When Things Get Done

2016 was a long year for me. It was also a tough year (I’m sure it was for the most of us.) I’m final­ly hap­py to announce that the first book in the new Rjg tril­o­gy is com­plet­ed. I no longer have to stare at the blank page and think, “If only…”

Yes­ter­day, 2000 words short of the end­ing, I was feel­ing elat­ed, I had so many things to say in this blog post. Yet it didn’t feel right to write about my small tri­umph with­out actu­al­ly fin­ish­ing. Now, done with the book, I for­got every­thing I want­ed to write here. 😀

Many things changed through­out that year and I moved away from the idea of writ­ing a sin­gle large nov­el and went for a tril­o­gy of small­er nov­els instead. Three books @ 90k each is bet­ter than one @ 250 000 words. At least to me.

Pos­si­ble cov­er for Book One, Rjg: Blood Threads

Since I’m done with book one, I can speak a lit­tle about the sto­ry with­out spoil­ing any­thing. The main char­ac­ter of Rjg is Yaren, the noto­ri­ous grand­fa­ther of Fala­ha and Eyu­ran from Falaha’s Jour­ney, who had lived a very long life. This is a tale of his youth, when he is bare­ly 24 (human) years old and span­ning years of his and his people’s strug­gles. A sto­ry of slav­ery, war, and love, it also fea­tures sev­er­al oth­er promi­nent Falaha’s ances­tors, name­ly War­mas­ter Saga, one of the prog­en­i­tors of ken­nar Far­gann, and Gen­er­al Tel­garo, who is also Baro’s ances­tor and the rea­son Fala­ha is short. 😀

It took a while to get it into shape, and more work is ahead of me, with all the revi­sions and edits, but here is a res­o­lu­tion for the year 2017: I want to write every day, even if it is only 50 words a day. With this I feel I can accom­plish what I have start­ed.

I was hop­ing to fin­ish book one before the new year. I was late but I still did it, sev­er­al days into the new year. Now, onto the new adven­tures of books two and three.

Also, this year I will pos­si­bly par­tic­i­pate in A-Z blog­ging chal­lenge. It will be my third attempt, when the oth­er two had mis­er­ably failed. Now I only have to think of a good the­me for my blog posts. I will keep you updat­ed.

This is all for now, and a belat­ed Hap­py New Year. 🙂

Happiness is… Writing Again

I’t’s been a long time since I have been pro­duc­tive. I pro­cras­ti­nat­ed and pre­tend­ed that every­thing was fine. But it wasn’t. I knew it wasn’t. Skyrim has been the out­let for my frus­tra­tion and sad­ness and a method of avoid­ing the work I should have been doing. I couldn’t even blog prop­er­ly. Yet some­how mod­ding the damned game made my cre­ativ­i­ty flow again. The win­ter just arrived to this hemi­sphere but in my head the win­ter is over. *Hap­py Dance*

With­in the past few days I wrote two and a half chap­ters worth of sto­ry, and I’m only a few chap­ters away from fin­ish­ing Part One (which is more of a Book One, to be fair).

progress1
Blurred out to be spoil­er-free 🙂

It wasn’t a per­fect piece of the sto­ry, but at least it was some­thing. Some­thing that can be edit­ed and built upon. I don’t real­ly care now what it is as long as I’m putting those words out and fin­ish this year. I can see my goal clear­ly again! Then I will be edit­ing a bit and going through a few beta-read­ers before set­ting out to write Parts Two and Three. Those are bare­ly in devel­op­ment yet, though I know what I will be doing there. Writ­ing mul­ti-POV books is hell, I tell you. Writ­ing epic-sized mul­ti-POV books is triple that. And no mat­ter what I do, it takes me a year to write a medi­um-nov­el-sized book (~90k). I hope to cel­e­brate the New Year with one of my goals com­plet­ed.

It is too ear­ly to say if I will be releas­ing the sto­ry in three parts or as one piece, but it won’t hap­pen until all of it is writ­ten. There is a pos­si­bil­i­ty that I will han­dle fin­ish­ing the next two parts faster. I’ve been doing this before.

