Friday, July 27, 2012

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...


  1. Isn't it possible to use one of the editing utilities to clean the save? I know that gets more complex and painstaking in these later games, but back in the Morrowind days Wrye Bash would even do it automatically. IIRC, can't TESsnip do it?

    1. TESSnip can change plugins themselves, but not save files.

      I just took a look through Wrye Flash v30.2 and don't see any save cleaning options.

    2. Not the term I'd have used.

      Suppose I can try running the game anyway and let the engine try to reset it all. Worst it can do is crash horribly.

      Also: looking over this FO3 stuff is making me ashamed. Ye Gods is it primitive.

      I mean, look at this shit! My FO3 companions plugin only has 173 records (my NV companions plugin has 6218 now). One combat style, two classes, no armor, no weapons...

      ...Sweet mother of all that's unholy! This companion script only has 180 lines! What autistic chimpanzee wrote this shit?!

      ...It's going to take forever to rewrite this shit...

  2. I'm sorry to hear that FWE is so unreliable for you. Personally, I have never had any major issues with it. That said, have you heard about the Fallout Remastered project on the Nexus? It is a recent project, intended to fix a large number of issues that exist within FO3 itself, as well as the DLCs and many popular mods, including the overhaul ones, like FWE. The person that started this is rather anal about making sure the mod does exactly what it is intended to do.

    Just a suggestion to maybe help you with the continuity issue, as I, for one, would like to be able to follow your story once again :)

    1. Really leery about those sorts of mods.

      I fell for the "unofficial Fallout 3 patch" once. Installed it per instructions that all the "experts" were throwing around.

      What did I get for my trouble? Missing textures, screwed up meshes, and oh yeah -- I couldn't set foot between Farragut Station and Dukov's Place or the game would crash on the spot.

      Ended up having to completely uninstall and wipe the game to get rid of that mess. Since, I've avoided the fan-made "game fixes". A mod to solve one issue? Sure. But one mod to rule them all? No way in hell.

  3. Another flaw in the whole mess I saw when I got to looking through my saves in was that the Nos' Adventures set of saves predates my girls being divested from RR; so to get back into those saves, I'd have to re-enable V1, try to get what equipment we still have -- assuming the FWE removal doesn't render it a self-contained CTD -- and then disable all that crap and reactivate my current companions plugin.

    My hopes about being able to salvage the saves just get lower the more I look at the whole setup in Wrye.