Hairy Day

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A bit of history about Deathclaws, courtesy of Chris “anarchy” Taylor, of Fallout and Fallout: Tactics fame:

I’m pretty sure the main reason that the Deathclaw lost its hair from concept to production was a technical limitation of the rendering software at the time. I can’t remember if it was the amount of additional rendering time required, an animation issue getting all the hair to move properly, or something else, but it was something along those lines. The hairy Deathclaw in FOT was inspired by the original concept, plus we thought it was nifty to show that there variations and different mutations of the same stock “beast”. We probably should have had both versions, but that’s a decision based on hindsight.
The actual Deathclaw model was done in clay and then scanned by a laser (like the head models) to generate the rough 3D model. It was very Tarrasque-esque but I don’t think that was done intentionally. For the longest time, the statue of the Deathclaw was displayed at Interplay (behind these little glass windows, along with props from other Interplay IPs). I’m not sure what happened to it, but I hope that it ended it up in someone’s house and wasn’t thrown away or broken.

And, yes, all references to Raccoons are part of the deleted Burrows area. Either the reference wasn’t cleaned up properly (which happened to another quest or two) or it was decided that there was no harm in having some additional background information.

He also commented on the subject of the Tiscali scans:

As for these screenshots, I’ve worked on projects in the past that have had screenshots prematurely released, or released without the right context (“These are ALPHA screens!”) or even screens where the brightness/contrast got screwed up between our PR department and the magazine. I don’t know if these screens were released in a similar manner, but it wouldn’t shock me. There seems to be an awful lot of compression in these pics/scans as well.

Picture from NMA.

November Misc

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A few thoughts and news for the day:

First Rock Paper Shotgun has some thoughts on Zenimax Online intentions:

CVG reports (good luck Firefox users!) that ZeniMax Online have licensed Simutronics‘ MMO HeroEngine (the same one BioWare have picked up for their forthcoming super-secret (ohmygodit’ssoobviouslystarwars) MMO). This is being linked to the story from earlier this month regarding Bethesda’s registering of the domain, elderscrollsonline.com, and thus speculation that an Elder Scrolls MMO is on its way.

However, it might not be that simple. In this month’s PC Gamer (print version), The Spy reports that there’s speculation it could be an attempt at preparing for the Fallout MMO rights landing in their laps. In a peculiar deal, Interplay only has a loose grip on the option to make an online version of the Fallout universe, and if investors aren’t convinced they can do it, the rights will leap over to Bethesda. Is Bethesda preparing a net for the post-apocalyptic world?

Who knows? Regardless of all the speculation, NMA reports Interplay is hiring again:

Interplay is actively recruiting again, as can be seen on gaming developers site Gamasutra. Right now the jobs list includes Environmental Concept Artist, System Designer and Content Designer.

More interesting is that Jason D. Anderson is listed as the contact guy, which would make him the Human Resource manager and in charge of who he works with.

When he heard of this former BIS developer Damien “Puuk” Foletto, also working in some pretty interesting MMOs these days, had this to say:

I’d rather stab myself in the nuts with a salt covered ice pick.

Ok…

Also Fallout is number 33 in IGN’s Top 100 games of all times. Hurray.

Finally this blog was removed from the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum fansite list, because of the Tiscali scans. Their rules are clear about scans, so I won’t complain much, it’s fair game from their part.

I have just something I don’t get, I did the same thing as Kotaku, yet nothing happened to them. Tsk, tsk.

Tiscali’s Fallout 3 scans

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There are new scans with never seen before Fallout 3 images taken from the last issue of GFW. Czech site Tiscali Games got the scoop, go check their gallery.

I saw this at No Mutants Allowed, where the atomic ninja SuaSide made this comment:

Sure, it’s legit.
The first pic I cant really place, but might be from many different times that he briefly looked aside to nothing.
The second is too cropped to tell.
The third is obviously the only real town visited in the demo: Megaton. though it should be noted the demo I saw had no brahmin in that spot.
The fourth picture is the ‘end boss’ [Behemoth]fight at the tower, where you’re aided by a few BoS and you get to use the Fatman.