At least I no longer feel guilty to be called a writer. I’m writ­ing, after all. 😀

{Procrastination Post} Modding Skyrim: Custom Male Followers Get Custom Weapons and A Small Quest

I’s been a few days since I wrote my last post about mod­ding. Today we’ll have anoth­er one and this time I final­ly fin­ished what I want­ed to accom­plish with my small Skyrim mod. I learned to make basic quests. 🙂

I had some issues with the Cre­ation Kit. First, there was a bug with my quest dialog not appear­ing. A save and reload fix­es that issue, but it is not a fault on my end. It hap­pens because of the CK patch.

Anoth­er issue I had run into was with scripts. I mis­spelled a func­tion name a couldn’t fig­ure for some time WHY wasn’t it work­ing. And the com­pil­er was like, I got noth­ing man. I’m glad this silli­ness is over. It’s how it always hap­pens with cod­ing. Either a lost brack­et or a let­ter. 😀

There is anoth­er issue that per­sist for now (voic­ing), but I will talk about it lat­er. From tech­ni­cal stand­point the quest is per­fec­tion now.

You’ll have to talk to Dren­nan and he will ask you for help. You agree­ing to help him will start his small quest to get him and his broth­er as fol­low­ers. The quest is reeeeeal­ly tiny, but it is here for immersion’s sake. You can’t just approach peo­ple and they’d agree to be your fol­low­ers. You have to but­ter them up, even if just a bit. 😉

queststart
Appren­tice Tongues starts

With mod installed the broth­ers and their house are there from the begin­ning of the game, but the dia­logue for the quest becomes avail­able only after you com­plete Drag­on Ris­ing. It’s bet­ter to vis­it them before you leave for High Hroth­gar, because it’s where Dren­nan will send you any­way. So two birds with one stone.

You task will be to retrieve Drennan’s jour­nal.

journal0

Read­ing it will briefly intro­duce you to the back­ground of the Sil­ver-Eye broth­ers.

journal1
First pages

Return the jour­nal to Dren­nan and he will reward you with 2000 gold.

questjournal
Almost done

After that both broth­ers become avail­able as fol­low­ers, so you can ask them on a date. 😉

drennanfollower

verodfollower

One more thing to say about this mod’s improve­ments is that I added some cus­tom weapons for the guys. Yes, those are one-kill weapons, yes, the broth­ers are over­pow­ered any­way, but you can always take their things away from them and give them some­thing sim­pler and less dev­as­tat­ing. It’s up to the player’s taste. But if you prefer to have two guys killing every­thing for you, that’s what they will do. 😀

Now let’s talk about that issue I men­tioned ear­lier. As the mod cur­rent­ly exists, all the dia­logue is said in my girly voice, so obvi­ous­ly I won’t be shar­ing this ver­sion with any­one. I need to record emp­ty voice files (while keep­ing the LIP files I cre­at­ed from my wav files). As fol­low­ers, Dren­nan speaks with Male Brute voice, and Verod has Male Even Toned voice. And I’m per­fect­ly fine with it. The quest dia­logue will be silent (for now, until some­one would record male-voiced lines for it) but lip-synched.

As for the rest, I’d say mis­sion accom­plished. If one day I’ll decide to make a quest­line for the­se NPCs, this lit­tle quest will be a per­fect place to start. 😉

As soon as I fin­ish clean­ing up the voice files, I would prob­a­bly share the mod on Nexus. I still have to learn how to pack the mod for shar­ing. 😀

UPDATE 25 NOV 2016

The mod can be down­load­ed here.

{Procrastination Post} Modding Skyrim: Custom Male Followers Get A Custom NPCs House and Still No Quest

In my pre­vi­ous pro­cras­ti­na­tion post I intro­duced my cus­tom male fol­low­ers I cre­at­ed for my own amuse­ment for the fab­u­lous game of Skyrim. They were sand­box­ing in High Hroth­gar and had their own small sto­ry. All I want­ed to add was a sim­ple quest to get them as fol­low­ers. After study­ing tuto­ri­als I still don’t quite fol­low the whole quest cre­ation pro­ce­dure, but I will get there even­tu­al­ly. I’m per­sis­tent. It takes me longer to mas­ter stuff, but when I do, I’m thor­ough­ly anal with it. And since there is a lot to learn here — espe­cial­ly when it will come to script­ing, I’m set up for some por­tion of my procrastinator’s life.

