Monday, September 23, 2013

Swing and a Miss

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?

I haven't been idle; but between real life messes and not wanting to incur any more "y ur mods r no 1 click insatl?????" I've defaulted back to my old habits of just modding things that I personally want in my game; and not based on whether I think something would be popular with 'the community'.

Expanded the Estate again; did some more work on the girls; perfected my process to use a quest to add items (weapons and mods, specifically) to game-wide leveled lists via script (conflict free) and then switch itself off to have hopefully zero impact on game performance past the first few seconds.

While the weapon-adding code was a smashing success, recent efforts were... not.

Over the weekend, I decided to explore a want I've had in Fallout since 3 was still the one we were all playing -- a zombie mod.

I know, there are a few around. Trouble is, they're all the "apocalypse" type -- stupid gauntlet type shit where a zombie spawns every square meter of the game, and respawns every twelve seconds; turning the entire thing into less of a sandbox game, and more a "how long can you stay alive?"

Useful for testing combat AIs; nigh worthless for a full game.

So, I started up something less... overbearing. The idea was fairly simple: ghouls would spawn in "packs" at the Nuclear Testing Site; and move across the Mojave at the more Romero-esque walking pace towards any sizable settlement; where they would then either roam through town, or try to enter some of the buildings looking for people.

The idea was that settlements would be under regular assault; but not overwhelmed -- slowly worn down as the zombies killed off a guard or townsperson or two each attack, until finally there was no one left. Military installations would of course weather better -- McCarran and Cottonwood Cove both have enough soldiers handy to repel the waves with minimal losses; but places like Novac and Goodsprings would have a lot more trouble.

Setup was easy enough -- one feral and one Glowing One copy for each place to be attacked; slap a travel package to some arbitrary point in or near enough to the target that they won't get lost; put some code into the packages' OnEnd block to remove the travel package and add the attack package when their target is reached; make sure low level processing is enabled so that the engine will still move them even when they're not loaded into the game; drop as many as you need into the game world; fire it up to test...

...and it doesn't fucking work. Of course.

Turns out that while low level processing will allow the zombies to follow their travel packages when the player isn't around to see it; the OnEnd block in the packages won't fire unless they're loaded into the game and active at the time. So what you get is a group of ten zombies standing idle at the travel package destination until the player shows up; at which point they go apeshit and attack you instead of the town.

That, by the by, is when Maeva and the custom Saiga 12 I gave her come in mighty handy. I generally carry long range, powerful, slow-firing weapons; which it turns out aren't good for dealing with runner-type zombies ten at a time. My poor, three shot Rhino just couldn't keep up.

Anyway; tested four different settlements, and all had the same issue, so I don't think it was a one-off where the engine just got its head up its ass again.

Not sure what to do. The theory is sound; but like so many of my other ideas the engine won't let it execute properly. Scripting the package changes via quest script would necessitate setting the zombies up as explicit references; and would add to the CPU load more than a bit, since it would have to monitor the location of and alter the packages of a hundred and forty creatures (assuming I never decided to expand it further). Slapping the attack packages directly onto the zombies would remove a lot of the randomness; since they'd no longer select an attack behavior at random once they reach the settlement. Making them a random spawn with pre-set attack packages won't work since spawns don't trigger until the player is in their cell... and both of those last ones assume that the zombies won't get lost between points A and B in the first place -- remember, even Beth copped out and made the vanilla companions move back home via script because their travel packages and/or the package hand-off to sandboxing were so unreliable.

Probably the safest bet would be to forgo the travel altogether and just set up the random spawns in the town... but that kills the possibility of running across the zombies in transit, out in the desert -- which was half the damned point of the entire thing.

I guess if I want this like I envisioned, I'm going to have to micromanage the shit out of it and not leave anything up to randomness.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Delivery From Skyrim


It Glows!

I sat up playing Civ4 until nearly 0700 Saturday, I didn't end up getting back up until nearly 1800. So it is that I sit awake now.

Seems to be fuckall going on in the late night/early morning -- nothing on TV, XM continues to be made of suck and fail since the Sirius takeover; nothing interesting on any forums or boards.

