Friday, December 31, 2010


I had a post typed out. Gains and losses; thoughts for the future.

You know what? I'm just not feeling it; and ultimately I doubt it matters.

So I'll just send the same empty "hope" for "change" that everyone else blithely spouts tonight.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


You people have it, I swear.

A guy tries to take a couple days off, to wade through all the crap involved in getting Lovers running in an Oblivion install (a mod that I am so not linking here, by the way) to see if it's actually as good as people are always going on about. Complex, pain in the ass in general; lots of readmes in Japanese, translated into a form of English that bears no semblance to the real thing. Rather like the old Babelfish translations, now that I think of it...

Anyway. While I was playing with silly adult mods, malcontents have started in again.

A new modder going by badreaper001 has kindly released a new NCCS package with about a half dozen companions. Hampered at the moment by a player who decried that the mod needs the wheel. When pointed to ttomwv's wheel addon for NCCS, he now complains that the wheel conflicts with some other companion mod.

Fucking duh.

Tarrant predicted this about a week after NV went gold; and I've been telling it to people for weeks. No one listens. The problem is the "wheel" buttons don't do anything directly. They're like shortcuts to dialog commands. Trouble is, these shortcuts are hard-coded to be read from only one dialog topic; and the game only allows one override to any given topic. Any further changes simply override the previous override. This means that you get ONE companion mod that will work with the wheel.

I can't fix it. Don't ask. There is no way to code out around it that I'm aware of.

If you people would pick a freaking mod and be done with it, it wouldn't be an issue; but everyone has to have eighteen different companion mods running at any given time.

This is why I won't add the wheel to NCCS by default. I said it before, I'll say it again: conflicts. When and if I can make it reliably selectable, then maybe - but for now I'm not willing to compromise compatibility for the legions of indecisive players who don't read the manual but love posting derisive comments.

The one and only fix I'm aware of to the situation would be to create a sort of merged patch. Problem is, the auto-patch creators that are so favored by the community won't do it. They can't combine multiple edits into one, as far as I'm aware - they only allow you to select which of the combined plugins' edits you want to make dominant. The fix would be to combine all plugins (or at least make one plugin that references all companion master files you use), and manually write in the dialog commands for each companion (or system) into a single edit of the pertinent quest.

Doable? Absolutely; but not on my end. There are simply too many companion mods out there; too many permutations and combinations and options. I could write a hundred merge patches and not cover the possibilities.

And considering that I don't even use NCCS, my odds of spending a week or six writing compatibility plugins for NCCS and every other companion I can find are somewhere akin to the odds of Mars slamming into the Earth next week.

Malcontent #2 is from my RR Companions Pack for FO3. He thinks my eye textures look bad. To which I reply: fuck you and the horse you rode in on. You don't like them? Upload better, or sit down and shut up. I do not take shit about the quality of my mods off of people with eight posts, no kudos, and no uploaded files.

Malcontent #3 actually brought me to a dead stop. As far as I could discern from the PM, the issues revolves around the fact that he is for some reason using Notepad++ to edit a companions plugin for RR, and this is resulting in the script not staying set on the companion. I got an email with an rtf file attached (rich text? Really? What, did I stumble into the wayback machine and end up in 1999?) that when opened was full of encoded game data, master file lists, and resource paths for what looked like a custom race. I offered what advice I could without invoking profanity... but I haven't read the reply PM yet. I did receive another email though that claims to have a copy of the esp file attached... which I also haven't read yet. I'll get around to it; I just need ample time to zen-ize my mind to prepare.

I was telling Herculine the other day that I'm thinking about giving up modding as a hobby. I'm considering taking up something more relaxing... like defusing old Soviet mines in Africa. Anyone know how to say "I need QuikClot!" in Kirundi...?

Sunday, December 26, 2010


You may remember some time ago when I expressed frustration at the hair problems inherent in NV.

I had posited a theory at the time that the issue had to do with bsa files. Since hair worked perfectly from Ling's, but not when I extracted the very same meshes to use stand-alone.

Most people would simply use Ling's or Mikoto's beauty pack in all their companions and other mods.

One look over the 'My Mods' folders on my hard drive will tell you I'm not most people.

I tried creating a bsa file of my own, which was a dismal failure. Rather than fix the issue, it simply removed all the meshes.


I shelved the idea for the time, since having messed up hair is better than none at all.

Flash forward to this afternoon. I was trawling the Bethsoft forums, looking for patch information; when the thought occurred to see if there had been any new developments in the bsa area.

Got to reading, and find out that the problem before was with FOMM's bsa creator, and not the game specifically. It seems that bsa creator doesn't correctly include a 'data' folder in the tree inside the archive; so it throws the whole tree off, and the game can't find any of the resources.

Followed some posted advice, set up a special directory tree outside the FONV install for the express purpose of bsa packing - with a setup that allowed for simply selecting 'data' and taking the whole tree (something you can't do in your install directory for obvious reasons).

Sure enough, it worked.

My cosmetic resource works correctly; I fixed my girls' hair - even managed to give Natasha back her correct 'do.

Even fixed my character's ability to wear hats without the hair clipping through:

It's a small victory, granted; but these days I takes what I can gets. Seeing hair styles correctly makes the game less frustrating on the whole, and will actually let me release a 'ported' cosmetic resource.

It also makes my personal mods easier to keep track of. I can pack all the needed resources into one bsa, and not have to deal with directory structures.

Even took the opportunity to get Maeva back up and running with her personal body textures.

Seems the issue at hand was that Obsidian fucked up yet another part of the game engine, which now won't read the egt and egm files for hair unless they're packed into an archive. Without these files, there's nothing to tell the game where to place the hair on the head - so you get the now-prolific off center hairs, bald spots, and mis-sized hair styles when you set an NPC's scale to anything other than 1.

It still amazes the hell out of me that any of these people remain employed.


Had another idea today, to potentially improve companions' combat performance. Unfortunately, it flopped totally.

Not much point going into great detail. Suffice to say that it involved a 'follow' package and a 'combat' package that were scripted to switch out at appropriate times.

Switch worked fine; but it seems that the guard packages don't function the same as they did in FO3. Yet another thing Obsidian fucked up in their mad quest for the "Largest number of flaws in a video game ever" trophy.

Scripting reverted, the damage has been rectified and they operate normally again; so at least I didn't lose ground.

Being back in Fallout after my Dragon Age hiatus is different. I really missed guns. Yeah, being able to cast fireball is neat and all... but it just doesn't compare with shooting someone in the face with a 44 Magnum.

I'd like to see how well one of those damned Revenants stands up to a shotgun barrage, oh yes.

What I didn't miss was the buggy ass companion behavior. They're still freezing up regularly after combat. Compared to DAO where my party did what the hell it was told, it feels like taking a big step back.

Then again, my not having to script in the mutant offspring of C++ buys anything using the Gamebryo engine a lot of leeway with me, so I'm willing to overlook the freezing for the time being.

And they still surprise me. I had ditched my NCCS companions since testing was over with for the time being, and returned to my suite to collect my personal companions. It was after 2200, so I decided to get some sleep and then we'd set out in the morning.

Two of the companions were in bed; with the third roaming the suite.

Flash through twelve hours of sleep. As I get up, so do the two formerly sleeping companions. The third comes in, and climbs into the just-vacated bed.

...They posted a watch for the night...

Testing that the combat behavior was indeed fixed was interesting, as well. Ran through Vault 3, and my girls were looting weapons from Fiends they had killed. [CENSORED] had had her Multiplas damaged beyond use in the fighting outside, and so just randomly decided to loot a laser rifle to supplant the varmint rifle that she apparently really hated using.

I tell ya, Kiddies, if I could just get 'em to do this shit on command instead of on their own whims, my companion system would be the best ever.

Oh, and also? I'm so going to hell:

Friday, December 24, 2010

NCCS - Beta 0.3 Upcoming

So, after one of those lovely panic attacks about 0100 local, I gave up on sleeping tonight; and decided to work on the master a bit.

Dragon Age is beginning to grate on my nerves.

Decided I should tackle the warping dead, since some of you for reasons I will never fathom insist on killing your companions.

Seems I mis-projected the size of the edit required. It ended up being eighty new lines of code; and not fifty. Not a huge deal. Once I set my mind to it, it ended up being a ten minute job - twenty if you count testing.

Killed off three companions, changed cells five times. No dead bodies followed me. The damned thing actually worked on the first try.

I know - I'm amazed, too.

