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About AVS

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  1. AVS


    Sooner rather than later, but most of what I have left is stuff that's kind of a pain to do so probably not all that soon. Depends on how long it ends up taking me to hammer out all the details around building the NPCs and the locations for them. Like I said, I'm figuring out a lot of that stuff as I'm going along, so I can't really commit to a firm timeframe.
  2. AVS


    I'm arguably in the home stretch on this project. Problem is that most of that stretch involves building locations and NPCs in the Creation Kit, which is stuff that's well out of my comfort zone so I have to very... slowly... figure out how to get shit working as I go along. I have a fair bit to say about that... but it'll have to wait until the next update because the screenshots for that me over the image limit and I've got some other, more interesting stuff that I want to get to first. To start with, the main reason that I'm considering this to be nearly done is that I've pretty much gotten all the parts I can think to build for this put into the game. The rebuild of the Type XXX set is done, with full Beast race support, rubber versions, and the permanent modesty variants ditched in favor of removable panels. The Relic weapons have been folded into DMA proper, and the wig sets are about as done as I can get them. Even went ahead and fixed the weighting issue with the forelock of the Ellie wig where it'd clip into the face in some poses, since it popped up in the raised shield stance and was bugging the heck out of me. I also addressed the issue I brought up last time where figuring out how to recenter the pattern on the Edhildil bikini top left it looking lewder than I wanted for what's functionally the most clothing the Type XXX parts can wear. The solution was pretty obvious really; if I can use Outfit Studio to manipulate the UV mapping on a mesh, then I can just as easily use it to remap it to a completely different texture. Thusly: Figured I might as well get some use out of that female Dwarven Armor texture. Took quite a few tries to get something I was happy with, but I ended up with a set using the scale mail elements for the bikini bottoms and the breastplate pattern for the tops, which works out pretty well and more than adequately fulfills my 'have some shame' requirement. Of course, the problem with this method is that changing the UV like this means that I can't simply slap the modifications onto the bikini meshes I'd already built as a texture swap. I had to rebuild all of the Edhildil tops, and then generate an entire duplicate set of tops and bottoms for the Armor textures. So that took a bit of time, and doubled the parts count for these. But you can mix and match the tops and bottoms, which is always nice. I considered doing more variants, including one set remapped to the Dwarven banner texture, but that one kept crashing the game for some damn reason and I decided that two sets was more than enough for the parts count. Being able to mess with the UV mapping also helped me out with a problem I ran into on the ground models. I spent the better part of a couple of weeks getting all of those built and updated for the new pieces, and for the most part they were fairly straightforward. The problem came when I started work on the ground models for the Vanilla masks. Yes, I do still intend to include those even if my focus shifted rather sharply to the Live faces; no sense in letting all that prior effort go to waste after all. The problem is that to make ground models using Outfit Studio you have to move the parts' meshes down into the positioning needed to fit into an existing collision box. Most of the time that's not a problem, but there's some meshes that for whatever reason simply will not respond to OS's move tool the same way as other meshes. So say you've got all the meshes in a model selected and are trying to rotate them backwards, then these uncooperative meshes will rotate forwards, stuff like that. And as it happens, one of those uncooperative meshes is the Vanilla head mesh. So to make a ground model out of one of the Vanilla masks, instead of just moving everything at once I'd have to move all the non-face structures and then manhandle the face back into place over them. For a couple dozen faces. Fuuuuuck. Thaaaaaat. And then on top of that there's the issue with how the game won't render skin tints on the non-wearable models, so you wouldn't really be able to tell who half of these faces were supposed to be anyway. So with all that making 'proper' ground models for the Vanilla masks is pretty much out. But being able to mess around with UV maps made it much easier to go to my backup solution: Making gift boxes. Simply get some good close-ups of all the masks (ignoring how Umana's scars are the wrong skintone, as that's from a previously discussed issue): Use those to generate a bunch of texture files, then find one of the box ground models bouncing around out there. Cut a slice off the top of its mesh and map it to your portraits, then paste it back onto a full box mesh. Remap that slice for each mask, and boom, boxed faces. It's not as satisfying as having the full mask lying around like I can with the other face types, but hey, it works. And it gets them pretty much as done as they're going to get, in light of that shift to the Live faces. And on the subject of the Live faces, there was one thing that I've had a suspicion about ever since I first discovered how to get them to work but that I was reluctant to try. You see, the process for making them relies on making various minor changes to a character's generated head model, but as a result of that it only seemed to work for NPCs. The player apparently doesn't get a discrete head mesh generated into an accessible folder the way NPCs do, so giving the same effect to your own character appeared to be a fair bit more complicated. But there is a default head mesh sitting around which appears to be used by the player character in some way, as manipulating that during my previous attempts to make a Live face from a mask-cut version of that mesh did produce some results. So what happens if you make the Live face texture changes on that default mesh? Exactly what you want to happen, basically. On first blush, at least, this seemed to work pretty seamlessly. Unlike my attempt with the cut versions it's still fundamentally the same mesh, so it responds perfectly normally to the sliders and accepts all the existing presets while still maintaining the mask effect. It even accepted an old existing Racemenu preset in the form of 12-16's original settings without any complaint. I did run into one wiggle when exporting the mesh, though. It shows up as expected in the sculpt tab, even to the extent of not having the invisible parts of the mesh colored in by the texture: But the actual exported mesh in the SKSE CharGen folder doesn't reflect that. Oddly, while it maintains all the flag changes and added alpha property needed for the effect, it automatically switches the texture pathing from the specific mask texture that the default head mesh had been pointed to back to the original default texture paths. Which is annoying in that it means that using this to generate new NPC heads will be slightly less streamlined than I'd like, but otherwise not that big of a deal. The bigger deal is that this particular method only seems to work on Nords. I didn't notice this at first, as during that first test I only went through the Nord presets. When I fired up the save for my existing Breton character after making the alterations to the default mesh and saw that they weren't being reflected on her, I initially assumed that the effect would only work on new games and not preexisting ones. But when I kicked it around in the chargen again and found that it universally wasn't showing up on the non-Nords, I realized what was going on. The Nords are the only ones who actually use the default pathing built into the .nif file. The other races use race-specific texture sets in the CK to do things like use alternate normal maps for the elves and so forth. To fix that I'd have to go into the CK and change those texture sets to redirect them to the mask texture, or... I could just replace the default face texture that they were pointing at with the mask's. I didn't really want to try doing this, but I had a sneaking suspicion all along that it would work thanks to some of the issues I had with getting the Live faces running in the first place. Logically, replacing the head's texture with a version that's had a huge portion of it erased would be a problem. But there's a few factors in how the game works that seem to add up to bypassing that logic. First, this effect only works on a head mesh that's had an alpha property added to support it. All the game's NPCs, however, use existing pre-generated heads that don't have that alpha property, and as such don't have all the non-face areas of the head turned invisible like this. Second, and most confusingly, when a mesh that doesn't have that alpha property set is pointed at a texture that's been altered by erasing sections so as to have areas of the model rendered invisible, it acts as if those erasures never happened. So on head meshes without that alpha tagged in, the full head texture continues to be displayed even if the one in the default texture's folder has been replaced with one modified for mask use. That previous concern about it not working on existing games was also proven false, as it happily adds the effect to an already-running character. I don't understand why this works and it kind of annoys me that it does. But since it does, I might as well make use of it. I haven't exhaustively tested it, but so far everything I've seen shows the mask effect only applying to the player while all of the existing NPCs are normal. It seems likely that it would only be an issue for characters that don't have an existing or properly generated FaceGen model, but that's already noticeable through the grey face bug. And you'd have to revert the changes to the default head mesh and texture while working in the CK if you don't want them on your generated characters, as it does apply the effect to all the female NPCs in there. But as long as you don't run their FaceGen you're fine. And as far as chargen goes, there's now no hiccups for any of the humanoid races. Aside from a lot of the Vanilla hair sets really not working well with the mask effect. There is some question of what exactly I'm going to do with this, though. Obviously it can't be a default part of the mod, since it's a fairly intrusive change to any and all player characters, but it also seems to be the only effective way to get a functional player Automaton. It's probably possible to use it alongside the original defaults by making a set of separate Automated races, but that's a whole bucket of worms that I don't really want to stick my hands into. Might just release the modified defaults as a separate add-on pack, especially since that wouldn't need an .esp file to work. Or I might just give you instructions on how to use the mask texture already packaged into DMA to do it yourself, since it's really not that hard to do at all once you know the steps for it. Iunno. In the meantime, one thing I can do with