Fallout 3 Plugins, Contact, Circuit Defenders

Well, shoot, I’m pretty thoroughly off the game development pony right now.  Considering I’m just sitting around the house applying for work in a smaller-than-usual number of employment opportunities, I probably should try to apply myself a bit too, otherwise my brain is going to implode from sheer disuse.

Over the past few days, I recall giving Fallout 3 another spin as well as living up to my “start playing new games, not keep playing the same old game” pledge in trying out Contact and Circuit Defenders.

Fallout 3: modded to tolerance

Thats... a lot of ghouls... I love it!

That's... a lot of ghouls... I love it!

The main thing that allowed my interest to be rekindled in Fallout 3 was, predictably, plugins that have been released for it lately.  There’s essentially three batches I’m using right now that I feel help the game immeasurably:

1. Better Companions and Caravans.

Neither your recruitable companions nor the caravans wandering the waste should really be allowed to die, and this plugin plugs that gap by making them “essential” which causes them to fall unconscious temporarily upon defeat.

It also allows recruitment of more than one companions at a time and removes the karma score restriction from who you can recruit.

2. The level cap workaround, the skillpoint screen workaround, and wasteland mastery plugins.

Between the three of these, there’s essentially play for unlimited leveling.

The first simply sets you back to level 19 every time you earn level 20, allowing you to regain level 20 repeatedly.  This is preferred to actually increasing the level cap because the game breaks in numerous ways if you have level 21 or greater.

The second allows you to assign skill points to skills that have 100 points already.  This is good because otherwise if all your skills are at 100 you can’t leave the level-up screen without manually typing in a console command.

The final one is an incomplete plugin which allows certain skills to grant advantages when raised above the 100 score.  This provides a much-needed reason to improve skills over 100.

3. Martigen’s Mutant Mod

This mod increases the number of enemies that spawn, replacing every 1 with either 1-3 or 2-5 mobs, depending on which plugin you enable.  It also includes a plugin to respawn mobs where they normally would not.

This is ideal because simply setting the game to a higher difficulty does not produce a very satisfying balance.  You end up with foes who are so durable that they eat up too many bullets, the only successful strategy becomes leaning heavily on critical hits or using bare-fisted combat (the only weapon which does not wear down with use).

With Maritgen’s Mutant Mod, I can simply set the difficulty to “normal,” have a working economy, and still be challenged in terms of sheer volume of firepower coming at me.  It’s really pretty enthralling to take down a batch of 15 Bandits – suffice to say, area-of-effect attacks such as Flamers and explosives are suddenly quite handy.

A plugin of my own?

The companion and caravan mod is somewhat overkill.  All I really need to do is set the companions and caravans as essential.  Perhaps care should be taken to make sure these NPCs are handled if they need to turn hostile to the player, too.

The Wasteland Mastery plugin does not go far enough.  It needs to cover all the skills, not just the 6 it does now.

Martigen’s Mutant Mod does not scale with level, it simply ups the spawns from beginning to end.  I know from the Oblivion editor (functionally identical to G.E.C.K. for Fallout 3) that there’s much more scaled methods you can go about it.  It also spawns Mutant Behemoths, which is nuts.  Those things are special encounters which soak an insane amount of firepower, and I’m running into them before I even recovered the Fat Man (portable mini-nuke launcher).

So, discerning gamer with as much time on my hands as I am, I should probably whip out the G.E.C.K. and perform my own little mods to do similar things to my liking.  There’s a number of other things I’m sure I’d enjoy tweaking as well, such as:

1. Tweaking the hit point and weapon balance.

I would probably lower the amount of base hitpoints everything has by a significant amount, say 1/3rd the original.  Then I’d tweak the weaponry to be more viable.  This would make character and player skill more centric while allowing weapons such as the .32 pistol to retain some usefulness.

My Entertaining Oblivion mod did this, and it worked out quite well.

2. Grant more storage

I’m thinking about 50 per strength point and allowing taking multiple Pack Mule perks would be ideal.

Making Contact

From GameFly, Contact has arrived.  It’s an interesting little DS RPG in that they utilize the alternate screen to watch a little professor run about his lab while you run around as kid, grinding away.  It has a considerable amount of effort put into the content, from the musical score to the gameplay depth, featuring a lot of extra features atop its typical Secret Of Mana style monster-bashing: alternate moves, spells, cooking and digesting food, swappable classes through uniforms, applying ‘decals’ via the stylus, and more.

However, it takes a long time to get to the depth, and leaves a poor first impression.  You first encounter with the gameplay is to engage combat mode and then simply sit there and wait while your character fights things – how boring! Clearly, this is a game inspired by MMORPG-style combat, and that’s not a good thing when you don’t have to deal with massively multiplayer overhead.

Professional reviewers actually gave it a better rating than the users, which is unusual, reflecting this first impression hitch: only when you’re forced to keep playing do you find more to it.  (Little wonder the two save games I saw on it were for a 9 minute and 45 minute play from previous GameFly users.)

Despite probably being fairly worthwhile deeper in, I’ll probably send it back early anyway.   This game was developed for those who love grinding (a.k.a. accumulating in a game through a long train of monotonous activities).  I’m way past an age where I find that appealing anymore.

Drafted into the Circuit Defenders


68 rounds largely completed while doing something else

Most recently, I put some time into the Circuit Defenders demo.  Judging from the demo alone, it’s a fairly poor tower defense game. Technically, it’s an excellent game, but in terms of gameplay it’s pretty damning how all the towers are built around simply doing damage.

It’s also a bit glitchy in that the towers have a difficult time tracking the foes at higher levels.  In the end, one can probably only use Lasers and Lightning reliably – everything else is outrun.

However, the game has appeal along a few aspects.

  1. It’s fully three dimensional, with a 3D view out of your currently selected tower.
  2. The pacing is set in such a way that you really don’t need to be constantly interacting with it – you can have it running in a window on the side while you do something else.  (I’m actually doing that right now as I write this.)
  3. You can build your own maps in the registered version.
  4. The enemies fire back, which provides some depth the game is otherwise lacking.

Thanks to the lack of very influential towers, it’s not a difficult game.  I managed over wave 150 in the demo on my first try.  The best was about wave 197.  The “crazy” difficulty is not available in the demo, and that’s a pity, because it would introduce the main thing that would make this a very challenging tower defense game: projectiles being blocked by obstacles and damaging your own units.

Create, Already

Putting the games I’ve been playing lately into retrospect, I can’t help but think I aught to get to work on developing my own game instead.

If nothing else, I’m glad to have a chance to reflect upon the design of a tower defense game, as (in theory if not practice) the game I’m developing using BYOND will attempt to integrate some of the easy appeal of a tower defense game.   Also, perhaps a bit of Fallout 3 plugin development would be appreciated.

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