Saturday, July 28, 2012

Now I Remember

So, trying to play FO3 this afternoon; get my companions mod lined out so I can tackle the other set of saves and see whether the Nos' Adventures game is recoverable.

I've gotten in around an hour of play, had four random crashes... and now the game won't let me back out of my Springvale "Survivalist House" into the wasteland.

I am now forcibly reminded why I hated FO3 with a passion and was quick to jump ship to NV, never looking back.

And, to top things off the categorized containers that I've gotten such wonderful utility out of in Oblivion and FNV? Yeah, they don't work at all. FO3 won't let me remote-activate a container at all, whether it's in the same cell as me or not. As well, the 'stay close' option that I've been using in NV to keep one of the girls with me during combat while the other two roam free? It doesn't work either. Apparently, the "continue during combat" flag is just there for decoration. Either that, or the game is refusing to allow any updates to the plugin without clean saving first; which gets real old real quick.

Wonder if anyone would notice if I spiked what's left of my Rockstar with Stolichnaya...

On Screenshots

Also: I've been meaning to announce that my Picasa account is getting pretty full. It's occurred to me that I have a lot of useless shots and pictures that I uploaded but never did anything with, or that belong to mods that ended up getting trashed, or were taken in support of now forgotten arguments.

So, pretty soon I'm going to start purging the account of older shots; non-current versions of companions; defunct mods, and so on.

Can't promise what will be kept, so if there was anything in there you wanted for some incomprehensible reason, now would be a good time to save it. I'll probably begin cleaning it out in a week or so -- sooner if I happen to get transcendentally bored during the week.

Note To Self:

When upgrading old companions to new specs, check to make sure you didn't leave any Stealthboys in their inventory before testing for improved combat performance.

The increase in combat performance, by the by, was considerable. Goddamn I'm good. It's amazing how far they've come since that first draft; utilizing only existing RR resources, written completely by someone else.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Way Back

Wow, I got to use the GECK for nigh-on ten minutes before it crashed.

It really feels like I'm back in 2009!

Edit: Also, according to Blogger, this is post #666 here on Nos' Mods. So, y'know; fear for your souls and whatnot, all ye who read this.

Okay, I Laughed

Seen in a thread this afternoon:

"Is there a load order guide that is actually a load order guide and not some fucking explanation as to what a load order is?"

"No, I'd explain to you why, but I'd be giving you some fucking explanation as to what a load order is."

Confessions, Lamentations, and Musings

So, Herculine mentioned... yesterday I guess it was how long she's been waiting on the next installment of Nos' Adventures (well, that makes one person still interested; which is better than none). This, in turn, has gotten me thinking about starting it back up; since I haven't had an outlet for my need to write in awhile -- save for a couple quickly abandoned Skyrim-themed works you guys haven't seen.

The problem is why I put Nos' Adventures on hiatus in the first place. I don't recall whether I ever mentioned it publicly, but it wasn't actually NV coming out that stalled Nos' Adventures.

The issue was with the set of saves, themselves. I had taken leave of my better judgement and installed FWE, which kind-of-sort-of worked... for awhile. Then it stopped.

As anyone who's ever tried it can tell you, removing big, overarching mods like FWE or FOOK can be a gamefucker and a half. Most often, it results in the death of a set of saves; and requires restarting the game -- or in my case, dropping back to a strategically made, mod-free "clean save" (a technique I learned back in Oblivion, and religiously follow to this day). Even if you manage to get games to run after the mod uninstall, the loss tends to cause lasting problems in the game -- crashes, odd leveled list behavior, et cetera -- so really, clean slate is the only solution.

Now, this might not seem a big deal, but... read Nos' Adventures, if you haven't. I drop a lot of specific names of consumables, equipment, weapons (weapons especially -- as new weapon-finds were a centerpiece of some of the plot and many of the in-character comments).

If I trash that game and start over, those weapons all go bye-bye; and may not spawn back in on the subsequent play.

