Rock, Paper, Fallout 3

gillen.jpg

Now here’s a blogpost that I may disagree in several things that are written there but still advise everyone to read it. It’s a different take on Fallout 3 as one of the games of 2008, and asks all the right questions, even if I may disagree with some of the answers. Made by veteran gaming journalist Kieron Gillen for the PC gaming blog Rock, Paper, Shotgun here we have a snippet:

You don’t envy Bethesda.

I’ve said this before, but the nagging question is why they’d take up this particular poisoned chalice of post-apocalypse role-playing anyway. “A new game by the makers of Oblivion is a much bigger story to the gaming mainstream” than “Sequel to old PC game you haven’t played”. Hell, the “3″ even risks alienating people who’ve never played (or heard of) the original, dismissing it out of hand – there’s eighteen year old PC Gamers who’d have been six when the thing comes out. Even putting aside that, the friends it buys you will brook no compromise. The Fallout fanbase epitomised by the cheery souls of No Mutants Allowed, having had a decade to stew over disappointment after disappointment, are openly fanatical. As much as they’d protest it, no-one can see them accepting anything Bethesda would produce.

A Fallout license gives you… what? A post-apocalyptic world. Make your own up and save yourself the hassle of dealing with friends who hate you and strangers who look just at you strangely.

So why do it? Well, three reasons come to mind.

Firstly, I could just be wrong and Fallout is a much bigger deal than I thought and that little Pip-Boy is a key to a world of infinite money. I don’t think so.

Secondly, Bethesda may be as dirty fanboys as the NMA guys. It may just be as simple as plain lust for Fallout, the plain desire to write a sequel to a game they think is brilliant. This sort of things strikes even the brightest creative minds – look over at Comics, where there’s a strata of some of the medium’s brightest minds whose most heartfelt desire is to have a shot at Superman. They’re insane, and if they had any sense they’d be doing their own thing… but that they don’t have that sense means that it’s done as an act of devotion. This is actually a good reason to give a damn about Fallout 3. People working on something that’s genuinely invested in, on average, leads to better work.

Thirdly… well, one of the major worries about Fallout 3 from even less fanatical fans is that they don’t believe Bethesda are capable of wrestling with the actions-and-consequences aspects that have traditionally been involved in a Fallout Game – they’re fine with multiple mechanisms (Assuming they get the experience system right), but the payoffs are limited. Just as key is their limitations as creators of fiction – while they’re good at verisimilitude and a sense of place, the fiction – dialogue, plot, whatever – of the Elder Scrolls have been merely acceptable at best throughout. This has lead some people to think that Bethesda, by definition, can’t do it. Thing is, by buying Fallout 3, they cover their weaknesses. They don’t need to create a world from whole-cloth – they have an inspiring world. They don’t need to work out how people act and talk – they have a game which shows the interactions between individuals and whatever. Buying Fallout actually acts as a crutch for Bethesda’s traditional faults.

There’s much more here, a must read that no doubt will cause some interesting discussions.

Community Corner: Interview with Per

gecko.jpg

On today’s Community Corner interview I bring you Per Jorner, administrator on the No Mutants Allowed Fallout fansite, a Swedish adult male with an eye for detail and lots of devoted work for the games he fells in love.

Per is mostly known because of his famous guides, a set of work that is recognized all over the world as the most impressive resource documents for anyone wanting to play the classic Fallout RPGs (and the Wasteland guide is also worth of many praises). As an example of how thorough his work is I never check references on the Fallout bibles without crosschecking with what Per wrote, and usually in case of doubt go with his interpretation.

In the year a new Fallout game is set to be released I thought it would be interesting to know more on the thoughts of Per Jorner, click here to read it all.

A snippet:

What are your views on how SPECIAL will be implemented in this new game?

Well, like many others I’m concerned about the apparent shooterization we’re seeing. It fits right into the devolution of the “RPG” label that’s been going on for a while now. Of course we know that Van Buren would have updated SPECIAL too, but a thing such as keeping the term “Action Points” but tagging it onto something different in a radically altered play mechanic indicates a superficial view of “what is Fallout”. This doesn’t have to affect the presentation and application of non combat skills and character data and hopefully won’t.

