Fallout 4: Invasion of the Moddy Snatchers

Looks like I got two choices: start a new game, or reload a save from before the failed quest that bugged me, which would be … lesse … November … 2014.  Good thing I wasn’t emotionally invested in my character or anything.  Man, it would have sucked if I’d bought a whole new computer just to play this game, and then started a blog about it, and sunk hours upon hours into it.  That would have sucked.

Well … hell.  If we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do it right. I didn’t pay all this money for this shiny new machine to be playing vanilla.

It’s modding time!

Lesse see … I made some notes on my mod choices, but first off, I’ve been working from 10 AM -10 PM tonight; but from 2-9 PM I was paid in beer, so coherence is a secondary item on my menu tree.

What to install?  How about –

Replace nukes with teddy bears. (F^ck yeah, Albuquerque! Teddy Ruxpin, b^tches!)

I thought about the “vault booty” mod, but let’s see what vanilla booty does first … and how is that even a sentence I am typing?

I … I’m not ready for naked Piper yet.

I did get the “sexy vaultsuit pack” just because it looked more “’50s pinup” than “sad hentai emulator” and because it wouldn’t feel right to mod a game without at least one sexah mod.

I also got the “sexy nurse outfit” one … I dunno if it will do anything for my character, but I have a general rule that nurses should raise your blood pressure if at all possible …

… and of course, no Fallout game would be complete without a giant Bob Ross head in the sky.

After watching approximately 1 zillion youTube Fallout videos, I decided I wanted to try the female character, partly for the roleplaying experience, partly because I think the voice actress is better, and partly because I have explored all the hairstyle options available for the guy.  And so:

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Sweet mother of Krug what is it?!?  KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Yeah, it’s easy to go very far astray using the “sculpt” option for character design.  My advice is: always pick the presets.  Otherwise, you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to align the eyes and nose while making sure you have a properly balanced earlobe weight, and that was lies madness.

Not that there’s only one way to hit the Uncanny Valley:

Eyes
You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise…

But finally,

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Ms. California Forthwith

I was ready to go run amuk in the Wasteland, all jacked up on Nuka Cola and Tic Tacs.  Well, once I found some horn-rim glasses and got a beehive hairdo.  Speaking of which …

… huh.  I don’t see options for the “extra hairstyles” mod I installed.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.  Never mind – let’s get to the Vault, ditch this loser, and go marauding.

I think there’s supposed to be more there, like more of the person.

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Definitely seems a little off.

Well, that’s half the fun of mods, is the complete devastation they wreak on your game.  Let’s just uninstall the vault suit mod and be on our way.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t installed any “turn radroaches into Kylo Ren” or anything like that, so I wasn’t able to test anything in the Vault.  I beat feet out into the Commonwealth, and was wandering around, just enjoying shooting the crap out of everything now that I had sum idea how to play the game … wait.  What is that glowy thing in the sky?  Is that the moon?  Why isn’t it Bob Ross?!?

Turns out that since Bethesda hasn’t actually formally sanctioned mods yet, you have to edit your .ini file, the file that has all your game presets in it, in order for it to accept them.

Fortunately, the folks at Nexus Mods gave us sum instructions.

Warning: editing your .ini file will destroy your game, your computer, and possibly your life.  You’ll wake up one morning to find your house repossessed, your credit rating gone, and your wife has run off to Mexico to live in sin with the .ini file.  So I highly recommend it.  I used to do it with the 911 software at the alarm company.

Now I had a problem: if my calculations were correct, all my mods should now be fully armed and operational, but I was stuck in the Museum of Freedom in Concord, and nowhere near the moon or any nuclear teddy bears.

Hmm … the thing to do would be to find another mod, one that I could test immediately.  Like maybe some new armor …

… like a Darth Vader outfit with matching pink lightsaber?

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The Farce is strong with this one.

I eventually dumped the Vader armor ’cause it looked weird in the glow from the lightsaber, and how am I even writing that sentence in Fallout 4?

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But the lightsaber does something like 100+ damage, which made the Deathclaw boss fight kinda … well, I was gonna record it, but I killed the damn thing so fast I couldn’t even hit the video capture button.

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Raider scum

I didn’t even bother bein’ tactical, I just walked right up and starting laying waste.  It felt good, Quicker … easier … you know what, Preston?  Why don’t ya go cool yer heels in Sanctuary?  I got some killin’ to do.

And even though, like Anakin, I learned the limitations of the Dark Side (or, in this case, Pink Side) …

I was still bringing death to the Unbeliever.  Well, and the Beliver, and every frickin thing else I could lay my little lightsabery hands on.

Until the car bomb almost killed me.

Actually, it was a combination of a couple of mines that then set of the car, under Fallout’s theory of always adding insult to injury.  Fortunately, there was a mattress right there, so I was able to take sum Buffout and sleep it off.  And when I awoke, there He was, beaming down from the Heavens to bestow his giant afro blessing on my wholesame homicide …

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Fallout 4: She Blinded Me With Mad Science

Dateline: Modoc County

Rumors have been pouring in that Don has been seen somewhere on the Madeline Plains; several sightings have placed him near Termo (pop. 10) where he was reported to be swilling rum directly from the bottle while wearing nothing but a mountain lion and tule stalks.

