Fallout 4: Minecraf … er … Far Harbor

Sigh.  Should have known they were gonna screw it up.

I’ve really been enjoying running around Far Harbor; it has an atmosphere to it, a sense of place that I think was missing in the base game.  Between the fog and the dark and Maine’s primeval forests

If this is Far Harbor, that’s probably a preschool.

bordering on the ancient and unchanging ocean depths that probably hide horrors too unspeakable to contemplate …

… I am really craving sum fish and chips.  And it didn’t help when I met this guy:

Trust the Gorton’s fisherman

I developed an excessive interest in the doings of Far Harbor, from Small Bertha and Tom’s undeveloped stories to wondering if I could romance the Mariner.  (Ans: no.)

Plus I found me some cool armor that makes me look like Boba Fett:


At its best, it became rather like Skyrim: a fun place to spend a few hours, a place you might want to live, if it didn’t have all that radioactive fog.

And like in Skyrim, I spent a lot of time hunting.

Heck, I didn’t even mind when I ran into this guy, despite him looking like the black and white TV I used to watch Petticoat Junction on as a kid:

Have you tried adjusting the rabbit ears?

After all, Fallout’s gotta have its robots, and a moody, philosophical robot who quickly draws you into a conspiracy centering around his vague, shadowy, and best forgotten past is just what the game needed.  It was a good plot twist, and they did it right.

So, of course, they turned it into Minecraft:

Why, Fallout?  WHY?!?

You have to access Dima’s memories, and rather than just have you hack a terminal, like you have been doing in Fallout for the past 10 years, they turn it into a minigame where they replace the relaxing, somber colors you’ve been enjoying with something out of an 8-bit nightmare.  I swear to Tron, I think this is where bad cartridges go when they die.

The point is to destroy firewalls, which look like (get ready for this one) walls.

Oi!  Where’s my lightcycle?!?

Then you can build bridges over the ridiculously inconveniently incomplete pathways using “code blocks” because apparently “code” isn’t the important part of that term

Master Control Program?  Is that you?

so your “Data Retrieval Bugs” or whatever they’re called can go upload the data


And … bloody hell this is not what computers look like!!1!

Look, I don’t even write code and it hurts my geek brain to look at this!  The Internet is not a giant Lego!  You don’t need visual metaphors to write a freakin’ program!

Worst of all, the old hacking minigame was fun! It also fit the vibe of Fallout perfectly.  If they wanted to make it harder, there were probably a dozens ways to do so while still keeping that retro future feel to it.

But no.  Minecraft’s popular, so they made Minecraft Lite!  Oh, and did I mention it involves puzzle solving?  You have to figure out which paths to take, how to align the “decoder” (it’s a fcking laser, ok?  Just call it a laser.  A decoder is an algorithm, it doesn’t shoot green energy.) and yada yada yada.

I play Fallout to fck sh1t up, not to solve physics puzzles.  When I want to solve physics puzzles, I play Portal, or – just to up the geek ante – I tutor physics.

Oh.  And there are 5 levels of this.  Longest part of the game so far.  By the time I was done, I no longer craved fish and chips.  I craved beer and bloody vengeance on whoever designed this stupid level.

I even tried doing some hacking in the metagame, but I couldn’t even use console commands to clear the quest.

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the best part?  Are you still with me here?  Remember when all we wanted to do was take the Mariner out, buy her some clam chowder and go sailing around the island?  Those days are over, buddy.  No clam chowder for you.  Just endless hate when you discover that the mechanism they used to build their hated minigame was the equally hated settlement workshop mechanic:

Perspective is for sissies!








Fallout 4: Dead Mo … er … Far Harbor

I have a problem.  Well, I have a lot of problems, but I don’t want to talk about my incipient alcoholism today.  I wanna talk about pattern recognition, which I got from studying too much math, and is one reason I don’t have any friends – people don’t want to analyze everything, they just wanna watch sum lightsaber fights.  So they get upset when I explains why Star Wars: The Force Awakens really should have been called Star Wars: The First One Did Okay, So We Made It Again.  They also don’t want to hear how every Marvel super hero movie is just the same damn origin story told over and over again – I mean, we get it, Stan, great power = great responsibility, ok?

