Fallout New Vegas

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jtgibson

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About this mod

AlterTalk allows you to hold Alt to speak to generic NPCs who would not ordinarily have a conversation with the player. It is intended for use with mods that add in lore and other dialogue features to generic NPCs.

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== AlterTalk ==
Requires NVSE v4+


WHAT IS ALTERTALK

AlterTalk accomplishes a function similar to Smaller Talk (available on a different website): it allows conversations with generic NPCs to bypass their "not gonna talk to you" Goodbye-flagged greetings, to be used with (other) mods that add dialogue globally.  I'll be using it with my forthcoming Realism and Interaction mods, but this feature is also necessary for innumerable other dialogue mods (some of them a little squickier than others).

For instance, if a mod adds in a "[Rob]" dialogue option to all NPCs in the game instead of using an activate choice, or allows you to ask any random NPC for bits of lore or... other deeds... then AlterTalk makes that dialogue option accessible even on those NPCs who normally just speak and keep walking without starting a conversation.  I presume it's also similar to Small Talk, but I've never used that one myself.  In any case, AlterTalk is what I would consider a vast improvement over Smaller Talk because it puts the power into your hands.

Instead of using an override that detects if you've pressed the Activate key and then forces the NPC to greet you unless it detects you spoke to the NPC, AlterTalk it allows you to choose when to apply the effect by holding the Alt key before activating an NPC: hold Alt, the NPC immediately talks using AlterTalk unless they had a genuine greeting already.  Leave Alt alone, vanilla behaviour.

It's also a pun.  AlterTalk.  Alt ter Talk!  Get it?  (DontExplainTheJoke)

COMPATIBILITY

AlterTalk requires NVSE 4.0+. As the latest release at time of writing is 5.0 Beta 3, you'd have to be very out of date not to have a compatible version...

AlterTalk is compatible right out of the box with just about every other mod under the sun... except, of course, for Smaller Talk, and even that still works with it and is merely redundant rather than broken.  In other words, no need to ask if it's compatible with FOOK, Project Nevada, Tale of Two Wastelands, etc.  It is.  No, seriously, don't take my word for it, just fire it up and see for yourself.  (Told you so. ;-))

HOW TO USE

Press and hold the Alt key while activating an NPC to trigger a custom spoken topic that then drops you to the NPC's top level of dialogue.  In other words, hold Alt, press E, and there's a practically immediate conversation.  It delays only roughly 150~200 milliseconds, long enough to ensure that dialogue hasn't actually started already, which is so short you probably won't even notice.

If the NPC has a normal conversation to have, they will still engage in that conversation with or without AlterTalk, but otherwise they will make a small generic greeting and drop you into conversation mode.  If you don't want to waste time talking to a generic NPC who has nothing meaningful to say, or if you just want to hear the full verbal "hello" greeting the generic NPC has ("We won't go quietly, the Legion can count on that!"), don't hold Alt and the standard game behaviour takes over.

Unlike the competing mod, this means there's no need for long activation delays, nor will it interfere with "normal" greetings if they actually do have a conversation to open up.  It also allows you to listen to voiced random dialogue without opening up a conversation unless you want to, and doesn't force a companion to speak to you after you use the companion wheel.  Cool, huh?

AlterTalk also allows you to force a conversation with robots, animals, and other creatures, although they are unlikely to have any actual dialogue attached... unless you have a mod specifically intended to allow you to speak to certain creatures for some reason, or the person writing one of your mods was incredibly inept and didn't use proper conditions in their dialogue -- in which case it's their fault, not mine!  A forced conversation with a peaceful animal will typically go like '...?' "[End conversation.]" '...'.  Which, I suppose, is more or less how a real conversation with an animal goes too.

AlterTalk also ensures that all creatures have an explicit "[End conversation.]" topic.  This allows you to exit conversation with any creature that doesn't have a normal Goodbye topic (which can happen in rare instances, depending on your loaded mods -- most notable instances are the Mr. Handys in REPCONN HQ).  This topic is disabled if you have SettingAlterTalkAllowCreatures toggled off, so it won't appear when talking to normal creatures with dialogue, like Securitrons and Rex, unless you have it enabled.

Just to be 100% clear, the only dialogue that AlterTalk adds to the game is generic greeting dialogue.  If you don't use another mod that adds additional topics to NPCs, AlterTalk's only use is for its "beckon" feature.  (That said, I did put a lot of work into the generic dialogue, and they -- especially the creature greetings -- get even better with Wild Wasteland.  Holy references, Batman!)

BECKONING:

Unique to the mod is also the ability to summon an NPC to speak to you. Centre the target in the middle of your screen and hit the beckon key (default ALT+B) and after a brief delay (default 3.0 seconds) the person will make their way over to talk to you.  (This is particularly handy when overloaded and you want to summon one of your companions to help carry a load.)

The person beckoned to will run if you hold both Alt+Shift while beckoning to them, and will also run if they are beyond roughly 15 m/50 feet distant (1024 game units).

