Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CM "Partners" Branwen and Caridwen, Part II

With the RR Companions Vault Beta program continuing to produce no comments, and my desire to mod FO3 waning rapidly, I've been playing with my CMs some more.

I split Branwen and Caridwen into separate plugins - they had originally been together in one "Nos' CM Vampire Companions.esp"; but with the whole vampire thing having to go away for obvious reasons, I felt it silly to keep the two together - since other than the cultural origin of their names (and the author) the two have nothing in common that would lend them to a common plugin.

I also tweaked their faces some more; and implemented some heavier duty leveled lists.

The results? Mixed.

The Lady Branwen ended up much improved - even though I still need to do something about that chin...

The problem lies in the leveled list. I run Underneath Your Robe, which resets robes to only occupy the upper body slot - leaving you free to wear pantaloons 'neath them. On males, this works fine - but females are saddled as well by Colourwheel's Stock Armor and Clothing Replacer, which converts female robe bottoms to miniskirt-esque configuration.

You can see in the first screenshot, pants-skirt clipping through robe-skirt. I had originally wanted a second list to potentially spawn some magical pants to go with the beneath your robe mod... but looking at the download numbers, I'm thinking that may be wasting my time.

You can see in the first Caridwen shot another issue. Many of the NPC armor lists contain cuirasses that have a chameleon enchantment. Problematic, when one is trying to keep track of one's party.

Second shot shows her own facial improvements (although I noticed later I caught her in mid-blink... I swear, NPCs are as bad as trying to photograph humans...). Interestingly, that decorated fur cuirass was the one with the chameleon enchant on it. After speaking to her, the enchantment "switched off" and left her fully visible from there on out.

Apparently, the Oblivion engine has some provision that precludes in-party NPCs from being invisible or chameleoned under normal circumstances.

Third shot shows another pitfall. As Miss Herculine so astutely noted earlier in the week, leveled list equipped companions can change clothes a lot. Any time you change cells or fast travel, new equipment can spawn. It doesn't always, but can.

So I'm a bit torn. I like the randomly changing equipment; but not the frequency. True, it doesn't affect any equipment you give the companion; so anything they spawned would be automatically relegated to a secondary status - only equipped if it was better than what you gave them.

I think the solution is creating my own leveled lists. Something that doesn't have a dozen choices for each level. That way, they'd spawn equipment based on level; and not really change it until the next level.

I hate creating leveled lists. So. Boring. Had to create hundreds of nested lists for the 20th Century Weapons plugin for the RR Companions Vault. Hopefully, this won't be to that scale.

Also still working on Maeva; hoping to eventually get her lined out enough for moving to a separate plugin and making available for download.

Almost got it; but I think the glowmap needs more work. Downside is that Nequam's eye meshes glow white only. The eye texture you see there is also white. So I either have to recolor the texture, or modify the mesh. Somewhat tricky, as they're Nequam's and not mine; and I don't know offhand how Nequam feels about such things. Will have to look into that one of these days.


  1. Is it just me, or is Maeva looking like she's sad on the verge of tears? Maybe it's just because I'm so used to seeing her with fangs and scowling...

  2. Depends on when you catch her. If you look at the screenshot above from the beach, she has a bit of a smirk; and is neutral above that.

    Which sort of fits. I had always envisioned Maeva as being somewhat manic depressive. Don't ask me how in the hell that carried across into the Oblivion engine, though.

    I've caught her and [CENSORED] being emotive on several occasions. They tend to scowl after fights; but perk back up and start smiling when I talk to them. Also seem to smile after spending the night at an inn, and are always happy when the CMGetDrunk (or whatever it's called) package kicks in.

  3. After some further experimentation I've come to the conclusion that the randomly respawning leveled inventory idea for Oblivion companions is IMHO a mostly good idea, but not entirely so.

    It's good for almost everything that I get tired of having to micro-manage with my companions. Weapons, arrows, lockpicks, magic jewelry, scrolls and potions (and yes, even gold, and especially so if you run one of those mods that makes your companions responsible for paying their own fines) -- having these things randomly regenerate is a definite plus.

    I also like the idea of using this method for the spell lists (with the exception of birthsigns and the four healing spells from the CM mod). I don't know why it never occurred to me to use this method. Thank you Matt for bringing the error of my ways to my attention.