I hate continuity problems like that in writing. Many of the weapons could be re-added via console (20th Century Weapons, being decently made, is still working and in the load order; so most of the guns listed would still be in the game to be found), but some like the Desert Eagle wouldn't be.

Trashing FWE also removed many consumables -- drugs and the like; so those would disappear and probably never be mentioned again.

As well, thanks to (the now largely unavailable) Ling's mods, the screenshotted outfits we all wore were also random spawns; and not pre-collected for aesthetics' sake.

See, Nos' Adventures was more than just storytelling -- it was a writing exercise for me. Play the game, and whatever actually happens in the playthrough becomes the story. Every item I reference finding actually spawned; everything I reference buying was actually found at a merchant; combat wounds were ones my character actually took, and so on. It was less a pre-defined story, and more ad-libbing what the game threw at me into a story. Sure, there was an intended path (which I won't divulge so as not to spoil it) -- but that was more what you'd do in real life: strike out with the intention of heading to location A, and deal with what got thrown at you along the way without it being dramatically determined beforehand.

At least by me. I sometimes think someone out there is determining the events of my life beforehand in some twisted cosmic equivalent of a reality show... but that's a metaphysical rant for another day... and well outside the scope of this blog, regardless.

In any event, the continuity problems bugged the hell out of me, so I let it sit untouched. Eventually, I got side-tracked with my hand-holding companion mod for FNV; and then with trying to cajole Skyrim into working worth a shit.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think I need to just let Skyrim lay fallow. Like other Bethsoft games, it isn't really going to be headache-free enough for good modding until after the DLC and patches hit; more patches hit to fix what the DLC breaks, and so on. While the visuals are indeed pretty, and weight-scaling UNPB is fun to look at... having to "fix" my companions mods every time there's a patch is getting on my nerves; and Dawnguard (if we on the PC ever get it) promises to fuck over modding royally more likely than not.

So... my attention turns back to earlier, already-patched-into-mostly-working games.

I'm still not keen on going back into public modding, so I keep thinking of writing more. The characters of course are still going strong; and I had a fair bit of story planned out for us to go through for your amusement (ideally eventually spanning FO3 and into FNV)... but I just can't resolve the continuity issue.

Someone else may have an idea on the subject, but as it stands I see three solutions:

1) Be up-front, fix what I have to fix to get a new save-set going, and just add a notation to the next entry that stuff'll change.

2) Ass-pull some circumstances that would result in the loss of most of our equipment, requiring more to be found; and explaining within the story why everything disappeared.

3) Super-Ultra-Are-You-Fucking-Shitting-Me-?!-Ass-pull that comes up with a Deus Ex Machina-esque overriding reason why we'd need to quit the Capital Wasteland, and move the story direct into NV; where the different item lists and fade to black intermission would allow a reset on it all.

1 is probably most sensible; grating as it is on what little pride I have as an author. 2 would be best for the story, and only moderately more work -- though it would require a dozen or more play-hours to get the characters back to appropriate levels; and resetting equipment could get interesting. 3 would be easiest on me as a writer (the reset button and immediate move into a game whose mechanics I'm still intimately familiar with; seeing as I haven't touched FO3 in well over a year) but would be most disappointing for whatever readers I still have... and would require axing all the fun plot points I had in mind involving the DC Brotherhood, a trip to the Pitt, finally getting around to playing the main quest after the purifier (which I've never actually done).

I suppose, since it's been over a year and a half sidereal since the last entry, another week to get the game lined out and back to where it can serve as a writing vehicle wouldn't be a big deal.

Will take awhile to update my FO3 companions anyway -- seeing as in the interim, my FNV version of the girls have gotten dozens (maybe more than a hundred) upgrades in everything from new custom bodies to updated combat styles, to new code to fuck over the Bethsoft devs' attempts to keep companions out of certain areas. I'd definitely want to install my new combat code that lets me select which companions will stay with me during a fight, and which will free-range and hunt down enemies.

Well, one thing about it: I may not know Papyrus, but I'm still a goddamned wizard at scripting FO3; and the original GECK at least reports its damned errors correctly...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Well Ain't That Some...

