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> Bear Riders for Skyrim, or Bare Riders - it's much the same thing.
ghastley
post Oct 14 2013, 08:46 PM
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Again, I'm splitting this off from Fleur, as it's getting a life of its own. Since she's helped me work on the armours, and done some exploring for me, I'm getting into making a mod.

The Bear Riders that were just outside Bruma in Oblivion, have moved just over the border into Skyrim. I found a location next to the road to the border crossing for the HQ, and added a "Gudrun" and a "Timo" to the staff. The building is an inn, with bedrooms and forge in the basement. The main floor has facilities for alchemy and enchanting. It's about the same distance from Helgen as Falkreath or Riverwood, so it could be a third option for the starting player to head off to join the Riders.

Joining the Riders is only for females. The bears insist on that, and they'll also require the right equipment on the rider. Their special armour can be forged only at the HQ forge, but tempered/improved anywhere. It all has the same stats as the equivalent regular armour of the same material, and is made from the same list of materials. If I can determine how to add a frost protection bonus, I'll do so. Since there's a perk to allow multiple enchantments, there may be a way to do that without blocking the player from adding another.

QUOTE(King Coin @ Oct 13 2013, 02:35 PM) *

I haven't found many bears in the Falkreath region in Skyrim, so maybe the bears can come from other places, but the trainer lives and trains the bears in Falkreath? That'll give a little more reason to actually go there...


That was the case with Meija in the Oblivion mod. She lived in Falkreath, and the bears were sent from somewhere else (Solstheim via Windhelm?) for her to train, so she only had one at any time. I'm thinking that the player will have to raise the cost of training a bear before they get one, and the trainer will have a quest to do as well. If I have a "recruit another rider" quest, similar to the recruiting for the Blades, then she'd start training more bears as the candidates join up. There are also possibilities for issues with her supplier, and a whole lot more.

I need to find an outfit for the trainer, that's similar to the one Meija wore - gloves and arm protection, so she doesn't get hurt by roadside foliage, and boots with possible thigh protection for the same reason. Minimal torso coverage, to keep the bear happy, and they also don't like fur or leather in any quantity. Chainmail is OK, as long it it doesn't contact the bear. She'll be a Nord - the 50% frost resist is a must in that outfit - and have an amulet to provide even more. (And it could get stolen for another quest opportunity.)




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King Coin
post Oct 16 2013, 03:49 AM
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QUOTE(ghastley @ Oct 14 2013, 02:46 PM) *

...and they also don't like fur or leather in any quantity.

I guess they don't like Khajiit riders then? wink.gif

Would the quests be possible to do without actually being a rider? I've never been a fan of mounts in Bethesda games. And Aravi would look funny in the uniforms I think. More quests would be nice though.


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ghastley
post Oct 16 2013, 02:33 PM
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I'm not yet at the point of assembling the quests, so you still have time to influence me. tongue.gif

I looked at who's available for recruitment, and found no female Khajiit or Argonian followers. So I've been leaning to putting the same limits on the player character - i.e. must be female elf/human. But another part of me wants to write quests for "friends of the riders" who would be everyone else. So I suspect I'll end up with an alternate path for anyone who's not eligible to ride a bear. They won't get the same "join the riders" and "get your own bear" quests, but I don't see why anything after that should depend on ridership.

Help me come up with a good starter quest for the non-riders, and it will be a lot more likely. It really wants to be a quest that depends on not being a rider yourself, which is hard to imagine.

What's already in place:

Riders' Lodge built - navmesh changes around building need work, but it's not yet a location with much NPC activity.
Interiors built - needs more clutter, such as ingredients etc. on shelves.
Unique bear rider armors can only be crafted at basement forge, not available to buy/sell at vendors. They can be improved at any workbench.
Gunilla as barmaid on main floor - she'll do the recruiting as well, once I've found appropriate dialogue to copy. I need to make her a high-end armor to wear for some quests I have in mind. I was thinking Stahlrim, but I don't want a Dragonborn dependency, so it may be Ebony.
Timo the smith in basement - standard blacksmith vendor at present.
Unna the trainer placed in Dead Man's Drink with placeholder outfit. She's currently topless, but her attire mesh can be changed just using Blender and NifSkope.

