(This is going to be one of those technical issue posts. No mod previews or screenshots or anything like that, so feel free to skip if that's what you come here for.)
I've mentioned off and on since getting back up and running, the heavily variable 'playability' of Fallout 3 in general.
Before the FUBAR, my game was rock-solid stable, and had problems only when the game's memory leak came into play; that is to say, when the system ran completely out of memory, and the game kept demanding more. Results in a happy-fun-time-CTD.
Haven't been so lucky this time around. crashes have manifested here and there, AI problems, texture issues, and so on. 'Normal' stuff for FO3, but infuriating nonetheless when compared to the previous install's performance.
I thought I had it going pretty well. I could play three or four hours at a go - about the max that my 1gb system will tolerate with the Gamebryo engine in any form - the AI was acting right again, and slowdowns were few and far between.
Then, things went straight to hell. In two days, two of my three attempts at playing resulted in the PC hard-locked; requiring a total power kill via the switch on the PSU (stupid ATX power supplies not having a fucking off button like the old ATs. If I wanted the fucking computer to 'sleep', I'd tell windows to do it).
I wasn't sure what was going on. In addition to the locks, I had massive AI problems.
I went through, cleaned up stray files in the Data directory; started running conflict checks, and even began looking closer to every mod I had updated since the last install.
I happened to also be testing four companion plugins during this time. Two for NeilUK02, one for Toadlet, and one for Ladydesire.
After multiple crashes, I finally just called Brooke and Bernie following me 'good enough' and threw in the endorsements. I don't want to deal with them anymore. That Exnem shit is fucked up. Not only does it look like shit, but it causes constant conflicts with my Type 3 armor replacers.
"Toad's People" worked fine as far as I could tell; but consisted of the two groups that I have no interest in my companions being - yard apes and geriatrics. Thankfully no Exnem this time, though. Verified it worked, dropped in my endorsement there, too.
Ladydesire's Chesapeake companion... I gave up on. I couldn't find her to test. I spent forty minutes the first time looking for her, and almost thirty the second. Nary hide nor hair. Never a glimpse. The readme said "in or around Megaton". Thanks, that narrows it down nicely. Second try was on the second version of the plugin, where the author (I thought) was going to move her to someplace actually find-able. I'm not going to rate it down... I'm just not going to endorse. Hoping I can stay quiet on the whole issue, and no one on the Nexus will notice.
As much testing done as I'm going to do, I pulled the plugins, and all of the Exnemized crap from my data directory. Went back three savegames to before I had turned any of the four on...
...and I played for almost four hours last night in one sitting. AI problems still manifested; but like they used to, my companion now got over the issues on her own if I just stood still and waited for her for a minute or two. I can hear the HDD working at something when it happens, so I'm thinking it's some issue in the engine, itself. Hopefully, like last time, it will resolve itself as the game breaks itself in.
Really, I don't want to cast aspersions; intimate that it was someone's companions - and I damned well don't want to discourage anyone from creating and/or sharing them... but that there evimadence is pretty strong.
Empirical research is a bitch to dispute, I know. Worst thing about it is I have no idea what could be doing that. The only thing I can come up with is that the Exnem bad-fake-tits-edition bodies that Bernie and Brooke use was clashing heavily with my Type 3 raider armor replacer. A bit gets out of alignment someplace eventually, and the game soils itself and runs away; as it does sometimes.
Obviously, one randomly working play session is not enough for me to conclusively declare that that was in fact the issue; it seems awfully coincidental - and I don't believe in coincidence.
Suppose I'll do what I always do: grit what's left of my teeth and suffer through plugins with problems to test them for people, and then turn them off when I can.
Just hoping Herculine's next plugin works as well as her Shojo one. While I don't really go for the kiddie thing, this new one sounds interesting.
Still reading this far? Wow. I'm impressed. That's a lot of rambling to put up with. Here, have a reward:
I lied about the no mod previews. Just to reward you, I'll let you know that there are two incoming to go with my cosmetic resource. One will be the plugin full of the test companions you saw screenshots of - suitably renamed, of course - and the other, a group of purpose made, smokin' hot Demonesses to gleefully aid your wasteland rampages. Fanged Demonesses. Ooh, yeah...