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Over-Optimizing for Performance

Recently on the csharp subreddit, the post C# 9.0 records: immutable classes linked to a surprisingly controversial article discussing how C# 9.0's records are, underneath it all, immutable classes. The comments are full of back-&-forth over whether one should use records for ease or structs for performance. The pro-struct argument revolved around the belief that performance should always be a developer's #1 priority, and anything less was the realm of the laggard.
Here is a real-world example that shows with stark clarity why that kind of thinking is wrong.
Consider the following scenario:

1

You're working on a game with dozens, maybe hundreds of people on the team; you don't know because when you were cross with facilities about them removing all the fluorescents, you got accused of being against the new energy saving initiative. Now you swim in a malevolent ocean of darkness that on some very late nights alone in the office, you swear is actively trying to consume you.
 

2

The team that preceded you inherited an engine that is older than OOP, when source repositories were stacks of 8-inch floppies, and it looked as if Jefferson Starship was going to take over the world. One year ago they bequeathed upon the company this nightmare of broken, undocumented GOTO spaghetti & anti-patterns. You're convinced this was their sadistic revenge for all getting fired post-acquisition.
 

3

Management denied your request to get headcount for an additional technical artist, but helpfully supplied you with an overly nervous intern. After several weeks working alongside them, you're beginning to suspect they're pursuing something other than a liberal arts degree.
 

4

Despite the many getting started guides you spent countless evenings writing, the endless brownbags nobody attended, and the daily dozen emails you forward to oppressively inquisitive artists comprised of a single passive-aggressive sentence suggesting they scroll down to the part that begins FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: RE: WE BROKE TOOL NEED WORKAROUND ASAP ...
 
...yes, despite all of that, the engineering team still spent days tracking down why the game kept crashing with Error 107221: У вас ошибка after re-re-re-re-re-throwing an ex_exception when it couldn't (and should never even try to) load a 16K-textured floor mat.
 

5

Despite your many attempts to politely excuse yourself, one blissfully unaware artist exhausts 48 minutes of your lunch break explaining how the Pitchfork review for the latest "dope slab" of this TikTok-Instagram-naphouse artist you never heard of was just sooooo unfair.
 
And then in their hurry to finish up & catch the 2:30 PM bus home, they forget to toggle Compress To CXIFF (Custom Extended Interchange File Format), set the Compression slider 5/6ths of the way between -3 & -2, look to their left, look to their right, click Export As .MA 0.9.3alpha7, and make absolutely, positively, 100% SURE not to be working in prod. And THAT is how the game explodicated.
 

6

You know better than anyone the intermediate file format the main game loop passes to Game.dll, memory mapping it as a reverse top-middle Endian binary structure.
 
You know for 381 of the parameter fields what their 2-7 character names probably mean.
 
YOU know which 147 fields always have to be included, but with a null value, and that the field ah_xlut must ALWAYS be set to 0 unless it's Thursday, in which case that blackbox from hell requires its internal string equivalent: TRUE.
 
YOU know that the two tech artists & one rapidly aging intern that report to you would totally overhaul tooling so artists would never "happen" again, but there just aren't enough winters, springs, summers, falls, July 4ths, Christmas breaks, Presidents Days, and wedding anniversaries in a year to properly do so.
 

7

If you could just find the time between morning standups, after lunch standups, watersprint post-mortems, Milbert's daily wasting of an hour at your desk trying to convince you engineering should just rebuild the engine from the ground up in JavaScript & React, & HR's mandatory EKG Monitor job satisfaction surveys, you might be able to get at least some desperately-needed tooling done.
 
And so somehow you do. A blurry evening or two here. A 3:00 AM there. Sometimes just a solitary lunch hour.
 
Your dog no longer recognizes you.
 
You miss your wife calling to say she's finally cleaning out the hall closet and if you want to keep this box of old cards & something in plastic that says Underground Sea Beta 9.8 Grade, you better call her back immediately.
 
And your Aunt Midge, who doesn't understand how SMS works, bombards you one evening:
your father is...
no longer with us...
they found him...
1 week ago...
in an abandoned Piggly Wiggly...
by an old culvert...
split up...
he was then...
laid down to rest...
sent to St. Peter's...
and your father...
he's in a better place now...
don't worry...
it's totally okay...
we decided we will all go...
up to the mountain
 
You call your sister in a panic and, after a tidal wave of confusion & soul-rending anxiety, learn it was just Hoboken Wireless sending the messages out of order. This causes you to rapidly cycle.
 

8

On your bipolar's upswing, you find yourself more productive than you've ever been. Your mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention. It's like your brain is on 200mg of pure grade Adderall.
 
Your fingers ablaze with records, clean inheritance, beautiful pattern matching, bountiful expression syntax, aircraft carriers of green text that generate the most outstanding CHM for an internal tool the world has ever seen. Readable. PERFECTLY SOLID.
 
After much effort, you gaze upon the completed GUI of your magnum opus with the kind of pride you imagine one would feel if they hadn't missed the birth of their son. Clean, customer-grade WPF; tooltips for every control; sanity checks left & right; support for plugins & light scripting. It's even integrated with source control!
 
THOSE GODDAMNED ARTISTS CAN'T FAIL. YOUR PIPELINE TOOL WON'T LET THEM.
 
All they have to do is drag content into the application window, select an options template or use the one your tool suggests after content analysis, change a few options, click Export, and wait for 3-5 minutes to generate Game.dll-compatible binary.
 
Your optimism shines through the commit summary, your test plan giddy & carefree. With great anticipation, you await code review.
 

9

A week goes by. Then two. Then three. Nothing. The repeated pinging of engineers, unanswered.
 
Two months in you've begun to lose hope. Three months, the pangs of defeat. Four months, you write a blog post about how fatalism isn't an emotion or outlook, but the TRANSCENDENCE of their sum. Two years pass by. You are become apathy, destroyer of wills.
 

10

December 23rd, 2022: the annual Winter Holidays 2-hour work event. The bar is open, the Kokanee & Schmidt's flowing (max: 2 drink tickets). The mood a year-high ambivalent; the social distancing: acceptable. They even have Pabst Blue Ribbon, a beer so good it won an award once.
 
Standing beside you are your direct reports, Dave "Macroman" Thorgletop and wide-eyed The Intern, the 3 of you forming a triumvirate of who gives a shit. Dave is droning on & on about a recent family trip to Myrtle Beach. You pick up something something "can you believe that's when my daughter Beth scooped up a dead jellyfish? Ain't that something? A dead jellyfish," and "they even had a Ron Jons!"
 
You barely hear him, lost as you are in thought: "I wish I had 2 days of vacation." You stare down ruefully at your tallboy.
 
From the corner of your eye you spot Milbert, index finger pointed upward, face a look of pure excitement.
 
"Did I tell you about my OpenWinamp project? It's up on SourceForge", he says as he strides over. It's unsettling how fast this man is.
 
"JAVASCRIPT IS JUST A SUBSET OF JAVA!" you yell behind you, tossing the words at him like a German potato masher as you power walk away. It does its job, stopping Milbert dead in his tracks.
 
Dave snickers. The Intern keeps staring wide-eyed. You position yourself somewhat close to the studio's 3 young receptionists, hoping they serve as a kind of ritual circle of protection.
 
It works... kind of. Milbert is now standing uncomfortably close to The Intern, Dave nowhere to be seen.
 
From across the room you distinctly hear "Think about it, the 1st-person UI could be Lua-driven Electron."
 
The Intern clearly understands that words are being spoken to them, but does not comprehend their meaning.
 
You briefly feel sorry for the sacrificial lamb.
 

11

You slide across the wall, putting even more distance between you & boredom made man. That's when you spot him, arrogantly aloof in the corner: Glen Glengerry. Core engineering's most senior developer.
 
Working his way up from a 16-year old game tester making $4.35 an hour plus free Dr. Shasta, to pulling in a cool $120K just 27-years later, plus benefits & Topo Chicos. His coding style guides catechism, his Slack pronouncements ex cathedra; he might as well be CTO.
 
You feel lucky your team is embedded with the artists. You may have sat through their meetings wondering why the hell you should care about color theory, artistic consistency, & debates about whether HSL or CMYK was the superior color space (spoiler: it's HSL), you were independent and to them, a fucking code wizard, man.
 
And there he stands, this pseudo-legend, so close you could throw a stapler at him. Thinning grey-blonde tendrils hanging down from his CodeWarrior hat, white tee with This Guy VIMs on the back, tucked into light blue jeans. He's staring out into the lobby at everything and yet... nothing all at.
 

12

Maybe it's the 4.8% ABV. Maybe it's the years of crushing down anger into a singularity, waiting for it to undergo rapid fiery expansion, a Big Bang of righteous fury. Maybe it's those sandals with white socks. Maybe it's all three. But whatever it is, it's as if God himself compels you to march over & give him a piece of your mind, seniority be damned.
 
"Listen, you big dumb bastard..."
 
That... is maybe a little too aggressive. But Glen Glengerry barely reacts. Pulling a flask out of his back pocket, he doesn't look over as he passes it to you.
 
Ugh. Apple Pucker.
 

13

"I thought bringing in your own alcohol was against company policy", wiping sticky green sludge from your lips. He turns with a look of pure disdain & snorts.
 
"You think they're going to tell ME what I can & can't bring in?" He grabs the flask back, taking a big swig.
 
For what feels like an eternity, you both stand in silence. You swallow, speaking softly. "None of you even looked at my code. I worked very, very hard on that. My performance review for that year simply read 'recommend performance improvement plan." The words need no further context.
 
"I know", Glen² replies. "That was me."
 

14

Now you're not a weak man, and maybe in some other circumstance you would have punched him in the goddamn lip. But you feel nothing, just a hollowness inside. "Why?", you ask, wondering if the answer would even matter.
 
"Because you don't use Bulgarian notation. Because your method names aren't lower camel case. Because good code doesn't require comments. Because you use classes & records over more performant structs, pointlessly burdening the heapstack. BECAUSE. YOUR CODE. IS. SHIT."
 
You clinch your fists so tightly the knuckles whiten.
 

15

He looks away from you, taking another sip of green goo. "You're not a coder. You're an artist masquerading as one" he speaks, as if it were fact.
 
The only thing artistic about you is the ability to create user-friendly internal tooling using nothing but a UI framework, broken down garbage nobody wants to touch, & sheer willpower. If your son's life depended on you getting accepted into art instruction school, you couldn't even draw a turtle.
 
He doesn't pause. "I'll champion ruthless micro-optimization until the day I die. But buddy, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: you aren't here to improve workflow. You're here to LOOK like you're doing something NOBODY else can."
 
He goes on. "What do you think those artists are going to do when they have to stare at a progress bar for 4, 5 minutes? They're going to complain your tool is slow."
 
"Sure, it may take them 20, 30 minutes to do it the old way, there'll be an error, and either they'll stare at it for 30 minutes before adding that missing semi-colon or they'll come get you. And you'll fix it. And 1 week later, they won't remember how. And you'll stay employed. And every. Body. Wins."
 

16

A little bit of the pride, the caring, wells back up inside from somewhere long forgotten.
 