The scans aren’t very good, so you better buy the mag to see the pics with good quality.

Gaider on Fallout 3

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The echoes of Pete Hines interview to CVG continue, this time with David Gaider from Bioware in RPGCodex commenting on Pete’s statements about MMORPGs.

More interesting for us is David’s message about Fallout 3, made on the same topic:

Personally I just hope there’s a certain level of dark humour that’s in Fallout 3 — there’s a particular quality that needs to be present in the world for me to believe it’s really a Fallout title, a quality that most of you are probably familiar with. If that’s in there, I can forgive a lot of other stuff.

Not So Friendly Fire

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On the Comics site Friendly Fire there’s an editorial (Why Fallout 3 is going to suck)and a comic against Bethesda’s policy of payed downloadable content, with a quite strong wording (not for kids folks):

Anyway, the whole notion of paying for “additional” content really irks me. I mean, usually extras like horse armor or a few new quests are things developers release to the people who bought their game for free. I look at it as continued support for your product. Bethesda has separated the patching process. Things that need “fixing” are free, but things that add a little extra to your game add a little extra to Bethesda’s coffers. I mean I payed 50 bucks for your damn game, do you really need to charge me 2 dollars for some wizard’s tower? Why not just roll that into the patch, so that people can actually get jazzed about your companies support for their games? I dunno, sounds crazy.

Fallout from Azerbaijan Part II

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Remember Defonten, the guy that made the best Fallout fanart ever, and has the record for the most popular blog post on this place? He also has a video showing how he changed a picture of New York into something with a Fallout 3 flavor and is featured in this blog’s header too.

Now he released a new piece on No Mutants Allowed, fabulous stuff yet again, and you can make a poster out of it using this higher resolution version too. You rock Defonten!

Fallout 3: Best of 2008

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From No Mutants Allowed:

Games For Windows magazine of December 2007 has an unranked list of the top 10 (PC) games of 2008, with Fallout 3 amongst them.

THE GOOD + THE BAD: The last Fallout game came out 10 years ago, so you are forgiven, sort of, if you don’t quite know what the big deal is. For those of you who did play these classic RPGs, set in burned-out, mutant-filled, postapocalyptic 22nd-century California, the very idea of a Fallout 3 has been one of PC gaming’s holy grails. When the original developers moved on and the publisher flamed out, it seemed like the franchise might be gone forever. So it was huge news when PC RPG developers Bethesda Softworks–makers of Oblivion, our 2006 Game of the Year–announced that they had acquired the rights and were, at last, going to deliver a third Fallout game. Since the announcement and the first early previews, the reaction to Fallout 3 has been all over the map. Some gamers (including us) are thrilled by how faithfully Bethesda is preserving the look and tone of the old games while bringing the franchise into the current millennium, while others (especially some of the more rabid Fallout fan communities) continue to deride every new fact, screen, or random piece of info that comes out of Bethesda about the game. The truth of the matter is no one knows a damn thing yet about whether the game will be good or not. Everything crucial to the success of the game (“success” being measured partially in terms of how much it lives up to the series’ pedigree)–the storyline, the combat system, the dialogue–is still a huge unknown. Not that there’s any reason to be defensive. Bethesda has been making great RPGs since the original Fallouts were around. They love the old games, just like you do. And if Fallout 3 sucks, they’ll be letting themselves down along with everyone else. And we do like what we’ve seen–so for now, we’re keeping hope alive, and keeping Fallout 3 on this list.

SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T KNOW: “We can confirm that, yes, you can have a dog,” says VP of public relations and marketing Pete Hines, “and yes, his name is Dogmeat.”

THE PC FACTOR: Fallout 3 is being developed from the ground up as a multiplatform title for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. Don’t fret, though. What this means is that, as they did with Oblivion, Bethesda is customizing the entire experience and user interface for each particular platform. You’re not going to be playing a console port. -Jeff Green

Actually that’s not what they did to Oblivion, and about Dogmeat, well read this blog post from May :) , thanks go to Killzig.

Not Fun? Really?

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You might remember the statements of Pete Hines to CVG regarding Fallout 3 having something around twelve endings, and the critical stance of Jim Sterling of Destructoid.