But I can’t help it … what has been seen cannot be unseen, at least not without massive quantities of Lost Coast Brewery’s Tangerine Dream.

So after I’d spent ten minutes wandering around Far Harbor, I sensed a certain … familiarity …


Sure is foggy on this island …

They’ll tell you in Far Harbor that the fog wasn’t always this bad.  But it was always radioactive.  Yeah, that red counter on my health bar?  Wasn’t there when I got here.

It’s not that terrible – you don’t need a power suit, as it’s less than a rad a turn or round or however they count time in the game.

Which is good, because your first missions take you to the far sides of the map.

Hope you like walking.


This is about as bright as it ever gets in Far Harbor.  Most of the time I had my Pip Boy light on, which was okay, because most of what you encounter (spoiler) are ghouls, and ghouls have better enemy detection sensors than frickin’ DARPA.

Partly it’s that the damn fog is everywhere, partly it’s that somehow, some way, it always seems to be night …

… well, I guess that kinda makes sense.  Fallout 4 is set near Halloween, and Far Harbor is farther north than Boston.  I know where I live, the sun sets at 4:30 PM in the winter, which is one reason re: alcoholism.

So maybe it’s just that there isn’t much daylight.  But not really.  Really it’s so that can have these:


What …what … is making this hellish glow?  It feels like I’ve wandered into the set of Blair Witch …


Ah.  OK … so, there is a fungus, that is literally called “blight” that glows hellfire red?  IS this the Steven King school of botany?  Between the dead trees, the poison mist, the endless darkness, and the ghouls …

oh, it’s not Blair Witch.  It’s Dead Money.  OK, OK.  Thank Bokrug, it’s not actually Dead Money, because Dead Money really, really, really sucked:

On Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 7:20 PM, Donald Raymond wrote:
> I hate Fallout:Dead Money so much.  So very, very much.
> The Nazis were bad, yes, but not even they demanded you make a blind jump
> onto an invisible catwalk in a room filled with poisonous gas that causes
> auto-damage.  Nor did they put traps on time-limited pathways (ok, they
> might have done that).  Cruelty, thy name is Dead Money - but since it's
> about a woman, I guess that just makes sense.

Actually, I take that back.  Dead Money had some really good qualities – a complicated storyline, some fascinating characters, and phenomenally depressing ending that moved me to tears, plus that gut-wrenching slideshow music

… it just sucked as a game.  It was like they wanted to make a movie, then realized too late they were working for a game studio.

So no, from the roughly 5 hours of play I’ve put into it, Far Harbor isn’t anything like Dead Money.

But it is the Halloween episode of Fallout 4.

There’s that old pattern recognition ruining everything!

The DLC for New Vegas basically took a post-apocalyptic science fiction game and morphed it into other genres – Dead Money was survival horror, Honest Hearts was a western, and Old World Blues was cheesy 50’s SF comedy.  I don’t know what Lonesome Road was, since Old World Blues annoyed me enough to stop playing.  Srsly, the resource limiting in OWB, and DM, were frustrating beyond measure.  That’s really the problem with themed DLC – I had created a great character for the base game – a fast-talking scientist who specialized in energy weapons, and who was hopelessly useless in the more melee-oriented OWB, because every damn enemy in that game, including the food, had like +100 energy resistance.

Fallout 4 doesn’t seem to be following that trend – Automaton seemed to build on Wasteland Workshop’s concept of “you WILL experiment with our building minigames” but added a small adventure that did have a neat twist at the end.  (I should probably do a blog about that, but I’m lazy.)  And since their settlement mechanism is still hopelessly counterintuitive, time consuming, and vastly unrewarding (Look!  I spent two hours building a shack that looks so terrible even jet-addicted homeless ghouls wouldn’t sleep there!)

But Far Harbor is definitely bringing the creepy.  I mean, all of Fallout 4 is bringing the creepy, but Far Harbor … well, allow me to demonstrate:


This hulking monolithic granite tomb brooding beneath an eldritch sky … THIS

… turned out to be …


Aldersea Day Spa.

It’s a resort – For.  The.  Damned.

No, not really.  I mean, I don’t know.  I haven’t gone there yet.  That wasn’t my destination, it was just a distraction.

