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About this blog

Greetings everyone! This page contains my various Bethesda blogs. At the time of this update, it contains my troubleshooting playthrough series, my Skyrim modding diary, my mod cleanup case study series, and my Shout Like a Virgin beta test blog. You can access all the entries from the sidebar on the right side of your screen.

 

Playthroughs

I've recently exceeded the 1000 mod threshold, and it's time to start periodically doing brief playthroughs to ferret out hidden conflicts and other bugs. In this series, we'll do shorter, more focused adventures where we try to tell an interesting story and also talk about what problems we ran into them and how we addressed them.

 

  • Charley's Story: Charlotte Ellison survived a nuclear war by spending more than two hundred years in stasis. Now she has to survive in a very new world, facing very new threats. A Fallout 4 playthrough.
  • The Spider's Web: Kirstia's search for answers has taken her to the island of Solstheim. Now she must uncover the secret of The Teacher - also known as Mephala - and continue the journey to master her powerful magical heritage. But can she survive as her enemies, new and old, close in? 
  • The Curious Case of Forrien Hlaalu: A year after she returned to Northpoint, Kirstia is back in Skyrim and looking for answers. The strange events that occured during her search for Sybil Fjotra continue to trouble her, as does the ongoing influence of the strange gods of the Forsworn. After a chance encounter over drinks, a wizard from the College of Winterhold sets her on the trail of a scholar who may have the answers she needs...
  • The Search for the Sybil: Exiled from Skyrim to the remote land of Northpoint, Kirstia Bjissen has fallen on hard times. Just as she hits rock bottom, a voice speaks to her and charges her with a sacred quest that will take her back to her native land - and likely into danger. Can Kirstia find the new Sybil of Dibella before her past catches up with her?
  • Shout Like a Virgin: Miraculously saved from death, Monilee of High Rock finds herself in Skyrim, a land riven by civil war and harboring dark secrets. While she tries to build a new life in this foreign land, she's haunted by half-remembered dreams, and in chasing them she discovers her role in the turning of the ages. However, Monilee has not gone unnoticed by powers outside the mortal realm. Used as a pawn in the struggle between Nocturnal and Dibella, it will take all her wits, endurance, bravery, and stubbornness to reclaim sovereignty over her body and her soul.

 

Modding Diary

This series tracks my modding projects in-between playthroughs and case studies. The main focus will be on the technical processes of cleaning, editing, and integrating mods into a large load order configuration, including managing emergent multi-mod interactions. 

 

Modding Case Studies

This blog reviews the tools and techniques that authors and end users can apply to make their mods as stable and compatible as possible, as well as how end users can integrate complicated mods into a large load order setup. In addition to coverage of well known techniques such as automatic mod cleaning, this blog delves into more complicated issues such as navmesh repair. 

 

Entries in this blog

Glass Shortage (Charley's Story, Chapter 25)

I tried hard to distract myself by working on the apartment and greenhouse for Winter's parents, but I couldn't shake a growing feeling of dread about what the future had in store for me. I knew I was probably being paranoid, but I found it unsettling that rumors about Sanctuary were already spreading. Combine that with the raiders we'd caught spying on us, and I was certain that spring of 2288 was going to come with serious challenges - not just challenges to our ongoing building plans, but dir

Spring Thaw (Charley's Story, Chapter 24)

I stewed on what I'd seen up by the old high tension tower for a few days before calling everyone together to talk about it. I explained my concerns: the good news saw that I'd tracked the watcher back to a raider camp and wiped them out. The bad news? We had no idea how long they'd been watching us, and I didn't think we could count on it just being those three who knew about us. We were getting close to the point when we'd be opening up the vault and bringing down the rest of the crew to Sanct

Secret Admirer (Charley's Story, Chapter 23)

With the trading post functionally complete (even if we weren't getting much in the way of visitors yet), the next thing I needed to do was finish the perimeter wall. I still had plenty of cement, and more on the way, so from a supply perspective at least I didn't have much to worry about. I did have some things I needed to decide however. For example, did I want more guard towers like what I built on top of the trading post? Protected firing positions were going to be important for repelling wo

Trading Post (Charley's Story, Chapter 22)

While I waited for the first large shipment of cement to arrive, I wondered what I'd do with the smaller shipment that Lucy Abernathy had brought over. My original plan for the wall had been predicated on two assumptions: first, that initially I'd only need housing for me, Holly, and the Ainsleigh family, and second, that I could use the collapsed houses as wall segments. Neither assumption was true anymore. On one hand, now I had three more people to house -- and honestly, I doubted they'd be t

Drumlin Diner (Charley's Story, Chapter 21)

