I promised Sgt Ovakil a post on this, and I aim to keep my word.
I want to preface this post, however, with the notice that while I do plan to do all this, because of my day-to-day life, some health issues, and the quite frankly stupid number of mods I've gotten myself involved in, I can't make any promises as to when something specific will be done. Take a zen attitude, if you would: it will be when it is.
That out of the way...
In the immediate, near future, you're going to see two changes to the companions pack.
Firstly, it will be getting the same script edits as v5.2 of the RR master, to set the girls as your teammate upon joining your party, and removing when they leave it. This will - I think - stop the option to pickpocket them. Why you people want to adjust inventory while sneaking I will never understand, but whatever. I just work here.
Second, is the reorder of the resource directory. I plan on moving the custom eyes to a new directory, and adding in the hair pack resources directly, to cut down on problems from people who won't RTFM. I have an ulterior motive for this, as well: that being that once the resources are in place, I'll have a unified directory for all custom content for the girls... including the new Type 3 version I've been working on for months. It's actually more or less done, and has been since mid-October. I've just had to spend every second of my modding time working on the RR master (and that little jaunt into 20th Century Weapons territory...), and haven't had time to make the final race changes and line everything out.
Once v5.2 is up, however, that's going to change. v5.2 marks the essential end of the RR Companions Vault for now. The companion system is working, the prisoner system disabled, navmeshing fixed and loudspeakers working. The only issue may still be Chloe and crew, and if worse comes to worst, I know how to fix them - it'll just be drastic, and I don't want to go that far unless I have to. The main master will go onto the back burner while I work on the things I actually enjoy, for awhile.
Which brings us back to the girls.
One of the major things I have in store are stories. Quests, past events, etc. Not all will get the full story treatment, but most will.
I'm not talking about "bring me X item and I'll come with you forever" type of stuff, either.
I mean actual interactions. Multiple ways to convince them to join you, for one. Some may respond to gifts, some money, some a witty line.
I know of two who are going to demand you kill some people.
Item-based interactions... "Hey, I can't help but notice you found a beer there... mind if I take it?"
I'm even thinking of requiring that you pay them. Money will be removed from their inventory and stuck into a safe container where they can access it later but you can't simply take it back from them.
I also want to give them personal menus, where you can ask about their history, see if they have any tips on your current location or quest, even maybe try to get... close. Although obviously I'll use a fade-to-black sorta thing and not tie-in AP or anything if you do manage to get any. Sorry, Kiddies, but I'm not really a pornographer.
One of the biggest things I want to do is integrate the girls into vanilla quests. Have them make comments, offer advice, even block you from completing certain quests if you have certain companions in your party.
I'm planning to have events occur that, depending on how you act or what you say, may have the companion(s) leave you - temporarily or forever - in extreme cases even set to unessential and start a fight with you, resulting in your or their death.
Of course, the stuff I promised before will still be there: varying levels of aggression, bravery, faction interactions that can cause the girls to start trouble in certain places.
It's... an auspicious project, I know. It'll take me quite a while to complete, too. Still, I think it'll be worth it.
One major new thing, is a flash of inspiration I had the other night, while mulling a problem.
You see, adding the girls to the vanilla quests will require changing scripts, dialog, etc. Doing this will cause incompatibilities with other mods that do the same.
Now, I could pull a Project Beauty and say "tough shit, it's my mod or theirs!" but I try not to be that much of a dick.
Didn't say I always succeed... but I do try.
So, the thought occurred. My companions pack is a master file... and dialog doesn't change NPCs, so no body/head texture mismatch problems... just make the stories optional.
That's right, I'm going to release the deeper portions of the mod in add-on form. Each character or pair of characters - for the ones who interact so heavily with another that there's no point in splitting them up - will get their own plugin. If a particular character's story causes conflicts with another mod you run, just turn it off. You can still play with the others; it won't be an all or nothing proposition. Because of this, I'll also be able to release the stories in something akin to episodes, and won't have to have all ten ready before release.
