Thursday, April 29, 2010


Not technically game-related, but posting this here for two reasons:

1) Computer related, and I know I have more a tech-y audience on this blog (moreso than my other)

2) I have an audience here, where I'm pretty sure only one or two people read my non-gaming blog; the rest wander in from Google searches.

Amazing. I spend ten years gunsmithing and ammunition experimenting... no one cares. But I take up modding a buggy FPS/RPG hybrid on a whim involving boredom and hot companions and I become some kind of hero...


Bored out of my damned skull this morning, I decided that since the card was effectively useless anyhow, I'd see about disassembling that fan and see if it was repairable.

The answer, of course, is a resounding no.

But what got my attention, was that the fan isn't in the design I'm used to. There are no bearings to flush and repack with grease. The little fan is apparently held in place by plastic clips, and spins on and is driven by a simple electromagnet.

That's just wild.

See, while I realize I'm not an old man by any means, my gaming days go back further than most of you kids. I remember playing Pong on the Atari, for example. The old Atari whose controller consisted of a spinning wheel with a single button on the side.

I remember working on an 8088 XT, with a whopping 640kb of RAM and a double-spaced 20mb hard drive. Talk about a boat anchor. The damned case alone must have weighed twenty pounds. Add in the monochrome CRT, and "clicker" keyboard (no sneaky midnight typing as a kid with that thing!) and I'm pretty sure the outfit weighed as much as I did, at the time.

Still remember my old DOS setup. I had written a bunch of batch files to run my favorite games from a menu. Even did little ASCII spaceships fighting it out around the edges.

Yeah, I was a geek.

But I digress.

This fan amused me, but it also illustrates a problem with modern technology. That being that it isn't meant to be repaired. An old fan, I could have repacked the bearings, maybe replaced with a soldering iron whatever wire had burned out in the motor, and maybe got it working again. New stuff? Toss it, buy another... if they still make it; which they probably don't if your equipment is more than a year old.

Saw the same thing when my apartment's dishwasher went FUBAR this time last year. The pump motor had blown a seal. A $2 part.

Trouble was, they didn't sell that seal. You had to replace the entire pump, motor, and something else as they were all a sealed unit. A sealed unit, I might add, that cost so much that it was actually more cost effective to throw the old dishwasher away, and replace it with a new one.

Were it me, I'd have sprang the extra $50 to get one not made by Roper... but I'm not managing the apartment complex.

Cars are the same way. Time was, with a decent toolbox and a free Saturday, you could change damn near anything in a car. Now? Everything is special tools and sealed sub-assemblies and "dealer only" items... to the point that it just isn't worth trying to do it yourself.

If I wasn't already a morose person on a good day, these trends would certainly make me one.


Not going to be any modding here soon.

Haven't had a chance to get into town, and I ended up having to pull the 8400GS completely, and switch back to onboard video.

Unfortunately, the onboard is a 6150LE - which won't run Fallout 3 at all. Nor, by extension, the GECK.



Will run Oblivion, but I'd have to scale my video settings way back, and I'm not sure I want to go to the trouble of rebalancing the whole mess twice more.

Played some Zero Hour. Found out I can still wipe the floor with three hard AIs single-handed. With an ease that makes the whole endeavor boring.

CoD4 is in the same boat as Oblivion. It'll run... but not at 1024x768 - where I normally keep it set. Have to switch back to 800x600, scale down the effects, etc etc. Again, not sure it's worth the trouble.

Never realize how godawfully boring your pathetic life is until you lose your primary source of diversion.

Depressed now. Joy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Video Woes, Solved?

Got my housework done, finally (and man does that shit pile up when you laze about in a depressed fashion for a week and a half), and had some time to settle in and play a game, instead of just reading diagnostic reports.

Two things found:

1) My personal system/FO3 combination responds well to forcing the hard drive cache use to on. This apparently causes severe stuttering for some folks, but my game went buttery smooth with it on.

2) Seems the video card, if not the sole issue, has been the driving force behind my major issues. Played twenty odd minutes. Started getting stutters about 12 to 15 minutes in. It would miss a frame here, freeze up a few seconds when a spawn point was triggered, things like that. Problems got progressively worse as time went on. Alt-Tabbed back to Speccy, and the GPU had spiked from idle temp of 78C up to 94C.

Switched game off, let it cool back down to idle, started it back up. Played another ten, fifteen minutes. Problems began to manifest again. Same thing, but a bit worse. Closed the game, looked over the readout, and it was sitting at 95C, but the graph showed it had spiked to about 100C.

Seems like anything over 90C is bad ju-ju for the card, and apparently this particular specimen shows its heat-fatigue with major caching slowdowns. With what heat does to RAM chips, that's not really surprising. I'm still amazed nothing has burned out.

So, I've got my pedestal fan set up and aimed properly, and the card is happily idling along at 77C. Jumps to 80C when I watch a full-screen movie.

Suppose I get to buy a new card, then.

Seems you can get a pretty decent one for a C bill here lately, which is the top-out of what I'm usually willing to pay for a video card.

Yeah yeah. I should be springing for something like this, but like I told the Lady when she pointed it out to me while we were browsing the list: putting that thing into my PC would be like putting a Hemi into a Civic. Yeah, it's technically possible... but why? At the end of the day, it's still a damned Honda.

At the end of the day, this is still a thirty month old Emachine.

Seems though, like I can get a GF9600 or so for the hundred bucks. Just have to be careful, cause I'm pretty sure my PC doesn't support PCI-E 2.1 - my current card is a 2.0.

I really wish they'd pick a fucking standard and stick to it. ISA, then PCI, then AGP, then BETTAR AGP ZOMG 8X BESTEST EVAR... and now we're back to PCI? People need their damned schizophrenia meds. Or girlfriends.

'Sides. Even with an ailing card, with hard drive caching on, the game was running at 1024x768, decent draw distances, and still pulling a solid 25fps outdoors. Fallout 3 is the newest game I have much interest in running, probably won't buy New Vegas if it's still put out by Bethsoft anyway.

Don't see much point in putting a shit-ton of money I don't have into a PC just to say I have a more powerful one.

I prefer to own 454 Casulls for bragging rights. They're way more fun, and don't become obsolete every other year.

Anyhow, seems like the outside fan method will keep the computer running until I have a chance to get into town and see about a new card. It's just going to cut heavily back on my gaming.

Video Woes... Deeper

Well, I don't know that it's the cause of the problem, specifically... but I just found out that my GPU has been operating at 110C.

I'm amazed the son of a bitch hasn't burned out.

Uncapped the PC, and it seems the bargain basement fan on my bargain basement EVGA GF8400GS has quit working.

Gonna power down the system now, do some de-dusting, and see if that fan is just stuck or if the motor is fuxx0red.

S'all I need right now, having to blow a hunk of what little savings I've got build up on a new GPU...

Edit, 0845PST:

Yep. Fucking bearings are seized in the fan.

Good news is PSU, CPU, and secondary case fans are all working fine.

I'd also like to reiterate how much I hate living in the Columbia river basin. Even with my air filtered, there was so much dust in there that the CPU heat sink was damn near clogged solid.

Hasn't even been six months since I dusted in there, either.

Got an odd CPU heat sink and fan from a previous build that went FUBAR, suppose I get to dig it out and see if the fan is adaptable to the GPU.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate computers?

Edit 2, 0903PST:

Well, looks like I tossed the fan and heat sink in the last move. Typical. Probably wouldn't have fit, anyway.

Seems if I keep the case open and a fan blowing on high into there, the GPU idles at 77C; which while not stellar... is within safe range.

Lovely. Guess I have to buy a new one, now.

Suppose I should fire up a game and see how high it'll spike.

If it was idling at 110C before... I'm surprised I didn't smell something scorching while FO3 was running.

Real pisser of it, is I was just playing CoD4 this morning, and as usual, there were no slowdowns. I've seen no artifacting, no blue screens of death... no POST errors. Nada. The damn thing's apparently been idling happily along at 1.5x normal temperature for Gods know how long.

If I hadn't been curious and installed Speccy while I was updating CCleaner, I'd probably never have noticed until the radiant heat either killed the GPU or burned the insulation off some nearby wiring.

Oh, well. At least I've already upgraded the power supply... so I won't have to be out that expense too, this time.

You know, I bought the Chaintech GF6200 in my old PIII box in two thousand and fucking four. That PIII 800, 450w PSU, and GF6200 have outlived three Athlon XPs, and now a GPU to add to the score card. Fucker of it is that if I plugged it in and fired 'er up, that little tank would run just like the day it was fucking new.

It just wouldn't run any of my games.

Goddamned programmed obsolescence...