So, regularish readers are probably aware I'm more the fan of 'advanced' companion mods. My companions tend to feature things like custom tailored armor, special weapons, and individual body meshes and textures. The armor and weapons haven't been that big a deal in Skyrim; but the custom, one-off and individual bodies are proving just shy of fucking impossible. I'll refrain from ranting about it since I know no one cares what I think, but I did want to pass along something I picked up this evening while tinkering with the custom bodies, trying to get them to work.

Mod any Skyrim bodies or armors/clothing -- even just installing replacers -- and you'll probably notice many are doubled up. One mesh will end in "_0" and one in "_1". This drove me nuts previously, as I could find no mention anywhere of what the damned suffixes meant (I've nearly given up on forums and wikis as viable sources of information, since they seem to perpetually be the equivalent of open mic night).

Figured it out today. On meshes properly set up to scale according to the bodyweight slider, the mesh suffixed "_0" is zero weight, or minimum slider; while "_1" is 100%, or full weight. I'm not sure entirely how the game handles sizes inbetween the two; but digging through my meshes hierarchy and looking over several sets of bodies and armors, this convention bears out.

Didn't do any of my girls' custom armors with both sets, since I couldn't figure out what they did at the time. Now I suppose I need to dig through and replace the sets so that the armor will scale correctly to their weights.

Now if I could just get the stupid SuCK to let me swap body textures without having to mod every armor in the friggin' game to get it to work with the custom race...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Skyrim - Build Your Own Home

I mentioned the other day that owing to some game complications (massive crashing issues and general instability) I had had to abandon my preferred house mods, and had ended up using Build Your Own Home while I ran the problems down.

Well, it's been a week and a half or so, and while I've solved the crashy-crashy (insofar as one can solve the crashing in one of Beth's fine works, at least) but haven't felt like reactivating the other houses. Sometimes you just want to play the damned game and not make a career of tracking down problems.

I have to say, for just me and the girls (as opposed to trying to billet a dozen eyecandy companions) I'm really getting fond of the riverside home.

Firstly, it's technically a free house... but not really. I'll explain. You get the deed for free; but must come up with the materials to actually build everything. Excepting the "allegiance" addon (Stormcloak or Imperial banners and decor), building and furnishing the complete setup requires 220 firewood, 151 iron ingots, 12 iron ore, 56 steel ingots, 14 'deer hides' from elk (blame Bethsoft -- they were the ones too lazy to have elk drop elk hide; but for some reason the deer hides dropped by deer aren't the same as the deer hides dropped by elk), and three horse hides; as well as some vegetables for starting the garden, a chicken egg to get a chicken (huh; guess the egg did come first...), and seven hundred gold to buy a cow.

Wow, seven hundred florins for a cow? Seems kind of steep; I remember them being cheaper in the Middle Ages.

Septims, Maeva. Septims.

Yeah, whatever. Still a gold coin.

So, unless you're running a loot multiplier mod, or cheat and use the console, this all takes quite some time to collect up -- especially the horse hides and elk hides, which are only infrequently encountered in stores (at least in my games). Hunting up the fourteen elk hides took the longest by far; since few merchants carry them. I had to actually hunt elk to get them. The iron and steel is comparably easy, since I run a 'breakdown' mod that lets you smelt most armor and weapons back into ingots (at a considerable percentage of loss compared to outlay on crafting them). The firewood is mostly just a matter of time; as the author was kind enough to provide a wood chopping block in the work shed up the hill from the home's site.

I still don't understand the whole elk hide bit. Why not just use regular leather? It's not like you can't stitch the stuff together as least as easily as full-sized hides.

No idea.

