I've been messing with homes in one form or another since shortly after I got my NV companions up and running. The problem was the three homes I wanted -- a Lucky 38 Tower, a Tenpenny Tower copy in the middle of Lake Mead, and a home on the bottom of Lake Mead -- weren't viable.
Even after reinstalling the game, and multiple reinstalls and updates of the NVGECK, to this day I can't edit or copy the Lucky 38 worldspace. Herculine tested, and could, but for some reason the game just won't let me. Attempts to even edit the existing cells in the worldspace result in instant CTD. Without being able to copy the already-made desert landscape, creating a tower with a view of my own was just impractical, to say the least.
Tenpenny, of course, can be seen for a long ways; and thus has massive plausibility issues if not paired with an updated LOD for the worldspace it's in. Do you have any idea how long it takes to re-generate the entire wasteland LOD? Me either; as the wait was estimated to be over eleven hours... and I didn't want to try it that badly. No, you don't have to include the unchanged parts of the LOD in your mod... but every guide I read said the whole mess had to be regenerated to get the updated one for the area you changed. Beyond that, I could never reconcile the interior and exteriors of the tower -- slack bastards that they are, Bethsoft made the two to completely different scales; and keeping the interior at least moderately believable hampered my interior design too much.
Lastly, there was the underwater house. Users of my FO3 house mod (the 'Remodel' of Vault 1) will probably be aware I have a thing for water views. I had visions of an underwater home with a great glass dome overhead, allowing you to look up into the lake. Sadly, there is no such mesh in the game, I'm not a modeler and so can't make one... and lastly water in Gamebryo doesn't really work that way, so placing it overhead would very likely result in the game deciding the 'dome room' or whatever you want to call it was actually under water; dome or no. Some twisting of the water to change where the game considers the "top" to be might negate that issue... but without a dome to work with I never bothered trying. The only recourse would have been a standard room; just with floor pieces only, and glass installed in place of the ceiling in the room center. I didn't much care for the mental image of how that one looked.
And yeah, I know about the "Underwater Home" on the Nexus. Got excited, looked at it, saw that it was mostly just vault with dim lighting and some sideways-facing glass windows with water outside them... and promptly lost interest. Before anyone cries foul: I'm sure it's a very nice mod and whatever; just not for me.
For over a year I just used the Lucky 38 presidential suite. It wasn't great by a long shot, but it didn't suck, either (not like that pile of crap in Megaton they stuck us with in FO3, at least). The main issue with the Lucky 38 room is how you get it -- you have to advance the main quest; which means either you can't get it until you've gone through Primm, Nipton, Novac, Boulder, and the rest of the southern highway loop... or you can go into the Lucky 38 anyway, but that will advance the main quest, and throw away all the XP from the earlier stages that you'd advance through by following the loop. With three kickass companions in tow and no XP sharing, I tend to get the lion's share of my levelin' points from quests... so throwing that 1500+XP away isn't something I'm keen on most games. There's also the matter that even once inside, the Lucky 38 suite is essentially nothing but window dressing -- there's no water in the tubs, the stove can't be used, there's no reloading bench; and nothing for companions to do but aimlessly wander. This is all, of course, excepting the annoyance of having to deal with Victor to get in or out.
I kept an eye on the various house mods available for download (or at least the ones that were popular enough to bear mention in threads or make a spot on a top files list), but it seems that they all fell into one of two groups: 1) "OK SO LIEK DIS HOUSE HAS A THOUSND OF EVRY ITEM MERCHANT WITH UNLIMITED CAPS AND TELEPORTERS TO EVERY TOWN IN GAEM LOL IM COOL NOW RITE?"; and 2) The almighty lore (hallowed be its pages!) says that everything should be shitty and run down so this house is shitty and run down and only has three containers that start with no items. Also all the water is radioactive because LORE SAID SO FUCK YOU ALL HATERS!
So, it looked like if I wanted it done right...
I sat down and considered my criteria.