Very good for you guys, as it won't be as dependent on me getting everything done on time.
Also very good because it will allow the same story plugin to work with either the standard body master, or the one that uses the sexy Type 3 custom bodies.
Ellie will probably be the first released. While she isn't my personal favorite, she is the one that I have the most story worked out in my head.
As a teaser, I'll give you a basic outline of how her story will open...
I mentioned in the readme that Ellie ducked into Jocko's to hide from some slavers. Thus far, you haven't seen the slavers, but you will.
On nearing Jocko's Pop and Gas Stop, a band of four or so slavers will come up to you, asking if you've seen a blond teenage girl thereabouts.
You'll have several options, including telling them the truth or lying - depending on whether you've been into Jocko's and know where she is - fighting them off, or even ageeing to bring her in. This last option would, of course, cut the story extremely short... but it'll be there nonetheless.
Obviously, if you've already recruited Ellie before meeting the slavers and they see her with you, attacks will be made on sight.
Provided you survive and help her, Ellie will be grateful, and agree to accompany you on your travels.
Ellie will be the most "normal" of the companions, by far. From my character notes, circa August:
"If it were two hundred years ago, Ellie would be the girl down the block that you had a crush on in highschool. Pretty, witty, and well-grounded, Ellie could have been a prom queen, except that she just isn’t ruthless enough to climb the social ladder. Born and raised as a wastelander on a small Brahmin farm, Ellie has spent her short life learning to hide from raiders, deal with traders, and avoid radiation. Nevertheless, she has managed to reach her teens in the wasteland without becoming jaded and bitter, and is a genuinely caring and decent person. Though leery of combat in any form, she has nonetheless learned to handle some small arms with aptitude, and will stand by your side through all but the more overwhelming situations, should you convince her to join you. Ellie has little in the way of a temper, and never starts the fight."
I don't want to spoil too much, but Ellie will also be one of the possible romantic interests for the player, and I do want to note that I don't discriminate - you won't be precluded from playing the romantic paths in one of my mods just because your character is female.
I'm hesitant to post most of the notes, as they are out of date and don't necessarily apply to the story I have in mind anymore, but I'll give you one more, as Alma is still pretty much the same now as then:
"Alma is an honest-to-goodness modern Paladin. Unlike the Brotherhood of Steel Paladins – who Alma believes tarnish the title – she lives her life to protect the weak and innocent, without allowing herself to be beholden to any political or organizational restrictions. Alma is a trained medic, and is predominantly quiet and gentle. Though, when the innocent are threatened, she becomes fierce and even sometimes brutal in their defense. She desires money only insofar as it allows her to continue her lifelong quest to help people. Gaining Alma’s aid in your own wanderings may be difficult, if you have led a life of evil; as she is surprisingly well connected, and knows much of most of the wasteland’s more prominent and colorful personalities. Alma will not set foot inside Paradise Falls, and will actively attack any known slaver she sees. Though she prefers peace, once the fight has started, Alma will not surrender, nor flee for any reason."
Don't want to give the impression that it's all going to be goody-goody stuff, though. I'll warn you up front that a lot of my writing is pretty dark stuff. Expect some pretty horrible things to happen in most of the stories.
The kicker will be whether you're responding to the evil, or causing it...
I'll also warn you that while I am not, as I already said, a pornographer, the stories will not be suitable for children, and will include much violence, swearing, and probably some explicit speech.
Really wish I had a female voice actress.
Regardless, there you have it. My plans, such as they are, and some previews. I haven't been sitting idle these months, and do have some written, and ideas of where I want it all to go.
The problem is that to make these stories work, I have to write out scripts, almost like a movie, to keep it visually and textually coherent.
This is one of the spots where I envy Sultericdrums. As the maker of the wildly popular Viconia and Saerileth companions for Oblivion, he had a big task to complete... but he also already had the story written, as both characters were ports from Baldur's Gate 2.
I've got to write this stuff myself from the ground up.
Previews will, of course, continue to trickle in as I get things further along.