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Spike's fledgling adventures in Fallout 3 modding: A Virgin's Journey
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Spike
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June 23, 2010 - 2:57 pm
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I'm starting an F3 mod topic.  It will document my bumbling as I
learn what I need to learn to mod F3 to give me some more story and
some more quests.  For now, here's what I gleaned from about 2 hours of
reading over the last 2 nights:

I need to download 7zip. 
Apparently it does more than Stuffit Expander does.  I'll read more on
that later.

Then I need to download the Fallout Mod Manager
(FOMM).  Latest version apparently does alot of the
installation/ordering/etc. work for you.

I get the impression that
it makes more sense to download a gob of mods that you install at the
same time, thereby making the game all that much newer.  I'm gonna have
to keep track of the size of the mods I choose.  I've only got 6GB free
in Windows (up from 3GB last week).  I'm trying to get through a few
games, that were downloads, to free up some more space.

Getting
way ahead of myself:  after installing the F3 add-ons, and then the
Zeta DLC it was easy to know where to go/what to do to start the new
stories.  I will be installing mostly story/quest mods, so after
installation, etc, and after starting the game up, how will I know where
to go and what to do to start on the new stories/quests?

Thanks
for the support, Yap.  This should be fun.

 

 

"…you just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

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Spike
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June 23, 2010 - 3:00 pm
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How this double-posting stuff happens, I have no clue.

"…you just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

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Yapette
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June 23, 2010 - 3:33 pm
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Readme* is your friend.

So is Google.

And if you have enough patience to load 10s & 10s of pages, reading mod comments at nexus.

 

If you're going to download a whole buncha stuff, especially big files (anything over 2 mb), what I do is pay for a month's membership at nexus & d/l via faster servers. Plus, I feel I owe the site's owner at that point for providing everything in one place.

 

Another thought (meaning: concern) of mine is your dwindling free hard drive space. I hope someone else chimes in as my knowledge is woefully behind the time about windows swap files now called page files. In a nutshell, XP automatically (or you manually) designate how large a space is set aside. What I don't know is will this "empty space" be taken out, set aside, removed from the GBs that you're reporting here are left/empty or are you coming closer to filling up with content what XP needs to be able to play/swap your games? Anyone?

 

* Many mods include a readme which you'll discover upon unzipping (I say "unzip" but I use winrar which decompresses all the zippers). Readmes includes installation/uninstallation instructions, troubleshooting & if you're lucky & the mod maker has been bugged since forever about this very thing, hints on how to start.

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Helmut
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June 23, 2010 - 4:15 pm
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Yap, the pagefile is stored as pagefile.sys, it's a system file that is available all the time for the OS to write to/read from, so it exists on your HD, already sized once windows are installed. It should already be counted in the freespace.

My Dark Souls single player sensibilities are protected by a +10 GfWL Firewall of Ineptitude

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Yapette
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June 23, 2010 - 5:22 pm
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Whew, thanks Helmut. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, eh? 

 

I remember making my swap file larger – maybe even in XP. My logic (and a forum's) was that XP does not assume every user is a gamer so doesn't by default assume users will be playing games of humongous gigabytes. Thus, default allocation may be inadequate. And the old default formula of swap file=2xRAM hasn't kept up with current ramafications. But whata I know? For sure, not software mechanics.

 

I get antsy & begin cleaning when my hard drives creep lower than 50% free. [Image Can Not Be Found] Mind you, some aren't so very large to begin with (like 100gb notebook w/ 10% hidden by Dell [restore to factory]).

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Ernest
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June 24, 2010 - 7:52 pm
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I downloaded a TON of F3 mods–and then started the BG/BG2 super mod adventure, so I still haven't actually played F3 yet.  But I actually think I got the mods installed and loading in the right order.  I did it by a lot of trial and error.  I mean a LOT.

 

Finally I wised up and started backing up/restoring my data file before each new installation and test.  It took a while, but it was a lot faster than having to reinstall the whole game b/c I didn't get a mod installed properly.

 

Also I start the game using FOMM.  Now the thing about FOMM is that some mods (ending with .fomod I think) want FOMM to install them.  And others just want you to copy them into the /data directory.

 

I don't think there are conflicts but there are some other weird quirks, like some mods not existing in the current template, even though I did everything I think I was supposed to do.

