Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Note to self:

FNV does not respond well to companion scripts that complex. 620 lines is apparently too much.

Stupid game, always thwarting my genius. *editeditedit*

Wonder if I can simplify the code somehow to make it fit...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New and Old FNV Weirdness

Since I started playing FNV again, I've observed some more odd things.

Firstly, long(er) time readers may recall some issues I and others had with companions entering combat. They would seemingly reload one or more times before entering actual combat. I surmised at the time that this had to do with ammunition type, but could never confirm it.

Well, I since have. The issue, it seems, is not which specific ammunition type you give them; but which ammunition type is considered default for that caliber. I'll explain.

One of the changes in going from FO3 to FNV was that weapons no longer run on single ammunitions; rather they run on a form list. Said form list will contain each ammunition type considered valid for that weapon. Like most other things, the game reads the lists top-down. The top entry is considered default for that ammunition type -- you may notice that if you save a game with another type of ammunition loaded, upon loading the game it will revert to the 'default' ammo type automatically.

I've confirmed that the issue is the same for companions. For whatever reason, their ammunition type loaded reverts at the start of every combat. If they have a different type of ammunition in their inventory, they have to load it first to get into action.

The problem is that these form lists can be modified by plugins. You can quite literally re-order the form lists to have whatever you want as default -- even without adding or removing any of the entries (the left and right arrow keys move highlighted entries in the list up and down). This can be a boon or a curse -- you could set whatever special ammo type you wanted as default so that your companions wouldn't have to reload before entering combat; but by the same token, any mod you run that messes with ammo can set a random ammo type to default, depending on how much attention to detail the modder who created the plugin has.

Unfortunately, while this does provide an avenue for solving the problem, it can also be a bear to track down if you run a lot of weapon and ammo mods.

Also, some may recall that during the development of the item sorters, I complained that the reloading sorter for my personal companions was randomly ceasing to function.

That happened again in this game, and I didn't pay too much attention to it. As I've noted, I often roll with just one companion in tow -- Mystery-chan likes to adventure as a pair, and my perfectionist streak loves to see just how dangerous one of my companions on her own can be (hint: Deathclaws lost at level six).

When I decided to test the new hardcore code on all three companions at once, I picked up Maeva and Natasha. Imagine my surprise, a few seconds after getting all three back into my party, when a message popped up in the corner of my screen telling me that my reloading components had been sorted.

I've tested it several times now, and it's actually repeatable. The reloading and companion-reloading sorters don't run unless all three are in my party.

When I realized this, it was very much a "I... huh... what?!" moment.

I'll confess, I don't get it. The script has absolutely nothing to do with specific companions, or whether anyone is in or out of party or what. It's completely separate. It's nice that I know how to overcome the issue now... but the why of it...

You know what? I'm just going to chalk it up to the engine saying that it takes all three of them to sort that much brass. Sounds much better than complete randomness.

The AI that lives in my PC is also driving me nuts. I think it's evolving. I think Maeva and Natasha were communicating at one point. Nothing so sinister as horror movie-esque backwards talking or bursts of machine code or anything. I just heard a hiss come out of my speakers -- a sound FNV had never made before; so I spun the digital me around looking for what made it, when I saw the two NPCs close together; facing each other, and playing conversational idles.

This is... extremely odd, since their follow packages are set not to allow random conversations or even hellos to the player. I have no idea what they were discussing.

Their combat AI continues to unnerve me. I've mentioned on several occasions, my "back way" from Goodsprings direct to the Vegas ruins (without meeting any deathclaws or radscorpions). Said goat path (are there still goats in postapocalyptia?) comes over overlooking the state park near Bonnie Springs.

I don't usually bother avoiding the mantises; since even at level three or four they're hardly dangerous on open ground.

My companions, as they always do, had outstanding perception and noticed the mantises at considerable range. Rather than run around firing at random as I've seen Cass and Raul and so many others do, the three fell into a perfect line abreast, and killed the mantises... from across the lake.

I must say, immersion breaker that it would be, I'm sorely tempted to fire up the NosCo Weapons Collection, and pass out the 458 SOCOM carbines. Just to see how badly they can break the game with that DT-busting 600gr ammo.