If you beckon or talk to anyone else, the person currently approaching you will abandon their attempt and go back to what they were doing.

KNOWN LIMITATIONS OR BUGS

AlterTalk has been in my load order for a while and is fairly well tested (took me over a year to finally polish it up for release...).  Feel free to file a bug report, leave a note in the comments, or send me a PM if anything is broken.
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1) I give you the power to speak to whomever you like with this mod, but with great features come great possibilities of breaking quests: it is probably a terrible idea to try to interrupt scripted conversations or to beckon to people who are busy doing scripted behaviour.  Since you have to start a conversation by manually inputting it (i.e., the meta key was chosen expressly to prevent the script from doing anything unless you tell it to), it won't break unless you actually do something yourself, but abandon all hope ye who enter here recklessly. =)

2) If using the normal Alt+Activate control mode, the companion wheel will always override AlterTalk, preventing it from taking effect and forcing a normal conversation.  This part is intended behaviour, since you normally access all top-level dialogue entries when using "Talk To", and it prevents the NPC from forcing a conversation with you after you close down the menu if all you wanted to do was open their inventory.  The companion wheel will not intervene if you are using "Hotkey" mode rather than "Activate" mode, and likewise you can force dialogue without the dialogue wheel if set to disable the Activate control.

I suggest using Jazzisparis' Companion Command & Control mod if you want to get rid of the companion wheel entirely.  I personally don't disable the companion wheel, as although the companion wheel is less immersive than forcing dialogue all the time, that leaves CC&C as the only alternative.  CC&C is an excellent and wholeheartedly recommended mod, but asking an NPC to get out of the way takes at least four or five keypresses as well as moving the mouse and precisely aiming a Move order, whereas asking an NPC to get out of the way with the companion wheel is a single mouse movement and click on the "back up" option.  (I hate to say this, since unmodded Skyrim was streamlined oversimplified crap, but Skyrim was miles ahead of FNV as far as companions getting out of your way was concerned.)

3) Cass inexplicably has a choice-based greeting leading to a question node, which means that top level dialogue entries will not appear in her dialogue (i.e., only those topics which appear in her dialogue quest will appear), and there's no direct way to use AlterTalk to expose them for access if you're using the companion wheel.  This part is unintended, though not really AlterTalk's fault in the first place, but especially cannot be fixed without overriding Cass' dialogue and changing compatibility from "absolutely everything" to "anything that's not a Cass dialogue mod" (which isn't terrible but is still a tradeoff I don't like).

Don't worry, though... there's a workaround!  Look away from Cass (so the activate prompt no longer says "Talk: Cass") and press and hold the AlterTalk keys; then, while still holding both keys, turn and face Cass.  AlterTalk will work perfectly in that case, bypassing the companion wheel, and top-level dialogue entries added by other mods will be available.

This workaround also lets you talk to some characters whose greetings force choices repeatedly (like Lucy West in Tale of Two Wastelands before you've taken her quest), and also works for any other companion if you want to bypass the companion wheel.

Mountains out of molehills and all -- this limitation affects you practically never (i.e., you need a mod that adds dialogue globally which is also unaware of Cass' dialogue pecularities).

4) Presently not designed with game controllers in mind, and I'm not sure if this is likely to change.  I do have a wired Xbox 360 controller used exclusively for my computer, but mouse and keyboard is always better for roleplaying games, third-person simulation games, and first person shooters, and I've yet to see a good example where this isn't the case -- the only places where gamepads shine more are pure action games, arcade games, beat 'em ups, and twin-stick schmups.  You can use Lutana's plugin to simulate keypresses with your controller, but metakeys on controllers are always uncomfortable.  In short, keep that keyboard handy!  You can always reach over and hold Alt while tapping your A button or what-have-you.

5) Just a performance note: AlterTalk uses a script that polls at 19 Hz (or whatever it can accomplish if your frame rate is lower than 19 fps), which is more or less the time it takes to tap a key naturally.  Anything less would require mashing on the key for an unnatural amount of time, which would make the mod feel less responsive.  I'm sure if you tried really hard you could tap a key faster than in 1/19th of a second, but a natural fast typing speed is around 5 to 8 keys per second, so it would be very difficult to beat the interval with both a key down and key up.  AlterTalk is extremely lightweight and I have not observed ''any'' slowdowns as a result of using it (not even 1 fps), but it will still contribute whatever small amount that it actually does.

6) The default FO3/NV engine has a bug where StartConversation is unreliable when an actor is using certain furniture or idle markers.  If they are at a distance where they would have to stop using the furniture marker to start a conversation, the game will lock them into an AI state where they "should" start a conversation but will not abandon the idle marker to do so, so they will remain locked in place until something overrides their AI.  Generally this occurs for any marker which doesn't have a special marker ID assigned, although it also frequently occurs for "rail" markers as well as anytime their GetSitting state is in transition.  I've already prevented the worst offenders, but one or two may slip through now and again.