Thanks Per!

Fallout 2: Restoration Project is Out!

fo2mapper.jpg

A bit off topic but I just had to promote this:

The day of release has finally come. It has taken me about almost 2 years to get this complete and yet I still believe I can find stuff to add. The purpose of this mod is to add back into the game all the content that was originally planned by the Fallout 2 devs. You will find about 6 new locations (some quite large, other smaller) as well as a few new areas to old locations. In addition, almost every town in the game has new content whether it is new characters, quests, or items. Playing this will definitely be a new experience. Completion of this expansion would also not have been possible without several individuals who I thank in the readme of this mod. Big thanks to all of you!

Windows Installer Version (recommended): download / mirror at NMA
Windows Manual Version (“advanced users”): download
Mac Version: At the moment, there is no Mac version for this mod. This mod requires Timeslip’s tweaks for several things and his tweaks only work with Windows.

Excellent job Killap! You can find more about this on this topic at NMA.

Community Corner: Atomic Ninjas Interview

5media.jpg

A new featured series of interviews starts today in this blog, talking to Fallout community members and other gamers, recording their views now that the last year of development of Fallout 3 is underway.

The first interview is with the Atomic Ninjas Brother None and Suaside.

I feel they are a good example of how communities and individuals are more and more creating their own content and participating actively on the Web, instead of being passive receivers of pre formatted info, something that it’s quite close to me, particularly in these post-GerstmannGate days.

A few tidbits:

What did you think of the reactions on the web, inside and outside the community?

BN: What, to the review? I think people appreciated the density of information. As one press guy told me, it is the “next closest thing to having seen the demo”, and that’s good.

S: I was quite pleased with the feedback we received. I think most reactions validated our work, which is of course always nice. While many fans told us we had confirmed their fears, others told us that they would give FO3 a chance while they had been very negative on the subject before. While our own opinions were strong, I think we did a good job at telling people what we had seen at the best of our capability.

Even the professional press chipped in, usually with a kind word here and there. With the exception of a few overly negative comments of course… But overall, the reactions were rather positive.

Apparently many fans thought it good enough to donate a little bit of money, which meant we were able fund the trip without too much of a financial hangover. Thanks again for that, guys! Much appreciated.

There’s a lot more on Community corner: Atomic Ninjas Interview.

Soylent Green

bng2-copia.jpg

While talking about the Tiscali Fallout 3 scans Brother None at NMA complained about some of Bethesda’s choices:

That’s interesting, Games for Windows gets the scoop, the very same magazine that’s been hating on Fallout 3 fans continuously for months now, and uses every opportunity to try and degrade us.
Nice, GFW and Bethesda, very nice. Very classy. Not suspect at all.

This discussion reached the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum, with TwinkieGorilla asking “remove Jeff Green from your (Bethesda’s) payroll”. Community Manager Matt “Gstaff” Grandstaff had this reaction:

I guess this probably has something to do with the new screens in the new GFW. To let you know, a number of mags were given a new screen or two for coverage they have coming up in current or upcoming issues. G4W just happens to be the first one printed. GFW also put us as the cover to their magazine…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with allowing them to have new screens. On the horizon, you can probably expect to see new screens from other guys covering the game as well.
I’m not going to lie, there are folks at our office do like Jeff Green. I don’t know the guy personally, but I respect a lot of the work he’s done. I understand that some folks in the Fallout community that have a bone to pick with him/GFW, but let’s be fair, that’s not our battle. If you have issues with them, take it up with them.[...]

Do Fallout fans deride new information? Yes. Do they do it with everything we release? No, I can admit to that, but again, we’re not in charge of what they write.

It’s also worth noting that at the end, he says:

The truth of the matter is no one knows a damn thing yet about whether the game will be good or not.

I don’t think that’s gushing.

When confronted with this entry from Green’s blog, Gstaff replied:

He sounds excited after seeing the game at E3…I certainly don’t think that means he’s on our payroll. It’s his blog…it’s his opinion.[...]

I see the points you’re trying to make, but I think you might just be reading into it too much. Generally, we try to be friendly with anyone we encounter. After reading Brother None’s preview, I can recall that he said something along the lines that Pete was a nice guy.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think Jeff and Pete are going to the movies together, or planning family BBQs.

