Sunday, October 31, 2010

Must Have Oblivion Mods

So, David wants to get into Cyrodiil, but isn't sure which mods to pick from the massive number on TESNexus?

Well, I was going to reply in a comment... but let's face it, this is me and the comment will quickly get too big for Blogger to allow it to be posted.

Instead, full post! Then I can yammer as much as I like; and people who don't read comments may well find a few new goodies, as well.

Oblivion Mod Manager is of course the starting point, same as in FO3. Don't forget you'll need the latest OBSE; as well as the Universal Silent Voice plugin for any mod that's dialog heavy but doesn't have voice files.

For mods themselves, I can only speak for myself, but...

*CM Partners is pretty much the companion system to get. It's what RR was originally based on, and while you won't find them to be as good as my work... CM is still head and shoulders above Companion Share and Recruit.

I can't recommend any specific companions really, since I use my own, but I have in the past used Trina and Kira, and Raizsha and Shantara to good effect. As they are Mazken and Aureal respectively, you have to have Shivering Isles to use them.

If you don't have SI, I don't have any specific recommendations; but a quick Nexus search will bring up literally hundreds of companions for you to choose from. Just remember, in Oblivion they call them Partners and not Companions for whatever reason.

*I would link Montana's Sexy Companion II for those not CM inclined... but it appears to have been pulled. Guess it got ripped off one too many times. Sad.

Moving on...

*Once companions are in the game, Francisco's Leveled Creatures and Items mod is my next stop. It resets the levels of most monsters so that they're fixed, rather than leveling with the player. Tired of running into level 46 bandits with Daedric armor and magic weapons? This is for you. Dungeons are now a set level, making wandering into a high level one rather dangerous. Also sets the Imperial Legion to a fixed level - since it's kind of silly that they would have a chance against the Champion of Cyrodiil if s/he decided to start some shit in town; though it also makes it a death sentence to start trouble at low levels. In addition, the level settings also make it nigh-impossible to finish out one of the guild questlines at low level.

The overhaul also changes the economy, resets respawn times, skill increases, and can add new monsters and items. Or not. The mod is a fully configurable install, use as much as or little as you like.

*The Imperial Waters isn't strictly speaking a must-have, but it adds some much needed class to the otherwise drab Imperial City.

*IMPEREAL is in the same category as the Imperial Waters - the game can run without it, but you won't want to once you try it.

*Natural Environments changes the environment, weather, general look and feel of the outdoors. I highly recommend the included HDR weather plugin; just make sure you've got a decent system.

*The HGEC body replacer is of course required for those of us who enjoy looking at the ladies. I also use Ozmo's High Rez Skin Textures. Very nice.

*COBL doesn't do an amazing amount on its own, but it's a basic framework used by many mods - house mods especially. Plus, "The Luggage" and its Summoning plugin are very handy.

*COBL, once installed, allows you to run A Better Benirus Manor, which is my favorite house mod currently in the game. It doesn't carry the neat items or servants or merchants of other houses, but it also doesn't feel gimmicky. It's a house, not a means to special equipment or free money.

*Apachii's Goddess Store and Heroes Store (for females and males, respectively) are great collections of items and weapons. They don't add these to random world inhabitants, though; it's strictly a go-buy-it-yourself proposition. Someone resembling me may need to change that. For bonus points on the cool scale, get the BBB enhancements for the Goddess Store, and the BBB Continued.

*As a guy who likes girls, I also have to recommend Colourwheel's excellent work, specifically: Sexy Female NPCs and Sexy Imperial Legion HGEC Extended. The Stock Clothing and Armor Replacer, and its SI Extension are both very nice, as well, if you're into such things.

So there you go. Not an inclusive list of the mods I run by any means, but this covers the basics, without getting heavily into personal taste only items.

I'd have listed a few more... but it turns out several of the mods I run have been pulled from the Nexus over the years. I guess not cleaning out my mods directory since 2007 has its advantages after all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

RR Companions Vault, v5.64 Beta 3, Uploaded

The new beta is up.

Y'know, in all honesty, I didn't realize it had been so many days since the incident. I really had planned to upload a couple days ago; but apparently this depression is kicking my ass worse than I thought. Days are blurring together worse than usual.

Turns out I couldn't find the file to upload before because I had completely forgotten to create the Beta 3 archive in the first place. Gotta start sleeping more, I guess...

In any event, Beta 3 contains the revised health system code that will allow for a fix to the infinite loop without requiring my favorite little fairy to rewrite a hundred and forty-five companion scripts. Allows my ass to be lazy as well, albeit on a less grand scale - but still not insignificant; there's a lot of them Vanilla Companions, in addition to the various guards and whatnot.

Because of the lapse in attentiveness to the file on my part, I'm going to extend the beta a couple more days, to give the new version a chance to be tested slightly more fully.

New Nexus Nonsense

Those of you who have uploaded files: have you checked your files the last couple days?