    The only thing I won't have randomly respawn is clothing and armor. I like to fight blood, sweat and tears through dungeons collecting loot in order to earn enough gold to buy outfit full sets such as the ones in the Apachii Goddess Store, and being the generous (and eye-candy-loving) player that I am I will often equip such outfits on my companions. So my companion has a full set of Athena armor and we fast-travel to Anvil, and in the course of that journey she decides to instead wear the green felt outfit of enchanted ugliness. Not cool. So in this area I think a little micromanagement is tolerable.

    And this is what has always made Oblivion (and similar games) so great IMHO. Sure, they may crash, may be hard on my PC and have many other flaws that I won't begin to get into here. But they are highly customizable, and thus far more enjoyable than other linear games with locked content that I play through once and then uninstall. Thanks to zillions of mods, my experience in the game will never be exactly like anyone else's experience. Similar perhaps, but never identical. And with random things like this companion inventory scheme, even each time I play through it can still hold some surprises.

    So if anyone else has been following these little posts, I recommend that you give this sort of thing a try with your companions. Should work quite similarly in Fallout 3 and likely New Vegas as well. Morrowind also, but companions in that game are an entirely different dissertation I'm afraid...

  4. All good points, my dear Fairy.

    I largely agree on the armor. I'm thinking it may not be a good thing to keep randomly spawning, even under more controlled circumstances.


    I've also had one of my House-esque flashes of idea, and I'm thinking I may be able to use a custom companion script to, on the first loading of the companion, adds the relevant leveled lists to the companion to spawn items, then remove the lists so that ZOMGRANDOMNESSROFLCOPTER only happens the one time.

    You'd get a random set of starting gear based on level, but the equipment would behave normally thereafter.

    Buuuuut. Arrows for archers, spell lists, and so on could still be randomly loaded and changed as the game progressed.

    I've been meaning to work up a custom script anyway - I think I can make the CMs a bit more reliable and less flighty, at least.

  5. *giggles* It's discussions like this that those playing games on consoles, or toolset-less games, will never understand; modding a game does so much more to enhance the replayability than DLC ever will, because DLC is about making money. Player created content is about expanding the game world beyond the limits the developers set on it, sometimes in ways that said developers never envisioned. That more than anything is why a game has to have a good story to make up for a lack ofmodding capabilties before I will consider buying it.

  6. Michelle, that's exactly how I feel.

    My brother likes to make fun of me for the time I spend with the CS and GECK. "Oh, go create a world or something," he'll say in a sarcastic tone.

    Yesterday he was playing Gran Turismo 3 (or something like that) on the Playstation 2. He was regaling me with stories of the races he's won, the cars he's souped up and how the game will let you transfer data from one person's saved game to another. I asked: "What do you do after that?" He then explained that you can start over and build a better car, and race all your cars against your friends. I persisted: "That's cool, but what do you do after that? What do you do after you beat the game by winning all the tracks? Will there be more tracks? Can you get new cars for the game? What do you do next?"

    His inevitable answer? "Buy Gran Turismo 4 I guess..."


  7. Hey Matt

    Does this one also pull the same odd learning events as Fo3? You said something along the lines they learn as they fight but not sure if it also goes for this game as well.

  8. @David:

    You know, honestly Man, I haven't logged enough hours yet on the new versions of the companions to be sure.

    They were pretty much fully capable from the first summon after the reinstall, so I don't think they have to learn as they go in Oblivion.

    They may yet surprise me, but that seems to be unique to my FO3 companions, unfortunately.

    I'm still tinkering with their scripts and AI, though, so I may manage something.

  9. Mr. Matt:

    Why is it that when I look at my Blogger dashboard it says you've added a new post here like 19 hours ago and yet loyal followers like myself still cannot read it here?

    Okay, I know why. It's the internet. 'Nuff said. But exactly WTF is it with Blogger and the incredibly stupidly long delays like this? Should we be sending flaming e-mails to Google?




    (Actually, I just deleted the post awhile after publishing. Even deleted posts still show on your dashboard as updates - times like this it's handy only three of you follow the blog...)

  11. Aww why delete the post?

  12. It was mostly boring technobabble, some untowards comments that it occurred to me I shouldn't be making in public, and a teaser for something that may never be released.

    On the whole, it was just one of those posts that in retrospect was a bad idea.

  13. "Be sure brain is engaged before hitting "Post Blog"?"

  14. I suppose.

    But in this case, it was more of a "don't post when you don't give a shit what anyone else thinks."