this is streamline building new NPCs like I've been wanting to. Yes, I've already got a bunch in here, but I've been wanting a few to showcase specific parts and body layouts. The Javelin helmet/mask in particular kinda needed one, as I rather like the look of it but its fit on characters with larger noses or cheekbones can be just a bit iffy and it needs a good balance with the mouth. Another one blatantly cribs from the bandit expansion mod Breton I used to try out the Gladiatrix helmet and a mostly robotic body, as I quite liked how the look turned out. And yet another is just a quick sort of pseudo-Samus thrown together to go with the Metroid-inspired arm set I made for shits and giggles. Those arms could still use a little work; I got the weighting on the shoulders fixed so that the right one isn't rolling around while firing magic, but the cannon's still not lined up with the magic effect. That's not really a huge priority to fix, though. I also rolled that cowgirl version of the Dawnguard Redguard that I was amused with in my prior testing into the mod (by treating her like a chargen import, as I'd like to avoid having anything besides Skyrim.esm set as a master file here), but she prompted a few other additional parts. The first ones should be fairly obvious. That prior version of her just used a playable copy of the Being A Cow horn/ears set that I had put together for use elsewhere, but that didn't entirely work for the Automated setup. Some bronzing, mesh edits, and a few mounting parts later, though... These are set up like straight circlets, so they're usable with the wig sets. I had originally intended for the same to be true of the last batch of headgear I made, but the skullcaps they were built on to make them more effective as helmets ended up not working well with a lot of the wigs, so they're now just set up as plain helmets. These horns are intended to appear more as clip-on type things. They were also made pretty quick and dirty, so while I tried for a certain degree of compatibility between the faces I can't really guarantee it. And they'll absolutely get a bit clippy if you try to use them with a full head, or even just one of the skullcaps. And of course while the cow horns were the reason for doing this, why would you ever think I would stop there? There's a few more of these already, including a version of the cow horns without the ears. I miiiiight add more. Depends on what I find that fits. But aside from this amusement, adding this character in also prompted me to do something about her chest. I like the MC torso, there, but it has a bit of a flaw as far as using it with these NPCs goes in that it only comes in the pre-expanded 'milker' size or as a Variable part. The permanently big bosom works well enough for a thematic character like this, but I also wanted to use the chest on characters like that Gladiatrix-based one above where a more modest bust would be more appropriate. At the same time I'd like to avoid using the Variable parts as much as possible on NPCs in light of them not being wholly compatible for CBBE users. And while I was at it I could also use a more compatible version of the D2 chest to use on characters with non-mask heads, especially after seeing how well it was working with the Gynoid parts on that Nord up there. I absolutely did not want to do a whole slew of fixed-weight versions of them to match them up to the existing presets, though. In fact I couldn't do that for the D2, since the neck weighting would be completely off for characters at anything less than 100 weight. So the obvious thing to do was to build normally weighted versions of the two torsos. Based on the UNPB preset, for personal preference. The complication here was that this also required me to make weighted UNPB versions of the various chest coverings, since the existing ones are either fixed weight or the Variable versions that wouldn't be guaranteed to fit. But that wasn't a huge burden, as all I had to do was batch build everything in BodySlide to UNPB and copy & rename them to tuck them into the 'DMN' catch-all that I've been using for the NPC-specific parts. Doing it like that also let me grab .tri files for them, so they should continue to work with SLIF and the like. Since I did base this on UNPB and made it with the express purpose of using the D2 torso with the Type G pelvis, though, I kinda had to finally get around to fixing the issue with the top ring around the pelvis' mid-torso connection clipping through the back of the UNP-based torsos. Just squeezed it forward a little bit and it looks much nicer. The Type G's are still hopeless with the xF torsos, though. The waists on those are far too narrow for the G's top. As has so often been the case in the course of this project, doing all this to get a non-Variable version of the D2 ended up opening a new line of inquiry. Despite having gone to the trouble of adding Beast race support to the Type XXX parts, Beast characters have been conspicuously absent from whole mess of NPCs I've been throwing together. The main reason for that has simply been their heads. Back when I was working on the Vanilla masks from the humanoid races I also made an attempt at making ones for the Beasts. I haven't really talked about it much because it did not work out well at all. It was technically possible, but the cutlines on the meshes were not in particularly opportune places, especially not for the Argonian head mesh which had the cleanest division running right through the middle of where the ear membrane is on the texture. They just really didn't look good. That said, that particular problem could likely be bypassed using the Live face method, as it doesn't rely on the mesh layout and is just a matter of how the texture gets edited. But there's still the other problem that I ran into during that attempt at making masks, which is that the beast heads don't really fit over the human-shaped head frames all that well. They have a lower 'dome' than the humanoid heads, so the tops of the frame structures tend to clip up through them. That could be fixed by making Beast-specific versions of the frames, but ehhhhhhhhh... So basically I've written it off as a pain in the ass. But with the non-Variable D2 torso, I can just do the Beasts as a full-thorax Automated with an intact neck. In fact, thinking on it further, I can just set the weighted D2 to be their default nude body and staple DMA parts on to that. Once you've got that going, well, tossing together these generic NPCs is fairly trivial. Having them set up like this is both effective and kind of elegant. It amuses me to be able to strip their parts down to the core like this. But of course, this took me down yet another line of thought. When I took these poor Beast generics off to be killed in the name of science, I also dragged along the one based on Susanna who accidentally ended up as a test corpse a while back to serve as a comparison with the humanoid Automated. The nude body I had been using for them was actually one that I built before I got the Live faces working, and thus was made with the assumption that it would be used on characters using the masks for faces like the first couple of NPCs I put together. I was working with the idea that should they be stripped they'd be stripped down to the bare frame of the torso, so that's what their nude body was. But when used with the NPCs built with Live faces, stripping them bare left a torso frame with a flayed face hovering above it. Not exactly ideal. So I got to wondering if I could just add in the head frame as part of the nude body. I wasn't entirely certain about it, since it uses a non-standard slot (59), but I threw it together to test it out and what do you know, it works fine. In fact, doing it like this I don't even need to add the head frame on as part of the outfit, like I'd been doing, as the different slots on a nude body get displaced by outfit parts separately from one another. As long as nothing else is taking up the neck's slot, it'll be visible. This actually streamlines things a bit, as it means I can have a different nude body for each head type- brain, armored, crystal- and distribute them appropriately among the NPCs instead of stressing over building different versions of an outfit with different heads. It'll mean that the brain and armored heads especially won't be lootable, but that's fine since they'll 'belong' with the character's face. The crystal inserts are a bit more questionable, but then I'm thinking that would also be true in-lore. The dead don't really need a pulsing heart crystal, though. Let's take that out. Yeah, that's better. Now she looks properly out of commission. That bulky bit around the neck popping in after removing the Type XXX torsos with their nice, svelte necklines was still annoying me, though. It also didn't really make much sense from how those torsos were built for them to clamshell open or whatever and have that frame inside. So that was in the back of my mind when out of the blue at work the next day I thought, 'Hey, do the nude bodies even need to have the torso piece?' As it turns out... They do not. This... Is basically perfect. This lets me leave the head frame and the Live face as the permanent body and just build everything else around that. This is actually pretty similar to what I wanted to do in that abandoned 'detachable head' experiment from the DCC project ages and ages ago, albeit in in a completely backwards way from the approach I attempted there. About the only downside is that there doesn't seem to be any good way to block SoS add-ons when the body is empty like this, since they use a similar 'default nude bodypart' system. That'll take some manual editing if you're using the SoS pubic hairs like me, but that was already generally true with the Automated since they're likely to have pelvises that don't match up to the SoS part's bodyslide. And of course, this doesn't only just work when they're dead. The obvious problem with stripping them while they're standing being that you're left with a head just floating here in space like this, though. This is really begging once again for some kind of forced animation locking them down onto the ground when nude or something, but that's still a ways outside of my knowledge base. Or maybe some kind of head-specific pedestal, if I can think of a good design for it. I'll have to play around with things a bit. For now the only thing I can really do with headlander here is to perch her on a Display Model rack. Hey, it's something. Really, truly something.
  3. Kind of, barely, probably. I'm going to assume that this .esp uses the original MaikCG model and its pathing. In that case, the Bodyslide files included with my version that replace that original model will allow you to build one of the variants in the original model's place, which should then work with this Devious-ification. Slagblah's modifications will not, however, be present on any of the individual variants added by my mod, as they are each a separate armor in-game and the Devious system requires that its scripts be added to each item individually at the .esp level. Adding the DD effects to them would require someone to make a new Devious-ification .esp for this mod, and that someone isn't going to be me because getting the Devious stuff set up is way more of a pain in the ass than I want to deal with.
  4. AVS