Apparently, there's a new category in the attributes section; where we're supposed to fill out legal stuff. Reuse/reupload, "credit", and other such.

So... I guess now just having it in your readme isn't good enough. Best part?

"If you have received permission to use someone elses assets in your files you should always credit them.
If you don't credit assets you've used from other users you will be considered a thief and you're likely to be banned; so it's very important you credit the work of others that you have used.

So if you uploaded companions that include custom hair or eyes? Best get on that.

If you can actually get to your files to update them, anyway. Seems that yet again, the Nexus is overloaded and about three out of every four attempts I make to load or update a page result in a server timeout.

Not that anyone will actually pay attention to your permission settings when they're stealing your work and reuploading it someplace else as their own.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Oblivion Goodness

Well, I'm bored out of my damned skull this morning, waiting on the mail-twit to deign to deliver my package 'o goodies from my most favoritest people in Montezuma, Iowa.

Since I can't do anything productive like sleep, and the PC needs a bit of a cool-down anyway, I figured I'd share some of the couple dozen screenshots I've run up in the last two days.

My directory cleaned of garbage, everything seems to be running happily once more. Have logged about a dozen hours into the new game, with nary a peep in the way of protest.

Is annoying, having to redo the quests I just got done doing last week anyway - especially raising the 7500 septims it costs to get the pirate's den up and running for a'plunderin'. That takes some time to collect, selling items 1 to 35 gold at a time.

In that vein, we opted to take a breather once the Black Flag's crew was returned to Hell this time.

I've continued my work on refining old companions, and have worked out not only stuff like summoning spells, tracking quests, and combat styles; but also managed to get more-or-less rid of those damned blotchy skin textures:

Although getting their faces set exactly correct is difficult. Every game ends up rendering my girls slightly differently. Oblivion is a bit worse than most - as I've mentioned before, the CS' facegen doesn't work quite right. What you see isn't usually what you get; which is to say that the preview and in-game view seldom match up exactly. This is one of the few real improvements FO3 made to the engine.

The companions' combat styles are coming along marvelously. Where default styles result in the companion generally using only one weapon, my new ones have them frequently switching between ranged, melee, and spells; depending on the situation. It's interesting when all three of us are unloading arrows into a charging enemy; only to switch to blades and shields to bring them down. More interesting is watching Maeva pick enemies out of the air with lightning bolt spells.

That girl still worries me, sometimes...

We did at least manage to find her some decent armor, though.

I also did the initial revamp of my aforementioned Aureal and Mazken companions that I'm planning to share sometime in the hopefully near future. Let's just say my facegen skills in 2007 were sorely lacking... but I've made some minor improvements. On that note, I'd like to introduce everyone to Dawn and Lilith:

They still need work, obviously. Dawn (the Aureal)'s eyes are too small, and too close together yet. Lilith still has some five o'clock shadow going on; and they both need the edges knocked off those jawlines. I know both Aureal and Mazken are supposed to be amazonian and somewhat masculine... but I really think Bethsoft's facegen takes it too far.

They start in the Shivering Isles; in the bar in that little town before you have to deal with the Gatekeeper. That said, I wrote and tested the summoning spells; and they summon into Cyrodiil without issue. Conversely, I believe the Cyrodiil companions should summon into the Shivering Isles fine. Tracking quests, as well, operate correctly.

Haven't run up combat styles for them, yet. I haven't really decided what roles I want Dawn and Lilith to take. Dawn is nominally an archer; and Lilith a swordswoman, but that is open to change - especially in light of the fact that I appear to have figured out how to get them to switch off and do either effectively.

And you know, I have to add that I really hate the way the Gamebryo toolsets handle dialog. It's such a pain in the ass to create; and conversations between the player and multiple NPCs are all but impossible. Which sucks, as I had a beautiful little story for these two in the back of my mind when I created them; about how they were both outcasts from their respective groups, forced to work together to survive, and hated each others' guts. So much time would be spent arguing, sniping back and forth, and just generally being bitches in the most amusing ways...

Could probably work something out if I had voice files, but without it; it's just not practical.

On another, separate feature note: my idea to simulate a companion picking alchemical components as you travel appears to work. Many companions already use a similar technique for gold, so if you've seen that one you should have an idea of what I'm talking about. The rate at which components are spawned will likely need tweaking, but it's nice that it at least works. Gods know not enough does around here, these days.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Upcoming? Not Quickly

Some days, I hate computers so very much.

Oblivion is fucked. How? I have no idea. It crashed while I was testing something; and now won't show the player character. Empty armor and helm. Attempts to switch to third person cause insta-CTD.

Looking around where I can, there are a smattering of missing meshes now, as well; so apparently when I purged that steaming load Hammerfell some other stuff ended up getting caught in the crossfire.

Already tried replacing the meshes surrounding Imperial males, without luck. Bethsoft's forums continue to be a complete waste of bandwidth.

At this point I can either spend four or five hours going mod by mod; re-extracting everything I use - or I can nuke the whole shittin' mess and reinstall it from scratch. Neither is particularly appealing.