"You don't think we should care about rapid application development & KISS, quickly getting things out that help our team, instead devoting ourselves to shaving off ticks here & there? What do you think artists are going to do with those 4 minutes you talk about?
 
You don't stop. "I'll tell you what they'll do. They'll 9GAG for 20 minutes straight. They'll listen to podcasts about dialectical materialism vis-a-vis the neo-feudalism that is a natural extension of the modern world's capitalist prison. They'll Reddit."
 
His silence gives you the bravery to push the limits.
 
"Christ, man. Are you only in it for the $120K..."
 
He corrects you: "...$123K."
 
"...only in it for the $123K/year? The free snacks from the microkitchen? The adulation? Have you no sense of comraderie?? No desire to push us to something better?! No integrity?!!!"
 
His eyes sharply narrow, face creases in anger. You clearly have overstepped your bounds.
 

17

"You think I don't have integrity? No sense of teamwork? I'm only in it for the cold cash? You think I don't care about you all?", he roars.
 
A light volley of small green flecks land on your face.
 
"Why do you think they made a 16-year old tester the lead developer of a 1993 Doom clone?! Because my code was clean & painless to work with?! Because I made coding look easy?! No! IT WAS BECAUSE I WAS A GOD TO THEM.
 
And from a God, a PANTHEON. We built monuments to over-engineering! We crafted that of 7 weeks onboarding, that of immortal bugs, demonic hosts spawned by legion from the very loins of a fix. It took 2 years before a developer could BEGIN to feel confident they knew what they were doing. And by that time, they were one of US!
 
You think the team we laid off November '19 was fired because they were bad at their jobs? NO! It was because they worked themselves out of one. They didn't leave us a broken pipeline. They left an internal Wiki, a wealth of tools & example projects, and a completely transparent code base.
 
We couldn't have THAT, now could we? No, we couldn't. So we got rid of it. ALL OF IT. Poof. Gone. Just like that. Before anyone even knew a THING."
 
He leans forward, so close his psoriasis almost touches yours.  
With an intensity that borders on frightening, he whispers "You think they left us Game.dll? I fucking *MADE** Game.dll."*
 
The words hit hard like a freight train.
 

18

And without another word, he turns & leaves. You're left there, alone, coworkers milling about, with only one thought.
     
Were one to get a hobby, should it be cocaine?
 

In Conclusion

It's these kinds of situations that make me believe there are far more important considerations than a ruthless dedication to performance, even in the game industry as my real-world scenario so clearly demonstrates.
 
Like, records are cool & shit.
submitted by form_d_k to shittyprogramming [link] [comments]