Well it seems Jim isn’t alone on that, Luke Plankett from Kotaku wrote this:

One ending? Boring. Two? Thanks, but it’s just not gonna cut it. Not with Fallout 3 boasting of not just two endings, but two, two, two and then some. Bethesda’s Pete Hines has told CVG that depending on what you do during the game and how you do it, you can expect between 9-12 different endings to the game. That’s a lot. Hopefully this move has been made with more than just replayability in mind. Because playing an RPG 9-12 times? Not. Fun.

What’s not fun in replayability? I made twenty chars in Fallout 2 and at least twelve in Fallout 1 and I honestly think that’s one of the great things on the Fallout series.

Well Matt Shmidt from SarcasticGamer, one of my favorite places in the web, also wrote this:

Multiple endings to video games do NOT mean instant replay value. Having to play through the entire storyline again just to see a different cutscene shouldn’t be a standard. But, this is TWELVE times! By the time I unlock the ‘correct’ ending, I’ll have moved on to Fallout 5. It didn’t work with STALKER, and it was pretty meaningless in Bioshock. Stop using this stupid gimmick, and use the time to develop the gameplay on a deeper level.

Well as s001 commented on this blog earlier on:

I cannot understand why people complain about “too many endings”, as if you are going to be forced to watch all 12.

It’s not that Bethesda expects ever player to play the game 12 times, it’s the hope that one of those 12 endings will *really* represent how you played the game. If you’ve reached the end of the game, and one of those endings nicely sums up the choices and consequences you’ve made during your game, then what do you care about 11 other endings that you don’t have to watch and obviously didn’t apply to how you played?

You’d think people would be happy with multiple endings, but it sounds like people just want their one canned ending, their reward for reaching the end, not for how they got there.

Fallout 3 at CVG Part 2

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The second part of CVG’s interview with Pete Hines is up:

And how big is the game world?

Hines: Downtown DC is about a quarter of the world. The other three quarters are wasteland, little settlements… Megaton is one of the bigger cities or locations that you’ll come to but there’s lots of little towns and settlements out in the world. Three quarters of the world is that wasteland area.

With Oblivion, you followed up the release with content downloads. Is that something you plan for Fallout 3, is that the kind of thing that fits with that game?

Hines: I would think it would. How much of it or what we would do is still up in the air. Right now we’re still working very hard getting stuff into the game for the first time around.
Our entire focus is on masking this game, making it great, as good as it can possibly be. We had the same approach with Oblivion, which is if we fuck this up, nobody’s going to want to download anything for it anyway. So let’s focus on the first thing we’re doing, get that absolutely right and then we’ll have time for the other stuff.

Obviously you’re not building content all the way up to release; at some point you stop. Every time you touch the game you’re breaking it so at some point you do stop on the content side and just focus on polishing and bug testing and so forth. At that point it may be something our content folks start to look at.

You can read the first part here, spotted at No Mutants Allowed.

The Winner

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From the Bethesda Blog:

It’s no small thing to enter a contest and beat out thousands upon thousands of entries to be named the winner. So having risen to the top we thought we’d have a brief chat with the grand prize winner of the Fallout 10th Anniversary contest to find out more about Marc-André from Montréal, the guy behind Grim Reaper’s Sprint.

A few snippets from an interview with Marc:

Your winning entry was submitted on the first day of the contest, so clearly it didn’t take you long to come up with a good idea. How’d you come up with it?
I was back from work, waiting for my girlfriend to come home, so I was checking the latest news on EvilAvatar.com where I found a post on the Fallout contest. My first idea was the ‘Grim Reaper’s Sprint’ since it was a Perk that made you a bit of an action hero in a last ditch moment. In a situation where you’re clearly outnumbered and out gunned, this could potentially give you the edge to kill everyone in a single turn if you’re insanely lucky. It was the kind of perk that would’ve saved me a lot of times in Fallout 2. I was inspired by the last action sequence in Equilibrium when Christian Bale slays countless guards in one seamless series of attacks.