Decided to spend some time modding; which I haven't gotten to do much lately due to life being annoying. Should probably be creating weapons and scripting their leveled list adders in FNV... but that crap is so boring. Ended up monkeying with Skyrim, instead.

Readers will no doubt be aware that one of the more memorable features of everyone's favorite demoness (aside from being friggin' huge) is that her eyes glow; and not with that boring, "brighter than the sun" single color glow-y spot that you can see from space, either. Regular readers may also recall that when I initially tried carrying this effect over to Skyrim, I failed miserably.

Well, I've learned a fair bit more about working with models since then, and figured I could give it another go. Better than watching The Matrix for a forty-third time on Cinemax, anyway.

Made the alterations to the mesh; made the alterations in the relevant entries in the SuCK; loaded the game... and no change.


...Then I remembered I forgot to export her facegen files again; since while I didn't edit the character, the eyes and eye textures are nonetheless listed in the facegen mesh. Once I did that...

...Ye Gods; it looked like some shit from /tesg/. Still, they glow; so now it's just a matter of finding the right settings... and modifying the eye texture to be the right color to emulate the Fallout setup; and looking up which emissive color I used to get the right bleed-through effect; and creating a whole new glowmap that looks less like shit...

While I was "under the hood" anyway, I also decided to see to a couple other issues. It's fairly well known that while an otherwise outstanding body, UNP/B/C/et al have an issue wherein the default head is too big for the body -- not quite cartoonish in proportion, but not anatomically correct for a human being, either. I've known for several months how to fix it; but never bothered because doing it right would involve setting up a custom skeleton for each race... and I'm y'know, lazy and all. Figured I may as well tonight, though; since I was messing with a bunch of other stuff, anyway.

The results? Well, I'll let the images speak for themselves:

In all, I glowy-ed the eyes, shrank her head to human-esque proportion, made her arms and hips slightly larger (had done the legs, too; but they ended up looking messed up so I reverted them to normal), mostly fixed the issue with her underlying "hairline" mesh clipping through the main hair (you can still see a teeny spot in that second-to-last image; up at the top rear of her head -- so I apparently still need to mess with it a bit), and increased the scale of the main hair as a whole 10% to help offset it being too short and having screwed up alphas.

I wasn't sure how many tries it would take to get the eyes right; but looking through my screenshot archive from FNV, I think I nailed it as close as the games' different interpretation of meshes and lighting will allow.

While I wouldn't call it a masterwork, I'm nonetheless pretty pleased with how Maeva came out. Scaling up her hair seems to have worked nicely, too... but man that is a low quality texture. Then again, the ported hair mesh uses the same texture it had in FO3; which was the same texture it had in Oblivion... so not unexpected.

Now if I could just get those damned neck-seams to disappear...

Edit, noon-thirty PST:

Played some; got my savegames lined out (I think -- I swear to whoever's listening, I'm going to stop using any script-heavy Skyrim mods... they all seem to be game-fuckers); took some more screenshots under dimmer lighting conditions.

Here we have the wild demon; getting sloshed while listening to some live entertainment.

Back in the main game, we spent some time in the volcanic hotsprings; met a majestic endangered species... and hit it in the face with sharp objects until it died.

We ended up out east of Karthwasten after dark; finishing off some miscellaneous quests. This seemed a perfect opportunity to see how the new glowy eyes did in the dark.

As you can see, they're noticeable; but don't overpower local sources or cause the equivalent of a washout in your vision.

It's probably not something you guys can tell from the screenshots, but I messed with Maeva's hair some more, too. Increased the scale another ten percent; got the underlying "hairline" mesh to stop clipping through; and increased the volume of her hair in general.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Do It Yourself?

Got curious this morning about just how many of my FNV mods were stuff I did myself; since I tend to just create what I need at the moment and not really pay attention to it after that as long as it works.

Not counting the FNV master, the DLC, or esp "working versions" of files I use as a master, I count 59 plugins in my FNV data folder.

Yes, I run a fairly sparse game. It cuts down on crashing; and I found long ago that most of my plugins in FNV and other games were clutter -- armor or weapon mods that weren't actually in any leveled list, and that I never really used.