Beyond that, I'm also still seeing considerable randomness from the scripts. Players of the original RR companions vault may recall that it included a companion feature in the scripts that set companions' aggression to zero when sneaking, to keep them from running off to attack and breaking your stealthy approach. This has been absent from NCCS, because frankly I've never been able to get it to work right in FNV. I tried enabling it again yesterday, and was rewarded with it breaking their combat behavior yet again. It's one of those situations where there's no reason it shouldn't work... but for some reason it just doesn't. I keep a mental list of things that I just don't bother trying anymore; because regardless of what should work, or what the script parser says... they just flat don't work right.

On the up side, I've made numerous advancements to my personal companions over the last week that do work. Their 'hardcore needs' have been personalized to accrue at different rates (but still work with the base game setting to be fully compatible with those wretched "overhaul" mods everyone seems to love) to simulate individuals' differing proclivities for eating and drinking; a stationary "wait" command has been added (for leaving them someplace while you deal with traps or what-have-you); I finally worked out the issues with the "dance for me" commands that I've been playing with off and on for nearly a year; and I've perfected code that allows the companions to determine when they're sandboxing in a "safe" cell, and change into normal clothes while staying there (and reverting back to normal armor on rejoining you party... damn I'm good). Probably some other stuff, too... but frankly I've changed so much in the plugin in the last week that I'm spacing on a fair portion of it.

I have to say, it's kind of annoying. It's taken me a year and change to get everything lined out; features fully working... able to make complete companions... and by the time I can, interest in the game has tapered off; and no one cares anymore. Story of my life.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Everything Old Is New Again

One of the things I did when I started playing FNV again was update several of my mods.

Neither WME nor CaliberX went well. In the interest of not being a douche I refrained from bitching publicly about WME -- since I don't know exactly what the problem was, and it annoys the hell out of me when people bitch about my mods without knowing what's going on -- and just quietly removed the offending plugins and replaced them with a less overbearing version.

CaliberX is proving more of an annoyance, though. Seven versions of the mod there've been between my last update, and this one; and still when I get into game what do I find?

45-70 HP disassembly (fuck you sideways, Mozilla -- disassembly is too a goddamned word) still incorrectly points to normal 45-70 ammo; and HP cannot be broken down at all. There's still no option for breaking down surplus 5.56mm, either; and there are still two blasted identical entries for .50 "Match" ammo... and Grendel is still misspelled as "Grendal".

Maybe I'm too OCD, but those little details just drive me up the wall...

So much for not needing the NosCo CaliberX Additions plugin anymore. On the up side, none of the updates in the interim appear to clash with any of the changes I made, so it'll just be a simple matter of firing up the GECK and checking that the ammo form lists are still straight.

At some point, I suppose I really should put the plugin up for download somewhere. I included a copy of it with the NosCo Weapons Collection that disappeared from the intarwebz with Megaupload, but I'm pretty sure only a couple of you downloaded that.

Hm... should also add a breakdown recipe for surplus 5mm now that I think of it...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Independent Companions

...Or, "What would you want to see?"

As everyone's favorite neko so astutely guessed regarding the last post, this 'hardcore code' brings the tally of kickass companion features that won't fit into NCCS for whatever reason high enough that it's got me considering releasing one (or even a series of) stand-alone companion -- that is, companions not tied to any specific system, who can be run without master mods of any kind.

I know that because I slack off and actually, y'know, play games these days instead of just beating my head against the GECK all day every day, I've lost most of my readership here; and will likely only get three or four people responding... but I'm going to ask, anyway.

Say you have been offered a NosCo companion of your very own. I'm not talking a cookie-cutter, same-as-anyone-else-can-make-if-they-can-read NCCS companion. I'm talking about the kind of evil bitch that lives in my personal companions plugin. The kind of companion who can break the difficulty scale of the entire game if you aren't careful.