    Swords Out

    A quick upload because it was pretty much done and I wanted to get it out there. The more in-depth lore stuff is in the in-game book and note. Enjoy!
  5. Just a quick-ish weapon mod thrown together because I wanted some more weapon options for my other projects, with some basic swords and shields kitbashed out of various Vanilla meshes and the Centurion chestplate from Clockwork. I challenged myself a little bit by making full crafting and tempering recipes for all of the items, but as I didn't bother to actually test them I'd appreciate being notified of any issues there. The in-game documents hint at a larger story, but I'm not going to bother to expand upon it or build any kind of a full-blown quest for this. You might be able to find an additional prize if you follow the expedition's likely route, though. (Or you could just use AIM to grab everything. Whichever.) Feel free to use these wherever. They're 97% Vanilla assets anyway, aside from the Clockwork mesh and one modified Vanilla texture used for the mysterious crystals. Also feel free to convert this to SE yourselves if you don't want to wait for me to get around to it. Should be fairly straightforward. Big thanks to Holzfrau for the suggestions for the names.
  6. Dwarven Relic Armaments (August 2020) View File Dwarven Relic Armaments A group returning from the excavation of an unnamed Dwarven ruin were supposed to bring their discoveries to Markarth, but after their stay at Old Hroldan they were never heard from again. The fate of this expedition and the relics they unearthed has remained a mystery. Summary This is a collection of Dwarven swords, daggers, and shields, made to my tastes and to occupy some niches that I felt needed filled. They are lighter, faster, stronger, and significantly less bulky than the Vanilla Dwarven equipment. Additional information about their origin and place in the world can be found in the in-game documents. You can find a clue to obtaining the relics in a note left behind in the Old Hroldan Inn. They are also craftable with the Dwarven Smithing perk, although you may need a deeper knowledge of the subject to create some of the items. All of the relics are Dual Sheath-ready. Run that mod's patcher for the left-hand versions and back-mounted shields to appear in-game. SE version to come when I can be bothered to do it. Submitter AVS Submitted 08/12/2020 Category Weapons & Spells Requires Special Edition Compatible  
  7. Version 1.0.0


    Dwarven Relic Armaments A group returning from the excavation of an unnamed Dwarven ruin were supposed to bring their discoveries to Markarth, but after their stay at Old Hroldan they were never heard from again. The fate of this expedition and the relics they unearthed has remained a mystery. Summary This is a collection of Dwarven swords, daggers, and shields, made to my tastes and to occupy some niches that I felt needed filled. They are lighter, faster, stronger, and significantly less bulky than the Vanilla Dwarven equipment. Additional information about their origin and place in the world can be found in the in-game documents. You can find a clue to obtaining the relics in a note left behind in the Old Hroldan Inn. They are also craftable with the Dwarven Smithing perk, although you may need a deeper knowledge of the subject to create some of the items. All of the relics are Dual Sheath-ready. Run that mod's patcher for the left-hand versions and back-mounted shields to appear in-game. SE version to come when I can be bothered to do it.
  8. AVS

    Immersion Blender

    I was also considering that, but I hadn't managed to dig up the translated phrases before posting. I might hybridize those a bit with some Oakeshott-style names, if I can get them to flow well. I've got a general idea of packaging these as a lost archaeological expedition's discoveries for the stand-alone version, so I'm thinking of giving them names that sound like something a researcher would catalog them as.
  9. AVS

    Immersion Blender

    Hm. That definitely sounds like it's worth checking out. I haven't used DAR at all before, though, so I'll have to see what kind of work it takes to build stuff for it. But having some way to force specific idles when things like the pedestals or the null arm set are equipped would be very nice to have.
  10. AVS