It was good, too; since my first efforts this morning didn't go so well. I had it in my head to add some... new features to my personal companions. Specifically, stripper dancing on command. The NVGECK continues to be a piece of shit, though. Markers wouldn't move, items wouldn't add on script command, idles don't play correctly on command. It's a mess through and through.

Although I did manage to get them to break into dance whenever the follow package was active but we weren't moving:

I, uh... won't be releasing that one into NCCS, however. Issues of considerable silliness aside, it doesn't work quite right. The dancing animation doesn't stop playing when you start moving again; so they follow you while the animation keeps playing. Kind of creepy, really; and I figured people would bitch left, right, and center about the strange idles so it got tabled.


Before releasing 0.3, I think I'm also going to tackle that greeting issue, to stop the deluge of PMs I'm getting (averaging two a day now) from people who skim the guide instead of reading it, and miss that bit about only using voices one through four because the others don't have a motherfucking greeting.

I also added a message that lets you know when one of your companions has died. Unfortunately it can't let you know by name, but a quick head count should narrow down which one bought the farm.

Beyond that... I think we're nearing a 1.0 non-beta, stable release. Everything appears to be working fine if one takes the time to RTFM, so with the system death-friendly, and greetings for the voice types that don't have one in the base game, that should be about the extent of useful without getting cluttered.

I had a couple of other ideas, but really I don't know how badly I want to embark on a quest to add anything that's that much trouble; just to be further accused of breaking games and writing bad guides.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Case. In. Point.

This, this is the shit I'm talking about.

I get up this morning, still slightly miffed that I missed an eclipse on the solstice and the darkest night in four centuries because of the stupid weather and fourteen million giant nightlights for the cowards here in the asshole of the free world.

Open my gmail box to check for comments, then pop over to the NVNexus to check on NCCS... and what do I find in an NCCS comment?

"this has made it where my game has to be reinstaled my game crashes no matter what now and i had alot done ingame with a bunch of other mods that worked fine the SCC for FO3 worked fine but this is a no go now i cqant even play the game "

What? Seriously? If this isn't a joke, someone out there in the universe obviously still hates my guts.

Let's see. We've got: no punctuation, no grammar, no capitalization, no description of the problem, a reference to how many unnamed mods work, and a note that a companion system in another game is better.

Not only that, but the person edited the comment twenty minutes after posting. That was his revised comment! The improved MKII model!

I'm kind of sorry I missed the original. It must have been glorious in its craptacularness.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Note To Self:

7'8" ceilings are not tall enough for a 5'11" man to make an overhead swing with a 34" bladed bastard sword.

Strike low, reverse direction; come around for a strike where the neck meets the shoulder...

*scraping sound*


Oh, how I miss my old house. Vaulted ceilings, it had. Fifteen feet high at the center. There was a beautiful spot of dead space where the hall ended in an empty spot between the living room and dining room. Not much; about fifteen feet square.

Fifteen cubic feet may not a dojo make, but as long as you kept combinations to two or three strokes, you could swing a sword around in there with impunity.

Hate this damned apartment. Nowhere to shoot within forty miles of here, can't even run a sword drill...


Where'd I leave that tube of plaster patch...

On Criticism

A commenter on the last post brought up an interesting issue - whether I'd want to receive comments, if they weren't positive.

This, I thought, deserved its own post; rather than being relegated to the comments basement.

The theory behind this was that many artists can't handle criticism. Okay, I'm a writer, and modder and general monkeyer-with of all things vidja gaem; but I don't know that I've ever been described as artist.

Several other appellations have been thrown on me over the years... just not that one.

So, this gets me thinking. I bitch a lot about what I term 'the complainers'. Do I really not take criticism well? Am I being dishonest with myself - saying that I want comments, when I really only want vapid, sycophantic praise?


Nope. Had me worried there for a second.

Let me explain how commenting and criticism in general works.

I don't get paid for this. None of us do - such things are specifically against the EULA we all agreed to when installing our games and our toolsets. Making money off of our mods is, in fact, a hefty violation of international copyright law.

So, when you criticize a mod, you are in point of fact saying: "Hey, I don't think your work is good enough to be given away for free!"

No matter how you word it, this is a blow to the modder's personal ego. It doesn't matter how long you've been 'sharing' work; how hard you did or didn't work on it; or how much you tell yourself you don't really care.

But, criticism can be good, as long as it's constructive. Once you get past the sting, you can start to look at the comment itself, and see whether their concerns can actually improve your work.

Case in point: I bitch heavily and often about people who "comment" only with 'your mod doesn't work!', 'your mod needs to be X before I'll consider endorsing it!' and of course my personal favorite, the thumbs-down with no comment whatsoever.

On the other hand, when Herculine or ttomwv or Fry or the good Sergeant or any of a dozen other people come to me with an issue - with something that they think could be done better, I listen. I sit down and consider it before replying. Is it possible? Would it really be an improvement? If yes, I try it. If no, I try to explain why it isn't viable.

Why do I listen to one group, but dismiss the other? It's all in how you approach it.

Constructive criticism. Don't just tell a modder that something sucks. Take the time, think about it, and give them an alternate idea; how could it be good/better by your standards?

There's also the secondary matter that some stuff just ain't ever happening in a game mod. The sad fact is that most players have never and will never mod. They have no idea what is and is not possible in a game engine; or how long something will take to implement if it is possible.

Because of this lack of practical knowledge, they come up with unreasonable expectations. Some people expect a mod to rival the base game itself in content and quality. Granted, the quality bit is easier to equal in some games than others.

Then, there's the matter of motivation and time constraints on practicality.

I'll cite you and example here. Many moons ago, ttomwv wrote plugins for the RR Companions Vault that expanded the sorter in the armory. One handled the items for FOOK2, and one for 20th Century Weapons. These were written early on in the respective mods' lives; when item counts were still comparatively small. By the middle of this year, each of the two mods boasted more than five hundred new items.

To make the sorters work, each item needs a minimum of three lines of code; sometimes four or five. Bare minimum, that would be fifteen hundred lines of code for each mod. Twenty-five hundred if you weren't lucky. Then there are containers to store it all, since the point of a sorter is to separate your loot automatically. 20thCW would need a dozen or more containers; FOOK2 probably many more. Then there's testing. Every single line of code has to be proofread. Every sorting option tested - which means collecting or console-spawning some of nearly every item in the game. Figure on about a 10% bug rate where a typo or mis-pasted line will cause an option to not work right, and you have to re-do fifty of those items at least once.

So, was it possible? Yeah, sure. Was I going to do it? Oh hell no. We're talking about a solid week of six to eight hour days doing nothing but coding and testing; and for what? Something I wouldn't even use - an "option" that I think is a waste of time to begin with?

So, the TL;DR version: criticism is fine; but think before you hit post. If you can't tell me how it could be better, just telling me it's bad probably won't get you anything more than dismissed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Slacking Again

I'll confess, I haven't been modding for NV lately. Haven't even fired up the NVGECK.

Quite frankly, the gaggle of fuckwits who can't do anything but bitch about the quality of something they're getting for free has got me disinclined to take NCCS one step further in the immediate future.

Instead, I've been playing Dragon Age.

It's... okay.

As I described it to Herculine recently, DAO feels, to me, like World of Warcraft, if it were written by the people who did The Witcher. You still got the simpering nonsense of "OMG WE HAVE TO SAVE TEH WRLD FROM TEH EVL ZOMBIE-DRAGON!" but it includes a lot more death, sex, general hopelessness and racial inequality.

I tell you, Kiddies: I have been playing video games for over two decades now, and I am so completely and thoroughly sick of saving the world from some allegory for the devil and his faceless, dark minions...

That was one thing I respected about the writing for The Witcher. There were no 'good guys'; there was no altruism; there were no happy endings. It was just which side you decided to take in the grand argument.

I've also been playing with the DAO toolset. I used Aurora for NWN back in 'the day' quite a bit, and was fairly handy with it. This seems to be the same toolset, but more evolved - and none of the evolutions are improvements.

The DAO toolset is the most convoluted, needlessly complicated piece of shit I have ever used.

After this, NVGECK's bugs are a tiny price to pay for something that does what I want without seventeen useless steps in between.

Not going to start officially modding for DAO or anything, so don't worry if you're one of the four or five people who actually give a shit about my FO3/FONV mods.

Speaking of, I just made the mistake of looking at NCCS' stats. 1164 unique downloads, 14 endorsements. For those of you who fucked your way through high school and missed math class, that's a hair over one percent of players that could be bothered to take the ten seconds to endorse.

Couple that with the fact that I haven't picked up a single kudos point for NV despite blowing through twelve or more hours of my life answering inane posts and PMs to help morons figure out how to use a mod...

