbyte. <3
Posted By: synra

Re: [Stand-alone Story] Escape From Smalcatraz - 16/09/14 04:09 PM

I only wish I could live with as few regrets as Lou. I will never forget the things I had to do to escape. frown

Click to reveal..
I took quite a while to get out, because a certain someone who might have been useful dead... was so charming alive

It was a fun little diversion, I very much enjoyed the writing smile

I didn't encounter any gameplay issues, although I might have liked some music (I encountered none).
Posted By: Noaloha

Re: [Stand-alone Story] Escape From Smalcatraz - 16/09/14 06:20 PM

Thanks for trying it out! And yeah, as you noticed, Lou is actually a bit of a jerk, ha. As the creator, I wasn't interested in making an RPG style experience (choose your own path) as it seemed a futile and limiting endeavour in such a 'short story' type of experience. I wanted to write/structure a character piece, about this rebel cop who's a bit of a hypocrite and sees others as 'resources' in the case before anything else. Hopefully players learn about Lou as they're confronted with only the options he himself would go for. smile

Glad you enjoyed it! (Sorry you had to do what you did. Just blame Lou.)
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