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...


  1. You're really starting to tempt me to grab some mods from the Nexus and fire up the Bethesda cash cow again... but I'm still wondering if I should wait until we have all the official DLCs and updates first before I plan a serious full-game play-through.

    1. You know you want to.

      Plus, if you don't I have no one to share my new companions with...

  2. I don't know if it is the lighting, the choice of eyes, the skin tones or what, but these images of your deadly crew have a heavy Goth look to them. I am not complaining about that, as I like my women Goth/vampiric in appearance :)

    1. Probably the lighting -- moonlight tends to do that. Suppose I'll have to try some outdoor, sunny shots one of these days...

  3. one player house that's not super-cheaty I like is Reaper's "The Dark Tower" but to quote the author "First, i'd like to tell you all that this mod was design with my own taste,It contains NUDITY, TORTURE and some textures can refer to SATANISM... You are warned !" There is a topless tart lounging about the pool room in there, and to get access to it you need to take out the present owner. Also there is a LOT of occult references in the place, if that thing bothers you - but otherwise I'm rather impressed by it.

    1. I'm going to have to do something -- I've started having problems with the Build your own home! navmesh. The girls aren't wanting to follow me in and out correctly, and they keep getting stuck on the hill leading back up to the road so I have to fast travel in and out of the place.

      I'm a little leery about the "evil" house mods. Haven't tried Reaper's, but awhile back I did try Hydra's Lair... which was... bad.

      I've got nothing against the evil, or the Satanism (hell, I own copies of two of LaVey's books) it's just that the "torture" schtick... it makes the houses look like you sat a thirteen year old down and told them to write something dark, edgy, and adult. No style, no subtlety; just NUDITY NUDITY PAIN TORTURE SLAVERY OMG AREN'T I DARK DO YOU LOVE ME YET?!

      So far my favorite house mod has been the Bathing Beauties Luxury Suite -- and I'm not just saying that because ttomwv and I are listed in the thanks section of the readme. I like the location, the simple, comfortable setup; the full amenities, the selectable nudity, the lack of cages and torture implements. Only trouble is there by Whiterun on the river is (at least for me) one of the buggiest and most crash-prone areas of the game, so getting in and out of the place often proved to be challenging, at best.

      Since I've apparently fixed most of the underlying issues with the game, though, I'll probably reinstall BBLS and give it another shot.

      Short of that, I'm going to end up making my own again. More I think about it, the more I think Dwemer is the way to go.

  4. so, since I believe you've said that you have no plan for NosCo companion system for Skyrim - is there any available one out there that is customizable that doesn't completely suck that you might semi-recommend?

    That is, if I can actually load any savegames. It's become so crashtastic for me, I can rarely play anymore. Do I misremember, or was it said that Wyrebash can analize the loaded mods to discover conflicts to help you fix them?

    1. "so, since I believe you've said that you have no plan for NosCo companion system for Skyrim"

      The big reason there's no plans for any NosCo system is there's really no need. The companion framework is all vanilla in Skyrim. Read this guide. Aesthetic details aside, creating a basic companion is literally like a ten minute job in this game. Adding a custom race gets a bit more complex, of course, but the basic races are fairly decent.

      Since they fixed level scaling in v1.6, the only reason you really need a follower mod to change the system is if you want more than one in tow at a time. The base game of course doesn't allow that because Beth devs are all overbearing blowhards who have fits at the notion that someone may change their perfect difficulty scaling.

      For multi-companion parties, I use Extensible Follower Framework. It's fairly small, and basic -- by default it doesn't change much in the base game (how I like it) and the "take anyone as a companion" bit is an optional plugin. It does have some neat features, though: like setting outfits, (re)setting where the NPC considers their home (which is where they go back to when dismissed -- if they have no home, they stay in the cell where you dismissed them); and can change aggression and essential status and the standard bevy of stuff I don't use. I keep the menu turned off, and handle all follower interaction through dialogue.

      There's also Ultimate Follower Overhaul; which is favored by some. I don't use it because it's a conflict-happy pain in the ass, and violates several of my personal rules about one mod trying to influence too much stuff in the game.

      "Do I misremember, or was it said that Wyrebash can analize the loaded mods to discover conflicts to help you fix them?"

      Wrye doesn't do conflict detection as far as I know. BOSS is supposed to have some ability in that area; but after it screwed my FO3 installation blue and tattooed it a few years ago, I haven't touched BOSS so can't say how it works in Skyrim.

      In previous games, we used the *edit programs (FO3edit, etc) for such things, but there isn't one for Skyrim as far as I know. There is only Skyedit; which hasn't been updated since February, isn't compatible with v1.5 or v1.6 of Skyrim, and never worked right to begin with.

      I've been doing my conflict detection with Wrye -- looking at plugin details to find out what changes what when something in the game acts funny. Yeah, it's horribly inefficient, but it doesn't fuck over my load order to "help" like BOSS will.

      For what it's worth, I hear tell that a proper successor to the *edit utilities is in the works, it just hasn't been released yet. Elminster says he's on it. I'll post a link when I see it available, since I too miss the ability to run a load order through a conflict detector.

  5. ok awesome, thanks for for the companion tips. Now I just need to figure out how to combine ESP files into single ones to make it easier to start off in certain places with certain gear.

    I have so many mods active, I'd like to be able to combine a bunch of them to make the load order shorter. grrr

    1. Probably the inefficient way again, but I just use TESSnip to combine plugins. Copy and paste. Takes forever, but it doesn't end up with anything getting extra masters; and only takes the part of the plugin you want, and not any that you don't.

      There's a standalone TESSnip that works for Skyrim, apparently, but I've been using the one in FOMM -- if you have the later version made to handle both FO3 and NV, the attached TESSnip is supposed to work for Skyrim for the most part. It may have problems copying certain new record types; but it's never given me any trouble. I suggest making backups if you're going to try it, though.