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The Challenges of Designing a Modern Skill, Part 3

Okay, Wendy’s or Walgreens or whoever, I don’t care who you are, you’re listening to the rest.

Introduction to Part 3

Welcome back one last time to “The Challenges of Designing a Modern Skill,” a series where we discuss all aspects of skill design and development. In Part 1, we talked about OSRS’s history with skills, and started the lengthy conversation on Skill Design Philosophy, including the concepts of Core, Expansion, and Integration. This latter topic consumed the entirety of Part 2 as well, which covered Rewards and Motivations, Progression, Buyables, as well as Unconstructive Arguments.
Which brings us to today, the final part of our discussion. In this Part 3, we’ll finish up Section 3 – Skill Design Philosophy, then move on to chat about the design and blog process. One last time, this discussion was intended to be a single post, but its length outgrew the post character limit twice. Therefore, it may be important to look at the previous two parts for clarity and context with certain terms. The final product, in its purest, aesthetic, and unbroken form, can be found here.

3-C – Skill Design Philosophy, Continued

3-12 - Balancing

What follows from the discussion about XP and costs, of course, is balancing: the bane of every developer. A company like Riot knows better than anyone that having too many factors to account for makes good balance impossible. Balancing new ideas appropriately is extremely challenging and requires a great respect for current content as discussed in Section 3-5 – Integration. Thankfully, in OSRS we only have three major balancing factors: Profit, XP Rate, and Intensity, and two minor factors: Risk and Leniency. These metrics must amount to some sense of balance (besides Leniency, which as we’ll see is the definition of anti-balance) in order for a piece of content to feel like it’s not breaking the system or rendering all your previous efforts meaningless. It’s also worthy to note that there is usually a skill-specific limit to the numerical values of these metrics. For example, Runecrafting will never receive a training method that grants 200k xp/hr, while for Construction that’s easily on the lower end of the scale.
A basic model works better than words to describe these factors, and therefore, being the phenomenal artist that I am, I have constructed one, which I’ve dubbed “The Guthix Scale.” But I’ll be cruel and use words anyway.
  • Profit: how much you gain from a task, or how much you lose. Gain or loss can include resources, cosmetics, specialized currencies, good old gold pieces, or anything on that line.
  • XP Rate: how fast you gain XP.
  • Intensity: how much effort (click intensity), attention (reaction intensity), and thought (planning intensity) you need to put into the activity to perform it well.
  • Risk: how likely is the loss of your revenue and/or resource investment into the activity. Note that one must be careful with risk, as players are very good at abusing systems intended to encourage higher risk levels to minimize how much they’re actually risking.
  • Leniency: a measure for how imbalanced a piece of content can be before the public and/or Jagex nerfs it. Leniency serves as a simple modulator to help comprehend when the model breaks or bends in unnatural ways, and is usually determined by how enjoyable and abusable an activity is, such that players don’t want to cause an outrage over it. For example, Slayer has a high level of Leniency; people don’t mind that some Slayer tasks grant amazing XP Rates, great Profits, have middling Intensity, and low Risk. On the other hand, Runecrafting has low levels of Leniency; despite low Risk, many Runecrafting activities demand high Intensity for poor XP Rates and middling Profits.
In the end, don’t worry about applying specific numbers during the conceptual phase of your skill design. However, when describing an activity to your reader, it’s always useful if you give approximations, such as “high intensity” or “low risk,” so that they get an idea of the activity’s design goals as well as to guide the actual development of that activity. Don’t comment on the activity’s Leniency though, as that would be pretty pretentious and isn’t for you to determine anyway.

3-13 - Skill Bloat

What do the arts of weaving, tanning, sowing, spinning, pottery, glassmaking, jewellery, engraving, carving, chiselling, carpentry, and even painting have in common? In real life, there’s only so much crossover between these arts, but in Runescape they’re all simply Crafting.
The distinction between what deserves to be its own skill or instead tagged along to a current skill is often arbitrary; this is the great challenge of skill bloat. The fundamental question for many skill concepts is: does this skill have enough depth to stand on its own? The developers of 2006 felt that there was sufficient depth in Construction to make it something separate from Crafting, even if the latter could have covered the former. While there’s often no clean cut between these skills (why does making birdhouses use Crafting instead of Construction?), it is easy to see that Construction has found its own solid niche that would’ve been much too big to act as yet another Expansion of Crafting.
On the other hand, a skill with extremely limited scope and value perhaps should be thrown under the umbrella of a larger skill. Take Firemaking: it’s often asked why it deserves to be its own skill given how limited its uses are. This is one of those ideas that probably should have just been thrown under Crafting or even Woodcutting. But again, the developers who made early Runescape did not battle with the same ideas as the modern player; they simply felt like Firemaking was a good idea for a skill. Similarly, the number of topics that the Magic skill covers is so often broken down in other games, like Morrowind’s separation between Illusion, Conjuration, Alteration, Destruction, Mysticism, Restoration, Enchant, Alchemy (closer to Herblore), and Unarmored (closer to Strength and Defense). Why does Runescape not break Magic into more skills? The answer is simple: Magic was created with a much more limited scope in Runescape, and there has not been enough content in any specific magical category to justify another skill being born. But perhaps your skill concept seeks to address this; maybe your Enchantment skill takes the enchanting aspects of Magic away, expands the idea to include current imbues and newer content, and fully fleshes the idea out such that the Magic skill alone cannot contain it. Somewhat ironically, Magic used to be separated into Good and Evil Magic skills in Runescape Classic, but that is another topic.
So instead of arguments about what could be thrown under another skill’s umbrella, perhaps we should be asking: is there enough substance to this skill concept for it to stand on its own, outside of its current skill categorization? Of course, this leads to a whole other debate about how much content is enough for a skill idea to deserve individuality, but that would get too deep into specifics and is outside the scope of this discussion.

3-14 - Skill Endgame

Runescape has always been a sandbox MMO, but the original Runescape experience was built more or less with a specific endgame in mind: killing players and monsters. Take the Runescape Classic of 2001: you had all your regular combat skills, but even every other skill had an endgame whose goal was helping combat out. Fishing, Firemaking, and Cooking would provide necessary healing. Smithing and Crafting, along with their associated Gathering skill partners, served to gear you up. Combat was the simple endgame and most mechanics existed to serve that end.
However, since those first days, the changing endgame goals of players have promoted a vast expansion of the endgame goals of new content. For example, hitting a 99 in any non-combat skill is an endgame goal in itself for many players, completely separate from that skill’s combat relationship (if any). These goals have increased to aspects like cosmetic collections, pets, maxed stats, all quests completed, all diaries completed, all music tracks unlocked, a wealthy bank, the collection log, boss killcounts, and more. Whereas skills used to have a distinct part of a system that ultimately served combat, we now have a vast variety of endgame goals that a skill can be directed towards. You can even see a growth in this perspective as new skills were released up to 2007: Thieving mainly nets you valuable (or once valuable) items which have extremely flexible uses, and Construction has a strong emphasis on cosmetics for your POH.
So when designing your new skill, contemplate what the endgame of your skill looks like. For example, if you are proposing a Gathering skill, what is the Production skill tie-in, and what is the endgame goal of that Production skill? Maybe your new skill Spelunking has an endgame in gathering rare collectibles that can be shown off in your POH. Maybe your new skill Necromancy functions like a Support skill, giving you followers that help speed along resource gathering, and letting you move faster to the endgame goal of the respective Production skill. Whatever it is, a proper, clear, and unified view of an endgame goal helps a skill feel like it serves a distinct and valuable purpose. Note that this could mean that you require multiple skills to be released simultaneously for each to feed into each other and form an appropriate endgame. In that case, go for it – don’t make it a repeat of RS3’s Divination, a Gathering skill left hanging without the appropriate Production skill partner of Invention for over 2 years.
A good example of a skill with a direct endgame is… most of them. Combat is a well-accepted endgame, and traditionally, most skills are intended to lend a hand in combat whether by supplies or gear. A skill with a poor endgame would be Hunter: Hunter is so scattered in its ultimate endgame goals, trying to touch on small aspects of everything like combat gear, weight reduction, production, niche skilling tools, and food. There’s a very poor sense of identity to Hunter’s endgame, and it doesn’t help that very few of these rewards are actually viable or interesting in the current day. Similarly, while Slayer has a strong endgame goal it is terrible in its methodology, overshadowing other Production skills in their explicit purpose. A better design for Slayer’s endgame would have been to treat it as a secondary Gathering skill, to work almost like a catalyst for other Gathering-Production skill relationships. In this mindset, Slayer is where you gather valuable monster drops, combine it with traditional Gathering resources like ores from Mining, then use a Production skill like Smithing to meld them into the powerful gear that is present today. This would have kept other Gathering and Production skills at the forefront of their specialities, in contrast to today’s situation where Slayer will give fully assembled gear that’s better than anything you could receive from the appropriate skills (barring a few items that need a Production skill to piece together).

3-15 - Alternate Goals

From a game design perspective, skills are so far reaching that it can be tempting to use them to shift major game mechanics to a more favourable position. Construction is an example of this idea in action: Construction was very intentionally designed to be a massive gold sink to help a hyperinflating economy. Everything about it takes gold out of the game, whether through using a sawmill, buying expensive supplies from stores, adding rooms, or a shameless piece of furniture costing 100m that is skinned as, well, 100m on a shameless piece of furniture.
If you’re clever about it, skills are a legitimately good opportunity for such change. Sure, the gold sink is definitely a controversial feature of Construction, but for the most part it’s organic and makes sense; fancy houses and fancy cosmetics are justifiably expensive. It is notable that the controversy over Construction’s gold sink mechanism is probably levied more against the cost of training, rather than the cost of all its wonderful aesthetics. Perhaps that should have been better accounted for in its design phase, but now it is quite set in stone.
To emphasize that previous point: making large scale changes to the game through a new skill can work, but it must feel organic and secondary to the skill’s main purpose. Some people really disliked Warding because they felt it tried too hard to fix real, underlying game issues with mechanics that didn’t thematically fit or were overshadowing the skill’s Core. While this may or may not be true, if your new skill can improve the game’s integrity without sacrificing its own identity, you could avoid this argument entirely. If your skill Regency has a Core of managing global politics, but also happens to serve as a resource sink to help your failing citizens, then you’ve created a strong Core design while simultaneously improving the profitability of Gathering skills.

3-16 - The Combat No-Touch Rule

So, let’s take a moment to examine the great benefits and rationale of RS2’s Evolution of Combat:
This space has been reserved for unintelligible squabbling.
With that over, it’s obvious that the OSRS playerbase is not a big fan of making major changes to the combat system. If there’s anything that defines the OSRS experience, it has to be the janky and abusable combat system that we love. So, in the past 7 years of OSRS, how many times have you heard someone pitch a new combat skill? Practically no one ever has; a new combat skill, no matter how miniscule, would feel obtrusive to most players, and likely would not even receive 25% of votes in a poll. This goes right back to Section 3-5 – Integration, and the importance of preserving the fundamentals of OSRS’s design.
I know that my intention with this discussion was to be as definitive about skill design as possible, and in that spirit I should be delving into the design philosophy specifically behind combat skills, but I simply don’t see the benefit of me trying, and the conversation really doesn’t interest me that much. It goes without saying that as expansive as this discussion is, it does not cover every facet of skill design, which is a limitation both of my capabilities and desire to do so.

3-17 - Aesthetics

I don’t do aesthetics well. I like them, I want them, but I do not understand them; there are others much better equipped to discuss this topic than I. Nonetheless, here we go.
Since the dawn of OSRS, debates over art style and aesthetics have raged across Gielinor. After all, the OSRS Team is filled with modern day artists while OSRS is an ancient game. What were they supposed to do? Keep making dated graphics? Make content with a modernized and easily digestible style? Something in-between?
While many players shouted for more dated graphics, they were approached by an interesting predicament: which dated graphics did they want? We had a great selection present right from the start of OSRS: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. People hungry for nostalgia chose the era that they grew up in, leading to frequent requests for older models like the dragon or imp, most of which were denied by Jagex (except the old Mining rock models). But which era was OSRS supposed to follow?
Jagex elected to carve their own path, but not without heavy criticism especially closer to OSRS’s conception. However, they adapted to player requests and have since gone back and fixed many of the blatant early offenders (like the Kingdom of Kourend) and adopted a more consistent flavour, one that generally respects the art style of 2007. Even though it doesn’t always hit the mark, one has to appreciate the OSRS artists for making their best attempt and listening to feedback, and here’s to hoping that their art style examination mentioned in June 2020’s Gazette bears fruit.
But what exactly is the old school art style? There are simple systems by which most players judge it in OSRS, usually by asking questions like, “Would you believe if this existed in 2007?” More informed artists will start pointing out distinct features that permeated most content from back in the day, such as low quality textures, low poly models, low FPS animations, a “low fantasy” or grounded profile that appeals somewhat to realism, reducing cartoonish exaggerations, and keeping within the lore. Compiled with this, music and sound design help that art style come to life; it can be very hard on immersion when these don’t fit. An AGS would sound jarring if its special attack sounded like a weak dagger stab, and having to endure Country Jig while roaming Hosidius suddenly sweeps you off into a different universe.
But coming back to skill design, the art, models, and sound design tend to be some of the last features, mostly because the design phase doesn’t demand such a complete picture of a skill. However, simple concept art and models can vastly improve how a skill concept is communicated and comfort players who are concerned about maintaining that “old school feel.” This will be touched on again later in this discussion under Section 5-2 – Presentation and Beta Testing.