Of those 59 plugins, 22 were made by me. 23 if you count the version of Kaw's "Cat Outfits" plugin that I converted from FO3 myself rather than wait on an official port when FNV hit. What? I needed Maeva's horns, damn it.

So... yeah -- apparently there were quite a few things I wanted done right and/or without excess baggage and "extra features".

A Mojave Aside

Not really pertaining to mods exactly, but I went on a bit of a modding binge this evening.

I've long wanted an increases spawns mod for FNV; but the mods I've tried have uniformly sucked. The latest has recently hit the Nexus' hot files listing, but when I tested it I found out that it was not an increased spawns mod, after all -- in a simple increased spawns mod, you'd see more of whatever normally inhabited an area; just more of them. This one took every spawn type I enabled... and put them wherever I went. When I stepped out of the Estate (NNE of Jacobstown, over the mountain -- normally only inhabited by some Bighorners and a few mantises) to go test spawns, imagine my surprise when I was met by cazadores, super mutants, radscorpions, ghouls, and Legion. Might have been more... but the stupid mod spawned so many enemies (even with a 10% chance of none) that my system slowed to one frame every other second or so.

Just another case of 'if you want something done right, do it your damned self' -- so I did.

Anyway, while I was in the GECK looking around outdoor cells for certain types of spawns to multiply in a non-pantsu-on-head-retarded manner I decided to check on Bonnie Springs. I kind of waffled on this idea because if you play the long way around (like you're a'sposed to) the Vipers in Bonnie Springs are a push-over -- you'll long since have acquired the long range weapons and/or DT busting ammo you need; but the way I play, I generally roll into the park at level four, with nothing more powerful than a .357 revolver or varmint rifle. Without mods or preorder packs, it's really difficult to clear out the Vipers; since one has metal armor and one has combat armor, they're pretty much immune to anything you can loot around Goodsprings save for explosives... and since the Vipers also get to spawn with a grenade rifle and a trail carbine, getting close enough to use dynamite can be a messy proposition, too.

Digression aside, I found that I couldn't practically increase the Viper spawns, since they're scripted. Turns out most of the Vipers in the game are. I don't know why the rest of the enemies in the game didn't get the treatment, but apparently Vipers are scripted to have their corpses replaced with scavenging animals after a certain amount of time passes from their death -- the Vipers around Ranger Station Charlie actually have three levels: the Vipers, the scavengers, and then a third set that moves in when you kill the second off.

While I was trying to decide whether I wanted to edit the scripts to work with more spawns, I found this:

Those of you in the audience who have done much quest scripting in NV will probably recognize Jorge's name -- he left comments and notes in more than a few scripts. This one, I can't help but think was meant to be deleted before the game went live. Basically, it's one of the devs passive-aggressively bitching about having to scale things back to make the game work on consoles. So much for consoles being just as good as the PC, I suppose.

I thought it was funny.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


So, Herculine makes a post over on her blog. I try to comment.

I am informed I cannot; for you see, I have not joined the holy G+. I have not "upgraded" because in doing so it crams every iota of data Google can scour from the web about you into one easy to abus-I mean peruse listing; collates all your data to sell to whoever they please; and makes some changes to Picasa, but does not specify anywhere that I could find what exactly those changes are.

Look. I don't want to be an easy to find profile; listing every account I have, my search histories, my uploaded images, my blogs. If I want shit cross-linked, I will do the linking.

I do not want to post under my "real name". If I liked my real name, I wouldn't be fucking posting as Nos. Sadly, however, I do engage in some semi-official business with my Gmail account; and thus need a proper name attached to it. Apparently this isn't going to fly much longer in Google's eternal quest to completely destroy privacy and compartmentalized lives, however.

On the bright side: almost no one actually reads this anymore; and no one even notices me on the Nexus except when they need a mod fixed or a script written, so I can probably slip back into obscurity pretty easily.

Though I do wish I hadn't spent all that time this morning figuring out how to make up the pseudo-postcard in New Vegas (you wouldn't believe how much trouble it is to get a line of text arced to make a postmark) since I'm not in the mood to actually post it anymore. Probably need to be in the other room working on designing that FNX45 holster, anyway...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Skyrim Companion Stuff

Apologies if this is a little... ramble-y.