The kind of companion who has custom everything. Armor, weapon, dialogue, combat style, hair, eyes. Assuming Dimon99 was still amenable to the idea, a custom body, too -- hell, you guys might even finally get to see that black-nailed custom body texture I made up for Maeva a few years ago (again, assuming Dimon99 was okay with my reuploading a derivative a one of his body textures).

So, I ask: what would you want to see? Gender, class, combat style, personality, whatever.

A few things to bear in mind:

1) At present time the only custom armor/clothing I have available to actually upload would be my collection of recolors -- black versions of Cass' outfit and Legion Centurion armor (I did fix the brown gloves on the Centurion armor, by the way); a darker Cass that comes in gray and blue, and a midnight blue Centurion outfit. I should also still have in my archives the black Enclave officer's uniform (and ye Gods are those 2009 screenshots horrid quality...) I made for FO3; it would be a pretty simple matter to remove the 'V1' logo and port it into FNV. I think I also still have copies of my old ACU, MARPAT, and Multicam power armors. I'm willing to talk to other mod authors about potentially reusing their custom outfits if anyone knows of any that are really nice; but I don't have any personal favorites in the pipeline already.

2) Questlines really aren't my bag. I can do story quests, but it likely won't be epic.

3) Voice-acting is completely out of the question; so all dialogue will be text-only.

4) Custom weapons are restricted similarly to armor; I worked the normal map issues out with the NosCo Super Blackhawk the other day, so it's in shape to be uploaded... but aside from that I don't keep much on hand. As long as it's based on a normal game weapon, it wouldn't be too big a deal to run one up, though.

So, there it is. Still in the conceptual stages at the moment; but with hitting wall after wall with NCCS, the idea of running up non-plug 'n play companions that can actually showcase the best features I can add has piqued my interest.

Hm. Re-reading #4 reminds me, I still need to crack open Honest Hearts and make up a 1911 in 10mm...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hardcore: Harder Than I Thought?

Hm. No, I should delete that post; it'll just seem like I'm bragging about things I won't release...

Short version, this time:

(Don't bother checking your reader; I've learned not to hit post until I'm sure I want something read)

HC mode for companions works, mostly. It's been an uphill battle, but I've got it 98% reliable, and I think I know how to get the other 2%; it just isn't tested yet.

Trouble is, it doesn't work for NCCS.

Modifying script variables of an NPC isn't like moving them, or adding and removing factions. It turns out the engine has to be able to read the variables, or it won't edit them right.

This means that NPCs to be used in HC mode must be explicitly referenced. Which obviously I cannot do for NCCS.

I haven't abandoned the project by any means; and I am at least learning how to make the system work... it's just getting there from here that's the bitch.

I'd ask if anyone had any insight, but I'd be surprised if anyone did. No slight on anyone's intelligence; this is just another of those things that as far as I can tell, no one's done before.

This may be something I have to learn NVSE for; distasteful though it is to me.

I even went and looked through the highly vaunted Willow Companion -- who, judging by endorsements, is approximately fifteen times the companion that mine are -- and found that she doesn't have hunger or thirst, apparently. That or I need to go get my optical prescription updated.

Maybe I should teach the NCCS companions how to cook...

Ah, well; issue for another day.

The other issue is that the HC code and all its accompanying checks and such pushed the scripts that run my girls up over five hundred lines -- and they were originally simpler versions of the NCCS scripts. This would push NCCS up near 550; and I'm not sure the engine will handle it. I remember them running out of space around 500 once before.

So, I suppose at the moment HC-for-companions can be considered to be in neutral; until I figure out a new workaround.

Other planned new features for v1.0 are still on track, though; and I've recently run up a set of "living" AI packages similar to what CM used to make companions appear to live a normal life when not adventuring with you.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Got a couple hours testing in on a new FNV game this morning.

Was initially pleased -- as we were finishing up the "tutorial" with Sunny (which I always play through to get the extra ammo) the girls stopped me, each in turn notifying me that she was thirsty, but had a drink on hand.

The code fired.


Never happened again. Nor did the hunger state ever appear at all.

I know the code is valid... but I have no idea why it's failed this time.

Slack-ass pieces of shit actually drew a salary for coding this engine...