    Immersion Blender

    Once again I find myself opening with a comment about how doing all this stuff would be a lot easier if life would just stop being such a pain in the ass. I actually felt like I had the start of a decent flow going after the last post, but then I ended up having to retire my car for mechanical issues all of a sudden and lost a lot of my free time for a few weeks to dealing with the consequences of that. I rather liked that car, too, which made it all a real downer. The blatantly obvious problem with GM's completely idiotic plastic head gaskets was always looming over it, but I would've liked to have at least gotten the thing to 100k before those went. And also once again it doesn't help that the bulk of what I have left to do is solid Creation Kit work, which as always is a tedious goddamn grind. Finishing up the beast race support and rubber versions for the Type XXX parts, putting together the NPCs and their default outfits, and very especially building the locations to house those NPCs given that I've had to learn how to fuck around with dungeon building all over again some five years after the last time I gave it a try. I've had some success with the repurposing of Raldbthar that I mentioned in the last entry, but it's also provided a good example of how this shit can get obnoxious. You see, one of the things that sold me on reusing that particular cell was the room mid-way through it that looked like it could be cast as an output area for the machine that created the Automated living in the ruin. After some modifications, cleaning, and giving the place better lighting, it works out just as well as I expected. And the centerpiece, of course, is the actual birthing tube. This isn't actually what I originally had in mind for it. In fact, this is the third go at it. I originally gave it a longer passage leading into what would've been an actual 'reconstruction chamber' using the Dwarven Repository interior space, but I was already having a hard time getting its entrance to match up with the stone tunnel meshes before trying it out in-game and finding that the whole thing wouldn't visually render until you were actually in it. I did some digging and figured out that this was caused by the 'room' system Bethesda used in a lot of the dungeons, where the spaces are marked off by large invisible boxes that limit how much of the dungeon is rendered at any given time. These are also not visible by default in the CK, you have to go into the settings and turn them on to see where they are. Of course my new space was completely outside of the existing room structure, and since it's not really clear how you go about editing the damn spaces that whole idea had to be abandoned. My next thought was to use a scaled-up copy of one of the Sphere launchers to provide a fancy irised door for the newly-made Automatons to 'exit' through, but apparently scaling it up large enough to match the tunnel put enough of the mesh outside of the room space to cause it to not render in-game either. So this third-try 'fuckit' was to cram the Observatory dome into there. It does look pretty good, but it doesn't actually look like a door per se. I guess the machine could teleport its creations out? Yeah, sure, we'll go with that. Rehabbing the rest of the ruin is a bit more straight-forward, for the most part. Mostly cleaning and re-lighting, then adding in more stuff for the NPCs to do. The sheer number of Automated NPCs I've put together after discovering that stupid-easy Live Face method does add some wrinkles to that, though. This is a decently large space, but having that many people running around can get messy quick. An idea for handling that that I've mentioned before was to use the door guard idle to lock certain characters to an assigned position in the style of a charge bay or the like. This does mostly work. In the absence of any overriding idle package, the characters placed near the idle markers seem to be quite happy to enter the pose and stay there indefinitely. Seeing that got me wondering if I could mix this with the Pedestals to produce a display of fully inactive Automated, and it very nearly works. Annoyingly, the pose doesn't quite stand straight, which results in a slight but noticeable cant to the pedestal bases. They also aren't exactly 'inactive'; they move around a bit as part of the idle's animation loop, and they'll sometimes headtrack apparently at random. Which isn't exactly a bad thing in and of itself- seeing a pedestal'd Automated move around a bit has its own appeal- but it isn't quite what I was going for. The problem is that pretty much the only usable idle I've been able to find in the game that produces anything close to the effect I want is that single gate guard marker. Nothing else comes close. There's custom idles out there that are closer to what I have in mind, particularly the static Goma poses, but getting them into the mod as a custom idle marker/furniture thing opens a whole fucking can of worms that I don't even begin to know how to deal with, thanks to all the various complications involved in adding animations to Skyrim. The only really feasible route at my skill level would be to outright replace the guard idle, but I definitely don't want to do that because then all the various guards in the game who use it will be stuck with whatever static pose I replace it with. And that route's also more limiting than I'd like. The ideal would be to add in multiple markers that work the same way as this one covering a variety of static poses, because that way I could also use it to build a statuary hall using the stone versions of the bodies. Unfortunately I don't have the slightest idea of where to even start when it comes to making something like that. Even with using an idle to shunt some Automated out of activity, though, it's still pretty easy for the space to get overcrowded. It definitely doesn't help that the DMA parts are pretty complex, and I've found that having a bunch of them trying to load in all at once can cause some significant slowdown when entering the cell. So I'm going to have to find some way to split them up more instead of just warehousing them all in the same space, and I think I've found some ways to do that as a result of the location I've picked to center the Facility in. I'd originally thought of this as something that should be placed by Deep Folk Crossing, but after actually trying to build some exits there I've pretty much given up on it due to the really spotty navmeshing in the area. I mentioned last time how I've been looking around for an alternative location, with the ideal criteria that there'd be an existing Dwarven surface ruin with no associated dungeon that I could place it near, in a place pretty well isolated from regular traffic, and with little nearby Falmer activity. There were a number of potential options scattered around the map, but all of the ones I could immediately bring to mind had one thing or another that I didn't care for. Reachwind Eyrie could've been interesting, but it's already a frequent mod target and has a dungeon associated with a Daedric quest right under it, so that ruled it out. The Dibella shrine across the river from Old Hroldan was also tempting, but it's in way too public of a spot. One place I had completely forgotten about, though, was this little ruin at the top of the cliff above the shrine. At first glance this looked like the ideal place to put my entrance. Out of the way but not too hard to get to, very usable navmeshing, etc. But after scouting around I realized that the Falmer cave Gloomreach was right nearby, which put this out of line with my 'no nearby Falmer' idea. And then I realized that actually made this location better. You see, Gloomreach is a surprisingly empty dungeon. It's got a couple of decently sized zones, some fairly neat bits of layout, and absolutely nothing going on in it. There's a suggestion of a backstory from that layout involving a bandit camp getting taken over by Falmer, but there's no associated quests or notes or anything. You just kill some Falmer, then leave. Well, I've got a bunch of Automated that I made from hostile in-game NPCs that I didn't really have any idea what I was going to do with, and they can kill Falmer as well as anyone else. In fact, that's the whole core of my head-canon for why they were created in the first place. So having some of their natural enemies moving into a cave right next to their HQ gives me the perfect excuse to dump a bunch of them in there to battle it out with them, doesn't it? If that also takes some of the stress off of the main location, hey, two birds. I'll still probably end up having to build some more housing, though. Both to spread the Automated out, and in service to the bits of story I'd like to try to work in. I currently have an exterior entrance leading directly into the Facility cell, but part of the idea I've had bouncing around for why these guys aren't running around all over the place and how these people got converted to begin with is that getting into the Facility is 99% deadly and getting out is nearly impossible (or at least was until recently, still workshopping that), so being able to just traipse in doesn't exactly work. But actually building the long drop and etc. that I've had in mind would add that much more time to getting this out, so I might just skip it. I'd also like to add in a few side-rooms, something to connect the place to Gloomreach, and maybe something reflective of the Dibellan theme I was working with before hitting on the Live faces that I could link to the nearby shrine. So there's still a lot of work to do there, and I also stumbled on another rather annoying bit of further work that I'll have to do if I want to decorate these spaces with random DMA parts like I had in mind. Turns out when you place an item into a cell in the Creation Kit, it uses the male ground model meshes. Pretty much all of the DMA parts, however, do not have male ground model meshes set. There didn't seem to be much point in the extra work while I was building them, given that they're female-only, so most of them are either left on the Dwarven armor mesh from the armor entries I built everything from or blanked. So in the CK it either drops that armor model or... nothing, which can get kinda weird. I'm going to