Wednesday, March 28, 2012


And while I was looking through my files, I happened to glance at the screenshots uploaded to the Nos' RR Companions file.

I hadn't checked that file in a good six months, and apparently I really can't take my eyes off you people for more than a week or two.

Seems Vancleef uploaded a screenshot of Katie in an outfit that's got some nipple-slip going on. I'm not going to go on a tear about someone dressing up my companions -- if I was worried about that I wouldn't have uploaded them -- but I'm pretty sure explicit nudity is a violation of the Nexus ToS for images for quite awhile now. I must not have noticed it before because the old site code didn't show user-uploaded images on the front page of the file entry like it does now.

So that has to go away. And now I've got to check all the other files, too...

FO3 Nexus Upgrade

Heads-up: there's been a code upgrade to the FO3 Nexus. I was checking over RR the other morning, and the comments thread wasn't attached to the file anymore. Hit my files listing and almost half of them had the same problem. I've filed a bug report, so hopefully they'll be back soon.

If you have any files on the FO3 Nexus, you might want to check it out and make sure everything is still as it should be.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yet More on Skyrim Companions

Bored out of my skull this morning; already read all the way through the /tg/ thread on great game stories (the yandere wood elf was almost worthy of a post here by itself...) and now forced to move on to other entertainments.

The NosCo Weapons sales office is driving me up the goddamned wall with framerate issues that don't want to fix (roombound problems) so I've been tinkering with Skyrim again.

Came across some interesting information this morning. Whilst bumming around the SuCK's official guide looking for the console command I know exists but can't remember to make Aela hire-able before getting to the end of the Companions' questline, I happened across this page: Creating a Companion.

I had wondered idly when toying with them before if I couldn't find any custom stuffs in most downloaded companions because there wasn't any to find -- that Skyrim really was as simple as it looked, and to create a companion all you had to do was add the required factions to an NPC and put them in the world.

According to that page? Yeah, it's that easy. Now, this, needless to say, does not carry with it the array of custom features a true "companion system" like I prefer to use carries... but nonetheless... is a companion system really necessary for Skyrim?

By default, NPCs can use various apparatuses; follow; stay; mule... weapon and armor conditions have been removed, so repairing isn't necessary (or even possible) anymore.

Short of class-changing or such... what else is there to do with a companion system? I mean, really?

Combat styles, follow distances -- all that can be handled via outside plugins without any centralized "system".

The principal complaint left would seem to be that you only get one at a time. Still, though; that can be handled with a standalone plugin, and changed across the whole game -- vanilla followers included.

Well, not by the mod I downloaded to try it. That one did the exact opposite, and made it impossible to get anyone to follow you. Some minor "bug", eh? Still, I must assume others work worth half a shit...


For all the talk of it by me and others, it would seem the "companion system" as we know it is superfluous in Skyrim.

I am officially obsolete. Cheering thought, that. Not like I was ever central to the mod scene in previous games, but it's still a bit depressing.

So, while I won't forgive Bethsoft their shoddy coding in general; nor their perpetual hardon for limiting followers to one at any given time... maybe they didn't screw companion-makers over as badly as I thought, this time around.

Vanilla followers still don't actually follow for shit, though.

Monday, March 12, 2012

NosCo NV Weapons Collection, Upcoming

I mentioned in my last post I got a fair bit of work in lately on the NosCo NV Weapons Collection.

I found myself wanting to get a few of the weapons into my game awhile back, but I don't like those gimme "test containers" for anything other than... well, tests.

So, I set about creating the sales office.

It... kind of got away from me.

I mean to create a simple store; much like most others in the game.

What I ended up with was a three-level complex, kept open 24/7 by a staff of ten NPCs.

Top floor is living quarters; ground floor is the sales office; and the bottom floor is storage and work-rooms.

I'm still refining... and the lighting definitely needs work (I don't think I've ever managed to get a cell lit correctly on the first try); but some of it is decent enough to show off.

Like any good retail outlet, the NosCo Weapons Division sets up displays:

Weapons are displayed not only on the two islands, but along the counter behind which the weapon vendors work; as well as on window displays. Ammunition and miscellanea are displayed on their sales counters.

Ammo and miscellaneous goods are steal-able, but weapons are all simple statics that can not be taken. I did this for two reasons: 1) it makes the havok behavior much less annoying in the cell, and 2) I like screwing with people.

While steal-able, I would not personally recommend trying to swipe anything off the counters, since there is a minimum of one guard stationed in the sales room at all times -- a second patrols the entire complex, and may or may not be in the sales room at any given time.