The rea­son I got into mod­ding at all was that I need­ed a new hob­by. I got bored with every­thing I do out­side writ­ing (and may­be even with writ­ing itself as it was!) and now I can feel the spark I thought I had lost a long time ago. It is quite rein­vig­o­rat­ing for me.

So, all this aside, I sat down and wrote my first quest. I still don’t know how to imple­ment it, but now I will need to rewrite it, since my in-game con­di­tions changed.

While the char­ac­ters were placed in high Hroth­gar, this was what I had in store for them. It’s noth­ing spe­cial and I tried to be lore-friend­ly. But it still came out quite sil­ly. 😀

STARTED: APPRENTICE TONGUES

I’ve noticed two young Nord men in High Hroth­gar who seem to be study­ing with the Grey­beards. They appear qui­et and reclu­sive, like the rest of the monks. I want to learn more about the­se two.

» Objec­tive 5: Talk to any of the Sil­ver-Eye broth­ers

DRENNAN BRANCH
Play­er: Hi there. Who are you?
Dren­nan: I’m Dren­nan. And the skin­ny guy over there is my lit­tle broth­er Verod. So, Mas­ter Arngeir thinks you are Drag­onborn?
Play­er: Yes, it seems so.
Dren­nan: Amaz­ing! I bet you had your fair share of adven­tures with that des­tiny already. I wouldn’t mind hav­ing a dose of those, but Mas­ter Arngeir will prob­a­bly be again­st any war­mon­ger­ing on my part… (Sigh) and my broth­er and I have errands to run. Per­haps some oth­er time, friend.

VEROD BRANCH
Play­er: Hel­lo. Who are you?
Verod: I’m Verod, and there’s my elder broth­er Dren­nan. Are you real­ly Drag­onborn?
Play­er: Yes, it seems so.
Verod: Inter­est­ing! I wouldn’t mind shar­ing the fun of bat­tle and trea­sure hunt­ing, but Mas­ter Arngeir has some tasks for me and my broth­er to com­plete. Per­haps some oth­er time, eh?

» Objec­tive 10: Talk to Arngeir

Play­er: I though there were only five of you. (This dia­logue appears after the play­er asked Arngeir how many of them were in High Hroth­gar and if the play­er had talked to any of the two poten­tial fol­low­ers, the event which starts the quest APPRENTICE TONGUES).

Arngeir: Yes, as I’ve said it before. The oth­er two young men you’ve seen here are our appren­tice Tongues.

Play­er: They look strong.

Arngeir: (Sighs) Fool­hardy some­times. Tal­ent­ed as they are, the Sil­ver-Eye broth­ers have been mas­ter­ing to use the Voice since very young age and hope­ful­ly one day will become Grey­beards them­selves. Not yet, though. They have much to learn.

Play­er: I think I’m start­ing to under­stand why you’re being too cau­tious with me.

Arngeir: True. Per­haps, a bit over­cau­tious. Mis­takes with entrust­ing this kind of pow­er can have dire con­se­quences. Both broth­ers are capa­ble war­riors and good men, and they have thirst for knowl­edge and peace in their hearts, yet they are still full of adven­tur­ous fire and curios­i­ty. As they are now, the Throat of the World is a lit­tle bit con­fin­ing for the two. You should speak to them, Drag­onborn. Know­ing both, I have no doubt they would agree to aid you on your jour­neys.

» Objec­tive 20: Talk to Dren­nan

Play­er: It seems Arngeir doesn’t mind if you two go out into the world. Are you still inter­est­ed to join my trav­els?

Dren­nan: Real­ly? May­be because it’s you, Drag­onborn. Sure, why not. How­ev­er, I don’t want to leave the lit­tle one behind. Verod won’t show it, but me going with­out him will make the guy sad. We’ve been togeth­er since forever, though we have dif­fer­ent moth­ers.