3-18 - Afterword

Now we’ve set down the modern standards for a new skill, but the statements that started this section bear repeating: the formula we’ve established does not automatically make a good or interesting skill, as hard as we might have tried. Once again, harken back to the First Great Irony: that we are trying to inject the modern interpretation of what defines a skill upon a game that was not necessarily built to contain it. Therefore, one could just as easily deny each of the components described above, as popular or unpopular as the act might be, and their opinion could be equally valid and all this effort meaningless. Don’t take these guidelines with such stringency as to disregard all other views.

5-0 - The OSRS Team and the Design Process

If you’ve followed me all the way here, you’re likely A) exhausted and fed up of any conversation concerning new skills, or B) excited, because you’ve just struck an incredible skill idea (or perhaps one that’s always hung around your head) that happens to tick off all the above checkboxes. But unfortunately for you B types, it’s about to get pretty grim, because we’re going to go through every aspect of skill design that’s exterior to the game itself. We’ll be touching on larger topics like democracy, presentation, player mindsets, effort, and resource consumption. It’ll induce a fantastic bout of depression, so don’t get left behind.

5-1 - Designing a Skill

Thus far, Jagex has offered three potential skills to OSRS, each of which has been denied. This gives us the advantage of understanding how the skill design process works behind the scenes and lets us examine some of the issues Jagex has faced with presenting a skill to the players.
The first problem is the “one strike and you’re out” phenomenon. Simply put, players don’t like applying much effort into reading and learning. They’ll look at a developer blog highlighting a new skill idea, and if you’re lucky they’ll even read the whole thing, but how about the second developer blog? The third? Fourth? Even I find it hard to get that far. In general, people don’t like long detail-heavy essays or blogs, which is why I can invoke the ancient proverb “Ban Emily” into this post and it’ll go (almost) completely unnoticed. No matter how many improvements you make between developer blogs, you will quickly lose players with each new iteration. Similarly, developer blogs don’t have the time to talk about skill design philosophy or meta-analyse their ideas – players would get lost far too fast. This is the Second Great Irony of skill design: the more iterations you have of a lengthy idea, the less players will keep up with you.
This was particularly prominent with Warding: Battle Wards were offered in an early developer blog but were quickly cut when Jagex realized how bad the idea was. Yet people would still cite Battle Wards as the reason they voted against Warding, despite the idea having been dropped several blogs before. Similarly, people would often comment that they hated that Warding was being polled multiple times; it felt to them like Jagex was trying to brute-force it into the game. But Warding was only ever polled once, and only after the fourth developer blog - the confusion was drawn from how many times the skill was reiterated and from the length of the public design process. Sure, there are people for whom this runs the opposite way; they keep a close eye on updates and judge a piece of content on the merits of the latest iteration, but this is much less common. You could argue that one should simply disregard the ignorant people as blind comments don't contribute to the overall discussion, but you should remember that these players are also the ones voting for the respective piece of content. You could also suggest re-educating them, which is exactly what Jagex attempts with each developer blog, and still people won’t get the memo. And when it comes to the players themselves, can the playerbase really be relied on to re-educate itself?
Overall, the Second Great irony really hurts the development process and is practically an unavoidable issue. What’s the alternative? To remove the developer-player interface that leads to valuable reiterations, or does you simply have to get the skill perfect in the first developer blog?
It’s not an optimal idea, but it could help: have a small team of “delegates” – larger names that players can trust, or player influencers – come in to review a new, unannounced skill idea under NDA. If they like it, chances are that other players will too. If they don’t, reiterate or toss out the skill before it’s public. That way, you’ve had a board of experienced players who are willing to share their opinions to the public helping to determine the meat and potatoes of the skill before it is introduced to the casual eye. Now, a more polished and well-accepted product can be presented on the first run of selling a skill to the public, resulting in less reiterations being required, and demanding less effort from the average player to be fully informed over the skill’s final design.

5-2 - Presentation and Beta Testing

So you’ve got a great idea, but how are you going to sell it to the public? Looking at how the OSRS Team has handled it throughout the years, there’s a very obvious learning curve occurring. Artisan had almost nothing but text blogs being thrown to the players, Sailing started introducing some concept art and even a trailer with terrible audio recording, and Warding had concept art, in game models, gifs, and a much fancier trailer with in-game animations. A picture or video is worth a thousand words, and often the only words that players will take out of a developer blog.
You might say that presentation is everything, and that would be more true in OSRS than most games. Most activities in OSRS are extremely basic, involve minimal thought, and are incredibly grindy. Take Fishing: you click every 20 seconds on a fishing spot that is randomly placed along a section of water, get rid of your fish, then keep clicking those fishing spots. Boiling it down further, you click several arbitrary parts of your computer screen every 20 seconds. It’s hardly considered engaging, so why do some people enjoy it? Simply put: presentation. You’re given a peaceful riverside environment to chill in, you’re collecting a bunch of pixels shaped like fish, and a number tracking your xp keeps ticking up and telling you that it matters.
Now imagine coming to the players with a radical new skill idea: Mining. You describe that Mining is where you gather ores that will feed into Smithing and help create gear for players to use. The audience ponders momentarily, but they’re not quite sure it feels right and ask for a demonstration. You show them some gameplay, but your development resources were thin and instead of rocks, you put trees as placeholders. Instead of ores in your inventory, you put logs as placeholders. Instead of a pickaxe, your character is swinging a woodcutting axe as a placeholder. Sure, the mechanics might act like mining instead of woodcutting, but how well is the skill going to sell if you haven’t presented it correctly or respected it contextually?
Again, presentation is everything. Players need to be able to see the task they are to perform, see the tools they’ll use, and see the expected outcomes; otherwise, whatever you’re trying to sell will feel bland and unoriginal. And this leads to the next level of skill presentation that has yet to be employed: Beta Worlds.
Part of getting the feel of an activity is not just watching, it but acting it out as well - you’ll never understand the thrill of skydiving unless you’ve actually been skydiving. Beta Worlds are that chance for players to act out a concept without risking the real game’s health. A successful Beta can inspire confidence in players that the skill has a solid Core and interesting Expansions, while a failed Beta will make them glad that they got to try it and be fully informed before putting the skill to a poll (although that might be a little too optimistic for rage culture). Unfortunately, Betas are not without major disadvantages, the most prominent of which we shall investigate next.

5-3 - Development Effort

If you thought that the previous section on Skill Design Philosophy was lengthy and exhausting, imagine having to know all that information and then put it into practice. Mentally designing a skill in your head can be fun, but putting all that down on paper and making it actually work together, feel fully fleshed out, and following all the modern standards that players expect is extremely heavy work, especially when it’s not guaranteed to pay off in the polls like Quest or Slayer content. That’s not even taking into account the potentially immense cost of developing a new skill should it pass a poll.
Whenever people complain that Jagex is wasting their resources trying to make that specific skill work, Jagex has been very explicit about the costs to pull together a design blog being pretty minimal. Looking at the previous blogs, Jagex is probably telling the truth. It’s all just a bunch of words, a couple art sketches, and maybe a basic in-game model or gif. Not to downplay the time it takes to write well, design good models, or generate concept art, but it’s nothing like the scale of resources that some players make it out to be. Of course, if a Beta was attempted as suggested last section, this conversation would take a completely new turn, and the level of risk to invested resources would exponentially increase. But this conversation calls to mind an important question: how much effort and resources do skills require to feel complete?
Once upon a time, you could release a skill which was more or less unfinished. Take Slayer: it was released in 2005 with a pretty barebones structure. The fundamentals were all there, but the endgame was essentially a couple cool best-in-slot weapons and that was it. Since then, OSRS has updated the skill to include a huge Reward Shop system, feature 50% more monsters to slay, and to become an extremely competitive money-maker. Skills naturally undergo development over time, but it so often comes up during the designing of an OSRS skill that it "doesn't have enough to justify its existence." This was touched on deeply in Section 3-13 – Skill Bloat, but deserves reiterating here. While people recognize that skills continually evolve, the modern standard expects a new skill, upon release, to be fully preassembled before purchase. Whereas once you could get away with releasing just a skill's Core and working on Expansions down the line, that is no longer the case. But perhaps a skill might stand a better chance now than it did last year, given that the OSRS Team has doubled in number since that time.
However, judging from the skill design phases that have previously been attempted (as we’ve yet to see a skill development phase), the heaviest cost has been paid in developer mentality and motivational loss. When a developer is passionate about an idea, they spend their every waking hour pouring their mind into how that idea is going to function, especially while they’re not at work. And then they’re obligated to take player feedback and adapt their ideas, sometimes starting from scratch, particularly over something as controversial as a skill. Even if they have tough enough skin to take the heavy criticism that comes with skill design, having to write and rewrite repeatedly over the same idea to make it “perfect” is mentally exhausting. Eventually, their motivation drains as their labour bears little fruit with the audience, and they simply want to push it to the poll and be done with it. Even once all their cards are down, there’s still no guarantee that their efforts will be rewarded, even less so when it comes to skills.
With such a high mental cost with a low rate of success, you have to ask, “Was it worth it?” And that’s why new skill proposals are far and few between. A new skill used to be exciting for the development team in the actual days of 2007, as they had the developmental freedom to do whatever they wanted, but in the modern day that is not so much the case.

5-4 - The Problems of Democracy

Ever since the conceptualization of democracy in the real world, people have been very aware of its disadvantages. And while I don’t have the talent, knowledge, or time to discuss every one of these factors, there are a few that are very relevant when it comes to the OSRS Team and the polling process.
But first we should recognize the OSRS Team’s relationship with the players. More and more, the Team acts like a government to its citizens, the players, and although this situation was intentionally instated with OSRS’s release, it’s even more prominent now. The Team decides the type of content that gets to go into a poll, and the players get their input over whether that particular piece makes it in. Similarly, players make suggestions to the Team that, in many cases, the Team hadn’t thought of themselves. This synergy is phenomenal and almost unheard of among video games, but the polling system changes the mechanics of this relationship.
Polls were introduced to the burned and scarred population of players at OSRS’s release in 2013. Many of these players had just freshly come off RS2 after a series of disastrous updates or had quit long before from other controversies. The Squeal of Fortune, the Evolution of Combat, even the original Wilderness Removal had forced numerous players out and murdered their trust in Jagex. To try and get players to recommit to Runescape, Jagex offered OSRS a polling system by which the players would determine what went into the game, where the players got to hold all the cards. They also asked the players what threshold should be required for polled items to pass, and among the odd 50% or 55% being shouted out, the vast majority of players wanted 70%, 75%, 80%, or even 85%. There was a massive population in favour of a conservative game that would mostly remain untouched, and therefore kept pure from the corruption RS2 had previously endured.
Right from the start, players started noticing holes in this system. After all, the OSRS Team was still the sole decider of what would actually be polled in the first place. Long-requested changes took forever to be polled (if ever polled at all) if the OSRS Team didn’t want to deal with that particular problem or didn’t like that idea. Similarly, the Team essentially had desk jobs with a noose kept around their neck – they could perform almost nothing without the players, their slave masters, seeing, criticizing, and tearing out every inch of developmental or visionary freedom they had. Ever hear about the controversy of Erin the duck? Take a look at the wiki or do a search through the subreddit history. It’s pretty fantastic, and a good window into the minds of the early OSRS playerbase.
But as the years have gone on, the perspective of the players has shifted. There is now a much healthier and more trusting relationship between them and the Team, much more flexibility in what the players allow the Team to handle, and a much greater tolerance and even love of change.
But the challenges of democracy haven’t just fallen away. Everyone having the right to vote is a fundamental tenet of the democratic system, but unfortunately that also means that everyone has the right to vote. For OSRS, that means that every member, whether it’s their first day in game, their ten thousandth hour played, those who have no idea about what the poll’s about, those who haven’t read a single quest (the worst group), those who RWT and bot, those who scam and lure, and every professional armchair developer like myself get to vote. In short, no one will ever be perfectly informed on every aspect of the game, or at least know when to skip when they should. Similarly, people will almost never vote in favour of making their game harder, even at the cost of game integrity, or at least not enough people would vote in such a fashion to reach a 75% majority.
These issues are well recognized. The adoption of the controversial “integrity updates” was Jagex’s solution to these problems. In this way, Jagex has become even more like a government to the players. The average citizen of a democratic country cannot and will not make major decisions that favour everyone around themselves if it comes at a personal cost. Rather, that’s one of the major roles of a government: to make decisions for changes for the common good that an individual can’t or won’t make on their own. No one’s going to willingly hand over cash to help repave a road on the opposite side of the city – that’s why taxes are a necessary evil. It’s easy to see that the players don’t always know what’s best for their game and sometimes need to rely on that parent to decide for them, even if it results in some personal loss.
But players still generally like the polls, and Jagex still appears to respect them for the most part. Being the government of the game, Jagex could very well choose to ignore them, but would risk the loss of their citizens to other lands. And there are some very strong reasons to keep them: the players still like having at least one hand on the wheel when it comes to new content or ideas. Also, it acts as a nice veto card should Jagex try to push RS3’s abusive tactics on OSRS and therefore prevent such potential damage.
But now we come to the topic of today: the introduction of a new skill. Essentially, a new skill must pass a poll in order to enter the game. While it’s easy to say, “If a skill idea is good enough, it’ll pass the threshold,” that’s not entirely true. The only skill that could really pass the 75% mark is not necessarily a well-designed skill, but rather a crowd-pleasing skill. While the two aren’t mutually exclusive, the latter is far easier to make than the former. Take Dungeoneering: if you were to poll it today as an exact replica of RS2’s version, it would likely be the highest scoring skill yet, perhaps even passing, despite every criticism that’s been previously emphasized describing why it has no respect for the current definition of “skill.” Furthermore, a crowd-pleasing skill can easily fall prey to deindividualization of vision and result in a bland “studio skill” (in the same vein as a “studio film”), one that feels manufactured by a board of soulless machines rather than a director’s unique creation. This draws straight back to the afore-mentioned issues with democracy: that people A) don’t always understand what they’re voting for or against, and B) people will never vote for something that makes their game tougher or results in no benefit to oneself. Again, these were not issues in the old days of RS2, but are the problems we face with our modern standards and decision making systems.
The reality that must be faced is that the polling system is not an engine of creation nor is it a means of constructive feedback – it’s a system of judgement, binary and oversimplified in its methodology. It’s easy to interact with and requires no more than 10 seconds of a player’s time, a mere mindless moment, to decide the fate of an idea made by an individual or team, regardless of their deep or shallow knowledge of game mechanics, strong or weak vision of design philosophy, great or terrible understanding of the game’s history, and their awareness of blindness towards the modern community. It’s a system which disproportionately boils down the quality of discussion that is necessitated by a skill, which gives it the same significance as the question “Should we allow players to recolour the Rocky pet by feeding it berries?” with the only available answers being a dualistic “This idea is perfect and should be implemented exactly as outlined” or “This idea is terrible and should never be spoken of again.”
So what do you do? Let Jagex throw in whatever they want? Reduce the threshold, or reduce it just for skills? Make a poll that lists a bunch of skills and forces the players to choose one of them to enter the game? Simply poll the question, “Should we have a new skill?” then let Jagex decide what it is? Put more options on the scale of “yes” to “no” and weigh each appropriately? All these options sound distasteful because there are obvious weaknesses to each. But that is the Third Great Irony we face: an immense desire for a new skill, but no realistic means to ever get one.