...Yeah. I'm gonna go work on a gun or something. At least that's thankless work that benefits me in some way...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NCCS - Not The Same Issue...

...But my timeframe wasn't far off.

The bitching has begun.

The companion management system doesn't work with people who like to kill their companions.

Of course, I completely forgot this sect of the playerbase.

I suppose "learn to script yourself" would be out of line?

Fools to the left of me, Philistines to the right; and me not nearly drunk enough in the middle.

Share your companion system, I said. It'll get popular and companions will become prevalent. It'll be like Oblivion! Feh.

I'll tell you this right now, though: universe help the first person who bitches at me to include some kind of slavery function.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

NCCS - v0.21 Uploaded

Find all the details in the changelog, the file details, or my posted comment.

I give it a week before someone starts bitching that the management system doesn't allow for enough companions.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


"how do you open the tutorial? i downloaded it and yet it won't open =("

This is not fiction. This comment was posted to the RR Companions Vault this afternoon.

If you'll excuse me, I need to sit in the corner for awhile and weep quietly for the future of the human race.

NCCS - Subversion Successful!



The Tops.

And the Ultralux.

Without. Touching. The base game scripts. My personal companions plugin contains not one single edit to any door or script in the base game. None. They made it onto the strip, and into and out of all three casinos without stopping, having to be recalled, or getting into any fights. They even followed me into the cocktail lounge in the Lucky 38 - something I never managed to get the regular NCCS companions to do.

In the words of the immortal Ace Ventura: Damn, I'm good!

I've also figured out what I was doing wrong with the sit package all this time. It's been so long since I set that up I had forgotten how I did it. So I'll be trying that one again shortly.

Once that's tested, I'm going to begin adding the stuff to NCCS, and hopefully get a 0.2 beta up for you folks soon.

The new Z-axis dependent OnCombatEnd block that my partner was interested in has been added as well, and works perfectly. We walked from the North entrance to Freeside clear around the outside of the Strip, down to the Sunset Sarsaparilla bottling plant, with no one appearing in my path at any time.

Slight issue in that the game sometimes seems to pick random times to warp them around to catch up to you... but since they never appear in your path now, I'm hoping this annoyance will be minor enough to be outweighed by the benefits - which seem to be substantial.

Monday, December 6, 2010

NCCS - Leashes

I know, one would think I'd have the new code fully integrated into the master, and perhaps a new beta release - what with me extolling the virtues of the new stuff and all the other day.

Trouble is, the way I had originally set it up, I didn't like the way companions "popped in" when you crossed a cell barrier in the open wasteland. They tended to end up in front of you a lot.

So, I rewrote the code, and added a check on the player's Z axis heading; along with some code that moved them around based on which quadrant of the compass you're facing. Seems to work correctly; though I only set up the heading check for exterior cells. In an interior, the companion will only pop in one time - since the cell barriers are doors in an interior and all.

Thus far, I've had the code running from game start, up to Sloan, back down to Primm, across Primm Pass, north through Novac, Freeside, and into the Strip and the Lucky 38.

Picked up my Suite in the Lucky 38 at level three. No crappy Novac motel room for us this time!

Before I do any releasing, I still want to try out the casinos. I'm hoping that this new code will completely preclude the need to monkey with existing game scripts.

I'm also learning more about the engine, still. I've worked up a new theory on why the quest script seems to "freeze", but I won't bore you guys with it.

The 'return to' code works correctly for both Lucky 38, and Novac motel room, as well. The option to send the companion back to those will only appear if the room in question has been obtained. Those are the only two explicitly stated player houses that I'm aware of in the base game. If anyone knows of others, let me know about them and I can probably get the option added.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

NCCS - Impending Wow

Some days, I do something so cool even I have to sit back and just go "Goddamn, how did I come up with that?"

This morning is another of those.

I have... just conceived and implemented a system that will allow all NCCS companions to stick with the player no matter how moved or by what.

It works on teleports... it even provides for instant following through load doors - no more having to wait an in-game hour for the engine to get off its dead ass and move NPCs through.

Best part?

I did it in such a way that not one single NPC has to be called via explicit reference.

I've only tested it for about twenty minutes now; but it seems to work every cell change.

The one possible downside is that it works a bit too well, sometimes. When traversing the open wasteland, your companions will occasionally be teleported to join you; since despite the openness, the wastes are actually broken up into "cells" just like interiors, and when you cross a cell border into the next, the script triggers and moves them up to join you.

The flip side is that it's not distance dependent - only strictly by cells; so it won't randomly trigger the way the old teleport code in RR did.

I'm not going to go into detail about how I did it. It would bore and/or confuse most of my readers (hey, I know perfectly well my thought processes border on requiring the readying of a padded room...); and that aside, I know perfectly well that my "competition" has been looting ideas from my blog as well as my previous work, and I'm not in the mood to hand out any more freebies.

I've also implemented code that will once a day add a handful of leveled lists to an NPC's inventory - to simulate them looting stuff as you travel. This one isn't tested yet; I haven't been in the new game long enough for it to fire; but the GECK took the code without complaint, so if it doesn't work it should only be a matter of me getting my timing calls correct to make it work. Once I do get this one working, I'll create another custom leveled list to simplify the code, but for the moment I'm testing with default game lists.

This morning I also learned how to apply perks to companions. I haven't implemented this one yet, since I wanted to get the new companion management code tested before I added another feature to potentially screw up; but it's next on my testing list.

I've also got some ideas for new group perks - that will be added or removed from the player depending on how many companions you have in tow.

This NCCS whim of mine could... end up being pretty cool. A slightly more arrogant me would be proclaiming that when all is in place, all other systems will be woefully eclipsed by the greatness. Real me, though? Is a fatalist, who's had one too many sure things blow up in his face to declare victory just yet.

Lastly, I think I may have taken some of my coding a bit too far. When I started the new game, I forgot and left my special companions plugin active. This is what I woke up to:

The three of them were in the house and trying to initiate dialog to join me before the doc even finished his introductions.

S'nice to have such loyal hench-cuties, though. I knocked them down to leveled lists for starting equipment, so as a party we'd have someplace to go; a need to scavenge better armor and weapons.

Windows To The Soul...

Months ago, around the time I released my FO3 cosmetic pack, I referenced dual-color eyes. A certain Fairy misunderstood what I had meant, and assumed I referred to each eye being a different color. This was not the case, at the time.

I was, however, rather bored this morning; awaiting a download limit to expire, and well... guess what got ported to FONV. Worked some on a facegen preset for my next character - since just because I finished the thing, doesn't mean I can stop playing; I still have to keep testing and developing NCCS, after all.

Decided I wanted to have a bit more fun than just normal glow-y eyes, and this resulted...

I think I may be putting her in the wrong game. I swear, that left eye looks like an Oblivion gate.

Either way, not my best work by any stretch... but not bad, I suppose.

FONV - Main Quest

Just finished it.

I am, once again, underwhelmed. Really, ending the game with the main quest was the perfect garnish to what's been a total 'fuck you!' to the players throughout.

All this time, and they still couldn't be bothered to fix the semi-auto weapon bug, or the memory leak; but they did find time to introduce a whole host of new bugs related to terminals, the Pip-boy, and scripted quest events in general.

The NCCS code to teleport your companions along with you to the final battle doesn't work. Not that I was expecting it to. Bethsoft would have had to hire true visionaries to make the game any more unfriendly to mod-added companions.

Also nice to see the GMPC kept up, since the head legion asshole and general dipshit both have DT's of about fifty - to the point that an AMR shot to the face with a guns score of 100 doesn't do 25% of their health in damage.

But of course, none of that matters. We all know that the express purpose for this game even existing is to sell five or six more shitty DLC expansions, that will each be bug-riddled to a level unknown to the previous.

The annoying bit is I'm not sure most of these non-following problems can even be fixed on the scale required for NCCS.

Can I make them tag along? Sure. I can have my companions set up to work across the board in an hour or two.

The problem is I don't get the luxury of working with explicit references in NCCS. I have to have the code work for every NPC someone can make regardless of what they use for a RefID - assuming they go to the trouble of using one at all.

I'm pushing my luck even expecting people to cut and paste a damned companion script.

I've also got a headache, and the method for instituting companions that can't be left behind on an NCCS-wide scale is so complex it's making my head hurt worse. I'd make a joke about working with the Gordian Knot, but no one would get it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NCCS - Companion Guide Highlights

Rather than make you all read the guide, I figured I'd share some of the in-game images.

Alas, much as I wanted there to be; there is no blooper reel. There were no wardrobe malfunctions, and Deb told me to go to hell when I suggested we engineer one.