We remain hopeful that Don may someday rejoin civilization.  Meanwhile, we present you with the last of the pre-bug Fallout 4 posts:

The Periodic Table of the Elements ranks, along with The Rolling Stones and Sarah Lindsay, as one of the greatest achievements of mankind, not only because of its scientific and aesthetic beauty, but because it unlocks the additional achievement “build frickin’ huge bombs.”

By Sandbh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Periodic Table is a map that is also the territory – by ordering the elements by their properties, and then sorting by their weight (actually, their atomic mass) we can construct a pattern that predicts itself – where there were holes in the pattern, the chemists searched for, and found, the missing elements.  And in so doing, they discovered the real source of the pattern – the number of electrons in each atom’s valence shell.

Take lithium, for example – it is a Group 1, or alkali metal.  With only 1 weakly bound electron in its outermost shell, it almost always reacts by losing (or “donating” as chemists like to say) that electron to another atom.  If you’ve ever heard of an “alkaline lake,” then you know that alkali elements tend to form salts, which are formed when acids (halogen or chalcogenic elements ionically bound to the Hydride, or H+ ion) neutralize a base (an alkali or alkali earth metal ionically bound to the Hydroxide, or OH- ion).  For example, lithium hydroxide would react with, say, Hydrochloric Acid to produce water and Lithium Chloride.

Which is why I was so confused when Fallout asked me to react lithium hydride with hydrochloric acid instead.

It was possible, I guess, since lithium is still donating an electron in an ionic bond, but hydrogen is much more likely to bond covalently with oxygen, forming the hydroxide radical, than it is to act as a halogen.

Still, if I could find elemental lithium, I should be able to use electrolysis to reduce the hydrochloric acid sample down to hydrogren and oxygen.  Then I can expose the lithium pellets to the hydrogen gas, and since hydrogen is the more electronegative of the two, the bond should form …

… although it does help to remember that Fallout does not actually expect me to know chemistry in order to complete the quest.

I think it’s because when I started gaming1, a lot of what we had were educational games … well, ok, there was also Zork, aka the “how to scar kids for life” game and Canyon Climber and assorted other titles, but I will state gluteus ex cathedra that the ratio of educational to entertainment games was much higher then than now.  This is at least partly because computers in the 80’s were marketed entirely to nerds, so it was expected that a “physics simulator” would be less about cake and more about solving differential equations.  So when a game hands me a chemistry-themed problem, my first reaction is usually going to be busting out my “Acid-Base Equilibria” handbook.

Especially ’cause I’m hanging around with Curie, the mad science robot-turned-girl, so my mind is definitely on her data distributions, if you know what I mean, and what I mean is I am trying to get her perk so she’s in my cutscene, assuming this game even has a cutscene.

Which is why I found myself in the Cambridge Polymer Lab, trying to dope gold foil with uranium 235, because Curie loves it when you bring the science.

Although I am confused about which part of “bring the science” means “be a real girl,” because fairly soon into our travels she told me she wants to be human.  She babbled something about “inspiration” that I really think was supposed to be a metaphor for “hot monkey love,”  since she’s definitely playing the coquette:

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Bonjour, monseur.  I bring sexy back, no?

but really, it just seems to be this thing now, that robots either want to wipe out humanity, or join it.  Frankly, it makes no sense to me:

 

Anyway, about 10 minutes into travelling with her, she expresses her frustration with this whole “pure analysis” thing, and decides she needs “feelings,” not that those ever did me any good.

Fortunately, Dr. Amari down in Goodneighbor specializes in those “Blade Runner” style undercover medical procedures, and she knew where we could get a spare synth body2.

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I don’t think Obamacare care’s gonna cover this.

So it wasn’t long before Curie had blossomed from a precision-designed incrediby efficient and nearly immortal machine into a slushy bag of organic molecules.

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Like a beautiful and yet highly illogical butterfly.

But hey – whatever makes her happy.  If being human is what she needs to be happy and fulfilled and inspired and … waitta minute, this is starting to sound kind of … I don’t wanna flirt with Curie, I’m already spoken for!

Now I was in a conundrum … Curie is having fits and starts because, as any poet could have told her, emotions might make for great inspiration, but not while they’re also jacking your endocrine system full of more chemicals than a Grateful Dead concert.  She’s pouring out her heart to me, and the game is over there in the corner going “flirt with her! flirt with her!” but I’m not about to piss off Piper, because not only does Piper have a flamethrower, but I think she has developed Satanic powers:

 

But on the other hand, Curie doesn’t really have a handle on the whole “emotional thing” yet, so disappointing her could jumble up the ball of love, anger, confusion, and hope that she is currently using for a cerebral cortex into some homicidal cocktail of hate and vengeance.  Especially since I gave her my tire iron with the axe attached, and she’s really taken a Shining to it:

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Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Curie!