Of course, I did find two syringes of Militec and ten bucks worth of patches for my Otis kit while digging through boxes looking for that fan, so I suppose the morning isn't a total bust.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Good news:

I have made progress on the issues plaguing my ability to play FO3 for more than ten minutes at a go.

Had an incident with the GECK earlier, where the slowdown occurred. I was busy scripting at the time, and too hard-headed to stop and reload, so powered on. The hard drive was making a ton of those little working clicks (Emachines don't have an IDE light; I shit you not). Few minutes later, it goes back to normal.

Was playing the game, and sure enough, it slowed down again. Kept going - muttering profanity the entire time - and it did eventually clear up. Of course, it did it again five minutes later... but the whole thing is starting to feel like some kind of a caching issue.

Cache fills up, performance goes to shit, computer spends five minutes clearing cache; things go back to normal until cache is full again.

Unfortunately, this means that either my system RAM module or GPU are probably fucked up and in the early stages of dying. Going to have to look around and find some testing utilities.

What gets me, is that it doesn't do it on 178.24 series drivers, but does do it on any subsequent version. So I'm leaning towards the GPU.

Especially since I haven't been getting any BSoD's, which in my experience are always present when you have a pooching RAM module.

Weirder still... it only does it in Fallout 3. Was playing Sins of a Solar Empire the other morning for awhile (which is not kind to a system's video components, despite being an RTS) and had no issues at all.

Ditto for CoD4. Ran a botmatch a couple days ago without incident.

Going to have to dig out my Oblivion disc, and see if it's a Gamebryo thing, or just an FO3 thing.

Bad News:

V2 of the remodel is not as ready as I had hoped. Switches all work, but that strip script is giving me trouble. It works fine on a lone companion, but when two or more try to use it within a second or two of each other, only one will re-dress. The one that stays naked's inventory is intact, they just don't re-equip it properly. I'm not sure why this is. The engine is supposed to handle multiple trigger events on subsequent frames, so unless my game is still skipping them, I'm baffled as to what's going on. There's also some tile that needs realigning. S'what I get for doing coordinate math in my head at 0530. I also may have went a tish heavy on the special effects. Unlike my old Bedroom Redecorated mod, the NosCo Vault 1 Remodel will not be extraordinarily friendly to low-end PCs. Ironic since I use one.

It sure it pretty, though.

Companions definitely love the sauna. What is it with women and steam rooms? Oh, well. They lounge naked and don't care if I watch, so I'm not complaining.

Need to work on the bedroom proper's lighting, too. It's fine at the edges, but lacking over the bed in the center. Easy fix, though - just drop in another chandelier and a light to go with it, add said light to lightswitch script, and vee-oh-lah.

Probably going to have to break down and put in room bounds and occlusion planes to help offset the resource hit from all that water.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Fan Requests"

...Or, "How to not get Nos to do what you want."

Readers of the RR Companions Vault file comments will notice I got another stupid request today.

This time? I'm supposed to create a second version of the master, removing the access tunnels.

This annoys me on so many levels.

Now, I want to be clear: I don't mind people weighing in with what they think of this feature or that, or even running the occasional idea by me.

This bothers me because it reeks of the culture of entitlement that is destroying this country, and the "civilized world" as a whole.

The basic theory is this: "You have a skill I don't, therefore it is your duty to use your skill to cater to my whims."

Read the comment, and you'll see that that's all this is: a whim. The commenter's request was not borne of a game-breaking bug. Nor was it a graphical glitch, buggy code, performance hit... not even is it a compatibility issue with some other mod.

What was the problem?

He can't tolerate the three-quarters of a second long sound that the game makes when a utility door is activated.

That's it.

I'm supposed to ruin game stability, remove two of the biggest mod features (access points to the wasteland, and the high-end merchant), and throw away forty odd hours of work on my part, because he doesn't like a sound.

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

Further, this would outright break compatibility with my buddy Fry's Refurbished overhaul, and would also render NeilUK02's quest plugin un-runnable. It would also necessitate that I maintain and update two master files, since one could not simply not update the non-tunnel version. That would be unfair!

It... it just boggles the fucking mind. How do people like this survive in the world? Do they treat every situation like a four year old, or is such behavior reserved for "safe" outlets like game mods?

These are the things that keep me awake at night, sometimes.

They also make me long for a third world war... but that's a rant for another day.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "But Matt!" You say, as you usually do. "You do cave to fan requests!"

You're right, I sometimes do.

You want to get your idea put into one of my mods? Here are some tips:

1) Try to make it an idea that trips my fancy. I'm far more likely to put something in, if it strikes me as being useful, unique, or just plain cool.

2) Present your idea in a non-stupid manner. Use punctuation, use complete words, don't use esoteric acronyms. Make at least a passing attempt at spelling correctly. You reverse a couple letters in your haste and don't notice, a key on your keyboard is going south or has had one too many cokes dumped into it and sticks, or you just can't remember when I comes before E - all of that's fine. Those are honest mistakes, we all make them. Bt tipng leik dis cuz ur 2 lzy 2 tri is the surest way to get me to ignore your simple ass just on general principle.

3) Don't demand. I'm not your personal modder. Some things I'm just plain not interested in, others I don't have time to implement. Starting your request off with: "I don't know how to do it myself, but you should be able to..." is another good way to get ignored. If you have no idea what's involved in adding your pet idea to the game, maybe you should check into it and see how viable it is before you go harassing someone to give it to you (yes, that's right, I said give. Us modders don't get paid, you know). The game engine has limits. Your idea may indeed be TEH GRAETST EVAR!!1123fortyseven! but the game engine may well not be capable of handling the lost city of Atlantis with a mini-Epcot Center in the entryway for your companions to dance the Charleston around and sing Judy Garland hits while you relax by the pool.

4) Talk to me. If you're a random person I've never heard of, I'll likely ignore your request. On the other hand, if we've traded witless banter a few times and I sort of know you, I'm much more likely to actually stop and consider just how viable your idea is, and whether it would legitimately improve the experience for the player-base.

Some examples of other people's ideas that did make it in:

* The access tunnels cell. Not something I was keen on, originally, but Fry presented a convincing argument that the method he was outlining - involving a 'buffer cell' and some scripting - would greatly reduce incidents of crash-on-loading of the Vault 1 cell. To support his position further, he presented me with a test plugin, that showed the premise on a small, simple scale. I opted to add it, not only because it worked, but because it seemed like an excuse to practice my cell creation from scratch.

* Chloe the merchant. I had tossed around the idea of a merchant several times in the past, but never did much with it. I had originally been planning on adding a new merchant to the trade caravan, but I happened to be chatting one evening with Sgt Ovakil, who mentioned that there were no good, high level merchants in the game. Sure enough, I thought about all the stuff I had stored because no merchant could handle that much stuff. With the access tunnels in place, it occurred to me that one of the here-to-fore empty rooms would be an excellent place to set her up. Ran a few ideas past him, and we agreed on some basics of just what all the merchant should carry for best effect. Sgt Ovakil then one-upped himself, by doing the lion's share of the debugging testing and reading when Chloe manifested her caps bug. He was the one who pointed the exact issue and solution out to me. It was also because of him that I went to the trouble I did to get Chloe's caps management script working. I hated to leave her so handicapped on resources, when she was intended to be so much more. Said Sergeant was also my sounding board for the bobblehead selling idea, and ended up setting their price, as something for high level characters to blow caps on.

* The revitalizer effect for the upcoming V2 of my vault remodel. This one you can credit to Dennis/The Auld Grump. He cheated, and spent some time actually talking to me via post comments before subtly suggesting that there was this feature he and one of his companions loved about another house mod, and if mine had it, then there'd be no use for the other anymore (hint hint). Sure enough, this one had a holy trifecta going on. It sounded useful - since it would negate the need to traipse down to the clinic every time I came back to the vault, it wouldn't be much trouble - I had to put in the trigger boxes anyway to handle the strip-scripts, and it was just plain cool. Plus, he was not demanding about it, and does me the repeated courtesy of typing like a well-read adult.

So, you see, while I am absolutely capricious, I'm not inscrutable by any means. A lot of it is simply in how you approach the situation, and whether I feel you're just out for a quick gratification and I'll never hear from your ass again afterwards.

But removing three of the wasteland access points from the tunnels to fix a non-replicatable bug that NeilUK02 was having with an NPC moving from Rivet City to Underworld? Yeah, that was totally whim on my part. I do that, sometimes.

Also: posting "problem" screenshots without an accompanying explanatory comment? Another sure way to make me ignore your sorry ass. You know who you are.

Why I Mod

People mod for many different reasons.