The CS is crashing on me when I try to do some of the quest-building tasks, which is why I'm working mostly on the assets.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Oct 16 2013, 02:51 PM


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mALX
post Oct 17 2013, 12:39 AM
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*mALX shows excitement for this mod by riding polar bear in Skyrim*


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This post has been edited by mALX: Oct 17 2013, 12:39 AM


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ghastley
post Oct 21 2013, 03:18 PM
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I don't know whether it's just lack of familiarity, but modding for Skyrim seems a lot harder than it is for Oblivion. The change from procedural to event-driven quest processing isn't too hard for a programmer, but the existing code is inconsistent and arbitrary to a degree that wasn't there before. Perhaps it's a symptom of having a larger team with more diverse styles?

Making outfits is more complex and laborious, too. Oblivion was a question of making one mesh, one texture and one normal map, plus a ground item if it could be dropped. Skyrim requires two meshes for everything, as it's using the second one as a morph target for the weight slider, and it's not documented anywhere I could find what details are used from the other instance. It also uses up to nine textures for the model, although most thing get away with two. Add to that the need to keep a Blender version and a game version of each, as there's a manual process in Nifskope to adjust a lot of settings, in each direction, and you don't want to repeat most of that unless you have to.

Getting textures to work right is a matter of trial and error at the moment, too. I've had Unna's outfit appear all dead black, including her skin. Then I adjusted a setting or two, and she had normal skin, but her clothes were shiny black, and then a few more got me to the right colours, but now glowing. It took a few hours to get the texture right, and now I can see the clipping, and I have to go back around the whole cycle in and out of Blender to fix that!

It doesn't help that many of the tutorials I've found don't explain anything, just list the things the author did, whether they were correct or not! When I understand it more, I may have to write some myself - ones that explain WHY things are being done.

Despite all that, I have managed to piece together some outfits for the Riders. Two levels each of Light (Leather straps and Elven) and Heavy (Steel and Steel Plate) with the higher level of each improvable to the defence cap. I'll likely add some "parade armour" for the Captain to wear - stuff that a bear won't like, but the viewer will. Unna has a unique top, that's taken from Meija's in Oblivion.

I now have a mind-boggling two whole quests!

The "Join the Riders" one first requires you to craft your own armour at the lodge's forge. It can only be made there, and you can't buy or sell it. Only the body armour is rider-specific, and it still belongs to the usual sets, so you get the perk bonuses as expected. The bear won't allow a rider that isn't wearing it. Then you have to buy a bear in Falkreath from Unna, and report back to Gunilla at the Riders Lodge.

The second is a Radiant quest to retrieve Unna's stolen amulet from a dungeon. Quest-giver is Gunilla again, but the return for the reward is to Unna. It took me forever to get the quest conditions right to select a dungeon, as there was a lengthy chain of associations between the quest-giver and the dungeon, via editor location, parent "town", parent hold, back down to the dungeon, and whole set of checks on the dungeon type to make sure it had all the features that the quest needed, such as a boss chest to put the amulet into. It was all too easy to have a set of conditions that couldn't all be met, or a broken link in the association chain, and then the quest would never start. And there never is any diagnostic information, because nothing is actually going "wrong"; the game is correctly rejecting more than intended!

I also had to revise the ways the quests start and stop, or you'd have had to leave the lodge and re-enter before the second quest would be available.

I expect to be able to examine the entrails of recruiting for the Blades, and use the same things to build a recruitment quest for the Bear Riders. I hope I don't find that I have the same problems again, and nobody is eligible!

I'm still looking for a good way to prompt the player to go find the Riders and join them. I deliberately put the Lodge out of the way at the edge of the map, so I need a reason for the player to go there.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Oct 21 2013, 03:19 PM


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King Coin
post Oct 21 2013, 05:56 PM
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QUOTE(ghastley @ Oct 21 2013, 09:18 AM) *

...but the existing code is inconsistent and arbitrary to a degree that wasn't there before...

Holy [censored] yes. I was looking for the 'bar brawl' scripts, and they are all in code fragments. None of them are in any script file on their own. I was expecting it to be a function call or something. NOPE.
QUOTE(ghastley @ Oct 21 2013, 09:18 AM) *

I'm still looking for a good way to prompt the player to go find the Riders and join them. I deliberately put the Lodge out of the way at the edge of the map, so I need a reason for the player to go there.

Random encounter somewhere on whatever road is nearest to the lodge? I have no idea how those are created, but it would be cool to just run into a bear rider somewhere, then talk to her and find out where they are.