DEMOLITION DAYS, PART 95

Continuing
He still came around making trouble, but oddly enough, our little cul-de-sac corner was more-or-less Batshit Crazy-free for the next 34 months.
After that, things sort of calmed down. Well, one of his older boys thought it would be fun to attack Khris, push her off her bike, and try and steal the Uzbek sapphire amulet I had gotten her years earlier.
Khris is not a small girl; she is a corn-fed daughter of the vast cow-pocked hills and rolling pastures of Baja Canada. She didn’t take lightly to some weasely little Arab probably future pole-smokers trying to steal from and assaulting her.
It took more than one punch, but Khris coldcocked the elder of the Guano Insano clan and laid him out so an undertaker could have taken easy measurements. Oh, he was still breathing, but I nevertheless think he was shammin’, playin’ possum until Daddy Dearest could come and rescue him from the rage of wrathful Wisconsinians.
Liam and I were sitting in the porch area of his villa, smoking cigars, drinking our sunrisers, watching the tableau unfold. We both thought Khris handled the situation well, particularly the outcome. The miscreant was out cold’n a foundered mackerel and Khris didn’t heel-stamp him in the chuckle-bits nor curb-stomp his head even though he had initially, and without provocation, punched Khris in the head.
Major stylistic points, Khris.
After 6 or 7 of his offspring rant to alert him, Señor Srībaśita Inasēna came over to shovel his insensible frogspawn up off the tarmac. He was ranting and raving, screaming and splitting the air with threats, dark oaths and other forms of bad noise.
He headed straight for Khris to administer a smackdown, as Khris resolutely held her ground.
I merely stood up and asked Khris if she needed some help.
She replied in the negative, stating that this fool wasn’t going to be much more of a challenge than ‘his idiot kid’
I swear, he went, even more, batshit crazy. However, something clicked and Señor Srībaśita Inasēna looked over his shoulder to see not one, but two near-identical way-more-crazy than he extra-large people standing there, both with cigars and icy cold drinks. He suddenly seemed to experience a spate of total recall how one of the large apparitions said he’d begin him on his journey toward room temperature if he so much as sneered in our direction.
He scooped up his unconscious spawn, muttered something none of us could make out, and scurried back to his loathsome piece of home real estate.
That was more or less the end of our run-ins with Señor Srībaśita Inasēna and his extended tribe.
Swing forward to the late summer. The weather calmed a bit and one’s skin didn’t immediately bubble every time one went out to collect the local morning news-rag. Things were going well for the cul-de-sac; jobs were advancing apace, children were doing well in their various studies, people were, oh what was that word? Ah, yes, happy.
Happy people do fun things.
So, it was decided it was time we have a block party.
Of course, Liam came up with the brilliant idea that we should have a pig roast.
“Umm, Liam”, I ahemed, “In case you forgot, we live in an Arabic Muslim country in the Middle East. Pigs and pork and porcine parts are sort of verboten around here. “
“Ok, Rock”, Liam laughed, “I know that, you know that, my hat knows that. But we Brits must have our bacon, sausage, and chops. It’s in our DNA. Besides, I can get one flown in through my company; under the wire. I could sneak him over here easily. We’d just have to keep him under wraps until bar-be-que time rolls around. You’re from Texas, so…”
“Adopted native son” I corrected.
“Right”, Liam continued, “But you were from Baja Canada first, so you must know how to cook a whole pig…”
“That right, I do, but…, I said, “…you want to bring a live pig in here, and keep him for a while until we can sort out the cooking necessities. We can’t use the industrial-sized stoves in the rec center at the pool. That’d raise a few eyebrows…”
Es and Cassandra wander over, listen for a bit and exclaim “Are you both out of your tiny, little minds?”
I had to admit, as I poured Liam and myself a refill, that the idea did have a certain ‘Up Yours!’ mouthwatering bacon-scented charm.
So, all four of us sat outside and over beer, vodka, and white wine for the ladies, we brewed up a perhaps passable project for our pig party.
The thing was, I’d be gone offshore for a couple of weeks and the pig would have to live at someone’s villa, under wraps, for that time; which actually escalated to 3 months.
Esme, surprising as always, volunteered to take on the task.
Might have been the white wine talking, but she admitted to missing bacon as well.
“OK, but we’re going to need a bar-be-cue pit. Where and when?” Liam asked.
“I’ll talk to Shiehk Gungan and secure permission for a Hawaiian-style pit bar-be-cue for someone or other’s fake birthday. If we can get Vonn and Honey Bee on board, their villa’s backyard backs up to a tall brick wall bordering the alley behind the City Centre. I could put in a pit there easily, and it would be out of the purview of prying eyes.” I said.
“Good”, Casandra said, “Let me get the gin and tonic makin’s and get Vonn and Honey over here as well as Dane and Dyad. Gonna have a block party, make sure you invite the entire block.”
Over the term of the afternoon, we had our plans.
Liam would secure a pig for us; approximately 200-300 pounds, on the hoof. It’d stay in our backyard under both our sun tarp and Esme Srs.’ care until Pig Killin’ Time. Liam, Vonn, and I would handle that little chore. I’d get permission to ‘dig’ a pit and install the bar-be-cue pit in Honey and Vonn’s back yard. Liam and I would handle the actual roast, and we’d all chip in for charcoal and wood smokin’ chunks, and whatever else we could find.
Dyad said she knew many, many farmers it the area and many had fruit trees, in various stages of repair. Certainly, some of that would smoke up a treat. Persimmon, pomegranate, fig, mango, durian, banana…all the earmarks of a weird pig roast.
So we had a date, a plan and the ingredients for a complete fiasco. Since Sr. Guano Insano was no longer part of the picture, and as we had few interlopers, this might actually work without all of us being tossed into the hoosegow.
I’d liberate a bit of pit diggin’ materials from work, just a small amount of dynamite, C-4, and Primacord; I already had the blasting machines. Vonn and Liam would lay in the charcoal and wood for the actual pig roast and well, Bob’s your uncle.
I went offshore to complete the 12th well on the platform and had to deal with all the logistics, bureaucracy and other sanctioned horseshit that comes with the territory. It took almost exactly 3 weeks, and at that time, Esme’s initial negative reaction to pig-sitting had changed considerably.
She had named the critter and found it to be a rather clever, and even sociable, beast. She even allowed it free reign of our house.
The name she chose was one from an old, endearing structural professor: Prof Pinkus (Prof. Pink-ass).
Ahem.
This was an unforeseen complication.
“Es, remember, “ I said over the phone, “That pig is not a pet. It’s not your buddy. It’s not going shopping with you. It’s going to be the guest of honor at a block party. Perspective, please.”
“Oh, Rock”, Es gushed, “I know that. It just makes it easier to keep up with Prof. Pinkus if you treat him like a pet rather than livestock.”
“Es!”, I yell, “He IS livestock. Soon to be deadstock. Soon to be crisply pit barbequed to a crackly crunch. He’s not your friend, he’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”
“OK, love you too.” Es says, ignoring me, “See you soon. Safe flights. Keep the shiny side up.”
I hang up. “Oh, shit. This does not bode well.” I mused on the flight shoreward.
I have to admit, pigs can be personable animals. Canny, inquisitive, seemingly intelligent. But even so, that does not trump them being delicious, appetizing, and delectable generators of bacon. Prof. Pinkus is going to be ham, bacon, and sausage soon. Not a boon companion.
The next day I ‘dig’ the pit for the barbeque. I used a shovel for exactly 2 minutes and dynamite, C-4, and primacord for a few more. Vonn was astonished that I not only dug a 6’x6’x4’ wide hole in less than an afternoon, but that I did it while smoking a cigar, drinking an, ok, several icy adult beverages, and never even breaking a sweat in the hellish late summer heat.
The Bobcat with the mounted backhoe, which I had ‘borrowed’ from work, helped a little.
Liam wandered over after the pyrotechnics were done. He didn’t care for them as the noise ‘offended his ears’. Truth be told, he had seen enough pyro jobs go south in his line of work and wanted nothing to do with them. I assured him I was a licensed Master Blaster as well as the one and only Motherfucking Pro from Dover, but it took some time to get him up to speed on the use of explosives for fun and profit.
We let the pit settle, as it was in mostly in desert sand held together with a bit of aeolian clay, or loess. We kept it wet and covered with sheets of canvas. It’d be fine for our pit barbeque in the days hence.
Vonn, Liam and I fabricobbled a cover for the pit which was made of thatched palm fronds supported by ½” pine furring-strips frame along the outer surface. Dane found a hunk of tin stove pipe and we fashioned a nicely workable chimney for the cover. Once the fire was going, and the pig in its new home, we could set the cover over the pit, shovel earth over it to seal it off and use the iris-valve in the chimney to regulate airflow.
One looks at it now, it would almost appear that we knew what we were doing.
Probably nothing was further from the truth.
We needed to ‘season’ the pit, but first, we needed to line the pit with rocks. This serves to hold the heat, and will even out its distribution. But, all we have to use is limestone around here and if limestone ever gets wet, there might be water in the fractures of the rocks. Heat that up to over 1000C and you’ve got yourself a nifty little bomb.
Of course, this will not do…
So, I get on the phone with several ‘exotic’ marble companies in the big city of Duhu. I call around asking if they might have some scrap sheets of granite, quartzite, granodiorite or marble.
Sure, for a price.
However, there was this one place where I knew this guy…
He took in huge, and I mean 4m x 5m x 5m blocks of exotic rock from the subcontinent; black granite, “Reaping Equinox’ black and white ‘granite’; most all these ‘granites’ were granodiorites, Inferno Granite, Black Sunset granite sliced thin into façade facing dimension stone, it was absolutely gorgeous in cross-section. However, the best stuff was igneous-metamorphic, tougher than a $2 steak, and just laughed at diamond carbide saw blades.
“Oh, sure now Mr., Dr. Rock”, Mr. Prakash Dongerkerry, the owneoperator of one particular lot I scavenge for Esme’s continuing lapidary hobby, “I’ve got some beauty stuff here for you. But I need some help with these couple of blocks I received from Kerala. Great rock, very pretty, but too tough. Burn out many saws, boss. You can help maybe?”
“Sure, Prak”, I replied, “I can help, no sweat.”
So, next Friday Liam and me, we eased over to the granite factory, C-4, blasting caps and Primacord in hand. Prak was a little apprehensive about using high explosives in a densely populated area, but after Vonn reminded him that he was working with the Motherfucking Pro from Dover, he relaxed some.
I crawled all over those blocks, marking with orange spray paint the nature fractures, flaws, and features of each block. Asked Prak how he’d like them split, and he indicated parallel to the major axis.
It couldn’t be easier. There was a main body-fracture system normal to the σ1 stress direction. The one’s parallel to the σ2 and σ3 were minor and nowhere near as clearly developed.
I smooshed some C-4 into a test fracture, primed it and shot it without much ado. It was surprisingly quiet for a detonation. A cute little C-4 POP.
A large slab of rock fell off the main block, severed as nicely as a hunk of cold butter from a hot knife.
Prak was thrilled. I only had another 12 or so shots to go.
They all more or less came off as planned. One or two busted when they bounced, even after the addition of old car tires below where I was blasting.