have to go back and point the male ground model entries to the appropriate models for all of the DMA parts if I want to place them in-game like this, and that is going to be tedious as fuck. And that tedium combined with the hassle of all the car stuff is why I've mostly been doing something completely different the last few weeks. The part I really enjoy about modding all this stuff is actually building the models. It's a lot more fun than the Creation Kit work, and has the distinct advantage of being a lot easier to pick up and put down as needed, so I tend to fall back on it when I can only catch a bit of time here and there to mess around with things. And while I know I've said that I really need to stop adding things to this already, while I was kitting out the NPCs I did feel a distinct lack in terms of the weapons I had available to them. You see, while I don't dislike the Vanilla Dwarven weapons at all, the sword in particular is a lot more bulky than I personally like my swords to be. There's already a good alternative in the Third Era designs that are available in various mods, but I wasn't exactly keen on the idea of putting them in yet another one through mine, and I do actually like the styling on the Skyrim versions and didn't want to lose that. So I figured I'd try building my own. I'm rather fond of the sort of guardless design found on the Roman Spatha and many Bronze Age swords, so I decided to work with that in mind. My first attempt used parts chopped out of both of the Vanilla swords and Keening, and ended up... Not quite that. Which isn't to say that they don't look good, mind you. I ended up having to bulk up the hilt from Keening to get it to fit well on the sword's handle, which left it with more of a proper guard. I also ended up with a pretty bad gap between that hilt and the shrunken-down greatsword blade that I had to fill. The original part that was there on Keening didn't really fit, so I spent quite a bit of time casting around for and trying out replacements before settling on the crests from the Lexicon for the normal version and a combo piece made from a couple of DMA eye elements for the fancier one. All in all a perfectly serviceable longsword, but still not quite what I had in mind. So I played around some more with ideas for alternate hilts, and ended up with this: This got me a fully guardless design reminiscent of a Bronze swords, replacing the hilt with an assembly made from those Lexicon crests and the ever-useful ring pieces that I've been using all over the place. Using those without making them too thick compared to the blade did require me to compress the end of the handle down a bit, and as a result of that and the way the mesh was built I ended up having to cut out the wooden core of the grip due to it coming out somewhat distorted. But that gave me the opportunity to replace it with something more interesting, like the stretched-out black soulgem here, or a rather nice metal core made using some disc elements cut from the greatsword's handle. The whole design turned out to be quite flexible, as I was able to quickly whip up a fancy version with another eye orb from the Vanilla masks in place of the crests, and additional shortsword and dagger variants of all of them. There's also a Dibellan variant using parts taken from her shrine's model, but unfortunately that needs some mesh rehab on those parts to keep them from crashing the heck out of the CK before it'll be usable. But while this turned out quite nice, it still wasn't hitting that 'spatha' spot for me, so I kept looking around for another hilt. After various failures, I happened take a look at the latch piece on the Dwarven gates. That's what I was looking for. Especially since this also let me do a particular variant I had in mind, a sort of 'needle sword' with a blade only barely wider than the grip. That gave me pretty much the entire range of variation I was looking for, so once the car stuff started getting resolved I went to work on putting them into to game for testing. For the most part they worked out great, which was kind of a surprise since these are all built with Outfit Studio. There was one definite annoyance, when it turned out that using the greatsword blade produced a couple of distinct seams in the enchantment overlays... ...but I generally prefer the look of its blade aside from that and really don't feel like going through the trouble of replacing it with the regular sword's blade, so meh. Much more of a problem was getting the Dual Sheath functionality to work. I've never really built my own weapons before and certainly haven't messed around with adding Dual Sheath support to anyone else's, but these absolutely need it. It looks great on them! ...Aside from this part. Since I'm pretty committed to the 'one-handed swords on back' look for my player characters, getting them to not occupy the same space was a priority. Fortunately, that just required moving the left-hand models down by about their own thickness. Unfortunately, I was learning how to do this as I went and managed to hit just about every possible damn malfunction, from sheathes ending up on the wrong side after their sword is drawn to sheathes not un-equipping along with the weapon to right-hand swords not drawing in third-person. It was a whole bag of WTF that kept me running around trying to find solutions for a few days. I was fully prepared for this to be a whole frickin' project by itself to fix, but then it turned out that I was just a doofus and forgot to make sure that the 'WeaponSwordLeft' string was on the sheath models. A-heh. Works fine now. There are still a few things that need work there, especially on the daggers which ended up too far apart when worn on the back and with the left-hand one in kind of an odd position when on the hip, but otherwise the whole thing's perfectly functional. They also look pretty neat racked. They stay in place just fine as well, which I was a bit worried about as that's an issue for some weapon mods. And they look quite nice in use: The only problem I have left is that I'm not really sure what to call them. I had a spatha in mind when I started, but only the third one really turned out along those lines and only barely at that. The amount of variants in the second one makes it harder to categorize it as such, too. Maybe I'll just classify them by type, Oakeshott style. The shields have been much easier to deal with. I'm not personally a big shield-user, but the Vanilla Dwarven shield is absolutely A Problem. It does look pretty neat, but it's also massive and unwieldy and tends to clip through the body all over the place. As such finding a replacement for it that the Automated could use seemed like a damned good idea, and the crest I'd already pulled off of the Dwarven greatsword seemed like a great place to start. Once I had that scaled up to size it was just a matter of filling in the back. That ring piece is really damn handy. Unlike the swords getting this on the back was a piece of cake, since it only required duplicating the model and changing one string. Hasn't given me a bit of fuss. More importantly for my purposes, it works just as well on NPCs. The only real downside to it is that the symbol getting scaled up this much kinda skates the edges of its texture's resolution. I also figured that I could use a more direct replacement for the Vanilla shield, and I had a part laying around that I thought would be absolutely perfect for the job... Immersion. This one was a bit trickier to get working, though. Turned out that just dropping it in unaltered aside from the scale produced just about as bad arm clipping as the Vanilla version. Rehabbing that required flattening it out and shoving it forward a few times, each of which also necessitated alterations to the already kinda iffy handle mount, but I eventually got something I was happy with. This is obviously a lot massier than the round shield, which can be a bit of a problem when you have it up to block. The cutout does give you a pretty good view but it's well off-center. It's also pretty enormous on the back, but that just adds to the tanky charm. All this gives me a much better range of armament options for the Automated once I get these all finalized and into the main mod, but honestly they all turned out nicely enough that I'm very tempted to release them as a stand-alone pack as well. Aside from the Third Era stuff, I've long felt that the options for Dwarven weapons were a bit lacking. All the guns and chainsaws and whatnot are cute, but they're not really on-theme with what we've seen from the Dwarves in Skyrim and stuff that was just wasn't really there. I don't know about anyone else, but this is certainly an itch that I've wanted scratched for a while. One more thing to bring up before I go. As part of my flailing around trying to fix those Dual Sheath issues, I finally got around to upgrading to the latest version of Outfit Studio. I ended up not needing it to physically flip all of the left-hand sword models, thankfully, but I did find the texture map editing tool they recently added to it. The first thing that came to mind when I saw that, of course, was re-centering the pattern on the Edhildil bikini top. This worked out exceptionally well, but also leaves me with a bit of a dilemma. You see, the upside of this is that it gets the radial grid pattern centered on the nipple. The downside of this is that it gets the radial grid pattern centered on the nipple. It's not a huge change, but it definitely ups the sketchiness factor. Takes it from arguably immodest to distinctly lewd. For something that's supposed to be the more 'presentable' outfit available for the Automated to run around in, that's a significant change. It does look nice... ...But given that it's no longer quite managing to fulfill its intended purpose I'm not entirely certain I want to move forward with it. Also applying it to all the fixed-weight versions would require completely regenerating those, which would be a pain. I don't think I'd want to have both in, either, and not just because jfc the parts count. I'd probably be fine with that if I ever find a more genuinely modest outfit that can work with the body parts, but just having two slight variations of the same top doesn't really cut it. Eh, I'll figure something out eventually.
  11. AVS