Also, suggestion with the armor. Could an extra piece of armor be available that covers the legs and waist? It would be something you can wear when your character isn't on a bear, but they would have to remove it to ride their bear. Even though Skyrim armors use one piece for the entire body, you can still make separate pieces that cover the legs and waist separately. I use several mods that are like that so I can have more variety.

Oh and something that you can offer characters that aren't eligible to be a rider themselves: they can get a bear as a follower or something. You can't ride it, but it follows and fights for you. Also has bags on its back to store stuff.

This post has been edited by King Coin: Oct 21 2013, 06:15 PM


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Grits
post Oct 21 2013, 06:34 PM
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QUOTE(ghastley @ Oct 21 2013, 10:18 AM) *

I'm still looking for a good way to prompt the player to go find the Riders and join them. I deliberately put the Lodge out of the way at the edge of the map, so I need a reason for the player to go there.

So far the only thing Iíve come up with is a variation on the one-way delivery quest picked up somewhere else.

Ill-Looking NPC: *cough cough*
Player: Uh, you donít look so good. Shouldnít you be home in bed?
Ill-Looking NPC: Thatís what started all of this. Say, you wouldnít happen to be heading to the edge of the map for no apparent reason, would you? If you are, could you tell Gunilla she should get herself to a healer? Iíd be ever so grateful. *hurk, blergh*
Player: Oh hells no!
(Or)
Sure, Iíd be glad to help. Will you mark it on my map?


Also a Bear Rider could offer a dialog option.

Player: Wow! You have a bear! Can I have one, too? And an outfit like that?
Bear Rider: Thatís not up to me. Go see Gunilla at the Lodge. Sheíll get you started. Maybe one day you can be a Bare Rider, too. Not a bad way to make some money, if you got the globes for it. Here, Iíll mark it on your map.


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ghastley
post Oct 21 2013, 06:50 PM
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QUOTE(King Coin @ Oct 21 2013, 12:56 PM) *

Random encounter somewhere on whatever road is nearest to the lodge? I have no idea how those are created, but it would be cool to just run into a bear rider somewhere, then talk to her and find out where they are.

Yes, but...

The story line I had in mind means that there aren't any yet. That's why you need to recruit them later. However, maybe a woman who used to be one before she took an arrow to the knee? biggrin.gif

Seriously, it would make sense that not everyone who rides a bear is one of the patrols. I already have Unna, who just trains them, and one option I have is for her to start it. You can remark on her revealing outfit, and she explains that usually she has a bear to train, and she's expecting a new one real soon. Then I can have the player bear enabled when you talk to Gunilla, and trained before you get back!

Maybe you meet a child who wants to be a Rider when she grows up. Her grandmother told her stories about them, when they first moved from Cyrodiil and Orsinium (Gortwog's crew were modelled on the Bruma bunch, and Uzgash was in their number for a time).

I have a book that Gunilla gives you when you join. Finding a copy earlier, or a similar book that refers to them, could start it all.

I suspect my choice will depend on what I can code, and what's too hard!


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King Coin
post Oct 21 2013, 07:00 PM
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QUOTE(ghastley @ Oct 21 2013, 12:50 PM) *

Yes, but...

The story line I had in mind means that there aren't any yet...

Oh! That makes it easier. Make a book (called "The Legendary Bare Bear Riders"?) and add it to a loot list. When you read it then you get a quest!


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ghastley
post Oct 24 2013, 06:33 PM
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I looked into the idea of female children telling the player they wanted to grow up to be a bear rider, and discovered the same problem that Bethesda had with Dawnguard. Every eligible NPC (i.e. the girls) would get stuck saying the same hello until that piece of quest is completed, the same way that guards insist on telling you that they're reforming the Dawnguard, until you start that quest line. Fleur's game suffers from that, but Pala's doesn't because she deliberately gets only the minimal set (Skyrim.esm, Update.esm, Unofficial patch and Bear Riders) to keep testing sane. She gets "arrow in the knee" instead. tongue.gif

I already have a book called "History of the Bear Riders", but that's for Gunilla to give the player on joining, in lieu of a large introductory dialogue. It might be worth putting the Earl of Gweden's "Tales of the Riders" from Oblivion into the game as background lore, and attaching the start-up script to those. I suspect I'd need quite a few books to make sure they appear at random, so I may have to hand-place some.