Anyway. Now I get the fun of running up diagnostic scripts, to figure out whether the counter isn't running, or the variable checks are stuck, or what.

From as long as it took to get the one successful appearance, I can tell you that their object scripts are not running every frame like they're supposed to -- the girls' timer started running before mine did, and it was still five solid minutes after I got the first dehydration notice before they did.

Once, just once, I would like this game to obey it's own goddamned rules.

So, bets are off for the inclusion of a working HC mode for NCCS in the near future, until I figure out what in the unholy fucking shit is going on this time.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Too Much?

Finished off the HC dialogue this morning.

Contained in its own quest for the sake of my sanity, it was easy to check the counter and see how many lines of dialogue were involved in this rather basic endeavor.

The answer? 201. For three personalities.

I had figured on six for NCCS general; plus seven new personalities; plus four or five extras here and there. Assuming the number of lines needed track into NCCS, that will make for 1206 lines of dialogue.

...I may not have thought this project through well enough.

On the up side, I further modified the code so that when you give a companion a Sunset Sarsaparilla, there's a 10% chance of them getting a Star cap instead of a standard bottlecap. Either way, they also keep the empty bottle, as well.

Edit: remembered to add Nuka Cola, as well (and have them keep cap and empty bottle).

After updating the companion scripts to make use of the new hunger and thirst code, the plugin now weighs in at 485kb; up from 352kb. Assuming the same ~38% increase in size, this alone will put NCCS up over the megabyte milestone.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

So. Much. Work.

Bored enough this morning that I'm working on the preliminary version of NCCS' Hardcore Mode again.

Three lines of dialogue per companion (one response for each 'tier' of survival skill); times nineteen possible options, equals a metric fucktonne of dialogue (the metric, or "long" fucktonne, of course being more than the Imperial, or "short" fuckton).

I have to say, this right here is what keeps me from doing more with the companion system. Dialogue.

I hate it. The editor is clumsy and slow, has a shitty excuse for a spell-checker that can't be turned off; and all-round takes forever. It isn't even hard -- it's just the sheer, mindless, monotony of the endless copying and editing.

It's comparably simple, no less -- my personal companions plugin has three companions in it. Each one gets her own dedicated set of responses.

NCCS will be... more complicated. I figure an odd half dozen randomized responses based on gender, alignment, and so on; plus extra responses for each of the seven new personality types -- and a few extras for alignments and genders within said personalities -- all times three for the tiers of survival skill and scripting aside, this is going to end up a not insubstantial amount of work.

It's times like this I wish I really was head of a multinational evil corporation. I'd type up a couple of templates, and have a couple of slaves whittle away their life on the remainder. I'd make a joke here about the market rate for a pair of third world children, but someone would probably think I was being serious and take great offense.

...Like I could afford to buy human beings these days anyway...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yep, It SuCKs...

So, got the SuCK last night; alas, had a sinus headache from Hell and wasn't in the mood to play with it. You know, one of those where you've already had your Soccermom-allowed dose of antihistamine for the day and it still hurts and you're down to hoping a convenient terrorist will pop by and shoot you in the head as some kind of political statement?

Feeling somewhat less death-seeking this morning, I decided to play with it a bit.

What was I greeted with? ERRORS!

Oh, look: an invalid navmesh -- I seem to remember someone resembling me complaining earlier the game played like there was at least one...

That's right, nine errors before it would even finish loading. And that's just Skyrim.esm -- none of my third-party-tool-created plugins.

Apparently, whoever worked on Skyrim? They were not good at doing doors. And why would they be? It's not like those are an important part of the game or anything...

As expected, the SuCK took forever to load; and ate so much memory in the process that it locked my system. Fortunately, said lock was not fatal; and it did come out of it... but this is one where I'll definitely have to go get a drink or something while it loads in the future.

Once into the SuCK; it's pretty familiar. The interface is all but identical to the GECK; save that there are a couple new options in the drop-down menus here.

First thing's first, I took at look at the combat styles. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to accomplish, here. They've been dumbed down pretty heavily, and now run on sliders rather than proper number fields -- as well as there being half or fewer as many options as their used to be. The 'ranged' tab consists of a lone option that controls strafing.