I'm trying to get back in the habit of actually posting stuff; rather than uploading screenshots into the Picasa account of no return and then forgetting about them for months.

I don't think I ever posted about it (couldn't find it in the post list as far back as November, anyway); but I did a while back get the whole custom bodies for companions things worked out in Skyrim.

The Nexus forum post I had read last year that went into details as to just how much of a pain in the ass it would be to set up a single-race custom body was apparently completely and utterly full of shit -- which is the result I'm learning to expect. I had downloaded HoneyVanity's companion Bee-V late last year; since I knew from /tesg/ threads that she had somehow managed to get a custom body working for the one companion. I am ashamed to say that the "trick" was not only something I hadn't considered, but in all takes less than two minutes per race to implement. It's as simple as flagging the custom body parts as being valid for use by the vanilla race your custom race copies its armor morphs from. If you don't know what that means, you're probably not messing around with custom races in Skyrim and don't need to worry about it.

My custom races aren't vampire or werewolf compatible -- because frankly I'm too lazy to script that mess; since it involves editing a vanilla script and would thus conflict with any other custom race mod, and I don't vamp or were my companions anyway. Nice thing about only one person using a plugin is you don't have to make allowances for the stupid ideas that the community on the whole gets.

Since my initial screenshot takin' got interrupted by the new GPU (which changed a bunch of video settings and resulted in the old shots looking like shit by comparison), I got sort of sidetracked several times and never actually got around to posting up the latest versions of the girls as they appear in 4E201.

Being as she's the obvious fan favorite, I suppose we'll start with everyone's favorite demoness. As I've noted in the past, Maeva's always supposed to have been on the muscle-y side. Not bulky; but lean and defined. Since much as I like them, the default UNP textures do not qualify as this, I had to look elsewhere. Enter HoneyVanity's barbarian body textures; which are versions of the same base texture she used for creating Bee-V. I have to say I do like these best, as far as "athletic" textures go; as they're well defined, but not the creepy-body-builder kind of stuff that so many seem to end up being. A few edits later (alright, it was actually about seventeen -- but it took some time to figure out compression settings), and we got this...

(you wouldn't believe how much booze it cost me to get the bikini posing)

And yeah; my shadows suck. Those were interim shots -- taken after the new GPU, but when I was still messing with settings. One of these days I need enough CPU and RAM to handle the game with an ENB active. Most recently, I got some shots of her the other night in full armored glory:

...And just because I love when she gives me this look:

I actually need to edit her textures again; as they ended up with some artifacting because of stupid GIMP. I make .png backups now so I have an original to re-export to .dds when the one I use gets corrupted... but sadly these were made before I started that safety measure. At some point I need to take another shot at making her eye meshes glow; the reflectivity is high enough that they sorta glow now under the right light... but it just isn't the same. Less creepy in a dark room, though.

Next up, we have She Who Shall Not Be Named, who continues to scare the hell out of me. Not only has she learned to bait slaughterfish and lead them up into the shallow water to kill them; but I was playing a few days ago and she can now apparently noclip through locked doors at will, and has learned how to follow me down un-navmeshed rocks and cliffsides -- where the other two have to walk around and follow a valid path. You mark my words: when the army of red-headed gynoids marches on humanity, the short haired one will be their leader.

Since Skyrim includes no skirts and button-up shirts that I've been able to find thus far, she's taken to wearing the "Mourner's Clothing" when not armored.


Lastly, we have Natasha -- who is turning out to be as bloodthirsty as the other two. Her AI has developed the tactic of using a lightning bolt or firebolt spell in each hand; but instead of dual-casting (which she has the spells and perks for), she chain-fires and uses the spells in normal form; but to land two hits almost simultaneously. Must be something I did with the combat style and didn't realize it...

And lastly we have one of her looking suitably badass; still glowing with the protection spell she cast during the opening of what was one of the most anticlimactic battles in history:

We were heading into Markarth to spend the night somewhere indoors (since Frostfall makes it a bad idea to sleep outside); and were "ambushed" by four Forsworn at a bridge.