Which, in hindsight, may not have been the wisest decision on my part.  I didn’t know she was going to select “murderous rage” as her newly found emotion of choice.

So I was thinking it would probably be a good idea to get her affinity up and get her the hell away from sharp objects.  Which is how I found myself in the Cambridge Polymer labs, shooting ghouls and trying to remember anything helpful about the surface chemistry of metals.

Of course, I didn’t actually need to manufacture Lithium Hydride; the quest was to fight through the ghoul infested rooms until you found the right containers: one of lithium hydride, as well as gold and U-238, out of which you create a unique set of uranium-doped power armor, which would have been useful if I wasn’t already so overburdened that I left it there.

Nor did it get Curie to stop raging around the Commonwealth because I wouldn’t date her.  She “loved” that I completed the reaction, but I still didn’t get a cutscene saying she’d found her inspiration, her … Muse, if you will.

I was getting kind of worried, because outside of the Institute, I was running out of sciency places to take her, and she was beginning to get frustrated, not to mention she had also discovered firearms:

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“This is a metaphor.  But it is also a gun.”

I thought maybe we could have a fun day at the library, maybe kill a few hours browsing through the Encyclopedia Wastelandica, but it turned out there was nothing there but robots and supermutants.

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“Also, I don’t have a library card.”

We ended up in Covenant, where she tried to talk to Dr. Montgomery, but all the doctor wanted to do was chain smoke unfiltered Pall-Malls by the carton3.  In hindsight, it was probably better that way, considering Curie IS a synth.

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“We don’t like your kind around here.” 

Finally I just said the heck with it – if I can’t get Curie’s perk without romancing her, I guess I’ll just have to live without it.  Still, I felt kind of sorry for her, ’cause nobody likes to be friendzoned.  So in return, and partly ’cause I like to cause trouble.  I gave her a missile launcher:

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Chicks dig explosives.

I don’t know if that did it, or it was when I ran off to follow a random call for help, but it wasn’t long thereafter that she kissed me on the cheek, gave me some GMO mutfruit, and said, “Call me if things don’t work out with Piper, oui?”

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“We’ll always have Goodneighbor.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Four thousand years ago.
  2. Wait, isn’t that the plot to Frankenstein?
  3. Well, it IS the ’50s.

Star Tab II: The Wrath of My Cat

Editor’s Note: The thaw arrived earlier than expected up here, leaving us in spring’s usual tumult.  Normally, the yeti-haunted hamlet of Alturas would still be buried under 10 feet of snow come January, but instead we find ourselves inescapably mired in mud, like Napoleon in France, only with rednecks instead of Russians.

However, as there is still no fix for Fallout 4, Mr. Raymond has instead wandered into the sagebrush prairie with a keg of beer, where he is communing with the elk.  We expect him back some time next week, if only because the audit reports will be due.  In the meantime, we give you the latest update in the feline politics of the House on Poplar Street:

So I got a new bed.  This is important because the new bad has a bed frame.  That is important because on Thanksgiving, when it was twenty below twenty below outside and the snow was so deep even the mammoths had snowplows, Sneaky Pete ran inside and hid under the bed, saying he wasn’t coming out ’til Easter.

“Also, you can’t see me, ’cause I’m too schneaky,” he said in his best James Cagney voice.

“You’re right there, dude.”

He’s such a crackhead.  I may have to have an intervention for him.  He wanders in meowing at the top of his lungs, devours all the food in the house, and then flops down on the couch.

“Sneaky, what the hell are you doing?” I say.

“I’m Sneaky Pete,” he says.  “You can’t even see me, ’cause I’m too schneaky.”  Then he sprawled across the couch and yowled at the top of his lungs.

“I’m calling the sheriff on you, cat.”

“I is 10 ninjas.”

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S. Pete

Anyway, the problem isn’t that he fights with the other cats – the problem is that Tabby and Silver like him, and I Do. Not. Want. Another. Cat.

Silver lets him sleep on her special pink blankie, the use of which by anyone else, including me, usually results in massive feline retaliation.  And yesterday I caught Tabby licking Pete’s head.  He’s only ever done that with Silver.

“What the hell, Tabby!  Are we opening up a cat house here?”

“He’s my brudda from anudda mudda, sir.”

I gotta stop letting him read Cheezburger after dark.

But while they might like having S. Pete around, any change in the zeitgeist is an excuse to run amuk over my time, sleep and sanity.  It’s even worse now that the thaw has come, because they wanna be outside, but of course they also feel the urgent cat need to always have an open door available in case of kaiju attack.  It’s their favorite game; they call it “Door,” where Tabby demands I open the door so he can go in and out and in and out and in and out 74.3 times an hour even though it’s the middle of the night and I’m buck-ass nekkie and then I notice my neighbor (who is a prominent member of the Elks Lodge)  who had gone out to empty the garbage is staring at me standing naked in the street yelling at a cat who is nowhere to be seen …

But at least in that case, Tabby knows what he wants, which is more than I call say for Silver, who is making a hobby of just sitting in the bathroom staring intently at nothing.  I’m thinking maybe she’s receiving radio signals from another planet and the linoleum helps with reception.  If so, it’s messing up her spatial awareness, because then she’ll demand to be let through a door that doesn’t exist, or that I pick her up and set her down in midair.