Well more importantly WaynePleasant asked this:

I would like to see a sample of some dialog, perhaps a storyboard of how said dialogue will progress. I’ve seen what amounts to a tech demo, now I want to see people talking. I’d even accept a written example of how a conversation would go.

Gstaff replied with this interesting development:

I imagine you’ll see something like that at some point.

Ok, but when?

Hairy Day

deathclaw-copia.jpg

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

bng3-copia.jpg

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.

Fallout 3: a Tale of Two Cities

swag.jpg

Brother None at NMA writes:

After NMA’s Fallout 3 preview, I cast about for comments from some of the media people I’ve know as Fallout fans for year (the type Desslock or Will Porter) to get some feedback on our opinions and assumptions.

Desslock eventually replied, and we got into a debate about some of the key issues surrounding our difference of opinion of this game. With Desslock’s permission, I’ve merged these e-mails into one A Tale of Two Cities article. If you’re interested in hearing some different views on the topic of Fallout 3 be sure to read it.

Some highlights:

Brother None: It’s not “the only thing” they have in common, it’s exactly the same mechanic. Ignoring the fact that BioWare’s system is just an example (I think you got bogged down on that), the point is that this is just another predictable, uninnovative RTwP system.

Desslock: I disagree – that’s like saying Fallout 1′s combat is identical to the combat in the Final Fantasy series because they both feature turn-based combat. You’re culling out details that make the systems distinct, and in Fallout 3′s case, original. Again, there’s never been an RPG that featured combat similar to Fallout 3′s, so by definition, it’s innovative.

Brother None: I think we’re asking the wrong question, tho’. Try to make a list of how two combat systems are identical and you’ll always end up with a big wad of differences, does that mean every combat system is innovative? I think the key question is (considering the above) what exactly is so innovative about this combat system? A different angle; not what are they doing that’s exactly the same, but what are they doing that’s significantly
different?

Desslock: The combination of features: real-time/stats-based (as opposed to twitch-based) combat which can be stopped in order to initiate targeted shots using action points. Sure, at some level you can point to aspects that you feel are derived from other games, but the overall package is not just “different”, it feels original.
Anyway, I think this argument is distracting from the more substantive issues of (a) whether this combat system actually works well in practice, and I think we both agree that we have reservations/questions that need to be addressed as more details are revealed by Bethesda; and (b) whether it feels like Fallout 1/2, and I think we both agree that it’s definitely different, so fans hoping for something closer to the turn-based combat of the original games are likely disappointed, while gamers who thought it would be just like Oblivion’s combat are probably pleased that it’s something different – it’s an original, hybrid combat system, which I think looks promising, although I have reservations.
Hell, Bethesda could unveil the melee combat and it’ll have “super-smash; spinning lightning attacks”, in which case I’ll agree with your “supermoves” description, and be disappointed by Bethesda’s design decision. But for now, I’m cautiously optimistic about the combat system.

Jay “RadHamster” Woodward from Bethsoft also disagrees that VATS is a simple Real Time with Pause combat mode:

Any combat system that can correctly be summarized as “real time with pause” must have two fundamental characteristics:

One is that you pause combat to set up actions for your character to take. That’d be the “pause” part.

The other is what happens when you unpause.

What do you think? And remember to check the rest of the discussion, there’s a lot more in there.

Before Fallout 3 there was a One and a Two

feargus_urquhart.jpg

From NMA:

10 years ago:

Project Update: We are working on a patch for some of the various bugs, and we are building and testing the localized versions for Australia and the UK. The translated language versions are waiting on translations back from the translators (German, French and Spanish). The FAQ page has been updated, please let us know any comments. — 16 Oct 1997 @ 1545 PST

That’s…not really a meaningful day at all, but still it looks to be the day we’re closing our anniversary celebrations with a second gift from Desslock. This time, it’s a post-release interview he did for his site with Fallout 2 lead designer and producer Feargus Urquhart. A bit:

Desslock: What’s next for the Fallout series, assuming the game is at least as successful as the original game? Don’t worry, we won’t hold you to anything <grin>

Feargus Urquhart: We are kicking around ideas for Fallout 3. Nothing official yet, but we are thinking of making it using a 3D engine. I don’t want people to panic here, because it is not going to be a 1st person shooter. We are just going to use the 3D engine to display an isometric world in 3D. So people will still play the game much the same way as they are doing now in Fallout 1 and 2.