What's even less appealing is what a staggering resource whore TES4Edit is. I didn't think anything could be worse than FO3Edit. I was wrong. Twenty four hundred goddamned megahertz, a thousand and twenty four megabytes of DDR2, and TES4Edit can't run at the same time as Firefox.

Considering I ran this install without incident for almost a year; and now within one week of installing the "unofficial patch" my game is broken...

Well, let's just say your old friend Nos does not believe in coincidence. Especially considering the clusterfuck that it was last time... Makes me wonder if sometimes the people who create these things ever consider their work on the grand scale - that is, weigh the benefit of fixing a few broken texture paths against the negative of randomly destroying games left and right.

At this point, I really have no idea whether my savegames are even salvageable. It would be nice, considering the amount of time I put into the facegen... but I'm not going to bank on it.

Suppose I'll try overwriting a couple of mod files again; and if that doesn't work, the purge will have to begin. Then I'm going to return to my previous policy of patently ignoring the "conventional wisdom" surrounding making the Gamebryo engine work. The way I do it may not be "correct", but it sure as fuck keeps my games going better than this...

Oblivion... Upcoming?

After some protracted prodding from my favorite Fey Creature, I'm seriously considering sharing some of my stash 'o CM Partners for Oblivion.

Interestingly, all but a couple pre-date my Fallout 3 modding by a wide margin. For instance, the Mazkin and Aureal duo created to accompany me in the Shivering Isles were last modified on June 20, 2007. The first draft of Maeva and Unnamed-Short-Haired-Redhead go back several more months; though I don't have an exact date because of file backup/deletion/restore issues.

In preparation for actually sharing more of my lackluster "work", I'm brushing up on my Oblivion 5k1llz and so forth. My failed foray into improving the CM system resulted in my learning to create summoning spells for individual companions. I've got tracking quest entries down.

I've also run off the initial draft of a pair of custom combat styles. Granted, my expertise with a blade is considerably less than with a rifle; so don't expect my combat styles to come out as good as the Fallout 3 ones did, but there has to be room for improvement over the crap Bethsoft saddled us with.

Reminds me, I still need to make the unadulterated Operator combat style for FO3 available someday as an esm for people to use on their own companions.

Regardless, I've still got a couple ideas left to test; and I think my CM "Partners" are going to end up requiring OBSE. I think I want them to maintain their own equipment - as long as it's in character for the NPC in question - which requires OBSE. I know: CM has that dialog option that allows you to have them repair, but I prefer the seamless implementation.

I'd also like to write up some kind of system to simulate companions picking alchemical components as you travel. Sort of like the gold that slowly builds as they go; but with plant-parts. Not sure on the viability of that one, though...

So, even if I can't make the entire CM system rock more at present, I can still improve my own companions - and as always, offer my archetypes for other modders to implement if they like how it works.

Can't really project a time frame on uploads; I mostly just want my readers to know that I'm not sitting here idle, stewing in impotent rage about stupid people. I am working on stuff... it's just that my attention is prone to wavering back and forth between the two games.

Look on the bright side: at least I couldn't figure out how to get my girls into STALKER; else I probably really would've disappeared for awhile.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Screenshot Time, 10-25

Still can't find that damned archive to upload (I wonder, did it camouflage itself? Has my OS been learning tricks from other games?), so I figured I'd share a couple screenshots that presented themselves in the course of testing; but that I didn't show off already for some reason or other.

First off, a not-new companion. This one I would actually be willing to share... but I can't. Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell fame - more commonly known as "The Major". The upload issue is the armor. I maaaay have sort of acquired it from one of those weird Japanese mod databases where they do things with the Shojo race that most of us don't even want to know about. Consequently, I don't have - and don't know of anyone to contact to get - permission to reupload the files. This has historically gotten files deleted from the Nexus in record time; and let's face it I'm too much of an asshole to be wasting my strikes on this sort of thing.

...And is it just me, or did they totally dress her like a whore for SAC?

Moving on.

While in the course of testing 5.64 Beta 3, I found I needed two sets of companions. One from the main master (Jill, in this case), and one from a satellite (my companions pack), to test the plug 'n play-ness of the script edits I'd made.

With my personal companions already in tow, this led to some interesting looking groups... like, say... both iterations of Maeva in one party.

I feel sorry for Jill there in the back.

A bit later, I turned around and saw this:

...Some days, I lament the epic battles that faction settings prevent taking place.

My interest was piqued looking closer, though. I got to looking at the two side by side, closer, and noticed they appear to have evolved differently.

It may just be armor, but the two in the second screenshot don't even appear to stand exactly the same anymore. Armor preferences are slightly different; and the Maeva from my companions pack had spawned herself a grenade launcher, despite being only level five.

You can also see, in this first shot, Special Maeva keeps her eyes on me, while Shared Maeva doesn't. Noticed the same behavior on Jill; that she was staring off into space and paying no particular attention to anything when we weren't moving.