    Diverse Sundries

    Here's another catch-up post for you. Progress on all of this has been pretty haphazard thanks to all the ongoing real-life hassles (key people taking vacations while our work volume continues to be way more than we can actually handle really throws a few wrenches into things, you know), but I'm still plugging away at it. Although at this point the list of things that I need to finish but haven't had the energy to put the work into is getting uncomfortably long... Anyway, this is what I have managed to get done. We'll start with an update on those Vanilla clothing-based bodies I brought up last time. I showed in that post that there was a bit of a problem with the neck plate fitting onto the neck seam in the skin on the robes I was using, which confused me some. Well, I belatedly realized what was causing that. You see, I've known about this odd bug in the Creation Kit where if you have the CK open and then generate an outfit in BodySlide so you can create the armor entries for it and get it into the game, the in-game outfit's weight scaling won't work. Turns out the same thing happens if you move a purely Vanilla mesh into a different folder while the CK's open. It just can not, for whatever damn reason, parse the weight scaling on any mesh that wasn't in-place in the file structure before the program starts. So that was an annoying but easy fix... That I didn't actually realize was the issue until I had worked up a different fix, which was to replace the skin sections of those meshes completely. This was a pretty quick and straight-forward modification, just made by duplicating and enlarging the neck ring a couple of times, but I rather liked how it turned out. It also bypassed the whole issue I was having with reconciling the skin sections on those outfits with the alternate material bodies, which helps keep these suitable for the 'clothed statue' idea that was one of the main reasons I wanted to do these in the first place. This also led to me restructuring how these were implemented. Originally they were just direct, unaltered copies of the Vanilla meshes with the existing Doll Collar neckplate mesh seconded into the outfit, which led to me scrapping the Apprentice Robes there because they had some issues with the fit with the Doll hands and feet at the wrists and ankles. Since I ended up having to modify the necks of the College set as well- they have a tiny scrap of skin mesh at their collars that leaves a tiny space to be filled in after it's removed- there wasn't any good reason not to just go ahead and do the fixes there as well. So these are now wholly discrete models with their own proper weight scaling and integrated neck plates. Pretty much all I need to do with them is a few touch-up fixes and to build their ground models. Along with the ground models for everything else I've done recently. Those are a biiiiiiig part of the 'too much of a hassle to do right now' pile. A lot of what I've been doing instead could be charitably classified as 'play-testing'. The save with the Dunmer character that I've been using for a while had been getting increasingly clunky lately, so I took some time to pare out a few of the more script-heavy mods that I didn't really use all that much and start up a new character. I figured that since I needed to do that anyway I'd take the opportunity to fill in a thin spot in my NPC's racial representation and build a donor face for a new Automated Breton, as B17-1 up there was the only one I had. I did have a couple of Bretons that I had worked up while building faces for the Vanilla mask project, but I honestly didn't much like how they had turned out. Having to build to the restraints of the head frame for the swappable masks limited things a lot, and they came out a bit too generic-looking. Not having that particular restriction in this case, since I don't plan on building a swappable mask from the face, let me be much more creative in how I laid the face out. Especially as far as the eyes go, which I took as an opportunity to go Full Pixie. For the purposes of this run I'm not decking her out in the DMA parts and just gave her some simple Dwarven Augumentation modifications, as I'm also using her to test out some salvaging I've been doing from other mod outfits for personal use. But eventually she'll be added to the Automated roster as B6-13. (The Fair Skin makeup's nose shadowing always looks weirder in NifSkope than it does in-game, just ignore that.) Alongside of her I made some quick non-DMA Automated NPCs inside one of my personal-use mods to use for practicing in-world placement and follower recruitment, as I found that altering those on the DMA NPCs after I had encountered them in-game could be a bit iffy. I mostly took that as an opportunity to make Automated out of some faces that I liked but couldn't really use in DMA, such as some sourced from bandit expansion mods: But I also happened to include one sourced from a quick NPC I made to play around with Being A Cow, based directly on one of the wilderness encounter Dawnguard NPCs. She also happened to be the donor for one of the generic Redguard masks I made for the Vanilla set, as I rather like her face, but I hadn't included her with the batch of Automated I made from existing NPCs inside of DMA because I'm pretty sure that would require me to set Dawnguard as a master file, which I've been reluctant to do so far. Nothing says I couldn't just import her face like I have to do for the custom NPCs, though, and I might just do that because she is fun to have around. I carried on her previous version's cow-girl theme for the heck of it, with the horns and ears set salvaged from BaC, the Pony legs, and... ...the robotic tail, which I actually finalized a while ago but could never find a good space to wedge into these updates. It gets the improved base I showed before for the beast race tails and keeps the large cable element for the tail itself, but the simple sphere at the tip's been replaced by a more streamlined structure made from part of the Centurion bust decoration. The new tip ties the design together a lot better, and the base managed to work pretty well with the bikini bottoms here, as well as the bare Type XXX pelvises and even the robotic ones. I also added an extra little touch to that tail-base, mostly for the ground models but also for the little bit of exposure it gets when used with those robotic pelvises, by giving it something of a 'plug' at the end. So that whole sub-project is pretty much finished off, aside from, again, some small fixes and building those ground models. I really procrastinate on those, mainly because they're a total pain in the ass. Anyway, back to... well, another digression, actually. I'll bring it up now to explain why they're in some later shots, but remember how I've mentioned that the process for making an Automated's face can be applied to any female NPC with an exported FaceGen, including existing followers? I wanted to showcase that idea a bit, so I did just that. I figured that a good place to start was with someone who was already pretty on-theme, like Talyn here. Just make the alterations to her head mesh, go visit her in-game and... Okay, it isn't actually super noticeable on her at first due to her equipment and hair, but there's not much you can do about that initially. One thing you absolutely do not want to do is remove the hair meshes while making the alterations, however, as this will cause the game to stop recognizing the FaceGen mesh entirely in-game with various unwelcome results. So you'll have to modify that at the dressing stage after you recruit them along with adding in the head frame elements, which you can't do outside of the game without modifying the follower's .esp file. So for now they'll just have the creepy floating face, like this: Now for Talyn, she's already got a perfectly good cyborg body with a lot of fun things built for it, and I didn't see any reason to replace it with DMA parts. So she just gets a Doll Collar neck plate and a Live head frame. As you can see that still leaves her existing hair behind, which can be a bit of a problem as some hair sets aren't entirely suited for use in this context, which was a whole source of issues when I was working up the wigs. In this case the shaved sides don't quite work out, so for now they can be displaced with the Null hair set. The soul gem didn't quite feel on-theme for her character, though, so I swapped it out for the brain capsule, and gave her back her original neck support as it's a rather neat piece in itself. After that was deciding on a head covering: I settled on the crest, mainly because it offers a good view of the brain lights which pairs rather well with all the existing lights on her armor. So that works well, but in a way Talyn is a low-hanging fruit. She's already a Dwarven cyborg, this just adds to that a bit. So next let's look at modifying a completely random follower mod, like, say... This one. Here we'll do something slightly different and modify the head after encountering her in-game. The game doesn't freak out over texture changes on the FaceGen models the same way it does mesh changes, so it can change mid-save without any ill effects. The only downside to all this is that it requires editing the file outside of the game, so there's no real 'immersion' to it. That said, there was a mod posted recently that lets you change wig colors through an in-game interface that then somehow edits the mesh's texture settings outside of the game. I have no idea how it works or if the same process would be feasible for the changes needed to make an Automated's face, and certainly don't have the expertise needed to even try to implement it at this stage, but it's an intriguing feature. And if nothing else, that mod might be handy to have when I finally manage to get the DMA wigs out. But for now we'll have to do things manually, so let's finish off Rosie with her robotic parts... And then we'll set her up with something a little new. When I first showed off this Gigadeux-based set, I said that I was going to skip the pelvis as the model wasn't really set up for it. And, well, that's still true- there's no actual hips to it- but while poking around at it I felt that it would work out pretty well as a variant of the Gynoid pelvis design. It took a lot of futzing around and eventually turned into an almost entirely different piece, but it came out well enough. The mid-torso connection is new as the old one didn't quite fit, the number of inner cables had to be multiplied to fill in the visual gap between the belt and belly armor, and the Gynoid hip plates ended up getting replaced with a new design based on the Type XXX joint plates. Pretty much just the core structures and the butt and crotch plates are unaltered. And it also happens to work out pretty well with the tail: Once again, this still needs some final tweaks and to have its ground models made, etc. I sure am saying that a lot, huh? Now, to get this back on thread, let's return to Annabelle here. As I said, she has a 'cow-girl' theme going, so as part of that I kitted her out with the Variable version of the Milker chest and used SGO to get some expansion going. This is all well and good and exactly what the Variable chests are in there for, as it amuses me, but there's a bit of a problem with those modesty plates. The mesh they're made from isn't particularly high-poly, but they're tasked with covering a part of the body mesh that both is high-poly and is subject to a lot of potential changes with the BodyMorph system, so at high levels of expansion it's annoyingly persistent in doing this shit: I had thought I had ironed that out in this version of these, but I guess not. This is only a problem on the Variable versions, of course; for all of the Fixed Weight models I went through and fixed any noticeable clipping during the course of building them and they're not subject to any further morphing. But on the Variable versions there's just so damn many potential, um, variables that it's a giant pain in the ass to account for all of them. So Instead of trying, I decided I'd make a new modesty solution. The first thing I turned to was the cowling piece I used on the Meteor helmet, as it had a decent cup shape to it. A little bit of work later, and... ...Wait. This isn't modest at all! But I like it. The problem is that the morphs have certain points where they're particularly touchy. The nipples are some of the more complicated ones, especially the length and size sliders which can very easily produce clipping and distortion on models that weren't set up to accommodate them. The best way to start on that is by having an intersection of a decently high number of vertices centered directly over the nipple, but the only place with one of those on this mesh is at the point of the cowling. So it's barely providing coverage. But that does have its own appeal. It does have its own limits, though. Stupid-huge morphs can distort the ring element placed at the back to fill in a hollow on the cowling mesh, and very small morphs are not kind to it, as should probably be expected. It does pretty well on the middle sizes, though. It's also only really suited for use with the MC variable torso there. You can use it with the regular Doll chests, but it's just kinda hanging on. So I'm inclined to toss it in, but it's kind of a limited use-case and doesn't actually accomplish what I was looking for out of it. For that I had to turn elsewhere, which led to me brainstorming on places I could source a suitable mesh from. And that led me to someplace a