6-0 - Conclusion

I can only imagine that if you’ve truly read everything up to this point, it’s taken you through quite the rollercoaster. We’ve walked through the history of OSRS skill attempts, unconstructive arguments, various aspects of modern skill design philosophy, and the OSRS Team and skill design process. When you take it all together, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the thought that needs to go into a modern skill and all the issues that might prevent its success. Complexity, naming conventions, categorizations, integration, rewards and motivations, bankstanding and buyables, the difficulties of skill bloat, balancing, and skill endgames, aesthetics, the design process, public presentation, development effort, democracy and polling - these are the challenges of designing and introducing modern skills. To have to cope with it all is draining and maybe even impossible, and therefore it begs the question: is trying to get a new skill even worth it?
Maybe.
Thanks for reading.
Tl;dr: Designing a modern skill requires acknowledging the vast history of Runescape, understanding why players make certain criticisms and what exactly they’re saying in terms of game mechanics, before finally developing solutions. Only then can you subject your ideas to a polling system that is built to oversimplify them.
submitted by ScreteMonge to 2007scape [link] [comments]

[FO4] Fallout 4 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Build Guide.

Alright you dicks. This is gonna get long. (But it did go GOLD! thanks anon!)
https://i.imgur.com/ae9pwNF.png (putting this here to change the cover photo.)
I've seen a lot of posts asking how to make your fallout playthrough more akin to a "Metro" experience, or a "STALKER" experience. Well guess what...this guy is here, he's bored enough at work, he just bought a new keyboard, and hes fuckin ready to help you get your shit together. and just like some guy from the desert said...I never said it would be easy, I just said it would be worth it...and stable. we are really going for stability here
After playing STALKER COC periodically over the years and most recently for like 4 months straight (and even making a mod for it (shameless plug) https://www.moddb.com/mods/call-of-chernobyl/addons/stcop-soundoverhaul) I have walked over every single inch of that game and I can say that it not only kicks ass...but that compared to a Bethesda game it has all the bugs with half the content. I've done EVERYTHING in that game and most of its mods. And if you're like me, you're always looking for more people to murder, more loot, more guns, and more fun to partake in while wandering a post apocalyptic wasteland. Guess what, Fallout has a shitload of content, so you're in luck. Plus it's a great candidate for uploading an unholy amount of mods while maintaining relative stability. Which is exactly the right kind of environment we need for our particular crusade and the reason I installed it in the first place.
What Fallout 4 lacks is direction. It's like a 50's satire/post apocalyptic/shooterpg/serious/cartoony/silly/scary...thing. its all over the fuckin place. WE are going to give this game some direction
NOW before we go any further. I dont want to hear anyone bitching about it not being exactly like STALKER. of course its not. Theyre different games, that's why you paid money for each of them (hopefully). One of them is a russian sci-fi-horror masterpiece, the other is a quasi-50's nuclear survival mix up. Theyre inherently different. One of them is russian weird, the other one is 50's kitsch. and this is also personal preference for what *I* like (but i think you'll genuinely enjoy, and that you can tailor to your own tastes). There are a number of mods that you can add to get it more like stalker (armor, weapons blah blah)...im not going for stalker recreation...im going for that FEELING you get when you play stalker. that FEELING like you need to shower and write home to babushka. So you're going to have to look past some of this shit and really focus on gameplay, or keep in mind that specific mods in specific categories can be swapped out to your liking. Dig it? Good.
First fuckin things first. We need to look at what makes Metro and STALKER the experiences they are (you can skip this shit if you want, but for me it was important to look at when making my game play the way I wanted it to).
ATMOSPHERE:
STALKER is absolutely DRIPPING with specific things. It's more than "cheeki breeki" memes, russian pseudo-realism, and an unstable game engine ripe with funky glitches and crashes (in that respect its identical to Fallout).
If STALKER nails one thing right... its DREAD. It makes you feel the urge to explore but making you apprehensive to do so. You want to walk outside and see what kind of rad shit is out there, but you are constantly checking your inventory to make sure you have what you need, and always looking over your shoulder for those fucking snorks.
Its a masterclass in uncomfortable tension immersion. Everything about it is there to pull you in and make you feel like toasted shit. The music, the tone, the tonemapping, the atmosphere (find me a review that doesn't have the word "atmosphere" in it of STALKER and I'll...do nothing but be surprised) buuut, it also makes you curious as to what's out there in the world. I still feel like im discovering new shit whenever I play COC, and I think that compelling mix of dread horror, exploration and a touch of non hampering realism mixes well into something fun and digestable. There's no faux-rpg nonsense, theres no "you cant fight this guy because you aren't the right level" bullshit. It's a matter of "do you have enough food, enough anti-rad, and enough firepower to not only make it there, but wade through the shit, and then have enough room in your backpack to haul back the loot?" Never once have I felt like it was hampered by any of it's mechanics.
SO, the things we need to pay attention to in recreating this in a different game:
--ATMOSPHERE - the main contributors to this iconic tension are the sounds (music is the biggest one by far...the music in STALKER set the entire tone, creaks, groans) the ominous fear of attack at any second, the look of the game (drop shadows from flashlights (in fallout if you want this add "bAllowShadowcasterNPCLights = 1" in your mygames\fallout4\Fallout4Prefs.ini), the tonemap (very grey and desolate) the rusted burnt out industrial areas, brutalist buildings etc) and the feeling of the unknown. that game is really interesting because you wanna know what the fuck else is out there. even when you think you've seen it all there is some weird curve balls thrown at you and it's a world you've never seen before (for the record...that last one is the hardest to recreate and until someone (im working on it) makes an anomaly mod for Fallout 4 it is something you're going to have to live without).
--GAMEPLAY - STALKER has unique gameplay where it's like a stripped down shooter, a stripped down RPG, an experiment in horror, and at the time...focused entirely on keeping you immersed. The vanilla gunplay is okay, the non-human enemies look ridiculous minus the bloodsuckers, and the snorks (snorks look dumb, but i'd be damned if they don't scare my britches off every fucking time i see one). The vanilla weapons aren't great, the firefights are okay. Buuuut. again, that feeling of wanting to explore. that feeling of wanting to get out there and see what the fuck is going on...thats powerful. because there are some games that are ripe with stuff to do, but i dont really want to go out and do it. im like "meh". but the discovery feeling is really important in STALKER, and it's also a feeling of overcoming your own fear, and the relief you get when you get back to your stash like "ah fuck...i made it". you should dread going outside your door and relish when you get back. You are also against enemies that are scary. They can be killed, there really arent any that are particularly hard to kill, but they pose a challenge in the way they kill you, or the circumstances you encounter them in (enemies that you need to run away from. well you just ran into one in a small room and now you're getting jacked). Also the gunplay feels relatively realistic as far as damage. Fallout is a bulletsponge nightmare. Stalker is headshots do work...so we are going to need to overhaul the damage system
TWO MAIN THINGS WE NEED TO RECREATE FROM STALKER - ATMOSPHERE & UNIQUE GAMEPLA
Now, Metro has arguably some of the best gameplay mechanics of any AAA first person shooter. they took the cliches and flipped them on their ass. The need to plan your gear as IMPERATIVE. The environment makes a difference on what you carry. The modularity of weapons plays a huge role in how you approach a situation and how you deploy. if you know you're going to be getting in long range skirmishes you loadout. if youre heading into a linear part...well buddy youll be packing a shotgun. they made ammo hard to get, they made health kits a strategy, and they made your gear and environment play in a way that if you leave your base without being properly prepared you WILL NOT succeed. Period. not to mention it does have many of the qualities listed in STALKER. but for me...STALKER works better. Metro is amazing, but STALKER feels more organic in atmosphere. but METRO feels more proper in gameplay. Also...Metro Exodus is a serious contendor for one of the best looking video games ever made. I was absolutely blown the fuck away while playing it. and this fidelity is possible depending on your hardware within Fallout. Not exact...but you can treat yourself to a graphical wonderland depending on your taste and specs. it is possible.

so things we need to recreate:
--GRAPHICS - What fallout does have is fluid visuals...unfortunately they are ugly, they look decidedly last gen, and they are unoptimized. its undeniable. but they do fit well together. Metro is also very fluid looking, it looks like ONE guy made the entire game in the same art style. its gorgeous. not to mention the fidelity is breathtaking. you can look at a texture through a scope and it still looks good. you can open a door and the entire room looks solid, fleshed out, and tended to. When we are modding the visuals of a game we dont want conflicting art styles in our texture packs, we dont want an ENB on there that clashes with the base game, and more than anything we want the entire game to elicit a mood. We want to feel immersed in a post apocalyptic wasteland that is actually serious...not a kitschy cartoon. If you enjoy that fine...but for me...i want dismal. I want heavy.
--GAMEPLAY - Metro has one of my favorite things that i've touched on multiple times throughout this long ass tirade...you need to plan ahead. if you leave without being equipped, if you're lopsided in your equipment (too much ammo not enough health kits, or not enough filters) you will fail...or at the very last have a hard fuckin time accomplishing your goals. BUT it never reaches the point of impossible, and it never hampers the gameplay. It's not like Tarkov where any mistake absolutely beats the shit out of you. we still want to have fun. Not to mention the guns in Metro feel solid, they shoot hard, it feels like you're wrecking on shit when you're fighting...and fortunately for us Fallout 4 does have excellent base shooting mechanics...we just need to mitigate the bulletsponge and be sure that we are making both parties lethal. you want to question whether you should engage a target, or whether you should sneak by.
--STORY - Sorry buddy...Metro Exodus had a killer story and you're stuck trying to find your ugly ass baby. Not much we can do about that. No Anna either...that russian minx. buuut, Curie is kinda similar and shes just a good person (robot?) all around, give her a shot.

IN CONCLUSION: what we are looking to recreate is a highly atmospheric, lethal experience that looks great, plays great, runs great, and mimics the idea of a realistic, threatening, resource scarce, overwhelming nuclear wasteland as best as possible with minimal gear you may find laying around if shit hit the fan and you found yourself looting a body. to me that means real world tactical gear, real world weapons, survival options, scavenging and finding real world items. keep in mind I'm a huge military/gun/tactics nerd, so this might be a little tacticool for some...thats fine, but for me it really makes a great experience and I think you'll like it too.
We are limited to specific parameters. again...no anomalies, no metro or stalker monsters, and no weird russian shit. but we can work with what we have, and while it wont be exact in every aspect...the feeling, mood, and experience is what we are looking to recreate here.

YOU CAN SKIP THAT OTHER SHIT AND START READING HERE:

Recommended Mod Manager - Vortex. (but really, mod how you like. im not here to judge.)

Disclaimer: if you break your game...well. reinstall it. This setup has worked for me for over a month now solid. If it doesn't work for you or it doesn't fit your style, either add mods that fit your style, delete mods that dont, or dont follow this guide.

TWO THINGS:

  1. DONT ENABLE MODS UNTIL YOU ARE OUT OF THE VAULT (use "start me up")
  2. CHECK ALL REQUIREMENTS BEFORE INSTALLING MODS. IF SOMETHING DOESN'T WORK CHANCES ARE YOU MISSED ONE ITS DEPENDENCIES.