After I suited up the next morning, I met with each of the settlers to find out if there was anything they needed. My plan was to try and barter for anything we couldn't obtain locally, and I didn't want to make the long trip, only to find I'd come back missing something important. Winter and the Donahue sisters didn't have anything too exotic they asked for, mostly just raw materials they needed for fabricating some household goods and otherwise improving our little village.    Of cou

Scratch-Built Home (Charley's Story, Chapter 20)

"You hit the jackpot, Charley!"   Winter was practically bouncing up and down when she showed up in my living room the next morning. She'd apparently more or less failed at sleeping the night before, and around midnight she wriggled out from between the Donahue sisters to work on the DRM controller through the night. Just before dawn she plugged it into the Rosas' Workshop and... well, here she was in my living room looking like she was about to jump out of her skin.  

Super Mutants (Charlie's Story, Chapter 19)

Super Mutants. This was going to be trouble. My companions back at the vault had warned me about the Supers - warned me to avoid them if I could, and to run away if I couldn't. The way they told it, the big bastards were strong, fast, completely ruthless, and had a strong appreciation for the taste of human flesh. And after seeing the way they'd turned the West Everett water tower into a larder, I could see that those stories were accurate.    I knew that I'd have to approach the area

Road Trip (Charley's Story, Chapter 18)

While Winter worked her shift outside cleaning up the neighborhood, I focused on drilling into the Workshop technical manual. In particular, I started looking deeper into some of the access codes the previous owner had penciled into the margins of the manual. Some of them, unfortunately, seemed to be regionally locked or tied to specific firmware versions, and they didn't work right on the Rosas' Workshop. One in particular that caught my eye was a region-locked code accompanied by a note: West

Breakthroughs (Charlie's Story, Chapter 17)

January wasn't even half way done and so many important things had happened. First and maybe most importantly, I finally figured out how to patch the fission battery into the power systems from the Workshop. In the end, the answer was hidden in plain sight. I think I mentioned before that the Workshop had an entry in its catalogue for a fusion generator. I didn't have anything close to the resources needed to replicate it, and I had some doubts about my ability to safely assemble the kit, but it

Working Holiday (Charley's Story, Chapter 16)

To give credit where credit's due, we did our best to put together a little Christmas dinner when the 25th rolled around. Stef harvested the scrawny products of our failed melon and gourd plots and managed to put together a reasonable approximation of mashed sweet potatoes, while Holly grilled up some of our meat stores along with mushroom steaks. The experience drove home how many things we were missing in terms of our long term supply needs, but it was a good coming-together experience for the

Alternative Diet (Charley's Story, Chapter 15)

A few days after my trip down to Wicked Shipping, we had a close call with a pack of Ghouls. Oddly enough, I'd been dreaming about my encounter at the shipping lockup, and how the fight could have gone badly when I was awakened by gunfire and the roar of angry ferals. I rolled out of bed and grabbed my pistol from the nightstand, and I almost ran out to fight with just that... but remembering my past experiences, I also took the time to retrieve the shotgun from my gun rack. It turned out to be

Expanding Boundaries (Charley's Story, Chapter 14)

"So Fred, explain to me - why haven't you got rid of that grody hat?" I asked. "Don't we have something better in the catalogue?"     Fred shrugged noncommittally. Over the past two weeks, he'd gotten used to the vault suit. Now I almost never saw him trip over the high heels, and it seemed like he'd got the belts and straps seated comfortably enough that he wasn't pausing to adjust things from time to time. He also seemed to have given up on finding pants to wear over the s

Community Standards (Charley's Story, Chapter 13)

"Listen, Charley, we need to talk."   Well, that didn't sound ominous at all. I considered the scene. Holly was facing me, and I didn't see where Winter was at, but Stef and Fred were standing a bit back and clearly watching. Fred's expression said 'concern,' but Stef was straight-up glowering at me. Clearly, something bad had happened while I was out to visit the Abernathy family.    "Alright," I said after a moment, "let's sit down in the rec room and talk, then."  

Ten Bullets (Charley's Story, Chapter 12)

I ran all the way to the Abernathy Farm. Last time I ventured out of Sanctuary Hills, when I went to Cambridge, I walked. I had to walk - I didn't have the endurance to run or even jog most of the way. And that was following the still more or less intact roads. This time, I was going cross-country, and I was running the whole time. The power suit was just incredible - its mechanisms we remarkably miniaturized, and they ran quite and cool, but they boosted my own strength and made the whole trip

Suiting Up (Charley's Story, Chapter 11)

I spent the next week working with Winter to drill down into the Vault-Tec proprietary catalogue. She had a knack for hacking into these systems, and in the process we came up with a lot of ideas for using some of the other Workshop options in unconventional ways. When spring came along, I was pretty confident that I could set up all my new neighbors with pretty comfortable housing in Sanctuary Hills. Indeed, this took care of a key problem with defending the settlement - one person just isn't e