 

Anyhow the mods I installed are:

ambient wasteland 2

dimonized bodies (including jesse companion supposedly)

eve

fellout

fook2

fose

fwe

mmm

nmc's texture pack

wmk

essential caravan merchants

excalibr munitions v2

scarabaeus

underground hideout

 

I have no idea what will work and what won't.  But at some point the game has to be played or given up on.  Kind of like how I still haven't even gotten to a gate in Oblivion.

 

I love the idea of these sandbox ultra-modable games.  But the reality is that mods require a lot of time to learn and the games require a lot of time to play.  Time unfortunately these days is the most expensive commodity I have.

What F3 really needs is a mod installer like Bigworld for BG/BG2.  I mean Bigworld may be the most impressive game tool I've ever seen.  In geez now almost 30 years of gaming.

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Ernest
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June 24, 2010 - 9:15 pm
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Yapette said:

I get antsy & begin cleaning when my hard drives creep lower than 50% free. [Image Can Not Be Found] Mind you, some aren't so very large to begin with (like 100gb notebook w/ 10% hidden by Dell [restore to factory]).


 

You know Yap that 1 TB drives seem to run about $80 now?

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Spike
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June 24, 2010 - 11:43 pm
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My Mac's HD is 300GB of which I used 80GB for the Windows partition when I got the computer 2.5 years ago.  At the time I had yet to play my 1st RPG, so 80GB for adventure games seemed like a lot.

Last night I uninstalled Half-Life 2 and add-ons since I will play that on the Mac side, what with Steam being my new best friend and all.  I also dumped an old unplayed Sherlock Holmes game that I'm pretty sure I'd never have gotten to. Then I used a disc cleanup utility.  By the time I was done my 6GB free was 18.5GB free.  More than enough for me to feel comfortable with however many mods I choose to install.

Tonight I do more reading.

Tick-tock:  about an hour of reading later, with this post box open, I found this on the Nexus site (I've registered and paid.):

http://www.fallout3nexus.com/d.....hp?id=5573

Hoo-wee!  More buildings.  I so love buildings and was often disappointed that I couldn't enter more of them.  Well, that is mod #5 I've chosen.  None downloaded yet, but I'm making my list and checking it twice (for size too).

1. A Note Easily Missed 

2.  An Evening With Mr. Manchester

3.  To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

4.  In the Shadow of the Swamp

5.  The DC Interiors Project  (need to read reviews of this one)

 

Any good specific mod suggestions appreciated.  You can see I am going for story and quest.  The buildings are a bonus.  I'm not (at least right now) interested in modding me, my weapons or apparel, or having unlimited aids, etc. 

 

Thank ya, thank ya very much.

"…you just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

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Spike
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June 24, 2010 - 11:47 pm
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Ernest said:

 

Anyhow the mods I installed are:

ambient wasteland 2

dimonized bodies (including jesse companion supposedly)

eve

fellout

fook2

fose

fwe

mmm

nmc's texture pack

wmk

essential caravan merchants

excalibr munitions v2

scarabaeus

underground hideout

 


 

Ernest:  I checked out most of the mods you list.  I like essential merchants (Mine all had a habit of dying.  I don't know how many times I rezzed them, and even then, they were separated from their brahmin and I never could get them back together.)  Also like underground hideout, scarabaeus and one other that I now can't remember.  Thanks.  I'll take suggestions however I get them.  [Image Can Not Be Found]

"…you just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

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Spike
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June 25, 2010 - 1:22 am
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Am I being picky?  I'm reading (and reading, and reading) on Nexus.  Taking Yap's advice about lots of endorsements.  But one thing that bugs me:  so many people can't spell, or can't type, or have a bad grasp of grammar.  Some of these people might be ESL, I know, and I exempt them from my pickiness (sometimes you can tell, and sometimes you can't).  Lots of endorsements or not, I think I'd balk at downloading something created by someone who couldn't explain it in clear language without lots o' mistakes.  'Course maybe I will change my tune if I happen on a to-die-for mod created by an idiot.  [Image Can Not Be Found]

"…you just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

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Steerpike
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June 25, 2010 - 9:39 am
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Lots of modders don't bother with proper English usage, which makes me assume they're all in middle school. ESL is also a possibility, but my cold stone heart tends to put it down to laziness. It can make it very difficult when you're just learning how to do things!

 

In my personal experience there's little need for the swap/page file to be more than 2GB, while a 64-bit OS and 4 or even 6GB of RAM make a big difference. Bear in mind that the world's fastest (magnetic) hard drive is 1,000 times slower than the world's slowest RAM, yet Windows draws little distinction between the two when stowing data in memory. I generally manually set mine to a minimum of 2GB and a maximum of 2GB - that way the space is set aside, unfragmented, and it won't dynamically expand and contract, crapping up my hard drive with fragments. Remember the swapfile cannot be defragged by Windows' default defragger, only some aftermarket ones do that.