** WEAPONS :
(What kind of STALKER playthrough would you have if you didn't have a good arsenal?
also...this is in no way exhaustive, you can add any weapons mods you want. im just sticking in the basics; rifles, snipers, smgs, shotguns. find whatever you want and throw them in, but these are guaranteed to not conflict or mess with game.)
AK-400 - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/36873)
AK-400 WEAPON REPLACER (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/38602)
AK47/74 MODULAR MOD (this is on GUNNETWORK.org because it does have ripped assets from Tarkov, but the work is incredible, and uses the AK400 as a base, but adds way more customization options and more real world weapons. its a must if you're a gun nut)
RU556 M4 - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/22536 / https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/35712)
RU556 WEAPON REPLACER - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/33409)
Winchester 1987 Shotgun - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/33313?tab=description)
MPX (great submachine gun) - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/34628)
L96A1 (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/38554) (for the record, i dont use this mod anymore...the weapon is SEVERELY underpowered, and i think sniper rifles should be 120-150 HP per shot. if you know CK you can bump this up, but i dont use this mod, i just use the stock in game sniper rifle because its rad.)
Browning Hi-power pistol (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/20143)
Browning hi-Power replacer (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/33789)
OPTIONAL WEAPON MODS
Lowered Weapons with a button (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/6364)
Shell Rain (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/870) (not needed but for no performance impact...get it)
Muzzle Flash Shadow (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/2571/?tab=2&navtag=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nexusmods.com%2Ffallout4%2Fajax%2Fmodfiles%2F%3Fid%3D2571&pUp=1)
Basic Ammo Crafting (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/30048) (not needed, but for me...its a must.)
-
NOTE: There are holster mods for all of these weapons. You can find them if you want them. They're not needed hence not included for brevity (brevity...HA!)

** APPEARANCE :
(This will cover things like player armor, enemy armor, and NPC appearance for all your dress up needs).
AWKCR - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/6091/) (MOST mods need this, download it)
ArmorSmith Extended - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/2228) (again...used by tons of mods)
PLAYER APPEARANCE //
High Speed Caps - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/31178) (hats...cool ones)
CROSS Headset - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/10131) (you dont want to go deaf buddy)
BF4 Armor pack (cant link this, its on gunnetwork.org, go find it. looks amazing).
Modular Plate Carrier (cant link this one either, found on gunnetwork.org. search "asnavaro plate carrier")
NPC APPEARANCE //
Militarized Minutemen (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/29853) (makes them not lame looking)
Raiders in Rags (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/27176) (makes raiders anywhere from normal people just looking for a bite, to rust covered hard asses)
The Mercenary (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/20088) (adds a bunch of sweet armor for NPCs and character)
BF4 brotherhood of steel replacer (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HTHJ7S_RTch8y-RptUfY67_b66JL4GmK/view?usp=sharing) (requires BF4 armor pack)
GHOULS //
(2 mods...choose which one you prefer)
D.E.C.A.Y. https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/2500 (overhauls them completely with added shit. I like keeping my load as light as possible...sort of. So i use the next one, but this mod is GREAT).
More Feral Ghouls (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/36653) (Adds more variety to the ghouls but keeps them fast and creepy. Light, easy, performance friendly.)

** GAMEPLAY :
(these will change things in game that will divert the feeling from Fallout to a more...not fallout feel. also just nice shit to have.)
ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE - Better Locational Damage - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/3815) (I left this completely stock how it came and have had ZERO issues. it runs perfectly, and completely mitigates the bulletsponge that fallout 4 is famous for, turning this game from an "RPG" into a satisfying shooter).
Monsters to Raiders - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/17678) (check whatever you want during the installer...i personally turned off all the fucking flies, and weird monsters because fuck those fucking things, why wont you die when i shoot you with a shotgun 12 times, why are you like this, what kind of sick joke are you playing, who programmed this, oh my GOD im going to kill someone, and pretty much only left super mutants, synths, deathclaws, and humans of course)
Endless Warfare - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/17626) (this one took a fat minute to get configured right, and while I cant share my setup with you if you do use it be sure to change the Randomness of the spawnspots, otherwise youll have 20 guys spawning at random places all over the map fighting each other...not really what you're going for. It adds just the perfect amount of random fights, random ambushes, and most importantly...performance. it turns a simple walk to the corner for some aluminum cans into a paranoid ridden pain in the ass, keeping you on your toes the entire time.)
Survival Options - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/14650) (this mod makes it so playing on survival mode, which you should be doing, is less of a pain in the ass...allowing saves during cell changes, sleeping, eating, whatever. Enabling fast travel, etc. Set it up however you want. but its a must. set it up according to your tastes).
Start Me Up - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/18946) (lets you skip the intro).
Also mentioned by Nebuchadnezzer2 but never played with - Fast Start (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/29227 ) Skip the intro)
Gas Masks of the Wasteland - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/17491) (seriously a game changer. I do not use the weather mod included, i use NAC which is included below, but this adds a really important mechanic on scarce resources, and really makes preparing all the more important. I have it set to only run when it rains/rad storms. All the time isnt really my cup of tea.)


** GRAPHICS :
(These will make your game gorgeous)
TEXTURE PACKS.
Enhanced Blood Textures - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/212/) (performance friendly).
Werefull's realistic blood (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/31646) (makes the blood less corny.)
FlaconOil Retexture pack - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/3747?tab=description) (I run the 2k, looks fantastic).
Valius Texture pack - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/318) (i run the 4k pack because it is breathtakingly on point)
Vivid Fallout texture pack. - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/25714) (2k all day)
-- Other visual overhauls.
Enhanced Lights and FX - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/13596) (makes interiors gorgeous, dark and dynamic. Taxing.)
Boston FPS Fix (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/26286) (it...fixes...the fps in boston).
NAC weather mod - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/7657) (this adds more weather but also flattens the image to a more realistic and dry look. An INSANE amount of options to tailor it to your experience. Darker Nights, Darker interiors, sscreen effects...it is hard to get down right, but once youve got it set it really can facelift your entire game. It can look a little pale, recommend coupling with a good ENB. (i will include a link to my personal setting that I think looks really nice. Desolate but realistic...its not too washed out, but also not too colorful. I think its got a great look and ran on a 660 FTW with SSAO turned off (since then has been turned on and tuned. it is the one included with NAC and i take no credit whatsoever. its simply my preset files).
ENB - choose whichever you like. if you are interested you can use my preset included below (edited NAC preset, i take no credit) BUT YOU WILL NEED TO DOWNLOAD THE ENB BINARIES FROM (http://enbdev.com/mod_fallout4_v0385.htm) AND INSTALL THEM FIRST.
Pip-Boy Flashlight - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/10840) ( as far as I'm concerned one of the defining features of STALKER when i first played it was the drop shadow from the flashlight. it absolutely blew my mind and how realistic it looked and to this day adds depth to scenes that some games still havent achieved. For a STALKER playthrough this is an absolute must have. relatively performance friendly too. BE SURE TO ENABLE SHADOWS. (also, if you know anything about CK you can change weapon lights to spotlights with shadows, completely changing the visuals of the game too, its super easy if you dare))
Honorable Mentions:
FO4 Enhanced Color Correction (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/5060) (this mod is an absolute win as far as I'm concerned. He corrected the colors of the game with ZERO performance loss and did it perfectly. It deepens the scenes and really touches up every shortcoming from the vanilla game with default shaders. IF YOU ARE RUNNING AN OLDER CARD (GTX 660 or below) THIS PACK IS A MUST. If you want a great looking game that runs well with lower specs avoid ENBs and give this a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised.)
Dynamic Lights and Shadows (VERY VERY TAXING. USE WITH CAUTION) - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/34572) (Makes shit look absolutely bananas outside)
NOTE: People like to run grass mods. I dont run any. The performance impact even on halfway decent rigs like mine is just unacceptable for the looks it gives me. I think the default foliage is fine, its a little sparse but for consistent performance I've had to overlook foliage mods. If you want one, search for it. See performance notes below for possible issues when installing them. If any readers have any suggestions that dont break precombines please let me know.)

LAST ONE
IMMERSION:
(These will make sure you never want to go outside again.)
MUSIC MODS (what would STALKER be without the music? seriously).
STALKER music mod - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/36844/) (this ones good but for some reason it never seemed to properly fit in the Fallout universe for me. So...i ended up using this next mod)
Spaceout Ambient Music Overhaul - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/959/?)) (this mod just slays. the music works PERFECTLY for the fallout universe. interiors are creepier. Night time is scary as fuck. Daytime has an epic melancholic feel to them. This mod was exactly what I was looking for in a STALKER-esque music mod. You should give it a shot. If you dont love it, head back to the STALKER music mod, no harm no foul.)
HUD MODS (the Fallout 4 HUD is in your face like Vin Diesel. Lets fix that.)
HUD Framework - (you need this to run gas masks anyway, just be sure to install it before the next one).
DEF_UI - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/10654) (lets you edit your own HUD, just follow the instructions. if you're not into that I'm going to include my preset with my ENB setup as well (again...all credit to the authors, these are just my edits.) if youre not into THAT, then check the requirements list on DEF_UI's nexus page and you can see the infinite list of other peoples presets. Find one that fits your taste.)
No More Cash Register Noise - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/100/?)) (seriously who thought hearing that every 5 seconds was a good idea? NOTE, i think disabling the widget that pops up during XP gain in DEF_UI will make that noise stop. I dont have this mod installed anymore and my HUD turns off that widget...so maybe? Give it a shot on your own setup.)
Shut The Followers Up - (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/24590) (turned my experience of having someone follow me around just chatty kathy as fuck, acting like nothing was wrong during our disease ridden excursion through a desolate nightmare, with NPC firefights plagued by supposed to be hardcore ass wasteland badasses saying absolutely ridiculous shit mid fight, to a much more realistic experience composed of fights being a surprise without anyone shouting their intentions straight at their enemies. This mod is a MUST if you like followers or want more immersive combat. It really ratchets up the intensity with such a simple change.)
Realistic Death Physics (https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/4371?tab=description) (no longer will people fly across the room when you shoot em.)


LOAD ORDER FROM TOP TO BOTTOM (pro-tip, if you want this mod order, simply install in this order with Vortex...not needed but you could run into potential conflicts if installed differently).
(to be honest, i've only had to move around a few mods for this to work properly, namely pip-boy flashlight)
-
Pip-Boy Flashlight
Flacanoil texture pack
Valius textures
Werefulls Realistic Blood
Winchester 1897
Shut the followers up
Survival options.
enhanced lights and fx
shell rain
realistic death phyysics
raiders in rags
ru556 armory project
no combat music (added by BLD)
cross uni headset
better locational damage
basic ammo crafting
Gas Masks of the Wasteland.
BOS BF4 armor replacer (found on gunnetwork)
BF4 armor pack (found on gunnetwork)
Button lowered weapons
AK400
High Speed Caps (hats mod)
mercenary
militarized minutemen
modular AK (found on gunnetwork)
more ghouls (called ghoulblood in vortex)
RU556
monsters to raiders plugins (theres like 9 of em)
BLD level lists
MPX weapon
Better locational damage
Armorsmith extended
enhanced blood
vivid fallout
NAC
endless warfare
boston fps fix
everything else related to AWKCR
(there are multiple plugins that i skipped over, but they are arbitrarily stacked in the load order, and if not listed they wont cause issues if they are loaded differently. this list is simply provided as a template if issues do arise in your game and you want to know where to put something. it is not an end all be all optimized list. my shit works good, so i included it.)
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR.
Look, this list isnt going to satisfy everyone. You're inevitably going to go down the mod rabbit hole just sticking completely useless shit in your game. That's half the fun. So heres some advice.
If you need to know anything about modding Fallout 4 is that it'll make you think it's running well...when you really just broke some shit that you'll run into six hours from now which either demands reloading an old save, or reinstalling the game. That said I'm going to make your life easier with some quick tips.
-
AVOID ANYTHING THAT BREAKS PREVIS/PRECOMBINES. Dont know what they are? Tough shit. Don't touch em. Mods that edit exterior cells (that dont include rebuilt precombines) will break them, and they will make your game run like shit. Bethesda's half assed optimization system is hanging on by a thin thin thread, and as soon as its broken its reload or live with it. Ask my 128 hour character how he felt about returning back to a 12 hour save because I broke downtown Boston and had to reinstall the game. He wasn't very excited. In fact his is now driving a bro-dozer blaming his problems on poor people like a complete idiot. Confederate flag sticking out of the bed, he hasn't shaved in weeks, smoking pyramids, its a disaster.
RULE OF THUMB FOR THESE. Stay away from exterior environment mods, flora overhaul mods and scrap mods (which sucks because i really like having a clean house...in game). Texture packs and shit are fine, but mods that edit cells will degrade your performance unless you know how to rebuild precombines...which some people do but odds are you're not one of them. Things that change the size of grass aren't a big deal...but ReGrowth, Spring Cleaning, and shit like that? yeah. Messed my game right up.
OVERLY TAXING ENB'S. Look, you want your game to look good. I get that. But there are ENB's out there that have plenty of useless shit enabled that does nothing but bog your system down. Poorly optimized DOF shaders, SSIL with the quality set to high that isnt turned on enough to even be noticable. shit like that. You can make a performance friendly post processing preset that fits your style very easily...and you can probably find someone who did it for you, better than you can, that actually runs well. Avoid shitty ENBs, and be sure to check off any features that don't make a noticeable difference, or that are too taxing for your setup. nothing wrong with dialing shit back for the sweet 60
CONCERNING TEXTURES It is imperative that you texture you game according to your specs. if you have less than 8GB VRAM try all 2k textures, if you have less use 1k. prioritize what you look at the most. I personally want anything im really close to to look great, therefore I made sure the packs that affected interiors were higher resolution. 2k for the outdoors stuff. The work these guys put into their packs is insane...and to honest they all look great on any resolution. So just work around your specs and youll make a great looking game. my card is 8GB, and these packs coupled with the armor packs and stuff equals out to be about 7.6 gigs of shit on my card. and i rarely experience stutter (this game isnt perfect...and does stutter no matter how clean your mod list is), so if you have a 1070 or up, these texture packs are the perfect combination of looks and performance.)
NVIDIA USERS - have Geforce Experience optimize the game for you. It fixed some shadow shit for me and a few other things. I avoided it until like last week, and was pleasantly surprised at how well it made my game run. Once it optimized the game, I then went in and bumped some of the settings down, just because no matter what you're running, shadows in this game will beat your computer up. and for very little difference you can run them on medium and have great fps + visuals.
AVOID FPS OVER 60 - The game breaks over a certain FPS. Do what you want, but mine is limited to 60 in my ENB. Zero issues. "but my monitorrrr", stop. This game is poorly made. Either work around it, or play something else. (here come the "i run it at 118 just fine!" people. good for you.)
-
FEEL FREE TO UNINSTALL AND REINSTALL SPECIFIC MODS AT WILL. Texture mods, Audio mods, small changes that are only loaded resources...swap em in and out at will. Heavier mods like Gas Masks, and NAC, be sure to follow their uninstall instructions. You can potentially break you game. I mean...i fuckin uninstall random shit it all the time, but im a moron. Don't be a moron like me.
-
MY SPECS (provided to compare whether you can run this setup...if you dont meet these simply turn down the graphically demanding mods and you should be fine.)
I5-4670 3.4 ghz
16GB 10600 RAM
Samsung Evo 860 500gb
ASUS H87M Plus
Some 550w PSU.
Gigabyte G1 GTX 1070 8GB
Custom Ducky One 2 Mini 60% Keyboard (not that its really important...i just want you to know that I have one, and that it is in fact amazing, and I dont even know what a ForkKnife is.)
NOTE:
I did not install the Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch. I am sure this mod list would work with it just fine, but it's been running so well since i had to revert to another save that I haven't installed it. but normally i recommend Unofficial Patches to everyone. If you have issues with the patch installed please let me know
IN CONCLUSION - Fallout 4 is a fickle fickle...FICKLE asshole of a mistress, and thats even before you mod it. you will spend a lot of time tweaking an infinite number of things. Shadows mainly. You'll spend two weeks tweaking shadows. But if you take the time and mod your game responsibly you can have a completely different experience that runs smooth, caters to your taste, and gives you that excruciatingly ominous, foreboding, sketched out, melancholic, nightmare stricken feeling when you step into those STALKER boots, or when you pull down your METRO mask. It is possible. Just take it easy, install one mod at a time, make sure they activate, and as platitudinous as it is...have fun. It's not about the destination, its about the potentially frustrating ass journey. Right?
Here is a link to my ENB preset (edited NAC. again, I take ZERO credit) https://www.mediafire.com/file/bf1qd0r4qlcsm2l/STALKER_MOD_FILES.zip/file
Here is an obligatory Imgur album with screenshots of some sweet shit (please dont ask where I got the mods, its all contained in that 32222 character count wall of text - https://imgur.com/a/lgFlWJw
reupload these anywhere, do whatever you want with them. I do not care. punk rock).
submitted by cortlong to FalloutMods [link] [comments]