Prak, good to his word, showed us a huge pile of 1.25” thick sawn quartzite slabs that were rejected for mostly cosmetic reasons. It takes a bit of math, a bit of doing, and a lot of C-4 to extract slabs enough to line our fire pit from stem to stern, top to bottom.
Once installed, the pit was a tad less wide, a bit less deep, and a smidge less long, but it was the only Precambrian-quartzite lined bar-be-que pit in this or any other known galaxy.
We celebrated the initial fire up with whiskey and hors-d'oeuvres. I stuck with vodka, ice, lime, citrus stuff, and a Jamaican cigar.
The pit flared from the amount of dry wood we initially used. It burned very quickly into a pile of glowing embers. Now, we added some local lump charcoal and popped on the top, now sporting an exhaust chimney with a rather large, intrinsically-safe, unusually commercial-looking dual-temperature thermometer that somehow just appeared out of the ether.
We took it all the way up to 1,000C. Although it was designed for ‘low and slow’, we wanted to see how it would perform under alternative conditions.
We let it simmer for a few hours, then decided to kill the fire by closing the iris valve. Thus deprived of oxygen, given a few hours, the pit would be cold to the touch.
The next day, we opened the pit and shoveled out the dead embers. The pit was well and truly cold. Upon examination, it seems that the quartzite had fused to the sand on the outside of the pit. Also, sand had filtered down into the cracks around the pit, like in the corners, along joints, and been fused there as well.
The damn thing would now hold water if we wanted. We had a natural glass-lined fire pit now. We decided to try out some racked & stacked chickens first before we slowly made our way pig-ward.
We staked split chickens out on various levels in the pit. We had worked up a series of adjustable metal frames where we could lay the staked-out poultry. The racks popped right in place and after a couple of hours, hey presto bar-be-qued peri-peri chicken. And hot-butter roasted chicken. And for the uninitiated, roast chicken with smoked Hungarian paprika and Indian ghee. A real Iron Chef fusion-style mixture.
Liam and I took his Grady White out on the Persian Gulf and managed a couple of dorados, or Mahi, a largish shark, and a couple of kingfish off the deeper shipping banks. Fileted up and tacked in place, we played around with the smoking woods. Mango was just weird. Fig was weirder, almost vinegary; but not terrible. Pomegranate/tangerine tree smoked Mahi, seasoned shark steak, and Kingfish was the hit of the week. So easy, yet so tasty. It went well with Es’ famous Navajo Fry Bread.
We were gaining confidence. Prof. Pinkus’ days were numbered. We decided that the Eid al Fitr would be the time that we’d been preparing our porky pit pig production.
How’s that for cultural sensitivity? Break the Ramadan fast with a pig roast.
We’re all about cultural sensitivity.
Anyways, we hemmed and hawed over the methods of dispatching our soon-to-be-delicious 325 pounds of Professor Pinkus.
One wag suggested we have it OD on tranquilizers, trip him out a la Heath Ledger. Use loads of Nytol®, Dramamine™, oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine."
It was straight out of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers©.
We all agreed it was funny as hell, but that it probably wouldn’t work.
Then we thought we might go all Halal, just slit the pig’s throat with a very sharp knife, and let it bleed out.
Rejected as to being too thrashing, too noisy, too Arabic, and just plain uncivilized.
I thought I could get hold of a 12 gauge shotgun and some Foster Deer slugs. But again, noisy and messy. Besides, I’d have to borrow a shotgun, and that might raise some eyebrows.
We’ve managed to keep Prof. Pinkus under wraps now for almost 3 months. Hate to blow it right before the feasting was to begin.
In the end, all it took was an 18-pound maul and a solid whack to the right side of the head.
More sensitive viewers might want to skip a dozen or so paragraphs ahead. Just fair warning™.
I was elected to deliver the coup de grâce.
After walloping a bound and gagged Prof. Pinkus upside the head and basically caving in the skull, severing the skull-spinal cord connection at the atlas/axis connection, it was instant lights-out, he felt nothing.
We had already apologized to Prof. Pinkus, and thanked him for his contribution.
Seldom before has lunch ever been so noble.
Prof. Pinkus freezes and collapse, the legs give way, and the neck goes rigid. We picked up the extraordinarily sharp butcher’s knife sitting there, one hand under the chin and pull the head back. The other hand takes the sharp, stout knife under the neck and slices across the neck back to the bone of the vertebrae.
The knife hand loops around to the poll of the head, pushes down and forward while the hand under the chin pulls back and rearwards, so the neck vertebrae connecting tissue cracks. Knife hand back down under the neck, chin hand slides up and a finger hooks into the trachea and slice between the separated vertebrae.
With our previous practice and experience, 10 to 15 seconds from hammer strike to the semi-decapitated head.
Grisly but necessary.
Hanging the beast by its back hocks, well out of sight of any casual interlopers, we bleed the animal out into 5-gallon buckets, saving the precious juice. Vonn and I have visions of homemade blütwurst, blood-n-tongue sausage, and zultze or schwartamaga; lovely, lovely headcheese.
But that’s for later. Vonn gathers the blood in gallon-size freezer zip bags.
Now to scalding the corpse, scraping off the hair and external epidermal debris. We had a tub of boiling water into which Prof. Pinkus went. It was a boring, tedious, annoying repeated dunk-soak-raise-scrape-return until the carcass was clean and smooth and removed of all nasty gunk on the outside.
Now comes the really icky part™, gutting and scraping out the carcass. Before opening the abdominal cavity, it was required to de-bung the animal. Cut around the anus, go in deep but not too, pull the bunghole out, seal with zip ties, and cut and discard. Now the lower GI tract is sealed from leaking when the rest is removed. We also have to remove the male dangly bits in a similar manner as Prof. Pinkus was a boy hog.
Still hanging, we open the hog from sternum to groin, letting gravity aid us in helping Prof. Pinkus literally spill his guts. Right down into a waiting gut-bucket, or galvanized 50-liter steel tub. The chest region is split open further and the lovely and delicious major organs are singly removed by hand. Heart, liver, kidneys, etc., lungs, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, and a few other organs are discarded.
With that, we open the hog to where it will lay flat on the roasting rack. It is then hosed off and generally cleaned up before we give a good going over.
After it dries, the whole gutted critter is washed in wine. Evidently, it’s a French thing according to Honey Bee.
We wrap the hog in burlap, soak it down in cheap-ass wine and let it sleep 24 hours or so in Liam and Cassandra’s freezer chest.
The next day, the fire is started in the fire pit. We have lump charcoal, bucket after bucket of fruit tree chunks soaking in water and probably half a rick of firewood to keep the party going the next 24-36 hours.
We retrieve Prof. Pinkus from his cool, not frozen state, say hello and proceed to arrange him staked to the cooking frame in a belly-down, butterflied posture. Internally, he was well seasoned with dry rub after the obligatory internal rubdown with Napoleon brandy. We placed 40 garlic bulbs, kosher sea salt, olive oil, black pepper, and liberal amounts of Old Bay, to taste beneath him.
So, it was up to me to get the external goo ready for the pig. Kansas City-Style Sauce? Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Sauce? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Piedmont or Lexington-Style Dip? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Texas-Style Mop or Basting Sauce? Alabama White Sauce? Wisconsin Drunken Religious Experience Sauce?
“Ah, the hell with it!”, I venture, “Sauces come much later. Too early; they caramelize, crystallize, and burn. We’ll go for a good rub instead.”
I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good rub now and again?
Anyways, which fucking rub? Kansas City Rib Rub? Mustard Rub? Spare Rib Rub? Memphis-Style Rib Rub? Porker's Rib Seasoning? Best Odds Rib Rub? Carolina Dry Rub? Texas Dry Rub? Jamaican Jerk Dry Rub? Classic Pork Dry Rub?
Too much choice! Seasoning overload!
I call over everyone involved in this little soiree and instruct them to come up with a rub we can all enjoy. I had to kill and gut the critter, it’s about time I go all Subsurface Manager, and delegate out some parts of this project.
So, over beer, G&T’s, vodka and lime soda and various Froggy wines, ‘my’ crew came up with a rub that was simple, tasty and ironically reflects some of the culinary aspects of the region we’re currently defiling.
Ingredients:
• Smoked Hungarian Red paprika
• Brown sugar
• Caster sugar
• Black pepper
• Kosher salt
• Cayenne pepper
• White pepper
• Chili pepper
• Dehydrated garlic
• Dehydrated onion
• Fenugreek
• Red Cardamom
• Turmeric
• Ginger
• Garam masala (Cumin, Coriander, Green and Black Cardamom, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Bay leaves, Peppercorns, Fennel, Mace, and dried Chilies.)
They went to the co-op, bought buckets of the individual spices and played the rest of the day at getting to that one perfect combination for our resting porker.
I don’t remember the exact breakdown of the proportion of the spices, but whatever it was, it tasted brilliant. Now we had about 8 or 9 pounds of the stuff. We were ready to go.
Prof. Pinkus was set on the cooking rack, belly open and down. He was doused internally once again liberally with cheap Indian Napoleon brandy and secured to the rack atop all the garlic, celeriac root, boudin, and small new potatoes.
He was tied in place with heavy organic hemp twine and had his mouth propped open to facilitate circulation of the pit’s heat and convection. He looked very Pink Floydian. One almost expected him to take flight.
The exterior of the porker was treated to a nice rubdown. I swear I saw him smile once or twice when Honey Bee insisted on a sensual massage to make the resultant meat that much more tender. Olive oil infused with lime oil and garlic after a thorough wash with more brandy. Followed by a liberal rubbing of dry rub.
Finally, ready to go, we tented the porker loosely with industrial-strength silver aluminum foil. The frame with its cargo was lowered and locked into place for at least 24 hours. Probably closer to 36, as we’re going ‘low and slow’.
We take turns, between hands of poker, cribbage, and Schafskopf, as well as numerous G&Ts, Yorshs, and vodka and lime drink cocktails, to check on our prized porker. We kept the temperature right at 2050 F as best we could.
The voluminous smoke coming off the barbeque pit was our one concern. It packed an amazing aroma and filtered around the whole compound, dragging in expectant pikers, leeches, and other forms of human ectoparasites.
We told them we were smoking a whole camel, Texas-style, a la filét de hump, and wouldn’t be ready for another couple of days; so piss off. That seemed to get rid of all but the most insistent. We finally got rid of him by using a leaf blower and directing a stream of high-velocity roast-pork laden smoke his direction each time we had to add more fuel to the fire.
Time marched on and the time finally came: the deep internal ham’s temperature hit 180 degrees F.
Prof. Pinkus was ready to make his debut. But first, we needed to get him out of the barbeque pit and over to Vonn’s garage to rest a while.
More futzing, more aluminum foil, and more beers later, Prof. Pinkus, in all his delectable roasted glory was cooling out from atop a pair of sawhorses. Of course, he had to rest after his ordeal, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t manage a few samples.
He was done to a turn. It was incredible. Crispy-crunchy-crackly over lean, moist and insanely flavorful meat. Not bad for a bunch of bumbling international mugs on their first Middle Eastern pig-roast pit-roast endeavor.