Some do it for love of the game; wanting to see it expanded, to add new things.

Some want to improve the experience for fellow players.

Some do it as an exercise: "I wanted to see if I could do it"


Boredom. Overwhelming, crushing, mind-numbing boredom.

Take now, for example. It's 0045 local, and I am bored out of my fucking mind.

Television is a wasteland of stupidity, I've watched every DVD I own (most multiple times), read every one of the two hundred odd books on my shelf, played every computer game multiple times - seriously: I've played Neverwinter Nights at least six times, and have finished Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries at least eight.

My XM radio plays from the desk, as it usually does when I'm awake. George Strait, at the moment. Earlier was the Bellamy Brothers, and before that Waylon Jennings. Like the music fine, but it's not engaging. There's no mental stimulation; nothing to focus on.

It's just pleasant background noise.

...Sometimes less pleasant than others. Where'd I leave that damned remote...?

Sorry. Freddy Welles is not my idea of pleasant background noise. Neither is Joan Jett... fucking hell...

Hell with it, I'll listen to the MP3 player's memory.

I tell you, folks, the worst thing that ever happened to XM radio was merging with Sirius. Worst DJs on Earth. The ORIGINAL MTV VJs! especially. Fucking has-beens sucked in the 80's, and damned well aren't cool now that they're in their 50's and still rambling about meeting David Bowie that one time in 1983.


Can't sleep. Hadn't slept more than a couple hours off and on in three or so days, so when my body declared at 0600 Friday that it was nappy time, I didn't even fight it. Had nothing to do, so just crashed; and stayed dead for somewhere around ten hours.

Nope, not gonna be seeing any sleep tonight, I think.

Already hemmed my new pants, so I'm just sitting here, trying to think of something to do.

I've got nothing. Already worked today's crossword from Yahoo, played Lock and Roll until I can't stand to look at it anymore. All my guns are clean. Can't very well do laundry at this time of night.

So, my thoughts drift to the GECK.

I may hate scripting, and modding on the whole; but it at least forces me to think, to focus. Occupies the 'ol CPU cycles, as it were.

Trouble is, I still have no interest in playing the game.

Saw earlier Arwen has released another version of her tweaks. She's hell bent on that "sneak overhaul" mess.

Whatever floats yer boat, I suppose.

Find myself... missing something.

Keep getting the urge to log into a chat room; or play an online game.

No idea what that would accomplish, other than pissing me off - which is the traditional outcome of such endeavors.

Suppose I'm missing my friend, who can't be bothered to log the fuck on to AIM anymore. I occasionally do miss it. Not that anyone cares, mind you.

So... I ramble here, in your general directions. Am I boring you all? I'm sure I am. Then again, it's my blog, and I'll talk about what I like.

I dunno. It's just all starting to seem so pointless.

...Much like this post, actually, now that I think of it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Looks like posting is probably going to be sliding more to the light side again for the time being.

I've had that mod review list organizing itself in my head for weeks now, v2 of the NosCo Vault 1 remodel is done, save for some furniture and clutter around the bed itself, v1.8 of the companions pack is only a couple dialog issues away from release, and I still have to send Arwen another PM and heavily insult her modding skills (found out what was killing the companions, and it wasn't random game settings...).

But y'know, I'm just not feeling it right now.

My interest in playing FO3 - even for testing - is somewhere below zero, I don't want to look at the GECK, and the Nexus bores me.

May have gotten gun-shy, after the game randomly quit working. Why spend hundreds of hours working on a mod that you may not even be able to play, tomorrow?

I'm sure I'll come through it. I always do.

Would help if I could sleep, though.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Disk Defragmenting

For years, I used the O&O Defragger, which was good, and had lots of options. Not the fastest around, but it worked well.

Since migrating to Windows Vista in late 2007, I've been stuck on the Windows Defragmenter.

It runs on a schedule, every Wednesday at 0100, and I'm prone to leaving the computer on 24/7, so that works out fine.

Windows defragmenter... has never been the best. Like most Microsoft products, it works... more or less. There's a bunch of stuff it doesn't do, and the interface is written for someone that thinks AOL is complicated. There is zero customization, and slightly more than zero information given. When working, it says only that it's defragmenting. No percentage done, estimated time remaining, what file its working on, nada.

You can't even select which drive(s) to defrag. It's all of C:\ or nothing.

I had let it run earlier today, but I knew from past experience that the results would be less than astounding.

So, I went digging for a new defragmenter; not wanting to drop $60 on a new O&O license.

Seems that Piriform, maker of CCleaner - a longtime favorite of mine for cleaning temporary files from the windows environ - has decided to jump into the defrag market with both feet.

True to what I've come to expect from them, the program just fucking rocks. Not only is it fast, but you can select individual files to defrag, and others not to; as well as the usual 'do the whole drive, Hal'.

Analyzed, selected files, and defragged my windows AND data drives in less than a half hour.

Also worthy of note, is that my C:\ drive was still almost 15% fragmented, even after the windows defragger did its thing.

So... the windows defragger is no longer allowed to run on its little schedule, and can now join the rest of windows' automatic "helpers" in hell, where I generally send them all within two hours of starting the PC up the first time.

Best of all, Defraggler? Is free. Totally. 100%. Not an ad, nor a pop-up box, nothing.

Even if you already have a defragmenting program, I fully recommend you check out defraggler. I don't think you'll be sorry. I know I'm not.

Continuing Video Woes: A Victory?


After a couple hours of tweaking ini files to hell and back, I think the problems are solved.

I was right - specularity, Vsync, and a couple other settings are hard-enabled in the .ini files, and cannot be turned off via the game menus.

If the options don't work, why fucking put them there, I wonder... but that's a bitch-fest for another day.

Deleted my backups of the ini files by mistake, so had to start again from scratch; and couldn't remember what all I had changed. I must have disabled the stuff before, and forgotten about it.

Got it running 1024x768, Actorfade set to 10, Object and Item fades set to 8 each, HDR enabled, reflections and refractions enabled.

Getting a solid 15fps outdoors. Not stellar, no, but you also have to bear in mind that I just deleted ten plus gigabytes of data from my hard drive, and have switched video driver sets four or five times.

My windows drive is in severe need of a defrag at this point. I'm surprised the game runs as well as it does. Going to tweak a couple more global settings in my Nvidia control panel from hell, and then let the 'Mute here sit idle for several hours while windows attempts to unfuck my C:\ drive.

One of these days I really need to spring for a new Vista/Win7 compatible version of O&O Defrag...

Slow Progress

Well, fixed it again. Reverted drivers back to 178.24 - the set that came with my GPU. Performance was never quite as good as on the 186 series I've been running the last few months, but the 186's keep fucking up... so what're ya gonna do?

Still, taking it slow. Reactivating one or two mods at a time.

This wouldn't be a huge deal... but on a normal play, I run over a hundred mods - many of them custom overwrites or modifications of someone else's mods that I made for my own use.

Couple that with the fact that in some cases (like Type 3) I've overwritten the files in the data directory a dozen or more times since my last install, and things can get confusing.

Half the time, I literally can't remember what in the hell all I have installed, as far as texture replacers go.

Once I had it verified working again, the first thing I reinstalled was, of course, the RR Companions Vault and my companions pack. Wanted to be damned sure right off the bat that they weren't causing the issue.

So far, so good. Ran through Springvale School with a couple companions in tow and had no issues, other than that persisting FPS dip. I'm sure it's a setting I'm missing, since the lighting looks different now than it did before.

My 'special' companions aren't active, though, sadly. Since their package requires 20th Century weapons, which in turn requires CALIBR... I'm not ready to jump quite that far in, just yet.

Just installed Fellout, and am going to test 'er again. Going to take days at this rate...

On the up side, I've rectified an embarrassing problem. It seems that in v1.7 of my companions pack, while I included the hair files directly... I forgot to reset the texture paths in the .nif files. Since I had the hair pack installed anyway, I simply never noticed.

Don't have the hair pack installed now, and I did notice. So that's fixed, on all 24 hair meshes, and it will be uploaded with 1.8.

Unfortunately, as I'm testing as I go with the game itself, I can't really GECK practically, at the moment, so that may be a bit yet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Continuing Video Woes

Still having problems.

Every time I think I have it fixed, the problem reoccurs.

Just had the slowdown bug again.

On the save of the game that played for sixty minutes and forty-seven seconds with no problems.

Killed and restarted the game from the disc-launcher instead of FOMM, and the problem was there from the start.

So, it seems like it's a driver issue, and not a game issue.

Pisser of it is, it doesn't do this with any other game. I can play Oblivion, or CoD4, or even The Witcher (which is way harder on a system than FO3 ever thought of being) without a problem.