 

I like reading about mods. Yap's adventures have always interested me, so I look forward to hearing about yours, Spike!

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Yapette
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June 25, 2010 - 2:18 pm
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Or to take the other side: you (Spike) & I may be able to explain something clearly in English but neither of us can write a mod nor can I write a second (or third, fourth....) language.

 

When I wanted to work on a PhD, the required 2nd language fluency was almost a deal-breaker. Luckily for me, my university considered proficiency in computer programming (which I didn't know either when I started) a 2nd language.

 

Anyway, what was my point? [Image Can Not Be Found] Oh yes, it doesn't bother me so much when a mod's explanation isn't totally clear (sometimes, no description at all). My criteria is how many players say things like,"This mod is great!" or "Can't imagine playing X without your mod."

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Spike
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June 25, 2010 - 4:16 pm
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Yapette said:

Anyway, what was my point? [Image Can Not Be Found] Oh yes, it doesn't bother me so much when a mod's explanation isn't totally clear (sometimes, no description at all). My criteria is how many players say things like,"This mod is great!" or "Can't imagine playing X without your mod."


 

Steerpike said:  Lots of modders don't bother with proper English usage, which makes me
assume they're all in middle school. ESL is also a possibility, but my
cold stone heart tends to put it down to laziness. It can make it very
difficult when you're just learning how to do things!

Now that I've thought about it some more, I agree with both of you.  Half my brain is with Steerpike and the other half with Yap.  After all, my ex and I often say "We need a 16 year old to explain that to us."  Too bad we've never had a 16 year old that loved tech. Lots of 16 y.o.s can't put a decent thought or sentence together, but lots of them know their way around technology. 

The quest for mods continues, as does the learning part of the adventure.  My eyes eventually started to glaze over last night, but I'll begin again once I get some RL stuff done.

"…you just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

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Ernest
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June 25, 2010 - 9:22 pm
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Spike said:

 

Ernest:  I checked out most of the mods you list.  I like essential merchants (Mine all had a habit of dying.  I don't know how many times I rezzed them, and even then, they were separated from their brahmin and I never could get them back together.)  Also like underground hideout, scarabaeus and one other that I now can't remember.  Thanks.  I'll take suggestions however I get them.  [Image Can Not Be Found]


 

I'm gonna try out some of yours too buddy when I finally get done with my BG/BG2 (re)adventure.  So far I'm still tinkering with resolution (gonna play at 1280x800 I think as anything else is too small) and I had to install new Nvidia drivers to get rid of an annoying graphics glitch.  I remember those games fondly, but with them combined into 1, and the dozens and dozens of mods installed, it's gonna be a doozy of a game.

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Spike
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July 3, 2010 - 2:24 am
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So, here I am with 29 DL'd mods and a few utilities.  All totalled they come to just under 1GB.  Not bad at all, what with 18+GB free space.  After much reading there are still some things I don't understand.

1. is it better to install a few mods at a time, or maybe even just one at a time, to make sure there are no problems/conflicts?

2.  Load order:  am I wrong here?  I understand that if you have a mod with a file/files, and also a plug-in, that you have to install them in the order the dev tells you to (I assume this will be in the read me file).  I also notice that some mods change other mods, or complement them, or are an overlay.  Exa:  John makes a mod that changes the exterior design of a building.  Tom makes a mod that changes the interior of that same building.  Tom might say that John's mod gets installed (load order in the game file) first, and his, Tom's, gets installed after that.

Beyond this, is there any reason, assuming no word from the dev, to install one mod before any other?  Does size count?  200 MB mod installed before the 80K mod?

3.  I came across a few mods on the Nexus site that looked interesting, but the devs said that they were works in progress.  Yet many people DL'd them and gave them favorable reviews even in their unfinished state.  I liked a few that were listed this way, but I didn't DL any of them.  Work in progress?  Why would I want something that wasn't finished?  I'd worry about problems.