I wanted a moderately posh place -- comfy, cozy, lit correctly, and plausible if a tish opulent. No real cheats; god weapons/armors, cases of money (or a safe full of Dead Money gold bars or what-have-you that sold for enough to amount to essentially unlimited money for the entire game), or treasure troves of items.
The location should be in a seldom-modded location for lack of conflicts, and to protect the entrance from any creature/increased spawn mods I may install at a later date -- I do so hate coming out of my home to find a pack of Deathclaws waiting on me. Bonus points for someplace secluded; to lend a bit of believability to the idea that the place hadn't been found and ransacked since the war.
No quest. 99% of them are just plain poorly written, and more an ordeal to be endured as payment for obtaining the house than anything. The vast majority of you who think you're brilliant writers, and your quest "hints" are perfect? Don't quit your day jobs.
Location should be reachable from game start. That isn't to say it should be in Goodsprings; but rather that you shouldn't have to get to level sixteen and assemble a bunch of mid-high grade weapons and armor just to survive the trip.
Needs a map marker; but not enabled to fast travel by default, so the player has to walk there at least once, regardless of what their personal stance on fast traveling being "cheating" is.
Once inside, the interior should be believable. By that, I mean that while it shouldn't be a palace; it should at least be well designed, and laid out and appointed in a manner that suggests the estate would be mostly self-sustaining; IE: able to survive prolonged periods without trading in a town/with a caravan.
Owing to the "hasn't been noticed and ransacked and/or occupied by bandits" reason above, underground is virtually essential... much as it chafes with me personally. As well, after extensive looking around, nearly all of the game's existing exterior building meshes are made of suck and fail. Exteriors that are impossible to reconcile with an interior, random scales, many have no mesh in areas that you're not supposed to be able to see from the ground (roofs and such); and practically all stand out like a sore thumb in the wasteland, be it forest, mountain, or desert.
After more than a week or pondering and layouts in my head, I settled on adapting the plans for an actual house I designed several years ago. The bulk of the living areas -- the "main house" as I call it -- would be situated inside a mountain; for insulation, protection, and hefty camouflage. A secondary area -- the "terrace" -- would be outside on a plateau, overlooking a valley; but ideally in such a location where it would be nigh-impossible for people in the valley to notice it, or climb up and reach it without specialized equipment.
Such a location would be cool in the summer, warm in the winter, extremely difficult to see from a distance, and with mountain paths being generally narrow and broken it would be easy(er, at least) to defend and secure against assault. The one big flaw here in the real world -- aircraft -- isn't an issue in the Mojave of FNV, where surviving aircraft are few and far between; and satellite surveillance all but unheard of.
Wanting to situate it in the mountains cut down on where -- FNV only has mountains at the wasteland edges, and in the northwest quadrant. Since the northwest of the wasteland also had naturally occurring trees, and was fairly readily accessible for myself and my merry band of sadistic redheads (can make it there by the end of day one, with the timescale reduced to a sane setting of four or five); and the area is almost totally free of both raiders and NCR.
Did some scouting, and decided on the large mountain that sits just north of Jacobstown. It had access areas well away from the lodge, was more than big enough to handle the size of the complex I wanted, and with all the trees there would have to be natural, mostly clean below-ground water for a home to tap into.
I had originally intended to have the terrace on the snow-covered plateau overlooking Jacobstown... but as I said, the exterior meshes the game gives us to work with are horrible. All the ones I knew of in FO3 that I had wanted to use have been removed; and the existing exterior meshes -- from various apartment buildings and such -- are either too small, missing a roof mesh, or impossible to work into the mountain without it looking like some jackass used the GECK to shove a fucking apartment building into the rock. So... I modified my design a bit, and decided it would be less of a headache (and easier on my framerates) to just put it all underground. Helped me keep the scale straight, too.
As it was, I ended up placing an access hatch in the dirt next to a tree. Such is the only evidence the estate exists. If not for the map marker, I don't think even I'd be able to find the damned hatch in less than a solid hour of looking (a theory supported by the fact that when I recently started a new game and went to head home... I couldn't find the blasted thing without using the map -- in my defense it was about ten minutes before sunset, and it isn't easy to navigate that area in twilight...).