Or maybe it’s my spatial awareness that’s messed up, ’cause it’s 4 in the morning, in that magical time where even if I do manage to get back to sleep, it won’t be long enough to do me any good, which … you know, it’s gotta be aliens, because only they would have the timekeeping technology advanced enough to calculate the exact second when it hits “too late to hit the snooze button” and alert Silver to start meowing right at that exact moment, when she will peacefully sleep though any number of hours until then.

Then she does it again when I’m getting ready to get in the shower – from total catatonia to berserk neediness in under 2 seconds, which is apparently triggered by the sound of the water running.  And I could try ignoring her, but only at the cost of my security deposit, because when she gets bored, she likes to attack the blinds.  It’s got to where I sleep with the blinds up in full view of the neighbors, which only worked until Tabby woke me up by batting at the window.  Aliens, I tell you.

Especially yesterday, when I’m 10 minutes late and still half asleep and I’m trying to get some clothes out of the dryer so I can go to work and earn the money to buy the cat food, and maybe hopefully get some sleep.

All of which is complicated by the fact that Silver is sleeping in the dryer.

“Silver, I kinda need to get in there,” I say.

“The needs of the kitty outweigh the needs of the few.”

I nodded.  “Mm.  Or the one.”

“S’right, Mister.”  Then she bit me and went back to sleep.

Orange Cat Blues # 2: Tabby vs. Godzilla

Dateline: somewhere in Alturas, CA
January 16, 2016, some time around 2:30 PM

Don’s drunken rampage continued this week, as he discovered Bethesda’s beta update didn’t fix his Fallout quest line bug.  In response, he began muttering obscenities in ancient Akkaddian and had to be forcibly removed from behind the bar, where he was attempting to lay directly beneath the tap.

Witnesses report that he did eventually attempt to crawl out of the bar, but was dragged back by his boss, who plied him with strong drink until he agreed to host the Football playoff party.   We do not prognosticate his return until sometime after Feb 7, when he will emerge, only to find that he must now audit over the carnage he wraught, wherein he will presumably begin drinking again.  LIke Groundhog, Day, Don now emerges from the bar once a year, and if he sees work to be done, returns to drinking for another 7 weeks.

In the meantime,

Orange Cat Blues # 2: Tabby vs. The Volcano Monster

I guess Tabby had known there was trouble brewing – he kinda has a sixth sense for trouble, but usually only ’cause he’s startin’ it – anyway, when Silver started brewing up the volcano, he’d gone into the back room and started sunning himself on the window. That had been about 4 hours ago, and he’d sucked up all the solar radiation until his fur had started cracklin’ in a chain reaction and he became …
“Mother of Pearl!” I shout. “It’s the Great Atomic Tabby!”
He had smoke comin’ out of his ears, and he must have been running all his dials in the red, ‘cause he came streaking down that hallway and set the carpet on fire. He hit a good groove and leapt straight into the volcano monster. They go tail to tail and the monster’s down, takin’ the table with it, and two little Japanese girls pop out of nowhere and start singing the Litany of Broken Tooth:


Mighty is Broken Tooth
His step trembles earthquakes


Crash! And the microwave is down, but Tabby’s got his right claw in the monster and he’s dangling from its head like a fish on a hook.


Mighty is Broken Tooth
His shadow swallows mountains


The monster gets him right between the ears with a sucker punch, but he shakes it off and starts gnawin’ on its nose.
By this point, Silver’s poked her head out of the closet where she’s been hiding. She’s jumping up and down and clapping her hands; this is the most excitement she’s seen since we got Animal Planet on cable. I’m standing with the Nome over by the living room table, just hopin’ I’ll have a house left when this is over.
They go at it for about ten minutes, and it looks like Tabby almost has him down, when the monster cuts loose with some more of that lightning breath, and Tabby’s whiskers start to curl and smoke. He kind of hunkers down to regroup.
“Don’t give up now!” I shout. “Get back in the there and give him that Orange Mojo!”
Tabby gives me a look like if I want to criticize, I can damn well fight my own volcano monsters. Quick, I shout, “He’s going for the treats!”
That puts the fight back into him …