Makes me wonder, for about the millionth time just what the hell is going on in that game engine... and more to the point, how can I track and control it?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'm Still A Bad Man

Alright, Kids. 5.64 Beta 3 is tested and whatnot, but after the events of this evening, I'm not in a sharing mood anymore.

Urge to mod is pretty well gone. Urge to upload mods even lower.

So. I'm going to go work on my AR-15 or something and watch some more Vandread, and await the inevitable contact from the Nexus moderators when this butthurt little bastard goes reporting me for not giving what he's "owed".

I could rebut the accusations. Denote how the RR Companions Vault can't break your game. How your save isn't corrupted; and simple uninstallation of the mod will restore everything to working order. How you downloading a file I uploaded for free doesn't mean I owe you a damned thing.

But you know what? Fuck it. I'm getting too old for this bullshit.

Nice Guys

"how can i fix the infinite stimpack loop
when companion gets hurt it keeps asking me for stimpack and i cant refuse

Sure, let me rewrite twenty scripts and several lines of dialog because you're too fucking cheap to hand out one of your precious stimpaks to a companion that just took a bullet for your ungrateful ass.

Fucking assholes. If you're going to start shit like this, at least learn to script and make the changes you feel are oh-so important your damned self.

Y'know, since I have to rewrite the scripts anyway? I'm going to have a little vengeful fun with this...


I am a bad, bad, man...

When you've left them to die, your companions remember; and will no longer ask for your aid when wounded... nor will they attempt to heal you when you get injured if they do have any stims. Of course, healing themselves is unaffected.

Some days I wonder what it would be like if I used my scripting skills for good.

...But what fun would that be?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

RR Companions Vault v5.64 Beta 1

The beta version of the RR Companions Vault v5.64 has been released.

As I noted elsewhere, this is less a "oh fuck I think I broke it" beta, and more a "...what the hell all did I do?" version. Seriously. 5.64 has been in off-and-on development since late June. Things have been added, removed, modified, stripped back and added again... and at this point, my swiss-cheesed memory isn't sure what all I've done and not done.

So... beta. This way, if there is some colossal screw up that I didn't notice, it can be caught as an "at your own risk" version, rather than risking messing up the game for all the players.

Changes are fairly minor. Some cosmetic work, a following reliability enhancement or two, some kicking of mirelurk ass to make them behave and stay in the tank, and the addition of a settable home marker - that granted is way overdue, seeing as mods like Jessi and Kelsey have had that feature for at least eighteen months now.

In my defense, it's not inability that kept it away so long, but apathy. Don't really use any other house mods myself, so didn't care if the mod was terribly compatible with sending companions off to other places.

The settable guard locations that I had mentioned before had to be axed. They didn't work right, and I quite frankly didn't feel like making them work. The home marker misbehaved enough on its own.

The cosmetic changes were fairly minor...

...Sorry, what was I saying?

Right! Cosmetic changes. Yes.

Since Fry did his Ling's enabled overhaul of the vault residents, my vanilla work-over is largely superfluous, but I was too lazy to start all over from 5.63, so it stayed in.

To whit:

Doc Smith.





Joan. (And Maeva in the background; in retrospect, I don't think she liked that Tenpenny guard much, the way she was eyeballing him.)

Jason and Sunny received no overhaul. I found I couldn't do much with them.

You can see here the modified mirelurk package in action. I know it takes away from the "realism" having them swim in a set path... but I'm thinking this may be the only way to keep them in the tank for everyone. Whether it will work or not... well, that remains to be seen; I haven't had them escape the tank yet - save for once instance more than a year ago, with an early version of Refurbished. Consequently, I'm not the best judge of how well they're going to stay the hell in.

The plan, such as it is, is to let 5.64 languish in beta status for about a week - giving you monkeys ample opportunity to break it. If nothing major's come up in that amount of time, I'll consider it safe to make official and do the proper update, including readme and such. I'm behind on updating the plugins section anyway.

Friday, October 22, 2010

RR Companions Vault: The Next Generation

Well, folks, it looks like ttomwv is back; and he and LadyDesire have opted to recreate the mod in New Vegas.

I don't have a link to give you, but you should keep an eye on the New Vegas Nexus if interested in such things.

I wish 'em the best of luck.

I've been reading some of the initial bug reports on New Vegas, and they're gonna need it...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ways to Tell You Need Sleep

Playing with Oblivion; adding a new pair-pose mod.

Download, extract. Remember I need to set up the OBSE shortcut for the construction set. Hit my back button to return to the base directory... only to notice that I have just extracted the pose mod into C:\Fallout 3\Data and not C:\Oblivion\Data.


Well, that was a fun five minutes of digging through directories to remove meshes, textures, and menu icons.

Note to self: do not install mods when barely able to keep eyes open. "Just one more before I go to bed..." is not a good policy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


My life.

I come up with a great idea to expand the usefulness of CM. A set of six spells, that each recall one of your companions.