You can read the rest here, I’m really going to miss NMA’s Fallout 10th Anniversary celebrations.

Still if you are a Fallout fan that wants some more Fallout goodness you can always play Fallout 2 again, now with Killap’s Unofficial Fallout 2 patch:

This patch has been in production for several years now and it fixes well over 800+ bugs left in the game since the official 1.02 patch. I suggest using this installer version as opposed to the manual one since the installer will do everything automatically for you. If you want to do things manually though, go ahead and grab the manual rar version. I hope you enjoy the best Fallout 2 experience yet!

Link: download Killap’s Unofficial Fallout 2 Patch (US/UK – installer).
Link: download Killap’s Unofficial Fallout 2 Patch (US/UK – manual install)

Link: download Killap’s Unofficial Fallout 2 Patch (Mac Version)

Back to the Future

teamgurps.jpg

From No Mutants Allowed:

Well isn’t this funny? Unexpectedly, the material keeps on coming. Desslock, the well-known RPG guru who used to run his own RPG news site on GameSpot and now has his RPG columns on PC Gamer, once interviewed Tim Cain in 1997, prior to the release of Fallout. And today Desslock was kind enough to provide this interview to NMA.

Great find, kudos to Desslock, it will be interesting to compare this to a Todd Howard interview made after the release of Fallout 3. Some highlights:

Desslock: Fallout’s detailed tactical combat, complete with critical hits, the ability to aim at specific locations on your target, etc. has been enthusiastically received by role-playing gamers who have previewed the Fallout demo. Do you anticipate that the combat system will be substantially similar to the one previewed in the Fallout demo?

Tim Cain: Yes, we’ve primarily just been tinkering with combat balance and AI. We have added the ability to speed up NPC turns, so you don’t have to wait as long for them to take their turns. The biggest change from the demo is the addition of critical hits and misses. These are specific to the critter you are attacking and the weapon you are using, and combat becomes even more strategic when you are trying to decide whether or not to shoot with a 20% to-hit number, since the chance of critical failure is proportional to the chance of missing. On the plus side, called shots have a better chance of scoring a critical hit (making groin shots even better), but since they are tougher shots, you may critically miss more too. It’s all a balance thing.[...]

Desslock: The graphics in Fallout look fantastic so far, and have a lot of gamers excited about playing a real, live role-playing game which looks so gooood. Great work, by the way. What resolutions and color depths do you intend to support in Fallout? Do you anticipate including any special graphical features, such as dynamic lighting, etc.?

Tim Cain: Fallout is a 640×480 256-color product. We do make use of dynamic lighting and special effects such as translucency (we have a Stealth Boy device that can turn you nearly invisible) and some gorgeous color-cycled animations (one of our artists managed to make the ocean waves lap at the shore when you go to the beach).[...]

Desslock: What are two features (perhaps among many) which you believe set Fallout apart from other role-playing games?

Tim Cain: First, different characters really are different. If you make a stupid character, he will have different responses to NPCs dialog, and therefore the game will take a different spin as certain adventure seeds are denied you. Similarly, starting with low combat skills could easily get you killed in the first adventure seed that is offered, since it involves big, dangerous monsters. Likewise, take a high Luck and you may find things in the wasteland that others cannot…

Second, how you behave in the game really matters. Be a jerk, and people won’t barter with you. Save a town and become a hero in their eyes. Join the bad guys and see a different endgame (not necessarily a lose game sequence either). In other words, this is a true role-playing game, and you are responsible for your own actions.

I love the NMA presents: Fallout’s 10th anniversary feature.

Picture from DuckandCover.

Fallout Retrospective Interview at NMA

avellowndiu4.jpg

From No Mutants Allowed:

In celebration of Fallout’s 10th anniversary, NMA gathered a number of former leads that guided the series during its evolution at Interplay and Black Isle Studios. They answered us 10 questions looking back to the game, its influence on them and its fans, with one bonus question for two of them.