How to Run All Mechwarrior 4 Games on Windows 10

Update (08/05/2020): Hey guys, sorry for the delay on this install guide, but I have been having some health problems this year and a new career move that have been taking my full attention. Things are starting to calm down in my personal life and I find I am having more free time and I have started to dig back into the rewrite of this tutorial. Hopefully I should be able to finish this project in the next few months. This rewrite will be my final one, I put a lot of years into this tutorial and I feel it's just time to move on to other things. I am going to put all my materials into the new rewrite so others can pick up the torch and carry on in my stead.
Update (11/24/2019): I have finally managed to get all the MechWarrior 4 games running smooth and reliably again using dgvoodoo2, I am currently fine tuning the setting to improve the in game visuals and as soon as I have a finished product I will rewrite this tutorial to reflect my findings. It's busy for me as it is getting into the holiday season so it might take a few weeks for me to finish the rewrite. Check back soon.
Update (11/21/2019): One of the guys in the MechWarrior 4 Discord just linked me to a video that pointed out a crucial element that was preventing me and my fellow MechWarrior modders from getting this game to run, the windows update in October that killed the game was blocking setup files from populating new data. Now that we know this we can make a simple workaround and get the ball rolling on this install tutorial. Big thanks to YouTuber Ostego Lectric for finding this fix.
Update (11/18/2019):I have been communicating with other game modders and have been experimenting in conjunction with them on how to get around some of the issues in Windows 10 that is preventing these games from running in a stable and playable manner. I am going to attempt to use a glide wrapper like DXwnd, mechvm, dosbox, or dgVoodoo2, witch should make it possible to trick new graphics cards to communicate with the older direct x and open gl data that these games use. As you guys already know Microsoft has a bad habit of screwing something up every time they launch and update to windows 10, I am going to employ a few methods to work around windows 10 limitations and get these games to launch and run reliably. I am still working on these solutions in my spare time but I am nearly done and I will update this tutorial with the new install methods when they are ready. Stay tuned Mechwarriors.
P.S.: Big shoutout to HattedSandwich and CaptainWabbit for the info that got me started on this fix and to the guys in the Mechwarrior Discord Channel for all their help. This tutorial would have been dead a long time ago if it wasn't for you guys. Thanks Everyone!
Update (11/16/2019): I updated the "Playing With Game Controllers" section of this Tutorial. I added several options to map controllers and made sure to include plenty of links on where to buy the HOTAS controllers and for tutorials on how to use the mapping software. The old controller mapping software "Pinnacle Game Profiler" is dead and no longer in development. It has been replaced by the Padstarr Gamepad Software.
Update (10/01/2019): The only stable way to currently run the Mechwarrior 4 games is to run Windows XP on a virtual machine. I have tips on how to do this at the bottom of this tutorial.
Update (2/01/2019): I am working on a new tutorial for this post, I am going to update the work around to get these games working on windows 10 by using the Wine D3D DLLs. I am also updating the section on using game controllers in mechwarrior 4 as the Pinnacle Game Profiler doesn't seem to be working in the current windows 10 and the support forum on the Pinnacle website is shut down. Last I heard the software developer for Pinnacle died and they are trying to find a replacement for him. I have an alternative to pinnacle witch is free, vJoy+UCR, this will allow customization of both the axes and button mapping. This update will be coming soon.
Update (5/10/2018): For those of you who have been asking about getting Vengeance and Black Knights to work with the latest game patch, I am working on it, when I get them working I will update to tutorial to include the patch. Additionally the Clan and Inner-sphere Mech Packs no longer seem to be working on Windows 10, I am looking into a fix for this issue and I will post the fix as soon as I have it.
Update (5/9/2018): I added some additional tips to the "Troubleshooting" section of the tutorial. Also, Game Ranger is the only stable way I have found to get Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries to work in online multiplayer. Vengeance and Black knight do not work in online multiplayer and they do not work with Game Ranger. If you want to play online, you will have to use game Ranger with Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries.
Update (4/26/2018): Alternate download links have been posted in the "Download the Mechwarrior 4 Game Files" section of the tutorial for Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries MekTek MP3.1.
Update (4/26/2018): The download links for Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries MekTek MP3.1 is currently down, I am working on a new source for the game files. I will have a new set of links posted ASAP.
Update (4/20/2018): I fixed the issue of the joystick function crashing the game when I start Vengeance or Black Knight. Both are working with the joy stick now. You can delete the /gosnovideo switch from the target line in the shortcut file.
Update (4/16/2018): Game Ranger will only work with Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries MekTek MP3.1 release #51.03.01.0030c. Vengeance and Black Knight will not work with Game Ranger. This is due to the way Game Ranger executes the .exe files for the games.
I have also added installation instructions for the Clan Mech Pack and the Inner Sphere Mech Pack for Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance/Black Knight.
Update (4/15/2018): I have updated this tutorial with the latest fixes to get all of the mech warrior 4 games working on windows 10.
I have fixed the fallowing issues:

How to Run All Mechwarrior 4 Games on Windows 10

Install Direct Play

  1. Before you do anything make sure you install the Direct Play Windows Component first.
  2. Right click Start
  3. Click Programs and Features
  4. Click Turn Windows Features On or Off
  5. Make sure there is a check in Legacy Components
  6. Click the + to expand
  7. Check the box for Direct Play
  8. Windows will now install/enable the Direct Play Windows Component

Download the Mechwarrior 4 Game Files

  1. For the purposes of this tutorial I am going to use the standard window download directory “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads”
  2. Download Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance here
    • Patch ver. 2.0 here
    • NoCD Executable here
  3. Download Mechwarrior 4: Black Knight Expansion here
    • NoCD Executable here
  4. Download Mechwarrior 4: Clan Mech Pack here
  5. Download Mechwarrior 4: Inner Sphere Mech Pack here
  6. Download Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries Origional Retail Version here
  7. Download Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries MekTek MP3.1 Release #51.03.01.0017 here
  8. Download the three patch files to patch Mechwarrior 4 to MP3.1 Release #51.03.01.0030c here
  9. If you are installing the MekTek MP3.1 Release #51.03.01.0030c version of the game you will need to install 7zip to extract the file folders containing the game files.
  10. Download dgVoodoo2 here
    • This website is false flagged on some browsers as a harmful site do to dgVoodoo2 being mistaken for a computer virus, this site is 100% safe to use.