“Wait!” Nome says. “The prophecy says the monster can only be defeated when the moon rises in the west, and the sun sets in the east! It is in the ancient scroll!”
I don’t ask what particular ancient scroll she’s talking about; she’s the Queen of Egypt, and it’s her job to know these things. I just run and get my crayons.
I come back and pick out the yellow and red crayons ones.
“Um … which way’s east?”
Silver gets out the compass from her Junior Camper kit and points to the far wall. I run over and draw a big red circle, then I draw a yellow one on the other wall.
“Okay, see, that’s the sun.”
Nome gives me her Look, the one that says she can’t believe what a Hittite she’s hooked up with, and I say, “This is no time for art lessons! Did it work?”
“Hmph,” she says, ‘cause Tabby saw the sun setting and it made him tired. He got bored and wandered off and fell asleep on top of the TV, and now the volcano monster’s rummaging through the pantry, looking for hot sauce.
“So … did the ancient prophecy say which particular monster this was supposed to work on?”
Nome stretches out real slow and yawns for effect, then saunters over to the monster. On the way, she rubs me with her shoulder, like to say, “if you want something done right…”
She stares at the volcano monster.
“Hark, monster, for I am the Queen of Egypt,” she says. “By my right as Lady of the Two Lands, I command thee, depart from this place. By Isis and by Ra, I abjure thee, return here no more. Go now into the West, lest the plagues of my wrath descend upon thee.” As she’s talking, the walls start to dissolve into the starry black of the desert night, and a chill wind blows in from the Necropolis. But the monster doesn’t notice, ‘cause he’s busy eating a stick of butter.
“So be it,” she intones. “Loosen the plagues.”
There’s a buzzing noise, and then the room is filled with a million locusts. They all descend upon the monster, and this time he notices. He’s roaring and flailing and you can’t even see him, just the cloud of locusts surrounding him. Then, just like they came, they’re all gone, and there’s no monster, just a skeleton … but it’s still stompin’ around the kitchen.
Silver comes up and sits in my lap.
“Whee, mister!” I have no idea why she calls me mister. “Volcano!”
“Of course!” I shout, leaping to my feet and sending Silver sprawling. “The monster is really the spirit of the volcano! As long as the lava still burns, it can’t be destroyed!”
“That’s great,” says Nome. “But can you get him out of the house?”
“We have to suck up all the atomic energy” I say. I grab Tabby by the scruff of his neck and shove him down on top of the volcano like I was plugging up a sink with an old T-shirt. He gives a little smile as he feels the heat on his belly, then he rumbles and settles down for a nap. By the time he’s done wrigglin’, he’s plugged up the hole like a furry orange cork, and like he always does, once he falls asleep he starts drooling, and the slobber puts out the lava.
The monster takes a couple of steps towards the volcano, but without the mana, he falls apart into a bunch of bones. Silver comes up and grabs one.
“Whee! More volcano, mister!”
“Missy, you are in more trouble than they have words for…”
“More volcano!” she says, and runs out the front door.
Later, I found a ticket stub in her name, for Tokyo. I called and warn them, but nobody believed me. I just hope they have plans for this sort of thing; Fuji’s a big volcano.
Naomi decided she liked the tropical atmosphere, and demanded we keep the volcano. Now she’s talking about moving to the tropics.
So that’s it … Egypt is going to annex the state of Hawaii, Naome’s running a tiki bar in my living room, and I still didn’t get anything to eat.

 

Orange Cat Blues

Editor’s note: after three days of fog, ice, and freezing rain, Mr. Raymond attempted to forget the weather by playing sum Fallout 4, whereupon he discovered that the Railroad questline was irreparably glitched.  We believe he suffered some kind of emotional breakdown at that point; he was last seen wandering into the casino bar, declaring his intention to remain there “until the thaw.”  We hope he will return before the vernal equinox, but in the interim, we have decided to run some of his older work.  All we can do is hope the beer lasts.  God only knows what may happen if he turns to the rum…

Orange Cat Blues

… so when Tabby threw down the double-5 bone, I was, as they say, starting to get a little concerned, especially since I was looking at the same bone in my own hand, and Tabby was out, so it was time to lay down the dominos, and I didn’t think it was gonna exactly go unnoticed, if you know what I mean, but then I look over at Tabby and he gives me a wink out of his good eye, and then he lights a 100 string of firecrackers and throws ‘em on the table, and they’re popping and hissing and throwing smoke, and he grabs the money and a bottle of Old Crow, and comes up out of his seat like he’s flyin’ and does a right hook ninja kick and flips the table over, there’s bones and firecrackers and people screaming, and Tabby’s out the door before I can even grab my harmonica, I make it to the door just as the guns start firing, and he’s already roaring out of the parking lot, I just have time to grab the running board and we’re gone, I dunno how the hell we made the turn onto Uvas Canyon Road, we’re up on two wheels by that point, and I’m screamin, “You crazy sumbitch!” and he’s laughing and pounding the steering wheel and sucking on the whiskey like it was mama-cat’s milk, he’s got the Stones on louder than the Devil and he must have left rubber from Gilroy straight to Almaden.  We finally fall through the door, it’s like one o’clock, and Naomi’s waitin’ up for him, in her pink bathrobe and fuzzy mouse slippers, hair in curlers and a rolling pin in each hand, he barely has time to say, “Aw, baby …” and she’s on top of him, bouncing off the walls Matrix-style to get him from every angle, and I’m yelling, “Not his leg!  Not his leg!  We just got the leg fixed!” and he sees his break and he’s out the door, she’s got his tail in her teeth, and the last time this happened I didn’t hear from them for two months, just got a postcard from La Croix with rum stains on it, so I turn around to go the hell to bed, and there’s Silver, standing in her dinosaur jammies, rubbing her eyes and holding Mr. Wiggle by the ears, so I pick her up and go back to her room and we have a tea party, and by the time I get her back to bed it’s 4 in the morning and time to go to work …

… and the hell of it, I never did ask where he got the truck.

