Ask Miller


As I’ve written before Game Informer Unlimited is online, with exclusive video interviews with Todd Howard and Istvan Pely, and the exclusive Ask Miller about Fallout 3 feature.

Well I’ve read the entire feature, if you have questions put them on the comments of this blog post. And you can see the videos, first this one with Todd Howard, then another one with Todd, and this one with Lead Artist Istvan Pely.

Here are some highlights of the feature:

Q: Is this another Oblivion but with a Fallout theme?

A: In short: no. Sure, Fallout 3 plays primarily from a first-person perspective like Oblivion, and conversations with NPCs use a similar style of dialogue tree, but combat, questing, character creation and most importantly the tone and style of the gameplay shares more in common with Fallout 1 and 2 than Oblivion.

Q: Is the game turn based or real time?
How’s the V.A.T.S. combat system work again?

A: I talk about this a good bit in the July magazine article, but to be clear, Fallout 3 plays in both real time and a paused tactical combat mode. It’s not really turn based, however. Instead, you can pause the real-time action in order to make aimed ranged or melee attacks on your opponents, smashing their legs to slow them down, or perhaps shooting an arm to hurt their weapon aim. Like in the original Fallout games, doing these aimed shots take action points, but since there are no turns, those AP recharge over time after unpausing the game. You can shoot in real time, but that will then slow your recharge rate. In practice, this means players have the option to play the game very much like an RPG, but with a good bit more action than traditional RPGs. Are there other details to the way this system works? Almost definitely, yes. Do we know all the answers to how V.A.T.S. works after seeing it in one demo? No. We’re waiting just like you to find out more.[…]

Q: Will Fallout 3 be as open-ended as Oblivion?

A: In many ways, Fallout 3 is being designed to be more open-ended than Oblivion, offering choices to players that alter the course of the game world in dramatic ways. In Oblivion, for instance, you either do the Dark Brotherhood missions or not. But imagine if you had the choice to either become the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, or infiltrate it and bring it down from the inside. Alternately, pretend you had an unstable nuclear bomb, and you put it outside the Dark Brotherhood hideaway and blew it up. That’s the level of open-endedness they’re shooting for with Fallout 3. […]

Q: How is the art style? Does it maintain the feel of the original games?

A: I’ll answer this with an example. In the opening minutes of the demo, I saw, the character is in a lab inside Vault 101. On a table beside him I spied a stimpak. This tiny object in the world was the first of many times in the game that I felt tiny twinges of nostalgia for how they’ve carried over individual objects and ideas from the original in the artistic presentation of the game. The post-WWII, Cold War feel of the franchise is very much intact, but Bethesda definitely has its own unique take on the art style. One big part of this art style is a focus on making everything in the game world have a purpose–when designing a new gun, the art team spends a lot of time making sure that if there is some weird knob on the weapon that there is a reason for it to be there. They’re hoping to bring a certain level of authenticity to the game world in this way.

Q: Is the game first or third person? Isometric?

A: It’s both first and third–a point I mention in the article. It does not use the isometric view of the original games. It is possible to pan the third person camera pretty far back, but it definitely isn’t meant to be played in a view that is anything like the original. However, almost half of the questions we received were about the camera view, so I thought I should address it here. To clarify, unlike in Oblivion, with its wonky third-person camera, a big focus has been placed on making Fallout 3 fun and playable in both first and third person. The third person camera, when panned close, is very much like the over-the-shoulder view of a game like Gears of War or Resident Evil 4. The first person camera is very much like any other first person camera, but the game definitely does not play like a first-person shooter, at least in the demo I saw.[…]

Q: Can you play the game without doing any combat?

A: I never got a hard and fast answer on this point, though I did ask the development team about it. On a general level, they did say that they’re trying to build multiple solutions into almost any quest or situation you encounter, and that using stealth and diplomacy were very useable routes to overcome different obstacles. Whether you’ll be able to play through the whole game without committing any violence is a point they’re still hammering out, to my memory.

Q: How is the story going to work, how many quests are there, how much branching is there, etc?