Along with this:


Glowing plants I could except.  Glowing skulls?  Now you’re not even trying to be reasonable.  This is the point in the horror movie where everyone knows the monster is real, and they’re all scrambling around for weapons and someone inevitably decides to go off alone and get help.

Speaking of being eaten by monsters, my actual destination for that mission turned out to be filled with


Which look like little glowy marsh lights but are actually attached to ginormous fish that erupt from the swamp and try to devour you.

So my advice while playing Far Harbor is to remain tense and nervous at all times.  Drink lots of caffeinated beverages and develop a nervous facial twitch, just to be on the safe side.  Ideally, you’ll reach a state of such extreme paranoia that even the trees will look like they’re out to get you:

It’s Bethesda.  They are.




Fallout 4: Fashion Police

I’m slow sometimes.  Personally, I think it’s because no one ever tells me anything.  Apparently, I never get invited to the “how to people” meetings.  Maybe there’s a comic shop or something all the rest of you go to?  Was this supposed to be covered in preschool?  ‘Cause I missed preschool.  Anyway, it’s the charitable interpretation, that no one ever tells me about stuff.  Like that time in 1st grade where I learned that it didn’t end at noon like kindergarten did, which I discovered while waiting for the bus like a moron when everyone else was inside.

But enough about my childhood emotional traumas.  The point is, I found a copy of La Coiffe!  I’ve been on the lookout for one, because it was the only way I was gonna get a beehive hairdo.  Since this blog’s thing seems to be “hair” – which frankly is so absolutely bizarre I’m pretty sure I’m on peyote right now.  IRL, my involvement with hair is that I get a buzzcut every month, unless I forget or get too busy or the barber is closed because he’s out elk hunting.  Also, sometimes I shave my head.  But heck, we all have to stretch our boundaries, and apparently my horizon is a hairstylist.  And since a beehive ‘doo is inexplicably not one of the starting options (neither are mohawks) I was thinking I’d probably have to pick up a Cosmo or something out there in the Wasteland.

Which was a problem, because while I’d found a half dozen Taboo Tattoo rags, and some Hot Rodders, and a whole crapton of Special Ops mags … hmm … you know, it’s kind of a Rorschach Test for your character, isn’t it?  I tend to prefer crawling around abandoned military bases and breaking into high security areas, which is where I find all my reading material.  I suppose it’s not surprising that the 140th Boston Power Armor regiment doesn’t stock back copies of Vogue.  And, while I won’t spoil where I found this one, it wasn’t the Revere Satellite Array.  (I’ll put the location in a footnote so I don’t spoil it for the actual competent players.1)

So now I faced a new conundrum: now that I’ve unlocked my new hair, how am I supposed to know what it is?  There’s just a vague laundry list of hair cut names, most of which aren’t particularly informative, so how was I to know what the one was?

Well, here’s a hint:


It’s called the Megaton.

Well – no one told me!  And copies of Picket Fences don’t show their new items on the cover.  (Neither did the Wasteland Workshop, which … ugh … that’s a whole other blog post.)

I headed down to Diamond City and plunked down 15 caps.

“Darling, make me look radiant.”

“Is that a pun?” he asked.

“No, I’m pretty sure the hair has to glow.”


It’s not a beehive, but … you know what?  I like it.  It’s completely fcking insane, and you’d have to be wacked out of your brain on Nuka Cold and rancid stimpaks to even consider dragging that thing through the Wasteland, but then … that’s kinda the whole point.

But it wasn’t long before I realized that as awesome as it looked, not only was I playing a first person shooter, but I also needed to put a helmet on:


’cause the first rule of fashion is, never suffer from head wounds after Labor Day.

It’s one of those times when I wish the game would allow for breaks from reality … I mean, beyond the “breaks from reality” that include super mutants and mirelurks.  I understand that I need armor, but that haircut freakin’ rocks, and I think it should come with some armor value so I don’t have to make these kinds of fashion decisions.  Damn you, style!

So I was feelin’ a little bummed out about my hair, and I decided, like many girls do when they’re feeling depressed, to go get a tattoo.  Well, and also I finally figured out that you could get them from a facial surgeon.  I’m slow sometimes.