The four of you who downloaded the alpha release of the mod may recall that it automatically activated all Caliber ammo types that the mod uses -- which is pretty much all of them. In the interests of keeping vendor and loot lists less cluttered with crap you won't use, I've disabled that script and replaced it with a terminal that you see above. The terminal allows you to activate only the ammo types that you intend to use -- or the ones that you want to be able to loot/buy, at least.

You can also see the sniper rifle window display there behind Natasha.

A new feature that the store has that I haven't seen in another mod before (though I'm sure someone has made before) is a working Nuka Cola machine. I don't mean loot-able; I mean working.

When activated, you get a buy interface:

The final version will have a cancel option to get out of the menu without purchasing; I just didn't add one because I remembered menus I had created before getting one automatically. Apparently not.

On selection, the caps are taken from you automatically, and the bottle of your choice added in their place. Prices are full value; you get no barter bonus. It's a vending machine -- be prepared to pay for the convenience. On the up side, it's also an endless supplier if you have need of a ton of them for whatever reason.

Should you attempt purchase without at least twenty caps in your inventory to cover a basic Nuka Cola...

Yes, I'm an asshole. No news there.

Sadly, large portions of the complex aren't fit to show off, owing to the poorly balanced lighting; but here's some of the living area upstairs:

These were taken after 2200; when the lights are scripted to go out upstairs. Unfortunately, the game really, really doesn't like that script; so it's going to have to go. I suppose they'll just have to live with it being lit all the time.

Stupid game, always stifling my genius...

Opposite that dining table is a full kitchen suite, including a booze-bar with a set of beer taps. I may not drink anymore, but I still know how to keep minions loyal.

There are also bathrooms on the top floor, and in the basement; the one upstairs has full bathing facilities.

Items will be sold by six merchants; two each for ammo, reloading components, and weapons -- one of the two on-duty in the sales room at any given time. There are four guards; two who patrol, and two who sit static in the sales room -- again, one of the two on duty at any given time.

NPCs off duty will live; eat, sleep, use idle markers, use furniture, work in the work room, even sweep the floor.

Crimes are set to be tracked and reacted to by the guards; and all sales staff are armed, to boot. No bullshit level 100 guards; but they're nonetheless well armed and wearing solid armor. They will also be receiving variants of my special combat styles. It's possible to knock the place over, and loot it... but I don't think it would be worth the bloodbath -- seeing as most of the "ammo cans" are static and not activate-able.

Reloading benches, and work benches down in the basement are usable by the player. The complex can be wandered freely; just don't get caught taking anything.

I've also rebalanced some optic powers. The closer range variants of the Marksman Carbine (458 SOCOM, most pistol calibers) have gotten a reduction in magnification. I'm shooting for about 1.5x - 2x; to make for fast shooting accuracy on close-in targets that may be moving.

Also: as of this time, none of the NosCo weapons are moddable; and the Gunfighter series does not have their swappable cylinder scripts in place, yet. I wanted to get the store up and running before delving into finer details like that.

The NosCo Weapons Division sales office is located near New Vegas; due south of the eastern entrance to the Crimson Caravan compound. There will be a map marker.

With the normal map issue worked out for the NosCo Super Blackhawk, I'm toying with the idea of adding it to the mod and using it as the basis for the Gunfighter series; rather than that shoddy looking base-game 357 revolver. It also appears that Ranger Sequoia does not use a scope judging by the statics I was looking at earlier. If that is the case, I'd like to retexture it, and use it as the basis for the bigger hunting revolvers in the mod; since I personally don't like scoped handguns.

It Still SuCKs...

Ended up drifting back towards the RR Companions Vault, and within a day had remembered why I quit supporting it in the first place. Of the "issues", one was a feature that had nothing to do with me, was not written by me, and I had no idea how worked; and the other was someone flat too lazy to read the fucking manual I wasted thirteen hours writing.

Needless to say, this killed my urge to mod for the public quite soundly. Then someone else came along and announced that it would be a better mod if the companions were all voiced. Gee, never heard that one before...

I did resist the urge to make with the snarky reply though. Don't get me wrong, I can manage it in such a way that the moderators wouldn't have anything to use against me... I just feel like it would be opening a can of worms, and I don't need another ulcer at this point.

Anyway. I tabled the NosCo Weapons Collection beta I had been working on and getting ready for release; and turned my attention towards Skyrim... 'cause hey, I was that bored, and I had a couple of ideas I wanted to test.

I have to say, it's a mess. A mess so grand in both visage and scale that if the Greeks of classical history still existed? They would write epic poems about their heroes triumphing over the game's laughable "toolset".

Worked in the SuCK about six, maybe eight hours. In that time, it crashed three times, corrupted my plugin once, hard-locked my PC once, and handed out more errors than even the Oblivion CS could manage on its best day.

