Public Notice

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In the same topic as before Lindsay “ShiftyEyedDog” Muller from marketing had to post this disclaimer:

Public notice:

This topic is about meeting the Devs, not about Fallout 3 gameplay. Questions should pertain to getting to know the developers rather than asking for/demanding answers about Fallout 3 gameplay. Those questions/discussions belong in any one of the many threads scattered around the Fallout 3 forum.

Carry on.

Later things got on track again (sort off), let’s start with Gary “VXSS” Noonan:

Why do you put up with all the flaming on this forum? You can’t go three threads without someone flaming Bethesda or Todd Howard.

It’s like ignoring that fly that keeps buzzing around your head. Eventually, you simply realize you are never gonna catch it, so you just let it go and get on with life.

Are you afraid rabid Fallout cultists will come to your house at night and smite you with a piece of lettuce?

They need to call for an appointment first. There are other cultists in line in front of them.

Ricardo “socrates200x” Gonzalez:

– Are you married?
– Do you have kids?
– What is your name?
– How old are you?
– Do you like Bethesda?
– Do you like Fallout?
– Wat iz yer job?
– Jaufree?

– Almost.
– According to NMA, Ricardo “socrates200X” Gonzalez. It’s a family name.
– 24?
– Indeed, a wonderful town!
– Yes!
– Codin’.
– He is the Grandmaster of our Order, although you wouldn’t know it to look at him.

After a weekend spending with friends & family there’s nothing quite like coming back here to know how much you’re apreciated. Kinda…

Funny story. With the GI cover being my first main publicity as a game developer, my mother ( of course ) wanted a signed copy of the magazine, that is to say, signed by me. Why, it had to be signed, I couldn’t say. But, Mom’s mom, so I made the trek to the supply room to get a white marker, signed my issue, and hoped no one would ask me, “Er…why did you sign your own copy?”

What 5 questions would you like to ask the fans, game related or otherwise?

I have tons that I’d like to ask, but can’t, unfortunately, all about Fallout, Fallout 3, and the connections. Alas…

– Does Todd Howard decide everything about the production? What is his significance in this area? What makes him the authority among everything? Isn’t it wrong for a single man to decide everything?
– Do you play Fallout 3 mostly? To test things in it?
– Do you look at Fallout 1 for inspiration?

– No. Significant. Probably the “Lead” in front of his title. Yes.
– I play small parts of it often while debugging, and make a point to just play it every so often to see how it’s going. ( The answer: niiice. )
– Nah, more for awesome rat-stabbing action.

What is your favourite Vault-boy picture?

Blah!

What is the lease enjoyable aspect of development work, to you?
Have you coded/developed something that you thought was so cool the way you did it only to come back later and go ‘and why the hell did i do it that way’?

– As a UI coder, I live in that murky middle-ground that somehow connects the player to various parts of the engine at any given moment. Because of this need to interconnect with everything, there are a slew of special cases that muck up my otherwise perfect code. ( “Make sure Menu X does Y here. Except when the player is jumping, then do this. Or if the player is just entering a door but before Menu Z has loaded, do this, unless the door is locked, is which case…etc.” ) Also, small things that most people take for granted, like the amount of pixels between letters and the natural motion of a scrollbar, take on exaggerated importance, often putting me at a disadvantage when comparing battle scars with my workmates. (“Man, I just spent a week debugging AI timing bugs.” “That’s nothing! I just spent 10 hours straight on button highlights!” “Oh…well…that’s rough, I guess?” )- Yes, but only after I’ve debugged my “more efficient” way 3 or 4 times, only then realizing the obvious solution.

Curious what the ‘best coding practices’ are at Bethesda. Peer review daily? Paired coding? Hucking spaghetti at the dartboard? Just wondering how you keep the Q&A people from having as little to do as possible. Additionally, for the long time campaigners, has the growth of the company and development team helped with this or made it harder?

We do have coding practices to which we adhere, as well as peer reviews. Well-written code is the gift that keeps on giving when coding in a large, group setting. Concerning Q&A, I personally make sure to make things as difficult to test as possible; they certainly don’t do me any favors in the “save you work” department. You know, except for the whole “testing the game” thing…

And now for Mark “Wolfric Tugmutton” Lampert:

In an interview Ken Rolston (lead designer for Morrowind and Oblivion) said the following to the following question.
Taking the bolded part of the answer, would you agree with that assessment of the constraints of Fully-voiced dialogue, and if so how would you think that game companies may overcome those constrains in the future?

What he said is true, but it’s still not anything to back away from as there are ways to create a fully-voiced project where everything is good. The main thing is to organize early and always plan ahead, because recording time is a sort of point of no return in regard to the work it takes to re-do dialogue that doesn’t work or we don’t like, not to mention potentially costly. So you save it until the latest point that you can to avoid re-writes and re-recording. I like to cast very early, and we typically end up doing some early recording anyway (making it necessary), so it’s a good time to get a feel for where we are, how the cast works together in the game, and how everything will be on a much larger scale when we do the big recording push somewhere down the line.

Fully-recorded voice does end up causing issues with disc capacity, but everybody in game development has certain limits that they need to fit into, just like the sound effects I produce for the game. I get this much space, art gets this much, animation this much, etc, so you do whatever is necessary to make it work in the end. Could be that a more efficient compression algorithm is the solution, or perhaps there are redundant lines here and there which could stand to go. There also has to be a little bit of extra space built into the whole estimate to allow for localization since translations might come out about 15% longer across the board, or maybe the files themselves are actually a little longer because the dialogue was spoken more slowly. Who knows. Plan and estimate, plan and estimate. It’s just one of many challenges along the way, and I think the work required to pull it off is absolutely worth it.

I also don’t think that every game out there requires it. I loved the non-verbal, modular languages that were put together for some of the non-human races and robots in KOTOR, or the purely non-verbal but still emotive deliveries in Wind Waker. It’s not always going to make sense to do full voice in every game, but for the kind of work we do, I believe it does and it’s worth the trouble.

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