Everyone made up their own version of sauce for sandwiches and dipping. We decided that we’d never all agree on one sauce, and 4 or 5 on one porker would be just too damn many.
So, please yourself. Just do it, yourself.
Behind closed doors, Liam and I were once again elected to reduce Prof. Pinkus to primary parts. We were hopefully disguising the fact that here sits 185 pounds of delectable roast pork in a very Muslim country on one of their highest holy days.
So it was a bit unnerving when Sheik Gungan showed up and asked: “What was that wonderful aroma?”
We said smoked beef…lamb…camel…turducken…Tyrannosaur… anything other than what it really was.
He asked for a sample.
What could we do? We couldn’t well refuse now, could we?
We gave him some of the best bits to try.
“Lovely, gents, just lovely. Next time, for reference, more garam masala, and a little more rosemary. I find it really brings out the subtle flavors of pork.” He smiled, wiping his pork-sticky fingers on my HGGTG towel.
“You old fraud”, we all smiled at once.
“What?”, he shied, raising his eyebrows, “It’s for scientific evaluation purposes. It’s therefore allowed. Now, do you have any cold beer, gin-n-tonics, or vodka and lime, which I’m hearing is very nice together, that I might also scientifically sample?” he smiled toothily through his long white beard.
We had made another powerful friend. Although it cost us one smoked Boston Butt, actually off the shoulder, that’s butcher’s for you, and a half a liter of homemade Texas-style barbeque sauce and another of Esme’s homemade fennel and caraway-infused coleslaw.
Everyone on the cul-de-sac now had a freezer full of pit-roasted pork. The Brits got their sausage once Vonn and Liam figured out how to use the Osterizer® Stuffing Horn. That was almost as much fun as doing the pit-barbeque. Never leave to Brits what Baja Canadians can better do.
We distributed the bacon and hams, and the rest divided whatever was left. Which was a lot of pit-roasted pig pieces and parts.
The bones made their way into gaily wrapped gifts and were posted anonymously to Mr. Guano Insano. We hoped he appreciated all our effort.
I used Esme’s great-grandmother’s old German recipe for Headcheese. Basically, boiled smoked pork head meat in aspic jelly. With dill pickles. And pickled eggs. With special spices.
Well, I don’t give a shit. We like it.
Anyways, summer slowly slid south and the temperatures during the day got slightly more tolerable. Liam and I decided to forego his boat for a while, as launching and recollecting required us to put Liam’s boat in the water HERE and recover the boat THERE. It was trucked, via road, from the recovery place to the launch place.
Why? Damnifweknow.
It only cost something like US$5 to ship the boat back to the launch area and they actually did a good job hosing and steam cleaning the boat before parking it back in its rental dry dock. These were still the early days before gas was king in Qutur, so things were still ridiculously cheap. There were exactly 3 high rise hotels back then, as compared to the insane silhouette presented by Duhu’s current evening sun.
I had flown over some likely looking flats that might hold snook, grouper, and tarpon on my last flight back from the rig. I translated that onto whatever road maps we could find here, as most everything was a state secret, ground verification was a must.
Liam and I tossed a couple of surf rods, a cooler full of beer and some bait into the back of his new diesel Mitsobitchy Prago™, and we were off to the north of town, the least developed chunk of Duhu real estate to date.
We drove down a rip-rap road that was more just a pile of random rocks trucked into the bay area and dumped into something that resembled a straight line.
I was less than confident that we weren’t going swimming today, but Liam relished every bounce, bolt and jolt. He confided in me that one of the big reasons he took the job here in the Middle East was that he’d never in a million years be able to afford a truck like this back in bonny Scotland™. He confided that he couldn’t have even afforded the fuel for this diesel-slurper back in the UK, it was that dear.
So, down the path we rebound. I was watching the water on both sides of the narrow groin, and saw it was getting deeper, but very slowly. I looked at my GPS and saw that we’d driven some 3.5 km out to sea at this point.
“Liam”, I said, “That’s a fuck of a long way to reverse.”
“Ah, Rock”, Liam assured me, “ No worries, Doctor. It’s all a loop. We can just drive our way out of any trouble.”
I remained unconvinced.
We came to a breach in the ‘jetty’. There was some heavy marine equipment mounted on barges. They were working a large cut, ostensibly for cargo ships to pass through. There was to be a swing-bridge built after they cleared the channel, but with all these loose rocks, it was putting paid to their scheme.
We parked and wandered over to who appeared to be the head guy.
“G’Day”, “Liam says, “What’ the big fucking holdup? We’ve got fish to catch, mate.”
Liam had previously spent a few years down in Australia as if it didn’t show.
“Oh, hello”, the natty clad black man said, “We’re having a bit of a time with loose rocks here. Supposed to be angular to lock in place, but by the time they get here from the quarry, they’re a sharp as bowling balls.”
I introduced myself and Liam as he was back in the boot snaking a beer. The black feller introduced himself as Zafir Djaballah, a civil engineer late from Algeria.
“So”, I said to Zafir, “If I’ve got this straight, you cut a channel and want to line it with rip rap. But the rocks won’t stay put. How deep are you cutting and what’s the size of the channel?”
“Oh, 35’ east-west, 15’ north-south. About 15 meters deep.” He relates.
“And the road metal? Where’s that from?” I ask.
“Arabia”, he tells us, “They quarry it there and transport it here. It’s costly, but that’s about the only option we have.”
Liam looks to Zafir. “Hey, Zafir?”, Liam asks, “Y’ken who this guy is?” as he points to me.
Zafir shakes his head “I just met Dr. Rock.”
“That’s not all who he is”, Liam smiles widely, “That, my friend, is the Motherfucking Pro from Dover! If he can’t fix your little problem, he can damn sure make it go away…”
Zafir looks to me as if to ask: “What the fuck, sir?”
“Well, Zafir, “ I say, “I’m a bit of a dab hand with explosives. This sounds like a really simple problem. Drill a grid of 2 meter centered holes, and prime them with a waterproof explosive. Detonate together electrically and there you go. Channel dug and already filled with angular limestone blocks. Easy-peasy.”
Zafir looks over the water and puzzles and puzzles.
“But sir’, he says, “Where would I find such explosives and such expertise?”
“Well…for starters”, I said, “You could ask me.”
He leads us over to a company trailer, where Liam and I drank beers, smoked cigars and told the superintendent of our plans. The Egyptian superintendent, Qaaid al-Zahra, later ‘Randy’ (Quaid?…never mind) scrutinized all our identification. He was actually very impressed when he came across my Blaster’s credentials.
“Doctor”, Qaaid said, “I do like your plan. The drilling is no problem, the problem is obtaining the explosives.”
“Look, Qaaid”, I said, “Leave that to me. You’re working for a government company, I’m working for a government company. What difference does it make? How long to drill the grid of holes Liam and I laid out?”
“Oh, probably about a week”, Qaaid said.
“OK, how about this?”, I said, “Liam and I will be back out here unless the weather’s being stupid and we’ll set and prime the charges? After which, we’ll make certain everything’s green and blow this little project for you?”
“If you can, Inshallah.”, Qaaid said.
“Even if we’re out of shallah”, I said back to Randy.
That Sunday, after Liam backed us down the 3.6 km or bouncy un-turn-around-able path he drove us out on, I ordered some Kinepax liquid binaries, as it came in easy-to-use 1-meter threaded lengths in various diameters. Qaaid was drilling 3.5” diameter holes, so the 3.00” nominal OD threaded length would be a breeze. I ordered a couple of spools of shock tube, comb connectors, deflectors, and tie-ins, and a 25 kilo box of ‘Elephant Shit’.
We make sure each hole was blown clean with a high-pressure water hose. Since the water here was only 8 meters deep, we could get by with regular lightweight skin diving gear. I could leave my wetsuit, diver’s helmet and all that heavy-duty ice-diving gear at home for this trip.
Liam and I would pre-form the charges, each exactly 6 meters in length, to match the depth of the drilled holes. Individual 1-meter units just screwed together, pin and box style, it was the utmost in simplicity. Rather like Seismogel™, but packed a considerably higher wallop. All told, we would be setting off some 36 nodal points, each 6 meters deep with 6 meters of binary which weighed 5.3 kg/meter.
Turn the crank and we’d be planting approximately 1,145 kilograms or 2,524 pounds of high-energy binary explosive.
Hmph. A new personal record.
Like Guinness even cared.
So, once we got the high sign from Randy that the shot holes had been drilled and cleaned, the next part of the project was up to us.
We were both PADI-certified. Liam had done some oilfield related diving in the North Sea some years ago. I was a veteran of the Ice Wars from the days of Future Passed back in Baja Canada.
The waters here were calm, gin-clear, and warm.
The dives here weren’t work, this was a paid vacation.
I had liberated a trailer for all our pyrotechnics and Liam was elected to use his Prago as the tow vehicle. We bounded our way out to the Liam’s Pass, as we had dubbed it, with a work trailer containing some 2,750 pounds of high powered, binary explosives bouncing behind. I also had all my explosives paraphernalia there as well: new waterproof galvanometer, which in and of itself, is rather the achievement. Pliers, spare batteries, couple pair of blaster’s tools, the usual.
Lia and I had our dive gear in the back of his Prago.
A couple of single tanks, backpacks, regulators, hoses, and a few belts full of divers weights.
These must have been of Islamic origin as they are specifically prohibited by the Bible. Deuteronomy 25:13, “Thou shalt not have on thy belt divers weights, a great and a small.” And Proverbs 20:23, “Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
Why there should be proscriptions against SCUBA gear in ancient, desert-dwelling, shepherding Iron Age writings is what keeps Biblical Scholars up at night.
Although I agree, a false balance underwater keeps your Swimmer’s Ear from healing up.
At the pass, we park and call over for a half-dozen ‘helpers’. They were nominal employees of the company, but more indentured servants. Today, they were going to earn their water wings. We had a couple of large pneumatic rafts that we’d use to transport he charges to their final water resting site but damned if Liam and I are going to swim laps every time we needed to set a new charge.
So, indoctrination and Explosives For Dummies.
Safety first, second and last.
Who here can swim?
You guys can stay. OK, the rest of you blokes, bugger off.
Here’s the deal, Sparky. There are 36 lengths of Kinestix with primers already set. Those go last, as that’s where I tie in to detonate. The rest of the 1-meter long tubes are identical. Pin on one end, box on the other. Thread them together and use a single ‘O-ring’ between each. Snug them up good and tight, but don’t go too crazy. Those are binary liquids, and I’ll give them a good smack with a hammer before they go into the hole. I really only have to do the last one as once initiated, these liquids can mix in milliseconds, but I’m all for safety and doing things right the first time.
OK, so, one raft will carry the 36 initiators, that is, the last bits to go. The other rafts will carry the 5-meter long strings of connected explosives. Liam and I will be down on bottom and you guys just stay up on surface, dog paddling or treading water, but slowly feeding the lengths of tubing down to us. When you reach an end, pop on one of the other lengths, the one with the primer.
To be continued.
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