This works, because six is the most Oblivion will accept in a party at one time.

Get my effects made up. Quest script set up. Figure out the result script from dialog to set the companion in question to one of the slots without having to call an explicit reference - and thus allowing plug 'n play capability with all CM-series companions.

Add the set dialog to the main CM dialog quest, hit save...

...and the fucking CS crashes.

Restart CS, recreate dialog, save again. Crash again. Obviously, it has some mystical fucking issue with my trying to alter the CM quest.

How could my day get worse? Well, the spiffy new heart condition I was given on Friday seems to be helping my outlook on life...

Edit: And I can't even add dialog to my own quest or the CS crashes. Lovely all around.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Still Got It

Decided to hop back into the Oblivion Construction Set this evening, to see if I couldn't help Miss Herculine out with a CM issue.

...Well, I couldn't. As is my usual lot in life, I couldn't get the problem to manifest.

Damn you, reliable game installs!


Anyway, to do this, instead of using one of my known-good companions, I opted to create a new one from scratch.

I (very briefly) considered attempting to recreate the Little Fairy herself... but I'm trying hard to not be That Creepy Guy, so instead I brought Aribeth (of NWN fame) across into Cyrodiil.

Total work time: about forty-five minutes, including one CS crash and the resulting re-do of the work; refinements to the face (why, oh why, does Oblivion try to give elf women chins like that kid from Mask?!), and screenshot taking.

Also played a bit with pose mods. Also got a chuckle from the screenshots themselves. Numbers started at Screenshot10. In FO3 I'm well over eight hundred. You can tell which game I've been more active in sharing stuff about.

Probably won't upload the companion. Not happy with the hair or eyes - used game defaults instead of something from Ren's beauty pack - and of course I'm not sure on the face, totally. Character detail in NWN is spotty at the best of times, so I had to go by artwork, and of course every artist envisions her differently...

Still, nice to see I've still got the Oblivion touch, as well.

Now if I can just resist the urge to rip the sound files and complete the companion...

Nos' Tower - More Progress

Good news and bad.

Looking like the windows are going to have to be removed. They just don't work. My idea to retexture a planetarium dome didn't work out, and I can't get the flat objects to light up correctly or look like they have any sort of depth.

This was the best result I managed to get:

Which, of course, looks like a screenshot stuck in a window.

Am thinking right now I'm going to remove the windows, and rework the border hallway to serve the museum purpose. Rather than windows, there will be alcoves with mannequin pedestals or weapons cases or such; for the displaying of items. The doors out to the terrace will remain.

Although the GECK is once again showing it's horrid coding, and isn't handling the outdoor navmesh correctly. It refuses to connect the east side of the terrace to the navmesh on the other three sides. Why? I have no fucking idea whatsoever.

Also made some headway on the bath and aquarium.

Tried a new color for the water in the bath, and got the reflections and refractions set up:

Still don't like the color. I still say the water needs at least a minor blue tinge...

And I got the basics of the aquarium installed, and lit in a way that does not offend my eyes at least:

The remaining problem being that I can't get the water to be murky or refract through that pane of glass. I'll try playing with the position of the water itself and see if that helps.

I'll also say it would really be nice if Bethsoft hadn't gone fucknuts overboard with the desolation bit. There's next to nothing for plants in the base FO3 game. All the trees are skeletal; there's really only a few flowers (which don't do underwater well), and those cave fungus things. Fish would have also been nice.

Introspection and Cyclical Time

Was PMing back and forth with my favorite little fairy again tonight; and again on the subject of Oblivion. In the course of it, I ended up linking (and re-reading) some old blog posts of mine from early this year.

It was interesting to see that back in February I was bitching about much the same things as I am these days: stupid people who can't RTFM, and a general feeling of getting no fun from modding anymore. What one might call burn out.

Interesting to see how history repeats.

Yeah, I realize I burn out about twice a year - but you guys can't imagine the number of stupid people I have to deal with since getting the RR Companions Vault dropped wholesale into my lap.

The last couple times I've gotten past it by dropping off the face of the Earth for a week or two, and working just on mods that I enjoy; and not any fan requests of bug fixes or what-have-you.

Trouble is, I've been trying that for nearly a month now. Granted, I haven't gone so far as to stop responding to PMs and file entry comments; but things have changed. These days there are a handful of you guys that I don't want to ignore - and would consider myself more than a bit rude for doing so.

It just isn't working. I'll confess, I enjoyed working on the penthouse level of the Tower last week, but as soon as I got into the more interesting features, the frustration started. After some thought, I think the issue is that after almost two years, I know the engine and GECK so well that most of my new ideas push the envelope; I've got the engine doing things that it was never meant to do, and at this point every time I try to take it a step further, I hit the wall.

Similarly, all of my later companion ideas take the NPCs further; deeper options and interactivity, more lifelike behavior. Some of it works in my testing, but even that which does I'm leery to release. It works on my system with my mod environment and load order. Experience has taught me a lot of it won't work once exposed to the staggering myriad of overhaul mods that fuck with everything under the sun and then some. Other ideas aren't viable simply because they'd lock the player into using a particular mod or other; and I don't like doing that.