Install Your Mechwarrior 4 Games

Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance (CD/ISO)
  1. Navigate to the download directory “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads”
  2. Locate the file titled MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks.7z
  3. Right click on the file MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks.7z and select 7-Zip then select Extract to “MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks\”
  4. Install the game from the installation disks if you have them. If you have an ISO file of the game (virtual copy of the disk) mount the ISO to a virtual drive and install the game. You can find instructions for mounting and running ISO files to virtual drives here.
  5. Patch to version 2.0
    • Navigate to the download directory “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\MW4mercs\MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks\MechWarrior 4 Vengeance\MW4 Update 2.0”
    • Locate the file PatchApply.exe
    • Right click on PatchApply.exe and select Run As Administrator
    • Fallow the prompts and install the patch
    • Your game is now patched to Ver. 2.0
  6. Replace MW4.exe with the NoCD cracked version
    • Navigate to the download directory “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\MW4mercs\MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks\MechWarrior 4 Vengeance”
    • Locate the NoCD cracked MW4.exe file
    • Drag and drop the MW4.exe file into your games install directory “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\MechWarrior Vengeance”
    • Overwrite and replace the original MW4.exe with the NoCD cracked version
  7. Apply compatibility settings
    • Locate the MechWarrior Vengeance desktop shortcut
    • Right click on the MechWarrior Vengeance desktop shortcut
    • Select Properties
    • In the Shortcut Tab locate the line titled Target
    • Copy paste the fallowing command line script after the file path director so it looks like this "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\MechWarrior Vengeance\mw4.exe" -32 -window -f 1024x768 -gl -GameTime.MaxVariableFps 60 /gosnovideo /gosnojoystick
    • Next navigate to the Compatibility Tab
    • locate the line titled Compatibility Mode
    • Check the box next to the line titled Run This Program In Compatibility Mode For
    • In the drop down menu select Windows XP (Service Pack 3)
    • Next navigate to the line titled Settings
    • Check the box next to the line titled Disable Display Scaling On High DPI Setting
    • Check the box next to the line titled Run This Program As An Administrator
    • Navigate to the button that says Apply
    • Click the apply button
    • Next navigate to the OK button
    • Click the OK button
    • Next double click on the desktop short cut and play the game
  8. You can switch between windowed view and full screen view by pressing Alt+Enter on your keyboard
Mechwarrior 4: Black Knight (CD/ISO)
  1. Install the game from the installation disks if you have them. If you have an ISO file of the game (virtual copy of the disk) mount the ISO to a virtual drive and install the game. You can find instructions for mounting and running ISO files to virtual drives here.
  2. Replace MW4x.exe with the NoCD cracked version
    • Navigate to the download directory “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\MW4mercs\MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks\Black Knight Expansion”
    • Locate the NoCD cracked “MW4x.exe” file
    • Drag and drop the “MW4x.exe” file into your games install directory “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\MechWarrior Vengeance\mw4x”
    • Overwrite and replace the original MW4x.exe with the NoCD cracked version
  3. Apply compatibility settings
    • Locate the MechWarrior Black Knight desktop shortcut
    • Right click on the MechWarrior Black Knight desktop shortcut
    • Select Properties
    • In the Shortcut Tab locate the line titled Target
    • Copy paste the fallowing command line script after the file path directory so it looks like this "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\MechWarrior Vengeance\mw4x\MW4x.exe" -32 -window -f 1024x768 -gl -GameTime.MaxVariableFps 60 /gosnovideo /gosnojoystick
    • Next navigate to the Compatibility Tab
    • locate the line titled Compatibility Mode
    • Check the box next to the line titled Run This Program In Compatibility Mode For
    • In the drop down menu select Windows XP (Service Pack 3)
    • Next navigate to the line titled Settings
    • Check the box next to the line titled Disable Display Scaling On High DPI Setting
    • Check the box next to the line titled Run This Program As An Administrator
    • Navigate to the button that says Apply
    • Click the apply button
    • Next navigate to the OK button
    • Click the OK button
    • Double click on the desktop short cut and play the game
  4. You can switch between windowed view and full screen view by pressing Alt+Enter on your keyboard
Mechwarrior 4: Clan Mech Pack
  1. Go to your download directory "C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\MW4mercs"
  2. Locate the folder titled MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks and open it.
  3. Locate the folder titled Clan Mech Pak
  4. Locate the file titled MW4CLAN.iso, right click and mount the ISO image.
  5. You can find instructions for mounting and running ISO files to virtual drives here.
  6. Install the Clan Mech Pack, enter the serial number from the file Serial.txt when prompted to enter the serial number. The file Serial.txt for the Clan Meck Pack is located in "C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\MW4mercs\MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks\Clan Mech Pak"
  7. When prompted to install a game patch to upgrade to a newer version, decline the patch. Do not patch the game from the disk or your copy of Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance/Black Knight will fail to start when executed.
  8. You have now installed the Clan Mech Pack for Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance/Black Knight
Mechwarrior 4: Inner Sphere Mech Pack
  1. Go to your download directory "C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\MW4mercs"
  2. Locate the folder titled MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks and open it.
  3. Locate the folder titled Inner Sphere Mech Pak
  4. Locate the file titled INNERSPHERE.iso, right click and mount the ISO image.
  5. You can find instructions for mounting and running ISO files to virtual drives here.
  6. Install the Inner Sphere Mech Pack, enter the serial number from the file Serial.txt when prompted to enter the serial number. The file Serial.txt for the Inner Sphere Meck Pack is located in "C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\MW4mercs\MechWarriors 4 Vengeance_Expansion_MechPaks\Inner Sphere Mech Pak"
  7. When prompted to install a game patch to upgrade to a newer version, decline the patch. Do not patch the game from the disk or your copy of Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance/Black Knight will fail to start when executed.
  8. You have now installed the Inner Sphere Mech Pack for Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance/Black Knight
Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries MekTek MP3.1
  1. Navigate to the download directory “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads”
  2. Locate the file titled MW4.3.1.w.maps.7z
  3. Right click on the file MW4.3.1.w.maps.7z and select 7-Zip then select Extract to “MW4.3.1.w.maps”
  4. Navigate to the folder MW4.3.1.w.maps in “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\MW4.3.1.w.maps
  5. Locate the folder titled MW 4 – Complete
  6. Right click on the folder MW 4 – Complete
  7. Select Rename
  8. Rename the folder MW 4 - Complete to Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak
  9. Then drag and drop the Folder to "C:\Program Files (x86)"
  10. The complete file path should now look like this: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak"
  11. Next you will need to install the patch files to patch the game to Release #51.03.01.0030c for the game to work properly.
  12. Navigate to your download directory “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\”
  13. Right click on the file 0030_hotfixes.rar
  14. Select 7-Zip then select Extract to “0030_hotfixes\”
  15. Navigate to the folder titled 0030_hotfixes in “C:\Users\"your user name"\Downloads\0030_hotfixes”
  16. Hotfix #1
    • Right click on the file named mekpak31.0030a(0030)-hotfix1.exe and select Run as Administrator
    • Next select the button titled Browse
    • Now navigate to your install folder for the game, it should be in this file path, "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak"
    • Select the button titled OK
    • Now click the button titled Apply
    • The program should patch the game to version #51.03.01.0030a
    • You have completed step one, now go to step two to apply hotfix #2
  17. Hotfix #2
    • Right click on the file named mekpak31.0030b(0030x)-hotfix2.exe and select Run as Administrator
    • Next select the button titled Browse
    • Now navigate to your install folder for the game, it should be in this file path, "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak"
    • Select the button titled OK
    • The program should patch the game to version #51.03.01.0030b
    • You have completed step two, now go to step three to apply hotfix #3
  18. Hotfix #3
    • Right click on the file named mekpak31.0030c(0030x)-hotfix3.exe and select Run as Administrator
    • Next select the button titled Browse
    • Now navigate to your install folder for the game, it should be in this file path, "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak"
    • Select the button titled OK
    • The program should patch the game to version #51.03.01.0030c
    • You have completed step three, you have now patched the game to the final version of the free release from MekTek
  19. Next you will need to navigate to the MW4Mercs.exe file for your Mech Warrior 4 game and create a shortcut on your Desktop. You should find the “MW4Mercs.exe" file for your version of the game listed here: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak\MW4Mercs.exe"
  20. Right click on the MW4Mercs.exe file and select Send To then Desktop to create a Desktop Shortcut.
  21. Now go to the Desktop Shortcut File, right click on it and select Properties. Go to the Short Cut Tab and find the line titled Target. Here you will see the file path to the “MW4Mercs.exe" file, copy past the command line at the end of the file path so it looks exactly like this: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak\MW4Mercs.exe" -32 –window
  22. Next go to the Compatibility Tab
  23. Check the box next to the line titled Disable Display Scaling On High DPI Setting
  24. Check the box next to the line titled Run this Program as an Administrator
  25. Next you will need to run the Auto Configuration Tool, go to the fallowing directory
  26. "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak\autoconfig_MERCS.exe"
  27. Then find the “autoconfig_MERCS.exe" file for the Auto Configuration Tool. Right Click on the autoconfig_MERCS.exe file and select Run as Administrator. You can now configure the graphics setting for the game that will be loaded every time you start the game.
  28. Click the button titled Continue
  29. Now double click the MW4Mercs.exe – Shortcut file on your desktop and play the game
  30. You can switch between windowed view and full screen view by pressing Alt+Enter on your keyboard

Command Line Explanations and Functions

-32
  • This forces the game to run in 32 bit. Older games were made before 64 bit came out and will not run properly on a 64 bit system unless you force the game to run in 32 bit.
-window
  • Some older games will freeze or crash when starting in full screen. Running the game in windowed mode can fix this issue. Once the game starts in a window you should be able to switch to full screen by clicking the square full screen icon in the banner bar.
-f 1024x768
  • This will start the game in the desired screen resolution. Back in the day when this game was made, allot of people still used CRT monitors with screen resolutions that had a max resolution of 1024x768. This game may have issues with newer monitors and graphics cards that run higher resolutions by default. Other resolutions that this game was designed to run in were 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024.
-gl
  • This forces windows to emulate OpenGL architecture when running this game. Allot of Older games used OpenGL and it is required to run. Today there are a lot of alternatives to OpenGL and windows 10 may not run OpenGL by default when running this game.
-GameTime.MaxVariableFps 60
  • Back when this game was made a lot of systems had a max refresh rate of 60 FPS. Most computers now will run at a minimum of 60 FPS and go much higher. This can cause weird anomalies in this game such as mechs rotating super-fast in the mech lab or the mouse cursor will leave pixel remnants of itself whenever you move it across the screen. If you are having issues with the games FPS not synchronizing with your system, you can lock the games FPS to 60 with this command.
/gosnovideo
  • This games start up videos use older formats that do not seem to work with newer systems, causing the game to crash at start up. Use this command to prevent the videos from running.
/gosnojoystick
  • There seems to be some kind of a driver conflict with the joystick when running this game on newer systems like windows 10 causing the game to crash at startup. Use this command to disable the joystick functionality in the game.
-noautoconfig
  • This command will prevent the Auto Configuration Utility from running when the game starts, this is helpful if the Auto Configuration Utility runs every time you start the game.

Downloads

Cheats and Trainers
If you're looking for a cheat or a trainer for the Mechwarrior 4 games you can use Cheat Engine, there are premade cheat tables you can download on Fearless Cheat Engine.
Mods
If you want to add some cool MODs to Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries, like pre loaded mechs, you can get them here.
You can add a Co-Op MOD to Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries to play campaign missions with friends by hosting a game server running a campaign map. You can download the MOD here.
Online Multiplayer
If you want to play Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries online you can find hosted game servers using Game Ranger. Currently Game Ranger is the only way I know of to get this game running stable while playing multiplayer. If you don't like using Game Ranger then you're SOL.
Vengeance and Black knight currently don't work in online multiplayer or with Game Ranger.

Playing With Game Controllers

Padstarr
I got my Thrustmaster T.flight HOTAS X to work with Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries MekTek MP3.1 with the Padstarr Gamepad Software. You should be able to make this Gamepad Software work on other flight stick HOTAS controllers if you reassign the button control functions to the layout of your HOTAS controller. If you take some time to learn how to use this program you can even remap my button profile to work on an Xbox or PlayStation controller. You can watch some tutorial videos for the Padstarr Gamepad Software here.
UJR+vJoy
A free alternative to Padstarr would be to use UJR + Vjoy.
You can watch some tutorial videos for vJoy-Virtual Joystick Driver here.
You can watch some tutorial videos for UJR-Universal Joystick Remapper here.
Thrusmaster Target GUI
I recently upgraded to the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS Flight Pack using the Thrustmaster Target GUI software to map keys and add curves to the axis'. This has been the best setup for Mechwarrior so far that I have used. The T.16000M stick uses extremely accurate and sensitive hall censors that make the stick feel like a gaming mouse in its performance. The Target GUI software is excellent and allows me to customize everything on my HOTAS setup.
You can watch some reviews of this HOTAS system and the rudder pedals here.
You can watch some tutorial videos for the Thrustmaster Target software here.

Troubleshooting

If your graphics card is to advanced for the game you might get an error message stating that your hardware is incompatible. This is common with people who have newer Nvidia graphics cards. I know of a fix for Mechwarrior 4: mercenaries MekTek MP3.1. Go to the installation folder "C:\Program Files (x86)\Mechwarrior Mercenaries - Mektek Mekpak\Assets\Binaries". Now locate the file titled imagehlp.dll. Right click on it and select Rename. Change the file name ti this imagehlp.dll.backup. This will disable the .dll file that is causing the issue for Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries MekTek MP3.1. For Vengeance and Black Knight you can try using DXwnd, mechvm, dosbox, or dgVoodoo2 programs as instructed in HattedSandwich's tutorial here and CaptainWabbit's tutorial using DXwnd here. These are essentially a graphics emulator that launches the game in a wrapper. I have had success using dgvoodoo2 and DXwnd to get old games to work on newer windows operating systems, though it does take some time tinkering with the settings.
If your having issues with patching the games with the files from my downloads try uninstalling the game and reinstalling then instead of using the 2.0 patch file for vengeance, use the black knight install disk to patch to 2.0. If that doesn't work try downloading the patch here, then grab the cracked NoCD .exe file for your game here. drag and drop the NoCD .exe file into your install directory and replace the original .exe file when prompted. Remember that every time a patch fails you should uninstall and reinstall before trying a different patch file.
If you have fallowed my tutorial, tried my troubleshooting tips, and the games still won’t work, you will have to try installing the games on a Windows XP operating system. There are several ways you can do this…
  1. You can install Windows XP onto an old computer.
    • You can download a copy of windows XP here.
  2. You can dual boot Windows 10 and Windows XP
    • For a video tutorial to Dual boot Windows 10 and Windows XP click here.
  3. You can run Windows XP on a virtual machine.
    • Here is a good guide to using virtual machines to run older operating systems. I use virtual box, it’s simple and easy to use and it's free. For a guide on how to setup Windows XP in Virtual Box, click here.

Final Thoughts

This tutorial is the accumulation of three years of me researching, troubleshooting, hacking, cracking, and banging my head into my keyboard over and over again. I love these games and I hope you guys can make this tutorial work on your system so you can continue to enjoy these games as much as I do.
Let me know if you had any problems with getting the games to work on Windows 10.
Don't forget to leave a comment below.
If it did work, don't forget to up vote and praise me for my superior awesomeness.
Thanks for using my tutorial.
Volkar
submitted by VolkarTheDestroyer to mechwarrior [link] [comments]

An in-depth review of the "Ghost Mode" gameplay overhaul mod

As I'm sure you can all relate, the 10th Witcher Games Anniversary video brought a lot of feels. And with them came the itch to do yet another playthrough of my favourite video game. This time, to freshen up the experience, I decided to break from my tradition of only installing visual enhancement mods and look into the gameplay overhauls recommended on the sub.
To my surprise in-depth assessments of these mods were nowhere to be found. True you can look up detailed descriptions of what they change, but that won't give you an impression of how the changes work in practice nor an objective look at how they impact the overall experience. Thus the goal of this thread is to help you decide if you would enjoy using "Ghost Mode" for your next playthrough and to serve as a resource for posterity.
Note: the title of this post is no misnomer. This is a long read. If you already have an idea of what the mod is about and are just wondering "if it's any good", then feel free to skip to the TLDR rating section at the bottom.
 

Setup

First thing first, all the changes introduced by the mod remain true to the vanilla feel, flow and story of the game. There is no need to worry that the game you know and love will suddenly be unrecognisable, that you won't know your arse from your elbow. Secondly, I do not plan to rehash the full changelog in this review. Changes from Vanilla will only be mentioned if they are relevant to the point I am making.
Dsiclaimer: this review is written with the above in mind. I do not claim my experience to be completely exhaustive. For example, things which were difficult or annoying for my setup might be trivial for others and vice versa. Your mileage may vary.
 

General Gameplay

The mod has been implemented in a competent way. I did not notice any performance decrease compared to Vanilla and encountered no game breaking bugs. There was only a single major issue in 2.6 which was repeatable and highly annoying, but thankfully it seems to be fully fixed with version 2.7.
Immersion has been improved and the game world is more believable. Some examples:

Quests and Experience

The way the experience penalty works has also been changed. Previously you would get 100% of quest experience if you were at most 5 levels above the quest level, and basically 0% if you were 6 levels above or more. Now for every level you are above a quest the experience reward is reduced by 16%. This also works the other way around, you will receive an experience bonus for doing quests which are higher level than you.
This way you get the best of both worlds. You get to tailor the quest order to your liking, without having to suffer meta-gaming pressure, and at the same time Geralt will not end up overlevelled.
 

Combat

This is usually the number one reason why people recommend this mod and it is clear to see why. The author has implemented a great number of improvements to nearly all of the vanilla systems. Combat is more challenging and rewards players for their skill and preparation better. Geralt's overpowered traits and abilities have been toned down and your specialisation makes a much bigger difference to how you approach fights.
Overall, most battles are more fun with GM compared to vanilla. However this comes at a cost: namely the "realism", feel and flow of combat have all decreased to facilitate the above. Let's examine the 4 main areas where GM changes combat and evaluate them in detail.