You can see here the view from a spot just down the hill from the hatch. Should give you a fair idea of where it's located.
This was the view from next to the hatch when we arrived in the new game. Damned forest is hard to navigate once the sun drops behind the mountain... it all looks the same.
Once inside, you find yourself in industrial passages.
The switch on the wall was my solution to some of the more insidious mods in circulation, that like to have creatures and/or NPC "assassins" come find you in any cell accessible to non-player. Since my home has to be companion friendly, I couldn't very well just not navmesh it. I also don't like locks, since they can be circumvented via scripts. My answer was a hatch bar -- a heavy steel bar that locks the closed in such a manner that it would be impossible to get through without a plasma cutter, high explosives, or heavy Earth-moving equipment. Sadly the hatch bar is yet another mesh FNV does not include, so I had to cop out and do it this way:
Using the switch disables the hatch both in the access tunnels, and in the wasteland; and replaces them with identical doors flagged to be 'inaccessible'. With the hatch "barred" it is quite literally impossible to get into my estate without using a scripted or console "moveto" command. A second use "unbars" the hatch, and returns the usable hatch and ladder to enabled status.
One of the big differences between this, and my work on Vault 1 is that this time, the "access tunnels" have no alternate access points. The estate is a closed circuit, and offers no easy access to anywhere else in the wasteland.
Past the initial doorway, the corridor branches left and right. The right path leads up, to the main house:
I considered making the front door lockable as well, but it seemed somewhat superfluous; since anything that could get past the disabled hatch would have no trouble getting past a locked door.
The left path leads down, into the utility rooms:
All the rooms except the utility rooms are lit via my favorite lighting concept: a two-part system, whereby one has torch, candle, or sconce light normally (or the electric equivalent thereof if open flame isn't practical) while a second set of lights exist as fluorescent banks recessed into the ceiling. This leads to high and low lighting options, that let photosensitive people like myself be comfortable; but with the option of kicking on the 'ol high beams if you need to be able to see really well for whatever reason. Handy for photos, handy for finding small parts in the carpet -- less handy for waking me up unless you don't mind having things thrown at you and/or your continued existence threatened.
While it may not be easily evident, I ended up doing the non-utility areas of the estate in the Ultralux tileset. I was going to use my old standby, the Underworld or 'neoclassical' set... only to find out Obsidian removed virtually all of it. Ditto for non-rusty vaults. It was pretty much Ultralux, or one of the house/hotel tilesets that had shit peeling from the walls, and messed up floors. I decided white walls weren't so bad looking, and the brown floors could be covered with the black and white marble floor-only pieces from Underworld (which were left in the game for some reason).
The main house actually ended up larger than I anticipated -- even after reducing various rooms in size several times.
I laid it out by eye, rather than by sitting down and resolving room parts to their square footage to base on blueprints. The issue was further compounded by the fact that I couldn't get the room pieces that I wanted, and that the ones I ended up using couldn't be set up to precisely conform to the plans. I had to wing it in several spots.
Once inside, the doorway to the left leads back to the master bedroom; while the hall branching to the right goes to the kitchen and dining room. The door almost straight ahead is the living room.
The bedroom, as seen at the end of the hall -- and in the northernmost section of the overhead GECK view -- is the dominating room of the estate. I virtually never use a 'living room'; preferring to have my PC, TV, and most other amenities in the bedroom. As such, when I design a place, the living room/den becomes almost an afterthought. This held true with the FNV estate, as well.
The bedroom houses two beds, a couch, pool table, work station with computer terminal, radio that can be tuned to Radio New Vegas or the other station (Mojave radio? I forget), two fireplaces, beds for the dogs, and one chair situated to enjoy one of the fireplaces. All fireplaces in the estate are wired to switches, and can be turned on or off to suit mood or conserve framerate. I considered throwing out something about the fireplaces being nuclear powered (this is Fallout, after all) but I think I'll just go with them being electric faux-fireplaces; used for decorum and not open flame's heat. As well, in one corner, the bedroom also has a training dummy:
...That both Maeva and Mystery-chan use to practice their hand-to-hand and blade skills. ...Remind me not to piss either of them off...