I did two companions this time instead of three. I didn't have another companion plugin on hand to use to copy from, so we just did original, and copy of an in-game NPC.

You can see them both here. Deb on the left is original, on the right is a template-copy of Sunny Smiles; the least unattractive NPC I could think of from the base game. And of course, close-ups:

And an action shot:

(Observant fans will notice the tail sticking suspiciously out of that suit of power armor...)

Basically I just pissed off a giant radscorpion with my pistol and let the party go to town. They're surprisingly hard to get action screenshots of. Doubly so when there are five of them. Notice ED-E is being completely useless, as usual. I swear, that thing is only useful for the Enhanced Sensors perk.

Then, I went on to the advanced section... and things got more interesting...

This is normally the point where I'd cackle maniacally, and go on about how great I am at creating hottie companions... but truth be told I wasn't really trying. I was just idly working on them as I typed; choosing random hair styles... and that happened.

Apparently, I have worked up quite the bit of natural, unconscious talent.

You can't really tell it, but the stealth armor is a custom mesh; I replaced the standard one with as a part of the tutorial - for all you people too lazy to look up item guides of your own and keep bugging me about it. Didn't turn out half bad, all in all; even if I did have to delete the helmet.

Oh, how I wish I could just make companions, instead of having to write my own fucking system every time. It would leave me free time to create so many cute NPCs. But nooooo. Nobody else can do it right, so I have to keep my head stuck in the scripting editor most of the time...

The Other Side

Ever have one of those days where you just... die?

Went to bed 0900 Thurs; got up 2145 in time to make something to eat and catch the new Burn Notice. Back to bed near 0100; and finally got up about twenty minutes ago. Figured it up, and we slept like seventeen hours.

Wish I could do that every day. Of course, aside from being physically impossible without the aid of drugs, it makes it impossible to get anything done. So probably best that I can't.

Anyway, to make this rambling mess somewhat topical: I finished off the new companion creation guide yesterday before crashing; but didn't release 'cause I wasn't confident in my proofreading skills at the time. I'll read 'er over again this morning, and should have it up in a couple hours.

Ended up axing the mods page of the guide altogether. There just aren't any NV mods I really like. You'll get a look at my load order in the images, and I run one radio fix; and the rest is all NCCS and my "special" mods.

Speaking of images, I may have taken a few too many. The images folder jumped from 8.45mb to 12.1mb. Debs turned out nice this time, though; especially after the advanced section.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

FONV Hair Problems

Really not in the mood to write html this morning (I truly, truly hate working with that garbage), so stuffed the creation guide onto the back burner for another day or two.

Rather, I've been working on some new NCCS features. New 'go home' features that will allow sending your companion to the Lucky 38 suite or Novac motel room (provided you've acquired their use). Worked out a new (for me, anyway) method of sending the companion home that totally does away with the unreliable travel packages I used in RR.

Added Pip-Boy lights.

Worked out details on some other features that will be worked on in the future but not disclosed at the moment for a few reasons.

Anyway. In the course of testing, I got 'round to be frustrated by Maeva's hair problem.

Wondering whether it was my altered mesh, or the game in general, I popped out Ling's in the GECK and got to looking. All hairs display perfectly, there.

Extracted that mesh over the top of the one I use. Check, and again: bald spot.

This makes me wonder.

When FONV first hit, I remember reading that it had some issues with resources not contained in a bsa file.

Since the only difference between Earache42's hair and mine is that he uses a bsa and I don't, I'm wondering if this problem isn't wider reaching than originally thought.

I'll confess I'm not keen on having to build bsa files. They're a straight-up pain in the ass for modders to work with; since resources can't be referenced in the pack; they have to be extracted, paths set up, assigned to their objects in the GECK, and then packed. Anytime you need to alter a mesh or change a path, the bsa has to be extracted and remade.

Still... I'm thinking it might behoove me to throw together a small one just for my special companions, to test and see if that unfucks the hairs...

Monday, November 29, 2010


Rewriting the creation tutorial.

So... much... text...

I've got the index and basic pages done. All new screenshots across the board, new Debbies made for the occasion.

Still have to do the advanced page. The mods page is going to be short, since there are virtually no mods out for NV that I actually think are good enough to use. I think I've got one radio fix plugin, Herculine's companions, and the rest is all stuff I've created.

Have to lay off for the time being though. After three straight hours of rewriting and screenshotting, I need a break.

Assuming I don't get another attack of the cursed eyestrain, the new guide should go up later tonight, or tomorrow morning.

More NV Strangeness

Annoyed as I am with the 'community' in general this morning, I decided to play with my personal companions some. I added Natasha to the plugin - fortunately, her hair works perfectly in NV.

Got plugin set up and quest written and et cetera et cetera.

Happened to be testing; and she got stuck in some rocks - clipping into them and unable to get out. Normally, I'd open the console and toggle clipping on her, but I decide what the hell, I'll try out the plugin's recall function. Probably a waste of time, since it never worked in testing on my pre-made NCCS companions.

This time? Worked without a hitch. Exact same code, save for the references. Why did it work this time and not before?

I have no idea. None whatsoever.

This only reinforces the theory I've had though, that at certain times, the engine hangs. Scripts hit a certain line and won't process anymore. In the case of my NCCS pip-boy plugins, it was the line that governed reset code.

Apparently it doesn't hang in my special companions plugin.

I swear, Levi's and Crowley's magickal theories made more sense than this damned game.

On another hand, I think I'm going to have to try talking Maeva into a new hair style. I'm not seeing "adjusted" versions of Ren's work popping up on the Nexus; and Gods know I don't have the Blender skill to do it myself.

Don't want to cut her to short hair, though. I'm thinking maybe one of those Growlf hairs. With the braids. Maybe that twin-braid one, with the tails hanging down on her chest. Go for that Alpine look.


You know, I'm cruising the NVNexus this morning; posting a bit of help for Neil... trying to figure out what some of my players are smoking... I happened to glance over the entry for NVRR; when I had a thought. I was looking over the user uploaded images, and happened to see one of someone's first attempt at creating... and I think to myself "I wonder if they uploaded a tutorial?"

Click over to the files tab, down to miscellaneous... and there it sits. "Companion Creation Guide", size 7,427kb. That number looked familiar. It was very similar to the size of the RR guide of mine that I had just redownloaded and modified slightly for NCCS yesterday morning.

No, they wouldn't...

I download, and sure enough. It's my fucking tutorial. "modified for NV". Same pictures and all.

Now, look: I may have agreed to RR pillaging, because as I said, I don't own that one. But as I also bitched about before, I did not agree to having every piece of work I've ever uploaded ripped off.

No one ever mentioned the guide to me. Let alone specifically asked to "convert" it. The guide, I would add, that I spent thirteen hours writing freehand in wordpad.

I have to say... the more times I look at NVRR, the less inclined I am to share my work online with any of you people.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nos' Adventures, 8-23/24-77

August 23/24, 2277:

I’m beginning to think that my diet of questionable meat and cheap hooch is getting to me.

During the wee morning hours, I dreamt.

I didn’t dream about being naked at a public speaking event; nor about being chased or hunted. I didn’t see dead relatives; didn’t meet my dad to ask why he left me.

I dreamed the most vivid dream of my life. Another world – verdant, populated, and primitive.

I was… still me. Still the same unspectacular me. I ‘woke up’ on the sandy shore of an island.

I knew where I was; outside the walls of the capital city. I had no firearms, instead armed with a bow and short sword.

No nuclear wasteland; no mutants or giant roaches or psychotic cannibals.

I actually smelled the breeze. Watched a butterfly flitter past. I knew that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be – that somehow I was supposed to be in a desolate waste… but wasn’t bothered by the knowledge. Being where I was seemed perfectly normal and reasonable.

I found a gate and headed into the city, making for the market district to sell some items I remembered acquiring in a nearby sewer tunnel.

The city was teeming with inhabitants. Humans, mostly, with some of what I knew to be elves here and there.

While walking through the market, I found Ria and Maeva. They sat at an outdoor table, having a quiet meal.

Ria greeted me with a kiss, and informed me they had been awaiting me for some time.

After selling off what goods I had, and acquiring a few supplies, we left the city. Maeva had informed us that she had been told about a wrecked pirate vessel, some distance from the city in a secluded cavern in an oceanic inlet.

Not only, we reasoned, would it make a defensible lair, but would doubtless have at least some interesting swag left lying about. Rumor had it that the cave was haunted by the undead forms of the pirate crew, but this for some reason did not give us even momentary pause.