Right now, my Pala character is collecting a bunch of potential followers for testing the recruit quest. Lydia (now wearing Rider Steel), Iona (the same), and Mjoll (in Rider Steel Plate) so far, and I'm trying to collect enough money to buy Proudspire Manor and pick up Jordis. The Skyrim economy model, where the merchants have limited cash, is being a pain, as I have to go from town to town selling stuff and then wait for them to refinance. I have a good collection of gems, rings and amulets, but just can't sell it fast enough. sad.gif

I could go look for a few more hirelings and others, and I should find someone who likes light armour, and maybe a mage too, so I can test how they work out as recruits. I decided that I'd allow male players to craft the female-only armours, so they can be given to followers, which made the crafting simpler to implement, too. Males (and most likely Khajiit and Argonian females, so I don't have to provide more headgear) still need an alternate path into the questline other than joining up as Riders, probably dumping them straight into the recruit quest, and giving them the "Unna's Amulet" quest when they get the first recruit.

The Radiant Story Alias system means that assigning beds to the riders as they join is already taken care of, and I don't have to write a whole lot of code, like I did for Oblivion. They can get patrol packages etc. the same way, so it looks very promising.

Update 10/28: Fleur has bought Proudspire, so Pala doesn't need to. Pala has Brelyna Maryon in tow, who's wearing a cropped version of the Mage Apprentice outfit, although I haven't sorted out how that will be crafted in-game. So far it's just console-added, and I'll take it away when Pala can make her a new one.

I'm taking apart the Caravans quest that the Khajiit use, to see if I can reuse any of it for the Rider patrols. It appears that patrol points can't be shared, which is a disappointment. I was hoping that route sections could be used again, and I wouldn't have to place duplicate waypoints, but at least Bethsoft has done the research on where they're needed.

I need to create the AI packages that follow these routes before I can put them onto the Aliases in the recruitment quest. Rider01, whoever she is, will get the first bed, and be assigned the first route to patrol, etc. The player doesn't get a patrol, having Dragonborn responsibilities that take precedence, but they don't get a bed at the Lodge (or Timo in it).

I've decided that Gunilla will change into a Rider uniform once she has a recruit. If the player character is female, that's as soon as the first quest is complete. If the PC is male, it will wait until the first follower is brought in.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Oct 28 2013, 07:21 PM


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ghastley
post Nov 8 2013, 04:32 PM
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More progress, though much of it backwards.

I've set up a test rider on a short patrol between Falkreath and Riverwood, just to prototype the eventual AI for the recruits.

The good news is that Svana Test-Rider does indeed set off on her bear and she does shuttle between the two endpoints.

The bad news is that if she meets any bandits (and she chose to try going though Helgen, so she does) then she gets off her bear to fight, and doesn't get back on. The bear lays down and sleeps, and she continues on foot. I followed back past him on the next lap, and she walks right past him, despite her package having the "ride if possible" flag. I suspect I need an overriding remount procedure for when she's dismounted and not in combat, but haven't yet figured out how to define it. It will likely need to be multiple procedures - i.e find bear, mount bear, with all the complications of making sure she doesn't go looking for the bear while riding him!

Edit: I got nowhere trying to find out how to get the actor's current mount in the CK, so I just loaded up Pala's game to see how she behaved there. And in that one, it all works! Proof is below; now I just need to figure out what happened in Fleur's game.

Convoy! - Pala following Svana past the lake.
Side by side - the other side of Falkreath after the sun came up.

and a quick screenshot from Fleur's game - Damned Horker kids! Get off my lawn!

This post has been edited by ghastley: Nov 22 2017, 07:33 PM


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ghastley
post Nov 11 2013, 04:19 PM
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Over the weekend I rolled another test character - a male Khajiit called Ra'vish - and he succeeded in finding several errors in the quests. Gunilla did tell him that he wasn't eligible to join, but that set the wrong stage of the quest and left him with an objective he shouldn't have had (to make some armour). Then Unna's quest wouldn't start as I'd incorrectly triggered it from a stage that males don't pass through. So I've fixed those, and he's about to set off and get her amulet back.

Which reminds me, I need to make her one. A unique one with a bear claw pendant, similar to what Meija wore in the Oblivion mod. I could then add dialogue to suggest it was the same one.

I spent a lot of time with Pala and Ra'vish following Svana Test-Rider to see where she went on her patrol. It only has one intermediate way-point at the junction of the roads north of Falkreath, to make her go there instead of past Helgen. She appears to follow the roads most of the time, but will take short-cuts without any apparent logic. The good news for me was that she resumes her patrol after a fight, rather than try to go back to the start point and begin afresh. That should mean that higher-priority procedures in the AI packages will let the lower ones resume when appropriate, and I can layer the end-point activities over the base shuttle patrol.