Moving on. The nice thing about the house though, is that you don't have to build it all. You can build just what you want. You can, for example, build the first floor of the house and farm, and nothing else. Or just the house and no outbuildings. Or forget the house altogether, and just build the fishing camp to sleep outdoors with a minimum of storage. It's... very flexible, and easy to tailor to most individual characters. Some of the features can be redundant -- for example, the "Thief" basement decoration includes an alchemy table, which renders the outdoor alchemy lab a waste of resources; or vice versa. Similarly, the upstairs "Assassin" decorum includes a grinding wheel and workbench, which are completely superfluous if you have the smithing area outside. Of course, if you're roleplaying a character who isn't a blacksmith or you don't think player homes should have smelters and forges, then it would work out well.

The site of the buildable home is down the river from Vaultheim Tower; right next to the abandoned Imperial Prison. It sits down in the valley, with only the shed viewable from the road.

Conveniently located square in the middle of nowhere; far from any stables for easy travel or places to acquire liquor.

Would you prefer to move into Breezehome?

Eh... on second thought, maybe not. I can only resist the urge to choke the holy living shit out of Nazeem for so long...


...No -- the next time Brynjolf tries to sell me a bottle of snake-oil I'm liable to crush his skull...

Well someone got us thrown out of Solitude after the incident in the Winking Skeever...

That bard was totally hitting on me, I tell you! Not my fault she "changed her mind" at the last second...

...And someone else got us thrown out of Markarth...

That orc was staring at my tits. She had it coming.

She was admiring your ebony armor.

Pfft, yeah... like I've never heard that one before -- "oh, don't worry; I'm just inspecting your breastplate..." Had. It. Coming. 'Sides, they said she'll probably walk again someday, and the other green cavemen were so impressed with the way her femur was snapped that they didn't demand a blood-price.

Regardless, since Falkreath, Dawnstar, and Morthal don't have houses; and you don't get the one in Windhelm without playing substantially into the civil war questline...

Yeah, yeah; I'll stop complaining.

The above screenshot is with the place completed. You can see where the construction stretches across the river, and provides a three-tiered platform on the far side. Bottom level has a leatherworking area; second level is the smithy (complete with forge, smelter, grinding wheel, work bench, and specifically named storage for ingots, ore, and a trunk for weapons); the third level is labeled as a 'watch tower', but I have to confess I'm not sure what you're supposed to watch -- it provides a nice view of the river, but you aren't high enough to see the road.

Pretty view of the stars at night, though, even if I am always worried that someone over in the fort can see us...

At house-level, facing back upstream. You can see the second set of scaffolding that stretches across the river. This provides space for a distillery (decorative only, but the author has stated that at some point in the future he intends to make the distillery work)...

Foul! Foul, I cry! Putting in a still that I can't use? That's fucking evil, man; even by my standards!

...a combat training area (not built in the screenshots -- it's only target dummies, and I didn't see any point in having the extra useless stuff for my PC to have to render), and on the bottom-right the alchemy lab. The lab includes some respawning plants, and quite a few insect spawns (bees, butterflies, torchbugs). There's also plenty of storage, and some of those bug-in-a-jar things that everyone seems to like so much.

Unless that laboratory lets you mix me up a bottle of scotch, I'm not impressed. Well, maybe if it can do a good Tom Collins...

You know it can't.

...I haz a sad.

Stop that! I've told you before it's fucking creepy when you talk that way.

In those last two you can see the view back towards the house, from the alchemy lab.

Back near the front door of the house, you can see across to the work areas. On the left and barely visible is the leatherworking area; the work bench you can see towards the center of the image is the mid-level where the smithing facilities are, and the highest point there in the upper left corner is the watch tower.

A bit further right in the image, you can see the crumbling platform that provides access to the Imperial Prison; and Fort Amol (I think it was) at the far right in the distance.

Facing downriver, you can see the fishing camp. The poles are decorative only. Back around the corner of the house is some storage, and behind the hide tarp is a sleepin' spot, and a cook-fire; for the outdoorsy types. Me, I prefer living under a roof, but I was building everything available to get a feel for what parts I liked and what I didn't.

If you look close you can also see the remains of a Boethiah cultist there in the rocks.

Stupid bastard made the mistake of jumping us coming out of the house, and was promptly decapitated by Mystery-chan (do not annoy the lady in the morning).