We traveled a road through forests and hills. Despite the relative civilization and the patrols on the road itself, bandits were fairly common.

Ria had armed herself with a bow and sword similar to my own setup. Maeva carried a massive two-handed sword that had had its blade silvered to make it more effective against supernatural beings.

No, I’m not sure why that would make a difference, either.

Any bandits that crossed our path were dealt with quickly and mercilessly. Maeva’s considerable form and equally considerable blade proved themselves capable of cutting a man in two from shoulder to hip with alarming ease – leather armor and all.

As it often seems to in dreams, time proved less than amazingly reliable. As I experienced it, events seemed to skip forward periodically; in all, we spent more than three days on the road to the coast.

We stopped briefly in another, smaller city midway between the capital and our destination.

The architecture, I remember thinking, was beautiful.

Noon of the fourth day of dream-time, we arrived at the sea.

From the overlook, we could see not only the nearby city’s harbor, but the entrance to the cave – though that entrance wasn’t visible from the angle of the city. These pirates had apparently been quite bold to try to hole up so close to the Legion’s presence.

Inside the cave, we found the crew; still roaming about in barely-animate skeleton form. This, again, didn’t bother us.

Then again, after dealing with Raiders, giant roaches, and a thirty-foot mutant ‘behemoth’, I’m not sure a few shambling skeletons with rusty swords would bother me much in the real world, either.

The things were slow and clumsy, and easily smashed.

Inside the wrecked captain’s quarters, we found the similarly undead form of the captain himself. Maeva’s claymore gave him a second death in spectacular fashion.

We rested a bit then; deciding what to do next. Eventually, Ria announced that she knew someone who could help us make the place a bit more livable. We met the woman on one of the ships moored in the nearby bay; bartering away the lion’s share of the money we had collected selling off bandits’ equipment and loot.

As well, there turned out to be more than a few people dissatisfied with living in ‘proper’ society; who were quite willing to crew our new hideout – turning it into a pirate’s outpost, of sorts. While our cut of the operations going on wouldn’t make us rich, it was projected to be a not insignificant – and relatively steady – supplementary income.

Our business concluded, we bought a case of good spirits, and retired to our lair to celebrate in ways that would likely have made the ancient Greeks proud.

Eventually, I passed out in the newly furnished Captain’s Quarters.

The next thing I knew, I was sitting bolt upright in my bed. Ria had her hands on my chest, and was yelling at me – apparently trying to get me to come back to my senses.

I panicked for a moment. Who was I? Where was I? Why couldn’t I see?

Slowly, it came back. I was in the wasteland that was once Washington D.C. I was no one. I couldn’t see because I don’t sleep with my glasses on; and the lights were off.

After a few seconds, my heart rate began to return to normal; down from its peak somewhere north of one-twenty.

Ria told me that I had been talking in my sleep; thrashing about from time to time. She had apparently been trying to wake me for some ten minutes, after my condition began to worsen.

She held me close to her bare chest, telling me that I had worried her badly; and that I should never do that again.

I do all I can to accommodate her every whim… so it was with regret that I had to respond that I can’t control my dreams.

I explained about my dream as best I could. Ria listened attentively, though she couldn’t see any import from the events; and suggested that some form of wasteland-peyote may have made it into something I ate the previous day.

I hoped that was all it was. The bedside clock declared the time to be just after six in the morning. After getting to bed late, it was hardly enough sleep – but I already knew I wouldn’t be sleeping any more anytime soon.

Eventually, seeing that I was alive and not insane (or at least, any more so than usual), Ria excused herself from bed.

Type 3 NV

Just wanted to drop out a note for those of you who, like me, enjoy the ladies.

I know most of us have probably installed our FO3 Type 3 packages, but it seems there's been an official Dimon99-endorsed release of the package for FONV.

Interested parties might want to grab it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

And More Personal Crap...

...That no one really cares about, but I'm going to post anyway because it's my damned blog and I feel like it.

Thinking I may have deeper mental issues than I normally credit myself for.

Just made dinner - Miso soup with tofu and seaweed, can of roast beef with gravy, and dumped in some instant rice. Stir well, drop in a tbsp of butter for good measure.

...Some days, I heavily wonder about myself.

(It's good, though...)

Doesn't help matters either that I'm reading K-S fanfics while eating.

Pant... Wheeze... Die...

Sweet mother of all that's unholy; I've done more posting on the Nexus in the last twenty-four hours than in the last three months combined.

I am eternally amazed by people that manage to break mods. Don't ask me how they do it... but it's all my fault, I'm sure.

I do notice that fully half of malcontents for FO3 or NV are running AP in some form.

COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT! *dramatic music*

I suppose I should be gratified that it seems destined to be a popular project - but the playerbase don't seem to understand the terms "beta" and "There's only one of me Goddammit!"

This would be why I typically hold off on releases.

Possible Revelation?

Got my girls upgraded, back into the game, and running some new code that takes my previous "go find the player" starting package a step further.

Decided to give them some combat trials. We headed into Vault 11.

Performance was excellent; they swept and cleared the place in a manner that would've made any Delta Force operator proud.

It got interesting at the end, though. I had moved into the sacrificial chamber, and from the focus on the projector and the general shape of the room; I could smell what was coming, and had moved well out of the line of fire.

Needless to say, the firefight was fairly epic; and involved my expending several hundred caps worth of 40mm grenades.

Anyway. What caught my attention - and necessitated a post - was that about halfway through, I got the 'sound bug' for want of a better term; where firing, reloading, and other "item" sounds just stop playing.

At the end of the fight, both my companions were stuck.

Alas, ED-E had been ravaged like a narcoleptic cheerleader on prom night, so I couldn't see whether it had frozen as well.

Rather than use the wait key, I just left them standing there while I explored the new room. As I did, sounds played - albeit slowly and in a disjointed fashion, rather than the every saved up sound at once that it usually does.

When the sounds had finished catching up... the AI unfroze, and the girls put away their weapons and joined me.

I'd never seen this correlation before, but on deeper consideration, it's all coming together.

The AI freezing, the sounds stopping, the scripts that freeze at random.

Something in the game engine is hanging at random. Once it hangs, any new input it ignored. You can't activate affected NPCs, scripts don't fire, holstering of weapons doesn't work.

And, I'd wager, if it stays fucked long enough, that's when you get the crash. A memory request that goes unheeded or something.

Trouble is, because I lack the software to peep into the executable and see what in the holy hell is going on with the engine, this is all base supposition. Even if it wasn't, hacking the engine itself is way above my pay grade. So, even if I am right... what good does it do us?

Either way, it's good to have them back. Those lesser companions were beginning to cramp my style.

Not That Out of Practice...

With NCCS released, I'm updating my special companions to the latest everything, to get back to testing code and features with NPCs I actually like.

Writing in my Pip-Boy plugins at the moment. I just wrote the backend scripts almost freehand (had to stop to look up the UnEquipItem function - I couldn't remember whether it was the first or second flag that told it to unequip silently).

Apparently not quite as sieve-headed as I like to portray myself as being.

NCCS - Reality

I polished off the last of the documentation, got the rest of the screenshots taken, and... I did it.

We are officially in business, Kiddies.

Now just to sit back, and wait on the bug reports and complaints to start rolling in...

Friday, November 26, 2010


And now... another episode of the NosCo movie blog lite!

Caught Faster this evening.

Avante Garde it ain't... but I liked it. Little in the way of wasting time on forced attempts to be witty in dialog, and the violence was brutal and fast. Had pretty good advisers on the technical aspects, as well. Only two problems I had with it: 1) As the owner of a Ruger Alaskan .454, I can say definitively that they have way more recoil than that; and 2) a headshot from said .454 would produce much more of a mess. Like, 'no back of the head left' kind of mess.

Other than that, an entertaining way to waste two hours.

Also: the hitman and his bride going direct from the ceremony out into the desert to work in some target practice? So romantic. Although a truly good woman would have joined in on the job. *cough* Or so I'm told... >_>

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NCCS - Hate

Writing readmes. I hate them.

Wordpad doesn't have spellcheck (got to keep the Word features out of the text file for maximum compatibility), I always miss some detail or other, and nobody reads these damned things anyway...

Companion creation guide and readme are done. Still need to write in the upcoming features and grab those last handful of screenies and I'll be ready to package this fucker up and make for the NVNexus.

NCCS - Broken Streak

It happened. I had to make an actual script edit this morning.

It had slipped my mind, because as I said I'm not much of a gambler, but ttomwv mentioned before that one of the casino door scripts needed to be altered; he just couldn't remember which at the time.