It's more than a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand, my - for lack of a better term - artistic integrity (yes, I do have some, thank you very much) tells me not to put out something less than my best effort. On the other, as a long time player of other people's mods, I know perfectly well that some mod is better than none, and doubtless at least some would get enjoyment from what I can beat the GECK into allowing.

I have to confess that at this point, I miss being a new modder. Yeah, I can write a companion script freehand now; set up a combat style without incremental testing; even alter models to add things like a glow effect and create the requisite glowmap to make it work... but I really miss the thrill of accomplishment - the idea (fallacy that it was) that anything was possible if I could just figure out the scripting tricks...

Nowadays I know the limits, the pitfalls, the bugs and boons; and for it, my digital world seems smaller and less bright.

Aw, hell, don't mind me. I'm apparently having one of those fatalistic nights.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Been playing other games again, lately.

Ran through Hordes of the Underdark again. Even after a dozen odd playthroughs I'm still amazed by how random and unreliable the story's back-end scripting is. Went to all the trouble of turning Aribeth evil, and she got tagged as the sleeping planetar's true love? Lovely wasted efforts there on my part. Still can't get it to reliably let Deekin into act three with me. It happened once, so I know it's possible... it's just figuring out how. One of these days I swear I'm going to tear those nwm files open and just read through the scripts myself.

Don't mention it much, but I was actually a modder for NWN back in "the day". Got fairly handy with its scripting engine, and was well into my own module consisting of a decently in-depth story with a dozen or so companions, a romance quest, and other such niceties.

(Are we seeing the recurring themes here? Big mod, hot wemmenz to help you out along the way, great ideas... abandoned because of boredom...)

Also picked up STALKER: Call of Pripyat a couple weeks ago. Managed to play for three, maybe four hours. It's so godawfully boring it isn't even funny. No character development, no companions. Just run and shoot and loot and run some more and OH GOD WHAT'S THAT IN THE DARKNESS?!

How this game series ever got to be so popular is beyond me. It's outdoor DOOM with bad Russian accents and mutants instead of demons.

I had brief inclinations towards modding myself in a fireteam... but the game not only has no women at all that I saw, but has no construction set in a form that someone used to dealing with the Gamebryo engine would recognize.

Bloodlines is still hanging around my hard drive. My last character was a Tremere, and I got bored with the game around Chinatown and effectively abandoned it. The new stuff added by the Clan Mod gets frustrating. Some bad scripting, and ridiculously high requirements for persuasion. Plus, whoever they got to voice the "new" lines for the Voermann sisters was terrible.

The real surprise has been Recettear, which I've linked before. It's not only so cute I'm pretty sure it could cause diabetes, but is an interesting look at economics on a small scale. After reading a fair bit of forum and imageboard traffic surrounding the game, I no longer wonder why the world economy is such pisspoor shape. I found it simple enough to deal with customers; save that I was undercutting myself by about ten percent according to the game makers.

'Course, that's because I actually have some training. Part of gunsmithing school was running a retail business; and I applied the margins we were taught to expect there to the game. The fantasy world customers seemed happy enough; and I made my loan payment on time.

While I haven't done it yet because of a stolen bank card number SNAFU, I do intend to eventually lay down the cash on this game.

Oblivion's also coming around, again. Was chatting with everyone's favorite little fairy earlier; going back and forth about our various favorite mods. Damn it all, she got me interested again, too. Oh, well; at least my disc drive still works so I don't have to do anything in the legally-gray area to play it (he says whilst whistling innocently...). May end up tinkering in the CS again; would still love to see that house on Lake Rumaro go up, someday.

But of course, this all isn't in exclusion to GECKing. With the basic structure of the Penthouse level done, I've been thinking on the tower - trying to decide how best to get those windows working worth a damn. I'd hate to have to board them up.

I'm also fully aware that I'm still slacking and not releasing the final version of the RR Companions Vault, or building up a plugin for my companions pack to use the Pip-Boy plugins I wrote up awhile back. Amongst the other things I'd like to do at some point.

I tell ya Kiddies, battling apathy sucks.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More RP Fun

"One of the members of my party has spent over 5,000 gold on prostitutes.

Let me repeat. His character has slept with over 500 prostitutes. Expensive prostitutes as well, considering that 10+ gold is a small fortune (you can buy, what, 1,000 chickens for that much money?).

Recently, he began to complain about how everyone else had better items than he did (we all had +3 weapons, while he only had a +2).

I pointed out that HE HAD BLOWN AWAY A GOOD PORTION OF HIS GOLD ON IMAGINARY BLOW JOBS, and he grew indignant. He said that while all of us were "rollplaying" and only caring about stats and combat, he was actually "roleplaying" and having his charcacter do what his character would do.

He finished by saying that it's not fair for him to be at a disadvantage because the rest of us were minmaxing munchkins.