The leads are:

    • Leonard Boyarsky Fallout 1 lead artist and original game design
    • Chris Taylor Fallout 1 lead designer and original game design, Fallout Tactics senior designer
    • Feargus Urquhart Fallout 1 division director of Interplay TSR, Fallout 2 producer and lead designer
    • Chris Avellone Fallout 2 designer, author of the Fallout Bibles and lead designer of Van Buren (BIS’ Fallout 3) until he left for Obsidian
    • J.E. Sawyer Van Buren lead technical designer and lead designer until he left a few months before BIS closed its doors

It’s a great way to celebrate the ten years of the release of Fallout, a few highlights:

3. What bit of your work on Fallout were you most proud of?

Leonard Boyarsky
That’s a hard one, as I’m proud of so much of what I contributed to Fallout. If I had to pick one thing, it would be the mood/tone/50’s thing, because I can cheat and include things like the SkillDex (vault)guy and the intro and ending under that heading.

Chris Taylor
I’m most proud of the SPECIAL system, not because of how it finally turned out (there are bugs in the system and certainly, with some time, we could have improved it), but because we had a very limited amount of time to work on it and it was at a critical time in the development of Fallout. SPECIAL turned out pretty darn well for having been written in just a few weeks. The manual takes the runner up prize.

Feargus Urquhart
On the original Fallout, I was happiest with what I did with the Hub. Some of my work was taking a really complicated design that wasn’t really working and making it work. But, I also added the quest for the Blade Runner pistol that Jason was nice enough to make for me, even though I think he thought I was being silly. And, I also spent a ton of time balancing where the guards were and how they were equipped to make it really, really hard to steal stuff early in the game but just a hard fight later in the game.
I was also happy with what I did with the Boneyard and Adytum, which was again to take a broken design and make it work. I was happy that was able to add the Hardened Power Armor and Turbo Plasma Rifle pretty much at the last minute of the game. Of course, I’m still pretty embarrassed that I screwed up the balance of the later part of the game by reducing the AP requirements on the Turbo Plasma Rifle.

And lastly, I stopped Fallout from Gold Mastering for an extra day because I felt the Barter equation was broken and need to be fixed. It wasn’t a very popular decision on the team or with management, but it was the right one and Bartering worked out much better because of that.

Chris Avellone
All the pre-production work on Fallout 3, and the theme that was planned for Fallout 3. Following that, I was proud of the area design for New Reno along with the multiple branching and reactivity, and finishing up the quests and characters in Vault City, including all the little bonus reactivity events in Vault City (the singing caretaker, the broken auto-doc, yanking all the ammo out of Marcus, Vic and Valerie’s sequence, the Captain of Vault City, and some of the fetch quests).

J.E. Sawyer
Revising SPECIAL for Van Buren. In retrospect, I may have made a few choices differently, but overall I think the system needed an overhaul for clarity and balance reasons.
I also really enjoyed working on the “Poseidon-tier” technologies for Van Buren. They were a bunch of unfinished projects that science-oriented characters could complete to gain goodies like the ARTEMIS Light Rail Gun and HERAKLES Power Fist. The story behind the projects helped tie the Enclave to Poseidon, which was fun.

10. What advice would you have for someone making another Fallout game?

Leonard Boyarsky
That’s tough. I wouldn’t even know where to start, as Fallout was really a reflection of us and our personalities at that time, and we had nothing to live up to. We were just fired up about making our little game and we poured ourselves into it.

The only advice that comes to mind is to realize that its humor comes from a juxtaposition of the powers that be in the Fallout universe trying to put forth a silly ‘everything’s great!’ attitude and the stark reality that actually exists in the world. And even though there were some silly things in it, like the crashed flying saucer, overall it was more dark humor than silly humor.

Chris Taylor
No advice, but I wish them the best. I’m a fan myself and I look forward to FO3.

Feargus Urquhart
In the end the specific aspects of the rules system, the game perspective, the locations, all of those don’t matter when it comes to making a Fallout game. It is the feeling of Fallout. It’s the Overseer kicking you out, it’s getting to kill both Killian and Gizmo, getting to play at being Mad Max, having Dogmeat around and winning the game the way you want to win it.