Happened to pop into the Ultralux this morning... and that's the one. Took a look at the script, and it's written to not allow anyone except the player and the official followers out - though anyone can go in.

Apparently it's set up to strip followers of weapons as well as the player. Naturally, this doesn't work on NCCS companions.

I could probably make it work... but why? These sorts of scripts only work on vanilla game items anyway; so as soon as you add mod weapons into the equation they become useless anyway.

Anyhow, dropped an extra bit of code into the script that will allow any NPC in or out - without compromising the stuff for the vanilla followers; so my little edit may conflict, but it shouldn't break anyone else's companion mod.

Checked the Tops, and Gomorrah and couldn't find any similar scripts hiding on their doors; and I already know from experience that the Lucky 38 works fine.

Kind of amusing. The White Gloves henchmen run in during questing in the Ultralux to beat on the player with sticks... and run smack into the muzzle of a brush gun wielded by a more than slightly annoyed woman.

They learned what many tribals and martial artists have learned throughout the centuries: stick does not beat gun. Doubly so when said gun is chambered in 45/70 and the companion holding it is running one of my combat styles...

Regardless, issue with the door appears to be handled, and shan't delay release any at all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NCCS - Release Imminent, Part II

I just came off another test session. I'm up to four companions, all running on one script - plus ED-E.

Thus far performance continues to be excellent, for the most part. Holes and errors in the game's navmesh are prolific to put it mildly; and these naturally give any followers pause. Considering that ED-E stops whenever the NCCS followers do, I'm inclined to believe it a game-wide engine problem, and not some hole in my work.

Script issues aside; my previous conclusions remain. Parties greater than four simply aren't practical in the game; they make it too difficult to move through tight spaces, and friendly fire is nearly constant when they start shoving to get to the front of a firefight.

Issues with the companions attacking anything that tried to attack me remain. Despite pulling the code that triggered it. It seems to come up whenever an actor or creature attempts to target me. Don't know that there's anything I can do about it, either.

That said, the system is as good as I can make it at present; and any further delays would simply be procrastination on my part... so I won't.

Miss Herculine has turned in a version of her pack that's updated to work with the latest beta master, and my own is about as ready as can be.

I still have to take some screenshots, write a readme, and throw together some sort of companion creation guide. After that will be upload time.

FONV - Done Right

I bitch a lot around here about the devs; what I think they could have done better, or shouldn't have done at all - but I'd like to take a few minutes here to mention some things I think they did right.

Firstly, the Presidential Suite in the Lucky 38. This is the first official 'player house' I've seen in TESIV, FO3, or FONV that I actually liked and may well use to the exclusion of a self-made home. It's upgradable without being pointless (see the "themes" from FO3 for what I mean by waste of my fucking time and caps), has plenty of storage, and can sleep four companions in addition to me. Six, if I let them take my bed, as well. My one complaint about the suite is that it lacks a reloading bench or campfire-equivalent; so that you can't do all your crafting at home.

Second, The Strip from a distance. Wow. I watched the sun rise over the Strip from outside the Followers Safe House, and damn; what a view. There's about a half hour in game time where you can see the sun cresting the horizon, while the Strip lights are still on.

Third, Fisto. Congrats, Devs, you successfully made me inadvertently cringe.

Fourth, Crafting. I like the new system. I don't personally use it, but it's nice to have the ability to make Stimpaks myself. Reloading is especially nice; I'm impressed that they went as far as primers and powder type. Kudos, there. Would be nicer if you had to spring for a die set as well as the "recipe", but it's still a massive improvement over other systems where you magically make all ammo out of "powder" and scrap metal.

Fifth, Gun Runners. I like the kiosk design, and how it makes it all but impossible for the player to steal weapons and ammo.

Sixth, Sex. No more beating around the bush (oh, the wit!) here; for once they actually flatly acknowledge that it goes on, and you get to flirt with and even possibly engage in said acts with NPCs. Granted, you don't get to see anything... but it's still better than pretending we're all eight and live in a giant Disney movie where the height of intimacy is holding hands.

Seventh, Gambling. I'm not much of a gambler here in the real world. I know that eventually, the house always wins. Otherwise, they wouldn't stay in business. That said, I developed a bit of a taste for dice poker while playing The Witcher, and it's nice to see another game that lets you wager a bit for something different than running packages and killing raiders. Unfortunately, as in real life, I completely suck at New Vegas Roulette. Not horrid at blackjack, but could certainly live without Caravan; that convoluted mess.

There are also some parts I don't agree with. Not going to delve into bugs, or lapses in setup in some area; this is just the ways things are 'supposed to work'.

Mainly, it's those asinine level requirements on items showing up in a merchant's inventory. Really? We still have to deal with this shit? Look, walk into a store sometime, here in the real world. Do they ask you how old you are? If you want to wear an expensive suit, do they ask how long you've been wearing pants? Of course not. Retailers care about whether you can pay the number on the price tag. Really, it's time to do the same in games. Remove the requirements, let the player buy whatever they can swing the price of. I mean, Combat Armor goes for upwards of four grand in NV, level one players aren't going to be able to afford that anyway.

There's also the matter of the NCR. You devs think Californians are the greatest race to ever walk the face of the Earth. We get it. Now lay off. I'm seriously considering siding with Caesar just because I'm sick of dealing with those blowhards and their OMG SO GREAT backstory. Have you read any of the in-game stuff surrounding them? It reads like a seventeen year old's fanfic dedicated to their favorite branch of the military. Not only are the NCR Rangers the greatest ever, but there's a level still greater! The Super Saiyan... I mean ELITE NCR RANGERS! With their high gloss black armor and expertise in not only every form of combat ever, but also as scouts. PH34R!

...I was so hoping taking control of ARCHIMEDES II would let me turn the death ray on NCR positions around the wastes... but noooooo, it's a one-shot deal that only kills the ones in the courtyard.

We won't even get into how badly the voice actors are mutilating their pronunciations. I haven't heard Latin that bad since I got bored enough to watch Harry Potter on Cinemax once at three AM.

Okay, someone just came through and talked to me. My train of thought is even more derailed than it was when I started the tirade, so I'll shut up now.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NCCS - Release Imminent

I know it's been a bit over a week more than I was hoping it would take... but I just came off a two odd hour play, and I'm impressed. Performance is good, even with multiple companions running on one script.

I've got two running on it actively without issue. I plan to up it to three and see how that works.

Thus far the biggest hurdle to release has been the game itself. Testing out in the wasteland is very difficult because of the constant crashes. In more confined spaces, though, they seem to perform excellent; whatever that's worth.

Went into and out of the Strip by gate, and again there were no fights breaking out. There have been no random attacks on non-hostiles, and since I instituted the last piece of code for the combat end block of the script, there haven't been any issues with stoppages after the fight, either.

Some issues in delays on companions following you do persist. Some of the levels of Vault 22, for example, wouldn't let them follow me in. Once I was in, they took an alternate path to try to catch up, and ended up getting lost. When I returned to the entrance to leave, though, they were right there and still following.

Similarly, no companions - even ED-E - were willing to follow me into the Lucky 38 lounge/restaurant/whatever you want to call it. There's a delay following from House's penthouse to the Casino, but they do eventually make it down. No issues whatsoever going from casino level to presidential suite and back; so there shouldn't be any problems with them working with your new home.

A few issues here and there in Freeside; judging by their behavior, I'd say it's shoddy navmeshing again. Most of the tight spaces between rubble don't seem to be 'meshed at all - probably laziness on the devs' part. Companions always come around in the valid navmesh and catch up shortly.

Obviously I haven't played through the entire game, all its quests, and every interior cell that the player could possibly find themselves interacting with, so I'm sure there are still problems lurking about, but I think this should probably do for an initial release.

FONV - Complications

I've mentioned on occasion that the prevailing opinion on making FONV companion-friendly involves modifying scripts, triggers, and such.

Some of you may wonder why I'm so resistant to this idea. Am I just being my usual contrary self; preferring to learn on my own rather than accept advice?

Well... yeah, partly. But there's another concern.

ttomwv has mentioned to me a few times about needing to fix this trigger or that door or what-have-you to get it working with companions, and I insisted on checking alternatives. Want to see why?

For those of you who have never used the NVGECK, this is the Strip:

This is only one section; between the Lucky 38, and Gomorrah.

See all that crap?

The blue boxes are Idle Markers - things that cause a patrolling or sandboxing NPC to play specified animations. Red X's are your standard Xmarkers: the normal target for patrol points, guard packages, moveto commands, and some dialog sets. Red squares with an arrow on one side are an Xmarkerheading - the same as an Xmarker, but with an addition command that the NPC face a specific direction while doing whatever it is. Then there are your trigger boxes that handle everything from fame setting to initializing audio to starting scripted events around you.

