Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Danger of Doing Your Job Too Well...

So, as mentioned before, I'm playing FNV again since the new patch.

I'm fifteen hours and change in, and while the experience is improved; it is not perfect by any stretch. The memory leak is less prevalent, but absolutely still there. Crashes still occasionally happen on NPCs equipping new clothing/items (a pair of sunglasses, in this case). No quest-related issues thus far, at least. The Cowboy Repeater is still a piece of shit that can't hit the broad side of a barn from inside with the doors closed. The Trail Carbine loaded with SWC handloads is the hand of an angry God. Powder Gangers still die in the most amusing fashion when you hit them with an incendiary round from the AMR.

I also discovered a route that allows you to get to New Vegas from Goodsprings in a northerly fashion without running into a single Deathclaw (suck it, Obsidian! It took eight months, but I finally found a way around your damned railroading without using the console or a cheat mod...). Not to say the going is easy -- you still have to deal with El Cazadores, but I find companions with subguns work wonders on those; as well as giant mantises (mantii?) and fire geckos if you aren't careful. Many enemies can be snuck (fuck you, Firefox, snuck is too a word -- agrees with me) past, and the few that can't can be handled by lower level parties. Could it be soloed? That would be dicey... but possible if you were extremely careful, and stripped Goodsprings bare for supplies before trying it.

As I also said before, this game is in Hardcore mode. I really don't like the way the water need propagates. You literally can not sleep a complete night through in the game without dying of dehydration. Now, granted, I wake up thirsty some mornings... but death by dehydration in eight hours? Lazy play-testing, guys. The only way to sleep through a night is to do it two hours at a time; pop a couple bottles of water, and sleep two more. Rinse, repeat, until daylight; eating as well every couple of repetitions. It's nice that your character has the need for food, water, and sleep; but a bit of realism would be nice. I realize only needing a couple bottles of water a day (the bottle meshes in-game look like they're each the best part of a liter) wouldn't require you to constantly be worried about it; so I guess someone decided it wasn't "intense" enough or whatever. Am tempted to see if I can't rework those game settings.

I am, however, quite digging the crafting system. So much so that I'm actually going to end up writing a sorting script or two, to help keep the components straight with some special companion containers I've made. I know I flat refused to write sorters for FO3; but that's mainly because the crafting system in FO3 is a joke -- there's no need to sort anything except to satisfy your storage OCD. FNV on the other hand has food, drinks, hides, ammo to reload, weapon repair kits; hell, you can make stimpaks, even. An apothecary shop would be nice, though -- tracking down broc flower and xander root in the four places in the wasteland it grows is getting annoying.

The new companions stuffs I mentioned the other day were a mixed bag. I set up some extra containers for my personal companions, similar to the 'backpacks' in NCCS, or the party containers I made for CM. The main difference here is that they're categorized. Since I had three companions, I made one container specifically for each: reloading supplies, survival supplies, and general. Now, in the course of setting up the containers, I decided to try something I never had before: there's a box on the base container in the GECK, that allows you to specify "weight". Put a number into this, and it updates as a listing of the maximum weight of the container -- suggesting that you can make containers get "full" at a certain poundage. I had thought to use this to give weight limits to the NCCS backpacks without having to go into the frankly complicated method I had already outlined (but not actually implemented yet).

This, unfortunately -- and like so much of the rest of the GECK -- was a lie. Oh, you can set the "weight limit" sure. It just doesn't fucking do anything in game. Put a weight limit of sixty pounds on the container; cram six hundred worth of stuff into it, and the game never complains. Never let me take the easy road on a feature, can you...?

I'm also tempted to flesh out the characters more. As it stands, companions are useful primarily for three things: eye candy, muling loot, killing shit.

I'd like to give them actual skills; and I don't mean just giving you a skill buff like I did in my RR companions. I'm talking about handloading ammunition; cooking or creating other survival skilled-stuff, giving medical aid, of course there's repairing weapons and armor.

What I'm talking about is giving you the ability to create an actual party. A team. Individuals who work together, adding their skills to allow the group to do all sorts of things that one person could not alone. It would considerably ease up skill restrictions on the player (not having to dedicate five levels worth of skill points to repair to be able to load certain ammo, for instance). Might be considered a cheat... but then plenty of people consider companions at all a cheat, so whatever.

