Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NCCS - Successes and Failures

As usual, half of what I do isn't going to plan.

I had had the idea to set up the NCCS companions to spawn random equipment once, and then have normal inventory.

Troubles arose. In Oblivion, the trick works... but apparently in New Vegas, removing the leveled lists from the NPC's inventory also removes the items it spawned... so it ended up with naked, unarmed companions.

Not super handy in a fight.

So, I've defaulted to plan B: using lists that aren't removed. This means that companions will periodically switch out their equipment. Any items you add to their inventory in-game will not be affected by this. In FO3, lists only spawned new equipment when the companion was left in a cell long enough for it to reset; it didn't happen as long as they were in your party. I'm hoping that will be the case here, as well... but we'll have to wait and see.

You can see here two of the projected starting loadouts for a companion. The only change is that I've modified it to add a second weapons list; since two of the one list kept turning in two of the same weapon. The different lists generally spawn different weapons, though. Each with its own ammo; this gives companions a primary and secondary arm, and enough ammunition to hold out through your first bits of adventuring together, until you can loot or buy more ammo or other weapons for them.

List options will be armor, clothing, headwear, and the two weapon lists. All pretty self explanatory. The only caveat being that 'headwear' at the moment includes both armored and normal pieces, so it can occasionally come up with some humorous sets. I saw once a tuxedo with a Fiend helmet. James Bond meets Mad Max, I suppose. Should be good for a chuckle here and there; and potentially adds some personal style to companions.

Here's Steve (one of my pre-made companions for NCCS). This is two different save-game loads, and not the results of changing cells or any such. They can end up looking like completely different characters from game to game.

This is Artemis, showing off the funny possibilities. She spawned in reinforced combat armor MKII, and a fancy gambler's hat.

On that note, I don't care for the female models of the gambler's hats. The males look fine, but the females' look more like mourning veils than on-the-town swanky-wear.

More on the success side, I think you guys will be pleased with the companion system on the whole. In RR, I held back. A lot.

It was never my mod, you see. I always figured that someday, someone else would end up copying my work and slapping their name on it. I hadn't figured it would be a new game in the franchise, though.

Either way, once RR was "fixed", I didn't stop development; I just stopped sharing what I came up with. This resulted in things like the Pip-Boy plugins that handle tracking and companion retrieval without the use of a terminal; the improved combat styles; some extra dialog options; improved health management, and a few other things. I have, for example, figured out how to set companions as essential or non through dialog; removing the need to modify plugins to do so.

At the urging of Miss Herculine, I've decided not to hold back this time; seeing as NCCS is an original work and I can tell anyone who wants to copy it to sit on it and rotate.

A lot of the new stuff isn't ready for release yet, so the initial NCCS is still going to be comparably basic, but the combat style has come along nicely.

Case in point: in FO3, standard companions getting into a tiff with my special companions quickly results in shredded RR's. Playing NV this morning though, I had Steve and Artemis along with Maeva and [CENSORED], in the Vance & Vicky casino. When the NCR deserters busted in and demanded caps, I of course told them where to shove it; resulting in a fight.

The NCRs didn't last long, but once it was done I still heard fire.

See, in this game there was no pre-made system for me to utilize, so I wrote my personal companions off-the-cuff, with their own self-contained system. NCCS is a completely separate plugin, and the two don't interact in any way.

You can see where this is going. I forgot that their respective factions weren't told to play nice, and apparently one tagged another during the fight; resulting in a new fight going down.

The NCCS companions weren't losing. Don't get me wrong, they weren't winning, either. The two pairs had fought nearly to a standstill, and were trading sporadic fire from cover. My girls had a slight advantage because of customized weaponry, but the NCCS duo were acquitting themselves admirably.

Suppose I need to make up a bridge plugin to fix the factions...

In any event, the first beta is essentially ready for upload. My companions pack is done, and Herculine has sent me the latest version of hers for inclusion with the master. I still need to take some screenshots, and then write a readme. Once those are done, you can expect to see NCCS on the NVNexus, ready for your breakage attempts.


  1. I am very happy to hear you are not holding anything back this time. Also I can't wait to try to find bugs in the it.

    Truth be told I have not played the game since I heard you were going to mod for it as your mods made my fallout 3 game much more fun.

  2. Flatterer.

    Still... not holding anything back may be a bit much. While I do plan to make them as good as I can... there are still things that won't make it in.

    Some of the things I like in my companions just don't go over well with most players. They either require too many support mods, or clash with prevailing play styles. And of course, there are things I'm willing to accept as-are: that certain options just don't work right, for example. If it's something I like enough, I'll keep it anyway and play out around the bugs.

    Try that with a released mod, and the stream of complaints is endless, so I tend to cut the unfixable options.

  3. @David:

    I second that. I wouldn't have enjoyed FO3 half as much either, or made the mods that I made if it weren't for Matt's work.