Um, so, yeah … good morning.

Fallout 4: Settle Down

Normally, I like to intersperse these blog posts with lots of screen pics – hell, half the time I spend in Fallout is running around taking pictures of stuff.  There are days when trying to figure out how to arrange the blog around the screenshots takes more time than writing the damn thing.  Anyway, we’ll be sparse on those today, ’cause I had an epiphany.

I thought that once I got “Radio Freedom” up and running at the Castle, I’d start being bombarded with Minuteman radiant quests … “radiant” being gamer code for “lather rinse repeat” because you just end up going to the same damn dungeon over and over and over again …

… sorry, dungeons are in Skyrim.  This is Fallout.  If it were Skyrim, it would be less about exploring and more about admiring the view before going to the Bannered Mare to get hammered, so revisiting the same ruin twenty times wouldn’t be as annoying as it is in Fallout, especially since Skyrim didn’t bring the hate the same way Fallout 4 does.  When I’ve dragged my bloody carcass through a living hell of grenade throwing super mutants in order to clear a building, it would be nice to think it stayed cleared.  But no – the next day, same damn quest.

But no, the radio was fine – they didn’t start the endless radiant quests until I built the artillery.

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This is my boomstick.

I won’t claim it was as difficult as the Manhattan Project, but I wouldn’t say no if you compared it to building the Great Wall of China.

See, they said the settlement building was “optional,” but we all knew they were lying.  Building the artillery required more raw materials than building the Titanic, with the exception of those parts that were Kate Winslet.  But even assuming I was willing to lug several hundred pounds of assorted steel, screws, gears, and oil back the Castle, I would still need someone to man the damn thing, which would mean sparing someone from farming and –

OMG I am going to go play Goat Sim.

The answer was high school economics, where, if you will recall from Mr. Garcia’s lecture, the secret to capitalism was specialization.

Wait, maybe I learned that from playing Civilization.  I often get those two confused.

Anyway, once I discovered that Outpost Zimonja had like, more people than Hong Kong, I decided the best thing to do would be to maybe start some supply lines.1

That way, I could share food between, say Outpost Zimonja (10 settlers, no crops) and GreyGarden (0 settlers, crapload of crops), thus freeing up the settlers at Zimonja to, I dunno, raise cattle or something:

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I have no idea how these got here.

But apparently I gave them too much free time, because once I built the artillery, rather than having fun blowing the crap out of Boston, I started getting sent on endless quests to help my settlements, provided you understand that by settlements, I mean it’s always Outpost Zimonja.

Well, I exaggerate.  It was only Zimonja about 123% of the time – otherwise, it was The Slog, or Abernathy Farms.  I’ve got something like fifteen settlements, but it was always those three, and always some variant of:

“My (husband / wife / brother / sister / friend / dog / pet rock) has been kidnapped!”

“Go kill sum raiders.”

“Go kill sum super mutants.”

“Go kill some ghouls.”

At one point, there’s even a dialogue option for “are ghouls always this much of a problem?” but no sidequest to invent an anti-ghoul spray or anything, and apparently even if you ring the entire farm with turrety-death, them pesky ghouls just keep coming back.

But what was really horkin’ me off was it was always. Outpost. Zimonja.  To the point I was thinking of just letting them be overrun, just so they’d stop bugging me.

But no … I have seen the value of settlements with strong supply lines, and due to its excess population, Zimonja was now the hub of commerce in the Commonwealth –

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“The business of America is business.” – Coolidge

I think, though I’m too lazy to actually confirm it, that all the settlements on a supply line can share resources, so if I have a route from Zimonja to Santuary, and from Sanctuary to Greygarden, then Zimonja and Greygarden can share resources.  Which has the added advantage that you can dump you junk anywhere, rather than the specific outpost where you need to build something.

Which meant it was time to start getting crazy … I’ve build my Taj Mahal in Sanctuary, but I think we need a little something … extra.  Like a bar.  I can build one of those (requires “Local Leader Rank 2”) but … crap, now I need a settler to work it2 . I don’t wanna build a recruitment beacon in Sanctuary, because then I’ll just be buried in settlers.

Fortunately, Zimonja has way so many people they’re getting in the way of the cows.  I think I’ll send some of them to Sanctuary.  There, done!  Time to grab Piper and hit the Sanctuary Promenade, grab some dinner, some drinks, go dancing … hey, why am I getting all these quests to help Sanctuary?  I never got those before.  Ok, ok … who do I have to go talk to?

WTF?  It’s the settler from Outpost Zimonja!  Which is my epiphany for the night – maybe radiant quests aren’t tagged by location, but by NPC.  Maybe it’s always the same settlers, no matter where you send them.

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She’s NEVER happy.

I mean, considering there are only three people at Abernathy Farm, and all of them have been kidnapped, it’s either that, or Blake Abernathy owes the mob some serious caps.