Enemy behaviour

The first thing you will probably notice is that "all enemies have a reduced reaction time". The reason I put quotes around that phrase is because I don't know the actual inner workings of the mod and precisely how it has modified the AI scripts. Therefore I am just calling the effect as I saw and experienced it during my playthrough. The easiest way to describe it is: the time frame between you being in range of an enemy and the enemy starting their action is now much lower.
The primary effect of this change is an increase in difficulty. You now have to have faster reflexes in order to be able to dodge enemy attacks. Additionally, enemies will spend significantly less time in a hit recovery state after you land a blow. Which means that you won't be able to chain as many attacks as you could before, since your enemy will dodge/retaliate much more rapidly.
This change really shines when it comes to boss fights. The faster enemy reaction time forces you to play by the boss' rules and pay attention to their mechanics, rather than treating them as a higher health & damage generic enemy. To give a concrete example, let us look at the Olgierd fight at the burning manor.
In Vanilla you can easily beat him on Death March by ignoring the fight's mechanics. You simply position yourself slightly outside of his melee range and start a rend which he walks into. Then you follow this up with a quick dodge to the side to avoid the sand in the eyes and immediately start another rend. The boss gets locked in the above AI loop and you win pretty easily. The reduced reaction time in Ghost Mode counters this perfectly. By the time you are winding up your rend the boss, instead of walking into your sword, starts his own attack which targets where you will be after you swing and hits you before you can deal any damage.
So to beat him I had to actually play by the rules, which means conventional sword swinging is out of the question, especially as you also leave yourself open to a quick counter attack which kills you in 2-3 hits. The rules in this case are: counter his attack, swing once and go on the defensive. There are three different attacks he throws at you:
  • The red charge: when you are far away from him, it is the easiest to counter and the bare minimum required to win. If you can only counter this then you will win, but it will take ages.
  • The phase charge: is when he turns semi transparent and steps side to side. He only does this if your are slightly outside of melee range, so you have much less margin of error on your counter. If you are quick enough you can counter this type of attack with a close to 100% success rate, which means that a better player can defeat him much more rapidly.
  • Finally we have the slash combo, which he does when you are in melee range. This one is also counterable, but the reaction time is so small I didn't feel it was worth the risk. Especially because if you fail it and only parry you will be locked in that stance for a few of his hits which will drain your stamina significantly (and you cannot counter without stamina, but more on this topic later).
So as you can see from the above GM makes you pay attention to the intended mechanics and rewards skilled play.
The change to reaction time also has its downsides however, and they are major ones. Most notably, enemies which have extremely fast attack animations by default become unfair in melee combat. Especially if they are in a group. The best example of this problem are all of the insectoid type enemies like the endregas and the kikimores. Their attack animation is fast and when you pair it with an increased aggression and run speed it means that you literally cannot attack them preemptively. If you start any type of attack (without dodging one of their attacks or parrying first) they will strike you first, even if you were outside of their melee range when you initiated your swing. As you can probably tell fighting groups of these enemies is extremely annoying especially early on. Later you can cheese them by unloading your entire reserve of Dancing Stars & Northern wind bombs for some semblance of crowd control, but even that is like putting a plaster on an amputated leg. What's strange is that looking at past feedback numerous people have complained about these enemies, throughout the mod's life cycle. Yet the author has failed to address the problem, which is that they shouldn't have reduced reaction time in the first place. Such empty difficulty, only for its own sake is never good.
Another downside is that early on you cannot take on groups of certain enemies, like wraiths, nekkers or insectoids for example, without resorting to AI abuse. This probably only applies to the higher difficulties, but when the best way of beating groups in the early game is dragging enemies one by one to the edge of their AI leash it doesn't feel good. No matter how skilled you are in melee combat you cannot defeat such packs head on without numerous deaths, which doesn't make you feel like a witcher at all in those encounters.
Finally, GM also implements monster "dodge" with a much more heavy handed approach compared to Vanilla. All sorts of enemies will now dodge your attacks more frequently. This is yet another example of where combat quality was sacrificed in order to increase combat difficulty. I write "dodge" in quotation marks because normally the word implies that the enemy sees your attack and reacts to it by getting out of the way. This mod makes the enemies which "dodge" the most feel like blatant AI bots with rigid if-then logic in their script, which harms immersion. Some examples:
  • Enemies dodging mid attack, when it makes no sense for them to do so
  • Werewolves dodging while airborne in the middle of their lunge
  • Humans dodging attacks that come from behind them and they cannot see
  • Shrieker glitching into its "on the ground" dodge animation while flying, after being shot with a crossbow
  • Occasionally enemies dodging attacks while burning, sirens dodging when knocked down etc.

Skill Balance changes

A lot of adjustments have been made to the skill tree in order to improve how balanced Geralt is in combat. The changes can mostly be summed up by saying "baseline Geralt was nerfed". What that means in practice is that witchering aspects you do not invest points into will be significantly worse compared to vanilla. For example the signs, crossbow and damage bombs are a lot less useful for my mainly sword focused build. This is a good thing as specialisation encourages more diversity in your playstyle. Here are some examples:
  • Quen no longer always blocks at least 1 attack, regardless of how much damage it's supposed to absorb. Now it's no longer the combat crutch it used to be in Vanilla as it will only absorb the value of the shield and the rest of the damage will go through.
  • Poison and bleed effects are no longer extremely overpowered boss monster killers. Their duration and damage are significantly reduced to the point where 1 poison application is equal to about 2 additional sword attacks. Still good, but now balanced.
  • Crossbow & Bombs now only deal half damage if they were auto aimed. And of course manual aiming during combat is way too slow unless you have invested into the related skills. There seem to be a few minor bugs related to these items. For example manual crossbow shots sometimes don't bring big flyers down despite hitting them successfully. Superior Samum, manually aimed, dealing 5 (yes five) damage on kikimores.
  • In general overpowered skills have been nerfed (rend, whirl, euphoria etc.) while underpowered abilities have been buffed (crippling strikes, undying, counter attack etc.).
Overall the skill tree feels significantly more polished and we now have a lot more viable choices to pick from.

Defensive techniques (dodge, roll, counter, parry)

The way dodging and rolling worked in Vanilla was a simple binary check. Did you press the appropriate button before the attack connected with your character? If yes then avoid all damage, regardless of where your character ended up going (for attacks which can be dodged). And while this was still a big improvement from the second game, the i-frames were way too generous and the moves lacked any stamina cost. Which made it all to easy to just spam the dodge button and be invulnerable. GM changes this behaviour by also taking into account the direction Geralt moves in when dodging/rolling with respect to the enemy attack. Now if you dodge in time but still end up connecting with the attack, depending on the angle, you will take partial damage and debuffs based on what direction you were going in.
Parrying and countering have been significantly enhanced compared to the base game. Essentially now you can parry/counter nearly all attacks, those coming from monsters included. Taking counters as an example, you may counter light attacks just like before - by reducing all incoming damage - but now you retaliate against monsters with a "counter slash". This also applies to heavy attacks (including hammer and spear wielding humans) except that damage is reduced only by 50%. Both parry and counter now have a stamina cost depending on the attack you have deflected. This is a great addition to the game in my opinion. It plays perfectly with the risk and reward scale. Countering carries a greater reward because you spend your time negating the monster attack and dealing damage on your own, instead of just negating as you would with a dodge. However the risk is also greater because you confusing monster light and heavy attacks means you will take significant damage, especially if your build is not prepared for it. Yet another gameplay element where skill is rewarded.

Armour, stamina and different playstyles

Stamina management is now a big part of combat, rather than a mere afterthought with Tawny oil. The base regeneration rate is significantly reduced, all combat actions pause this regeneration for a short while and counter and parry stamina costs are increased. The armour you are wearing now also affects your stamina more than the Vanilla regeneration penalties. Light armour has no penalties and increases stamina regen, medium armour introduces a stamina cost for rolling & sprinting and heavy armour has stamina costs associated with rolling, dodging and sprinting.
Armour now plays a much bigger role in the game thanks to its significantly increased damage absorption capabilities. Plenty of enemies now have high armour values which also makes the armour penetration stat on swords better. To help with this, your heavy attacks now have a significant amount of armour penetration by default. This means that quick attack spam is no longer maximum dps against all enemy types and you will have to mix in heavy attacks much more frequently. Some enemies like golems are so heavily armoured that using quick attacks against them is basically pointless. Similarly, high armour values on your gear now make a big dent in the incoming damage whereas in Vanilla they were useless and the only thing that mattered were the resistances on the gear.
Both of these changes together translate into very distinct melee combat playstyles depending on which Witcher set you are wearing, which is one of the best features of GM for me.
  • Light Armour: the Cat set provides the combat experience which is closest to Vanilla DM, with a few important tweaks. Firstly, because you have very little damage reduction, Quen is practically useless. It won't even fully absorb a light attack from a drowner. This combined with the change to the defensive techniques means that you actually have to be quick on your feet and good at dodging, you can only rely on your own skill. Secondly you can also mix in counters for increased dps once you are familiar with the attack patterns of the enemies. However you still have to dodge heavy attacks due to your lack of defence. This makes the Feline armour playstyle a skillful dance combining counters & dodging which is extremely fun, especially against bosses and small enemy groups.
  • Medium Armour: the Wolf set is a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none. It has less damage compared to the Cat but more defensive stats and armour. This essentially means that your playstyle is similar to the Cat but you reduce some of the risk and settle for a lesser reward. You still can't afford to counter heavy attacks, but at the same time the stamina penalties for sprinting and rolling are mostly irrelevant as the latter is only necessary to get out of the way of enemy AoE attacks. As a result you will be safer against large groups compared to the cat but will have to settle for reduced offensive capabilities.
  • Heavy Armour: the Bear set in GM presents a markedly different combat experience compared to vanilla. The quickest way to describe it is as an "immovable object". The stamina cost for dodging means that you will spend all of your time holding your ground and countering ALL enemy attacks (apart from AoE). The high armour value and damage resists mean that you can shrug off heavy attacks with ease. Combine this with talents that use adrenaline to heal you and an Ekkimara decoction to create a true tank build. However, due to the slow stamina regeneration signs are pretty much out of the question because every sign costs 10+ counter attacks leading to a big dps loss. This playstyle is extremely fun against groups of enemies because it allows you to combine defense with offense and simultaneously negate enemy damage. It also has its weaknesses - namely big enemies and bosses who make heavy use of area effect attacks, such as Griffins and Imlerith for example. Overall I didn't spend much time testing this playstyle in my run, but I found it very satisfying and fun. Definitely keen on using it for a complete playthrough in the future.
 
Another highlight of the GM combat enhancements are the 1v1 fist fights (seriously). They are much more challenging, fun and skill intensive due to the reworked stamina system. In Vanilla these were pretty formulaic - keep your distance from the opponent so that they only lunge with a heavy attack, which is easier to counter compared to the fast jabs. Counter it, throw a one-two and then rinse and repeat. In Ghost Mode you no longer have the stamina to consecutively counter all attacks and must spend some time in between counters to recover, which introduces a great deal of tension and makes the fights more skillful. Remember, dodging pauses your stamina regeneration so you don't have an easy way around this. Especially as many arenas are quite small which make this process challenging. Furthermore blocking jabs costs significantly less stamina, so if you're confident in countering the opponent's fast attacks you have a great opportunity to skill display. In addition group fist fights are a lot easier compared to Vanilla, because the opponents aren't health sponges. This is another great change in my book as those were pretty tedious and the fist fight system doesn't really work great for group combat.
 
Finally, to finish off this section, I would like to spend some time looking at enemy balance in the Blood & Wine expansion. There were several problems with it in my opinion, which overall decrease the quality of the experience.
  • Giant centipedes deal too much damage. Yes they are generally easy to avoid, however them one shotting a character in master crafted Feline Gear + Quen + Superior Insect Oil + Protective Coating + 600 hp green mutagen at full life seems excessive. I'd suggest a 30% damage nerf. For comparison, level appropriate Giant Centipedes hit harder than red skull cyclopses and werewolves.
  • High concentration of monsters which work badly with the reduced reaction times due to their instant attacks.
  • Arachnomorph damage seems to be balanced against them hitting you once when most of the time they double tap you, which enables 1 small spider to pretty much instantly kill you from full life if you make a mistake. Damage should be reduced by at least 40%.
  • The two Guardian Panthers in the Professor Moreau quest are extremely overtuned for when you face them and, as a consequence, require extremely cheesy strategies to beat.
  • Alps are probably the hardest enemies in the whole game. Thankfully you only have to fight them twice. The first one's alone and she's manageable, but the second involves you getting tag-teamed by a Bruxa as well and that one is quite painful. It's a good thing Dettlaff can mind control other "lesser" vampires, because otherwise one of those ginger vamps would easily wipe the floor with both him & Regis at the same time.
 