The workaround is fairly simply and effective: simply beckon to the same actor you tried talking to with AlterTalk normally, and their original conversation attempt will be abandoned and they will receive a scripted package to leave the idle marker and speak to you instead.

The reason AlterTalk does not rely entirely on scripted packages is because scripted packages usually force an actor to stop using their furniture/idle marker before speaking.

SETTINGS

The default configuration should work just fine for 99% of users without need to configure. Manual configuration is possible with the console. The default settings are the numbers shown.
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  • set SettingAlterTalkAllowCreatures to 1 -- If zero, creatures cannot be beckoned or spoken to.
  • set SettingAlterTalkBeckonDelay to 3.000 -- Amount of time to wait after beckoning an NPC before they will make their way over.
  • set SettingAlterTalkBeckonKey to 48 -- DX scancode for the key to beckon with (default B).  Uses same metakeys as AlterTalk conversations.
  • set SettingAlterTalkBeckonHurryRange to 1024 -- Game units beyond which an actor will be told to run rather than walk when beckoned to (default is roughly 50 ft/15 m)
  • set SettingAlterTalkBeckonMaxRange to 4096 -- Maximum range to allow beckoning to an actor (default is roughly 200 ft/60 m)
  • set SettingAlterTalkControlMode to 0 -- If 0, uses Activate key.  If 1, uses a user-defined hotkey.
  • set SettingAlterTalkHotkey to 18 -- DX scancode for key to speak with (default E).  Ignored if using Activate (control mode 0).
  • set SettingAlterTalkConversationDelay to 0.15 -- Number of seconds to wait before opening AlterTalk dialogue, to allow conversation wheel or normal dialogue to occur if any.
  • set SettingAlterTalkDisableActivate to 0 -- If 1, the Activate control is disabled while holding down the metakeys.  This allows bypassing the companion wheel and regular dialogue without using the workaround, but is less "safe".
  • set SettingAlterTalkMetaKeyMode to 0 -- If 0, uses default Alt.  If 1, uses Shift.  If 2, uses Alt+Shift.  If 3, uses no metakey.

An MCM menu is forthcoming, but I've never been particularly fond of mod configuration menus and INI saving as it's so much easier to create a patch in FNVEdit to modify your globals permanently while simultaneously using the console to tweak the settings until you find something you like.  But then, I'm an old-school DOS user.

FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS

I only release a mod whenever I consider everything down to "Could" done under the MOSCOW principle -- the remaining stuff is just my "Wants".  If you really do think a given feature is needed, let me know and I'll bump it up my (ridiculously long) list of things to do (which I accumulated over seven years of job and post-secondary sucking up my free time, so it is lonnnnng ;-)).  I do of course take other suggestions as well. =)

* Only robot, intelligent, semi-intelligent, or trained creatures will respond to beckoning. UNIMPLEMENTED (Presently all creatures can be beckoned.)

* Beckoning will optionally play an animation, which differs between standing (using the mugger's wave) or sitting (using Burke's wave). UNIMPLEMENTED (Presently no animations play.  PlayIdle is the spottiest piece of crap ever and no one has ever gotten around to publishing a meaningful tutorial on reliably playing animations in all of 10 years. =))

* Beckoning to a hostile NPC will simply alert them to your presence, allowing them to attack you.  Creatures that are aggressive but have not yet decided to press the attack will also escalate to violence if you beckon to them, as they will view it as posturing or threatening (animals live by the bro code, and vice versa, and that is not a compliment). UNIMPLEMENTED (Presently beckoning to a hostile is simply cancelled without giving away your position. It doesn't matter yet since there's no animation anyway.)

* Some NPCs will refuse to react to beckoning -- a perfect opportunity for the flip-off animation, if nothing else.... UNIMPLEMENTED (The problem here is finding a decent cross-compatible personality, since everyone's mods do something different.)

* Adds a user-friendly MCM menu which allows reassignment of the various gameplay settings. UNIMPLEMENTED (I prefer global settings, and MCM came out after "my time" so I have to learn the whole thing from scratch to do this. =P)

* More unique greetings for humans, ghouls, and mutants:
  • Enclave (TTW) UNIMPLEMENTED
  • Tribals (HH) UNIMPLEMENTED

* More unique greetings for non-hostile creatures:
  • Feral Ghouls UNIMPLEMENTED (only possible with TTW and ghoul mask)
  • Geckos UNIMPLEMENTED
  • Lakelurks and Mirelurks UNIMPLEMENTED
  • Cyberdogs UNIMPLEMENTED
  • Yao Guai (TTW/HH) UNIMPLEMENTED
  • Any other non-hostile creatures from TTW I may have missed which can be added without a dedicated patch plugin. UNIMPLEMENTED

PERMISSIONS

All I ask for is credit as the original author if you want to modify, take source code from, re-upload, or re-release the mod, and that it never be done for profit.  In short, don't be a dick.  No donations accepted: give the money to charity: water or to International Committee of the Red Cross instead. =)