Fallout 3 interview at ActionTrip

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There’s a good interview with Gavin “kathode” Carter down at ActionTrip:

AT: As we understand, the team is also keeping itself busy with balancing combat in the game. If you can, please tell us about the advantages of V.A.T.S. Do you think hardcore RPG fans will enjoy the cinematic aspect of it?

GC: A big advantage is that during VATS mode, time is paused and you’re given a wealth of information about your situation. Every targetable enemy and object is highlighted and you can pan around and get a sense for where things are coming from. For each individual target, you can see their overall health, and the condition and the likelihood of landing a shot for each body part. This is the part that I feel separates VATS from standard “real-time with pause” systems in that it gives you information to base a tactical choice on. You may find that you have a high chance to hit a mutant’s torso, but then you notice that landing one more risky shot to the arm will cripple him, severely reducing his ability to aim. Recently I’ve been replaying Oblivion and find myself hammering the VATS button unconsciously whenever I get jumped by an enemy.

The other advantage to VATS is, of course, that it’s just pure unadulterated fun. Landing a shot to a mutant’s head, watching it fly apart in slow-motion, having an eyeball go spinning past the camera – there’s just some kind of visceral satisfaction that the experience brings.

Visceral is the new trees.

AT: Is it possible to know, at this point, how many quests we will see in the final version of Fallout 3?

GC: Giving you a specific number wouldn’t paint an accurate picture. Each quest has multiple paths to completion, and how you choose to complete one quest can affect what quests are available later on. In addition, we have a new category of quests that we term “freeform encounters.” As you travel, you’ll come across these encounters all over. They’re not as big as a full quest, but they will present choices, opportunities for reward, interesting sights and sounds, and more. It should be quite some time before you run out of things to do in Fallout 3, and there will always be more to hit when you play through it again.[...]

Other quests run the gamut of possibilities that a war-ravaged wasteland offers up. For each quest, we try and provide opportunities for as wide a range of playstyles as we’re able (Stealth Boy, Combat Boy, Science Boy, etc).

Replayability is always a good thing.

AT: Can you give our readers some idea of what kind of soundtrack you’re working on?

GC: The soundtrack really varies a lot in style depending on what situation you’re in. For exploring, the music is more of an ambient and slightly discordant nature similar to the music of Fallout 1 and 2. In battles, the music is more up-tempo and brings in more percussion and some orchestral elements. We also have music for places like dungeons (think old caves and abandoned vaults), and a special set of music for some of the more important locations in the game. We pushed our composer to experiment with a lot of different styles and instruments to keep the music interesting throughout the game.

Hmmm we’ll have to wait and see how this works, I guess.

AT: You’ve mentioned recently you guys are content with all the feedback that came in after the game’s E3 presentation. Are there any plans on a new public trailer or more in-game footage, to give the general public a better idea of what to expect from Fallout 3?

GC: We have lots and lots of plans. Prepare for the future!

I can’t wait for the new year.

Thanks Ure “Vader” Paul from ActionTrip.

Fallout 3 on PCGzine

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PCGzine has a piece on Fallout 3:

Portable nukes need aiming like Paris Hilton needs publicity.

Bethesda are clearly desperate to create a game that does more than live up to reputation: they’re gunning for their own RPG crown, with both guns blazing…

RPGCodex strikes again

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A sarcastic but humorous article on RPGCodex about Fallout 3 and the info being released so far is worth a look:

Emil:”When Todd and I first started prototyping VATS, we played other real time games like Call of Duty and Halo.”

Pete: “We don’t want something that rewards the ‘quick-twitch’ FPS player. We’re not trying to reward players who are good at Call of Duty or Halo or whatever.”

Read the rest here.

Inside the Vault: Josh Jones and other things

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Another Inside the Vault feature on the Bethblog, this time with Josh Jones:

For this edition of Inside the Vault, meet artist, Josh Jones. He is the Lead Character Artist on Fallout 3. Josh is also our resident motion capture specialist — he also spends much of his time fine tuning our animation system.

What’s your job at Bethesda?

Lead Character Artist. I split my time between meetings and animation work. I also work a great deal with character rigging and other technical aspects of character art production.

Well a particular reply he gave created quite a stir:

Ever play the Fallout games?

No.

Pete Hines once said on Shacknews:

Internally, we’re a bunch of Fallout geeks. There is nobody [here] who hasn’t played that game and enjoyed it.