Chris Avellone
Don’t do one. Do something better and raise the bar even higher.

J.E. Sawyer
Establish a vision and go with it. The Fallout games are great, but to progress the series, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff and build on top of that. Refine the strengths of the Fallout games and add new innovations. There’s a lot of dissonant noise from fans about what those strengths really are. And that’s fine. It’s not their job to make the game. They aren’t a team. But you have to be able to get to the heart of what’s really important.

There are probably a lot of decisions that you will make that infuriate a lot of people. If you feel those decisions need to be made, do not half-ass them. The people still will be infuriated, and what you are making will suffer overall because of those compromises. A compromise made for reasons of scope or quality — that might be a good compromise. Compromises made to quasi-please the average audience member aren’t a good thing, especially not with a concept as strongly expressed as “Fallout”.

And whatever you do, make sure you nail the art, the music, and the sound. That’s the stuff that transcends rules and combat systems and dialogue trees.

Must read roundtable interview, good work NMA.

 

Fallout 3 Atomic Ninjas part 6

kharnyshirt.jpg

In late August I reported that No Mutants Allowed got inside the Fallout 3 demo presentations and got a few Q&A sessions with Pete Hines. They went to the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum and replied to questions about their viewing of the Fallout 3 demo. This is the sixth of a series of blogposts with an edited version of those sessions. You can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here and part 5 is here. So let’s roll:

Will AP become useless if you never use the V.A.T.S. system?

BN: It does not appear to have any function outside of VATS.

Sua: From what we saw, probably, yes.

I hope npc reactions are improved allot more in the final game. Like when you pick up the laser rifle from the soldier the BoS soldiers should force you to give it to them and give you one of their Chinese assault rifles instead.

Considering their excessively possessive nature in FO1/2 when it came to technology… well. Pretty unlikely they’d even let you near the laser rifle.
The lack of helmets is also unsettling I would rather have BoS soldiers wearing patched up helmets and marking their armor to show rank or identification. If the only reason they don’t wear helmets is so you can identify them. Then just have them remove their helmets to talk to the PC when no combat is going on.

Not to mention (grandfather) Maxson was killed, hit in the head during a raid because he wasn’t wearing his helmet. I’m pretty sure the BoS learnt their lesson after that…

But of course, a helmet doesn’t let you show much facial expression during dialog. I could understand the leader being helmetless for that purpose, but nearly the entire squad? Un-bloody-likely.

I’m more concerned about the disparity in rad counts between the too-ubiquitous mushroom clouds and the “tap” water… sure, one is ingested and that explains the rad count to an extent but… come on?

Probably just a demo thing, tho’

Relaxing? Or maybe tired of all the (endless) fighting? Like in war-weary and disenchanted by the whole mess? You know, like in the anti-war movies.

No, it’s definitely just bad/unfinished AI scripting, just like the soldier shouldering his gun the moment the bomb hits. They need to do some work there.
Which I think is the value here:

Remember how all those previewers were ecstatic about the improved RAI? Well, guess what, you don’t actually *see* improved RAI anywhere in the demo, all those previewers have to go on is the promise that RAI will be better. All the RAI I saw in the demo was *exactly* like it was in Oblivion (with the possible exception of combat AI)

Does this mean that mutants are only out to kill you or what?

Basically, Pete Hines was talking about dialogue as a valid option and then just threw out “obviously, that doesn’t go for supermutants.” Might’ve been a joke, might’ve been inaccurate, it didn’t sound very definitive to me. But supermutants are “the enemy”, that much is clear. Whether or not you can talk to them and how much backstory they have I don’t know.

Continue reading

Remember the First of October

tenyears.jpg

This day, ten years ago:

Project Update: Well, it’s done. We shipped Fallout!

Actually, we silvered today, which means that we should be in major stores by Oct 10. So, it hasn’t really shipped yet, but the duplication and manufacturing has begun! Shipped, silver – hey, we’re done! — 1 Oct 1997 @ 1615 PST

Rejoice and celebrate people!