Huh.  It’s nice and all, and one that totally works for a rockabilly princess, but right on the forehead?  That’s not a tattoo, that’s a cattle brand.

Ok, never mind.  Hey, what’s this?  Face paint?  Hmm  … could be interesting.


Oh.  Hell.  No.

I know we’re trying to bring back that 50’s motif, but …no.

Let’s try this again:


I thought about adding the tattoo with this, but in the end, I wasn’t playing Arkham Asylum.


Groucho Marx got nuthin’ on me!  Note to game designers: subtlety, guys.  Makeup shouldn’t be applied with anything you can buy at Home Depot.  How am I even writing these words?!?  Good thing I don’t live in North Carolina, or I wouldn’t be able to pee.


Ummm … okay.  Kind of ironic, considering we’re in Diamond City.  Also, I’m a girl!


How the hell is this lightning?!?  Personally, I’d go more for “Kabuki Actress Who Desperately Needs to Sneeze.”


Just in time for the “Edward Scissorhands” mod.


Why?!?  Just .. why?!?  


It’s only “tribal” if you’re a zebra.


We’re really working the Goth thing, aren’t we?  Are there that many gamers who hang out at Hot Topic.  I mean, it’s better than the “told her twice” black eyeshadow, but walking around with makeup that looks like a fatal injury just seems like tempting fate.

Hmm … maybe it’s because I selected black makeup.  I’m blonde; I’ve got to work with color to bring out my best features.  Let’s try red:



Good thing I’m gonna kill that guy later in the game.







It’s in Malden Center. Where I don’t recall. I did mention the “incompetent” thing, right?

Killin’ Time in Fallout 4

I’m sick.  My eyeballs ache.  Can’t breathe.  Can’t sleep.  It’s two in the morning and I’m lying here in bed staring at the wall.  The only reason the tick-tick-tick of the clock isn’t driving me crazy is ’cause I can’t hear it over the sound of my heart jackhammering in my chest.

Everyone in Alturas has whatever this is.  We think it might be some kind of Army experimental bioweapon.  I finally gave up and went to see the doctor.


“I think it’s zikebola, doc.  Is this the end?”

Hendra hell should I know?” he said.  He checked my pulse.  “I’ll tell you this, you’re beri beri ill.”

“Well, you know what they say about a sick chemist…” I said.

th (3)

“Get out of my office.”

I finally managed to get to sleep, mostly by thinking naughty thoughts about Overseer McNamara…


There’s just something about her … of course, she’s a redhead 1 … and she wears her hair in a bun … kind of a librarian thing going on, really.  A 50’s retro librarian.  Which is all that is good in life.  Which is why I’m kind of excited for Automatron, ’cause even through robots aren’t really on my bucket list (pun intended) it has that retro feel that I’m all about.


So I just managed to drift into blissful slumber when I hear …

“Meow.”  “Meow” “meowmeowmeowmeowmeowmeowmeow…”

Silver woke up and realized no one was paying attention to her.  She doesn’t want anything, per se, but she’ll keep making noise until I get up and go in the other room to be with her.  It’s the cat equivalent of:




The odds of me going back to sleep are about the same as this flu not being spread by black helicopters, so I  figure I might as well just kill some time playing Fallout.

I went over to Sanctuary to see what was happening, but they were all wacked out on something Mama Murphy brewed up:


So I just grabbed Piper and headed out.

I was going to try to romance Curie first, since I didn’t do that in my initial game, but it turns out that you can’t help Curie become a real girl until you complete the Dangerous Minds quest, because even if you go to the Memory Den, Dr. Amari doesn’t do anything but smoke insolently and make derogatory comments about your intellect.

Not that much different than in the main quest, actually.

So I left Curie … holy crap, where DID I leave Curie?  I think it was the Castle.  I hope it was the Castle.  Well, there’s a quest line I may not be completing.

So instead, I stopped by Diamond City and met Piper, then relived those glorious first few moments when she acts like someone’s crazy aunt.

I am EMOTING, here!
“Oh God!  Quick kids, hide the steak knives!”


I’m all for some melodrama, but Piper – you know that hole in the Diamond City wall?  I’m pretty sure it’s only there because you chewed through the scenery.

But after that first date awkwardness, she calmed down quite a bit.  I dunno – maybe she was just jonesing for a smoke.


