Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cheater!

Recently, my favorite Neko declared that I should unwind and lose my "modding blues" by playing a game I don't mod. Just play for fun.

Well... this is me we're talking about. If I don't mod the game? I'm not still playing it. I've written mods for C&C: Generals, Galactic Civilizations 2, Neverwinter Nights, DAO, The Witcher, even STALKER (yes, I threw one together for the one half-assed playthrough I attempted and quickly bored of; it's the way I'm wired).

About the only games I don't mod are the MW4 series and Sins of a Solar Empire -- both of which I've played so much that they hold little interest for me now.

So, I simply started a new Oblivion game. No worries on lore, no attempting to improve any scripting or packages; no new companions -- just a play. I reinstalled the Gun Mage mod, ramped up the difficulty, selected a set of companions to play with, and created my new character.

On a lark, I decided to try a new race. I mentioned some time ago installing the X117 race package. One of the races it contains is called simply "Xeo", and appears to be a modification of Ren's Mystic Elves. Kind of bishie... but what the hell.

Get it going, all my mods' scripts set up, and play a bit. Look through the character sheet to check my progress on getting a Sneak point, and I notice something off. My sneak skill is 55. In the tutorial.

Got to looking, and the race has severe bonuses to seven skills. Playing as the Xeo race is essentially getting a second set of class skills for free.

I took Sneak as a class skill, and the Thief as my birthsign; and when I stepped out onto the island as a full-fledged level one, my sneak skill was 80.

EIGHTY. Without changing it in the console. The other overpowered bonuses were to destruction (55 as a class skill), blade (75 as a non-class skill), block, restoration (55 as a non-class skill), conjuration (55 as a class skill), and marksman (55 as a class skill).

As well, "Xeos" get a greater power that grants fifty percent shield for sixty seconds; in addition to full time fifty percent resistance to magicka, and twenty-five percent resistance to fire. Or the other way around... I was running on two hours' sleep at the time. I know one is 25% and the other 50%.

Now, look, I'm all for racial skill adjustments -- even resistances. Five points here, minus five there; it adds an incentive to play a particular race beyond the strictly aesthetic. Makes them feel different. Nords stand up to cold, Bretons make better mages; it's all an added bit of depth.

This shit, though, is on the same level as the douchebags who make nuclear minguns for Fallout 3 -- it's cheat-gaming, plain and simple. Doing it in the CS does not make it any less of a cheat than if you do it in the console.

Jeez, and I thought the Horkew were bad (they have Hunter's Sight and resistance to normal weapons -- vampire abilities without the need for blood or sun damage).

24 comments:

  1. Reminds me vaguely of a Nexus forum thread I started recently...

    But I totally empathize; I can't remember the last time I played a straight vanilla version of a game. Most of the time the mods aren't created by me, but I'm always adding extra content of some sort from one source or another. And if they're not actual gameplay additions then they're some sort of OpenGL add-on or something to play older games with better graphics or widescreen resolutions. But one way or another, I'm always tinkering and adding something.

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  2. Interesting that you would mention starting up a new Oblivion game. I started a new character in that last night. I passed over both the Xeo and the Horkew. Those racial bonuses you mentioned are crazy! I am all for a bit of "powering up", but those numbers are to high. Especially without some sort of penalties to balance them out. I doubt you could balance them out without crippling a stat/skill or two.

    Gaining that kind of character adjustment would be better through a series of items, possibly not all of which would work together. Even then, they would be higher level items for the bonuses they deliver.

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  3. "I passed over both the Xeo and the Horkew. Those racial bonuses you mentioned are crazy!"

    What gets me about it is there's no warning, at least in the versions of the mods I have. There's some moonrunes in the race description box, but no numbers to refer to the skill buffs.

    I mostly just cycle through the races, looking for one I like the looks of at the time, and create a character from it.

    Picked Xeo because I wanted a male, but something more androgynous and easy-on-the-eyes; which lop-eared Mystic Elves generally are, even in man-form.

    The Horkew bit didn't bother me as much -- their buffs aren't any worse than default Argonian (water breathing, poison and disease immune) or Khajiit (night vision, buffs to agility).

