Archive | June 2013

Spare Us the Cutter

fnvOne thing you should always do whilst venturing into unknown territory is keep a journal of your findings. So it was with Fallout: New Vegas and my forays into the depths of the Geck. I’ve not uploaded my findings publically for a while, so here’s the latest edition, in its full scarily obsessive sperg-tastic glory!

Latest updates include a lot more DLC info, especially some juicy Dead Money stuff, new cut locations from Chris Avellone’s Rezzed presentation, as well as loads of small updates for the main game.

For clarity’s sake, let’s call this edition version 1.

Read it here

Oh, and if you like Alpha Protocol…. Good news coming soon!

A Breach In Protocol

Alpha Protocol

Alpha Protocol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the risk of being entirely premature, I’ve made some basic steps towards the goal of being able to fiddle around inside that other maligned Obsidian game Alpha Protocol.

There are two basic roads to take on this, but unfortunately I’m not smart enough to personally pull off either of them, so I’ve got in contact with people who can. Will something good come of this, or will I end up looking like a big fat idiot? Who knows! I think at least one route is likely to bare fruit.

Bound To Be Of Use

One thing that annoyed the hell out of me once I got into heavy G.E.C.K usage was the multibound bug. Basically one of the many historical bugs in the G.E.C.K means you can’t see inside interiors (and some other features don’t work right either) if you have multibounds enabled in the .ini file, yet turning them off results in the game crashing if you go to one of the rare maps that use them. To work with multibounds you have to constantly switch the multibounds setting in your geckcustom.ini file on and off which means quitting the program, loading up a text editor, changing it, and then saving and loading it up again.

To try and mitigate this annoyance somewhat, I came up with the following little helper tool. It’s just a little batch file I kept on my desktop that manipulates two copies of the geckcustom.ini file so I could easily toggle back and forth between having multibounds enabled or not. To use it, just stick it and the two included .ini files in your My Documents\My Games\FalloutNV directory and double click on it (you can make a shortcut to it and put it somewhere handy such as the start menu, or edit the file to change the paths to be absolutes and stick the batch file where you want). It’s pretty self explanatory after this point, you’ll get a prompt asking what state you want multibounds to be in, at which you can enter 1 or 2 and it will do its magic. Load up the G.E.C.K and mod away! Keep in mind this WILL delete your Geckcustom.ini file, so if you have any weird setting in there, you’ll need to replicate it in both the included ini files.

Download Here

New Vegas Basement

If there’s one game that captured my imagination in the last few years it’s Fallout: New Vegas. In what will likely be the last official game ever made by members of the original Fallout development team(s), Obsidian created a hugely underrated cult classic that rightly should have redefined what RPGs were all about. Instead people played it for about two hours, complained about the mediocre graphics and dismissed it as “more of the same”. I’ll probably write a more in-depth article on how important and interesting F:NV is as a piece of modern game design, but that can wait for now because you see, this post is about mods.

Fallout: New Vegas box art

Fallout: New Vegas box art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the game that made me get back in the programming saddle, something I’d not really done since my C64 BASIC days. While F:NV only uses a simple Javascript style scripting language, its basic syntax really helped gave me an in road to understand a lot of more complex languages such as lua and C++. I spent hours sifting through F:NV’s code figuring out how it worked, and found a lot of interesting and aborted stuff that had to be cut from the game due to its punishing deadline. I sat down and reinstated a lot of it, which varied in difficulty from the simple un-commenting out of existing code to painstakingly creating huge systems based on tiny shreds of script notes explaining how something was supposed to work, or tiny stubs of would-be code that were never really started. F:NV made a (programming) man of me.

You might like F:NV too, so here are some mod leftovers I worked on that have never been previously released:

Kings Radio

A personal favourite, this mod replaces the music played in and immediately outside the King’s School with real Elvis Presley songs as was blatantly obviously originally intended in the game before Elvis’ estate requested more money for a single song than likely the rest of the soundtrack cost to licence in its entirety. This clashes with the games’ lore (The King explicitly says that all recordings have been lost), but try it and tell me if it don’t just feel right! As a bonus this mod ALSO restores the oddly missing Hank Thompson song ‘Hangover Heart’ from Black Mountain radio (it’s quite rarely played but DOES work with this mod, I think there are actually two random counters and I only replaced one). This might cause problems with radio station expanders if they mess with Black Mountain radio. Oh also, if you’re using this on a game in progress and the speakers outside don’t play, use tcl in the console to fly up and then use the ‘use’ key (usually E) to turn them on. Works perfectly with my Freeside Open mod.