A: I received a bunch of questions from you all on this point, and it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I don’t really have the answers. With over a year of development ahead, I’m sure even Bethesda doesn’t know all the details about exactly how many quests will be in the final version. However, you can certainly look at the story elements that were included in the magazine article and draw a few conclusions. In the demo that was narrated throughout the article, the character chose to arm and detonate a nuclear bomb in the town of Megaton. This choice effectively closed off a whole slew of events and quests that could only be found in Megaton. Go back to that town afterwards for the rest of the game and all the people, homes, and shops will be gone, replaced by a big irradiated hole in the ground. However, having blown up Megaton, a previously unfriendly settlement that your employer is affiliated with might open up, and new quests, (probably some pretty evil ones) might become available. Had the character not blown up Megaton, there are all sorts of quests there that would open up in Megaton, but that other town and its quests might never become an option. You might be asking yourself: “Well, wouldn’t that mean I could have a dramatically different playthrough the second time through?” That’s sort of the idea, I think, at least if Bethesda manages to successfully implement this idea.[…]

Q: I’ve never played a Fallout game. Will I be able to enjoy Fallout 3?

A: I don’t know, but I do know that Bethesda sure hopes you will. While there are certainly a lot of big Fallout fans out there in the world, there are plenty of gamers who have never had the chance to play the old PC classic. While staying true to the game universe, Bethesda seemed to indicate to me that they are trying very hard to create a game that new and old fans alike will be able to enjoy.[…]

Q: I love Oblivion, and am hoping that Fallout 3 is just like that. Is it just like Oblivion?

A: No. There are definitely things it has in common with the game you like, but Fallout 3 is its own game, independent of previous releases by Bethesda or any other studio.[…]

Q: What is your overall impression of the game?

A: To be clear, I was and continue to be a big fan of the original Fallout games. Believe it or not, so are the guys over at Bethesda. From my perspective as someone who loved the originals, I have to say that my feeling of the direction that Bethesda is taking the franchise is very strongly positive. If you are a fan who is adamantly against some significant changes to the way gameplay occurs in the Fallout series, I’m going to tell you right now and save you the disappointment: I don’t think you’ll like Fallout 3. However, if you’re a fan of the Fallout universe, of the unique look of the world, of the moral ambiguity, of the dark and often violent humor, and the invigorating branching story paths, then everything about what I’ve seen of Fallout 3 should please you.

My take on this is that the game seems to be a cross between Deus Ex/Gears of War/Resistance:Fall of Man with some sprinkling of Oblivion and some art clues from Fallout, for nostalgia sake,but I’m more interested about your opinion.


20 thoughts on “Ask Miller

  1. “…conversations with NPCs use a similar style of dialogue tree…”

    Similarstyle? But with better writing I hope. Damn this is getting frustrating, they aren’t really trying even to win back any old fallout players – morely focusing on getting new ones.

  2. I liked everything I read so far, except that conversation bit that droveri mentioned above. Please tell me that there is no stupid wheel of fortune mini game… Also does that mean the conversations are fully voiced?

    Also, to revise one of the question I asked in previous post. About the camera, so now that I know what is and is not possible. It doesn’t seem like they are going to support click move, but will that feature be moddable? Actually, is there a mode where you have a mouse cursor of some sort to interact with stuff? (I doubt it)

    Finally, I am still very confused about how VATS works…

  3. the first answer is kinda controversial. he says it’s not Oblivion with Fallout theme, but then he says that it uses the same viewpoint and same dialogue. what’s left? level-scaling and story? ok, story and scaling will be different but does it mean it won’t be Oblivion with guns? no, I think. So it is kinda Fallout mod for Oblivion.
    Not sure what he means by ‘similar style of branching trees’, but that really worries me.

    the underlined statement is rather vague. What are the ‘significant changes’ in his opinion?

    I don’t know, I’ve been more optimistic before the article. Of course I could live with the new combat system and viewpoint. A few days after the first shock made by the article I feel better about it. Still really really hope for a different interface for PC. The words about game is not ported, but made for different platforms, is making me hope.

    As I said before, I feel, that they are making a different, very different game in the Fallout setting. It can be seen even in logo of the game. It is less comic style, more ‘realistic’. We will see if it is appliable to Fallout (my opinion is more no than yes). If look at it as not a sequel (ok, ok it’s named Fallout3, but it’s for hype reasons for sure), then I can give it a chance.
    I try to remain optimistic as far as it is possible, but I don’t think I will continue after another disappointment.