    The massive skill buffs to Xeo are absurd, though. That's nothing more than someone wanting a super character but not having the stones to just make cheat items and drop them in a chest someplace.

    I'm tempted to throw together a plugin that strips the cheaterbuffs off the MBP and X117 races.

    Also: it would be really nice if Google would stop fucking logging me out at random.

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  4. Oh, and "And if they're not actual gameplay additions then they're some sort of OpenGL add-on or something to play older games with better graphics or widescreen resolutions." reminds me.

    Hey Herculine, you know how I was bitching before about my Oblivion being almost unplayable it was so modded down?

    I pulled about twenty errant esp files (stuff I didn't ever play with), switched off ImpeREAL, and it got playable again. Played for like three straight hours before it got slow. I think I'm also going to axe that better water plugin, and see if that helps, too.

    It's eternally amazing to me how much performance you lose in these games from having unactivated mod plugins in your data directory. One of these days I'm going to have to move all my working version plugins for FNV to a backup directory and see if that improves its performance any...

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  5. I've never understood how inactive mods have any effect on the game either, or why each of these games has a mod limit to begin with. I suppose it's some limitation in the game executable that I'd have to be a Bethesda programmer to fully understand. I can only guess at how their minds work.

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  6. It was explained to me once that even if it's inactive, the game still reads and checks every file in the data directory (EVERY. FILE. Text and images included). So apparently while they don't show up in game, they're still being processed just like any active mod.

    As to why that would be... I don't know. I figure I've got a better chance of spontaneously realizing the truths of the ten lights of the sephiroth than I do figuring out what in the holy hell was going through the heads of the guys who coded Gamebryo.

    I mean, at least the occult makes sense if you stand on one foot and look at the answers reflected in an upside down mirror.

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  7. I heard about the game reading every file in the directory as well. Irritating, but what can you do? I also seem to have noticed that FO3's mod limit appears lower than Oblivion's, and the one for New Vegas is lower than FO3's. If that is correct, that is rather strange, as it is all the same engine, so I'm lost as to why that is happening.

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  8. It's probably for cross platform compatibility. Everything in the data folder could be a necessary file, regardless of its name. You can't assume that valid Windows file names will be valid on a PS2 after all.

    Of course, why the engine doesn't just ignore unneeded files is another question. Personally, I suspect either laziness, cheapness, or don't-give-a-damness...

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  9. "Of course, why the engine doesn't just ignore unneeded files is another question. Personally, I suspect either laziness, cheapness, or don't-give-a-damness... "

    I still vote base incompetence; but I've been modding Gamebryo long enough that I have no sympathy for those people whatsoever.

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  10. "I also seem to have noticed that FO3's mod limit appears lower than Oblivion's, and the one for New Vegas is lower than FO3's. If that is correct, that is rather strange, as it is all the same engine, so I'm lost as to why that is happening. "

    Back in October '09 when I was trying to get rid of the myriad companion problems for RR in FO3, I noticed that the more complex a script was, the fewer companions you could run on it before problems began to manifest; and conversely, the more simple a script, the more actors it could be used by with (at least relative) impunity.

    I theorized at the time that the engine was getting "overloaded" -- that there was a saturation point where the AI couldn't handle any more data at once, and the erratic behavior and general reliability problems started.

    I got out around this by setting each actor to use a unique and independent script; this seemed to get them operating on "different channels" as it were, and you know how well that ended up working out.

    That said, the testing I and a couple other people were doing got fairly hardcore, and we did eventually hit another ceiling, where even on unique scripts the actors had problems with their AI again. The issue, again, seemed to revolve around how much data the AI section of the engine had to process.

    Now, roll with me on this.

    Each iteration of the engine has been more complex than the last -- more script functions, more package options, more graphical niceties, more combat style functions; just plain more complex all around.

    As it gets more complex, the engine has more to process; as it has more to process, the amount of outside info it can process effectively -- the number of plugins it can run, the number of outside textures it can handle, whatever, all goes down. The total processing limit is the same, but since the engine itself is using more, the amount we can add goes down compared to earlier iterations.