bit unusual: The Dwarven Greatsword. This was a return to the pastie-style covering instead of trying to make a cup element, which I figured would work better with the non-MC torso applications, using the Greatsword's hilt decoration and pommel caps. They worked out pretty well; the hilt deco has a surprisingly high poly count, especially compared to the similar parts on the other Dwarven blades, while the pommel has an amusing design for the context and provides plenty of clearance over the troublesome nipples. Both of them took fairly well to the various breast morphs, with almost all of the points where it needed cleanup being at the very edges of the mesh where it contacts the skin. The actual results of the morphs can be a bit varied, but things mostly turn out okay. So all that was coming along quite nicely, right up until the point where I tested them in-game. You see, making armor parts out of non-armor meshes can be a bit... Fussy. Sometimes it turns out fine, sometimes the game will choke on them entirely, sometimes something weird and in-between those points will happen. This time we got the in-between. In this case, the parts just sorta flick in and out of visibility as the camera moves around. Get the camera at the right angle and they're perfectly visible, move it a tiny fraction and they vanish. It's super-annoying, but more annoying is that the only way I know of to fix it is by using the .obj-conversion method to remediate the meshes. Which is all fine and good, except that I didn't find this until after I had made all the fixes to the morphs in Bodyslide, and those don't carry over so now I have to do them again. Which I will do, eventually, because these worked out pretty well, but they're right there on the procrastination list. So that moves us on to my third choice, which ended up being something between the first two: the chassis piece from the Dwarven Sphere. This... Actually worked out a lot better than I was expecting it to. I was anticipating problems similar to the current Spider-based plate's, but it turns out that this piece has an acceptable poly count with an intersection of vertices in a reasonably useful place. Centering that over the nipple gives me reasonable coverage with just a tiny bit of areola peeking out at the edges for some risque flair. The mesh itself manages to cup the breast while only barely contacting the skin, which helps give it an amazing amount of leeway in conforming to the various morphs. Big, small, even some of the really oddball ones in the UUNP catalog, all but a few super-extremes work fine. Best of all, it didn't give me any crap in-game. I'm inclined to get all of these into the mod, but this is certainly the most successful. It manages to be both a cup and a pastie at the same time, so it looks good regardless of the chest it's used on, and its flexibility as far as the morphs go is a fricking blessing compared to the usual fussiness I have to deal with. These will still be somewhat limited in their use, though, as I only intend to include them as Variable versions. The Fixed Weight chests will have to make do with the Spider plates and the Edhildil bras, as adding four more coverings for each of them would add another big chunk to the mod's parts count. I'm already at three pages in AddItemMenu and I haven't even gotten around to putting in all the rubber Doll variants yet, guys. I've got to find some place to exercise restraint. Speaking of AIM, I actually have been considering some way besides it to get these parts into the game. Not crafting, setting that up is still too much of a giant pain in the ass, but probably something along the lines of chests placed inside the space I'm planning for the Automated NPCs. Working on that has been it's own headache, though. I've mentioned before that my first experiment involved duplicating a piece of Avanchnzel, but that had had some particularly obnoxious problems involving random things not rendering in properly, so that wasn't going to work. My next thought was that the NPCs would need something to do in the space anyway, so it would make some sense to use a location that was already set up with idle markers and the like. The obvious place to start there was with a Markarth interior, and that actually worked out fine. So I went ahead and tossed in a bunch of the NPCs I've done so far to test out their deployment. I found out a few interesting things while doing this. First, I can now confirm that the SoS keywords do apply properly on the torsos when the save doesn't have records of those items from before the keywords were added to them, as all of the panties and torsos equipped on these characters loaded without any complaints. This does mean that you're likely to run into the same problems I was having with them not doing that if you upgrade the mod mid-save, though. Second, is that when making these NPCs I really need to remember to strip out any location-specific AI packages left over from the original NPCs if I want them to stay put. I neglected to do that on the Automated Courtesan I made out of Windhelm's Susanna, and she promptly wandered out and managed to get herself killed by a nearby Forsworn. Although that does give me the opportunity to showcase what looting a dead Automated looks like. You can further loot the head frame as well, but that'll leave her face floating in space alongside the bare torso frame. The face and the torso frame are the only parts that are her actual 'nude' body, everything else is a piece of armor as far as the game is concerned. And a note about the hair; that clipping at the cheek seems to be caused by some neck weighting on the forelock reacting to the odd angle the head is resting at. In a normal position it doesn't so that. I don't know if the weighting there is really needed, but I'm also not sure if it's worth the hassle to adjust at this point... Anyway, the other thing of note is that the Markarth spaces turned out to be way too small for the number of NPCs I need to cram in there. I had only tossed in a handful for testing and it already felt cramped, and I've got a frickin' pile of them made up that need homes. One in-theme way to alleviate that would be to have them in the space but 'deactivated' in some way, to keep them from wandering around and getting in each other's way as they compete for idle markers. The ideal way to handle that would be something that could set the NPCs to act like mannequins until removed, like in the Cursed Mannequin Collars mod that I mentioned before, but that uses a complicated and somewhat limited quest-based method that I have absolutely no clue how to get working. Second-best would be something like the Draugr wall niche markers or the ones that ghosts idle in before they walk through walls, but I don't think there's any way to get those to work with non-Draugr or non-ghosts. I gave the latter a try, but nobody was interested in using them. Going through the Vanilla markers, the only one that seemed to provide anything close to the effect I wanted was the one for the door sentries at the Imperial HQ in Solitude. It isn't quite what I had in mind, as the NPCs still rotate through an idle pose and head-track so they don't really come off as 'deactivated', but it does seem to keep them in place from what I've seen so far. It may work as a good-enough solution. But even with that the space is still too small. None of the Markath interiors quite felt right, so started looking at other Dwarven spaces that already had some NPC use. Out of them, the most promising candidate for a donor is Raldbthar. It's a decent sized space with some variety to its rooms and nothing particularly obstructive. The only big change I had to make was that I'd pictured the Automated hangout to be in very good shape for a Dwarven ruin, which required me to clean up all the various rubble piles scattered around the place. But this also freed up more floorspace, so it's worth taking the time to do. The part that's really selling me on this is the large room just past the bandit-occupied area, though. part of what I had in mind for the Automated's space was that it would include the machine that created them in some fashion, but I wasn't really looking forward to having to build something that represented that. This room, however, is already set up to look like some kind of large mechanism. I did some more clean-up here and pulled some fences out to expose the structures at the side of the room; I'm thinking that those could be modified as 'outputs' for the DMA parts, with some ground models littered around and containers here and there containing the entire DMA stock. Similarly, the door at the back of the room is perfect for the exit of the machine that a freshly minted Automated would come through. Everything past that point is set up more as a standard Dwarven dungeon and isn't really as usable as the rest of the space, so I don't mind scrapping it in favor of a reconstruction chamber. It won't be functional, of course, as that would require a whole lot of things that I don't know how to do, but I am pretty set on it as an aesthetic element. This is as far as I've gotten with this so far, though. I still have to decide a lot of the details regarding how I'm going to kit out and populate the space, as well as where exactly the entrance to it is going to be. I've currently got the doors to all these test zones peppered around Deep Folk Crossing's upper area, but it's actually a bit of a pain to work with due to its navmeshing being rather spotty. What I'd rather like to do is to associate it with an existing isolated Dwarven surface ruin that doesn't have an established dungeon or Falmer activity all that nearby, but there's not a whole lot of those. I'd particularly prefer it for story purposes if it was in an unpopulated area, but that knocks out otherwise decent candidates like the Dibella shrine on the road to Markarth or the henge near Shor's Stone. Ones that get a lot of attention from other mods like Reachwind or the shrine in the mountains north of Whiterun are a bit iffy, too. Any suggestions as far as that goes would be welcome. One last thing to mention regards the voices for the NPCs I'm making. The Vanilla voice system has some obnoxious limitations where followers are concerned in regards to which voice types will actually work for follower dialog, which I ran into face-first here when I tried to use the High Elf voice for A5-16. This is an old problem, of course, and has long had a solution in the form of the Relationship Dialog Overhaul mod, but I had never bothered to use that both because I had seldom bothered with followers in my own games and because it has a history of conflicts with PAHE. Given this situation where I suddenly find myself building a whole mass of followers, however, it seemed only rational to give it a try instead of limiting my followers to a whole three voice types. The results have been fairly entertaining. They'll even play off of each other sometimes, which is pretty wild. So yeah, you can probably add that to the list of recommended companion mods when this stuff actually comes out. It certainly makes the whole thing work a lot smoother.
  12. Looks good! The eyes are a nice touch. I had briefly considered making cutouts for the eyes myself when I first started working on those, but gave up on it pretty quickly when I saw how the vertices on the mesh didn't match up to them at all. Adding eye glows to the texture was more work than I wanted to put into them, so it's nice to see someone picking up my slack. This stuff is pretty straightforward to convert to SE, from my own experiments with doing that, but I don't think I did anything with a .nif optimizer. There's only a few significant issues that I've found in my attempts; the mesh for the horsehead mask turning invisible in-game, the caps and a few other parts on the Milker torso turning a dark bronze color instead of brass, and the original LE high heel offset coding not working with the SE NiOverride system like it's supposed to. I'm curious as to if you've seen any of that yourself after optimizing the meshes. As for the footsteps, unless I'm misremembering things pretty much all of the metal feet in the mod should be using the Dwarven Spider footstep file. It certainly is a bit light of a noise for some of the feet, but the only other Dwarven option in the Vanilla sound files is the Centurion, which is *way* too loud for a human-scale Automaton, and making a custom sound for these is well outside of the scope of things I feel confident in doing. You could probably sub in a heavy armor footstep to get something more substantial, although it won't have quite the same mechanical clankiness. That's just a matter of changing the sound in the drop-down list on the part's armor add-on entry in the Creation Kit.
  13. The most likely culprit is, as always, the Devious Devices 'device hider' function. For some reason it camps out on the 'helmet hair' slot, #41, and as a result makes it impossible to use any headgear designed to displace the helmet hair mesh like the shaved 'wigs' do. Normally this would affect both the player and NPCs, though, so there may be some other factor in play. But I'd start with turning off the device hider and seeing what happens. Feel free! The original by MaikCG has wide-open permissions, so it'd be pretty crappy of me to pile restrictions on to it. I'm not too inclined to get all that possessive with any of my projects, honestly. Seeing others do things with with them that I don't have the time or capability to do is a bonus, as far as I'm concerned.
  14. AVS