Seems to be what I call a "driver crash", which is a recent problem. This is the first video card I've ever seen it with.

Basically, what happens is that some fuck up will occur while in a DirectX environment (a game), and the game will either crash, or stop working right - ala FO3. Once this happens, the video driver is fucked. Sometimes I get a notification from windows that the driver has stopped working, but most often there's no warning.

From there on, it doesn't work right at all. When I restart the system, the Nvidia control panel has lost its damned mind, and reverts to default settings.

After the second-in-a-row FO3 not working, I restarted the computer, and sure enough it started in 800x600, 60hz.

Am I the only person starting to seriously loathe Nvidia? I mean, it's like they're not even trying to put out workable drivers anymore. Which is a shame, because in days gone by they were the best.

So, now I get to uninstall and reinstall my adapter and driverset over and over again until it decides to act right and install correctly. Which could take awhile.

I'm getting too old for this bullshit.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shiny Things

We're going to step away from the Capital Wasteland for a moment, and talk about another game.

World of Warcraft.

Now, I'll admit straight up I am biased against this or any other pay-by-the-month game.

I have to pay by the month to play, and I still get fucked out of the full $50 for the game? No thanks.

I've tried playing it three times now, and never made it all the way through the trial periods. Why? The game is boring from one end to the other. It's the same five quests over and over and over and over and over and fucking over again. Level thirty is just like level one, except that everything costs a hundred times as much.

And always, there are the legions of whiny piss-ant n00bs begging for money or power leveling.

I've long known there was something wrong with avid WoW players. Raiding for ph4t l3wtz six days a week aside, they all seem to have a... genetic problem. Ancestors of mine referred to it as "one in the woodpile", but I prefer to be less racist and imply that they instead have Magpie blood in them. Because hey, I seen plenty of white people who dress in ways that a New Orleans pimp would find gaudy and tasteless.

Then, they started with the 'vanity pets'. Items you buy that do nothing. There a parrots and cats and other such shit. Have no combat ability, grant no skill buffs, it's just decoration.

I thought the community's stupidity had topped out with the 'flying mount' nonsense, awhile back... but it seems they've reached a new low.

I've been seeing references here and there the last couple days to a glittery mount being sold for the game.

Tonight, I saw a link, and finally knew the true horror of what's going down in Azeroth.

I had assumed that the mount would be "bought" as others are - using game money.

Nope. $25USD. Nearly the same cost as a full expansion pack.

For a partially translucent sparkly pony with wings.

I don't even pity you people anymore. This has gone beyond sad, and is just pathetic.

Congrats to Blizz, though. Someone finally managed to steal the title of "biggest video game related waste of money ever". The title was, of course, formerly held by Bethesda for their 'horse armor' DLC for Oblivion.

I'm sure it'll make 'em another ten million bucks, and probably lure in a hundred thousand more players.

I'll ask it again: aren't we overdue for a nice plague? People used to get turned to pillars of salt for less, for fuck's sake.

Time Off?

Not really.

Already got the game back up and running.


Because yes, my life is that fucking pathetic.

Driver switch-out complete. Game wiped and reinstalled. Played through the tutorial, out through Springvale, and into Megaton. No problems observed.

If it's going to do it, the most I've ever had the game last is fifteen minutes. By sixty, if it was going to it would have, so I can assume I cleared out whatever the issue was this time.

Down side, I'm stuck back on 800x600 for the time being.

Going to start re-adding stuff, try to get the game back to normal, but it'll likely take awhile since I don't want to just toss everything back in. Would likely cause an issue of some sort or another.

Some things I learned during this:

Fallout 3 really is much like Oblivion. Both game are awesome in suitably modded form... and both games fucking suck in their unmodded form.

Textures are garbage, weapons are boring, sky is shitty.

Miss Type 3, miss Fellout, miss my decent weapons and my cadre of sadistic cuties.

While possibly not explicitly caused by, the problem happened very close to my installation of some of NMC's enhanced textures for Megaton and Rivet City.

I think this time I'll be leaving those out, just to be safe. The default textures may suck, but they don't stop the game from working.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Time Off

My Fallout 3 install decided to spontaneously manifest the stuttering bug again tonight.

I can play for about ten minutes, before the framerate drop to 3 to 5.

I've had this problem once before, and new video drivers fixed it.

I've completely uninstalled and reinstalled my driverset twice now, and it's still happening.

No other game I've ever played does this. It's a Fallout 3 thing only. Even Oblivion doesn't do it.

I'm not in the fucking mood to fight with it anymore.

Not going to mod, either, since I can't test changes.

So consider this another hiatus, until and unless I get bored enough to spend eight hours fixing it just so it can break again in six months.

Shame the devs couldn't be bothered to do anything that didn't involve selling DLC.

Considering this will probably end up requiring a total uninstall and reinstall of the game, it may be awhile.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Gods, first that Dragon Age nonsense that keeps servers clogged 24/7, and now this 'new look' that makes comments a complete pain to read what with the sideways scrolling.

Look, I get it.

You majored in flash in college like a dumbass, and in this economy you can't get a job.

I feel for you, but for fuck's sake get a hobby besides designing the most uselessly complex web site possible!

What's with the screenshot-slideshow bullshit, too? If I want to look at mod screenshots, I'll click the images tab.

What's next? A CNN-style bar scrolling across the bottom showing the latest twitter updates from the site team?

You know, between the morons, the game's bugs, and now my method of distributing files is fucked...

I'm really thinkin' ttomwv had the right idea when he bailed for greener pastures in October.

Edit: Friday evening.

I must not have been the only one that hated that shit, because the "new look" lasted less than twenty-four hours. The new NEW look, has the shit laid out correctly so that you can actually read file details and comments.

Guess I'm not the only person who doesn't want to throw away money on a 65" HD computer monitor backed up by a GPU that runs full time in 2048x1536.

NosCo Vault 1 Remodel, v2 Upcoming, Part V

I said I'd make with the screenshots when things were closer to being in their final form.

Well, they are, and I am.

I have to confess, I'm really digging how v2 is coming out. While it won't have the... sheer amount of stuff that Refurbished does, I think my minimalist approach will endear people, as well.

So, without further ado, I give you... the new, Player's private bath area:

You can see there are two bodies of water. The larger one is a tub/shower/general naked hangout. It has the water spout, standing water, benches and idle markers and everything your chosen NPCs will need to really live it up over those skanks that got left in the normal vault.

The second, smaller one is the jacuzzi for lack of a better term.

I want to say for the record that I did not copy the Minihideout one directly. It's just that I couldn't find another set of benches that fit halfway decent. Has steam, and bubbles, and all of that jazz.

Water level is set low enough that the player can have a seat. This is especially nice as with one of my companions along, they'll also sit down and relax for some good old fashioned nude hot-tubbing.

Yeah, I'm a perv. Deal with it.

Here you see the sauna, which is in its own room off the main bathing area. There are benches for a'sittin', a rug with kneeling markers on it, and the bench in the back actually has a lay-down marker on it, for the NPCs to stretch out and have a nice sleep in the steam room.

Both rooms are lit solely via the sconces, and will not include switches to toggle over to bright lighting. This is strictly a low-key, relaxing type affair.

The pool and jacuzzi will have an NPC strip when they hit the water. The sauna's strip-trigger encompasses the entire room. When you, the player, hit the strip-trigger, you will be given the Revitalizing effect, which will make you forget all those nasty wounds, and even leech the radiation out of your glowing ass.

A much more pleasant healing alternative than the My First Infirmary, I think.

There's also a toilet-room opposite the sauna, but it isn't far enough along to show off, just yet.

The entire bathing area is fitted with a network of speakers slaved to the Jukebox down in the bedroom, so you can listen to GNR while you do whatever.

I'm still in the process of figuring out how best to get WAR radio into the plugin, since I've listened to that hack three dog about all I care to.

You can see here the hall, leading downstairs to the bathroom. That door at the far end will lead to the wasteland-access hatch.

What I call the 'substrata' - the underground cavern housing the aquifer - as seen through the armor-glass, under the default blue mood lighting, with the overheads turned off.

Same, but under the red lighting scheme. Red and blue can be toggled back and forth via a light switch on either wall. There will also be a fourth switch in the bedroom (not yet implemented) that will kill the mood lighting totally if you don't want it.

Shot from Vault 1, of the door leading into the player's private sanctum. The door has had the 'entry script' - the one that runs a PCB on you, and maintains the Companions' package loadout and health system variables - applied to it, so you won't have any downsides to going in and out that way.

Quick shot of the museum, showing off my power armor collection. Added an extra light at the far end, since I noticed that the odd pedestal there wasn't lit up very well for display purposes.