Good advice. I'll still kill you even after my first Vault of the day; it just won't be quite as brutally. Probably.

I chucked his body into the river so as not to have to look at it until it got cleaned up by a cell respawn; but the current caught it in the rocks.

Ugh. So messy. I swear: you people need counseling. Have you spoken to a doctor about Zoloft?

I refuse to take shit about my bloodlust from the woman who burned six bandits to ash in that last dungeon.


Inside, we find the main living area; consisting of the ground and second floors. I use the "Assassin" furnishings, which aren't -- they're actually Dark Brotherhood (notice the fireplace) specific. Not ideal decorating in my opinion, but it fit me better than the other choices (mage, hunter, thief).

You'll also notice the display case, there. The contents are not part of the decoration -- it's a standard display case that I've taken to using to display the cores I've ripped out of defeated Dwarven Centurions:

...Hey, does anyone else think that those cores are a pair of handles and a color change away from being the Autobot matrix of leadership?

...Now that you mention it...


Opposite the fireplace and sitting area is a work area. The assassin motif comes with an enchanting station, and work bench; along with a couple of dagger-specific display cases, some poisonous plants to pick, and a couple mannequins (one of which is showing off a complete set of Falmer armor we brought back from Mzinchaleft).

There are also several weapon racks; two near the entrance, and four by the mannequins.

Upstairs, we find the bed; another bookshelf, some miscellaneous storage, and the aforementioned grinding wheel.

...Also, a skeleton manacled to the wall over the stairs for reasons I'm not sure I want to know.

Kinky. Seems like an odd place for bondage, though -- over the stairs and all.

Down in the basement, we have the "thief" motif. Again, you'll notice it's not "guy who steals stuff" but specific Thieves Guild.

The stuff on the shelves is decorative only, and can't be taken.

How a cart got down there through that little trap door I have no idea.

The basement also has the cooking area, and some food and drink storage. I'm kind of torn on the layout -- the basement seems like an odd place to cook in a house; but the author did us the courtesy of keeping the interior and exterior scales of the house roughly even, so there just wasn't space upstairs without moving the work area somewhere else. On the other hand, the basement does have the load-bearing (stone) floor, so would probably be the best place for something as heavy as a cooking hearth.

Behind the empty shelves in the basement, is the passage to the "hidden lair". The lair has three options: Dovakiin (stone, a dragon mask rack, and a throne), Werewolf (bestial and messy), and Vampire (glowy, grown up with alchemy components, and with a prisoner to feed on... if the game will let you).

I went with Vampire:

The vampire set also has an alchemy lab, enchanting table, and "sleeping coffin". This is one of those areas I don't see myself using much, but I figured it would be an appropriate place to leave Kathryn. She seems to like it.

Wow; this post was supposed to be a couple hours write it and be done, but it's ended up going off-and-on for three days now. I have no idea what my original conclusion was going to be at this point. Probably would have if I hadn't gotten side tracked playing with those pose mods and taken a hundred and fifty two screenshots this morning...

Regardless, I can't say as the Build Your Own Home mod is my ideal Skyrim abode. It's in a moderately inconvenient location, and completing it requires components that can be downright hard to come by if the leveled list Gods aren't smiling on you in that particular game. Probably the biggest drawback for players like myself, though, is that this is not a companion-monger's home. It's fully navmeshed, yes; but there's one bed that can sleep two in the interior. The sleeping coffin in the basement may or may not work for NPCs (haven't hung out down there overnight to see). This will not be a BBLS-esque place where your legions of eyecandy wait to greet you when you get home after a hard day of adventuring.

However, the house is also well executed, lore-friendly (if that matters to you), far enough off the guard paths to avoid problems even with the highest bounties; and is, quite simply, the most tailor-able house mod I've ever seen.

If you're in the market for a Skyrim home, give it a shot. It has something for nearly every player.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oh Wow

So, about an hour after my last comment this morning, my old 17" LCD gave up the ghost. Rather than just giving me crap on startup, it started randomly going in and out. Shortly thereafter, if stopped working altogether. Power light wouldn't even come on.