It's truly amazing. There's so much... that just doesn't work. And no patches in sight; proving once again that Bethsoft hates modders.

The way companions work is apparently as much voodoo as anything now; as the scripting I'm used to using has been removed from the engine for reasons known only to a couple devs and the Dark Lords themselves.

Anyone who's cracked open one of my companion mods will note that I belong to what I call the "CM school" of companion creation. I use a technique pioneered by Blackie and the Cutthroat crew some years ago for Oblivion.

Whereas Bethsoft companions are created with all their packages on them from the start, with conditions set up to only run if a script variable is this or that; my technique involves brute force -- packages are forcibly added and removed from the NPC as needed, insuring that none are ever available for the NPC to use until and unless it's necessary. It's less elegant, but vastly more reliable in my experience.

With the AddScriptPackage and RemoveScriptPackage functions removed from the engine (I do so love getting a big, fat, dev-middle-finger like that), I had little choice but to revert to the way that was deemed proper in FO3/NV; but is now old-school for Skyrim: the pre-added, conditioned packages.

I create my packages; go to put them onto the test companion... and they won't add. No drag and drop, no add via menu option. It flat will not take them. I cruise the forums; no mention of the issue anywhere. Typical. I kept trying, but it actually got worse as I went -- eventually refusing to take even a single package, let alone the entire "stack".

On top of that, there are problems creating custom races; problems adding dialogue; NPCs with edited faces often won't show up in game; even "correctly" created companions are prone to vanishing when you load a save game... The toolset gave me shit about custom armor pieces, textures, factions; virtually everything I did.

It's probably not the most fucked game in history, but wow are they trying hard for the title. I didn't think it could get much worse than the FNV-GECK... but I stand corrected.

I did, however, at least figure out why it kept trying to load a Microsoft image viewer whenever I'd attempt to edit a script externally: it seems that Bethsoft, in their infinite wisdom, selected the file extension .psc for their scripts -- the same extension as an image format used by Paint Shop Pro, I believe it is. My computer was attempting to load the viewer because it thought I was opening an esoteric image file.

And the community!

I'm not going to name names, since I don't want to come down on (what I hope to hell are) new modders... but wow all over again. I grabbed a couple publicly uploaded companion mods to see how they did it... only to find out the uploaded mods were incomplete and didn't work right. Worse, the plugins themselves were loaded with filth -- unintentional edits, deleted references... one of the tested companions was named "(Moddername)CompanionMageCopy0000Copy0000".

...I know I'm a perfectionist, but I would so have to kick my own ass for actually uploading a mod with an NPC named that way...

Did you ever get the feeling, that you're standing on a plateau; a cliff, whatever -- and you're looking down into the valley, and watching the hordes of barbarians advance unstoppably towards you? I know now how Hadrian felt.

Some of these plugins I look through... and I swear I can see the end of computer gaming. Modding, at least.

Even accomplished modders don't seem to be doing well, this time around. I picked up Apachii's (of Oblivion fame) hair pack; and tried to load one of the hairs into my plugin, only to be yelled at by the SuCK for trying to use an "empty tri file". I have no idea whether the tri file was corrupt to begin with, corrupted during download, generated with an old version of the program that didn't play well with the new engine... or if the SuCK was just sucking again. Hell, for all I know the game may not be able to read tri files that aren't packed into BSAs. And to answer your question: no, just ignoring the error did not work; as without a proper tri file the hair appeared six feet or so above the NPC's head.

Another hair pack by a different author had no tri files included at all.

As I said, the forums were even less help than usual. Where weren't impotent complaints about SuCK crashes or lack of documentation, I found petulant complaints; that the "people who know how to create companions are keeping the information to themselves for their own mods".

As if there's some grand conspiracy -- cloaked men in high towers, laughing maniacally...

Yes! Now none of them will be able to create their own followers! Mwahahaha! ...What's that, Steve? No, we shouldn't be taking over the world, instead. This is obviously far more important!

...Actually, now that I mention it, that would be kind of cool; if only to hear the cries of the people who can't create their loli-neko-vampire-child-rapeslave "companions".

So. Until a couple patches come out of the works, it appears Skyrim isn't worth my time to mess with -- and from what I've seen, no companion system we're familiar with will work in it anyway; so even once the SuCK does work half-assedly well, something new is going to have to be designed from the ground up, I fear.

Regardless, spending Saturday in the SuCK sent me right back to the NVGECK. Better the devil you know, I suppose. On the up side, got some cool stuff done for the Mojave arm of NosCo's weapons division; but I think I'll leave that for another post...