The issue is how to implement it. Dialogue-based, obviously; but I mean just how strict on the skills. Limited to companion skill-level; so they'd have to be as high a level as you would normally be to create something? Or just make them fully-capable from the start? The major issue of course will be the sheer amount of scripting required to base everything on the correct components being available in inventory. Lotsa lines 'o code. If you have a specific request/thought on the issue, feel free to chime in with a comment or two.

As for the post title, I wasn't referring to the new patch; or my half-assed successes at inventory management.

I have -- as I always am (it's an ingrained habit at this point, I'm afraid) -- been watching my companions during combat. Even after scaling their abilities back considerably as I have... they're amazing.

I have ED-E in tow -- more so because I like the enhanced sensors perk than because I wanted to do any direct comparisons in performance -- and we cleared out vault 11. ED-E, as usual, stuck close to me until and unless we were directly attacked. My girls? They saddled the fuck up and went room clearing without provocation. Any detection of an enemy was enough to set them off. It was all I could do to get any personal kills in.

Maeva continues to be a holy terror with anything even resembling a shotgun -- she was using a lever action shotgun to take out cazadores from a hundred yards out. I'd love to pick her up a riot gun; but the AMR and a hunting revolver have pretty well eaten our cap reserve (~13,000 for the both).

Later, after taking out Nephi (what's that? A golf club didn't protect you from a .50BMG in the chest?), Cook-Cook, and Violet we were in McCarran looking for that douchenozzle Dhatri so I could sell the heads and hopefully score enough caps to put us over the top for another Gun Runners shopping spree. I made the mistake of exploring, and wandered too close to the tram door; since I had forgotten what it was (not really an NCR player). Rather than warn me, the two guards just attacked out of the blue.

This... was not a bright move.

The guards survived less than ten seconds; I only took a minor wound, and the entire NCR hated us. This suited my companions fine, as they then took the opportunity to go on a murderous rampage and kill everything in the concourse.

They... scare me, sometimes...

You know, they actually attacked the NCR with more zeal than they did the Fiends.

I copped out, I confess; killed the game with plans to restart at the exterior door where I had last saved. I normally let the chips fall where they may; but the entire western half of the wasteland is built around the damned NCR. Making enemies of them kills off a substantial portion of the game; and gets you hounded by the NCR-Super-Saiyan-Ninja-Rangers.

Though I am tempted to start shit again; just to see if my new companion scripts got over their original issue with attacking the rangers. Might make the game more interesting, anyway.

And now, what I'm sure you've all been reading my blather in the hope of getting: screenshots.

Natasha, early game (the outfit she spawned in) in the Goodsprings general store. It's interesting to look closer, and notice that under most lighting; correctly matched FNV bodies and textures don't need a seam-hider necklace.

This would be one of the worst things you can see in the game -- Maeva on overwatch with a shotgun. Those poor geckos didn't last long; and nor did the guy who thought he was a genius for tricking us into clearing the way to the stash.

I also have to say I'm seriously considering moving to Chernobyl. I mean, look at Maeva and Natasha. Living in a post-nuclear wasteland must be great for the abs...

Another Maeva; this one in Vault 11, which was early enough in the game that it was all but impossible to keep her in shotgun shells -- necessitating that she often dropped back to using a 9mm pistol (about the only kind of ammo we did have in abundance; we were all using them off and on). I should also note, this is not a pose-mod -- that's the standard idle animation I have installed. Looks so much better than the base one.

Here we have Mystery-chan; who has taken to wearing Legion armor, as it's the only way to get a skirt, apparently. You can also see where the base armor mesh isn't optimized for her Type 3 body, causing clipping at the collarbone. I leave her with the cowboy repeater since she can actually hit things with it, where I never can.

And of course I had to snap this one when I caught her doing the "SHAFT head-tilt", which is something she frequently does. It's so damned cute.

I've discovered two things since she started wearing that armor. #1) She really does always look better in a skirt.

#2) Apparently the Legion goes commando.

While hunting down Cook-Cook in the Vegas ruins, I had climbed up onto the second floor of a building ruin to take potshots from the windows while still having at least some cover. I was in sneak mode, of course. Looked over, and she was crouching next to me; of course causing the skirt to ride up. I shifted around, wondering idly what kind of underwear they put in the mesh... only to notice there weren't any. Shifted around a bit more trying to get a better look... and I fell off the damned ledge. Much giggling ensued.

