I’ve got a Good Robot…

…and I’m not afraid to use it. Shamus Young’s Good Robot is now available on Steam.

[Update: buy the version that comes with the soundtrack; it makes great background noise at work, and reminds you to get home as soon as possible so you can kill robots.]

DOTT Returns…

Day of the Tentacle Remastered is out now on GoG, Steam, etc.

Dott remastered

Coming in 2017: Full Throttle Remastered.

Skyrim versus Fallout 4

Skyrim is an open-world RPG with a story, Fallout 4 is a story-driven RPG with an open world.

The first time I finished the main story in Skyrim, I really just wanted to clean it out of my quest log. I was massively over-leveled for it, having done lengthy quest chains for multiple factions, as well as an insane number of one-off quests and general explorations. When I finished saving the world, I still had at least a dozen quest chains queued up, plus another dozen miscellaneous quests. And I knew about a bunch more that I hadn’t even started.

The first time I finished the main story in Fallout 4, it was because I really didn’t have any other quests to do. There were the randomly-generated “cleanup on aisle one” quests from Preston, the occasional chatty NPC handing out tips, and a few location-dependent radio signals, but the vast majority of them were isolated quests in a single location. Some have multiple stages, like the town of Covenant or helping Travis, but they’re still pretty short. Even the main faction quest lines are pretty short and straightforward, and there are fewer factions to choose from, which largely become exclusive after you reach a certain point in the story (“if you accept this quest, you will become enemies with faction X”).

Recording voice for every quest option, for both PC and NPCs, is likely the main reason there are fewer quest chains, but the quests that do exist also tend to be less discoverable. For instance, I was inside a building when the (spoiler) crashed, and had no idea what Nick was chattering about. I wouldn’t have gone looking for it if I hadn’t seen it mentioned on the forums. Ditto the full suit of the best power armor, the gun that doesn’t need reloading, Vault 75, etc, etc. I still haven’t made it to the Atom Cats garage or the USS Constitution.

Bottom line, Fallout 4 works pretty hard to keep the main story moving, and if you stay on the rails, you may not even know how much content you’ve overlooked. Skyrim, even before the DLC, gives you so much to do that you may not even remember that there is a main quest.

Threat or party?

From a recent roadside encounter in Fallout 4:

"You can tell yourself whatever you want, but you're leaving here naked or horizontal. Your choice."
    --- Brother Andrew

He demanded that I hand over all of my possessions, so I started with the bullets.

Important F4 safety tip

Do not wear power armor when starting the quest The Nuclear Option. The only “workaround” is to revert to your previous manual save. (my autosaves and quicksaves somehow ended up all being after the critical point, and this is not uncommon due to the way the save system works).

The other glitch I ran into getting to the final quest involved Tinker Tom’s piloting skills; somehow the “land the vertibird” trigger failed to go off, and he kept flying in a straight line, right off the edge of the world. Fortunately, the autosave had no opportunity to wreck that one, and I was able to just redo that one quest stage.

“Don’t get cocky, kid.”

The encounter designers for Fallout 4 love to scatter mines and boobytraps around. That’s in addition to giving your enemies an infinite supply of grenades and molotov cocktails, and arming the occasional raider with a nuclear grenade launcher (that whistling sound as they’re incoming is tied with the beeping of an approaching Super Mutant Suicider for my “ohshit” reflex).

Still, most of the time you get sent out for a Cleanup On Aisle One (“defeat $BADGUYS”, “rescue $SETTLER”, “clean out $NEWTOWN”), you don’t need a lot of radiation protection on your armor. You can line your Tuxedo with ballistic weave, pull out your trusty tommygun, and earn some caps by busting caps.

Then you run into someone who’s scattered a few of these around their base:

Nuke Mine

If you see one of these before stepping on it, retreat and put on your best anti-rad suit before returning; the people who use them have other glowing surprises waiting for you, too.