Play­er: Ah, that’s how it is. One can’t tell you are relat­ed just by look­ing at you two.

Dren­nan: We may not look alike, but our blood­line has been around for a long time. We trace our ances­try to one of the ear­ly Dovah-Son­aak… a drag­on priest of Atmora of old. We are not of Drag­onblood like you, but we still proud­ly car­ry the pow­er of our Nordic fore­fa­thers, bestowed upon mor­tal men by Kyne her­self. The drag­on cult is long gone, but here we are.

Play­er: Descen­dants of a drag­on priest, eh. I’m intrigued. May­be it is tru­ly our fate­ful meet­ing. So, are you versed in drag­on lan­guage?

Dren­nan: Geh, Dovahki­in. Of course.

Play­er: I’ve encoun­tered a few word walls. They made me curi­ous and I was look­ing for some­one who could help me trans­late the writ­ings. Or at least teach me the basics. Between the drau­gr-punch­ing, or some­thing.

Dren­nan: Ah, yes. The walls that har­bor words of pow­er. They are all over Skyrim’s hid­den, dan­ger­ous places. A bridge between the realm of the ancient Nords, and our own. Drag­onborn, I would be hon­ored to help you with your lin­guis­tic pur­suits. But you should speak to my broth­er. He is also able to help you… with lan­guage… in some dark tomb.

» Objec­tive 30: Talk to Verod

Verod: I heard your con­ver­sa­tion and I won’t mind if you two leave me here. Dren­nan is a beast in bat­tle. How­ev­er, if you have room for one more sword-or-spell-arm for your adven­tures, or you prefer a bat­tlemage, Drag­onborn, I’ll glad­ly jump into my trav­el­ing gear.

Play­er: Sure, I’d love to have you both. (Play­er has mul­ti­ple fol­low­er mod installed and likes both char­ac­ters.)
Play­er: Sor­ry, I don’t like crowds. I need some­one for close com­bat. So I would have to ask your broth­er Dren­nan to come along instead.
Play­er: Sor­ry, I don’t like crowds. But I’d like you to come with me. I need a good Mage in com­bat.
Play­er: Not now. I’ve decid­ed I’ll go solo for a lit­tle longer.

» Objec­tive 40: Talk to Dren­nan

Dren­nan: I see you made up your mind. Very well then. For the future ref­er­ence, if you change your mind, you know where to look for any of us.

Play­er: Yeah. It’s time we get going.
Play­er: Yeah, thanks, I got to go now.

» Objec­tive 200: Quest Com­plet­ed. Reward: Pos­si­ble Free Fol­low­ers (Dren­nan and Verod)

QUEST LOG: After I learned more about the two Grey­beards-in-train­ing and they got acquaint­ed with me bet­ter, the broth­ers agreed to provide sup­port on my future adven­tures, when­ev­er that might be.

If this made you cringe — hey, I tried. 😀

How­ev­er, after a few fresh playthroughs I got annoyed with how long I had to play before I could get them to fol­low me. I need­ed to trav­el to High Hroth­gar and com­plete my train­ing as Drag­onborn before I could even talk to them. The plea­sure of cus­tom fol­low­ers is that you can get them ASAP.

Besides, with one of my mods (Eager NPCs) which made drag­on pow­ers some sort of porn stuff and mak­ing peo­ple aroused — every­one in High Hroth­gar is sex-mad! — things got awk­ward pret­ty soon. So I decid­ed to make them their own house. The house is not intend­ed for play­er and is owned by the NPCs. So if you tres­pass or steal from them, they will bru­tal­ly kick your ass. 🙂

Fight­ing them is not advised, since they are essen­tial and have mas­sive amounts of life. Unless you cheat in game, you’ll end up dead. At the begin­ning of the game you are a nobody and they are lev­el 150 + bonus­es.

The sto­ry behind their house idea was pret­ty sim­ple: their father died and they had to return home from High Hroth­gar to bury him. And even­tu­al­ly they remained in Whiterun until they met Drag­onborn. Why didn’t they help the fine folk of Whiterun when the drag­on attacked? They can’t kill a drag­on per­ma­nent­ly — they are no Drag­onborn — and they don’t want to show their pow­er and mag­ic, oth­er­wise they will have trou­ble with the locals. Nords don’t like mag­ic peo­ple and those two are damn hot mag­i­cal Nords.