Looking for practice? Want to expand your AHK knowledge? I got you covered.

I made a reply a while ago to Swaggurttt (could you give us an update of how things have been going?)
He wanted to learn more about AHK. So I provided him a list of new things to learn past just "press button > send keys".
Hopefully, some people reading will take this opportunity to branch out and learn some new things that AHK is capable of. From stepping into the aesthetically pleasing world of GUIs to using RegEx to become a string manipulating master. From braving the cryptic DllCall() command that lets you embrace code from other files thus making your scripts much more robust and useful, to having a whole slew of problems and puzzles that will test your ability to utilize AHK's capabilities.

Practice, Problems, and Challenges - It's like fun homework

Let's start with 4 websites that will give you tons of practice. From easy to insanely difficult. Between these 4 sites, you should have more things to do than you could ever finish.
Code Abbey
The site I've spent the most time on. From the easiest "add two variables" all the way to "write an AI". It's a good place to learn core programming skills and develop logic. Parsing through data, calculating variables, using arrays, etc...
Funny thing is this website is the reason I'm making this post. It has been a while since I used this site and I couldn't remember the address. So I looked up this post and...here we are!
Rosetta Code
Another good site, though I like Code Abbey's layout, sorting, and input/output method more. Rosetta has its own pros, like showing you solutions in TONS of different languages. Very helpful if you're familiar with other programming languages.
Code Chef
This was suggested to me a while ago and I've only done a couple of problems. Not because it's a bad site, but because I just haven't had the time to try and nuke the list. I figured it was worth including.
Those 3 should keep you busy for quite some time. Plus...
The AHK Subreddit
This subreddit is a treasure trove of problems! I used to spend a ton of time just trying other people's problems, coming up with my own solutions, and comparing what I come up with to others. You can learn a TON doing it this way. And comparing answers afterward only teaches you newer and better ways of doing things. Consider the unbelievable amount of backlogged posts you can go through. Years and years worth.

How about some suggestions for parts of AHK to learn?

RegEx (Regular Expressions) - Master of Strings

This is a mini-language for manipulating strings. Learn it! If there's a discernible pattern to what you're looking for, you definitely can write a RegEx to find it. See: RegExMatch and RegExReplace. Bonus: It should be noted that RegEx is its own little mini-language with its own rules and syntax. BUT, once you learn it, you now know it for almost every other programming language (minus some discrepancies between flavors).
RegEx Resources:

COMs - Letting you interface with other shit one command at a time!

COMs are pretty amazing. They let you interact with lots of different things on windows. Microsoft lets you access things like Internet Explorer, Excel, Word, Access, (literally the entire office suite), shell, WIN HTTP, VBScript, etc... It lets you use those programs directly from AHK. This increases reliability near infinitesimally compared to blind clicking and typing. You can web scrape like a boss using the IE COM. You can manipulate Excel spreadsheets, get data from them, update them, and whatever else you want. COMs are handy.
Resources:
There are also quite a few videos on YouTube that you can also check out.

GUIs - I feel pretty. Oh so pretty....

Learn to make and manipulate Graphical User Interfaces or GUIs. When you want user-friendly interaction with the users of your code, GUIs can be the perfect answer. A non-programmer isn't going to want to run scripts with switches or open up .ahk file or edit code to change settings. Enter the GUI!
The "Read This Before Posting!" stickied tutorial post has some good WYSIWYG suggestions. And it stands for What You See Is What You Get...that's really what they're called. Personally, I'm a fan of GUI Creator by Maestrith.
You'll spend a LOT of time trying to learn all the different things GUIs can do.
The AHK docs are the go-to for this stuff. Here are the pages you'll be visiting quite often:
I'd like to add a neat method I've started doing for tracking elements because it used to be a struggle for me. When I create a GUI, I like to keep everything inside of functions and I really don't want to create global variables for everything. I find myself making a single global Object in the AES. Then, whenever I create a GUI element, I always add the hwnd option to it and then immediately save that HWND to the array. Plus, you can logically name it so it's much easier to recall.
Example:
Global guiHwnd := {} NewGUI() MsgBox, % "Cancel Btn: " guiHwnd.CancelBtn "`nOK Btn: " guiHwnd.OKBtn ExitApp NewGUI(){ Gui, New Gui, Add, Button, hwndBtn gOKBtn, OK guiHwnd.okBtn := btn Gui, Add, Button, hwndBtn gCancelBtn, Cancel guiHwnd.cancelBtn := btn Gui, Show Return } 
GUIs are an excellent segue into DllCalls. Why? Because DllCall can let you fine-tune a GUI.

DllCall - Rule #1 of coding: Don't reinvent the wheel!

One thing we learn real quick in programming is you don't rewrite code that's already been created and thoroughly tested. It's a waste of time! That's why people will bundle up their code into these neat packages called DLLs (Dynamic Link Libraries) and then publish them for others to use. These let you call commands and functions outside of the native AHK language. Meaning you can interact with Window's internal functions directly from your script! This opens up a TON of possibilities for any script and unlocks some of the restrictions that come with AHK. Like changing things about GUIs that AHK doesn't have an option for. Or getting info directly from the operating system because we don't have an AHK command or function created to do so.
It's not just limited to Windows functions. It can access any DLL. As long as you know how to interface with it.
This MSDN link has a top-level link to all of the core things you need to learn about DLLCalling to windows.

GDI+ - Giving you the ability to create and manipulate graphics on the Windows level

GDI is Window's Graphics Device Interface. A user named Tic (Tariq Porter) wrote GDI+ for AHK. It handles ALL the DllCalls you need to make to the GDI to manipulate graphics, draw shapes and objects, import pictures, etc. You know all the stuff you can do in Paint? You can do ALL that anywhere at any time on the screen using AHK & GDIP. Without having to ever load Paint. Please note the GDI+ repo also includes tutorials on how to use the library. It doesn't cover everything quite as in-depth as I'd like it to, but the examples will give you plenty to go off of.
Why are you still reading this? You should have gotten distracted way up top and started trying stuff on Code Abbey!
OK, one challenge I always like to give people.
Recreate the Window's calculator. And make it work exactly the same. Initially, it sounds easy! But, duplicating the functionality AND the aesthetics can be pretty tricky. This is actually a tough challenge with lots of parts. You'll have to make a GUI that looks as close as possible to calc.exe. Make the display function the same, make every button work correctly, calculations should work, memory buttons should function, etc. Don't forget to make an icon for it and also to disable the AHK system tray icon, just like the real thing. Oh! And recreate the menu, too. This will give you practice on TONS of different aspects. It's complex enough to be challenging but not so complex no one would ever want to do it.
If you can get this done and want to extend things further, try making the scientific version of the calculator!! There's a real challenge. The extra advanced math buttons each have to work correctly.
Go, try, learn. If you get stuck, come back to the sub and ask for help. Or hit up the Discord crew. While you're waiting for an answer, you can always go through some of the current questions on the sub.
I hope you guys enjoy this post.
submitted by GroggyOtter to AutoHotkey [link] [comments]

