Old blog posts from October 2006

18th of October 06

A Bethesda dev just posted in one of my threads.* My life is now officially 3.8% more complete than it was yesterday. :)

obmm 0.9.8 is out. 0.9.7 was another screw up, and completely broke the SelectWithPreview script function.** I need to write some molecular dynamics simulation software for my uni project, after which I'll probably get lost in BG2, so expect that to be my last oblivion related release for a while. I really need to finish MGE's distant land sometime too; I'm starting to get fed up of the constant pop-up the current version causes. The main thing holding it up atm is figuring out what to do about things like the ghostfence that get disabled part way through the game.

*Well, kain67's thread actually, but it was about one of my mods, so meh.

**Sort of. It worked perfectly, as long as you didn't try displaying any actual previews.

10th of October 06

Another new shader replacement pack is out - hit shader replacements this time. I've done my best to recreate morrowinds red border effect. I think it works well, although I guess it's a matter of opinion whether or not you think it's better than the oblivion default.*

A couple of people have pointed out** that I can in fact edit out of party npc's with the existing BG2 saved game editors. I guess I wasn't particularly clear in my last post - I knew you can, but afaik, if you change the class and kit of an npc, shadowkeeper or IESE wont automagically give them all the spells/equipment/long lived effects that they should have. It would be possible to add them all in by hand, but I thought it would sufficiently time consuming to do this for every single npc that it would be easier to create my characters in the normal way inside BG2, export them as chr's and patch them into the saved game. It was that automatic patching that shadowkeeper/IESE couldn't do; I would have had no choice but to copy each individual stat across by hand. The storyline is a little busted,^ but it seems to work.

*And because I know how strange opinions can be sometimes, there's also green and blue borders, which look plain weird, as well as some other more sensible ones. There are 8 different effects in total.

**I'm always surprised when people actually read this blog. Someone in uni asked me how my weekend had been, and when I mentioned BG2 they said that they'd already read about it. I could have sworn that the whole point of a blog was so that you never have to actually meet the people who read it.

^Imoen is now a pure thief, but still managed to fire off a magic missile and get arrested for unsanctioned magic.

9th of October 06

I really hate being a modder sometimes.

At around 3pm yesterday, I came across my old BG2 discs, got nostalgic and decided to give it a reinstall. About 3 minutes into the game, I decided that the various npc characters sucked. The standard way of creating a party designed entirely by yourself is to create a multiplayer game and not let anyone else join, but that means that you donít get any of the extra npc dialog. Instead, I wanted to edit the npc characters to have my own choice of classes and stats. I assumed that would be a simple matter of exporting the characters I wanted and then using a save game editor to transplant them into my game, so I pregenerated my characters, exported them and fired up the infinity engine save game editor. There wasnít a single option to open cha files. No matter, I think, Iíll just use shadowkeeper instead. That fared a little better; it could open cha files, but it still couldnít transplant them into an existing save game. Still no matter, I think. The save file format is fairly well documented, and all I need to do is copy some cre records into a savegame and update a few offsets, so Iíll just write a utility to do it myself. I was just putting the finishing touches to my sparkely new utility, when I happened to look at the time.

Suffice to say, my new game of baldurís gate 2 will have to wait till tomorrow.

In slightly more oblivion related news, Iíve removed the omod2zip download. Itís too old to open recent omods, but I no longer have the .NET 1.1 framework installed, and compiling omod2zip with .NET 2.0 would be completely and utterly pointless. Most people seem to be releasing so called Ďomod ready archivesí* instead of pure omods,** so hopefully it wont be needed any more. If a pile of omod only releases get released sometime in the future, Iíll see about compiling a mono version, but that may not run with .NET 1.1.

Iíve also released a couple of shader replacement packs.^ Iíve covered nighteye, refraction and menu background shaders. I also tried to do hair, but oddly enough the Ďhairxxxx.psoí shaders donít actually appear to have anything to do with hair. I tried the various quality settings with bAllow20HairShader set to both 0 and 1, but in every case modifying all 6 of the hair shaders had no visible effect in game. I suppose itís possible that oblivionís screwy 2.0 hair problems are due to a bug preventing it from actually using the hair shaders, so itís using some default thing instead. Either that, or the hair shaders are just misleadingly named and in fact do something completely different.

*i.e. a standard zip or 7z archive with an Ďomod conversion dataí folder containing all the data obmm needs to convert it directly to an omod with the minimum amount of user interaction.

**Very sensible of them, actually, because it means they only need to maintain one version instead of two.

^And after what I just said in the last paragraph, they are in fact omod only. Not that it matters; they canít be installed by hand anyway. If you convert it to a zip, youíll just get a pile of .pso files that you cant do anything with.

6th of October 06

Youíve probably noticed that this website has changed a bit. It was getting a bit embarrassing in work explaining why my website was created using MS publisher, so Iíve given the whole thing an xhtml 1.0 strict makeover. It now looks pretty much the same in firefox and IE, plus the pages are half the file size, thereís no border images to download, text is easily selectable in IE and the pages arenít fixed width any more.* The only downside is that the pages wrap underneath the navigation bar. The only ways I know to fix it are to add a bottom margin to the nav bar, which causes firefox to think the page is twice the length it really is, or to put the main text of the page in a div block, which for some reason causes firefox to drop it down underneath the navigation bar. The only solution to that is to make the navigation bar fixed width, which means that I canít do the cool ctrl/mouse scroll thing. Thereís probably some way to fix that too, but Iím not web savvy enough to figure it out, and the wrap under thing doesnít bother me much anyway. I might switch to a fixed width nav bar later if I start to write longer blog posts again.

obmm has reached version 0.9.6, with 0.9.5 now holding the official Ďshortest lived obmm version everí record, at 11 minutes 43 seconds.** Iím planning to get it up to a hopefully stable 1.0 and then drop it for a while to work on other stuff. Now that Iím back in uni, MGE badly needs an update to let it draw distant statics.

Speaking of uni, I get to use a 220 processor beast for my project.^ Apparently, it qualifies as a supercomputer under our rather arbitrary definition of Ďsomething which costs more than £1million but doesnít ship with a monitor.í It seems quite cool, even if though only way to access it is SSH/command line and weíre only allowed to book 8 processors at a time. Even with all its processing power, I doubt it would handle oblivion all that well; it doesnít have a graphics card. :(

*Something which bugged me with my 1280x1024 screen res, but which was probably even more annoying for anyone with less than 1024 pixels width.

**It wasnít horribly broken like most of the short lived releases tend to be. Itís just that Iíd forgotten to turn on the main new feature Iíd added.

^Or would do, if I had a login for it. I had an email today from my supervisor saying that my details had been lost and could I please respond with my name, e-mail address and login id so that he could get my account set up. My obvious question Ďif my email address had been lost, how exactly did you just manage to email meí unfortunately went unanswered.