Here's a closer view:

Now, imagine you're looking for one trigger; one script attached to it, to change one line of code.

While there are certainly cases where modding scripts is the best idea... I prefer to stick with my usual less invasive methods, thanks.

Also bear in mind, this is one section of the strip. Not even a couple hundred yards square. There are literally thousands of markers and triggers throughout the Strip.

The irony being most don't even do anything useful; or that couldn't be easily handled by quest scripts instead of triggers. As I've said before: I really think they went out of their way to make this game as complicated as it could possibly be.

I have to wonder whether the devs at Obsidian had ever modded FO3; or whether they just started in on NV blind.

And In Non-Fallout Related News...

Wow. 280 hours, and for the C64.

I'm torn between awe at the length of a free game, and abject horror at how bad the graphics will be.

Didn't own a C64 myself, but I played more than a few of that era's RPGs on the stately 8088, and can safely say I have no desire whatsoever to return to graphics that give me eyestrain every twenty minutes.

Completely Unrelated

I just wanted to note that we're moving into my favorite time of year, here in the northern hemisphere.

Last night, it was 28F, with an odd inch of powdery snow on the ground.

My window? Open fully; with a fan sitting in it running full blast.

I awoke this morning to what was left of my glass of tea being colder than when I left it on the desk.

You know, back when I drank such things, I actually had a half can of Coke freeze on my desk once? Seriously. Woke up to a half a can of Coke-flavored slurpee.

Not only is it the only time of year I sleep halfway decent, but it's complete anathema to the human wretches around me; who skitter indoors to huddle around woodstoves and lay on flat rocks under sunlamps - complaining the entire way that "there's no logical reason it should be so excruciatingly cold." I wish I was kidding about that last part.

Probably good for my PC hardware too, now that I think of it...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NCCS - Strip Ready

...Now that I think of it, that sounds kind of dirty, doesn't it? Oh well, what're ya gonna do?

Did some more testing on the new code. In and out of the strip, no problem. As well as a few other places...

"Your friends aren't allowed in the Penthouse" indeed.

And here were some of the results of the "improved" combat code...

Interestingly enough, Sunny never did anything. Not sure what factional wires got crossed where.

And Ted just looked like a serial killer in that hockey mask and sweater vest.

This would be shortly after Sam decided the residents of Primm needed to see the next life for no apparent reason.

Not bad form, all in all; but she needed to work on that temper... No self restraint, kids these days.

Yet another of the combinations of equipment the random spawns came up with. I've since increased Rin's height a bit. I ran the numbers in my head, and I had her set at like 4'8. Too short.

And lastly, the new decoration dialog options...

When asked to put on a slave's collar.

The menu.

And when told to remove the collar.

...And one just to show Sam almost topless...

NCCS - Partial Success

I've been having a bear of a time with the thing; script data gets stuck in the savegame, so I have to fully clean it every time I make an edit or change an NPC's script.

Had to scrap the code that automatically started combat for the NPCs. NV seems to use the calls oddly - when you fire on someone, the game decides you're under attack... which of course trips the Companion's 'go hurt them in defense of your master' code, making stand-off fighting all but impossible.

I modified the code so it would only fire if the player wasn't sneaking...

...And this somehow made the companions randomly attack everyone who wasn't us. They shot Sunny's dog, even. Many, many times...

Anyhow, this needless to say made the game nigh-unplayable, what with them axing quest NPCs left and right.

I commented out the code, and they seem to work fine again. It looks like the update to the game itself at least partially addressed the hesitating to enter combat issue that had me instituting the code in the first place.

I finally made it onto the strip, too. My stalwart partner's solution to the robo-twits conflicting with the companions appears to be solved, and without modifying a single base game script or faction.

Unfortunately, the method we chose to test the theory was a stopgap, and not suitable for wide use. I'm going to modify the dialog resultscripts some to get a correct method working... although I fully expect it to not work in that method; because this damned game obeys no form of logic my mind can conceive of.

The problem now is going to be sections of the main quest. There are spots that teleport the player to areas rather than letting them move normally. This, of course, leaves companions behind.

As noted before, I've found one; but not a second. Apparently there's some "island" having to do with Caesar that you get sent to while in the service of the latest iteration of Fallout's cliche and boring supercomputer AI controlling everything behind the scenes schtick.

I've been through the backend of more than a dozen quests and their accompanying scripts, and can't find a single moveto command anywhere in them; nor any mention of said island in quest notes or script comments.

Why they insist on hiding this shit is beyond me.

At this point, all I can do is play the damned quest myself and try to see exactly where it happens.

Worse yet, my pip-boy plugins don't work right in the new game. Cycling the tracking quest works fine, but the reset command does nothing. As always, the script passes the GECK's checks just fine, but in game does nothing.

On the up side, I got my Katawa Shoujo demo up to 100% last night. Now I just have to wait on them to release the full game. HURRY UP!

...What? I totally see the hypocrisy of me bitching at someone else's free project to hurry up; I just don't care. So Nyah.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NCCS - Overkill?

So... playing a bit this evening, and progress is being made. The Pip-Boy plugins work, the new Equipment, Personal, and Behavior dialog menus all work; along with their contents.

Have had no following stoppages, no hesitation after combat, no wandering off indoors or out.

Random equipment spawns work, and haven't changed at all in two game days of moving in and out of cells.

I... think I may have overdone the combat calls a bit, though.

I wanted them to forcibly attack anyone who started a fight with me - including the NCR GMPCs.

Well, they do. Unfortunately, they now attack anyone who I enter combat with, making it all but impossible to pick enemies off from a distance.

One of these days, I have got to learn to work incrementally, and not drop my H-bomb as soon as war is declared.

Nevertheless, I think I can salvage it. I've got some code in mind that should allow sniping without them charging in.

Also: NCCS will not have the follow distance plugins seen in RR. There's no need - the options are now included in the dialog orders, and are set up to work individually. You can set each companion on their own to a different distance to pull them in or string them out as you see fit. Settings should also be retained through stay, firing, and re-hire; so that they'll maintain the distance you specify until you order otherwise.

I've put in personal stat and skill displays that will let you keep track of your companion's current health and level; as well as guns, explosives, energy weapons, melee weapons, and sneak skills. This way, you can look at hard numbers, to decide what weapon(s) best suit your companions, as well as whether they're sneaky enough to avoid getting your stealth based character caught. You'll also be able to monitor companions' aggression and confidence - this one is unfortunately displayed via a numerical value and not a name (the script wouldn't allow a name to display); I have, however, added notes to the message that will tell you what the numbers mean.

Further, new dialog options will allow for specifying your companion's aggression at a whim. Three of the four levels are implemented - Frenzied is not, since it's pretty useless to a group effort.

Inventory share command has been moved to the equipment menu, along with an option to equip or remove a Pip-boy on command. There is no Pip-Boy light option at the moment - it caused a lot of problems in FO3, and I haven't decided whether it would be worth trying here.

I haven't decided yet whether the armory and wardrobe are worth bringing back. I never used them myself, and I don't think anyone else has ever mentioned a preference one way or the other.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NCCS - Slacking and Breakthroughs

So, yeah... I've been slacking off the last couple days. Not going into detail since no one cares, but a personal situation got worse a couple days ago, and I needed a day or two of not beating my head against the GECK to keep the chest pain under control (seems the incident six weeks ago left me permanently damaged. Joy.). About out of cartoons to waste time watching, though, so I'm going to end up drifting back into working on the NCCS later today.

Not everyone's as lazy as me, though. It seems Miss Herculine has figured out a way to let companions get in and out of the strip without taking robo-fire, and without touching a single base game script. Color me impressed.

*sniffle* They grow up so fast. Seems like just last week, she was asking about using factions to control dialog, and now she's using them to subvert dev scripting. I'm so proud. Soon, she'll be spouting snark and questioning the legalities of players' births, or insinuating they have Oedipal Complexes.

I've made the modifications to my own companions and the templates, and will try it out the next time I fire up the game, though since it has a 100% success rating going in her game, I'm confident that even if it doesn't work across the board, it will be the keystone that points us to the total fix.

I've also already corrected some dialog issues regarding the new container menus for the companions (sorry about that, Herculine). Seems I had forgotten to set them to only appear for members of NCCS, and random wasteland denizens had the options. Whoopsie. Let this be another lesson not to mod at five in the morning during an insomnia/depression bender.