Download Here

Moon Over the Tower

An extended riff on the existing quest ‘The Moon Comes Over the Tower’, this mod extends the quest to include what was left of the original elements that would have made it substantially more challenging and interesting. To whit: you were supposed to try and install the hack module for Emily Ortal, only to find that somehow this did not work, and a series of “override consoles” would have to be switched on. These are all present in the final game in locations such as Camp Golf and House Tools but don’t do anything – now they do! This mod was largely made as a request for someone, and due to the rather clumsy new material I had to make to paper over the cracks (we don’t know WHY you originally couldn’t hack the terminal, so I made up some new messages to explain it)  I never released it to the wider world. Now you can decide for yourself if it’s worth having.

Download Here

Rex’s Rat Radar

As the King hints at in the game, Rex was originally supposed to hate Rats and would have the foible of rushing off to attack them every time one of them was on the same map as the player. This was abandoned in the final game as it’s surprisingly tough to actually implement – Obsidian certainly couldn’t get it going. Here’s my eventual solution. It’s not perfect but works good enough to have the intended effect. This is a potentially quite dangerous new quirk for Rex as he can actually get killed quite easily early on by the larger Wild Wasteland rats, but it’s something to add spice to repeat playthroughs. Pedants might point out that Rex won’t attack the rat in Freeside, but this was deliberate on my part as it causes a few headaches for various reasons. One drawback of this mod is that you will see the shield icon showing you are taking damage every couple of seconds – this is actually Rex’s “radar” hitting you. It does no damage, but is how it was originally coded to know whether a rat was in range on the map (it causes a huge invisible explosion that does no damage, and interrogates everything it hits to tell if it is a rat or not. ingenious, eh?). I’m not sure there’s a way around this problem.

Download Here

Dead Money Original Collar Death

Ever accidentally/deliberately shot one of the companions in Dead Money before you hired them and nearly soiled yourself when you immediately and unceremoniously exploded? Well the reason why this slightly incongruous situation (Elijah tells you the collars have a time limit before they go off) happens is because it’s not what was meant to happen. In fact there is code for Elijah to immediately contact you and cheerfully inform you that you’re yet another useless bunch of squabbling idiots and he’s going to blow you up and wait for the next hapless travellers to wander in, before your collar starts bleeping and the inevitable occurs. Unfortunately script notes point out that this leaves room open for situations where the player triggers an autosave point (e.g. changing maps) which would leave them with unusable autosaves where they would be stuck in an inescapable death loop. This mod restores the original death code, but beware that you can indeed screw up your autosave slot as outlined above. One oddity: due to the line being played ONLY on his radio station, I had to put in a work around for the player to hear it. In this case I had to literally make the player a radio! This doesn’t work very well as the volume is very quiet, but this was the only way I could get it working without touching more of the original game files, which just causes more potential compatibility problems with other mods. To hear it properly, turn on your pipboy to any other radio station before and it will change automatically to elijah’s station.

Download Here

Vault 21 Chase

When Benny invites you up to the complementary suite and then tries to bump you off via his henchmen, you can actually follow him and escape. He runs along a set path that leads past Yes Man’s room, down a long corridor to a locked elevator. Only, if you beat him to the elevator it is NOT locked and you can in fact gain access to an unfinished cut map that leads from the Tops to an abandoned part of Vault 21. This area doesn’t actually lead anywhere – in fact in the vanilla game it quite literally leads to nowhere – it’s surrounded by open void that the player can fall into. It’s also not navmeshed, meaning NPCs cannot walk around in here (including Benny himself). This mod finishes the area off, closes the doors that lead to the void, and also navmeshes the area as well as extends Benny’s path to run away down here as was clearly the original intent (there’s also some low level loot up for grabs). When you get to the end though, the exit door is locked. Where does Benny’s bolt hole go? It is a mystery…

In the archive you will find two files, one an esp, one an esm. Do NOT use both, they are exactly the same, use one OR the other. I’ve been lazy here; a new navmesh in the game in an esp file will weirdly deteriorate over time due to a bug in the game. This means that on first visit the area will work fine, but on repeated visits NPCs will likely get stuck (not really a problem as it will just be your companions who will rejoin you as soon as you leave the area). Making a file an ESM fixes that problem. “So why don’t you just do that”, you ask? Well because if you make it an ESM it goes at the start of the load order. This means that any mod after that (read: ALL esp files) will override it and break all my lovely hard work. As such you have two choices: use the esp, knowing that by putting it at the end of the load order no other mods should (hopefully) be able to wreck it, but in the knowledge that the navmesh will likely fall apart over time. Or you can use the ESM, which will in theory be rock solid, but in practice probably be wrecked by Johnny’s first furry mod that you have installed (dirty boy!) and all its dirty edits that restore vanilla game code and breaks my mod. Of coures the real solution is to split the code into both kinds of files so the navmesh is in the ESM and the script changes are in the esp, but that would take effort.

Download Here

None of these are released with any kind of warranty; expect them to delete all your saved games, ruin your computer, and kill your pets. Also: enjoy.

Is there more than this you ask? Oh yes. Much more.