But I still couldn’t get Overseer McNamara off my mind … I finally decided to head over to Longneck Lukowski’s Cannery and see if I could get Trader Rylee to come work for me … I figured, now I had the 9 charisma (thanks to the power of console commands), had a perk in Local Leader, and was the hero of Vault 81, it should be a piece of cake, right?


Hey, Rylee –


You might


wanna try

20160319163625_1toning down the …


would you hold still?  I’mtrying to talk to you, and you are pacing around me like a tweaker looking for a pack of smokes.

Speed kills, Rylee

I finally shot her with a thorazine dart; that slowed her down enough I could engage her in dialogue.  I got:


Notice there is no option for “come work for me,” or to open a trade route to my settlements, or to come live with me and be my love.  She just tells you about Vault 81 and then tries to sell you toy cars and used ashtrays.  If I needed that, I’d start going to the flea market again.

Dammit, Rylee!

Turns out you need to have like 3 levels in Local Leader, enough to build a Trading Emporium at a settlement.  But don’t bother telling that to my heart … it can’t hear you anyway, what with the 83 pulse from the zikebola virus.  Me?  I’m going back to bed.


  1. “Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.” –Lucille Ball

Fallout 4: Hair Presumptive

Made it to Vault81 … then remembered that hussy Gwen makes you pony up three fusion cores to get in.  I didn’t have three fusion cores.

Well, I didn’t at first …


Hey!  I tried playing fair!  Now, I just wanna get in Vault 81 and see if I can get a beehive hairdo.  And maybe see if I can get the “in” with Trader Rylee … I’m hoping with my charisma higher, I can get her to come work for me.

… and also maybe romance Curie.  I know I wanna settle down with Piper, but I never explored the “flirt” option with Curie, so I think I’m gonna play the field this game … except for Cait, of course, ’cause her accent just kills it, but …

… well, actually – Piper, Curie, Cait – that is the field.  Kind of more like a side yard, maybe even an urban garden.

Anyway, this time I managed to get in with a speech check.  I’m hoping that proves Overseer Gwen has been harboring a secret crush on me and maybe the dialogue tree will have some romance options.

“Dream on.”

Sigh.  I see the work crews are busy as ever –

“Union rules, buddy.”

But the heck with it.  The main reason I’m here is ’cause my post on mohawks got so many hits I’m thinking of specializing in video game fashion for the blog, and Vault 81 has a barber.

First off, the reaction time on the hair menu is ludicrously slow.  I’d be sitting there, wondering how a “Rude Ridge” (the second thing is, they need a new marketer in the hair & makeup department) was a bald head, and the screen would refresh right as I scrolled to something new –

So without further ado, mostly ’cause I’m still hung over from last night, I present to you the haircuts of Vault 81:


Or “Sound and Mad Max: Fury Road.”  Maybe I should get a power fist and go all Charlize Theron on them.

Hey, did you hear that apparently men’s rights groups are up in arms ’cause Fury Road is supposedly a feminist power fantasy?  Lord knows, I’ve had my bad dating experiences, but I’m not sure what part of “wanton rape and murder of sex slaves” is a feminist power fantasy, unless you’ve been trolling some extremely dark corners of the Internet.


I kept getting this confused with Ruby Ridge.  Now, if only they had a mohawk that decent for the guys … hey, maybe this whole game is a feminist power fantasy!

I apparently didn’t do a screenshot on the “Enlisted” option, because it was dollar beer night at the casino, but it was pretty much the “Fury” one with an iota of hair.  Am I using iota right there?  It sounds poetical, so I’m keeping it.  Anyway, probably ’cause once you enlist you let the hair grow back?  I dunno … Nate’s the war hero.  Apparently.  And he’s frozen.


Why maidens shave the sides of their heads, no one knows.  Maybe it has something to do with unicorns.  I thought there might be a dreadlock option called “Wasted Maiden,” but no.


How can it not be “ladylike?”  The hair’s riding sidesaddle.


Kind of looks like an Afro to me.


Not pictured: enough hair gel to deflect small arms fire.


Not sure what the difference between the merc and the intellect one are. Maybe she’s an engineer for Blackwater.