Even with that done, I still have to make a couple of modifications somewhere to allow companions to be drug along with the player during one of the climactic battles of the main quest. The player is moved to said battle via script, and vanilla companions drug along.

Unfortunately, we can't call NCCS companions in the same way, since your personally made companions could be named literally almost anything. I've got an idea to set up their companionscript to allow them to move with the player when it happens... but with this screwy scripting engine, who knows whether the scripts will even fire correctly at the time.

Also, I'm hardly through most of the game quests myself, so if anyone knows of any times the player is forcibly moved by script other than in service to Mr. House, let me know via comment, email, or PM; so I can try to script out around it without having to resort to the ever-buggy teleport code block in a companion script.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NCCS - Slight Delay

I know, I said the beta was done.

At the last second, I decided to add the Pip-Boy plugins to my pre-made companions. Six quests, twelve items, twelve scripts, and a couple dozen lines of dialog take time to write in and test.

I'm nearly done, but there's one more point that remains.

Miss Herculine reports that companions get into fights at the Freeside entrances to the Strip. Firing on random gate guards and Kings members and so on.

Going to have to work out that faction issue... which is proving difficult, since the malefactors in question (oh come on, you know if my companions shoot at them; the bastards have it coming. I'd never create evil, trigger-happy NPCs!) aren't readily find-able in the GECK.

Looks like to find exactly who's causing the problem, I'll have to move into Freeside myself and have a looky-see personally.

Seems they also occasionally fire on children. Probably another faction issue... but I can't blame them, there. I get the urge to randomly unload a magazine at groups of kids myself, from time to time. Annoying little shits.

Though I, for one, would love to know why Fallout 3 and NV do this. The factions aren't set up to have an opinion one way or the other about any faction except their own. Theoretically, the companions should be no more liable to fire on Kings than on denizens of Goodsprings. Unless of course someone takes a shot at them. So why, then, do NPCs randomly choose to attack certain factions for no apparent reason?

Either way, I want the companions to be able to move into the Strip with you before I release the system. Hopefully a fix won't be long in coming.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NCCS - Successes and Failures

As usual, half of what I do isn't going to plan.

I had had the idea to set up the NCCS companions to spawn random equipment once, and then have normal inventory.

Troubles arose. In Oblivion, the trick works... but apparently in New Vegas, removing the leveled lists from the NPC's inventory also removes the items it spawned... so it ended up with naked, unarmed companions.

Not super handy in a fight.

So, I've defaulted to plan B: using lists that aren't removed. This means that companions will periodically switch out their equipment. Any items you add to their inventory in-game will not be affected by this. In FO3, lists only spawned new equipment when the companion was left in a cell long enough for it to reset; it didn't happen as long as they were in your party. I'm hoping that will be the case here, as well... but we'll have to wait and see.

You can see here two of the projected starting loadouts for a companion. The only change is that I've modified it to add a second weapons list; since two of the one list kept turning in two of the same weapon. The different lists generally spawn different weapons, though. Each with its own ammo; this gives companions a primary and secondary arm, and enough ammunition to hold out through your first bits of adventuring together, until you can loot or buy more ammo or other weapons for them.

List options will be armor, clothing, headwear, and the two weapon lists. All pretty self explanatory. The only caveat being that 'headwear' at the moment includes both armored and normal pieces, so it can occasionally come up with some humorous sets. I saw once a tuxedo with a Fiend helmet. James Bond meets Mad Max, I suppose. Should be good for a chuckle here and there; and potentially adds some personal style to companions.

Here's Steve (one of my pre-made companions for NCCS). This is two different save-game loads, and not the results of changing cells or any such. They can end up looking like completely different characters from game to game.

This is Artemis, showing off the funny possibilities. She spawned in reinforced combat armor MKII, and a fancy gambler's hat.

On that note, I don't care for the female models of the gambler's hats. The males look fine, but the females' look more like mourning veils than on-the-town swanky-wear.

More on the success side, I think you guys will be pleased with the companion system on the whole. In RR, I held back. A lot.

It was never my mod, you see. I always figured that someday, someone else would end up copying my work and slapping their name on it. I hadn't figured it would be a new game in the franchise, though.

Either way, once RR was "fixed", I didn't stop development; I just stopped sharing what I came up with. This resulted in things like the Pip-Boy plugins that handle tracking and companion retrieval without the use of a terminal; the improved combat styles; some extra dialog options; improved health management, and a few other things. I have, for example, figured out how to set companions as essential or non through dialog; removing the need to modify plugins to do so.

At the urging of Miss Herculine, I've decided not to hold back this time; seeing as NCCS is an original work and I can tell anyone who wants to copy it to sit on it and rotate.

A lot of the new stuff isn't ready for release yet, so the initial NCCS is still going to be comparably basic, but the combat style has come along nicely.

Case in point: in FO3, standard companions getting into a tiff with my special companions quickly results in shredded RR's. Playing NV this morning though, I had Steve and Artemis along with Maeva and [CENSORED], in the Vance & Vicky casino. When the NCR deserters busted in and demanded caps, I of course told them where to shove it; resulting in a fight.

The NCRs didn't last long, but once it was done I still heard fire.

See, in this game there was no pre-made system for me to utilize, so I wrote my personal companions off-the-cuff, with their own self-contained system. NCCS is a completely separate plugin, and the two don't interact in any way.

You can see where this is going. I forgot that their respective factions weren't told to play nice, and apparently one tagged another during the fight; resulting in a new fight going down.

The NCCS companions weren't losing. Don't get me wrong, they weren't winning, either. The two pairs had fought nearly to a standstill, and were trading sporadic fire from cover. My girls had a slight advantage because of customized weaponry, but the NCCS duo were acquitting themselves admirably.

Suppose I need to make up a bridge plugin to fix the factions...

In any event, the first beta is essentially ready for upload. My companions pack is done, and Herculine has sent me the latest version of hers for inclusion with the master. I still need to take some screenshots, and then write a readme. Once those are done, you can expect to see NCCS on the NVNexus, ready for your breakage attempts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NCCS - Update II, Aftermath

Actually managed a three hour play tonight without any crashes, so apparently the mutant Skynet-precursor AI that lives in my Emachine is learning how to run NV correctly. Just wish it would hurry the hell up about it.


If you read the comments on the last post, you'll see Miss Herculine's prognosis that the system is stable enough for release after her own play testing.

After tonight, I'm inclined to agree.

We've hit one snag that isn't wholly resolvable thus far. There's a bug in this Fallout, much like the last. It seems that if one selects a non-Caucasian race for their NPC, in-game the head will display correctly, but the body will be white. Correcting the head egf setting in the ini files doesn't fix it. I'll confess I likes me some pallid beauties (as though you hadn't noticed), so I haven't played with it much.

However, Miss Herculine - being the fine, upstanding proponent of diversity that she is - has gone to more than a bit of trouble investigating the issue, and tells me that turning your plugin into a master, when used in conjunction with the egf reset, does fix the issue. So, it looks like we're all stuck esmifying our plugins again. But, as far as bugs go, this is a minor one - at least all of us who did NPC work on FO3 are already used to it.

With the system apparently ready for release, I'm going to finish off my own pre-made companion plugin, and we should be ready for a beta release.

And now, screenshots:

You can see here I've about finished revisions on the form of my special companions. They're looking quite nice, again.

Here, we were moving through Scorpion Gulch. Unfortunately, the littler of the two redheads is fucking murder with that cowboy repeater (that someone resembling me may have customed up for her), which makes it difficult to get any decent combat screenshots.

Maeva, for reasons which will forever escape me, loves that High Power, using it to the exclusion of virtually all else. She also has a caravan shotgun, but refuses to use it unless she's run completely dry of 9mm ammo.

This is one I wish I had a video for. At the border between Scorpion Gulch and Hidden Valley, we were on top of the cliffs (where the bugs can't reach). Rather than walk back and around the path, I just hopped down to an intermediate ledge, and then on to the ground. ED-E took off back up the path. My companions jumped off after me.

They're also already showing a predilection for crossing impassable terrain to stay near me.

Here you can see I ported over two mods this evening. One was Cat Outfits - which contains the demon horns and tail I use on Maeva. The other was my "special equipment" plugin, which has stuff like my retexture of the Blackwolf backpack that you see in the screenshot, as well as a bunch of outfits I've pulled from various non-English-speaking mod databases over the years (Schoolgirl outfit sans panties, woo!).

On the whole, NV still feels clumsier and less refined than FO3... but it's getting better. It'll be a lot better once I get the companion system out there, I think.

Though I think I am going to have to do a house mod (separate from NCCS, I assure you). I found the perfect spot yesterday.