Tell us a little about your experience with the Fallout series. When did you first play them, what’s your favorite moment or memory, etc?
I remember downloading the demo for Fallout 1 when I was a kid with a 28.8 modem. A few years later I bought Fallout 2 and played A LOT, trying to ’sculpt’ the best character. I went on with Fallout Tactics. I remember going on summer vacation and bringing the Game Manuals with me for ‘light reading’. My favourite moment of all time is Fallout 2’s intro narrated by Ron Perlman. “War. War never changes”.

A few comments made by Bethesda Producer Ashley Cheng:

My favorite one was Crazy Eye: Opponents attacking from the front suffer a penalty to hit you because, seriously, that eye is freaking me out.
However, the one that won, Grim Reaper’s Sprint — I would totally use a lot.

Congrats to Marc, you can also read a few impressions left by one of the runner ups, Blinzer, on this blog, congrats to him too, hope he gets a good prize.

Fallout Contest Winners

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The results of the Fallout 10th Anniversary Contest are finally out:

After plowing through more entries than we ever thought possible, we whittled the list of over 17,000 entries down to the 12 finalists and picked a winner for the Fallout 10th Anniversary Contest. The entry that came out on top was ‘Grim Reaper’s Sprint,’ which restores all your action points whenever you kill an opponent. Congratulations to Marc-André Deslongchamps from Montreal for his winning entry. He selected the PC Grand Prize and takes home a boatload of goodies in addition to getting his Perk in Fallout 3. We’ll have a little interview up with Marc-André today or tomorrow.

Click to know the names and Perks that got some nice prizes.

Continue reading

Tired of Elves

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Alec Meer from the collective blog about PC gaming Rock,Paper Shotgun writes a few messages to Bethsoft:

I’m tired of elves. Bored of orcs. Sick to the stomach of paladins, mages, rogues and especially of men with long hair, rippling muscles and mysterious destinies. Give me big, dirty roleplaying in an exciting new setting or give me death. Give me Fallout mamalovin’ 3.

There’s no other game next year I’m quite as excited about. Bethesda! Bethesda! Listen to me. Don’t. Screw. This. Up. You make a beautiful game engine and you understand the importance of non-linearity, moral dilemma and experimental side-quests, but going on Oblivion, you’re not so hot at these things:

- Quality voice acting
- NPC faces that don’t look like a footprint in some custard
- Compelling characters and core narratives

And that’s enough to mean I don’t quite trust you yet with a game that desperately needs all of the above if it’s to work. Prove me wrong, please prove me wrong.

You can read the rest here.

Fallout 3 Endings and More at CVG

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The first part of CVG’s interview with Pete Hines is up:

What are you working on at the moment with Fallout 3?

Hines: We’re working towards getting everything into the game. The world hasn’t finished being built yet so we’re still in the process of putting all of the content in the game, fleshing everything out and playing quests. That sort of thing.[...]

How ‘open’ is Fallout 3? Is it like Oblivion in that regard?

Hines: One of the things about Fallout 3 is you cannot do everything in this game. It’s not like Oblivion where it’s just – basically, anybody could do anything. Fallout isn’t like that. Fallout basically is fewer number of quests with lots of ways to complete them and things are opened up to you or locked off to you as you go through the game.
There will be somewhere between nine to 12 different endings to the game based on what you’ve done in the game. So it’s something that is inherently a diverging path. It may be some of the same things but doing them in very different ways, and ultimately that will define your gameplay experience.
Then you’ll have to go back and play again. So you may have to play through once and blow up Megaton [a major city in the game] and then play again and not blow up Megaton just to get to the bits that are all behind both of those paths.

This last part lead to a comment by Jim Sterling of Destructoid that will spark some discussion for sure:

While I and surely many others are looking forward to seeing what Bethesda does with Fallout 3, I have to admit that upwards of nine endings may be just a little too much. I’m all for replay value, but I’ve rarely ever found that extra endings, usually highly disappointing affairs, add anything to it. Seems a bit over the top to me, but Bethesda knows best.