Off the master bedroom, we have a large walk-in closet. Again, owing to the limitations of the game, it pales in comparison to the real one as designed... but it'll do. The closet has only the fluoros, and no sconces. There are actually two sets each of the wardrobes and dressers -- one set respawns, and contains extra sets of various pieces of armor and accessories included in the mod for me and the girls (in case the originals get lost/stripped away by an overzealous mod/DLC/whatever) and the other set is empty and does not respawn; meant for normal storage of things I don't want to keep in the categorized companion containers for whatever reason. And yes, that is a full-length mirror next to the door. One of the modders' resource items I added to make the house suck less.
The other room off the master bedroom is the bathroom.
Multiple sinks seemed a necessity with three women in the house.
The "bathtub" is a modified form of the Ultralux's circular bar -- I used a rescaled set of steps to fill in the gap in the bar, and filled the whole thing in with water. The water spray effects I had used in FO3 were gone from FNV, as were the pipes and nozzles I had used to simulate showers. Creating this house has only reinforced my belief that Obsidian hated modders and tried to fuck us over as badly as possible with FNV. Nonetheless, I managed to rig something up; even if it's less than ideal.
The tub's strip-script also applies the 'revitalizer' effect from my V1 Remodel -- it's essentially an effect that mirrors the old wives' tales about steam, saunas, hot tubs, et al; that they're good for healing, and 'sweating out' radiation. Not true, of course, but very 1950's and thus very Fallout-y.
Though you can't see it in either screenshot, the house also features a custom toilet -- one which is rigged as sit-able furniture, rather than being a drinking activator. I never understood why the base game makes all toilets drinking sources, rather than something to sit on.
Out from the bedroom, down the hall that connects the master bedroom with the kitchen/dining room/living room, on one side you have the library. Overheads off...
...and overheads on:
No, those are not static collections; they are individually placed books. Yes, I know I need to reign in my OCD.
There are some skill books in the library; but they're for show, and not something I actually take and use.
On the other side of the hall, is the spare bedroom/work room:
Which has a couch, 'safehouse' bed modified to sleep double, and four rolled up bedrolls that you can't see due to the shadows. Facing the other way...
You get my work benches, some storage (the ammo cans are all simple statics, and not usable containers), and the weapons locker in the far corner. Much like the master closet, the weapons locker just holds some spares in case our weapons get lost, taken by a script, or otherwise rendered unusable.
Back on the library side, but towards the entryway, there's also the laundry room:
Because who wants to spend the apocalypse in filthy, stank clothes? Not me.
Taking the right-hand path from the entryway heads one towards the dining room, as noted before.
Owing to my aforementioned love of water through glass, I took some free wall-space and put in a big-ass aquarium.
Like the closet and laundry room, the aquarium has fluoro lighting only. Don't mind the weird reflection textures on the water surface -- it was some kind of artifact caused by FNV's reflection engine, and has since been fixed (by removing the setting telling the water to reflect the ceiling).
For some reason, the dogs enjoy barking at the fish as they swim by.
Across the hall, we have the living room:
...where one of the dogs was watching television. I keep telling them it's going to rot their brain, but they just won't listen...
And from the opposite side of the room:
The living room has three couches meant to replicate a sectional, a fireplace, a television, and a couple end tables. The TV is another modders' resource; there were several different shows available. A western would probably be more appropriate for FNV, but we all agreed that the Bride of Frankenstein was the one we were most likely to actually watch, so it won out.
Back across the hall, there is the kitchen:
Bloom issues with FNV's crappy HDR aside, I could not for the life of me figure out why the stove and fridge there did not look right no matter what I did. Then it occurred to me: FNV stoves don't have hoods, or the lights that go with them.
The fridge is the one that I referenced a month ago writing the water-bottle-filling script for. Sadly, it did not work. The script worked, the issue was that the menu to select filling bottles or opening the container would only run once; and then it would default to opening the container every time. Eventually I just gave up, and slapped the bottle-filling script onto the sink (not shown), instead. Stupid game, disobeying its own rules...