 


  1. Unlike every other settler command in the game, to open a supply line, go into the workshop, then select the settler, but instead of hitting E for command, hit Q for supply line.

  2. Any “station” you build, with the exception of caravan stops, requires a settler assigned to it. Note this means that settlers used for supply lines, bartending, guard posts, etc., can’t be used to grow food. Another advantage of using supply lines.

Skyrim: A Mammoth Tale

Slow night; think I’ll go kill some time in Skyrim …

It was a radiant mission to go kill some bandits – then the dragon showed up.  Then the mammoth –  and apparently mammoths hate them some bandits, ’cause once Lydia slew the dragon …

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Hey, where’s it going?
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Experience hog.
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“Huh?”
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“Did it just – “
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“I’ve never seen anything quite like that.”

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Mammoths don’t attack me anymore.

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“Just go with it, Liddie-Bug.”

 

 

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“I’ll kill you if I have to!”

Fallout 4: Happy Fun Town

You gotta give this to the Dark Lords of the world – at least they believe in truth in advertising.  You walk into a place called “Mordor” or “The Black Pit” or “Texas” and you pretty much know what to expect, but when you come across “Happy Valley” or “Sunny Acres Retirement Home,” you know it’s a whole ‘nuther level of messed up.  It’s one thing to torture you with hot coals and knives, but it’s just plain sadistic to call it a “trust building exercise.” In gaming, never trust a name.

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How romantic – or horrifically ironic.  It all depends.

This is corollary I to Rule # 31 of gaming, that being: “The NPC is always lying.”  Even if he’s telling most of the truth, such as “the treasure is in the cave yonder” he always leaves out the part about “guarded by a Great Wyrm Red Dragon Berserker Lich-King.”

It’s even worse when it comes to Biblical names.  Your best bet then is probably just to nuke the place from orbit.

So when I got to the town of Covenant, I was already bringing my Paranoia A game.  I wasn’t too surprised at their little quiz; I figured they wanted to make sure I had the perfect lobotomized Wonderbread 50’s mentality to not say anything when they drug the neighbors off in the middle of the night for  a sacrifice to Great Cthulhu or, even worse, the HR Department.

Never has a man faced greater temptation – I so wanted to give the “wacky” answers2  but Fallout metagaming got in the way, ’cause even though I knew Floyd Winchester was gonna end up popping more caps than a Nigerian e-mail, I was still trying to get my companion’s perk, said companion being Curie the lovestruck android, and in the end, I decided she’d frown on the image of me booby-trapping toilets with a fragmentation grenade.  Sigh.

And it didn’t really matter, ’cause when I went through the gate, I got the message “Curie disliked that.”  I’m not sure what part of “going someplace” she disliked, unless maybe it was teleporting to some insane post-nuclear version of Pleasantville.  I decided to let it pass, mostly because at that point she had an axe, and if I’ve learned one lesson in this life, it’s that axe-wielding French android girls should be given what they want.

This being the Fallout equivalent of Happy Days, of course the first guy I seek out is the chain-smoking mercenary named “Honest Dan,” who, as it turns out, is the one guy who actually lives up to his name.

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Would I lie to you?

Who tells me there’s something strange going on in this here town.

Nah, really?  This your first rodeo, Honest Dan?  The shopkeep over yonder’s grinning so hard I can hear her teeth grinding, and you think there’s something goin’ down?

I’m thinking maybe their big secret is they’re all recovering addicts, since everybody in town is chain-smoking like it’s Friday night at the casino.  They even got a “designated smoking area” like we had at my old job, although they didn’t have one of those weird “cigarette bins” that you have to squish your butt through and that occasionally catch on fire.

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Corner of the building, just like now.

I’m really working the “addict” angle, ’cause I found a bookcase full of books on psychology, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that people with addictions and mental disorders also tend to smoke like fiends3.

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Smoke two of these and call me in the morning.

I thought maybe that was why Curie “disliked” me going there, what with her being a doctor-type and all, until I turn around and see:

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I am bringing the sexy, no?

So when I hack the terminal with all the e-mails about the “compound,” I figure that’s where they stash people until they detox.  Maybe that’s why everyone’s grinning so hard – they’ve got mad hallucinations from all the methadone they’re on.

It also mentions they’ve had to skip a couple of runs due to this fisherman that’s always there.

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Ironic echo cut – 

Turned out they were actually paranoid about synths, and the test was designed to catch androids, even though we know from Blade Runner that it doesn’t work because Deckard was an android all along.

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“Dammit, Winchester, you spoiled the flick!”

So in the end, I popped some caps, got some caps, and hit the trail with Curie, who didn’t mind mass murder nearly half so much as me going through a door without her.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really need a smoke.

 

 

 

  1. Rule 1: There is no kill like overkill.  
    Rule 2: There are no missed traps in a burning building.

  2. I don’t think it would have mattered, which would have been the first clue that things were amiss in Levittown.

  3. On a serious note, I am not making fun of mental disorders; I have anxiety and my best friend has bipolar, so when I make that observation, I am speaking from experience.