The bad news is that I still don't know how many way-points the patrols will need to keep the riders on the roads. I'll most likely finish a few side-quests before the recruit one is complete.

---------------

Ra'vish is a pure mage. He's still trying to find a style that suits his abilities, and experimenting with summoning an Atronach as ally/distraction. Without armour, he's weak at close quarters, so he needs to kill before his enemies can reach him. I can't get the hang of how staves work, or which spells are immediately cast, and which are 'charge-and-release", but it will come in time.


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King Coin
post Nov 18 2013, 05:16 AM
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Heh, I can see why Ra'vish would follow the patrols.

Delphine, during the main quest, takes the Dragonborn on a couple of lengthy walks. I recall her mostly sticking to the roads during both with only a few places where she leave.

Skyrim doesnít seem to have been made with a pure mage in mind. Good luck with him.


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post Nov 18 2013, 02:58 PM
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Since I'm not playing Skyrim and am not a modder, I'm afraid I can do little more than look at the pretty pictures. biggrin.gif But this looks very neat. I'm so glad you're bringing the barebear riders up to Skyrim!


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ghastley
post Nov 18 2013, 06:33 PM
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Well, I'm trying to do so, but not yet succeeding.

The big plus is that the Skyrim bears are better mounts than the Oblivion ones. I was never able to get the walking animation right, so the NPC's galloped everywhere, and the player never got to ride in OB. Now the player can ride in Skyrim, but I have a lot more work to do getting the NPC's to remount and continue after any interruptions to their patrols. I think the problem will be solved if I can get the bears to stop sleeping when their rider is nearby, as I think that inhibits the remount. That will need a new tool, to edit the HKX files that control the selection of idles. The CK doesn't go far enough for what I need.

The way you write scripts is completely different, but I think I've got that figured out, so once the critical "Recruit more Riders" quest is done, more rider-related ones won't be hard to add.

The same issues with NPC voices exists in Skyrim as in Oblivion. Adding new dialogue to existing NPC's means a change of voice, so it should be avoided, and all new things should be spoken by new characters. However, I decided to allow recruitment of existing followers, so I have the problem of new infos for all those. I only have three new NPC's - Gunilla the captain/barkeep, Timo the smith, and Unna the bear-trainer. I can record Timo, and Gunilla and Unna are both Nords, so one VA could do both. The big question is whether I can avoid the need for new dialogue for the recruits themselves. "Yes" and "No" may be all they get to say!



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King Coin
post Nov 18 2013, 07:10 PM
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There is a decent selection of things for follower NPCs to say.


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ghastley
post Dec 1 2013, 07:00 PM
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Silly things that hold up the modding process:

Did you know that the difference between this and this is just one bit flag setting in the BSLightingShaderProperty? I spent forever searching for a flag in the BSDismemberSkinInstance which I foolishly imagined would control meshes attaching to skeletons.

I'm still looking for a way to associate a rider with her own bear. I need to adjust their AI so they find each other if separated, the way they did in Oblivion. It looks like all the ways to do that are static ones, defined in the CK, and can't be dynamically set when the rider is recruited. It may be that there's a way to define it for the quest aliases, which are static, but it's escaping me so far.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Mar 1 2016, 11:26 PM


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King Coin
post Dec 3 2013, 03:28 AM
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Iím glad I havenít really tried making new outfits myself. That looks like a very frustrating and tedious job.

You might be able to create a couple of arrays and say Actor[0] (rider) is always associated with Creature[0] (bear). Then when you recruit someone, they fill a slot in the array.

Aliases are very useful too. I wouldn't have been able to make my Followers Can Relax mod without them.


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ghastley
post Nov 29 2017, 04:01 PM
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Bumping this to remind myself to revisit it. The hold-ups were:
  • the script(s) for Unna the Bear Trainer that would have her cycle through phases of waiting for a new bear, training it, and offering it for sale - possibly chained quests will achieve this, as each one can have separate AI.
  • Rider/bear pairings - this will probably just be arrays in the script
  • Patrol routes - I thought that I could re-use caravan routes, but they're not shareable, however cloning each patrol marker should be viable.
  • further quests

Dialogue is always an issue, but Timo's standard smith is OK, and only Gunilla and Unna need a unique voice (so far). The main worry is any need for new NPC Rider dialogue after recruitment.


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