Since that isn’t quite true, Pete had to clarify what he meant:

Sorry, I made a general comment based on all the folks on the team I talk to on a regular basis in some way, shape, or form. I had not polled every single person on the team to see if they had all, in fact, played both games, or how much, etc. Sorry if you felt misled, that was not my intention.

And answering the question by Monica21 ” Was it, at the very least, requested that each staff member play it?” Matt “Gstaff” Grandstaff added this:

I don’t know the answer to that question. In my first week on the job, Pete definitely got me a copy of the game to play. I’ll admit I haven’t played more than about 5 hours to play it (I fully intend on playing it more), but the fact that I have a Mac at home has prevented me from installing it there. I’m not going to run Boot Camp on it because it takes too much of the memory on it.

Well I hope Josh tries the games, wouldn’t hurt since he has the responsability of carrying some visual continuity to the game, and he might even get some fun out of it too.

Fallout 3 at MTV

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MTV’s G-Hole features a segment with Emil Pagliarulo, Todd Howard and Istvan Pely talking about Fallout 3.

And no, Emil isn’t singing opera :)

Thanks Sygoia at NMA.

Leipzig coverage: Fallout 3 on Eurogamer

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Eurogamer had a Q&A sesion with Pete Hines:

Fallout 3 is a game that many, many people have been praying for since the nineties. In Leipzig last week, we were given another chance to see the very first demo of Bethesda’s interpretation of this beloved universe (for details, see John Walker’s preview), and it was no less impressive the second time around – gorgeous, violent and extremely faithful to the series’ legacy, it was a personal game of the show by a long, long way. At the end, people clapped, and we’re talking Europeans here, not our considerably more effervescent American counterparts. Pete Hines, Bethesda’s VP of Public Relations, was kind enough to sit down for a chat afterwards about the difficulties of working with such a revered franchise, and Bethesda’s approach to the challenge.

This guy is every PR wet dream.

Pete Hines:You also get titles, so like Scourge of the Wasteland if you’re this really evil bastard and blew up Megaton [a town near the beginning of the game which you can choose to detonate, or not], and so we’ll have some stuff that will be pegged towards how you’re playing the game. You’ll actually have to replay the game if you want to unlock all the Achievements, you’ll have to take another other path where there’s other stuff to unlock. Nothing’s set in stone, of course, but that’s the general idea that we have; it’s not going to be just one playthrough to get it all.

Replayability is an achievement enough for me.

Pete Hines: You know, I think if you’re really interested in playing another Fallout game in that sort of world, then hopefully you’ll give it a chance, but there is a segment of our fanbase – I say ‘our’, I mean the Fallout fanbase – that has basically decided back in 1994 that we’re doing it all wrong and that they’re going to hate our game whatever we do. I mean if you have made up your mind and said ‘Here’s my specific list of things that my game must have’, and we’re not meeting your list, then you’re probably not going to like the game. But you know, we’re OK with it, we’re used to it by now – the Elder Scrolls fanbase is a very global and very large community that has very strong opinions about what they want, so we appreciate that folks are very passionate about certain franchises, certain series. They like what they like and that’s what they want. But for everybody else who doesn’t fall into that category, who are willing to judge with their own eyes and figure out whether or not they like what it is we’re doing, it’s been really good.

The 1994 thing can be attributed to the fact that Pete was tired and a bit sick during Leipzig. And the last sentence must mean he likes the idea that Fallout fans went to look with their own eyes before passing judgment.

But the important part comes in the end:

Fallout 3 isn’t out until next Autumn (which feels like about seventy-three years away), but we’ll apparently get something playable in the new year – although Pete informs us that this is the last we’ll see of Fallout 3 for a good few months. In the meantime you can read up on the game so far in Eurogamer’s preview, and perhaps hand-fashion a countdown clock to help pass the time.

Spotted at NMA.

Leipzig coverage: NMA reports from the inside!