This one comes with a name and career change.  I’m assuming they’re trying to evoke Rosie the Riveter, but unless her hair has burnt ends (they’re like split ends, but worse) I’m not buying the welder thing.


“Young at heart” being code for “f^cking psycho,” ’cause she looks like Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, another famous feminist power fantasy.


Sultry being French for “an alien being is living on your head.”  It’s like, there’s the regular hair, and then a yellow boa constrictor tried strangling it and fell asleep.  I cannot even imagine how she’d keep that look in power armor.


“I just irradiated my hair, and I can’t do a thing with it.”


Or, “repressed and lovin’ it.”  Definitely no questions about the shape of her skull.


Now here’s sum classic 50’s fashion ripe for Wasteland-style subversion.  This is what I’m talking about!  Now we’re cooking with propane and propane accessories!


No nonsense?!?  Do you know how hard it is to keep that little wave goin’ over the forehead?  Do none of you remember the 80’s?!?  No nonsense would be


Although “crazy morning, bodies in the basement and house on fire” also works.


It’s creepy and reminds me of the stuff I saw that time I watched Star Trek while I had a fever.  I like it.  Creepy serenity, like River Tam on bath salts.


Nope.  There is only one haircut allowed for public defenders, but I can’t show you any pictures ’cause all the ones of Markie Post from Night Court are copyrighted.  Think big feathery 80s hair.  This is more “90s alt music singer.”


You get the frazzled ends when you stop combing it because you’re too drunk on Manhattans and Prozac.  That’s what makes it sophisticated.


Naturally curly hair.


It’s … oh god … it’s like a mullet for girls!  The only fatale in this train wreck is her fashion sense.  I know Sean Young tried it in Blade Runner, but Sean Young also dressed as Catwoman for her audition.  That’s not the kind of thing you want to encourage.


I like it, except for the graphics make it look like it’s growing back into her face.  I ran into the same problem when I first started modding – because heads, hands, hair, and bodies are all separate objects, I’d give Lydia a nice necklace and end up removing her neck.  Awkward having a floating head following you around, carrying your burdens.


True elegance is defined as “getting your hair to not grow into your face anymore.”  Otherwise, she looks way too much like a girl I knew in high school, Dawn, who I always got paired with ’cause we had the same names, and ordered to do silly stuff like sing period songs in history class.  I think she’s married to a chiropractor now.


This will be perfect, once I get sum bubblegum.  And a katana.  And a prom dress.  Girls.  In dresses.  With swords.  How is that not a thing yet?


“Bodies in the basement, house on fire” – married version.


This is what I finally went with – classic, a little psycho, goes just as well with a flamethrower as a hula hoop, does not appear to be eating her face.


Not bad, but I’m not seeing the noir bit.  I think they’re reaching, now.


She’s not apologizing for totally neglecting her bangs.  She’s more concerned with the guns going bang, out in the Wasteland.  Or something.  I think marketing should apologize for these names.  It’s like naming shades of lipstick for moods – how the hell am I supposed to know what “Insousance” looks like?  I don’t care what attitude you’re trying to sell – I just wanna know what color the lipstick is!  Or I would if, you know, I wore lipstick.


I looked, but they didn’t have a “scrupulous” one to compare it with.


Looks like somebody has a case of the DTs.  Does this haircut come with a stuffed pink elephant?


I was tempted, ’cause of the “nuclear” bit, but it looks hideous.  The little random wads of hair sticking up?  Ick.  You only get that through some serious sweating.  Ick.

And that’s it.  No beehives.  No Peggy Sue sunglasses.  No pink prom dresses.  No katanas.

But remember the fundamental lesson of Fallout – there’s always hope.  Diamond City still awaits.  Somewhere out there, hidden in some forgotten bunker, there’s a copy of La Coiffe with my haircut in it.

And if not, there’s a mod.

Also, I don’t think that’s the lesson of Fallout.

















































Fallout 4: Once More, With Feeling

The thing is, I kind of don’t like Nate.  I mean, I’m not all that fond of Nora either; for one thing, if you’re going for the alliteration, it really ought to be Nick and Nora instead, and also, anyone who can spawn that … thing

New game, same maggot

probably already had some radiation damage to begin with, but anyway … I just … maybe Nate’s voice works for the character Bethesda had in mind, but it didn’t work for me.  Nora’s voice was more … neutral?  I dunno – maybe because of the bathroom I use, but when I hear “my” character say “my” lines, it’s in “my” actual voice, whereas I can’t, without some serious surgery and hormone treatment, “be” Nora or, in my universe, Ms. California Forthwith, so any voice is fine.