    It's like... running new versions of Windows, but keeping your old RAM. Yeah, you have the same amount overall; but the OS itself is using more, leaving less for your secondary programs to use, so performance on the whole goes down.

    Of course, I can't prove it. It's just a theory, based on years of observation, and a mind that puts things together oddly sometimes...

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  11. Your theory makes sense to me. Giving any system, especially digital and electrical/electronic, new built in or improved functions without upgrading the system's infrastructure will put a strain on said system, curtailing the use of additional plug-ins (hardware or software).

    Writing this made me think of another analogy. I remember back in the late '80's and early '90's, lots of people where putting big, powerful stereo systems in their cars and trucks. A number of the vehicles I knew of were averaging 5 to 10 years old and the charging systems couldn't properly handle the extra load required for the amplifiers and speakers. Blown fuses, fried wiring and alternators and dead batteries tended to be quite common for people that just didn't fully comprehend what they were doing.

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  12. LOL

    Druuler, you just reminded me of all the people I've seen putting those high-powered stereo systems in cars that have been half-devoured by rust. It might sound awesome if you're sitting inside the vehicle with the volume and amp maxed, but to folks on the sidewalk it just sounds like a noisy mass of rattling rusted junk rolling by. I never really had the heart to tell those guys they look like idiots.

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  13. "I never really had the heart to tell those guys they look like idiots."

    Hey, you're a girl. Aren't you supposed to take great sadistic delight in letting men know that they'll never get laid with a crappy car like that?

    I mean, not that they would with you anyhow; but it's still an opportunity to crush someone's hopes and/or dreams.

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  14. Had a few rough relationships in the past, have we?

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  15. Me?

    Bitter about past relationships?

    Never. I have no idea what you're talking about.

    I'm all sunshine and buttercups, you know that.

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  16. "I'm all sunshine and buttercups, you know that"

    I hate to tell you my friend, but you're not very convincing at the moment :P

    @Herculine: Yes, a lot of those stereo systems are worth more than the cars they are put in. And a lot of the time you can hear the sound to the trunk lid vibrating with the sub-woofer because no one thought to do something about the possibility of the sheet metal vibrating against the frame of the trunk lid.

    To me, the "music" sounded bad enough, but hearing that extra buzzing drove me crazy(er). And since we share a similar taste in music, you can imagine how irritating it was for me to hear... >.<

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  17. Err, "sound of", not "sound on"...

    Need more caffeine XD

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  18. You're just jealous 'cause you're not as cheery and life affirming as I am...

    FUCKTHEWORLDIWANTTOSEEITBURRRRN

    *ahem*

    Damned allergies, making me cough like that...

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  19. Actually I'm jealous of Druuler; he seems to be the one who's all sunshine and rainbows lately. New computer, successful screenshot comic, all his fans love him...

    ...I think my throne as monarch of the positive attitude has finally been usurped...

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  20. "...I think my throne as monarch of the positive attitude has finally been usurped..."

    I still blame Doomworld. It has sucked the life and joy of modding right out of you.

    The bastards.

    Well, that and that whole "employed again" thing. Spending your days working is a sure way to make you hate the world again.

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  21. It's not the employment in itself that's at fault; I enjoy having at least a minor income again (it's still kinda part-time); what really tramples my spirit is having to listen to Top-40 radio all day. In an 8-hour shift all the most annoying songs you can name are repeated at least twice; that in itself is enough to make a person want to jump off a cliff.

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  22. You'll get no arguments from me. I haven't willingly listened to FM radio in something like five years.

    I swear, if I ever have to sit through that damned "Romeo and Juliet" song again...

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  23. @Herculine: Your throne is safe as long as you don't abdicate it. I'm not as happy and positive as you might think. Despite what you see in my posts and e-mails, I've been more on the miserable side of things over the last little while. Things for me are not really going well.

    On a more positive note, I am happy to hear you have acquired some form of employment, as an income is good.

    I can understand having to listen to the radio all day being nerve wracking. I'm not inclined to consider that stuff music myself.

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