A couple weeks ago, I started playing Stalker again to see if I could get into it. It’s a bit more palatable with the right assortment of mods but still buggy and not realizing its full potential. Although I’m not experiencing as many locks and crashes during play (since cleaning the computer out), I still get some crashes when loading games or exiting. I also started getting weird input hangs similar to the ones Titan Quest had. Fortunately, the fix was the same; just set the game to below normal priority in Task Manager. I think the problem is caused by a combination of my system and current game technologies and practices, as not all games have the same troubles.
But as I just mentioned, I had to use mods to plug up some of the gameplay holes in Stalker. Actually, I even did a small mod of my own. I found the hunger and starvation aspect of the game to be made an annoyance by the too-frequent need of opening your inventory and double-clicking some food. This gave me an excuse to write a program that can change the necessary hunger variables of an oft-modded game file without overwriting any previous modifications. Probably overkill for such a simple thing, but it’s still a lot more convenient. You can download it from here or a really awesome site for Stalker mods, FileFront. Additionally, I compiled a list earlier of all the game aspects that I thought needed improvement and have mods available to fix them:
- lowered respawn-makes things repopulate the world less quickly (but apparently some areas continually respawn specific stalkers/creatures, like the industrial region on the way to Yantar). i haven’t actually found a mod to do this one yet, but information on how to can be found at this thread.
- A-Life-allows the stalkers to move around more, improving the atmosphere by creating unique encounters
- weather overhaul-you shouldn’t be able to not distinguish between night and day
- remove annoying sounds like the nightvision loop or the npcs that repeat one phrase over and over
- non-degrading armor-because it sucks having to throw away good armor that got trashed, unless you have…
- repair mod-allowing you to keep your weapons (and armor) from getting worn out and jamming
- detectors-locates anomalies and marks them on your minimap, so you don’t have to spend so much time later in the game watching for anomally effects
- more realistic location damage-because a headshot should always drop um
- extended loot mod-puts a wider range of goodies on bodies
- increased weight limit-because it sucks only carrying around a couple large guns (albeit more realistic). i prefer a 150/200kg limit.
- increased or no time limit on quests-it’s too difficult getting back in the same day to complete quests. i’d rather just wander around freely and choose when i want to do a quest.
- increased flash light range-the original flashlight feels unrealistically short-range
- real-world weapon names-i’m tired of games pussing out and making up weapon names (like CS does and then you have to mod every time an update comes out).
- mp5/sawed-off/aksmu fitting in the pistol weapon slot-it’s pretty useless only having weak pistols in that slot all the time.
- decreased stalker vision and perception-too much terminator vision going on here, and it’s hard to sneak up on them.
But I haven’t just been loafing around playing games all month. I’ve also made a lot of progress on my alarm program (cleverly named “Snake’s Alarm”), and a closed beta is in sight. I’m fairly certain that I’ve located the reliability bug that existed in earlier beta versions and have thus fixed it. There have been numerous other bug-fixes and changes, but also a lot of additions, such as: handling standby to either wake up the computer for an alarm or keep it awake for alarms; program settings are finally available with about ten useful user preferences; systray popups and message box actions available; multiple sound files for sound alarms; and integrated help documentation.
I also did a little work on a mod of Baryonyx’s Extended World CTW mod for Rise of Nations to make it an “Imperial” CTW. That is, only Gunpowder and Enlightenment age are available. I redid a few scenario scripts and was working on a new field battle scenario with large numbers of troops, moving in groups so they attack in lines. I’m not sure when I’ll finish this–maybe after I’m done with Stalker. Or the next time I spend a week at Kaylen‘s place with only my laptop.