But not any occupation, as, now that I am exploring new areas of my identity, I am wondering how come he gets to be the decorated war hero and I get to be a …

… lawyer?  Like this is some 80’s crime drama where he gets to go out and wrestle the bad guys while I stay at home and file briefs?  I am not filing briefs.  Mostly because I don’t wear any, speaking of which –

People of Sanctuary!  Ready to f^ck some sh^t up?

why the hell am I wearing a pantsuit?  This is the 50’s, or at least a nuclear-powered facsimile thereof!  I want a pink silk prom dress!

Okay, time to ditch these losers and go find some action, by which I mean “get Piper all jacked up on Nuka-Cola” because while I am trying to expand my roleplaying horizons, there is only so far I am capable of imagining, and those horizons do not include Preston, Danse, or that freak I got hooked up with.  I can only assume I was seriously wasted when I made that life decision, and then along came the maggot.

But times are changing for Ms. Forthwith –

For one thing, they’re coming to an end.

If I am not sounding very maternal, it’s because … well, partly because I apparently birthed some form of larva that will then go on to become not just a mad scientist bent on world domination, not just the architect of mankind’s robot doom, but he doesn’t even have the courtesy to treat his robots like people.  Have we learned nothing from Battlestar Galactica?

So it’s hard to summon up a whole lotta motherly love.  Not to mention I was never consulted about whether to have a baby, get married, or go to law school.  Maybe I wanted to move to New York, take up an art career …

… or read Betty Friedan

Yes, yes, I know – that would have been a short role-playing game.  But there’s a difference between poor life choices


… wait … you know, actually, she’s right.  They did all die except for me and the maggot.  Because I had the special backup DNA … wait, all they wanted was pre-War DNA, right?  Wouldn’t it have made sense to keep everyone alive?  Sure, the maggot had the best genes1, but there’s nothing particularly special about my DNA, so surely any of the other townsfolk would have worked in a pinch.  Okay, and maybe it would have been risky that one of them rebelled and tried to stop your evil plan, but then again – that is exactly what I am going to do.   It just seems like it would have been smarter to keep them around and maybe invest in a good marketing department.

Oh, right – it was Kellogg, the Cereal Killer.  Which is why your tend not to put homicidal maniacs in positions of high trust.  Not even if they “get the job done.”  ‘Cause they’re sure enough gonna piss off enough people that you might as well scribble “be torn apart by angry mob” on your calendar.

Sigh.  Generic evil villains.

Some days, you really have to be vested in your game, you know?  Like when you come across the crashed airliner with the cooler full of crunchy squirrel bits – I mean, I assume the airliner is pre-War, why the hell would they be eating squirrel?  Were they from Kentucky?


Or when the game insists, despite all of your Fallout: New Vegas metaknowledge, that you should join the Brotherhood of Steel.  I don’t care that they’re the good guys in this game, they put a slave collar on Tex Kennedy, and for that they have to die!

See, if Bethesda is gonna drag me across the Wasteland to find the baby I will inevitably have to shoot in the head, I can’t be blamed for doing some … creative reinterpretation.

So this game, I’m being a little more relaxed.  I didn’t care that the sirens were going off, I wandered around Sanctuary and tried to talk to the people –


But mostly there were freaking out because they were all going to die.  Hey, thanks for harshing my gaming mellow, guys!  Jeez!  First I have to wear this crappy Hillary-Clinton style outfit, and now all you can whine about is “oh my god, the bombs!”

Don’t think you can hug that one out.

It’s totally stressing me out.  I need to blow this dump, go find someplace more exciting, certain someplace with better fashion sense –

Much better.
  1. Man, it’s hard to even type that with a straight face.

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:

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:

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,

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.

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?

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?


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.

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 …











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:

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.

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.

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:

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:

“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.

“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.

“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:

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?”

“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.

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.

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:

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 –

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

“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.