     

Fallout 4: I Left My Heart in Vault 81

Sigh.  I just don’t get Piper … I come back after a hard day of being murdered by everything the Commonwealth can throw at me, and all I want is a little down time, maybe catch a nap, and what do I find?

She’s letting Mama Murphy shack up in our shack.

“Hi honey,” I say as I’m walking through the door – well actually, there isn’t a door, because doors are fcking impossible to build in this game, but through the entrance, anyway – “I’m beat.  I sure could use a pick me up,” thinking she’ll hand me sum bubblegum or a Nuka Cola.  Instead, Mama Murphy hands me a crack pipe.

“I get this from a cook in Red Rock Canyon,” she said.  “It’ll mess you up good.  I’ve seen it in your futura.”

“I got a lady you should meet,” I say.  “Name’s Cait.  Why don’t you head over to the Red Rocket Truck Stop and get the hell out of my house.

I crash out on the bed, and when I wake up – no “Lover’s Embrace,” Piper’s nowhere to be seen, and when I check the bed –

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Well, this is awkward.

“What’d I say to piss you off this time, baaaaaaabie?” I ask when I finally see her.

“These things literally saved my life once,” she said, handing me sum Fancy Lad Snack Cakes.

OK, I just … you know what?  I think I need to chill out for a while.  Go back on the road.

Sigh.  I remember when things were simple.  Just me and Nick, wandering the Wasteland, looting buildings and dispensing justice.  I remember that freak who was making potted meat out of feral ghouls … well, mostly I remember Trader Rylee …

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Hey, didn’t she come from a Vault?  That might be a good vacation from the drama here in Sanctuary.

Turns out I’d passed Vault 81 half-a-dozen times; it’s almost at the beginning of the map, but I’d been dying so often at that point I didn’t dare go someplace I couldn’t run away from really quickly.

The first thing I saw – well, besides the vault door, obviously – actually, that was the first thing I saw, since it was sealed and the Overseer was saying I would have to do them a “favor” to get in.

Like, whack somebody?  Is this the mafia vault?  I thought that was Nick Valentine.

Turns out I just had to find 3 fusion cores, which was easy since I had like twenty ’cause I never use power armor because I’m afraid of running out of fusion cores.  Accounting will do that do you.

So I get in, and I’m glad I did, because otherwise I never would have met the Overseer, or, as I call her “Atom Bomb Baby”

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A million times hotter than TNT.

She takes my fusion cores and gives me 100 bottlecaps –

wait, 100 caps for 3 fusion cores?  Why, if she wasn’t a redhead …

She told me they usually didn’t let strangers in, but something something something … I couldn’t hear her over the sound of my heart breaking.  I said I loved her, but she didn’t have a dialogue option for that; she just sasheyed (is that how you spell it?) back to her office and left me to sweep up the pieces of my broken heart.

 

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“Hey, no littering.”

I wandered despondently into the Vault and tried to strike up a conversation, but everyone was busy trying to keep the place from falling apart, or so they told me.

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“Excuse me, but I’m playing Candy Crush here.”

I had my suspicions, since it turned out it wasn’t just Overseer Gwen – all the Girls of Vault 81 looked like they just stepped out of Vogue, like Schoolteacher Katy:

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“Would you care to tell the class a story, like how you become a drooling moron around me?”

Maybe it’s the Vault 81 jumpsuits; they are very flattering.  Even Deacon was rockin’ one –

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Just a hunk o’ burning luv.

 

Or the fact that they have a barber.  I couldn’t get a mohawk, but I did decide to go blonde:

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Maybe my new ‘do will impress her!

I went to Overseer Gwen’s office to offer my help in fixing the vault, or becoming her love slave, or whatever else she needed, but <sigh> she was asleep.  No one else seemed interested in talking to me until I saved some girl’s cat, which – given game logic – I’d seen run past me hours earlier but had been unable to touch until I got the quest.

I’d figured it for a goner, what with the deathclaws and mirelurks and lack of canned tuna, but – well, actually, given my cats, it doesn’t surprise me that what would kill anything else, including a rabid deathclaw, would run in terror from a cat.  I’m always amused when new neighbors tell me not to worry about their dog, because he “likes cats”.  Yeah, mister, not the cat I’m worried about; it’s your dog’s self-esteem when he meets Tabby.

I’m rambling.  I’ve been drinking heavily trying to keep my mind off Overseer Gwen, but even after crawling through tunnel infested with contagious plague rats –

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I still can’t stop thinking about her.  After I defeated the rats and got the antidote to cure Little Timmy – I mean, Austin – she offered to let me use a room … but it wasn’t hers.  Sigh.

I wandered down to the engine room – I mean, the reactor, where I found out the engineer was on drugs.  After some conversation checks, I convinced him to kick the habit, then I took them all myself –

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How is that stealing?  I’m pretty sure taking them away from an addict is a good thing.

Finally I broke down and went to see a doctor.

“Doctor, doctor,” I said, “can’t you see I’m burning, burning?”

She turned around –

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Hellooooo Nurse!