And one of the pool in the atrium. You can see my new water type in effect. I'm still tinkering with the color a bit. Really wish I had the horsepower to crank those reflections up. I think it would offer an amazing view; the star dome reflecting off the gentle waves, a naked woman swimming past...

...Wait, what was I saying? Oh well, couldn't have been that important.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NosCo Vault 1 Remodel, v2 Upcoming, Part IV

Just finished some testing.

The Jacuzzi, Royalty-sized bathing tub, and sauna all work.

The strip-scripts work, although my proclamation that the girls do not re-equip weapons was apparently a teensy bit premature...

Damned psychopathic redheads.


The jacuzzi and tub are tiled, and have furniture installed. The jacuzzi has its visual FX (bubbles, steam, etc) in place, although the bubbles do need to be fine tuned for height, yet.

And you'll be happy to know, Auld Grump, that I took your request to heart - I was just in that kind of mood - and wrote up a suitable script that will affect your condition while using any of the three.

However, I did not copy the one from Minihideout, and have instead used one of my own devising (insert ominous bolt of lighting here).

I call it the Revitalizer. It not only lowers your rad count, but also soothes those achy adventuring muscles, repairing not only your health, but limb condition as well.

Because hey, when I decide to be unrealistic, I go for the fucking gold.

Got the wave texture put into the water, too, and it seems to work fine. Managed to use one from the base game, so no extra download will be required.

I even installed another star dome in the bathroom. Why? Because I love those things, and since I learned how to pull it off, putting one in is a ten minute job. Just something that seems nice about relaxing in a hot bath with a hotter woman, looking up at the stars...

Very nice.

Also got the containers put in. Not as nice as I'd have liked, but it came out alright.

Still to do:

Finish tiling the floors, install lighting fixtures, plot where to put that exit hatch, install some more speakers slaved to the Jukebox, add the rest of the furniture to the bedroom proper, and set up the water reflections.

Can't give a solid estimate on release, but it shouldn't be too awful much longer.

If you've got a place in mind that you think would be perfect for that access hatch, by all means speak up. Bear in mind I want it to be ESE of Vault 1's Springvale entrance.

Screenshots will be coming along when things are closer to their final look. It's rather like a house in mid-remodel, at the moment. Not terribly photogenic and all that.

NosCo Vault 1 Remodel, v2 Upcoming, Part III

Progress to report.

Resolves several of the issues last night before giving up and going to bed.

Got the rest this afternoon. Switches work now (turns out I had forgotten to recompile one after resetting all the references), and as a bonus, they copy each other's state.

Meaning, you turn one switch to 'on', and the one across the room will switch itself over to on, as well. No more mismatched lights on the switch-fronts.

I've also implemented this scripting layout with the two switches in the hall leading to the museum and former player's bedroom; now more foyer than anything, I suppose.

New cell is behaving wonderfully. It loads fast, runs with a minimum of chop, and the navmesh has no issues that I can tell.

I had forgotten what it was like to work in a cell not burdened down by useless bullshit.

Also wrote my own 'strip script', for the sauna in the private bath area off the player's bedroom.

Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah; it's gonna have a huge jacuzzi, possibly a small pool as well, toilet and sink, and sauna.

This really illustrates one of the prime differences among modders. I've tried time and again to use ttomwv's strip script from the pool, and it just does not work for me.

ttomwv liked effects. Take a look through the mod sometime in the GECK, and you'll see an effect for everything. Swim effect, jail effect, guard package effects...

Me? I hate effects. They're just one more thing to go wrong. I prefer to do my schemin' via direct script commands.

Consequently, I abandoned my attempted copying of the "known good" system he set up for the pool, and just wrote my own trigger script freehand.

Set up the trigger, and it worked on the first fucking try.

Damn I'm good.

Beauty of it is, my script completely strips them. It doesn't leave weapons equipped, or accessories, or anything like that. I think I'm going to investigate switching the pool and showers in vault 1 over to my model, and see how it works.

There's also going to be a direct-access hatch to bypass the vault completely. I have the tunnel and door set up, but still have to decide where to place the other end. I've got the north marker set up already, and am trying to keep the directions straight in my head across the three cells and the wasteland. With the way it's all laid out, the access point needs to go somewhere east-southeast of Springvale. At the moment I'm thinking somewhere near the Super Duper mart, but I've got to do some legwork around the area and scout spots before I can give a definite plan on that.

A spot inside Megaton might do, as well, but I'm not sure where would be good. Not really plausible for there to have been a hatch there for two hundred years and no one just noticed it but the player...

Also apparently made a slight error in my choice of cells to copy to create this one, as the test cell I copied had no water wave texture. Rather than redo the entire cell, though, I'll just extract a texture from the BSA and drop it into the proper directory. Won't be a big deal to include it with the next archive.

NosCo Vault 1 Remodel, v2 Upcoming, Part II


Again, I have been thwarted by this cumbersome, ill-conceived beast that we call Vault 1.

My underwater bedroom was complete.

Armor glass in place. Cave complete. Water placed. Red AND blue selectable mood lighting in the water. Switch scripted and tested to change them. Floor ~75% tiled.

I load the GECK to do some minor script changes, only to be told that the Vault 1 cell is now too big for the Havok engine to handle, and must either be reduced in size, or the size of the worldspace increased.

As the worldspace is 'Interiors' which, oddly enough, covers every interior cell in the entire fucking game, I am naturally disinclined to go messing with its settings.

So instead, I cut the new bedroom off of the vault, switched the sliding door to a teleport door, and pasted the room, cave, and lights into a new cell.

This has several great features.

1) I get to redo the navmeshing and room bounds from scratch.

2) I get to reset the RefIDs of all thirty six lights, two switches, and the door.

3) NPCs in vault 1 will no longer be able to wander into the room to use the idle markers.

4) The player's bed will have to be set up and RefID'd again, as well as having the two dozen odd lines of dialog for the sleep system rewritten that reference said bed.

5) Containers will not be in the bedroom, proper. Nor will the workbench, Nuka machine, or any such goodies. The new room was not designed to handle them, you see. It was meant to be a room for the express purposes of enjoying the view, and sleeping.

So now, I'm not even sure what I want to do. The new cell set up fine, and the navmesh was easy enough to redo (I've gotten damned fast at navmeshing, from all the practice).

Granted, the new cell will doubtless cut down on crashing when trying to sleep events, and not having all that extra water in cell won't do your framerates any harm... but it's going to feel awkward, now. Clothing in the office/sitting room and whatnot.

I can try to shoehorn the containers into the bedroom. There is one opaque wall of the four, after all.

Also will have to add a new Jukebox or radio.

And why do I have to do this? Because Vault 1 for some reason includes a jail, a classroom, a huge, useless mirelurk tank, and six times the number of bedrooms required.

Urge to abandon whole mess and revive Nos' Tower: rising...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Arwen's Tweaks and Companions, Part II

Nexus finally came back up before I gave in and went to bed last night, as did the Bethsoft forums.

Both, as usual, proved to be a complete waste of my fucking time.

Seriously, if you want to know anything more in depth than "HOW I MAEK WPNZ PLZ!!!!one!!twentyseven!" you're shit out of luck on those forums. That and the perpetually asked sideways hat question.

I dunno, maybe there is a wealth of esoterica on those forums, and it's just that their search software is shit.

Regardless, no definitions of game settings.

Worse yet, I did some searching through the AI plugin itself, and fully two-thirds of the settings are not flagged as overriding the FO3 master. Meaning they're new settings.

This not only makes it impossible to patch, but greatly complicates things because I can't find how they're used. Not listed in any scripts that I could find. Can't imagine that the game just uses new settings like that. That would be way too user friendly for these devs.

Going to PM Arwen again, see if I can't get some detail on what these new settings do. Maybe they're hidden settings only accessible via FOSE? Fucked if I know, but it's as plausible as anything else at this point.

It's looking like a total bust, though. I'm not sure it is fixable; at least not on my end, and I don't expect Arwen to be receptive to the idea of gutting part of her mod.

I know I wouldn't be if our positions were reversed.

This is why I dislike game-wide overhauls, though. Perfect example. A hundred settings are messed with, all in one plugin. Not enough testing is done because the author doesn't like/doesn't use whatever facet of the game is affected.

One or two settings are the problem, but they're not removable from the rest.

It quickly becomes an all-or-nothing proposition.

This is one of the reasons I insist on having fifty plugins for the RR Companions Vault. Modularity! Use what you want, and not what you don't. I like to think my player's appreciate that sort of thing, but even more is the fact that I want to be able to easily add or remove content without having to rewrite the fucking master every time.