Finally got into the city, and hit Best Buy. Caught a Samsung 23" LEDHDWTFBBQ on sale for $189 (down from $269) and decided it was the least bad option. They had a couple in 27", but I was fairly sure my desk wouldn't handle it.

Got home, got it plugged in, and had a picture!

...a crappy, lopsided, grainy picture. Note to self: HD/widescreen doesn't play well with 1280x1024.

Reset to the nearest widescreen resolution I saw -- 1300-something; and hit okay... and promptly lost all picture.

Samsung's documentation is OH SO FUCKING HELPFUL, TOO! It has 87 languages (seriously. It had paragraphs in Turkish and Swedish), and when I found the English section... it basically consisted of "plug in, follow on-screen instructions"; and the rest was some shit about hooking it up to a portable device. I suppose some folks care about that? Me, I didn't want a media station -- I just want to see what's going on with my PC, thanks. Some games, some web browsing, maybe some anime blown up into glorious 23" HD...

Anyway. I played an old and mean trick, and forced the computer to reboot into safe mode; where I forced the resolution back into 1280x1024 -- which looked like shit, but I knew gave a workable picture.

I was leery about it, but apparently my video card supports the "native resolution" of the monitor -- 1920 x 1080. I was afraid it would be unreadably small text... but oh baby...

This is soooo nice. I know I can't get this kind of resolution from my games... but this is going to make for some nice video watchin'.

I have to say, I feel positively ghetto at the moment. This is the biggest monitor or TV I've ever actually used (prior to this was a 19" television that had a tube). Only ended up having to move it two or three inches closer to me -- my desk is a corner type; so the wider the monitor, the further from the back it has to sit. The 17"er nestled right into very back of the frame, but this one is just too big. Still, I have enough room left for my XM radio and its dock; and room for my revolver and spare ammo to sit in its old, comfortable spot too.

Dear Gods, what modern conveniences will I acquire next? A cordless telemophone? One of them new-fangled boxes with cold inside that keeps yer food from going bad so fast? Truly, the mind doth boggle...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I Still Hate Computers

So, I'm about to have to lay out some cash on a new monitor. This 17" LCD (less than five years old) is dying. When powering on, the screen just displays garbage until it warms up or something (didn't think LCD's had anything to warm up, but that is nonetheless the behavior it displays) and then the normal picture appears.

I'd chalk it up as my video card dying... but it only happens when the monitor has been off -- never any other time. Every day it takes longer for the picture to show than the previous day.

First day was only about ten seconds; this evening when I hit the button after getting up it took three minutes and change. Interestingly, during the garbage phase, the menu and auto-adjust buttons, zey do nusink.

This annoys me. As I type this, there sits behind me on a cheap particle board "tv stand" an Orion 13" television, bought for me by my dad in the latter part of 1996. Aside from having been used so much the paint is worn off the power button, it still works like the day it was new.

For some reason computer monitors never last, though. Damned programmed obsolescence.

Was in Best Buy a couple weeks ago; my dad wanted me along as consultant when he was buying a new laptop, and I had plenty of time to kill while he was talking to the sales moron.

I should note: I buy locally because I trust UPS with fragile electronics less than I'd trust a hippy with my wallet. I cannot speak for them on a national level, but the local UPS depot has a horrific percentage of damaged merchandise -- and what they don't damage, they have a good chance of stealing. So, I pay the "extra" and get it locally where I have someone to bitch at in person if it's broken.

Anyway. Saw in Best Buy they had several 21 - 23" wide screen LCD and LED monitors in the two Commstar bill and change range...

...What's that? You don't know what a Commstar bill is or why that's funny? Ugh, kids today...

So decently big monitors appear to be in the $200 range, and I'm thinking much as I don't want to blow the money, rather than cheaping out and getting another 17" model, I'll just cut to chase and buy a bigger HD model. I think I had it figured up that 23" was the biggest my desk will handle; so I'll probably get the 21 or 22" to leave a bit of buffer around the monitor (and so I can slide it back to keep it out of my face -- my eyes are bad enough as it is).