My comment to Jim’s words was:

And yes the game will follow the path of Blade Runner, that had 12 different endings and was really replayable, although far from free form.
Since the original Fallout RPGs were more about how your character affected the game world and the game world affected your character, instead of being a story driven game, the idea of having only a few definite endings but tens of combinations on the game end slides that showed what would happen to the zones you’ve been and the NPCs you’ve met was very appropriate, and provided for a fresh ending every time.
I would prefer that to so many definite endings, but we’ll see, might work, might not work.

I wrote that because I have a feeling Pete is talking of alternate endings like Chrono Trigger and Blade Runner, but maybe he means something different, so I’ll keep an eye on this.

Fake Fallout3: Oblivion with Guns

Actually it’s pretty well made. It’s fake though, not the real Fallout 3.

Fallout 3: Gaygelehs’s Quest

Well it’s Sunday so things are really quiet. Therefore I’ll leave you with this moderately funny video from someone that wants to tease a bit the folks at Bethesda.

Shadowrun and Fallout 3

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Previously I’ve talked about 1Up’s article about the lessons of the Shadowrun debacle. On the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 Forum Zingar Baltus brought this issue up, with a comparison on Shadowrun and Fallout 3:

There are many similarities between Shadowrun PC game and Fallout 3 being developed by Bethesda.

* Both games are sequels to acclaimed classics rpgs developed in the 90s.
* These sequels are strongly based on PnPs or inspired by them and still have followers today.
* Both games were/will be designed to be familiar to first person shooter players.

This lead to an answer by Bethesda’s Jay “RadHamster” Woodward:

Don’t miss the portion of that article in which the author was musing on what the new Shadowrun game could’ve been, but wasn’t.

Here’s the final option he cited:

RPG — The obvious choice for a Shadowrun game, but still one with many possible variations. What style of RPG would work best with the combination of magic and technology? Perhaps it would be an Oblivion/Fallout 3-style game, with forests of skyscrapers replacing the brickwork of Anvil, and magic-mad beasts of the forests replacing the radiation-mutated creatures of the wastes.

[...]The article draws a distinct contrast between the two games, at the level of fundamental genre. This runs directly counter to your thesis that they are similar. It’s relevant, irrespective of your capacity to find it so.

What do you think? Are there similitudes or not?

Fallout 3 at PixelRage

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It’s time for PixelRage to talk about Fallout 3:

“War, war never changes”
And indeed it doesn’t. This is the phrase that kept gamers awake for nearly 10 years as Black Isle gave them the bread and water they needed under the form of Fallout. It is probably the single greatest game ever made. Not because of high poly count, latest shaders, use of directX 10 or any other tricky little tech term but because of the fantastic gameplay, one that could easily kidnap you from real life for hours.

It was maybe the only RPG that dared not to use sorcerers, damsels in distress, dragons or any other fantasy related object or being. It dared to be different and the bet Black Isle made with the gaming industry was by far the craziest one. But in the end they won. They won the hearts of countless gamers and some of them probably started worshiping the game studio right after that. I know I did.
But if war never changes, developers and the owner of an IP has to, sometime. After 10 years the Fallout IP landed in Bethesda’s own backyard and for a second the gaming world went nuts. Not because Fallout would come to life again but because of another cataclysmic event known as “Oblivion with guns”. This is the term gamers invented for Fallout 3 as soon as Bethesda went ahead and gave news of the recent purchase.[...]

Lot of things have been said until now. On one side we have the old-school gamers that crave for real Fallout and not a remake of Oblivion and, on the other side, we have the “other” gamers, not familiar to the Fallout universe, that have nothing against Bethesda’s new project. Writing a review you always have to be impartial and, that said, I will pick the middle path, somewhere between the angry mob waiting to slay Bethesda at the first sight of an Oblivion with guns and those that wait for a shinny new Post-Apocalyptic RPG.[...]

All these being said I think it’s time to close the Vault door and wait, in silence, for the next game. I have always been an optimistic person and although the gaming industry seems to be somewhat angry on Bethesda I am going to give them their time and wish them good luck with the game. Not that I’m always the good guy but in the end it will be their head on a plate and not mine.

I don’t think the industry is angry at Bethesda, still it’s an interesting read, a bit different from most of the other previews.

Spotted at NMA and RPGWatch.

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