That's right. Four people in animal skins, with stone weapons attacked four people decked out in full armor, expensive fur cloaks, and carrying glowing weapons. Hell, one of our little party is damned near seven feet tall in her armor -- armor that I might add glows red in places. I know why the Forsworn lost the Reach: because they're morons. The "fight" lasted all of ten seconds; they went down so fast that I think the protection spell was pretty pointless... but it made for a nice screenshot.

I don't actually have many well-lit shots of new-Natasha. There's nothing wrong with her AI or combat prowess; it's just that my toaster-like computer doesn't much care for three custom-body companions in tow at the same time. Runs fine if they're not in the party (sandboxing around the house while I do crafting stuff, for example), but once they go into follow mode my FPS tanks for some reason. So I tend to leave Natasha to watch the house.

Not to mention all the pathfinding and traffic jam problems that occur when you take more than two companions into a cave or other close area of questionable navmesh quality.

And finally, in one of my alternate characters, I ended up using Lydia as a companion rather than just leaving her at Breezehome. I decided if she was going to tag along, she'd need to look less bad. This happened:

Interestingly, I didn't rework the face at all -- that's just the normal game-wide UNP textures I have installed. All I did was switch her to red hair (34, 0, 0, I think it was). I guess making them a redhead really does automatically make any woman more attractive.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Unnamed Post Series: Companions

It shouldn't come as any surprise that the bulk of my recent modding time has gone into companions, and further expanding their already considerable capabilities.

Firstly, I've made oblique references on several occasions now to a system for creature companions that I was working on. Well, after logging fifty odd hours of play without him getting lost once or having to have his follow status forcibly reset; I'm about ready to call it a working framework.

Everyone, this is Cid:

Cid is a slightly mutated Gray Wolf; who stands about 30" at the shoulder and tips the scales up near a hundred and eighty pounds. He sports the standard NosCo companion features: follow, stay here, go home, inventory; as well as a tracking plugin with summoning and reset functions. The system I ended up using is slightly different on the back end than what I normally use; in that Cid's packages aren't added and removed on the fly -- they start on him, as his behavior is controlled by variable settings in his script. While not yet implemented, I am considering adding hardcore needs to him, as well.

As usual, I overdid it a bit on Cid. In the past, creature companions (Dogmeat, Rex) haven't been terribly useful for me -- they tend to get their furry asses handed to them on a regular basis. I didn't want this to happen to Cid, so I set up a few actor effects for him.

...I created a monster. In early testing, we were out at that travel trailer south of the Wolfhorn Ranch; the one where you get ambushed by Vipers. I let Cid run off to do his thing while I picked off gunmen where I could. Soon, I heard the telltale explosion of that one asshole with the grenade launcher. He wasn't shooting at me, so that narrowed it down. I kept working, expecting any second to see a message pop up that my pooch was unconscious. The message never came. What I saw instead, several seconds later, was the Viper come hauling ass out across the field; a giant (extremely pissed off) gray wolf hot on his heels, snarling and trying to bite him in the ass. ...You ever have one of those gameplay moments when you'd have given a great deal to have had FRAPS running to catch something? This was one of those. Sadly, it was over before I could aim and screenshot... but what a .gif it would have made. Afterwards, when I went to loot the Vipers, I found the one with the grenade launcher (missing half a leg). He still had grenades; his AI had just decided that a full rout was the proper response, apparently. Which to be fair, is usually the best idea if you shoot something in the face with a grenade launcher and it only gets mad.

He tanked the giant roboscorpion in OWB. The poor robot couldn't even get 20% of his health down; and Cid had beat the roboscorpion back several paces in the time it took me to get up the stairs to find a firing position with some cover. He wasn't doing any significant damage; but neither was the robot.

Obviously, I overdid the DT increase effect a tish. Going to have to scale that back, somewhat.

Cid, you may notice, is not made up of a vanilla game model. I had originally tried to use the wolf model from the monster mod; and almost immediately remembered how horrible the author of that mess is at modding. Decided to do it myself, instead. Took the Legion mongrel model, edited it to remove the shagginess, and then reworked the texture to make it gray, white, black, and some light blue. Sadly the finer details don't show up in the game; even with large textures and full anisotropic filtering. And yes: he has blue eyes in those last couple screenshots. He was originally supposed to have blue eyes. I changed it because I couldn't get the shade of blue I wanted; and I saw a photo of a wolf with pale yellow eyes that I thought looked fairly good. It didn't render correctly in-game either... but it's less bad than the pastel blue.