Underground Radio (Charley's Story, Chapter 10)

It was November 14th when I got the radio working. But let me rewind for a moment to explain things. The Pip-Boy I found while I was trying to escape the vault had a built-in radio. However, each time I tried to switch it on, all I got was silence and a "no signal found" error on the screen.   At first I assumed this was just a sign that there weren't any active radio stations anymore, but Stef explained to me that this wasn't true. There were two radio stations still broadcasting in t

Wintering Over (Charley's Story, Chapter 9)

Having reached an understanding with Holly's family, I next visited the Workshop and plugged in my administrator code. The Workshop accepted it happily and hummed to life, ready to get to work. While Fred went topside to gather some wood - the one thing I was sure we'd need - I asked the women to put together a list of the implements they'd need to get some farming going. Meanwhile, I went looking for the medical room. I knew there was one around here somewhere because I'd visited it many times

Housemates (Charley's Story, Chapter 8)

I neglected to mention before, I did find a battery - though just another chemical one, not a fission model that would last a long time. Where, you ask? In a rusted-out car behind the Cambridge Polymer Labs building. So that whole 'adventure' was kind of a bust, and now I was faced with trying to make it home with the sun already setting.    Thinking back on that night, I'm not completely sure how I even made it back to Sanctuary Hills. It got cold and dark that night, though there was

Locked In (Charley's Story, Chapter 7)

Just to reiterate, I'd just gone from being an up and coming lawyer to being... a janitor. Locked in a basement with zombies. OK, Ghouls, but at the time I didn't understand the distinction. As you can probably imagine, I took a very conservative approach to exploring my new workplace. Creeping through the shadows, no flashlight, doing my very best to stay quiet and hoping the "zombies" couldn't smell fresh meat.   Right about that time, I was deeply regretting my decision to investiga

Employment Opportunity (Charley's Story, Chapter 6)

So that was a development I absolutely should have expected, but didn't. In case you were wondering, first frost in 2287 was the night of October 28-29. I'd woken up feeling chilly, but that in and of itself wasn't really unusual. Despite all the repairs I'd made, the house was still pretty drafty. Still, when I saw the frost-kissed ground outside my front door, I realized that I'd been failing to account for a dawning problem: winter. Even if the apocalyptic nuclear winters had passed while I w

Settling In (Charley's Story, Chapter 5)

I spent the rest of the week fixing up the house and cleaning up the rest of my property. The back yard was an overgrown mess, but after I uprooted some of the wild shrubs and fed them into the Workshop, it was a lot more walkable. I also found the rusted remains of my patio set - which I also fed into that insatiable red machine. Curiously, when I was done I noticed the cloth hopper was a bit more full. Evidently, the machine had managed to extract some useful fibers out of something I stuffed

The Ship of Theseus (Charley's Story, Chapter 4)

You learn a lot about a person when you clean their house. The Hawthornes were running a drug operation out of their living room. Who would have thought? Or that one of the Ables seemed to be hooked on painkillers. Fortunately, their well-stocked medicine cabinet also had a bottle of Rad-X, just the thing until I found an alternative to wild watermelon. As I kept scrounging for materials and filling up the Workshop, I found more and more little remnants of my neighbors' interrupted lives. After

Turning On The Lights (Charley's Story, Chapter 3)

The next morning, I woke up feeling chilled. Despite the thick blankets that came with the bed, I realized what was left of my house just wasn't adequately sealed against the weather. I was going to have to board up the house if I wanted it more hospitable. Then again, I'd already been thinking about building walls the night before, so I started reviewing the options in the Workshop catalogue. To my dismay, I discovered my options were rather limited. I suppose I could have fabricated individual

A Place To Lay My Head (Charley's Story, Chapter 2)

I stood there on the bluff above Sanctuary Hills, looking down on the remains of my home. Even though I'd watched the mushroom cloud blossom, it shocked me to see the aftermath. And worse, I was alone. So I stood, I looked, and when my legs started to get tired I sat. It took me a good long time to move past the sight of everything destroyed and to start thinking about what I was going to do next. I'd read enough post-apocalyptic novels that I had a general idea of what I needed to do to survive

Once Upon a Time... (Charley's Story, Chapter 1)

Once upon a time, there was a place called America. It was a bastion of freedom in a world that was slowly sliding into tyranny, a testament to the idea that a man or a woman could make their own decisions and steer the ship of their own life. But I never really lived there, not that America. When I was one year old, the first lockdown happened. I don't really remember it, but I remember the second wave. I was ten years old. It was strange seeing my parents, my friends' parents, my teachers, all

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