What can I say? I am such a guy, sometimes.

Anyway, this has caused a few changes in policy for me. Firstly, I need to go find a Type 3 compatible mesh set for the legion armors to get rid of that clipping. Second, we need to make an expedition into Legion territory to find some higher end outfits of theirs (this is just recruit armor). Third, I need to edit Mystery-chan's clothing list so that she spawns in Legion attire, from now on.


  1. Really what did you make the combat script like for them to be like that?

  2. You fell off the ledge? The price of being a perv I guess, lol!

    It sounds like you have one very scary team with you, and rather blood-thirsty. I'd expect that out of Maeva more than the others, but I'm not as familiar with them as I am Maeva.

    I have to agree that ones needs to handle the NCR properly to be able to make your game as "easy" as possible. I'm having problems tracking Benny to the Fort, since I got a "pardon" from Caesar himself. That seemed to give the NCR a hate-on for me >.<

  3. @Crimson:

    The whole "scripting" bit is actually just a clever cover, you see. In reality, I am a powerful summoner of spirits. My three companions are inhabited by otherworldly entities that I have bound into eternal servitude. I leave some of their attributes showing in the companions as a way of taunting you mundanes. Maeva is a demon, of course; Miss Mystery is a succubus, and Natasha is an animal spirit -- hence her fondness for equippable animal ears and tails.

    ...What's that? You don't believe me?

    Well, fine.

    Truth is I'm not positive what all has happened. My personal companions have had literally hundreds of revisions to their combat behavior and scripts.

    I think it's a combination of aggression, and a vastly more advanced combat style that allows them to operate in a "combat area" two to four times as large as a normal NPC.

    The pisser of it is that I've tried on a couple occasions, and can't replicate the behavior in new companion plugins (see the short-lived Arianrhod companion plugin I created for Nos' Adventures)... so I'm not a hundred percent on what's doing it. For all I know, it really could be spirits...

  4. @Druuler:

    "You fell off the ledge? The price of being a perv I guess, lol!"

    She finds my perversity charming, I'll have you know.

    I don't have a lot of experience with the Legion side of the game. While they're snappy dressers and all, they also speak in mangled Latin and are major misogynists -- neither of which I or my entourage are particularly cool with.

    I've only played all the way through the main quest once, and I did that as a total independent: I shunned both NCR and Legion, usurped House's position as overlord of New Vegas, and then proceeded to murder the NCR and Legion commanders and their retinues.

    (insert maniacal laughter and dramatic lightning bolt for backlighting here)

    On that play-though, I talked Benny into going back to his suite to discuss our disagreement in private, and then shot him in the face. Twice. Taught that fucker how to properly execute someone.

    I am a prolific roamer of the map, though, as I prefer to get my XP from exploring and looting ruins, rather than proper quests. If you're having trouble dodging the NCR to get into Freeside to get to the fort, I'd suggest swinging wide either east or west. NCR control the southerly approach via McCarran and the sharecropper farms, but if you come up on the west side at the foot of the mountains the worst you have to deal with is some errant wildlife and a few Fiends. It also never hurts to have a few NosCo brand companions along with you. Try passing out high damage weapons to them: the AMR, Brush Rifle, Trail Carbine, and Hunting Revolver are murder in the hands of any companion whose combat style was written by me. The Riot Gun works well, too, if you can afford one.

  5. Of course she finds it charming; she's a Succubus! Lol!

    I'm finding that I have issues with both the Legion and the NCR as it sits. I was working with the NCR as the lesser of two evils. Replacing House is something I've been thinking about ever since Yes Man brought up the idea. I'm not inclined to leave that kind of power in anyone's hands but my own.

    Hmm, maybe I should bring Cameron to New Vegas and see what kind of fun I could have then...

  6. Get used to it -- both the NCR and Legion are dicks. Pretty much every faction in the game is, actually.

    Not sure how House treats you if you stay loyal to him, though.

    That's why I want my own compound, out away from the settlements. Someplace with merchants and doctors and guards...

  7. man, if your personal companions are murderous with your custom code, I'd love to see what it would do for my Shoujo Death Squad of DOOM. Running vanilla NCCS a pair of them will just decimate the area.