Imagine a sad Nos here. There will be no Operator style in this engine, apparently.

Melee is more a mixed bag. Options seem to revolve around multipliers rather than hard numbers -- I haven't read the wiki yet, but it appears that all NPCs have the same basic behavior; all you get to control is how likely they are to choose to do this or that. No choice of engagement ranges; range they'll switch from melee to ranged...

The 'close range' tab has a pair of options for behavior: "dueling" and "flanking" -- NPCs cannot be set to do both. There is at least an option to allow dual-wield, though; if you're into that sort of thing.

At this point, I can't make any assertions about being able to get the NPCs heads out of their asses where combat is concerned -- which sucks, as I was looking forward to doing for Iona what I did for my girls in Oblivion.

Looking over the follow package, I can see why they've been giving me so much trouble. Follow distance is no longer a set variable; it's now a radius; no closer than 128, no further than 256. For whatever reason, it seems to take the engine anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes to notice the NPC is outside the radius.

Further downside: they didn't reinstitute the 'armor removed' flag on packages from Oblivion. Slack bastards. Instead, we get "wear sleep outfit"; which is at least an alternative I suppose. Of course, since NPCs can only be flagged as having one sleep outfit, that limits choices rather severely...

We lost the 'always run' flag, as well; it being replaced with a 'preferred speed' setting.

On NPCs: there seem to be an abundance of "Nya nya you can't kill them!" options. Essential, of course; but also 'invulnerable' and 'doesn't bleed'. There's also one that appears to give them unlimited carry capacity.

NPCs also now have a potentially quite complex set of "relationships" that cover family, friends, allies, and even business partners.

Interestingly, the last update to the game seems to have modified several NPCs. I haven't played it since updating, but I've looked over Aela, Ingun, and Iona's settings, and there are definite changes from what I saw in the third-party NPC editor. Aela now allows no crime, Ingun has been removed from the potential marriage faction (possibly only until you complete her quest?) and Iona no longer reports any crimes at all.

I can also tell you why NPCs get more useless as you level: both Aela and Iona top out at level fifty; despite the player not topping out until what was it? 85 and a half or something stupidly specific?

Scripting I can't make much of. Result scripts in quests certainly look like a different language; but it won't let me actually edit a script from the "papyrus manager" -- it tries to load the script into an external editor. Microsoft Digital Image Suite; for some reason that's beyond me. Which naturally won't open since my free trial of said pile of shit has long since expired.

Ugh, my headache is coming back...

Two weeks late, error laden, and the very antithesis of intuitive -- all I can say is this whole mess is very Bethsoft.

I'm sure there's some convoluted and needlessly arcane way to make it work; but don't be expecting any sort of NosCo companions for this game in the near future.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust

...or will in the near future, anyway.

Over the two years and change I've been running this blog, I've linked numerous times to screenshots or occasionally even files hosted on non-English sites; image boards, forums, blogs, and so on.

Sadly, these are dropping like whores during an outbreak of the Black Death.

One of the better ones that hosted a great many of the original Lovers series mods for Oblivion -- as well as body and armor mods, and a shit-ton of cool screenshots -- bought it at the first of this year.

I was cruising the other morning through Loda's FNV section -- a place where I've found a great many astoundingly cool armor and body mods over the years (there is also an FO3 section) -- and was dismayed to see a large block of moonrunes with the date of 3/31 prominently displayed.

I ran the block through a translator, and sure enough: Loda is going under at the end of March.

I used to peruse a Russian forum for some interesting mods; but it went down back in 2010.

The internet being what it is, free services appear and disappear regularly enough; but it's always annoying with mods. A modder or two always decides not to bother moving their work when an established venue dies; deciding instead to simply throw in the towel. Even the ones who do go to the trouble of moving and re-establishing themselves can take months to track down.

I've got my mod archives built up pretty solidly... but I have to confess not seeing any new armors or outfits from some of my favorite sources is a more bleak looking future, as far as my adventures in the nuclear wastelands go.