Totalitarian modders annoy me so much.

Another great example:

Been having an interesting conversation with the Auld Grump via post comments the last several days, for those of you who don't follow them.

He's having issues with FOOK2 in its latest iteration. That being that Phalanx still sucks as much now as it did when I abandoned it a year ago. It's being forced on all players of FOOK2, though.

It is not removable via plugin from the main set of changes. When the issue is brought up, the reaction is most often derision of the player asking, or hostility in their general direction.

After all, the team knows best, and you'd have to be a fucking idiot not to prostrate yourself before the greatness that is the latest mod!

So, he gets to go on a hunt for old versions, which are conveniently gone from most places because - again - you should love the new and trust that the team knows what's best for your game.

I stay away from FOOK primarily because of shit like this. Universe knows I'm an arrogant prick on a good day, but I at least try to give you options.

Last I heard, Auld Grump had lucked out and snagged an old version from a FilePlanet entry that had had deletion requested, but the moderators not gotten around to it yet. Inefficiency has its benefits at times, I suppose.

I wish him luck.

Looks like I'm going to get to make a similar decision with Arwen's Tweaks. I can keep my 'archaic' copy of 4.1, or abandon the whole mess and go looking for another similar mod. Although it's only a matter of time before any 'realism overhaul' becomes overreaching and starts causing mod conflicts and game-wide problems.

If not for the fact that I've taken on too many projects as it is, I'd do what I always end up doing and just create my own realism plugin.

Which I may do anyway. Something small. Carry weight, skills, stats, damage. Combat style overhauls, but no messing with the heavy-duty AI settings.

I dunno. I may also be able to convince Arwen to just leave 4.1 up as an alternative for people who don't fly solo.

I swear, Kiddies, some days I feel like a damned diplomat more so than a modder.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Maybe Not...

Okay, or maybe I won't do any fixing tonight, since both the Nexus and Bethsoft forums are conveniently down.


Arwen's Tweaks and Companions

I've made complaints - some might consider them accusations - the last couple days about the performance of my companions (lack thereof, rather) when Arwen's "improved" AI is in effect.

Specifically, while the modified NPC AI will react to and attack the player from much greater distance, NPCs so modified do not react to each other at similar distances.

Rather, my companions know they're taking fire, but cannot "see" the enemy at the range they're attacking from. My girls, doing as they're supposed to, take cover and begin searching for their adversary.

Practically, what this results in is the companions sitting tight, and refusing to follow you close enough to react to the enemy. You end up taking on the whole group yourself, which sort of defeats the entire fucking purpose behind having companions in the first place. Coupled with the increased limb crippling rate induced by Arwen's mod, life gets real interesting real fast when you've stirred up a hornet's nest of a dozen raiders. More so when said raiders are modified by Einherjrar's ALIVE plugin, and are packing belt fed weapons and explosives...

I'm not positive that its necessarily a mistake in practice or setting on Arwen's part. Odds are good it's an engine issue - that the game engine was never designed to allow NPCs to react to each other at those ranges, short of a scripted event. Unfortunately, the engine is something I can not do something about, so I have to look where I can actually change things.

A secondary issue is that modified NPCs tend to "hesitate" considerably. This happens with both companions and enemy NPCs. Once contact is made in close-quarters, they oftentimes will wait up to five seconds before actually opening fire.

v4.2 made these issues even worse. Rather than just having a short sight, now the girls won't attack anything until it's close enough to smell its breath. Since all enemy actors and creatures naturally attack me first, this is not a good thing for my survivability.

In the past, I've simply not used the AI module, which conveniently solved my problem.

Regrettably, Arwen opted to streamline her mod with this last version, and merged several of the plugins together; resulting in only three where there were ten previously.

True to my usual luck, the AI module was merged into the 'main tweaks' core file. This, for those of you who rode the little bus to school, means that the AI module can no longer be turned off.

This leaves me with only two choices:

1) Stop using Arwen's Tweaks. This is not my first choice. I like the changes to weapons, armor, damage, chems, experience, skills, and stats. I like the idea of the AI module, and I like the way it increases the awareness of NPCs to things like the bullets from silenced gunshots striking something near to them.

2) Create a patch, to revert whichever setting(s) is causing the problem to game default; or at least closer to game default to mitigate if not outright remove the issue.

I've run almost six hours of testing in various methods this afternoon and evening, eliminating as many variables as possible.

I ran three of my own companions with 4.2 of Arwen's Tweaks active.

I ran three of my own companions with all of Arwen's mods turned off.

Results suggested that the tweaks were the culprit. But, I wasn't positive. After all, combat differs from fight to fight, area to area. Any NCO worth his stripes can tell you that more often than not, topography has a huge influence on the tempo of a battle, and the exact tactics required to prevail.

So, I decided to run a direct comparison. Two runs; one with Arwen's work, one without, against the same enemies, on the same turf.

My chosen battleground was Grayditch. Our test-bodies, the fire breathing ants of doom.

As a control, and to see whether it was only my companions that were fucked, or all companions, I activated Jessi and Kelsey, and took them along with Ellie; to see side-by-side, real time performance differences between my combat style, and the ones from the default game, as modified by Arwen.

Jessi and Kelsey both use the FollowersDefaultRangedStyle, for the record.

I ran interdiction, using my 12 gauge to cripple the ants' legs, and generally keep them focused on me; to give the companions ample space to react and fight.

Immediately, I remembered why I have my fireteam made up of my own companions.

From the start, Jessi tried to go fisticuffs with the ants - she wouldn't equip her G36.

I watched with a massive sigh as Kelsey and Ellie hid behind the partition while Jessi went bare-knuckle.

Eventually, I got sick of it and popped the ant with my shotgun.

A quick dialog order and a mental kick-in-the-ass later, Jessi had her G36 equipped.

We moved into the town, where spaces were more open and terrain mostly flat.

Ants were clearly seen all over the place. Again, no fire was sent until the ants were uncomfortably close - as close as five meters in some cases. The ants were virtually always within fire-breathing range by the time the companions opted to shoot.

They spent - as usual - most of their time hiding behind cover, shouting combat alerts and occasionally running in a circle like a decapitated chicken.

When they did opt to shoot, it was pathetic. Jessi and Kelsey "fought" by running flat out while hip-shooting on full auto in the general direction of the enemy. One round in twenty might have hit. It took on average two full mags each for them to down an ant.

Ellie, driven by my combat style, performed slightly better. When she did finally opt to fire, she did so in controlled, aimed bursts of two and three, before rinsing and repeating. Ironically enough, she was doing with a half dozen rounds of 5.7x28 from a Five-seveN handgun what the other two were taking sixty rounds of 5.56mm NATO to pull off.

Plus, Ellie was way cuter in a DTO than the other two...

...but I digress.

Once we had finally cleared out Grayditch, I closed the game, switched off Arwen's Tweaks in full, and restarted it.

Picked up Ellie and Sabine, and headed for Grayditch.

Fuck me.

It was like watching Delta Force run a MOUT course right after a group of reserve police finished.

Sabine and Ellie were moving from cover to cover, engaging targets with aimed bursts out to a hundred odd meters.

I paced off two kills (since FO3 doesn't have a range finder) at sixty and sixty-two paces, respectively; there was a third that was a good 50% further near the diner.

At one point, Sabine pulled a move that would make any SEAL proud. Caught an ant out of the corner of her eye, turned, raised the M60 to her shoulder, fired a three round burst, killing the ant. At the same moment, another ant made the mistake of coming around the corner, and straying into her detection range. Without dismounting the Pig, she swung sixty degrees left, and fired a two round burst, putting both into the ant's head, which promptly exploded.

At another point, the girls were doubling up on targets, when Sabine's M60 ran dry (I still haven't figured out how to make the girls pull a tactical reload at the end of every fight). Ellie stepped forward and engaged the ant with her sidearm while Sabine reloaded.

I also witnessed one of the fucking coolest things I have ever seen in FO3, and even managed to get a screenshot.

While near the diner, the girls noticed another ant over in the empty lot, and moved to engage. Rather than firing, Sabine charged forward and took cover behind the junked car. Dropped to one knee, she was protected while the ant's fire breath harmlessly hit the car body.

While the ant's attention was occupied, Ellie flanked it and put the bastard down with her OC-14.

Of course, FO3 didn't take the screenshot on the first button press, so it didn't catch the fire-breathing like I had hoped.

You can see Sabine hiding behind the car, and Ellie moving up on my left. The ant has noticed her just in time to realize how wholly and completely fucked it is, a quarter second before a 7.62mm bullet pierced it's buggy little brain.