So, the house. I took me 3 attempts to fin­ish what I had start­ed.

The first attempt end­ed bad­ly since I placed the house in Whiterun (between Olava’s and Ysolda’s hous­es, there is a rock patch). Placed is not a good word. Squeezed into the place is bet­ter. And even­tu­al­ly I fucked up the Whiterun cell navmesh. So I had to scrap that one.

fail
This how a fail­ure looks like.

The sec­ond house I made was good. I made a beau­ti­ful inner cell. Only to real­ize that I edit­ed a vanil­la cell I had copied from BY MISTAKE. So I had to return to the basics of this mod and build every­thing from scratch again…

But then I final­ly suc­ceed­ed.

All was left to do is to fix the damn navmesh in the out­er cell. Now, I’m not real­ly good with this thing yet. But I was lucky I didn’t place my house on the cell inter­sec­tion and I had an object I removed ear­lier from the map — a log — that left me with the edges of the navmesh to work with. LUCKY!

It took me sev­er­al attempts to make the navmesh com­ply with what I want­ed it to look like. When I was done, my NPCs could leave and enter the house and walk around as they nor­mal­ly would. THE JOY! 😀

working

drennansilver-eye1
Dren­nan Sil­ver-Eye
verodsilver-eye1
Verod Sil­ver-Eye

So all was left to do was to give them basic AI pack­ages so they would inter­act with their house and even go for a drink to Ban­nered Mare in the evening.

headingtodrink
Head­ing out for a drink.

drink1

The house is near Whiterun — close to the inter­sec­tion where the Drag­onborn first hears the call of the Grey­beards after he kills his first drag­on at the watch­tow­er. It’s a good place. Whiterun is over­crowd­ed any­way, with Drag­onborn buy­ing the last avail­able house. 😀

location

The inte­ri­or is pret­ty sim­ple. A cou­ple of com­mon beds, a wardrobe, a cou­ple of book cas­es, an arcane enchanter and an alche­my lab, some rare and valu­able books, a table to eat and few chairs to sit, and a cook­ing area. Good enough for the two tough Nords. 😀

books01
Some books on Dae­dra
books02
Drag­ons, drau­gr, lusty argoni­an maid and some skooma. 😀
interiors02
Cook­ing area
interiors01
Cook­ing area and the din­ing hall
interiors04
Drennan’s cor­ner
interiors03
Verod’s cor­ner

Now that I’m done here, I’ll focus on the quest (or pos­si­bly a quest line). Writ­ing a good one takes time. How­ev­er, I have no voice actors for the job, so the mod will use Fuz Ro D’oh, which in turn requires SKSE (installed via Steam). Option­al require­ments: Amaz­ing Fol­low­er Tweaks (sup­ports up to 5 fol­low­ers) with Fol­low­ers Wan­der.

EDITED NOV 20 2016

After some mus­ing I placed Dibella’s shrine in the house and dropped Amulets of Dibel­la into char­ac­ter inven­to­ries. They are not par­tic­u­lar­ly reli­gious, but they are tak­ing part in Skyrim’s sex cult. 😀

dibellasfaithful
Dibella’s Faith­ful

After some tweak­ing of AI pack­ages, they are now fol­low­ing a sched­ule:

Sleep 01.00 — 08.00, the house door is locked;
Break­fast 08.00 — 10.00, the play­er can enter the house;
Work out­side 10.00 — 12.00, the house door is locked;
Sit on the bench out­side 12.00 — 13.00, the house door is locked;
Din­ner 13.00 — 15.00, the play­er can enter the house;
Work out­side 15.00 — 18.00, the house door is locked;
Work inside 18.00 — 21.00, the play­er can enter the house;
Head­ing to Ban­nered Mare for food and drink at 21.00 and stay there until 01.00.
Then the cycle con­tin­ues.

bench1
Chill­in’ out­side. Go on, ask them to fol­low you. 🙂