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.


  1. Something finally went right? That's good to hear.

  2. Indeed, it's good to hear that you have the game up and running properly again. Give me a few more days and I'll likely need a guinea pi-- er, tester for my WIP. I promise it won't kill your game.

    And the girls are all looking good. Glad to see you haven't let the bugs and glitches break your spirit.

  3. Spirit? Nah.

    See, I'm just not smart enough to know when to quit.

    Interestingly enough, persistence, stupidity, and a severe stubborn streak all work out to the same end most of the time.

    Really frustrating having to load the game to check how an NPC looks; only to make a mental note of what needs changing, kill the game, load the CS, make a couple of "hope this is close enough..." blind edits, and start all over.

  4. Characters don't look the same in-game as they do in the CS? Frustrating? Welcome to my world. Hard to be a modder specializing in companion creation when generating faces is generally a crap-shoot. Why do you think I haven't finished and released the dozens of other companion sets that I'd planned in my little mind? If I could actually control how they're gonna look, now that would be something...

  5. Next you'll be wanting multi-core compatibility and patches that fix more bugs than they introduce.

    You kids today.

  6. I will agree that face creation sucks in Gamebryo Engine toolsets; NV-GECK is ok, but I much prefer how the Eclipse toolset (DAO) does it. You actually can see the head in a decent-sized viewport when creating a head morph. The kicker; they all use FaceGen to do it, but Bioware seems to have a better handle on it than Bethesda does. Nos, in case you're wondering why I'm grousing about it too, I've been working on Naomi (Armitage) tonight; finding decent shots of her that don't focus on her "assets" are hard to come by.

  7. Gah; had another gripe about the CS/GECK/NVGECK as well, and it's the "dialog editor". Who in their "infinite wisdom" decided that you should have access to every dialog in the game in one interface??? Give me the Aurora dialog editor any day; heck, give me a community tool and some dialogs from the Infinity Engine games (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and sequels).

  8. I have to say, Bethsoft's dialog editors for the Gamebryo engine are hands down the worst ever. I don't think I've ever seen a mod tool less intuitive; and the entire thing is prone to crashing for lots of users.

    Looking at the larger picture, one begins to wonder why we modders bother to keep trying.

  9. Because it's "easy to use"? That's the most common complaint I see about modding with the DA Toolset; it's not as intuitive as Aurora or TESCS/GECK, though how having to associate your module with the game's resources being intuitive in the latter two toolsets is beyond me.

  10. If the Gamebryo toolsets are easy to use compared to Dragon Age toolset, it must truly suck.

    In my experience, the GECK is only easy to use in that it doesn't generally hide access to parts of the game; everything tends to be right out there and accessible. Other than dialog, it's pretty straightforward... but I still don't know how easy I'd consider it.

    Then again, I'm usually doing things more involved than changing Moira's face or adding nuclear miniguns to the game, so my perspective may be a bit warped.

  11. Exactly my point; a lot of the difficulty is in what purpose you are using the toolset for. I think that Bioware has a better grasp on what the end user needs to make quality mods and gives us the tools for it; Gamebryo toolsets seem to be intended for quickly adding stuff for no other reason than you can.

  12. Hope you know you are making me want to pop in the game once more. Also they look rather well on what you are working on.

  13. @Michelle: I look at the CS/GECK a lot like going to Linux from Windows. Yeah, the learning curve is a stone bitch; but once you get it figured out you have quite a bit more flexibility and options. It's all a matter of what you want to do.

    For example: stuff like combat styles, switching of weapons and armor/clothes on command; stripping and re-dressing; healing self or player at a specific health percentage - or above or below a percentage; patrol routes, travel packages, scavenging fallen enemies.

    These are all cake-walk scripting in Gamebryo. They're impossible as far as I know in Aurora. I don't know about DA, but I'm not expecting it to have massive amounts of NPC scripting flexibility either. There's also class switching and summoning spells/items.

    Hell, if you wanted to go to the trouble of scripting the whole mess out, you could make an Oblivion companion that was a full fledged alchemist, and would brew whatever potion you wanted on command, as long as you gave them the components.

    Then there's stuff like Chloe. My darling merchant uses six or seven separate "stores", and self-manages her own supply of bartering currency; while buying and selling items at one of five randomly chosen mark-up rates. Granted, the caps-management script wouldn't be necessary if Bethsoft could be bothered to bugfix... but it's still way more than I've seen being done in any other game engine.

    I will agree with you that most GECK users do stupid and pointless things that the modding community would be better off without... but I don't think I can agree that Bioware's mod tools are across the board better, or that they have a better grasp of what their community needs.

    There's a lot more to Gamebryo mods than what you see on the Nexus. As I've said before, you guys don't get my best work for various reasons, and I know a lot of other modders keep their top-shelf stuff to themselves, as well.

  14. @David: It's probably going to get worse.

    Once I get the RR Companions Vault final version squared away and out of my hair, I'm going to start reworking and uploading my old stash of CM companions. I've got the better part of a dozen floating around in a partially finished state.

  15. ... This blog likes to delete posts...

    However what do you think is must have mods for the game or patches?

  16. Yeesh. Maybe not eat, but it would be nice if it would let you edit the damned things so you don't have to delete and retype everything...

    Either way, Mod post.