What continually amazes me about this sort of behavior, is that it isn't scripted by me. They do it on their own. Also, it works with any of the companions. Maeva and Engel back each other up all the time - as do Sabine and Mai, but I also see the behavior occur on random groupings; like here with Sabine and Ellie.

I've really got to get that dialog issue fixed, and the 1.8 pack out. I think the girls will astound a lot of you. I can say without hyperbole that they are without a doubt, the best companions I have ever seen in game. Not only do they kick ass right and left, but they use chems, heal you, and now even use stealthboys.

Just have to get that reload issue worked out.

Wouldn't you hate to be facing that down? I know it's a nightmare from a camouflage staindpoint, but I just love black and red. So imposing.


Now, it looks like I get to go global by global in Arwen's AI module, and try to undo whatever it is she's done to screw them up so bad.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nos' RR Companions, Sneaky Girls

'Nother quickie screenshot post.

Just wanted to drop out my photographic (sort of) evidence that I succeeded, and the girls can now use stealthboys.

Should add a whole new level of sneakyness to using one of the girls as a sniper's partner.

Works like chems. Leave the stealthboy(s) in the companion's inventory, and when they enter combat mode they'll use it and become a rather deadly shadow.

Nos RR Companions, Screenshot

Took this for upload to the file entry, but figured I may as well share here, too, since I have no idea how many of you have my companions pack tracked.

Nothing overly major.

Engel, Kate, and Maeva rocking the Dragonskin combat outfits, in Old Olney.

Taken mainly to show the girls off as of v1.8.

Had Kate along to test out her AI settings, which have her flee from particularly scary situations.

Interestingly enough, she behaves much like one would expect.

When we first encountered Raiders, she fled in record time. Was dressed in the Merc Outfit, had no stims.

Gave her a mess of stims, and some real armor, and she's much less likely to flee.

Seems backing down from combat is largely dependent on health, for the AI. Since the companions auto-heal with stims, they tend to hang in the fight much longer.

Maeva continues to be downright fucking scary; cutting down deathclaws and wiping out groups of raiders single handed.

Engel has taken a shine to overbore handguns, and has made a hobby of capping raiders with a 500 S&W magnum.

Interestingly, I'm noticing severe companion problems with Arwen's 'Smarter AI' active. The companions hesitate, rather than engage. I'm not entirely sure what's going on with it. Arwen messed with a bunch of game settings I'm not familiar enough with to pin down which is causing the problem.

It's not a combat style issue, since I tested by switching one companion over to a default follower style (modified by Arwen) while the other used one of my custom styles. Both exhibited the same hesitation, so I can only surmise the problem lies elsewhere.

I'm going to have to PM her about it. I get the feeling she isn't a companion user.

'Till I get it sorted, though, I'm going to have to recommend not using her AI module and the RR Companions Vault together. The other nine modules work fine, though.

NosCo Vault 1 Remodel, v2 Upcoming...

We here at NosCo are not being idle with our time.

Despite the unbridled success of our first attempt at remodel, we have not allowed our engineers to take a vacation.

Bastards are overpaid anyway.

While our efforts still underway are not suitably advanced for full photographic documentation, the NosCo publicity division has nonetheless decreed that we release two teasers.

You will notice an ominous and mysterious new door where the bed and My First Laboratory once resided.

Where does it lead? When will you find out?!

...Oh, wait. Second photo here...

Deep in the strata of the DC area, talented (but still overpaid.) NosCo engineers have cut into the rock, below the water table, to give you a new, more private bedroom, surrounded on three sides by NosCo brand armored glass windows, looking out into the aquifer that feeds Vault 1's considerable clean water supply.

Thus far, the building's skeleton and walls are in place, as is the glass. Still to be laid is permanent lighting, amenities, and lighting to be inserted into the rock walls, to give you a beautiful view for your bedroom.

The room is fully navmeshed and companion friendly already, room bounds and portals in place (and man were those a pain in the ass to set up...). Rocky terrain and water outside the glass is some 40% complete.

Once that's done, we'll move on to revamping the bathroom to include jacuzzis, and better showering facilities.

Water type inside the vault pool has also been switched to a new custom type, with different noise textures and color.

At some point also on the corporate to-do list is ripping out the jail, and replacing it with a hot-spring of some sort. We're still working on the details of that one.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Purge Valve

Oh, man was I pissed off earlier.

Stupid people and their culture of entitlement bother me on a level you people can not imagine.

This time, I ended up doing something productive with my ire.

I spent the last three hours endorsing and commenting on files I use on the Nexus.

I figure, hey, it's got to annoy other authors as much as it does me when people download shit and you never hear from them, right?

So I went through and got most of the files I keep "meaning to" endorse, but not doing for whatever reason.

Feel much better now.

Maybe there is something to this positivity thing...

...Nah. I'll keep being an unrepentant bastard.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

RR Companions Vault FAQ

(Last updated August 05 2010)

Because I get so many people who can't be bothered to read old comments, or readme files, I've decided to write out a Frequently Asked Questions file. From here on out, if your post or PM is covered by this FAQ, it will be ignored, unless you can demonstrate that the given answer is not valid in your case.

Q) Your mod doesn't work! How do I fix it?

A) Before you go posting stupidity such as this to the file comments, please take a moment and realize that for all my glorious traits and skills, I am not psychic. If I'm going to help you, I need details. Things like what doesn't work, exactly. What you were doing when it stopped working. Which mods you run that may conflict. What version of Fallout 3 you run.

If your answer to that last one is anything other than 1.7, you're on your own. I offer no support to people who refuse to update their games.

When you have collected some useful data, feel free to ask your question then. Realize, however, that Fallout 3 is one of the crashingest games in the history of PC gaming. Sometimes, it simply does, and there's not a damned thing one you can do about it.

Q) I get all these red diamonds with your mod installed! Fix it!

A) RTFM. Red diamonds with a white exclamation point in the center are how the game denotes a missing mesh. Read the readme, under the installation section. Install it correctly this time.

Q) I see these items are bright purple...

A) See last answer, except pay attention to the textures folder, instead of meshes.

Q) With your [insert name of plugin] mod active, my game crashes on startup. If I uncheck it, everything is fine.

A) You're missing a master file. RTFM. Pay attention to the Requirements section. Required mods are not listed just for kicks.

Q) So, I'm having this problem with Refurbished...

A) Whoa, there, Bucko. I are not Fry1969. Fry1969 are not me. You got problems with the RR Companions Vault master, come here to bitch at Nos. You got problems with RR_Refurbished, go ask Fry. However, before you annoy either one of us, please take a look and at least try to figure out which your problem is with - the plugin or the master. It saves us all quite a bit of time.

I also want to note that I am not: Herculine, Toadlet, NeilUK02, or Polarbearcub777. Thus, I will not likely be able to help you with issues regarding their companions.

Q) Could you rewrite your mod to be compatible with...

A) No.

Q) It'd be really great if you added this feature...

A) No. You want it? Learn the GECK, do it yourself. If you know of a better or more efficient way to do something the mod is already doing, I'll listen, but be aware most of the time I do things the way I do for a reason.

Q) Your companions are doing something weird.

A) Did you RTFM? Behavior and known, as-yet-unresolvable issues are both covered there. If you've got a new issue, go ahead and bring it to my attention, I'll see about getting it corrected.

Q) When is [insert name of removed plugin or feature] coming back?

A) It isn't. Removed things were removed for a reason. Some didn't work and were beyond my ability to repair. Some were beyond the ability of the game engine to realize properly. Some were simply things that I didn't care enough about to work on, and got tired of being pestered about.

Q) What's the jail for?/Didn't you use to be able to take prisoners?

A) This I thought was covered by the last snarky reply, but people are still asking. Still. The jail is in the Vault because originally, the mod included a system whereby one could take prisoners. This did not work. Plain and simple. I could delve into pages and pages of what exactly didn't work, and how we tried to fix it, but the end result is the same.

Because it didn't work, I removed it. Because I have no interest in enslaving people, I'm not putting it back and trying again.

If you're so hot on the idea of imprisoning people, I'll recommend to you the same thing I do to everyone else who asks: FNNCQ. Sesom got the whole thing working, so if you're into such things, I recommend his system.

That, and psychiatric care; 'cause if you want to enslave people you have some serious emotional issues that need working out. Just sayin'.

Q) You're an asshole!

A) You have no idea. And that wasn't a question.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Nos' Vault 1 Remodel, V1, Released

That's right, Kiddies. It's done.

At least, V1 is.

I'm sure I'll go on a decorating kick again in the future, but for now... if I never have to script another fucking light switch, it'll be too soon.

You'll also notice I renamed the file entry. Nostalgic as it may be, I could not in good conscience leave it named Bedroom Redecorated. We've gone way past the bedroom, let me tell you...