Seems like every time I get ahead, something is breaking. I'll tell you this, though: the PC industry is lucky I like my girls so much; if not for them, I'd have given up anything beyond the most casual of gaming years ago and would probably be rocking a netbook right now.

For the time being, I've activated a screensaver; and only turn the monitor off when I crash for the night/day/whenever I'm about to keel over. Haven't been able to get into the city; and the local Wal-Mart carries monitors... but their employees are the people too stupid to get jobs at UPS.

Well, I did want that spiffy Westinghouse 23" LEDHDLMNOP monitor I saw a few months ago for optimum Skyrim pretties... but damned if I don't resent the hell out of being forced to upgrade.

Goodbye, 458 SOCOM upper for my Colt...

Friday, July 13, 2012

More Skyrim Good(?)ness

Been holding off on this post since I didn't want to jump the gun and declare it fixed when it was just trying to get my hopes up (sadistic damned game); but I think it actually is fixed, and my purge was a success.

Logged twelve hours across five sessions in the last two days. Had one run 3.5 hours, one 2.5, then two bad plays, and tonight I got in just shy of four hours -- and didn't have to quit when I did; the game was beginning to get choppy, but I could have pushed on and stuck it out another thirty or forty minutes probably. That said, once it starts exhibiting choppy behavior, the game is going to crash -- it's just a matter of when. Since I was getting pretty needy for a break and get-up-and-walk-around anyway, I decided inside the store was a good spot to save and call it a day.

The two crashes were SOP for Skyrim. Once happened before I could get five steps after loading the game -- smacked me with a BSoD. I personally surmise that the "new" scripting engine is a piece of shit. Every now and again it'll get wires crossed, and something in the game ends up in a hell of an infinite loop; and just runs the computer flat out of memory until the system will stands no mo'. No way to test if it is scripts, but scripts and quests are about the only things that run everywhere, in every cell in the game, so...

Other crash was a less catastrophic CTD from a SNAFU in changing cells.

The rate of both has gone down drastically since the purge; but obviously no matter how optimized, shit is still shit. That said, the 'ol sewage tank leaks infrequently enough now that I'm willing to put up with the occasional whiff.

I still have no idea whether Jaysus Swords was actually screwing anything up or not; but Wrye never failed to bitch at me that it was an invalid master, so there must have been something up. What I can say is that without the JS custom loading screens, my average cell-change load time has dropped from over three minutes to around thirty seconds -- even after three hours of play, changing cells rarely results in a loading screen long enough for me to go take a leak.

Deadly Dragons seems to have been the big bastard of the bunch. Since getting rid of it, I haven't had a single random crash in the wilderness; nor on coming out of a fast travel. Wilderness FPS are improved, as well. I guess there's no longer a script running every frame I'm outdoors to decide whether I need to be ambushed by four retextured dragons. No? How about this frame? What about now? How about now? Are you sure? Check the random number again...

Anyway, I've also seen references that DD causes save bloat. This I have to agree with -- my 'Skadi' save is at 25.5 hours, and sits at a whopping 5.37mb. I started a new 'Nos' (male) game since the previous me game was one of several lost to corruption. That game sits at about eleven and a half hours, and less than 5mb.

While I don't like what push-overs the vanilla Skyrim dragons are, I daresay it isn't worth the trouble to try these mods that claim to fix it. Is a shame, since the first version of DD I used was great -- it just made the existing dragons tougher and made them hit harder; no new types, no new powers, no "events". Just a ramping of difficulty. I guess that wasn't enough for most folks, though.

The only part of the purge I'm actively missing are the cloaks. I deactivated (but didn't remove) the Winter is Coming fur cloaks mod because it seemed to be a huge drain on the system and exacerbated existing problems. With the game apparently unfucked, I may have to switch WiC back on. Not only does it provide another enchantable item; but I can't imagine going around an environ like Skyrim without something like that on.