As also mentioned before, the stove has had a script applied to it, so that it brings up the campfire crafting menu when activated. I figure you can cook anything on a stove that you can over a fire; so it should be perfectly valid to even tan hides and such on (provided you don't mind stinking up the kitchen, of course).
As well, there are a few survival-crafting-support-goodies sitting around the kitchen -- coffee pot and a few mugs; glass pitchers and surgical tubing for purifying water, things like that.
At the opposite end of the kitchen, there's a small work area with a 'my first infirmary' and a pair of chemistry sets for curing addiction and such:
Out the doorway next to the stove, you find the dining room:
Went a bit overboard on the table, yes. In my defense, there were only two available in this tileset. One was the massive banquet table seen here, and the other was the small tables I used in the work room and library. In dining rooms, the table being too big is always preferable to it being too small, in my opinion.
Over the fireplaces, you can see the air vents that the NosCo brand climate control unit in the utility basement uses to keep the main house a comfy 55F, year round. The vents vary in location from room to room, but I did remember to put them in every room except the closet.
Past the dining table, you see the double doors that lead out onto the terrace. Remember, originally the terrace was supposed to be outside; and the main house was built before I moved on to constructing the terrace and found that it wasn't going to work outdoors.
You can also see there one of the satellite speakers. There are several sets in each room, slaved to the radio in the bedroom. When the radio is on, you can hear it anywhere in the main house (but not in other cells, because copying activation states across cells is a massive pain in the ass without additional supportive scripting that I was too lazy to do).
The terrace is a copy of the Ultralux bathhouse; consisting of a pool, and a steam room. The terrace uses lighting that copies the current outdoor lighting, so it's bright and UV-happy during the day (exposure to sunlight or a close artificial equivalent thereof is necessary for most people to remain healthy; and remember what I said about the place being able to survive on its own for extended periods?):
(Note: some of the terrace screenshots are a bit weird; I was testing the Lumenarium mod during this part of the estate construction, and the glare and sunglasses effects gave it a weird cast)
No, I don't know why she's sitting next to the pool in armor. I've long since stopped asking such questions.
Now and then, even the dogs jump in:
The steam room/sauna/whatever you want to call it of course also has the same 'revitalizer' effect as the tub in the main house. The pool does not have said effect; being only cold water.
That is indeed a bedroll floating out in the middle of the deep end. I figured it looked enough like a pool toy that it would work, in case someone wanted to lay out there and relax. I know I always found laying out on one of those things in the pool very relaxing; waves and whatnot.
Once the sun goes down in the wastes, the climate control system in the basement kicks off the sun lamps, and makes it night by the poolside:
You humans may need sunlight, but I'm way more comfortable by torchlight.
You may also notice there's a second large door, at the far end of the terrace. This leads to another access tunnel, that takes you via staircase down into the arboretum; which sits directly below the terrace.
The arboretum is part relaxing garden, and part hydroponic farm. It goes a long way towards making the estate self-sufficient, and doubles as an excellent place to go when you're feeling the walls closing in whilst riding out the end of the world.
Like the terrace, the arboretum uses computer controlled sun lamps to simulate a day/night environment for the plants.
After some thought, I decided it still wasn't garden-y enough, and so added some trees:
The doorway at the far end of the arboretum leads into the utility rooms.
The small door at the far end leads back into the access tunnels, to head to the wasteland hatch, or past that and back up into the main house. As I said, the entire estate is a closed circuit; with only the one way in or out. This could be considered both a benefit and a drawback, depending on how you look at it.
The utility rooms were designed to house the power transformers:
As I have learned a fair bit as a modder since those days, unlike my Vault 1 work, I actually remembered to add VFX and sounds to these transformers; as well as consoles, and wires.
Opposite the transformer room, is the server room:
The servers handle climate control, lighting, power distribution, fire suppression, and all the other fun stuff that needs to be in place to keep an underground refuge livable.
As a last minute addition, I decided to add something... extra. Something you won't find in many player houses.