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Pete Hines meets Brother None 

On a surprise move No Mutants Allowed got two intrepid ninjas inside the Fallout 3 demo presentations and got a few Q&A sessions with Pete Hines:

This preview is based on the demo shown at the Game Conference in Leipzig, Germany, by Pete Hines. It is the same demo shown at the earlier press showing and E3. Pete Hines noted that the demo build is 2 months old by now.
NMA’s main previews provides a walkthrough of the entire demo, then some opinions on several topics, then a final judgement. A dozen-question Q&A conducted by NMA’s staff on the spot is also available.
NMA’s staff covering this consists of Brother None (referred to as “I” in the preview) and SuAside, both of whom applied for the demo showing in name of another media company: Brother None thanks to GamerNode, SuAside thanks to MadShrimps.be. Silencer, who applied in the name of NMA, was turned down with no reason given (though it is worth noting he applied last, a day after Brother None’s appointment was finalized). SuAside saw the demo Friday at 12:00, Brother None at 14:00, so details vary and it will be noted in the walkthrough when they do significantly. At no point in the demo or Q&A did NMA’s staff identify themselves as from NMA.

In the words of Matt “Gstaff” Grandstaff “Very sneaky indeed”.

Just a few highlights:

This conversation also saw another return of something Oblivion-esque. I noted before the dialogues are built from 3-line blocks in which expressions show the same jumpy attitude as in Oblivion. Lucas shows the next step, namely that emotions are again conveyed pretty much only by the face, and that the facial expression and voice tone has the tendency to skip through different emotions during a single speech. To back up this impression, in long speeches like those of the sheriff and of dad, one gets the distinct impression the writing is a bit inconsistent, which is kind of off-putting. This did not look significantly improved from Oblivion, though at least the sheriff had only one voice. The faces themselves look better and less ridiculous than in Oblivion, but don’t expect to get blown out of the water by them, especially by their lack of expressiveness.[...]

Walking to the back of the bar the PC starts a conversation with a man sitting on a chair in an impeccably clean 3-piece suit and glasses. Introducing himself as Mr Burke, the man notes the PC could be very useful for him, being a stranger in town. Noting “I represent certain…interests,” calling Megaton a blight and asking the PC if he’s interested in helping him get rid of it. Here Hines notes that the speech skill comes into play during dialogues, and indeed two dialogue options show a percentage of success. An option to ask for 500 caps extra pay (29%), or to tell him the town is under your protection and he should get out. Stating that if he fails Mr Burke will like him less, Hines opts to ask for extra pay, and gets it.[...]

Moving down the tunnels, it isn’t long until you see a supermutant climbing over the wreckage in the distance. After taking a few potshots at each other, the PC with his hunting rifle and the mutant with a Chinese assault rifle, Pete Hines pauses the game (with Fallout 1’s “combat slider” sound) to zoom in on the mutant and explain that this is a supermutant, “the main bad guy in the game.” He points out that you can target the torso, arms, weapon, legs and head, each area having a different effect. Each area also has a percentage to hit which he notes is the same if you try aiming for an area in real time. The effects are also unique, headshots can blind, shooting someone in the leg can slow him down, etc.[...]

The PC goes out of the metro. He runs into a Brotherhood of Steel/supermutant battle, Pete Hines explaining the the supermutants have spread through the metro tunnels, but are locked in combat with the Brotherhood of Steel, “the noble knights of the wasteland” who are trying to drive out the supermutants. The part of the world the PC just entered is about 1/4th of the map, and it’s “a very dangerous place to come.” If you go here in your lower levels, still fairly weak, you can expect to die if you don’t have any help, as Oblivion’s style of level scaling is out. Looking around at the bountiful destruction, Pete Hines notes “destruction is our new trees.”[...]

Fallout 3 has that within the Vault, but it goes up and down once you’re outside. It shows flashes of brilliance in transporting Fallout’s world into 3D at some spots, like some of the skyscraper ruins and bits of Megaton. In Springvale it looks to want to try and accomplish something but fell short. Architecture follows the same rollercoaster mechanics, sometimes spot on, sometimes very nondescript.

For an awkwardly huge chunk, from the metros to the supermutants to the BoS, the game looks like a very vanilla, generic post-apocalyptic game with some 50s signs slapped on it in an easter egg format, as if they were an afterthought. That makes for some head-splitting inconsistencies, especially when you run through a lot of area fast, as in the demo.

The music falls right into this halfway-there category. Including actual 50s songs is a fun idea and will probably work fine, but the main soundtrack itself, while being very soft, was easily identified as “not like the originals.” It reminded me most of Inon Zur’s Fallout Tactics soundtrack, halfway between Fallout’s ambient music and Zur’s own tendency towards the bombastic.

I’ll get back to the Q&A sessions later, good job Brother None and SuAside, you intrepid ninjas!

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