I gotta say, while I still don't like anyone else's creature companions, I like Cid. He screws up my sneaking on a regular basis, and much like a real dog he's constantly too close and trying to get underfoot... but he reminds me of the pets I had when I was playing WoW: a big furry ball of hate and damage absorption that jumps between me and enemies and holds their attention while I shoot them in the face.

Plus, I think it would make for a hilarious first entry into the Prospector Saloon...

"Cheyenne, stay. Don't worry, she doesn't bi-OH MY GOD what is that?!"

"Yeah... he does bite; so I'd keep my distance."

Of course, I haven't been neglecting the humanoid companions, either.

One thing I've wanted for a while that I finally got added was a sort of affection stat. Now, most companion makers want an affection-tracker stat so that when the player has completed enough bullshit fetch quests, the companion will decide they want to spend the rest of their lives with this particular pushover and et cetera et cetera. My girls are established characters, and don't do romance quests. Nonetheless, I wanted a means of tracking how they feel about the player on a per-game basis; to delay some dialogues or behaviors from kicking in until later (whether via cumulative niceness or by meeting specific requirements), so I added what I called "regard". This pulled double duty of giving me a way to control when the aforementioned dialogue and behavior would start and stop from a new game; as well as letting me test out the system and figure out how it works, for eventual inclusion in the mega-companion that will blow all others out of the water but you should totally forget I mentioned all the same.



Part of this system was gifts. Mostly standard stuff -- ammo, food, drinks. Hard liquor for the demon. Natasha gave me a bit of an avenue for trying something different, however, as she's more a normal girl than the others. She likes stuffed animals. Rather than just pull the standard cop-out where you give the NPC the item and it poofs away; I instead set up some shelves in an unused corner of the bedroom in the Estate. When I give Natasha a teddy bear, she puts it on the shelf to display.

The shelves hold fourteen bears total, in various sizes; and all placed using the Havok engine so that they sit on the shelves normally, instead of hanging stiffly as though suspended by wires.

It was a fun if minor piece of combined scripting and cell design; and I think it turned out well.

I also added a new method whereby the cell we're in will be tracked and categorized. Originally I had planned it to go indoors and out; and be used to trigger all sorts of neat dialogue... but I forgot that Bethsoft are fucking slackers. The GECK will allow you to put cells into a formlist... but it will not allow that formlist to be read by GetInCell -- requiring that rather than just having a formlist for each category of location, you have to name them explicitly and check one cell at a time. Worse yet, the script function that drives such code does not function on any cell except those in the Interiors worldspace -- not only will it not work outdoors, but it won't even work in places like the Lucky 38 penthouse or lounge; the Gomorrah courtyard; the legion camp in general. This severely cut back the number of cells I was able to work with; and all but destroyed most of the outdoor dialogue I had been planning.

Still, I managed to get some dialogue implemented; and the girls can now use alternate greetings and other dialogue based on where they are:

The three categories of cell I've set up are: safe, might-be-safe, unsafe. Only a few new dialogues are actually added right now because I hate to write a hundred lines of dialogue only to find out the script that decides whether they're valid or not doesn't work.

As well, I added some code that causes the girls to comment on entering a cell for the first time:

To keep it from being the same every game, the script is set up to choose one of them at random to comment. Since it only happens once per game, this combined with some random dialogue will hopefully keep the idea from ending up tedious and annoying; and rather give them some extra personality.

If the companion chosen to speak isn't in the party at the time, the script resets and tries again until it either gets a valid choice, or you're no longer in the cell in question. Probably not the most elegant of scripting; but in a half dozen tests now, it's proven perfectly reliable.

I also created a replacement for my long-serving Pip-Boy Plugin icon, that I've been using since RR days.

The new one is an icon-o-fied section of screenshot showing the Pip-Boy open to the world map tab. The original displayed a quest marker and the cursor to indicate you were finding something... but it ended up having to be reduced in size so much that those tiny details were lost.

There was probably more... but I've been typing at this stuff no one reads for like five hours off and on. I've long since lost my train of thought; so I think I'll end it here for now.