What could be behind this door, I wonder...?
Well look at that, I built my own indoor shooting range. I've always wanted one in real life... but being an apartment dweller, I suppose I'll have to settle for the digital one.
The bottles the dummies are holding are for me to shoot at. They're Nuka Victory; chosen because the red glow can be seen in the darkness very easily.
The switch on the left-hand table in the first picture resets the targets -- it picks the bottles up out of the floor, stands them back upright, and replaces them on the holders. This took a fair bit more scripting than you might think; and necessitated the glowing bottle target choice -- I had been using plain Nuka bottles, but apparently when moved via script, the game engine doesn't apply lighting effects to an object as it should; so even once replaced on the stands, the bottles were still lit like they were in the shadows... making them hard as hell to see. Since the Victory bottles glow red, they show up regardless of the environmental lights applied by the idiotic engine.
The range is only about twenty-five yards -- short for a rifle. I originally wanted a hundred yard range for practicing with my rifles (for much the same reason one practices in real life; to learn exactly where your point of aim and point of impact meet -- especially important in FNV since Obsidian royally fucked up so many of the weapons' iron sight alignments) but once I sat down and figured it up, a hundred yards would be about fifty room pieces. The range as you see it is about ten room pieces between the tables and the far targets; and I had to increase the draw distance in the cell's properties to be able to see that far as it was, so I don't think fifty room pieces out would have worked at all -- assuming my game setting would even render a bottle that far out; which I don't think they would.
Spending even fifty or a hundred rounds down in the range with any new weapon I acquire has sent my in-game accuracy through the roof, and led to me one-shotting radscorpions with handguns around Goodsprings.
...And that's the tour.
The place really is the best work I've ever done on a house mod, and was immensely liberating as a project. For once, I was beholden to no one's taste but my own. No previous mods to work from, no existing mods to maintain compatibility with -- it was all from scratch and free to set up as I pleased.
One of the tenets of this house mod, once finished, was that I be able to tie it completely into my companions' AI. They now have upwards of thirty AI packages a piece; to govern their entire day when 'at home' -- in many cases even varying depending on what day of the week it is.
And yes, I did reference dogs several times. When I set up 'Princess' in Skyrim, Natasha liked it so much that she wanted a similar dog in FNV. So, I set up a dog companion -- when in the party, Princess follows Natasha, and not me. When not in the party, Princess bums around the estate, and does dog stuff -- barking at random things, nosing around the arboretum, lazing by the pool, begging at the stove. This, in turn, worked out well enough that the other two wanted dogs of their own. We had the space, and it seemed like a decent idea to have guard mutts around the estate, so...
We have Princess, of course; who is for some reason barking at the CQC dummy:
We have Fenrir, Maeva's adopted Legion Mongrel:
And Mystery-chan's dog... Steve:
...Look, don't ask me; I just work here...
Fenrir and Steve aren't actually recruitable as companion-companions; they just hang around the estate. Having Princess along and debugging the packages required for such a thing has only reinforced my earlier belief that all the people asking for creature frameworks for NCCS have a massive screw loose. Creature companions in FNV suck. Their pathfinding is flat out terrible, and Princess has animation bugs on a regular basis when set to follow. That is, of course, aside from the low HP and low damage output. No, pooches are much better off lazing around the house, and leaving the fighting to people who have the opposable digits to operate a firearm.
All told, I'm very pleased with how the estate turned out; but I don't think it would go over well for public download. As I mentioned: there are no vendors, no guards, no turrets, no teleporters or shortcut tunnels, no item stashes. The fridge starts with a bit of consumables in it, and of course all the non-tree plants in the arboretum are pickable -- but the fridge doesn't respawn, and the plants only respawn on the normal game schedule (when you haven't visited the cell for at least three days). Also, the decorum is rather... Spartan. No paintings, no statues, no mannequins or pedestals to place them. It's just a big, comfy, FPS-friendly collection of cells with lots of stuff for companion AIs to be tied into to make them live a nice life when not adventuring.
Also: damn this post took a lot longer to type than I thought it would...