And also remember to check the three original concept art pieces from Tony Postma and the bucket load of Fallout related material from Sharon Shellman and Jason Anderson displayed at No Mutants Allowed, it’s worth it.

Dtoid: Cityboy Talk

42211-talkpretty.jpg

Remember when Emil made some statements about dialog on a 1UP interview, and later had to clarify things up, since it was causing some discomfort throughout the community and even outside? At that time I also wrote about an Aeropause editorial that was a good example of that discomfort.

Well Eliza Gauger from Destructoid brought that editorial back, on a post where she slams both the Bethesda devs and NMA:

I maintain that sequels should never be expansion packs, and that Same Shit, Different Day (SSDD) is a terrible game development model. But as much as I despise the kneejerk, nostalgia-mongering attitude of many gamers when faced with terrifying new additions to their favorite franchises (I’m looking at you, No Mutants Allowed, you bunch of cretins), the fact remains that the retention (or expulsion) of some recurring traits can make or break a sequel. Rewarding or punishing the player for conversational decisions is a fairly major part of intelligent roleplaying games. Particularly Fallout.

Now, Aeropause seems to go a wee bit overboard with their reaction to what is really a small part of a larger, more all-encompassing interview. The interviewee does state that NPCs will be affected by conversation, but doesn’t particularly quantify the statement. I will wait and see. Dubiously. Steepling my fingers and raising one eyebrow.

I assured her I’m not a cretin and Emil already clarified things, so she updated the post now.

Bethesda’s Shoes

nuts.JPG

Brother None from NMA posted this at the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum:

Interesting enough as it uses Fallout 3 as one of its test cases and quotes Howard and Hines, Julian Murdoch did a piece for the Games For Windows magazine on fans, media and industry, for which he also interview Jeff Green, Ken Levine and me. See here.

Of interest:

QUOTE:

While commenters on his blog (and in Bethesda’s own forums) were overwhelmingly excited about the developments shown at E3, the hardcore Fallout fansites fired invective, arguing that Green (and the gaming press in general), were incapable of objective opinion, often using language not fit to print.

I was unaware this forum was overwhelmingly excited about Fallout 3 as shown at E3. Did I miss something?
And, of course, the Hines-Howard quote machine:

QUOTE:

Todd Howard, the executive producer on Fallout 3 for Bethesda, has become inoculated to this kind of controversy, because he understands it. “I remind my guys that nobody works up the energy to get on the Internet and write ‘Everything is fine,‘” he explains. “If people aren’t writing about it, what’s up with that? Either they don’t care, or we’re playing it too safe.”
(…)
“Reinvention is one of our core philosophies. Sequals aren’t ‘plus ones’- this old thing with a new change.” So instead, his team started with what they liked best about the old games – the setting, the humor and the ink-black irony of the world – and started making a new game. A Bethesda games. “That’s just how we work.”
(…)
As for Bethesda, they’ve been listening. Pete Hines, vice president of PR and marketing, lives at the bloody front of the Fallout 3 battle. From his perspective, despite the noise, the job is pretty simple. “It doesn’t take all that long to figure out what it is people want or don’t want,” he claims. “We’ve known what they’ve wanted since 2004, and I don’t think anything that they want has changed.”
(…)
If you don’t want us to make this game, you’re going to be disappointed, because we’re making it,” concludes Bethesda’s Hines. “And if you’re willing to give it a shot – well, then we appreciate what you want, but we’re going to move on.

Interesting thoughts on the community, the old fans and, possibly, why we simply don’t matter.

Overall it’s an interesting piece, worth some discussion. But if the idea was to support the camp of those that prefer dramatic changes to well known franchises then Jason should have picked a different example than Tribes: Vengeance, that game was not only a weak Tribes game, and in that the most vocal fans were right all along, but it was also a mediocre game in itself.

Fallout 3 Atomic Ninjas part 5

pipboy3000b.jpg

In late August I reported that No Mutants Allowed got inside the Fallout 3 demo presentations and got a few Q&A sessions with Pete Hines. They went to the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum and replied to questions about their viewing of the Fallout 3 demo. This is the fifth of a series of blogposts with an edited version of those sessions. You can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here.