I also want to say that converting that many screenshots from bmp to jpg one at a time was an amazing pain in my ass.

Here's hoping I didn't screw something up, and forget to add a file into the archive. I think I got everything, but to be honest I've been working on this off and on so long that I can't for the life of me remember what all custom resources I used...

Oh, well, I'm sure I'll find out.

Nos' Vault 1 Remodel, V1, Upcoming

So, I've been taunting you all with screenshots the last odd month. My personal vault 1.

Something on the scale of Refurbished, but with true NosCo-brand style.

Despite my profession early this morning, I did not, in fact, go to sleep. My stupid body's pendulum has swung the other way, and in the span of 24 hours I went from normal sleeping patterns to total insomniac. Typing this on less than four hours sleep (0800 - 1200).

Since I couldn't sleep anyway, I spent the wee hours of the morning working.

My remodel is nearly done, consequently. The floors are completely tiled. I've added marble pillars to most rooms, placed the new lighting fixtures, and have scripted in all but the last two or three light switches.

You can see here, the completed Clinic:

Where I did some remodeling on the lab:

(no more NPCs clipping through into the tank here!)

I also did something minorly cool: I added an aquarium to the Overseer's office.

I'm gonna stick some mini-lurks in it for liveliness.

And... I did something severely fucking cool.

I almost didn't mention it. I considered making it a surprise... but I'm just too proud of how it turned out.

Did you ever hate the 'closed-in' feeling of the vault? The endless gray? The low ceilings?

We here at NosCo share your pain, friends. I know one of my great joys in life has always been looking at the stars, and I eternally lament that living in the safety of a vault negates the ability to do this. As such, we have tasked our best engineers to find a solution. This morning, after some weeks of hit-and-miss experimentation, they struck gold.

I give you, the new Vault 1 atrium, with perpetual night star-field sky-dome:

Truly, as when dealing with the real sky, small screenshots simply can not do it justice.

I've had the idea for months. It was to be one of the features of my Tower. With my abandonment of that mod in favor of continued support of V1, I had to try to transplant the idea... but never managed to get it to work until this morning.

It took some doing, let me tell you. But, I feel it will set my little remodel apart from those other vault mods, and how.

Upload shouldn't be too far away. Once the switches are scripted, I still want to toy around with a couple modders' resources I've lucked into, and see if/how they fit in.


Some things, this not-horrid Monday afternoon.

1) v1.8 of my companions pack is done. All that's left is to decide what to do about the combat styles. At the moment, they're modified to be in line with Arwen's tweaks. The only real difference between the normal and Arwen's-compatible versions is the combat distance. The Arwen's version is longer, to keep up with her changes to raiders and the like. Since I don't foresee it causing any real problems in a normal game, I'll most likely upload as-is.

2) There should probably be a law against my getting bored.

Probably won't ever upload this alternate textureset. Just a silly little thing I made for my own use.

Yaaar! Surrender yer booty! And other bad, double-entendre laden puns!

3) RR Companions Vault v5.6 is pretty much finished. No problems are cropping up with the new stuffs, so I'm willing to call it good and make with the official update. I had briefly considered adding a quest (though not a vault-possession one), but I've since decided that the details weren't falling into place correctly. Maybe another time.

(Besides, the last thing I want at this point is something else to cause stupid people to PM me for the mod "not working")

4) Gods, do I love a woman in fatigues.

My hench cuties, dolled up in Dragonskin outfits, with their favorite pieces of Tailor Maid equipped.

5) My Vault 1 Remodel is nearly done. I've finished the floors, and the lights, and am scripting in the last couple light switches now. I did something... severely cool this morning on my insomnia bender, but I want to give that one its own post, so stay tuned, Sports Fans...

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Upload on 1.8 is going to have to wait a bit.

Almost done. I've got the first batch of quest dialog done, the buffs and their dialog done. Written the Stay dialog, but still have to do the breakup.

Alas, it is 2335, and my ass is definitely dragging.

Stupid insane dreams keeping me from getting any rest again.

So, I'll pick up the modding in the morning when I'm hopefully feeling less dead.

Nos' RR Companions, v1.8, Upcoming

Well, I said that left to my own devices again, I was going to resume work on my own mods, and so I have.

Unfortunately, the voice thing ain't gonna happen in this version. There were more than twenty thousand voice files to sort through, and I'm not even a quarter of the way done yet.

Even if I narrow it down to only using one or two voices, it's gonna take awhile yet.

On the up side, I put two other idea I've had into use this lazy Sunday afternoon/evening.

From 1.8 on, there will be two versions of the mod.

1.7, as it now stands, is done. It's as far as I'm going to take it. It will be the "basic" version. No custom bodies, no companion will ever flee from combat.

1.8 and on will be the 'advanced' version. Using custom bodies from Dimon99's Type 3 system, with some custom textures to go along with them. I'm still debating whether to use one of the textures I modified for my own use, or just leave it to Dimon99's exceptional work.

I've also completely reworked my custom eye textures. They look much better now. I'll probably reupload a new repack of 1.7 to get the new textures out for it, too.

The new companions will be individuals. They each sport a custom combat style, and AI settings appropriate for their personality. Some will flee from tough fights. Others won't. Some will completely disregard the safety of 'innocent bystanders' and gleefully use explosives, no matter who gets caught in the crossfire. They even use stealthboys, from time to time.

Further, I finally sat down and hammered out the framework to allow the companions to "help" you out with things involving their pertinent skills.

Unfortunately, I couldn't make them physically go over to a lock, or terminal, or whatever, and work on it. The game engine doesn't really support targeted anims created on the fly like that.

So, to simulate their assistance, you'll be able to ask certain companions for help. This help will be a semi-permanent buff to the relevant skill, in the amount of 25 points. I wanted to make it timed, but the game engine doesn't like doing that from dialog without tons of extra scripting. Thus, it ended up as an effect that lasts until the companion is removed from your party, via either the stay command, or breaking up. When re-hired, the effect can be reacquired from dialog once more.

Alma will buff your medicine skill.

Celia will buff your barter skill.

Engel will buff your lockpick skill.

Kate will buff your science skill.

Melody will buff your repair skill.

Mai and Sabine, while not giving skill buffs, will be able to teach you to use power armor.

I've also added some backstory to talk to the companions about, and they'll sometimes have comments on your currently running quests. Sometimes tips, sometimes just snark.

Hopefully, between the skills and the commentary, there will be sufficient reason to drag along companions who may not be the most useful in a fight.

I'm still writing in the last of the commentary. (had to stop to let the computer clean its cache up, what with the GECK's memory leak and all...) Once that's finished, I'll be nabbing some new screenshots to post to the Nexus file entry, and hopefully remind people that my girls are still around.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Ha HA!, I say.

I hath crush-ed thee, evil GECK!

Finally got over that fucking scripting issue that's been driving up the goddamned wall for the last two days.

And all it cost me was a pint of the blood of the pure, a (used-to-be) live chicken... andtheimmortalsouloftheguybuggingmeforhelp. >_>

Now maybe I can get back to working on my own fucking mods.

Disclaimer: No, I did not actually sell anyone's soul. I also don't even know anyone pure, to get such blood. Besides, if I could really make pacts with ancient powers of Darkness, do you really think I'd be living in a shitty apartment in Eastern Oregon with bad teeth and no full-time employment?

To Do...

1) Release cosmetic pack.

2) Release latest iteration of companions pack.

3) Finalize and release RR Companions Vault v5.6.

4) Start drinking again.

5) Abandon email and Nexus accounts, and never be heard from again.

Hungry Dogs

There's an old saying I've often pondered.

"Feed a stray dog three times, and it will come to you every time it's hungry"

I try to help people out with their modding. I know it's a bitch learning on your own.

Trouble is, it's going from an obscure issue that the forums can't help with, could you give me a hand?; to my first try didn't work, write the code for me so it will.

Getting so that every time I log into the Nexus I have at least one PM awaiting me, wanting some scripting. It's beginning to interfere with my modding, and I'm forced to wonder if I haven't been tossing the strays too many hot dogs without thinking.

Worse still, it's very difficult for me to help, because people don't use my proffered scripts whole. They take a line and integrate it into the existing work, and the result doesn't flow for me the way my own scripts do, so it's hard to make heads 'r tails of what's actually going on.

I can figure it out, of course... but the question remains: do I want my 'modding career' to be one of perpetual tutorials and tech support?

I should also note I'm not calling anyone out with this post, not singling anyone out, or making a passive-aggressive suggestion that you stop asking me for help. Just... thinking out loud/in semi-public text, as it were.