Items and crafting

  • Witcher set bonuses now scale with the number of pieces equipped rather than being binary. Bonuses also apply from the lowest set tier and not just Grandmaster level. This is a good change in my book as they diversify your combat style from an earlier stage of the game. Set swords are no longer the best weapons for their level requirement, so exploring the world and doing contracts for relics feels much more rewarding.
  • The weapon & armour upgrade kits, sold by master craftsmen, are a great addition to the game. They allow you to increase the base damage/armour of your equipment by increasing its level requirement by 1 (i.e. the Aerondight effect). This enables you to make use of those special relic swords like: Hjalmar's Steel Sword, Pang of Conscience, Blade of the Bits, Winter's Blade etc. from the moment you obtain them to as long as you wish. This means that you must only pick a weapon based on if its secondary stats have synergy with your build, and this opens up a lot of choices and min-maxing.
  • Speaking of special relic swords, these now have significantly improved secondary stats which makes them stand out from the generic random relics. Depending on your build you will probably end up using one of these for most of your playthrough. It feels great to get a "special" sword reward for a quest which is actually useful and not vendor fodder like in Vanilla.
  • Equipment crafting now requires significantly less materials, so you are no longer forced to dismantle an entire army's worth of arsenal to craft something. Unfortunately the craftsmen will now rip you off much harder, comparatively to Vanilla, with their fees. So if you want to unlock all the levels of the Runewright and deck out Corvo Bianco in the various Witcher sets you will still have to pick up and vendor massive amounts of loot.
  • Crafting costs of random weapons in the early game, before you can access sets and contract relics, are prohibitively expensive.
  • White Gull isn't so difficult to produce anymore as it doesn't require Redanian Herbal and you can craft the Mandrake Cordial yourself, white honey now comes with more charges - both are nice QoL changes.
  • Potions and bombs require significantly less ingredients, so theoretically you would need to spend less time picking flowers. However considering that you could buy most of these cheaply from herbalists in the vanilla game (and still can) this change is more or less irrelevant in practice.
Cooking recipes are a good addition to the immersion in my experience. A witcher on the path should be able to cook himself a meal while squatting in some untamed wilderness. Unfortunately, in practice I did not use these recipes at all after leaving White Orchard. There are a few problems with the current implementation:
  • Food & drink healing is not balanced according to the amount of ingredients required to produce. For example, right at the start of the game you can learn how to make apple juice which is in the top tier of drink healing and costs next to nothing to make, in contrast with other much more expensive drink recipes which very often heal for less. Food recipes require way too many ingredients (the vast majority of which must be bought) and offer sub par healing in comparison.
  • Human enemies in Velen and onwards drop way too much food, often between 2-3 pieces each. Why should I waste money buying ingredients and cooking when I could obtain something nearly as good for free?
  • Coking recipes are too expensive for what they offer. They could use a 50% coin cost reduction across the board. Food recipes should require less ingredients. There should be more distinct healing "tiers" for different food & drink, less total recipes and bandits should drop less grub to incentivise people to interact with the system.
 

Nitpicking

  • Enemies focusing more on NPCs during combat (if present) makes certain escort quests significantly more annoying on Death March: namely the Black Pearl and the Skellige mine clearing duo. Those NPCs could use a buff to their survivability.
  • All wolves/dogs & boars are significantly weaker compared to the vanilla game. Probably a design decision, but it feels out of place since all other enemies are harder. Wolves in the Land of a Thousand Fables do have level appropriate stats unlike all their siblings for some reason.
  • Kinks to the extra books/notes feature: fist fight quests keep giving you the same note after a brawl for every brawl, many texts are given out at weird times. For example, right at the beginning of some action sequence.
  • Early game bosses and contract monsters (level req < 15) could use a modest health reduction to prevent boredom. Later on the only enemy that felt too "health spongy" was Iris' nightmare. Those Olgierds could use a health reduction because at the moment the fight is quite repetitive, lacks the atmosphere of the burning manor fight and so becomes a bit tedious.
  • The base Yrden duration is too short and makes fighting Wraith bosses extremely tedious early on, until you get Enhanced or preferably Superior Moon Dust.
  • Superior Cursed Oil now requires berserker skin which is not obtainable in Skellige if you investigate the massacre with Ceris. Previously there was a bug where berserkers spawned near Kaer Morhen, but this seems to be fixed in the newest version. The only place I found berserker skin in the whole game was in the Borsodi vault (?), dropped by one of his guardsmen (??). Either put a copy of the ingredient somewhere in the Vildkaarls' village, or change it to some other more lore appropriate place. The current location makes no sense.
  • The inventory weight system is at best a sidegrade to Vanilla. Yes, it is unrealistic that Geralt is able to hold all these weightless ingredients in Roach's saddlebags. So this mod now gives them weight and forces you to regularly deposit all your ingredients in the stash. Then to access them more conveniently every time you are at an appropriate vendor (alchemist/blacksmith/armourer) Geralt is able to telepathically access said stash to obtain the ingredients. To me it seems like one unrealistic element was simply replaced with a different one equally as unrealistic, so what's the point?
    • In all fairness you can reduce the weight of all items from the mod options, but that slider leads to even more immersion problems. Because if you wish to compensate for the weight on all the ingredients you have to turn up the slider so much that all the swords and armour now weigh practically nothing as well. A better solution would be keeping the weight slider and adding a check box for "Zero ingredient weight", or just using the vanilla weight system because the current implementation isn't a clear improvement.
  • I find the name of the mod to be a bit unfortunate, since it has nothing to do with any of the content. Makes you wonder if it's one of the reasons why it is not more popular.
  • Grapeshot seems to deal insignificant damage to higher level enemies. Superior version of it hits arachas for 5 damage with an aimed shot for example. Even without bomb talents it shouldn't be this weak.
  • Aerondight has lost a great deal of its unique flavour (all items can now be upgraded) and the nerf to its secondary stats was too great. Before it would give 10% attack power per stack, up to 10 stacks, now this has been reduced to 5% crit damage. For comparison, random relic swords can spawn with 60%+ critical damage and have 4 other secondary stats as well. Not to mention free sockets, which cost ~8000 gold for Aerondight. Finally, while the bonus at maximum stacks is still great it's now harder to maintain due to the decreased enemy reaction time, is basically non-existent against all the instant attack foes (and for heavy armour builds) and has overlap with several consumables (thunderbolt potion & oils now give crit chance) and talents which reduces its effectiveness even further. Overall the sword feels underwhelming and not worth using.
  • Olgierd's sabre, Iris, no longer gains charges when enemies block your attacks and doesn't buff the damage of the fast attacks. To compensate it now deals 10% of target's maximum life in addition to the other bonus damage when charged. I was very excited to use this sword with the new item upgrade kits and was left moderately disappointed. The life loss penalty is still too big and basically forces you into using Katakan decoction which doesn't feel great. Furthermore, to charge the sword you must deliver 3 successful fast attacks in succession. Against armoured enemies this feels horrible as you're effectively whacking them with a wet noodle until you can charge the finisher. In addition, humans are much more likely to dodge your attacks compared to before causing you to often whiff on the charged strong attack while still paying the health cost. Overall the sword is still worth using and feels satisfying with the Severance runeword, however I would like to see some quality of life change: for example halving the health penalty.
  • This mod breaks the following achievements: equipping a full witcher set (Armed and Dangerous), equipping all the grandmaster set pieces (Dressed to Kill), equipping Aerondight (Embodiment of the Five Virtues). Tested on GoG. Probably irrelevant for 99% of people, but worth mentioning.
  • The Undvik set has less armour than the basic Feline set, despite having a higher level requirement and being heavy armour.
  • Superior Full Moon heal, based on current toxicity, either does not work or heals a minuscule amount.
  • Kill count bestiary section feels a bit too arcade-y and gimmicky for my tastes. Would prefer it hidden at the bottom of the list and collapsed by default or, better yet, an optional toggle in the mod options if possible.
 

Scoring (TLDR)

I will now attempt to rate this mod based on an arbitrary scale I just made up. A score of 5/10 means that overall the mod neither improves nor deteriorates the experience when compared to the original game. A higher score than that is good, lower is bad.
  • -1 for the fast reaction times on enemies with instantaneous attack animations (and the fact that this hasn't been fixed for so long) and the balancing issues of Blood & Wine.
  • -0.5 for the overall lowered quality of the combat experience: namely its feel, flow & realism.
  • -0.5 for all the points listed in the Nitpick section.
  • -0.5 for the experience penalty system which promotes meta-gaming and for the subpar support of the NG+ mode
Overall: 7.5/10. Despite the occasional hiccups I thoroughly enjoyed my playthrough with Ghost Mode. I found the mod to be an overall improvement to the base game and definitely recommend it.
 

Never Asked Questions

Q: What difficulty should I play on?
A:
  • You are looking for a similar challenge to vanilla Death March or early game B&BB, to see if you like the other gameplay changes? Story & Sword. If you don't care about the combat then I would suggest that you also reduce monster damage from the mod options.
  • You played on Death March from level 1 and found it too easy? Blood and Broken Bones.
  • You played on Death March from level 1 with self-imposed limitations such as: no Quen, not using set swords, deliberately skipping some of the best talents and found it too easy? Death March.
 
Q: What build did you use?
A: Combat/Alchemy - GM Death March
I went for delusion & poisoned blades first. Muscle memory & strength training second, then back to alchemy for protective coating, afterwards filled out the combat tree. Undying was only equipped once the first B&W skill slot was unlocked and I could move an alchemy skill there, on lower difficulty levels I would replace it with Razor Focus. Delusion is optional. I pick it mostly for RP reasons although the extra stamina regen is nice, especially early on. If you don't want to use it then replace it with the Synergy skill from the alchemy tree.
 
Q: Any other interesting stats/tidbits from your run?
A:
  • Hardest 1v1 fight: werewolf outside of the Whispering Hillock, ~10 deaths.
  • Other boss fights with number of deaths in parenthesis: WO Griffin (1), Imlerith (2), Toad Prince (0), Olgierd (3), Caretaker (1), Olgierds (2), Caranthir (0), Eredin (1), Dettlaff (0)
  • Hardest group fight: arachas cave south west of Harviken on Faroe, 8 deaths.
  • Found the "Tor Zirael" sword for the first time ever in 4 playthroughs, not sure if finally lucky or spawn chance increased in the mod. Unfortunately, stats wise it's still rubbish.
submitted by Paskoff to witcher [link] [comments]

Improving with the New Year: Jungling, Sandbox Mode, Having More Eyes Than Yi, Harold, and Thinking Faster Than Swain(xpost from /r/lol)

Jungling is a painful task for many players. The burden of making sure your lanes don't implode, the selflessness of giving away income to said bad laners, and the risk you might screw up a gank or a smite creates a pretty stressful situation for many a player.
Jungling at it's core is all about creating a plan and adjusting for variables. Starting from champion select you should be taking a look at how you think the lanes will play out and craft a rough draft of a plan from there.
Many people complain about Sandbox Mode not existing but luckily for junglers it does for the most part. Outside of the stray invade, you are able to practice perfecting your path on both blue and red side in bot games. If you need a rough idea what times you should be going for Stonewall008 normally has a decent reference video(The basis is still the same irrelevant of patch). Any jungler looking to get better should take a hard look at their clear speed/survivability on their first clear because that 10 seconds/50hp you save yourself can snowball you many games in very slight ways. While it is on the boring side, it's better to add on an extra weight to the possibilities when it's available.
It is perfectly fine for your plan to be to farm until 6 as long as you don't play as if your mini map has been consumed by a permanent nocturne ultimate. This is not just referring to counterganking, if you are able to get extra farm anywhere due to the enemy jungler showing in a lane(Lane XP, Enemy Camps, Now unconstestable scuttles) you should attempt to make that farm and experience happen rather than sitting in your own jungle and shrugging off the enemy.
When ganking a lane you should always have a couple of questions in the back of your head.
In most situations someone needs to have some kind of crowd control to make the game happen. It's very easy to gank for a blitzcrank and alistar because they have 2 forms of crowd control pre-6, it's not easy to gank for a nasus because his wither is weak before rank 5. As a jungler you need to decide how to approach the gank giving yourself as many opportunities as possible to carry it. This is why lee sin is such a prized early game jungler with a million different options to approach the gank pre-6 and and even more approaches after 6 thanks to his ultimate.
This comes down to being equivalent to your enemy jungler mostly. It doesn't matter how many lanes you gank if the ganks don't lead into something. This "something" can vary greatly from Taking an objective to creating an unbeatable freeze so you can come back and kill the enemy laner again"
I lump all these questions into one because they all cover the same thing, how do you play 2v2, the biggest reason people will tell you to not gank a lane that is behind is because the risk of losing a 2v2 against the enemy jungler is devastating for you and creates a another obstacle for you to climb. There WILL be times it is right to force a 2v2 but the key is to recognize what your champion brings to that 2v2 and how the gameplan changes. Remember, you can't control what your teammate does so don't ask or expect them to take unnecessary risks as it will lead to their downfall and especially yours.
The biggest problem i see with junglers in solo queue is the fact that their plan is completely binary and when there are 7 possible lines of play, at most they only see one. The biggest issue I see as of late is how little people value rift herald when the enemy jungler shows bot side. Everyone talks about how irrelevant dragon is on this patch(i disagree but that's another rant in itsself) and how they value turrets more. Meanwhile nobody values the pressure that Herald gives to laners! The natural shoving allows a laner far more options than people realize and even frees up the junglers time to be on the rest of the map because in most situations you should expect the enemy jungler to shut down the herald buff(Or even better the natural lane pressure that lane has enables a sweet teleport when the jungler is on the heralded lane and you snowball the bot turret from that!).
As i stated before, Jungling is all about having a plan and flexing it to the skill level of the game. Thinking one way about the game generates bad habits that may gain you elo in the short term but generally even out due to how little impact you have when your plan doesn't work.
Hopefully this little rant helped you learn a little bit more about the mindset of a Jungler.
If you still don't know where to start improving yourself for the new year i'm still doing free replay reviews! All thats required is that you have played a ranked game in the past week.
Thanks for reading and i'll be back tommorow to talk about support and why most of the time you're making yourself invisible :)
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