Development Diary XXII: Shin Chitsujyo no Kanshou

平和主義なる故に必ずしも正義人道に叶ふに非ず 軍国主義なるが故に必ずしも正義人道に反するに非ず。
Hello and Welcome to the Twenty-Second Diary of The New Order. Today we’ll be covering the ever elusive Home Islands of Japan. For this diary, I, Morriña, your humble writer and team lead of Japan, and the members of the Sphere’s development team will be covering everything from the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War, 1937, up to 1968. I hope you enjoy the vast amount of content we’re attempting to bring to Japan as one of the three main superpowers in the world by 1962.
PART I: 1937-1947
If you start taking pleasure in nonsensical masculinity and make violence a goal in and of itself, the world will finally start to hate you and will look upon you like it would wild beasts. One ought to remember that.
--Meiji, Emperor of Japan to his soldiers, 4 I 1882
It was supposed to be only a border incident, soon to be resolved. Instead it turned out to be the beginning of total war for the Empire of Japan and the start to a full scale invasion of China. The Marco Polo bridge has become an infamous symbol of the bloodiest conflict in the history of Asia since the Taiping Rebellion.
Chiang’s Republic of China was severely disadvantaged. Even with a seemingly unending pool of manpower, a lack of commitment to the war effort and political infighting doomed the young republic to a slow and excruciating death. Japan’s vastly superior armed forces, armed with modern guns, sailing on battleships, and riding on soaring planes tore through division after division, surprising foreign observers with their unparalleled dominance. The Soviet Union was busy with its own internal conflicts and crises, while Joseph Kennedy was turning his nation to the beast it had fallen to a million times before; isolationism. The Kuomintang, once a home for idealistic revolutionaries and republicans, despaired. They just kept on losing land, no matter the sacrifices they made. The boys they sent out, never to return, the cities they burned, the people they conscripted into non-existence. In the opening year of the war alone, the ROC lost the vast majority of its cities, crucial to the continuation of the conflict. Not even a second United Front between the KMT and Mao’s CPC, deemed the last possible option, could halt the Japanese onslaught.
However, Japan did not emerge unscathed. No nation may emerge unscathed from the total transformation of its spirit towards total war. Old political, social, and economic structures were entirely replaced in favor of new, more efficient ways of life. The social fabric that had defined much of Japanese life was ripped apart. In its place, the Taisei Yokusankai was built from the ground up. The tattered remains of democracy, or at least the facade that remained, were finally put to rest. A new state emerged, one built for war, one not seen anytime before. A new word would arise to define these states - totalitarian. None of it would have been this way, if all had gone to plan. Chiang was to surrender and, in his place, Wang Jingwei’s Reorganized Government of China would have been founded in occupied Nanjing. Chiang Kai-Shek refused to surrender, even as his people floundered and his nation was dying. The armed forces sputtered meekly, and shortages began to plague the nation. The war settled into a grueling slog as both sides hunkered down for the long fight. Japan sat on the cusp of victory, within reach of the great chalice. And yet, they could not reach it. Prince Konoe, the head of the Taisei Yokusankai, struggled to continue to prove himself a capable leader in these times. His cabinet came to an end after public criticism by the fierce militant nationalist Yosuke Matsuoka. Even as Konoe sought to preserve recent precious gains in China while carefully balancing relations with the spectre across the ocean, America, Matsuoka believed war was inevitable. A third cabinet was formed by Konoe, in one final attempt to oust Matsuoka of his high diplomatic posts. In the end, the pressures of criticism, demands for resignation ended Konoe. The gears of history, unknowable in their ways, brought upon the world a conflict so horrific, so awful, that the word strikes a sense of dread into so many who were born in those years. War had arrived in the Pacific.
Many of Japan’s top military brass thought that an attack on the United States would spell an end to the empire. Yet, Matsuoka relented, and when the first torpedoes blasted into and sank the USS Enterprise, the world held its breath. Even such a devastating attack could not stop the overwhelming the American advantage in industry. It seemed, for the first time, that the tides of war might finally shift into the Allies’ favour. Instead, beginning from the complete shock of victory at Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese Navy moved from victory to victory, including the surprising outcome of the Battle of Midway in 1942. Japanese offensives took the Philippines, Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, Singapore and some key Pacfic islands, all in the first months of war. Yet, even after victories that no weaker nation could survive, the US retained the industrial advantage it had held for years, with the untouched contiguous mainland still distant from the hell of fire and death happening across the sea to the west. US ships churned out of harbors continuously, faster and faster, until a ship could be made in a matter of months. The Japanese could not continue to win the numbers game, and for the first time in the brutal naval war, they were on the backfoot.
In the hope of forcing Japan out of the war, the United States adopted a strategy of leapfrogging in 1943, which put Japanese forces at a massive disadvantage. With each month and year, the United States was able to steadily increase its superiority over Pacific, while Japan’s leadership adopted a strategy of defense, attempting to retain the bulk of their naval force by avoiding any pitched battles until the conditions for it would almost guarantee absolute victory. This time had finally come during the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, when Japanese military leadership decided that this was the decisive moment they were seeking. During the next 87 days a stubborn defense by general Tadamichi Kuribayashi forced the United States to overcommit their forces, which was subsequently exploited by Combined Fleet in a brilliant maneuver. The US fleet was decimated and all American Marines division on that damned island were either destroyed or forced to surrender. While Japanese casualties were enormous and would never be replaced, the battle stopped the United States from overrunning the Pacific theatre and prevented a possible invasion of the Home Islands.
Iwo Jima proved to be the largest naval battle in history, surpassing even the Battle of Jutland. The two maritime powerhouses of the modern world slugged it out on the high seas, and the result was thousands upon thousands of dead bodies, and a cemetery of metal, miles in length, buried under the ocean that would never quite disappear. Japan would never recover, not in full, but the United States had the sheer manpower and dockyards to do it. Most within the navy looked forward to an eventual Japanese surrender, regardless of how long it took. America would survive. America always survived.
Then, the bomb hit Pearl Harbor.
A wave of atomic terror reverberated through continental America, and the United States was forced to resign itself to a humiliating defeat, the first in its history. Finally, Japan could focus on crushing its final threat, and the final bastion of liberty in the world. China.
There was one strategy left to turn to, to gain the upper hand against China. It was uncertain, and not even guaranteed to work, but it was the only one left; attrition. Japan would attempt to starve the United Front and render them unable to resist further Japanese offensives. This strategy came to fruition once again with the Battle of Kohima. The Mad General Masanobu Tsuji finally deprived Chiang and Mao of the US air units and supply that was acting as a lifeline to the United Front, the final nail in a coffin that refused to die. With any possibility of supplying China by land or air essentially gone Joseph Stilwell made the decision to pull out of the region and stop supplying the Chinese. Famines across the remaining free Chinese territory and a lack of arms meant that there was little resistance put up against the Ichi Go Offensive of 1944. Despite China fighting with one foot in the grave of their proud nation, their fanatical defenses declared in the name of preserving China racked up further unsustainable casualty counts. Japan’s victory was inevitable, it was only a matter of time. Chiang Kai-Shek turned down pleas for peace, and the war continued. It took two years for the Japanese to finally reach Chongqing in a ruthless, cruel military operation that made Sherman’s March to the Sea look like a peace delegation. In the last battle of the Second World War Chongqing was turned into little more than a gargantuan pile of ashes and crushed stones. On the ruins of Baidi Fortress, the triumphant Japanese proclaimed “peace in Asia and peace in the world”. In their shadows stood their chosen puppet - Chen Gongbo, horrified at the carnage and destruction of the United Front’s last true stronghold. With no hope of any resistance he could only smile, while holding sorrowful tears in his eyes.
However, Japan’s political and economic system was now geared towards sustaining an ever expanding war machine; with the Taisei Yokusankai as its political body and Hideki Tojo as its prime minister the current government proved to be a burden. It survived ten years of total war, yet it could not survive the peace that followed.
PART II: 1947 - 1962
We have awoken the giant and through valiant effort we survived his onslaught. Let us hope that in future we will remain at peace, for we may not survive another victory like this one.
--Isoroku Yamamoto, 1947
While the war was with China over, peace was only the beginning of a series of new problems. The Japanese empire was now enormous. It stretched from cold Siberia to humid New Guinea, from the heart of China to distant Hawaii. With their new lands in hand, Japan set about reorganising these territories into a more manageable empire.
In some cases, local collaborators were given the most power. In others, Japanese military figures took control. The Co-Prosperity Sphere became a patchwork of directly ruled territories, military governorates and puppet states. Each one churning out their spoils to be harvested by Japan itself. Whether the Army, Navy or Diet got their hands on them was another matter - the resources would flow nevertheless.
Hideki Tojo had been Prime Minister for six years now, overseeing both Japan’s favourable peace treaty with the United States and the victory over the Chinese. However, as the conflict was coming to a close, it became clear that he was starting to slip. His supporters were fully aware that a fall from grace would be disastrous. To prevent this, the man who had recommended Tojo for his post had to act.
Kōichi Kido arranged to have himself made Prime Minister with Imperial permission, having served as the closest advisor to the Emperor for almost a decade. He then appointed a loyal privy council member to his old post as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, ensuring his close connection to the Emperor. With Kido now Prime Minister, he quickly set about the task of managing the now enormous Japanese Empire, as well as trying to handle the various factions within Japanese politics.
He proved to be an ambitious prime minister, with grand designs for Japan. Kido was well aware of the faults of the Japanese government. Kido sought to make the ruling Yokusankai party into a tool for his reformist agenda. He attempted to transform it from a mere big tent for the bureaucracy into a powerful body against the army and navy factions. His fatal mistake, however, was the attempted strong-arming of the military as part of his plan to wrest power away from them. Having already become unpopular due to his reformist tendencies, this move against the armed forces proved to be the last straw. One Hiroya Ino replaced him.
In order to keep hold of power, Ino was forced to make a bargain. The new Prime Minister agreed to surrender control of Japan’s colonies to the army so that they could be used as strongholds and resource depots. In return, Ino gained some feeble scraps of power for the government. For his actions, the Prime Minister came across as incredibly weak, having made the deal even as the army was steadily losing influence, as had been the case ever since the war had ended. What could the Prime Minister have done? The army was still powerful enough to topple cabinets should it benefit them, something Ino was very much aware of. He had little choice but to comply, even if it would ultimately harm the party. When the elections rolled around, the Yokusankai suffered terribly from their capitulation to the army, with independent candidates (mostly Yokusankai rebels and expelled party members) gaining more power.
Under Ino’s tenure, the issue of corruption would become more prevalent and out of control. Bribery would become a de facto method of getting anything done, with seemingly every government official involved in some capacity. Ino’s inability to handle the ever growing corruption within his own cabinet was starting to cost him what little faith anyone still had in his capabilities. Whether he was simply failing to handle the issue properly or perhaps ignoring it, his strategy was utterly failing. Prime Minister Hiroya Ino had not built himself a great legacy to be remembered by. Instead, he had built up a house of cards, upon which he sat. Such a house can hold for a while if one is careful, but it is fated to fall apart eventually. Such a fate cannot be avoided, only delayed and never for long.
Interludium: Mechanics
Democratic institutions are quarantine mechanisms for that old pestilence, tyrannic lust. As such they are very useful and very boring. --Friedrich Nietzsche
Before we continue, we would like to offer some explanations behind the unique gameplay that Japan has to offer, centering on domestic policy. Screenshot of Japan GUI
Despite the power held by the military, the Empire of Japan is still legally a democracy as established by the Meiji Constitution, proclaimed in 1889. You are responsible for the civilian government. The Prime Minister of Japan is the closest character to “The Player”.
The Imperial diet, as the main parliamentary body, is completely democratic, but deeply overshadowed by the Second Great War. During the war, all political parties were merged into the Yokusankai (YSK) in order for Japan to function as a totalitarian, one party state. As mentioned, however, Ino’s capitulation to the Army was a great sign of weakness coming from the Yokusankai. Factions of “Independents” who had been rendered irrelevant in 1942 by the Yokusankai’s supermajority used the population’s growing disillusionment towards the ruling in order to swell the amount of seats in parliament outside the party’s control. The rising number of independent politicians was not the only problem for the Yokusankai; despite theoretically being a single party, it is in reality a de facto collection of cliques and factions that have rather different approaches to government and policies. This means that any potential Prime Minister may have a large problem with keeping a majority of support in the chamber. So how exactly does a Prime Minister keep their majority? Let’s examine it!
The Imperial Diet consists of seats distributed per territorial district. The Dai Nippon Teikoku (Empire of Great Japan) consists of the Nihon Rettō (Home Islands, or simply Japanese archipelago), the provinces of Chōsen (Korean peninsula), Taiwan and Karafuto (the island of Sakhalin). Those constitute an integral part of the Japanese state, and as such - elections are organized at the local level. Depending on the YSK’s popularity in a single province, the one party will receive an appropriate amount of deputies (if the popularity of the YSK in the province is 70%, it will receive 70% of seats from this area). As such, the YSK needs to maintain its popularity and power, to put an end to the loss of seats to independents.
But even if the Yokusankai is successful in upcoming elections, there is still a problem. Deputies of the YSK are divided between different cliques. In the example shown above, Prime Minister Ino is supported by his own clique in its entirety, by 5 deputies of Kido clique and by more than half of deputies from Kaya’s and Takagi’s factions respectively. With the Independents being completely unsupportive, it means that Ino in our example, despite the YSK holding 75% of total seats, barely holds on to a majority. The lesson we learn here is obvious - as a Prime Minister of Japan you need not only to win elections as the YSK, but also to have strong clique of your and have the support of other factions within the party itself.
Have you secured a super majority of deputies? I’m sorry, you are still not done. In the Japanese parliamentary system, the House of Peers has the ability to reject bills and initiatives. If the House of Peers does not support you, it will effectively create a deadlock and block all reforms, guaranteeing an end to the career of the current Prime Minister.
In general the absolute heart of parliamentary game in Japan is securing a majority, and the most important part of securing a majority is interacting with the four main cliques of the YSK, either by gaining their support or by reducing their power and popularity. You need to be very careful about implementing different policies. The Yokusankai remains a party that somehow manages to contain Reform Bureaucrats, Liberals, Kidoites and Conservatives in a single bloc. It may be too much to manage. If other factions find your cooperation or policies unsatisfactory, Party Unity may drop and deputies from other cliques may be even less inclined to support you. Such a scenario may spell doom for any Prime Minister.
You might think this is already too much, and that holding onto power in the Empire of Japan is a fool’s errand. To this we bring two pieces of bad news. The first one is that negotiating with the Diet and house of Peers is the only way to advance one’s political career. Second - there are still more ways to lose power as Prime Minister, as the overbearing influence of Japan’s armed forces starts to impact the political class’ games.
When it comes to Army (IJA) and Navy (IJN) Influence - one will find that understanding the military's politics is essential to grasping Japan’s internal situation. While interservice rivalry exists, it is not as much of a relevant factor as it was during the 30s and 40s. With peace and an ongoing focus on the stabilization of a vast empire, the IJA and IJN do not interfere much in the Home Islands’ political process. Both branches of the military forces have also developed a sense of restraint in foreign policy. Gone are the heady days where the Kwantung Army could invade China without notifying Tokyo. Instead, the IJA and IJN are mostly focused on keeping their monopolies and influence in their countries in the Sphere. They are no longer a force of change, pushing for more wars and acts of aggression - instead, with the establishment of the Co-Prosperity Sphere they are now a force of the Status Quo.
Army and Navy support does not represent “the entire army” and “the entire navy”. The IJA and IJN are as riddled with factions as the Diet is. The influence meters instead represent the higher echelons of powers, ministers, chief of staff, leading commanders, governors and the like. What does this actually mean? For a start, even with high support from Army, it may not guarantee complete compliance of the IJA in different countries in Sphere. Army divisions in Indonesia might not obey orders from a new government just because the officers in Tokyo have received a hefty amount of bribes. On the other hand, even small support from the IJA for your government, causing the War Ministry to wish to see your cabinet ousted will not necessarily affect IJA commanders in the Sphere, who might still actually follow the civilian government’s instruction in their particular sectors.
To reaffirm the point about a decline in interservice rivalry, IJA and IJN support are not contradictory to each other. Often times events or choices might lead to increasing support from both, or sometimes it may decrease support from both. The problem is, that the IJA and IJN influence is very peculiar in comparison to for example “House of Peers Opinion”. The reason for that is that both very low and very high influence of army branch will have negative consequences. Very low influence with the Army or Navy will force current Prime Minister to resign, as he was clearly not paying attention to demands from armed forces. Very high influence on the other hand will start firing rather peculiar events that will most likely greatly decrease standards of life in other countries of the Sphere, destabilizing it and damaging the position of the civilian government in Tokyo. This represents the army running roughshod over the Sphere, assuming they have a free hand from their buddies in the diet.
Now…Tension. What does this even mean? As you may already guess from previous paragraphs, it is not actually about interservice rivalry. As I mentioned previously, Army and Navy are mostly now forces of status quo, that achieved everything they ever desired in the Second World War and now they simply wish to retain their benefits, advantages and of course - their glorious colonial empire. Tension represents not friction between army branches, not even friction between armed forces and civilian government, but rather a subtle change of mind - that actually Japan is in a dire state, and it requires immediate, heroic actions to save it from traitors, subversion, foreign agents and conspirators. This is a reflection of Japanese culture - disobedience is justified by the great patriotism and pure, good nature of a servant that wishes to save their overlord, even if they themselves do not want it. In comparison to Army/Navy Influence, it does not reflect the view of elites, but of every single soldier, sailor and minor commander. As such it is absolutely possible to have great relations with Army and Navy, and still have massive Tension build-up, threatening the stability of the Empire of the Rising Sun. It is a slow, ticking bomb that requires care and tact to contain and defuse.
At the beginning of the game, due to massive prosperity, stability and power of Japanese Empire Tension starts at 0% in 1962. However it may slowly rise until reaching 100%. As to what happens when Tension reaches such high value and what events may have led to this… hmm… this will be a story for another time.
This concludes the unique gameplay designed for the Empire of Japan in TNO. With no further delay, let’s move on to 1962 - the very beginning of the game.
PART III: 1962-1963
I’m sorry to say this to you, Prime Minister, but Empires rise and Empires fall, and the vast, corrupt future that you once had is shedding away like cherry blossoms in the winter. With any luck, you’ll be out of here by next month.
How does a nation crumble? An assassin eating on a crowded thoroughfare sees his target ride in on a conveniently open car and takes his chance. A cavalry charge outside the gates of a besieged city breaks the high-tide of conquest. Some less graceful than others, but it’s all the same.
Or perhaps it can start with the finding of a body. Yes, let’s go with that. Because deaths don’t just end lives - they smother truths. Yet, the truth shines through. Truth has a manner of bubbling out into the world.
For now, it’s just another body, in an impossible place and under improbable circumstances. Another problem for the Police, but nothing the Metropolitan can’t handle - and with all the mysterious nonsense popping up in the murder scene it looks like their expertise will be needed. Thankfully our crack detective is on the case - and looking for evidence!
Whoops. Well, tragedy happens all the time in the Sphere, it was probably just a one off, let’s keep looking - oh. Oh dear. If the Japanese Army is involved, then all bets are off. We should warn our detective he’s in over his head - oh shit.
Well, the new team assigned to the case might not have any living witnesses, but every detective worth their salt knows how to investigate a case. There are a few angles that can be examined, aligned along the central axis of any investigation: look through the crime scene or examine the victim? After all, a man with’ silence’ carved into his chest probably has it there for a reason. But the fish plant doesn’t seem like a terribly convincing commercial operation either - and why on earth would the murder victim be allowed access to the grounds of the factory?
Then again, the labyrinth of Japanese bureaucracy will present challenges from the get go, and the man who killed the victim was in the Army, so perhaps focusing on this will let us push deeper into the facts of the case. (Full disclaimer: there are many paths available to be taken in this series of events, and I highly recommend you try different choices on each run-through.) A basic profile will help us, as will determining the victim’s connections. The Army records will surely help us find the truth - oh dear. Well, it’s time to pull out the Audit Gun to shoot at the Army so they’ll change their minds and wow it’s not working. The pit of snakes that is the Japanese Government has taken an interest, and oh boy it is angry.
So, to recap: a body, a grenade, a factory that shouldn’t be running, a killer who shouldn’t have been there and an army that isn’t letting on. What the hell is going on? Bureaucratic wrangling aside, we could always exploit the one unchangeable binary of Japanese politics, the Army-Navy rivalry, and - uh - what the hell? They’re working with each other? How can the whole of Japanese politics be upended for the sake of a single dead body?
...They’re all in on this, aren’t they?
Well, if the Navy insists on sticking its nose into affairs, that’s where we’ll continue searching. And it looks like it’s tied into everything that’s been going on, including a suspicious series of shipments and a preponderance of outdated military currency. All we have to do is hit them with in force with an audit they won’t see coming, and we’ll find out just how deep the rabbit hole goes -
Oh my god. Where does this end? We have to keep looking, maybe the trail will end in a tidy bunch of suspects we can arrest to make the problem go away. People like - uh -
The Army? The Government? It’s getting out of hand, already has in fact, but I’m certain if we just keep going we’ll stabilise the situation, so long as we don’t touch -
The banks, like Yasuda and Minezaka? The ones we found with mud on their faces and Army money in their pockets? Oh no. Oh no no no. How far will the heavens fall before Japan itself is tugged into the abyss with them all? And if a pillar of the Japanese Economy crumbles, what happens to the others?
Japan plummets, but perhaps in those long steep drops it will find its soul. For was it not written: falling is the essence of a flower?
Link to Section II
Link to Section III
Link to Section IV
Link to Section V
Link to Section VI
Link to Section VII
submitted by AHedgeKnight to TNOmod [link] [comments]

