Monday, May 24, 2010

Random Reliability Persists

(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...


  1. I am still putting everything back together since the last time I uninstalled the game. (I am pretty sure that there is a single mod that killed the game on me. I think that it was the tower home for Rivet City, but I am not sure.)

    The Auld Grump

  2. Ohh Fanged Demonesses but really was not a bad thing as you never post long or bad to read things. Then again I just got off of work and about to crash yet wanted to check your blog as always enjoy them but am hoping this is not a pointless thing when I re look at it when I have sleep.

    Mod checking tends to sap your energy away and I get the feeling it is more of a pain then anything yet I also know why people want you to look them over as yeah it is you. You could always try to tell them to check other areas or let your readers review said mods but I know how that can be. They can make there own blogs and do that.

    I hope your game gets better as I know mine crashes a lot to the desktop but most games due so I am thinking it is more of a computer thing then mod but for now I am off to crash.

  3. @Dennis: You know, I still maintain it was NMC that pushed my old video card over the edge. Even with an apparently dead fan it ran along happily for Gods know how long, until I installed NMC's texture packs... and then it was dead within three days. I have no idea how they do it, but one mod certainly CAN kill them game to the point where it's less trouble to just wipe the damned thing and start over.

    @David: Alright, granted, inhuman NPCs of unearthly beauty is not exactly an about-face for me. Would it be more interesting if I also made them lesbians? 'Cause I could do that, too...

    I appreciate your interest, but I know perfectly well I DO post long-winded things that are boring for a lot of people. If you have an interest in technical minutiae then it can be interesting, yes... but plenty of people just come here looking for mod previews/screenshots/notes on when the hell I'll get around to posting something.

    Now, obviously, being boring to those people doesn't bother me enough to get me to stop... but I still know I do it.

    Mod testing is an exercise in frustration when it's MY mods. See, I at least know how I think. I know why I put a companion where I do; or why I set this flag or that in dialog. So it's tiring... but straightforward. Just run it, look for bugs, if none found continue on to posting.

    With other peoples' mods... I have no friggin' idea why they did something, or how endeavor A could POSSIBLY have seemed like a good idea; so not only do I have to watch, but am constantly wondering why; turning it around in my head. Hate not knowing.

    I'll also grant that I logged so many hours in the pursuit of fixing the companion system last year that I probably know more hands-down about the followers' AI than anyone not employed by Bethsoft.

    I think Tarrant might give me a run for my money; except that he and I seem to work different areas of the game. He's big on micro-managing, and forcing things via scripting, and generally trying to replicate the FO2 'feel'.

    I, conversely, don't give a shit about FO2; and am primarily interested in making the companions capable individuals in their own right; who can follow you throughout the game with an absolute minimum of orders being required.

    Thanks for the well-wishes; the game does seem to be getting better. Was playing last night/this morning (depending on how you look at it), for four or so hours again... and only had one crashing incident - which WAS repeatable. Turned out to be a corrupted save. Dropped back one save, deleted the corrupt one, saved a new one; played on without issue.

    I think (THINK, mind you) I've almost developed a theory on the AI "freezing". It seems to be demonstrably affected by the timescale setting. At a game-default setting of 30, the stops rarely happen; and resolve themselves after several seconds of simply waiting. At a setting of 1, they happen often and require standing idle for several minutes, or tapping the 'wait' key and giving the companion an hour - after which point the AI will "unfreeze", holster their weapon, and rush to catch up.

    It's almost like the AI is hanging up while running some sort of time-based check after combat. Trouble is, I played on a timescale of 1 for months without an issue, so I'm not really sure what's going on. Suppose all I can do is keep investigating.