Saturday, May 14, 2011

Of the Mojave and Proper Companions

As you may have noticed from recent posting trends, I'm on a bit of an FNV kick lately. I had to get it running again to update NCCS, and then there was testing...

Oblivion's getting on my nerves a bit lately anyway. Something in some of those new mods I started running has been a save-game trasher. I just had to delete a set with near twenty hours' play on them and start over from my "clean" save at the exit from the prison sewers.

So, I've been roaming the Mojave.

The main thing that still strikes me about FNV is its complete and utter lack of reliability. It can't even be counted on to fail. I played some three hours and change this morning without so much as a drop in FPS; but several days ago when I was doing final testing for 0.7 before upload, I had two or three occasions where I played less than ten minutes before it crashed at random. The crashing incidents seem directly tied to the game loading new resources (loading new NPCs into the world seems to be the worst about this) so it's probably our old friend the Gamebryo memory leak rearing his ugly head at random.

Nonetheless, I'm also struck by just how far my companions have come in the... what have we had the game? Seven months, now? I remember my first run through Vault 22; an expedition made of suck and fail and enough profanity to make an Airborne NCO proud.

My companions wouldn't move between levels with me reliably; wouldn't move through the elevator at all; constantly got stuck in the lower levels trying to get to enemies. It was a mess, and something that I actively avoided repeating where possible.

I ran it again this morning, and it was glorious. No one got left behind between levels; and when they figured out they couldn't get to the mantises behind the glass, they gave up and went back to following me.

The new combat style revisions are wonderful, as well. [CENSORED]'s performance with her carbine is just beautiful. Hammering pairs, and moving on to the next target. She wastes very little ammo, and was capping those glorified Venus fly traps without breaking stride.

Personalities still seem to exert their pull, however. Armed Maeva with a riot shotgun, and she caught a spore carrier in the face as it was getting up; killing it with the first round. Apparently just for good measure, she then shot the corpse about seven more times. I guess it's like they say in MOUT training: anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice; ammunition is cheap, life is expensive.

Cute little Natasha's been armed with an LMG this time around (yes, I spend inordinate amounts of caps making sure my companions are armed as well as I am); and is proving herself quite capable at killing with short, controlled bursts.

I re-enabled the no-teleport-during-combat in my personal companions; having managed to narrow down what was causing the freezing after combat. The companion scripts, again. The issue hadn't presented itself in NCCS, because I only had my premade pack running -- and those companions run on scripts one, three, five, seven, nine, and eleven. Because I didn't run any other companions on that system, there were no NPCs doubled-up on any one particular script. Conversely; there are three companions in my personal plugin -- all running on one script was causing the freezing. Reverted them each to their own script, and performance went right back to 100%. Results seem to vary from one person's game to another, but I've yet to get any proper performance while running multiple companions on one script. Even when only one of the companions is in your party; in your cell, it still happens -- which sort of shoots to shit the long-held theory that object scripts only run if their object is in your current cell to be loaded. I've no idea if this could be affected by objects that are flagged as quest items getting special consideration; or if it's only NPCs; or if it's only objects that you've loaded at least once;or if it's all objects all the time. I somehow doubt we could get any straight answers out of Bethsoft, regardless -- and I'm not keen on spending a few weeks testing every possible permutation of items and scripts to map it out. Especially considering that empirical evidence has thus far suggested that the rate of failure of multiple NPCs on one script is directly proportional to the size and complexity of the script itself -- that is, larger scripts that run more checks and effects every frame are more likely to fail than simpler scripts that do less.

Simpler by far, says I, to simply run each NPC on their own script and not worry about it.

Have drug my little fireteam through just about everything the game has to offer; indoors, outdoors, water, open desert, high rads (Camp Searchlight); fast travel, by foot. Haven't been able to get them to break, thus far - even in old areas of trouble; the wasted park outside the canyon that Vault 22 is in, for example. It was an area that used to break companions every time I went through it. Either they repaired the faulty navmeshing in the new patch, or the new scripts are able to keep them to keep them going despite that.

Went through the H&H tool factory, and they actually stayed with me for once and didn't set off every damned trap in the place. I was so proud. Also: the pulse gun? Makes short work of anything mechanical.

We also went hunting.

...For deathclaws.

Now, when I hunt for deathclaws, I like the Anti-material rifle, loaded with AP. It pretty well trashes even a Patriarch's DT. And the high ground never hurts:

There is something imminently satisfying about one-shotting deathclaws; making their heads explode from across the quarry while your companions watch the ramp. On that note: the latest version of Weapon Mod Expansion has an upgrade that adds a higher powered scope to the AMR, making it actually useful as a long range weapon. You can actually take pot-shots from so far out, the creature's AI isn't activated yet in some cases.

Which brings us to another point.

You people do horrible, horrible things to your companions. Seriously. Parading them around in a G-string and stack heels; or dental floss and postage stamps. SUCH DISRESPECT!

...And don't give me that look. I'm well aware of the contents of my Oblivion savegames, and I'll have you know I only dress my companions like whores in safe areas. They get proper armor and weapons for adventurin'.

Now this, this is a proper companion:

Notice: long pants, long sleeves, good boots, gloves, eye protection, a helmet, and easy access to spare ammo. Very nice.

...And this is a scary companion. Still need to do some tinkering on that hair alpha, though. Be nice if there was a way to make it not clip and not be spiky.

And that's still a cool effect.


  1. Glad to hear your latest play throughs went smoothly. Makes for an enjoyable game session, even if you were looking for bugs that might need fixing.

    And hurray for new shots of Maeva :)

  2. Finally broke down and got NV since my local emporium had it cheap and I promise not to dress my companions as whores.
    I prefer to dress them in suggestive outfits anyway, not slutty ones ;)

  3. one person's "suggestive" is some prude's "slutty" ;P

    Speaking of companions, there's a new one on the nexus that looks impressive. I'm wondering what the code behind it looks like, since she's rather capable in combat. it's called "Willow -A Better Companion Experience" And so far I'm impressed. But I really wanna dissect the mod, shoujo-ize her, and tweak her to my tastes. ^_^

  4. I took a look at Willow earlier today. I noticed the link to her on her author's profile. llamaRCA, Willow's creator, is also responsible for Charon Improved for FO3.

    I would give Willow a try myself, but I don't own New Vegas, so there isn't much point downloading it.

  5. I'm wondering what the code behind it looks like, since she's rather capable in combat.

    Subtle, very subtle.

  6. huh? wasn't insinuating anything. It's just you've been refining your companion code since FO3, this person put out their Charon mod with only a couple of updates, and now this one. There really aren't many different and unique companion "systems" out there - mostly seen ones that people just tinker with the core of RR or NCCS to make something they call their own.

    Was just idle geek curiosity, combined with a generous intake of rum last night, to wonder what the code is like for that one. Considering it features like 600 lines of voiced dialog, built-in quests and it's own reputation system that offers different benefits depending on "if you are BFF with her"

    Not saying NCCS should have any of that, mind you. It offers me all the flexibility I want, and you keep finding ways to add new stuff into it as well.

    And amusingly, despite this new companion being released after the 1.3 update was active, it was not compliant with it, and several features are just broken at the moment. And the fact that the download is 66mb in size - although I know most of the mass will be the audio files - for one companion, it just makes me wonder what all is under the hood. That's all I meant.

  7. Actually, it never occurred to me that you were saying Willow was superior.

    I figured you were dropping the mod name to tempt me into downloading it and dissecting the code, that's all.