Room 221: Unicode PART I

Room U+221E: Unicode (Part I)
The brand-new wooden floors of the hospital glistened under the abrasive lighting, while Logan’s frail mother shivered underneath a pile of paper-thin blankets. She spoke in fragmented sentences, her breathing labored and so, so fragile.
“Logan, tell me you’ll settle down after I’m gone… Find someone to love... Someone that’ll love you… and care for you. Life just isn’t worth… living without - love… without someone to talk you off the ledge when…. things become… unclear.”
What started as innocent headaches had turned into something much more: ominous, never ending pressure in the back of her skull. She would scream, grab fistfuls of hair, plead with God to make it go away. No matter what she did, it just wouldn’t cease. She continued to writhe, and wither.
A CT scan revealed a large mass on her cerebellum.
Anaplastic Astrocytoma, they called it. The intensity of the words gave Logan anxiety. Those types of words made things too science-y; they made it too easy for doctors to separate themselves from the trauma inflicted upon their patients and families. It depersonalized everything about cancer. And despite the dread that took refuge in his bones, it angered him even more.
The cancer aged Logan’s mother fifty years in a matter of months. Its tendril-like forms had taken hold of the surrounding tissue, strangling other parts of her brain. Eventually, it would lasso her spinal cord – and she’d stop breathing - her heart would stop beating. It would be the end.
“You know, they say the…. tumor…. is like a star,” she said. “We’re all made of stars, Lo. We’re all made of the same… cosmic… molecules.”
Logan didn’t answer, yet. He wanted to make sure she was finished, and he wasn’t entirely sure lately when she was because of her difficulty speaking. So, he waited.
“It’s poetic, really,” she continued. “I’m going to die from a… shooting… star. Its tendrils have… exploded… like the birth of a… u-universe.”
After a moment, he responded. “It is, Mom. And you’re beautiful, more beautiful than the brightest star in the sky.”
“They’re already dead, you know… by the time we can see them. Will I still be… beautiful then?”
“Of course, Ma.”
It pained him to say those words, to participate in a conversation implying the inevitable death of his mother. Tears burned the corners of Logan’s eyes and caused his nostrils to flare.
“Promise me you’ll take care of yourself. Swear it,” she said through a tired smile.
“I swear, Ma.”
It was a lie. A white lie, he told himself.
Logan swore again on the same topic not long after that night, this time on his mother’s grave; but there was no weight to his word after what had happened. The only time Logan would swear and mean it, was when he would swear to himself to avoid relationships altogether - any form of social commitment, really. Logan loved his mother, but he couldn’t care much at all for love now that she was gone. He just couldn’t believe in it anymore. How could he? His childhood was spent watching it decay before his very eyes. As far as he was concerned, it was an inevitable heartbreak; and in his parent’s case, it led to a pain far beyond that. Love was a fallacy, something blindly worshipped and depended on for happiness; bound to fail, bound to disappoint. And now she was gone.
Logan had always been a loner and was content with his idea (at least he had himself convinced) that his life the way it was would be enough. He worked a job that occupied a large portion of his time and the money was great. As an auditor for a large automobile company travelling back and forth across the country looking over financial records, it would be his escape, his own plastic bubble to keep him safe from the world.
The conversation with his mother in the hospital was the night before she had passed, and Logan buried her only this morning. He was due back for an audit at 9 A.M. sharp in Charleston.
The plane was two hours late. A strong lightning storm had been taking hold over Atlanta and grounded all inbound and outbound flights until the skies cleared. Logan rented a car with the intent of facing the elements on the road. Postponing the audit was not an option. There wasn’t a safe place in his mind to take pause and mourn his mother, not yet. In fact, Logan wasn’t sure if there ever would be. There was comfort in being busy with his work, a lame excuse to pretend as if nothing else exists.
Outside, static energy clung to the hairs on Logan’s skin, almost plucking them at the roots. He pushed the unlock button on the key fab and pulled on the driver’s side door handle, discharging the static and zapping his fingers.
Shit,” Logan hissed, whipping his hand back reflexively. The hairs on his arms and the back of his neck relaxed. He swung open the door and hopped inside. It was a little before 8 PM and the GPS on Logan’s cell had him reaching his hotel around 1 AM. With any luck, he would be able to sleep in a bed instead of on a hard, plastic chair in a crowd of agitated strangers in an airport.
Logan drove into the storm, thinking more of his last night in the hospital with his mother. He gulped down the bold, black coffee he bought from the airport. The jolt of caffeine kept him going, sure, but it sent his mind racing into overdrive. He couldn’t help but recall more of the conversation, particularly about his father:
“I tried to do that for your father, you know… Be there for him… I loved your father,” his mother said. She was fighting them back, but Logan could see the tears forming in the corners of her eyes. “I still do. I… always will.”
Logan sat on the edge of her bed, holding his mother’s hands in his, praying silently, but no less powerful than if he were screaming, that she would be cured by a miracle.
“I know Ma. Me too.”
“He loved looking at the stars before-” She didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t have to. Logan knew. “Before it all started, he told me that he realized nothing mattered. He was on the back... porch… looking through his telescope. It was late. I was… in bed… he had a look in his eyes. They were… empty... yet, full. He told me he knew everything. I asked him… what that meant… that he knew everything… he said nothing matters. He saw himself in the sky, infinite… versions of himself... like a kaleidoscope. He… saw God.”
“He was ill,” Logan said, this time not waiting to see if she was finished. “You need rest. Come on, let’s talk about this some other time.”
“I tried to be there for him… I tried so hard for so long. That night… in the mirror… I didn’t know what to do. I wish I could go back… I would try… harder.”
Her breath became even more labored, deteriorating from sudden stridor.
“Please don’t say that. You did everything you could. It wasn’t your fault. I love you, Mom. Dad loves you too. You’ve got to know that.” -Logan put a hand on his mother’s shoulder- “Dad knows you did your best.”
“If it… starts to split”-she drew a raspy breath, her words harder to hear- “don’t search… for answers. Just… close your eyes. Don’t look between… the seams.”
“See what split?” Logan asked, but her eyes were already closing. “Ma? What are you talking about? What does that mean?”
He wanted to shake her - demand an explanation - but she was asleep. The monitors were steady, rhythmic. She was free from pain in her slumber, and there he let her remain. Maybe he would have if he had known it would be the last time they would speak.
A burst of white noise brought his mind back to the present, freeing him from the painful memory. He searched the cab for the source of the noise, opening the glove box and rummaging through its contents, but found nothing. He slowed to a crawl and rolled the window down. It was coming from outside, from up above in the sky. Logan acknowledged the change in architecture, and the obvious, almost claustrophobic layout of downtown Charleston. He checked the maps on his phone. He had traveled over 300 miles in what felt like minutes.
Down a narrow cobblestone road was a bright lettered sign:
HOTEL NON-DORMIUNT
VISITORS WELCOME
The sign seemed to scatter - or flicker - like static on a vacant television channel - much like the sound resonating in the recesses of the black clouds. It wasn’t the name of the hotel indicated by his GPS, but it was a hotel, nonetheless. He was checking in regardless.
Logan turned down the road, the car rocking and bouncing on the cobblestone. Despite being downtown, the street was vacant - the hotel the only standing building on the short block. It had an old-money feel, stone filigree flowed along the columns supporting the overhang of the entranceway. He parked the rental car in a small lot across the way and gathered his things. The large black door of the hotel flickered white in a flash of lightning. The door knocker, polished brass in the form of a screaming man’s head, with flowy, floating hair watched him approach as he dragged his luggage bag forward. The door flickered just like the sign, but Logan was sure it was only more lightning. He turned the lever on the door and let himself inside.
A large, black desk sat across from the doorway, about ten feet across from a freshly waxed, black and white checkerboard floor; the high-top chair behind it empty. Classical music played over an old speaker system overhead. A framed sign sat on its side on the desk, next to a silver service bell. Logan tilted his head to the side to read it:
Back in 8 minutes!
Time had passed at an incomprehensible pace. The rush of caffeine had worn off. Irritation and frustration were taking hold. Logan did not wait 8 minutes, because who knows how long 8 minutes had been from when they left the sign, he thought, and he slapped the bell thrice.
The crunchy, high-treble music overhead fell silent, and Logan heard voices coming from a small speaker on the counter that had been hiding behind the fallen sign. The voices were muffled and indiscernible. It looked old, with two bulky knobs on the bottom: one on each side.
Logan eyes grew wide as a more distinct voice came through the speaker.
“I have a son. I had a daughter. I have a son I had a daughter I have a son I had a daughter HAVE A SON HAD A DAUGHTER HAVE A SON-”
“Dad?” Logan belted out.
“May I help you?” Another voice, now female and brash, cut through the speaker.
“Uh, may I have a room, please? I’m not feeling well and I have an early morning,” Logan said.
“You may,” the voice responded. “Bell boy, see Logan Atlas to room 221.”
“How do you know my name?” Logan asked the empty desk.
“Mr. Atlas, you’ve been here before and don’t you dare start asking questions now,” the voice replied. “We’re all very busy here at Hotel Non Dormiunt. We have no time for nonsense.”
Before Logan could respond, a small boy emerged from behind the counter looking no older than eight or nine. He wore a small hat that covered his eyes. He never looked up at Logan, only handed him his room key and took his bag.
Logan came down on one knee to meet the boy at his level.
“Hey, buddy. What’s your name?” Logan asked, but the boy hid his face and continued down the hall. Logan stayed there for a moment, but swiftly caught up, ultimately afraid of being stuck at the counter with that speaker and the voices, one of them impossible to forget (sounding awfully like his father).
“Hey,” Logan carefully grabbed the boy’s shoulder. He stopped, turned, and looked up at Logan with black, beady eyes. He shook his head slowly, never blinking.
“What is this? Are you messing with me?” Logan asked, recoiling a few steps back. The elevator beeped next to him, and Logan left the floor with both feet. The boy stepped inside, dragging Logan’s luggage with him. He pressed a button once inside and the doors began to close. Logan threw his hand up between the doors and, with what felt like no other choice, reluctantly stepped inside.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but can you please say something? I’ve had a really bad day and I just need you to say something, okay? Can you do that?”
The doors to the elevator closed, and it started to ascend. The boy looked up again at Logan, opened his mouth and said, “ahhhh.” To his horror was a knotted piece of purple flesh where his tongue should have been. His teeth were rotted down to the roots and there was a feint smell of rotting meat that must have been his breath.
Logan screamed. The doors opened on queue as he snatched his bag from the boy and ran down the hall, frantically searching for Room 221, looking over his shoulder at the boy; but he never came out of the elevator. He simply waved goodbye as the doors closed, and the elevator descended.
The door to Room 221 was vandalized with carvings of letters and symbols. Before the numbers 221 was the letter “U” and the “+” symbol. After the 221 was the letter “E,” carved in the same choppy manner. Nothing made any fucking sense. Logan put the key in the door and let himself inside, sure that once he got into a bed of any sort everything would be okay again. He was scared, frustrated and tired. He would fall asleep, wake up for work and everything would be normal, at least temporarily. That’s what he thought.
As Logan stepped inside, the space between the doorframe flickered. Columns and rows of 1’s and 0’s raced across the open doorway. He had crossed the threshold without even noticing, too busy failing to make sense of the events of the last few hours. The room was dull and gray, the walls decorated with monotone, gray-scale pictures and photographs of an assortment of landscapes and portraits. Logan would have felt more comfortable with a little more color and a little less dread, but it managed to calm him. He threw his bag over the bed, which surprisingly didn’t make a sound, and retrieved a change of clothes to sleep in.
A powerful crack of lightning flashed in the window, lighting up the room like the flash of an old Polaroid. An immense, rolling thunder followed. Logan’s mother would tell him it was God bowling. When it was especially loud, she would cheer, and applaud God for getting a strike. While Dad argued with himself in the mirrors, demanding to know which version of himself was the real one, Mom preserved Logan’s childhood as best she could. He remembered his father locking himself in the bathroom for hours, his lips pressed into the space between the door and the doorframe, whispering, “I write with my left hand. I can write with my right. I write with my left hand I can write with my right. It’s in the mirror – I have a daughter in the mirror. I write with my left hand.”
He pulled back the covers of the bed and tucked himself inside. He closed his eyes for a short while before the sound of shattering glass forced them back open. That familiar static back in Atlanta filled the air. Logan felt an electric charge looming over his exterior, waiting to detonate. He caught his reflection in the window with the light of the lamp and saw his hair standing on end, like the man on the door knocker, he thought.
Logan cautiously headed toward the bathroom but stalled when he heard a voice.
“FUCK YOU! WHICH ONE IS REAL? IS ANY OF THIS REAL? TELL ME GOD DAMNIT!”
He took a few more steps, terrified of what he knew he was going to find.
His father stood in front of the fractured mirror, the larger pieces still sticking to the mirror frame reflecting distorted versions of himself. They were all screaming and yelling, begging for the truth from within the shards. He held a piece in his hand so tight it was cutting into his flesh. When he turned and saw his son, he held it up to his throat.
“Wait! Stop!” Logan yelled, running toward him.
“It’s okay son.” The images of Logan’s father spoke to him in unison. “You’ll see, it doesn’t matter. You always come back in some form. We’re not really here.
“You are, Dad. Maybe not anymore, but you were.
“No, I’m not. I wasn’t. And neither are you.”
His father pushed the glass shard into his neck, and he flickered, then disappeared. The walls of the bathroom split at the seams, and streams of binary code filled the cracks. With another flash of lightning it was gone. The walls were intact, along with the mirror.
GUEST BOOK
submitted by NewUnknowns to nosleep [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.
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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]

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