By golly, after hearing all that, I felt rightfully ashamed. So ashamed, I gave him a portion of my gold so he could get a +3 weapon.


...Can't comment... Laughing too hard...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nos' Tower - Minor Progress

Made a bit of headway. Got the water issue mostly sorted. Still not thrilled with the color and reflectivity... but at least it does more than glow, now, so I have something to work with.

Here's one section of the observation ring. They all look much alike; save for the view out the windows.

This is one of the exits onto the terrace. One north, one south, windows with purdy views on either side of the doors.

The area of the bottom floor where sinks and other such primping/hygiene areas will go. Through that doorway in the back will go the throne. Figure the penthouse probably doesn't need more than one toilet, so long as I keep the Tower kitchen staff away from the Mexican menus.

Here we have the bath. I was thinking Roman bath house, except in black. There will eventually be pillars and such.

Closer shot of the water. I kind of like the whirlpool effect, but I think the color needs adjustment - back towards white.

Unfortunately two of my ideas aren't panning out. One - the windows on the ring - aren't working with flat images of the outside landscape. I may have to try retexturing one of the planetarium domes.

The other was the aquarium. I had the idea that I could run it up, and have sky planes in place above the water. Brighter lights during the day, dimming at night. Sky planes are lovely little things slaved to the daylight condition of the wasteland. Unfortunately they were causing reflectivity issues with the water. I'll keep toying with it, although I may have to toss that idea and just try out the scripted color-shifting lights idea Herculine and I were discussing the other day.

Nos' Tower - More Headaches

Got the observation walk installed around the middle floor of the penthouse along with the two doors that lead out onto the terrace. Area for sinks and toilet are in. Sauna room is in, as is the bath.

Already, my interest in this project is waning.

Was working outside, and saw that my "backup" of the plugin left over from the game crash and reinstall earlier this year wasn't current. It was an old version, where the exterior of the tower wasn't aligned correctly, isn't navmeshed, and is sitting on the edge of the map border; so that you can't even get to the south half of the terrace.

Aquarium and bath don't work. No matter what I do, the water won't show any surface texture. It just glows, obscenely reflective. Had this happen before in the V1 Remodel, and fixed it. Applied the same fix here... and it does nothing.

I remember now why I've been neglecting my modding. This shit is nothing more than an exercise in frustration, whereby one beats their head against the wall until the game decides to work, or they pass out.

On the up side, I found out last night that I can still rework the action on a bottom-end AR15 to feel slicker than top shelf Colt, so there is that. Pointless to you people, obviously, but something I'm proud of being able to do.

Going to grab something to eat, and then I suppose I'll start banging my head against the fucking wall again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nos' Tower - Bedroom V1

Behold, I bringeth thee screenshots!

Bedroom cell isn't finished by a long shot, but I've got the basic layout complete, and thought you might like a look.

Gods know I've got to do something to keep people interested, since I seem to be down to the two readers and all. Forums, maybe?

Eh; concern for another time.

This is the elevator, which will lead from the lobby/main floor/whatever it ends up being called up into the penthouse.

Stairs leading down to the floor where the bathing and general relaxation facilities will be located.

Stairs leading up from the foyer to the sleeping area proper.

One of the features of the sleeping area: a contrasting white marble aquarium. Will eventually be stocked with plants, real imitation rocks, and some minilurks - cause I think the little bastards are cute. Haven't decided whether a pure, white light would be best, or something more towards the indigo end of the spectrum; ala a tropical fish tank. 'Lurks don't need such things judging by how they inhabit metro tunnels and such, but it is a neat effect.

Door to the walk-in closet. Closet is four room pieces; or about two meters square.

Wider shot of the sleeping area floor. You can see I haven't installed the handrail yet. Aquarium on the left, the small hallway on the right leads to the closet, and will have an alcove for the display of something. Still deciding between a statue, or a mannequin pedestal to let the player display what they like.

Back in the foyer; as seen from the base of the stairs that go up to the sleeping area. It will be stocked with furniture, pillars, varied accouterments, and so on. Probably a radio, too.

The gray areas off to either side are the aether of nothingness that exists outside the room pieces in the game engine. In other words, I've been too damned lazy to get that part built on just yet. The two paths will lead to a bordering passage that encircles the foyer, and will be lined with windows showing off the outside pretties - assuming the whole thing doesn't blow up in my goddamned face (which now that I've mentioned it to you, it almost certainly will).

As you can see, much work still needs to be done on the lighting; but it is improving bit by bit.

I've still got quite a few things to import into the mod. Chandeliers, appliances, drapes. I think I'll either set up some new rugs, or re-use the ones from the Remodel. I kind of like those; but I'm thinking I may want to dig around for better resources.

You know, setting up a three-story cell is more work than I thought it was going to be.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nos' Tower - Headaches

Designing the Penthouse suite proper - not just a test cell mockup - and am being forcibly reminded how long it's been since I did this.