    Face Up

    Screenshot-heavy post this time. (I mean, they always are, but still.) Since figuring out how to get the Live Faces to work, I've been spending a lot of time on developing the various possibilities they open up. Part of that involved getting the faces for my own NPCs set up, but I actually put that off for a while because it required me to figure out how to get frickin' NifMerge to do what I wanted it to do again. Instead, I took a while to explore one of the most interesting aspects of the Live Face process: Just how damn easy it is to apply it to an existing FaceGen head model. So. Fucking. EASY. Seriously, this is all just laughably simple to do. Make a duplicate of the NPC inside the DMA .esp file, swap out their default outfit for one built of Automaton parts, remove the hair and modify the eyes in the head parts tab as needed, and then just export the FaceGen to run the mask retexturing process on it. Doing that I can make an 'automated' version of basically any female NPC I want. I tried to just keep it to a light skim of the ones I found interesting and decent-looking, but I still ended up with... Well, let's just say a bunch. An assortment of enemies, various wilderness encounter characters such as the generic mercenaries/adventurers and the hunters, even a couple of the cut characters that were lying around in the CK, like the Automated Pit Fighter built from the abandoned Windhelm Arena character, Liesl. I also sourced from various in-game corpses, like the Liar's Retreat barmaid here... Grabbed a few player pre-sets to provide some race generics... And I also tossed a copy of Salma in as the Redguard generic, since I had already done that in the prior mask project. What can I say, I like her face. I don't really have plans to do the reverse and make equippable masks out any of the faces generated here, though, as making those is much more of a pain. These were all made pretty quickly, so the changes are a bit haphazard. Most of them have their original hair removed, but I left it in some cases where I felt it suited the face well enough. Some of them retain their original eyes, biased a bit towards the neutral characters, with those of the rest replaced with either one of the Portal Eyes sets or with Holzfrau's Dwemer Eyes. The Portal eyes were just copied en masse into the DMA .esp, but I actually found it a bit easier and more flexible to apply Holzfrau's at the .nif level, but because they require some shader changes to get the glow mask working right and because it simplified using them as single-eye replacements. Doing that in the CK requires making a new eye part for each combination, which is a pain, but like this all I have to do is give them one of the existing half-blind sets and edit the FaceGen model in NifSkope as needed. The CK's annoying UI is also a limitation on doing custom or fancier hair for these guys, as building the hair sets is also a pain. For the most part I'll just let the randos here use the DMA wigs or helmets. But I have been adding in a small handful of hair sets based on the wigs to give to my hand-made followers so I can give them proper hair colors, which one or two of the generics could also take advantage of. A side note about those hairs and the Portal eyes: while I have them loaded into the mod, my current intention is to have all of the eyes and most of the hairs marked as unplayable, with the exception of the few hair sets that I modified with Dwarven ring accessories. This will keep them from being available during the player's character creation. I'm doing this in part to keep from completely stealing the original mods' thunder, but also because this whole thing is still pretty much NPC-exclusive. I had some hopes that I might be able to set a modified head mesh as a preset, but it won't even let you produce a FaceGen to modify if that tag is set. About the only other method I can think of that might work is directly modifying the base headshape model, but that's a bit more drastic than I'm willing to do. Especially after all the headaches messing with that for the hardware version of this concept gave me. So I'm gonna keep that set aside for now. Anyway, you may be wondering what I'm going to do with all these Automated NPCs. Well, so am I! Seriously, I haven't a clue. I mean, I do have some vague ideas, which are at the moment largely based around this girl: It's been in the back of my mind since early in the DCC project that, should I ever get around to making cyborg NPCs, they should come from a long-forgotten Dwarven facility that had been quietly producing cyborgs from various lost wanderers for centuries. The general idea would be that the facility itself would be deeply buried and all the access routes cut off over time, aside from something akin to the pit trap in that one in-game Dwarven ruin that keeps dropping anyone who happens upon it to their almost-certain doom. The facility would salvage and recycle the remains, but with all the exits blocked up and no Dwemer around to give them directives, the resulting cyborgs are simply left cooped up in the tunnels trying to make the best of their strange new lives. From there, the general outline has this Synod Researcher, who is a relatively recent addition to the Automated, manage to find a way out which leads to them encountering the Dragonborn in some manner. Following that the player gets back into the ruin, where my conversion spree here has given them various enemies, neutrals, and allies to encounter. It could be a pretty neat little setup, except for the fact that it would require me to do a lot more in terms of dungeon-building, quest-making, and dialog writing than I have even the slightest bit of interest, experience, or motivation to do. I've got Jeff Goldblum doing his 'You were so concerned with if you could you didn't stop to think if you should' line behind my shoulder, here. I may still do a low-rent version of this, although I've also been having issues with implementing that. I did a quick copy of a cell from Avanchnzel with an exterior exit near Deep Folk Crossing to give myself a space to drop completed NPCs into and test how well they spawned into the game, but it has this obnoxious habit of not visually rendering chunks of itself until the player is actually in them, requiring you to just dash into the grey void and hope the room appears around you. So that's obviously not usable. I'm left trying to find someplace I can copy that will work, or trying to hand-build a dungeon, neither of which fill me with happy anticipation. Regardless of how I end up getting them into the game, I've got a pile of NPCs to work with all of a sudden. The generics are pretty simple, as I can mostly just copy over all of their existing data. Building out a variety of outfits for them to use will probably be the bigger time-sink as far as they're concerned. My newly-built NPCs, however, require more care. I did eventually figure out the NifMerge stuff I mentioned earlier so I've been able to get their faces into the game easily enough, but actually deciding on things like their individual roles and settings and spell loadouts and so forth takes a fair bit of thought, so I've been lucky to manage two a day. And since I seem to be making followers out of all the non-Vanilla NPC masks I built, well... It's pretty worthwhile, though. Some of these are faces that I made specifically for the masks, like A5-16 here, so it's quite neat to see them in motion. Others are salvaged from my DCC testing characters, like 10-7 and 11-20, and it's nice to have them running around again. And yet more are from that old personal corpse-salvaging project, like this Imperial here. She actually replaced the pre-desecrated Corpse NPC that the CK for some reason includes for the Kilkreath corpses; there was a mod dungeon that I had been playing with that had a bunch of them lying around for some reason, and my wanting a better-looking version to raise was what kicked off that whole project. Now here she is years later, getting to live yet again. Sourcing from that project also lets me salvage a some characters that never really got to fulfill their intended roles. B17-1 was originally a replacement for the mage corpse that was supposed to be found near Deep Folk Crossing with the book that points you at the Aetherium quest. I picked her out more or less at random when I was skimming through the CK for corpses to upgrade, but I hadn't encountered her in the wild before then. Turns out, as I found after making the new face for her, that's because her body has an annoying habit of floating away to parts unknown before you can get to her. I think I only managed to find her properly placed once. So it's nice to have a place to use her independent of that, and as part of that I had actually been considering giving her the role of the introductory character instead of the Synod girl. And to that end I used her to test out something else I've had in mind for a while... The problem with using clothing with the Type XXX body parts has always been that the modifications to the body severely limit the kinds of clothes that would fit over them. But in the Vanilla outfit system, the clothes simply replace the entire body. Part of the reason I included the Variable hands, feet, and neckplate was to account for that, as they can be equipped alongside a normal outfit to provide some suggestion of an Automaton wearing clothes. Of course for anything that shows much of the body the effect is ruined a bit by the very non-Automated body and legs being visible, but with a full-coverage outfit like the robes you can convey the idea of an Automated passing through society in disguise. Now you can use the existing in-game robes for this just fine, but I've been a bit hung up with them because I also want to use this on statue automata, and the UUNP-converted robes I use have too much breast bounce for that to quite work. Taking the bounce out would require me to provide my own copies of the mesh with the bones removed, and that would limit their body-agnosticism, and I'd have to add them in to the Bodyslide lists, and so on and so on, so I'd kicked the idea to the back burner. But when it came up again while I was considering B17-1's outfit, I thought, 'Hey, why not just grab the Vanilla models and use them?' So I did. And it works. Mostly. Aside from that. That Vanilla neck seam does not seem to want to work with the Doll collar in a lot of places, surprisingly. I haven't quite figured out how to address that, yet. Having the skin there at all is a bit of a demerit for using this with the statues, although what I have in mind for them would see them wearing the hood full-time, so it's a bit less of a concern. It would be possible to replace that section of skin with a piece cut from a Type XXX torso, but that would have the same problem as far as the other materials go and I don't really want to have to do multiple versions of these to work with that. So I'm currently leaning towards replacing the entire section of skin with something mechanical. That would peg these more as 'alternate bodies' instead of 'Type XXX bodies wearing clothes', but I think I can live with that. And yes, by 'these' I do mean that I've already included a few others. I basically limited these to outfits with an associated hood and that the DMA parts happened to fit into well. That last point cut out the more common Apprentice Mage robes, as they had some issues around the wrist, but the Journeyman outfit both fits the parts quite well and looks very good with the Mage hood, which was a bit of a surprise as that combo is very rare in-game. But while all this does look good on her, B17-1's face was always one that I had made to be just a little bit more sultry than most of the others, and it felt like a bit of a shame to bundle her up like this. That face seemed like it would be a particularly good fit for a Type XXX body, so why not have her... let loose? Yeah, that's more like it. Going back to that vague storyline I've got in my head about all this for a bit, I'm thinking that part of the setting for the Automated has the conversion process messing with their heads a little bit. However, the machine that builds them wasn't quite finished before the Dwemer were wiped off of Nirn, and the reprogramming that was supposed to be done to their minds as a part of that process is incomplete. The primary directive to obey the Dwemer is present, but entirely irrelevant. The secondary directive to destroy the Falmer... Might be present. I'll have to see what I can do with factions, as far as that goes. But as for the additional directive to 'provide companionship', well... Some of the subjects were very receptive to it. Anyway, that's going to be the default outfit for her. Deciding on these outfits is its own process, depending on the parts I have available and the idea I have in mind for the character. Sometimes I'll try out something new with the former, only to find out it doesn't quite work with the latter. For example, the Orc Subject, O11-10, I threw together a few 'toned' body pieces using the 7Base parts and one of the muscular normal maps, which works reasonably well. Since I built them right before I put this Orc character together, I figured I might as well try them out on her. And they look pretty good! But the problem is that this face comes from a DCC test character who I had nicknamed 'the soft Orc', so... Not quite what I had in mind for her. So eventually she's going to end up with plusher body parts (and probably different hair), and these muscles will go to somebody else. This is the advantage of interchangeable parts. Sometimes I won't have anything specific in mind when making the NPC and'll just toss whatever together for an outfit, and then go back and figure out what'll work best after seeing how the face looks in-game. N4-23's face has been hanging around in a few of these posts, as it was one of the last of the Vanilla masks that I made and was on one of the followers I was using to test various things. My initial thought was to give her a rubber body with the HV limbs that I had tested on her precursor... ...but after seeing how well that face worked with the hair I had picked out for her, she definitely felt like she needed something brighter. That hair actually changed my plans for her quite a bit. I had been considering using her to showcase some of the new headgear, which her face is pretty well suited to... But the hair just works so damn well. I really don't want to mess with it. ...Okay, maybe a little. But being Automated isn't all smut and glamour. I figure I ought to have a few people around who aren't adjusting all that well to their circumstances, and to that end I'm also adding some Worker Units who have clearly been having a rougher time of things. I'm starting them off with CL-22, who's based on the face I made for Larina, the NPC who gets ritually sacrificed in Hobb's Fall cave. Thanks to the NPC mood settings, it doesn't look like her successor is much better off. With her we have kind of the reverse situation as with N4-23's hair, where I've given her a default hair set but don't really want it showing all the time. That one's from the Apachii set, and while it's great at presenting loose, unkempt hair, Skyrim's stupid multiple transparency bugs means that the part that goes over the right eye renders that eye invisible in chunks. That's less noticable on the Research Assistant, but it kinda stands out here. Using the TAWOBA crest also isn't great, because while it really showcases that the head is a hollow structure behind the face, it really showcases that the head is a hollow structure behind the face, with there just being nothing past the top edge of it. It's a little bit too disconcerting with the Live faces, honestly. But I do kinda want to show off the insides of her noggin a bit, since its contents tie into another angle from that head-canon story of mine. Having those various brain and crystal insert options for the heads raises the question of what exactly they mean for and to the Automated who have them. I figure they represent a sort of ranking; the Automated who possess a Brain Capsule, particularly the visible one, have a certain amount of assurance that they are still themselves, with their original minds and capacity for growth. Those whose minds are imprinted onto the Lexicon core could be said to have been paid a sort of a compliment, as this most complex of the crystals is often carried by those who were strong in magic or thought in their previous existence, but the question always lingers as to whether or not they are the 'real' them or just a copy. The workings of the machine that created them are too obscure for them to ever be sure. Those with a Black Soul Gem can at least assume that they are still being driven by their original spirit, but may find that their memories grow spotty over time. The Centurion core is the least of the lot, suitable only for the weak-minded, but it still may be preferable than the Grand Soul Gems. One of these gems is insufficient to hold a human soul, but the machine has a way to split the Automated between two of them, working in tandem to drive their new body. It's unclear why this option is chosen, but the results for those who were converted in this way can apparently be quite distressing. Which is all a long way of saying that the Grands will go to the sad sacks, the Lexicons to the mages, the Centurion cores to the low-level bandits, and so forth. I'm not quite sure how to present the Falmer and Meridian crystals yet, but they'll probably be the mid-range. The follower NPCs will tend towards Lexicon crystals and actual brains, while the enemies will get the lower-end stuff. And poor CL-22 will get a Gilded helmet for her final headwear. You can still see the crystals through the side-vents, but she wants to hide her shame at least a little bit.
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