I’m always against heavy focus on graphics, but I have to say that from Hines explanation (and a bit of reading up since I was unfamiliar with the technology), the parallax occlusion mapping helps *a lot* on designed a wrecked, ruined world, and it works extremely well on a number of ruins.
The “realistic bullet holes in ground!” thing I can take or leave. But it works well for environmentals, too

Why, oh why is behemoth a colector of corpses which he apparently enjoys carying around on his back?

The Behemoth kind of strikes me as a irrational monster type. A kind of bad version of Frankenstein (Frankenstein’s monster was actually a highly rational though evil being, read the book), a horrible result of an experiment.
Little wrong with the Behemoth itself. Its introduction is stupid and unfitting and its description as an endboss just physically hurts.

The only fallout part of all of this is the vault. Once they go out everything basically falls apart.

Looses much of its consistency. Not really ‘falling apart’.

Hey guys, I got a question regarding the dialogue. When you start to talk to someone and the dialogue options come up, how was that handled, visually? I mean, on the original games, there came up a little HUD thing, you know?

Same as Oblivion.

Well…at least you can still shoot people in the eyes..or there is a chance that when you shoot someone in the head, it may blind them.

You can’t target eyes. Headcrits can blind.

All that said, Brother None, you say that one of the ants got stuck in a tree. What did this tree look like, and how often were trees seen as part of the landscape?

Didn’t see much trees. They all looked dead.

Were the NPC voices very different from one another? Was the voice acting believable?

BN: Very different? No. But different. But I’ve only heard key NPCs talk.
Voice acting was somewhat bland. I hate to rag on Liam since I kinda like him as an actor, but voice acting just isn’t his thing, and it shows here.
Sua: We didn’t have many dialogs, but from random sounds it seemed just fine. Of course hard to tell from such a short and scripted demonstration…
Those that did have longer dialogs, they didnt seem very ‘special’. In FO1, each person had his own character and it was easy to see and hear in the talking heads. From fatass Gizmo’s slobbering, to Aradesh’s “Yes Yes Yes”, to Sulik’s “what can we and I do you for?”, etc. the npcs didn’t have such extremely distinctive characteristics.
And Liam Neeson came over as rather bland. Especially for the price they probably paid him…

How did the interface look and did you like it?

Interface is ok, though I’m not sure if the whole compass thing is a good idea…
I liked the pipboy interface (though too ‘console-y’) it looked nice. The scanlines etc were well done.

Continue reading

Fallout 3 Atomic Ninjas part 4

In late August I reported that No Mutants Allowed got inside the Fallout 3 demo presentations and got a few Q&A sessions with Pete Hines. They went to the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum and replied to questions about their viewing of the Fallout 3 demo. This is the third of a series of blogposts with an edited version of those sessions. You can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here. Most of the answers on today’s blogpost come from Suaside:

Stupidly unimportant question, but when sneak was activated was there a change in animation, reduced speed?
Obviously change in animation would not be noticeable if the camera was in FPP.

I do believe he went into a crouch (or duck a bit) & slowed down a bit. there was as we mentioned a sneakbar in the middle of the screen.

Was there any mention of Burke being a real estate developer, or was it just a bad joke of one of the other previewers?
Well, it’s only an early demo, maybe it will be fixed in the final game.

No mention of it, but he does kinda look like one (which is what I assume was the previewer’s point)

On the Mr Burke dialogue, would certainly hope that what was reported from the demo: “I represent certain interests”, “Megaton is a blight, want to help me destroy it?” is not the extent of his entreaty (certainly likely to be more, doubt they’d reveal all in the demo). How realistic would your character be to accept such a weak proposition? I’m sure the monetary gain could not be that large, assuming the quest is early in the game (certainly could be invalid), that would break the economy somewhat.

Blowing up a town with a nuke for a pittance does look farfetched…
But I usually play a good guy anyway. Kinda my nature.

Just noticed that you can ask for 500 caps extra, seems caps are in as currency, guess everyone already knew this, but I must have missed it previously.

Already noted many times before.
You can also use the caps as shrapnel on an explosive you can craft (why not use tin cans, sheet metal, lead balls or simple bits of metal instead of currency baffles me…).

Continue reading