(Plus, the bear cloaks can be used as skimpy boob-covers on female characters -- oh so sexy)

Want to give it another shot... but kind of afraid to. I seem to have hit a sweet spot on the game. My companions work, the clothing/armor mods I actually use work, my house mods work; and all at a playable FPS no less. I'm kind of leery about messing with anything; lest the rickety tower of reliability I've managed to build come crashing down like a careless Jenga play.

People may wonder: "Nos, why do you put up with this shit? Just go play a different game!"

Oh sure, you can do it that way... but other games don't have stuff like this:

That was the view from the porch of my house on the White River. I tell ya, Kiddies, if there ever was a game that makes me want to blow my savings on a 24" widescreen monitor and enough computer to push it... it's Skyrim. The default textures may be shit on most objects... but Gods, that scenery...

And speaking of scenery: I'm pretty pleased with how my girls came out of the last batch of edits.

You can see Princess in the background of Natasha's shot. That damned ghost wolf is always smiling at me. It's fucking creepy, I tells ya.

And I have to say, I do like the 'companion comments' Beth added to Skyrim. Much nicer than previous attempts; mostly considering that they can work on custom companions...

Mystery-chan is more terse (as she usually is), and usually only makes warning comments when we're coming up on something nasty. When I hear: "I smell blood." I make sure my bow is poisoned, 'cuz shit be about to go down, yo.

For some reason, we almost never hear a peep out of Natasha. Not sure why. Doesn't seem to have anything to do with her position in the stack, either. Though she's hardly slacking. On the female save, we were clearing out Hillgrund's Tomb. Dipshit McBeardy or whatever the guy's name is wanted to be protected while getting the necromancer out of his family crypt, but did the typical idiocy of blasting past me and charging the enemy anytime a fight broke out. At one point, I was leveling my bow and about to valiantly and skillfully place an arrow mere inches from my charge to take out the Draugr attacking him...

...When a lightning bolt blasts past me; so close that I swear it scorched the shoulder of my armor -- smacking down the undead like a thunderbolt from Olympus itself and reducing the poor cursed sod to ash without touching the moronic quest NPC. I turn around, and see this:

Fire in one hand, shock in the other. The normally timid little girl has become an engine of death. She took a dragon out of the air on another occasion; nailing it with three lightning bolt body-shots as it flew overhead and doing enough damage that the beast felt the need to land.

Only thing it's still missing (other than the individual bodies that I just can not get the game to accept) is a house. I've been using Leveler's Tower and Build Your Own Home; and I like them both okay.

Leveler's has plenty of space for all the eyecandy you care to have living in... but it's a cheat mod, big time -- and the 'living area' seems to have a high instance of bugging the game on loading, at least for me.

Build Your Own Home is nice for just me and the girls. It's expandable to have most amenities; but can be a serious pain to fully upgrade. I went through with a post-it and added it all up, and full upgrading minus the Stormcloak or Empire decorations requires 220 firewood, 151 iron ingots, 56 steel ingots, 12 iron ore, 14 elk hides (must be elk -- not deer), and three horse hides. The horse hides are the real pain. I've been through every store, tavern, house, palace, and stable in Solitude, Whiterun, Riften, and Windhelm; as well as most of the wilderness in Whiterun Hold and still only managed to come up with two of the three required horse hides. Two of the three are required for adding furniture to the living areas of the house, so it's not really something you can just skip. I don't know, maybe everybody but me is running some overhaul that makes them common as dirt? Wouldn't be the first time.

I've already checked into it, and Skyrim still uses the same navmesh I already know how to work; so as long as I don't delve into scripting, creating my own home would be a pretty small learning curve for me. I just can't decide what kind. None of the tilesets I looked at really jumped out at me. Dwemer probably has the most varied pieces and thus potential... but I dunno. I usually prefer something in marble. Still, an underground ruin; with a nice tower sticking out of the ground someplace scenic for a proper parapet... the idea has potential...