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.


  1. People really make requests like that? Seesh if they want to do that kind of stuff they should just pick up a "How to mod" book as really Google is your friend even for the hopeless.

    Is it so hard to spell-check your work or use whole real words? Firefox even has a basic spell-check system and if not that then Google can also help with that.

    In the end I am sorry once again that you deal with such odd people who think of you are a free service as you know how to mod.

  2. See, that's what I don't get, either.

    I use Firefox, and it complains in my general direction on a regular basis that I've gotten my two-hand typing out of sync, missed a key, or had my N key stick again and not register.

    I know I didn't have to turn it on - the spell-check was enabled by default, so people have either got to be ignoring it, or turning it off in an attempt to keep their spelling poor.

    I've stopped suggesting that people do it themselves, because that always leads to a "well then tell me step by step how to do it". For instance. I spent three hours once explaining to someone how to do their own update of that FOOK sorter.

    Never heard from them again.

    But you think it's bad here? I won't say I'm "active" (being as I have no talent in that area), but I do lurk several art boards and forums, and you would not believe some of the stuff people who can draw get asked to do. Morons on the Nexus are a drop in the damned bucket. People actually think that if they say "nice art", the artist OWES them the equivalent of a free commission piece. I don't know how the artists deal with it, other than by just not responding.

    No need to be sorry. Like I've said, the blog here is my pressure relief valve, as well as update notifications. If I bitch and rant and rave in text form to the internet as a whole, then it doesn't stay bottled up, and I don't disappear for a week and a half when my blood pressure gets so high I can barely walk across the room.

  3. Heh - your complaint put another thought in my head - making the access tunnels a seperate mod, for those who just want the easy access to the Wastes, and the merchant....

    Another quick fix, for the mentally lazy, is to make the hidden passage from the Overseer's office separate from the tunnels - allowing entrance to the office and Vault without the other resident's knowing that the Overseer has donned the Mechanist/Antagonist's and ventured forth to save/conquer the wastes! (And who, disguised are Bensley Hadron, mild mannered totalitarian dictator of RR Vault 1, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! Or something....)

    Sorry, my mind wanders off if I leave it alone for too long.... :P Not even a change that I am interested in, but it is what wandered across my synapses. I got a commission to customize a mecha figurine into a steampunk one, and my mind is trapped in a 'how to do it' cycle. 'Hand and weapon swap for the pilot, green stuff for general filling and reposturing, brown stuff and plastic card to change the mecha's weapon into a cutlass. Three sizes of Plastruct tubing to make steam boilers and stacks, Plastruct rod to make rivets.... Preliminary sketches and scribbles to show the customer....' Free time dwindling.

    So Sleepy.....

    The Auld Grump

  4. I'd love to make it optional, I really would... but it would create lots 'o work for Fry and Neil, and there's really only been like three complaints about the tunnels, ever.

    The latest guy who doesn't like the sound.

    One guy thought the access points were cheating.

    And not so much a complaint, but NeilUK02 had that issue with Sydney, where her pathfinding somehow got screwed up between Rivet City and Underworld, and she got stuck in the tunnels. I couldn't reproduce it for the life of me, but I decided to be a non-bastard for once and pulled the Mall access point.

    The Overseer tunnel isn't a bad idea by any stretch. The problem is: where to put it?

    I'd like at least a LITTLE realism, and I just can't see everyone not noticing hatch next to Moriarty's for two hundred years.

    It's the same problem I'm having with the direct access to the new Remodeled player's bedroom. At the moment, I'm thinking I'm going to have to create a new interior cell for one of those buildings on the Potomac, and set it up to be some kind of sewer access that's disabled and the player has to repair it to be able to use it.

    Could maybe do something similar for the Overseer's tunnel, but there ain't much around Megaton to hide one, let alone two.

    If you've got ideas, though, I'm listening, oh wise one.

    Er. Reading. You know what I mean.

    Customizing vinyl models always seemed like a lot of work to me. Tried building a couple once upon a time, but wasn't terribly good at it. Painting? Yes. Assembly... not so much.

    'Bout the most I ever did was customize my 40K marines' weapons. Set up one of my assault marines to use akimbo bolt pistols instead of pistol and sword.

    ...Because you do things like that at sixteen when you have more talent than common sense...

  5. Having the Oversser tunnel ending inside one of the semi destroyed or abandoned buildings might do the trick, An abandoned building can also be used to clear the cell buffer - the place being pretty much empty except for whatever needs to be moved to show the access point.

    Placing a storm drain, and having the access point inside might also work.

    Or maybe somewhere near the Mall, maybe where the White House used to be....

    The Auld Grump

  6. Yeah, I know. So many places to put it, and they all require the creation of a new cell from scratch.

    One of these days I've got to get hold of some speed or something...

  7. Heh, that is why the gods created insomnia.... :P (Long term insomnia sufferer, every now and again my circadian rhythm goes haywire, and I stop sleeping for days on end. Oh ye gods and little fishes, how I hate it. :( )

    The Auld Grump, happened earlier this week, thus the 4:00 AM postings....

  8. I know that feeling.

    Coming off the day/night switch swing of the pendulum at the moment, myself.

    Before was the "you can only sleep every thirty-six hours" part, and after a couple days decent sleep I'll mosey on into "no sleep at all for you, pal."

    I'd take sleeping pills... but normal ones don't work on me, and I know if I found on that did I'd be an addict in about ten minutes.