In other news, here’s my current list of most-wanted mods for the game (official or third-party):

  1. Face-Saver: let me copy/paste any human face. It's hard to make your character look good, and every hand-designed NPC in the game could be used as a starting point.
  2. Just Tell Me Who To Kill: hit a key to skip past the long, repetitive NPC dialog at the start, middle, and end of every quest or vendor interaction. You could do this in Skyrim, but in F4, you have to wait through every speech before being given the opportunity to respond, or to receive credit for the quest. And if they wander off in mid-sentence, you have to do it again.
  3. Don't Stand So Close To Me: NPCs shouldn't speak their stock lines unless you're right next to them, facing them. Having Danse in your settlement is like an endless stream of Brotherhood propaganda sound bites, and Marcy Long is going to get fragged some night to put an end to her constant bitching. Worse, if an NPC is standing near you when you activate a crafting station, they'll keep spamming you for the entire session; the default placement of the weapons station in Sanctuary practically guarantees this.
  4. Searchable Map/Inventory: ’nuff said.
  5. Money Ain't Junk: put pre-war money in the Misc category so it doesn't get recycled for crafting.
  6. Planet Of The Hats: add the ballistic weave modification to more hats. Right now, the only one I can find that accepts the mod is the Trilby, which is a great hat, but doesn't go with every outfit. Something colorful to go with the Summer Shorts would be nice (since it leaves the arm and leg slots free for additional armor...). Bonus for adding weave to the upgraded version of the Silver Shroud costume and its matching hat.
  7. Make ’Em Glow: highlight lootable corpses the same way the power armor mod highlights active creatures.

[Update: #3 = No NPC Comments, #5 = Hey That’s Not Junk. Something I didn’t have on my list, but definitely like, Faster Terminal Displays (the long pause after unlocking/disabling something is still there. I tried one of the additional-music mods, but it was “poorly curated”, to put it kindly.]

Dear Fallout 4 gun artists,

No, you can’t “spin the cylinder” on a double-action .44 magnum revolver. This is one of only two things that have broken my immersion into the gun-porn weapon customization in the game, the other being the use of a PPK frame for the Deliverer unique weapon (a suppressed 10mm).

I’m willing to suspend belief for everything else, because it either looks silly-cool or does horrible and/or amusing things to my enemies.

PS: bought a gatling laser and Big Boy. Those “cleanup on aisle one” missions are a lot quicker now.

…which is good, because the lack of variety in Radiant quests is getting a little annoying. That chick in Sanctuary is way too needy, easily responsible for 2/3 of my requests. Hopefully the patch will include some randomization.

Speaking of patches, the game just played the cylinder-spin sound and hand movement when I drew my 10mm semi-auto. Oopsie.

[Update: I got it to give me the spin again (frequent if you draw the .44 in first-person), and it’s actually shown already cocked when you spin it. Someone is really proud of an animation that doesn’t even make sense for a single-action revolver.]

Dear Bethesda,

I’d like to express my astonishment that my 3.5-year-old gaming laptop seems to play Fallout 4 just fine, despite a graphics card that’s roughly 80% as fast as the minimum requirement (GTX 560M vs. GTX 550Ti). Not at anything approaching maximum settings, of course, but it still looks great at 1080p. I kind of wonder how my character will look on a modern machine, though, since many of the adjustments in the designer didn’t seem to do much.

Admittedly, it’s been upgraded with 16GB of RAM and dual SSDs, but still, usually I’d expect to have to reduce the resolution and turn every setting to near-minimum. The game decided that “medium” settings were appropriate, and it’s working out so far.

[Update: after (mumble) hours of play, the primary performance problem is selection lag in the VATS combat display. If this screen were a little less dynamic, I’d be able to select targets before they move into cover or melee range. As it is, I’ve had to turn the difficulty down to compensate.]

By the way, not to sound like an SJW whiner, but when my character is in full power armor, how is it that random raiders know which gender-based slurs to use? Is it the dainty way she swings her minigun?

#1 complaint so far (with only a few minor crashes, one instance of getting stuck between a counter and a table, and having to use the console to get an NPC down off the roof) is trying to find all the bodies after a fight in order to loot them.

#2 would be that having the compass and enemy-finder at the bottom of the screen causes a bit of neck strain. It would be much easier to use if it were at the top.

#3 would be the dog, constantly interrupting my looting by wandering in front of me and intercepting keystrokes as commands, falling from high places, and running in front of automatic weapons. Honestly, this pup makes Lydia look positively graceful. I think I’ve used about twice as many stimpacks on the dog as on myself.

PS: the PipBoy App for iOS doesn’t seem to work at all. I don’t think it’s actually sending packets, since tcpdump sees nothing at all coming from its IP address, and it’s allegedly broadcasting to find machines running the game. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could manually enter the IP address, as your help page falsely claims I can?