Have the basic ideas on what I want in there... but how do I lay it out for optimum aesthetic value and least confusing navigation?

This is going to be a complex cell, so if I'm not careful it'll end up looking rather hodgepodge and amateurish.

Hell, it'll most likely be amateurish anyway. An architect I ain't on the best of days, let alone when running on a bit over three hours' sleep.

I'm reduced to laying the design out on a piece of paper, in the hopes of avoiding trying as I go and ending up tearing down and rebuilding the cell four or five times - which is usually how I get a feel for what I'm working on.

Me 'an my bright ideas...

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Been reading /tg/ this lazy Sunday afternoon, and it's making me wish I had a group to RP with.

The thread that so captured my attention was on what popular movies, television shows, and anime would be like if they were RPGs of various system.

The one with Macgyver making the DM go "...wait, what?" as he used a lawn mower gas tank, can of coke, package of pop-rocks, and small balloon to kill a dozen men armed with flame throwers was particularly amusing.

Reading threads on Dark Heresy or Shadowrun do make me want to give it a try. I think of all the wonderfully damaged characters I could play, and express my love of rendering other players speechless.

Old friend of mine called it "Throwing a curve". Time was, I was prone to randomly saying things just to get the "...wait, what?" effect from whoever I was talking to.

Makes for a wonderful Malk, or in a D'nD setting you get those lovely "oh shit, what the Christ is the sorcerer going to do this time...?"

To screw with people used to my curve-balls, I can also play the most frustratingly ardent Paladin you've ever seen.

And of course, there are always the "so how did your character get nuclear weapons, anyway?" moments. Remember: pull back; nuke it from orbit - it's the only way to be sure. Solves any problem.

Almost want to reactivate my old WoW account and find myself an RP server. If I had anyone to play with, at least.

I'll confess, I'm more than a bit intrigued by the recently-announced World of Darkness MMO. I'm sure they'll fuck it up somehow, but MMO vampires sounds fun. Leaves the eternal question, though: Ventrue or Malkavian? Smooth social abilities and the ability to dominate, or being just plain batshit insane? They're both so fun. Bonus points for the Malk being female; because it's so much more fun when the hot chick is lucid and smoothly hitting on someone one second, and speaking in tongues and reacting to shit only she can see the next.

The upcoming WH40K MMO sounds interesting too, provided they'll let me play a Chaos Marine. Ideally one of the Thousand Sons. I'm sure they'll start you out as a Cultist that dies from one hit from a sewer rat, though.

So, what say you, readers? RP? Wish you could? Detest the whole idea?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Doing some random chatter in shooty-stuffs over on the other blog, for those interested.

Yeah, I know. I'll stop cross-linking when and if I ever start updating the damn thing regular-like, but as it stands I do it so infrequently that I doubt anyone still checks the thing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

There Can Be Only One!

Fools! Did they really think dental torture could stop me?!

HA, I say!

Took twice the dose of anesthetic usually required for someone of my mass, and still wasn't completely numbed. Last trip, they managed to get me completely numb, but it took a full four syringes - 7.2ml - three times the normal dose.

I've been awake since noon-thirty PST on Thursday. Had twelve bags' worth of pomegranate green tea, more than a gallon of the watered down Arizona brand "tea" I usually drink cold, and a 24oz Rockstar, to boot. Although not the pomegranate Rockstar I like. Bitches at the quick-shop only had regular and sugar-free.

I can only assume that the fact that I haven't succumbed to tachycardia or dropped dead means I am an immortal, and will soon begin sword-fighting to determine rulership of the universe.

Fear my hand-and-a-half sword!

Or maybe I've just been up too long? Funny, suppressing panic attacks and repressing the urge to curb-stomp the person actively hurting you for a solid hour tends to make one forget trivialities such as mind-numbing exhaustion.

Also got to worry the hell out of my mom. You think suggesting that my solution for the pain was to take the entire bottle of hydrocodone was a bit much? I mean, come on... It's only 5500mg. Even if I washed it down with that bottle of vodka, I don't think it'd be lethal...

Still, "ooh, ooh! He has a death-wish! Worry worry!" Pfft. Humans. Really. Suggesting that I'd step in front of a truck? Everyone with any sense knows that at 35mph, that hit wouldn't be fatal - it'd just have good odds of making one a paraplegic.

Not that I actually tried the entire bottle, mind you. It was merely a suggestion when she was bitching that I should have self-medicated and taken two or three when one didn't work. Cause, yeah, opiate overdose is really something you want to taunt... addiction issues aside.

...What was I saying? Oh, right. Awake thirty-three hours. Brain no fire on all cylinders anymore. Pain. Anxiety attacks. Chest pains. Teeth still suck. No GECKing in near future. Hate life. Hate family. Hope all dentists get Gonorrhea.

And now, I go to inspect a rifle! Silly Reader, I can't pass out! Shit needs to be done before tomorrow!

Nos, away!

Fuck, I still have to put sheets on the bed, too...