"…you just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

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Yapette
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July 3, 2010 - 3:07 pm
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Quick & dirty response: if you install 29 mods at one go & then load your game & it crashes? won't load at all? loads & crashes when you do something in particular? Exactly which mod do you suppose is the culprit? Or mods? Or what load order*? [Image Can Not Be Found]

Knowing squat about FO3 mods but assuming similar mod issues:

1. Gather your mods (done).

2. Install mod manager.

3. Install a couple (1-3 depending upon complexity, how much mod changes) as per mod manager instructions or manually.

4. There was a ultility called FCOM that was capable of (suggesting) auto-order for major mods (not necessarily correct but a big help). Is there such a thing for this game? If not, manually load order according to readmes, general rules**, forum suggestions, others' load order that seems to work, etc.

5. Archive Invalidation (I think mod manager – what's it called for FO3 – FOMM? – does it for you now).

6. Load a save, walk around, travel a couple of places, do a few things….everything working as it should? SAVE.

7 Repeat # 3, 4, 5, 6 (loading SAVE created in previous step 6).

8. Repeat # 3, 4, 5, 6.

8. and so on….

 

Here is Arwen's mod list (she's the one I mentioned months ago, started as newbie w/ MW, has now authored one of major FO3 overhauls) – an excellent site for guidance – plus links!

 

That should keep you busy for awhile. Remember, save/copy your last good save (before modding) to a separate, entirely safe & clean place. Should all hell crap up, you can uninstall everything, reload your original save. And start over. [Image Can Not Be Found] The trick is keeping track of 10s of saves without names, only date stamps.

 

* Yes, Virginia, at least in Morrowind & Oblivion, load order makes all the difference. What might not work in one order, might work perfectly when rearranged. But adding 29 at once makes finding the correct order a nightmare.

** here are general rules for Oblivion, generalize them to minor, major, overhauls, textures.

 

P.S. I think the first mod I ever installed added an item. Didn't change any files, simply put a ring into the game (mind you, it might have allowed me to become invisible at will but that's something else again). Went where it was supposed to be & there it was! Hooray! I can do this!!!

Scout
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July 3, 2010 - 3:14 pm
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Jesus Christ. [Image Can Not Be Found]

 

This is why I never install more mods than I can count on one hand...and that would be the hand to your left here...

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Yapette
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July 3, 2010 - 3:23 pm
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What can I say? I feel no need to play Brain Age (DS) to prevent senility? Dementia is not a concern as long as I still install mods? [Image Can Not Be Found]

Scout
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July 4, 2010 - 12:15 pm
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Good point. I had my first serious senior moment a couple of days ago. I walked out of my local grocery store and had no idea where the car was. I had only been in the store for 10 minutes. I didn't know if I had driven, walked or biked either. I was about to ask someone what day it was when I saw my car. I seriously did not remember even going to the store and sort of found mysefl standing in the parking lot with a bag of groceries in my hand. I still don't know what happened for that lost ten minutes. I have done a check for needle marks and anal probes and think I'm clean. [Image Can Not Be Found]

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Spike
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July 4, 2010 - 3:08 pm
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This is starting to feel more like housework than playing. 

Last night I:

*  scanned all the DLs with 2 different anti-this/anti-that programs.  All is well. 

*  installed archiveinvalidationinvalidated, FOMM (mod manager), FOSE (FO3 script extender), FO3EDIT.  I only really understand what FOMM does, but the others were recommended either by the mod devs themselves or in articles on modding FO3.  I assume I will learn more as I go – or that now installed, those programs will just do their jobs without much help from me.  Oh, what an optimist!

*  I  started the game (it has been 7 weeks since I did so), played for awhile, then quit.  I then copied my last 2 saved games and tucked them away in case anything goes awry.

*  I glanced at Arwyn's site, but will have to read later when I've got more time to concentrate.  A good site Yap, thanks.

One thing I will do tonight is search for load order lists made by others (Arwyn included) to get a feel for how they are arranged.

Against all advice given here (for which I am most grateful), I will install 6 mods tonight.  Five of the mods are by the same dev (Puce Moose). I'm going to assume that all his mods are compatible with each other, and with the game.  The 6th mod is the DC Interiors Project which adds interiors to many of the boarded up buildings in the DC area.  This mod seem to have been well-tested for compatibility.  All these mods have gotten many endorsements.  I'm gonna assume they are stable and non-goobering.

If I have no trouble with these I will then start to add mods one by one and hope all goes well.  I am so itching to play again.

Just thinking:  seems to me that short of a crash/freeze/etc. when 1st starting the game after mod installation it might be tough to know if there are incompatibilities.  There's lots of Wasteland out there.  So many little bits of game.  An incompatibility might not show up until/if I reach a particular place/perform a particular action. Just thinkin' is all.

"…you just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

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