  4. I’m going to tell you right now and save you the disappointment: I don’t think you’ll like Fallout 3.

    I do believe that is our signal to “kindly fuck off”

  5. In short: no. Sure, Fallout 3 plays primarily from a first-person perspective like Oblivion, and conversations with NPCs use a similar style of dialogue tree…

    Que merda… que merda… stopped reading after that… Tried to make it a bit further, but I didn’t finished the first paragraph. Who’s the guy that answered the questions. The guy must be STUPID like HELL because saying “combat and dialog is pretty much the same bug GAMEPLAY [WTF?!] is different” is just RETARD!

    So, you, the-guy-that-wrote-the-answers, shoot yourself in the head please.

    Have a nice day.

  6. “Please tell me that there is no stupid wheel of fortune mini game… Also does that mean the conversations are fully voiced?”

    I hope there aren’t speechcraft minigames, and I don’t think there are. I do believe all the conversation is fully voiced, and there will be less dialog than what happened in FO. I don’t like the sound of “Oblivion like dialog”.

    “It doesn’t seem like they are going to support click move, but will that feature be moddable?”

    You have to think in terms of First person Oblivion style game / Third Person gears of war game from now on. Mouse is something for inventories and character menus on the PC, and that if we get lucky.

    “As I said before, I feel, that they are making a different, very different game in the Fallout setting.”


    I’ll send you guys the article later

  7. what is Gears of War everyone’s talking about? I saw some screenshots but never played it, what’s the genre? is it worth it?

    What article, Brios? Full Q&A?

  8. Gears of War => the most overhyped piece of cooperative action crap of the shitbox kiddies. Comes with zomg-shineeh-bestest-grapheex-available and suppa-dumpa minigame for reloading weaponz.

  9. It is entirely possible the feel of the game is more R6-like, though TBH I never played neither game so I can’t really tell the difference 😦
    I was actually hoping for more mouse driven game play like in NWN2. But I guess I am out of luck.

    I have nothing against game like Oblivion or Gothic 3 that uses first person view and let you interact with things as you get close enough to them. But due to limitation of technology right now, these kind of interactions are very limited, and breaks the immersion for me. (I hate it when the object that you pick up just floats in front of you)
    It is that whole, uncanny valley thing, where by trying to make things more and more realistic, the little discrepancies sticks out even more and kills whatever sense of realism that’s in the game.

    The current FPS type interactions also make everything generic. Every book that you pickup kinda look the same, there is no cost-effective way for the game designer to guide the player to see something they normally wouldn’t pick up. It is these little details that help make the game world “real” and unique. (By real I don’t mean “real like the real world”, but rather “fitting for a fictional world”)

  10. there’s a pretty marked difference between R6 and Gears. I played R6 first and it almost made me completely hate Gears. Gears feels like it might as well be on rails, the mini boss fights are lame, and the controls felt less intuitive.

    Vegas managed to make each gun fight more difficult without “cheating” meaning there weren’t invulnerable bosses. Just an interesting map with different approaches available, less cover for you, more cover for enemy and pure fire power for fire power. There were challenges to over come but they were organic within the game environment not contrived like “boss” fights always feel.

  11. so in gears your movements and limited? and besides fancy kill shots, you don’t really get much freedom in how to approach an encounter?

  12. it’s pretty direct from point a to point b. R6 for the most part sets the situation in front of you and lets you approach it how you’d like to. Top level, lower level, side entrance, direct, etc.

  13. hmmm from what I read about FO3 so far, it would seem the combat system should be more akin to that of R6.

    Oh new question!

    In FO3, would you be able to see yourself kick someone? I will sleep just a little bit easier if they have made the first person system more realistic like that of Might&Magic: Dark Messiah.

  14. It boilds down to just HOW similar the speech-mechanism is with Oblivion.

    briosafreak, I had been awake for quite some time when I wrote that, so few slips here and there 🙂

    now back to ET:QW

  15. First off I’d llike to thank Brios for all the work he has been doing on keeping us up to date of FO3. I’ve been reading this blog for three months now and I love it.
    Now on the FO3 front, I think some of you are being a little hard on the game. It’s not even made yet. When I comes out if you don’t like it fine, but with 18 months to go we can say what will happen.
    So far I don’t think it looks that bad. I hope it’s as good as the Fallout I remember, but i know it will be different. The question is will the differences be good or bad.

  16. I’ll try to show more about what’s different soon, and at the same time to give a bit more of voice to those that welcome those changes; while I certainly remain skeptic about a few of those changes.

    We´ll see, anyway nice to hear from someone new

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