Washington Post talks Fallout 3

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Washington Post (free registration may be needed) has a very interesting piece on the efforts by Game Development companies to attract journalists and get publicity for their products– like Pete Hines at one point says, control the information.

They use the recent media gathering event at the Bethsoft headquarters as an example, and Fallout 3 as the game in question:

A little validation from Masson, a writer for the French game magazine PC Jeux, and others like him can help tip the scales in the competitive game industry, where a cutting-edge title takes many years and millions of dollars to develop. That’s why game designers, like movie studios, have learned to lavishly court such tastemakers, the guys who write for the major blogs and magazines and play a key role in today’s big-bucks video game industry.[…]

In addition to an hour-long demo and chats with the game’s designers, the trip included a two-night stay in downtown’s swank Helix Hotel, dinner at Logan Tavern and a private party at a nightclub in Adams Morgan. Airfare, hotel, food, drinks and shuttle bus were provided, courtesy of Bethesda Softworks. Although a few attendees paid their own way, most did not.

“What we’re trying to accomplish with an event like this is to have the undivided attention of the important people in our industry, that cover the industry,” said Pete Hines, vice president of marketing at Bethesda Softworks, whose Fallout 3 will be set in a version of Washington that’s been scorched by war. “There are a lot of titles out there competing for attention.”

It looks like Bethesda Softworks is getting that attention: Fallout 3 is scheduled to soon grace the covers of 20 gamer magazines, largely as a result of the event.

Bethesda Softworks’ parent company, ZeniMax, is privately held and won’t disclose the game’s budget, but it’s not uncommon for the budgets of cutting-edge titles like Fallout 3 to exceed $20 million, including marketing costs.

The previous Fallout titles, first released a decade ago, are beloved by many computer gamers for their quirky, dark sense of humor. The franchise still has rabid fans who anxiously pore over and debate every scrap of information Hines makes public.

Some fans of Bethesda Softworks’ last blockbuster, Oblivion, still stake out the company’s front parking lot, hoping to chat up employees and score their autographs. One tried to sneak into the Fallout 3 preview event.

“That’s why we have security,” the receptionist at the front desk explained.

Give the man a medal :salute:

The best part is a video displaying highlights of the event and an interview with Pete Hines, very interesting stuff.

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15 thoughts on “Washington Post talks Fallout 3

  1. he is an ugly bastard.

    speaking of marketing, the trailer is on xbox live marketplace.

    Marketplace – Games – New Arrivals

    Fallout 3
    Post Nuclear Roleplaying

    “Vault Tec engineers have worked around the clock on an interactive reproduction of Wasteland life for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own vault. Fallout 3 includes an expansive world, unique combat, shockingly realistic visuals, tons of player choice, and an incredible cast of dynamic characters. Every minute is a fight for survival against the terrors of the outside world — radiation, Super Mutants, and hostile mutated creatures. From Vault-Tec(r), America’s First Choice in Post-Nuclear Simulation(tm).”

    It’s interesting all the stuff they’ve copyrighted/trademarked in there. The “Post Nuclear Roleplaying” subtitle is funny too since all the rest of the games on the menu have generic “RPG, ACTION” etc titles.

  2. Parallel Tracks

    The entertainment potential and the money amounts involved allows an easy comparison between these sisters. Movies, and Video Games. The history of another muse, the Music industry might apply.

    The competition in movies’ previews has escalated. Each major release has multiple reviews on radio and TV, and the web.

    Lot of words and clips to consume and consider…

    The movie reviews stand alone as entertainment.
    This encourages attention and so more reviews.

    The motion picture format, it’s game-play is all too familiar for my gen’.

    Too many— been there, done that’s …

    There are a lot of “”properties”” I don’t HAVE to view, or I can wait until my tax paid public library has the DVD.

    The game industry many never ‘suffer’ from this too much information situation. The too much info exposure. But perhaps too much ‘information control’ may become a liability.

    The game industry may suffer from an information credibility gap.

    The consumer is tested by each PR slick and each bought or ideologically co-opted reviewer. Can the messenger be believed.
    The real show for FO3 may be the marketing of FO3. This national coverage by the Washington Post is loud buzz, right in the middle of the culture vulture hive mind.

    The music entertainment industry has weathered many assaults by committee.
    Frank Zapa became a peoples’ hero when he embarrassed Tipper Gore’s publicity seeking mission.
    The nation’s politics has other ethical standard vultures hunting for founts of evil in the game entertainment industry.
    These cultural carrion connoisseurs love the pageant of investigation committees.
    The feds might not win a show trial on the free speech rights of breast physics and gratuitous violence,
    but the issue of payola, that busted the music industry, may have potential.
    An ethically challenged game industry with it’s paid game review press may be too exposed, have more leg to view and coo.
    Next video op on CNN and FOX? Now the Post’s buzz on controlling information, ‘potentially’ payola for controlled reviews, would be world wide.

    Another ring for the circus.

    4too

  3. Well, I don’t know… Maybe it’s just today or something, but right now I’m feeling like “fuck them and their crappy stupid sequels. I’mma play Arcanum and try to finish Baldur’s Gate saga one more time…” I still have a lot of good games to play and this shit about FO3 just pisses me off and makes me sad, so I’ll just try and don’t care about it from now on. And Age of Decadence is going to be released (eventually) and there are still a lot of mediocre new games in which I’m mildly interested so I may end up pirating some of them, eventually. Yes, I don’t support games or game companies that crap on my face. I don’t buy their crap and I don’t buy their stuff. Not anymore. I stopped buying new games about a year ago. And now I’m only for Indie and old games UNLESS some AAA game comes out that is aimed specifically aimed at the market in which I’m in: CRPG market. The Witcher? I would buy it, but noone asked them to make it real time combat. I don’t like it, I don’t buy it. BioShock? I’d sooner buy Crysis, which assumes what it is: a FPS. From the gameplay footage I’ve seen from BioShock, its combat sucks ass. Whatever, industry keeps crapping on me, so I’ll act accordingly…

  4. Well they don’t count the hits that come from the feed, so the number is shorter than it should be.

    Morbus you really should relax a bit, if you carry on like this you’ll have a stroke in no time 🙂

  5. Hey Brios, dunno if you visit QT3 much, but I found some more information about FO3 there, Most of these tibits of info are from Desslock (one of the few journalist that I respect, esp. on discussions of RPGs.)

    n the question of whether or not FO3 feels more like Oblivion or FO :

    I actually think people will be very happily surprised with the writing, and the characters, in Fallout 3, compared to Oblivion’s NPCs. The dialogue options are meaningful and different, not just a list of items that NPC can speak about, organized in a list where the only real choice is the order in which you hear the items. There’s only a few hundred NPCs (down from 1500 or so in Oblivion, and 2500 in Morrowind), so they’re much more fleshed out and unique — it also helps that there’s 30-40 different voice actors instead of just a handful in Oblivion. At least from what we’ve been shown, that stuff feels much more like Fallout 1/2 than Oblivion.

    You also won’t be a jack of all trades, as in Oblivion – you have to make real choices that matter, and which dynamically change the fortunes of other characters. Aside from enhancing replayability, since you obviously won’t be able to do competing objectives, those choices deepen the roleplaying. To elaborate more on the “Megaton bomb quest” — when you arrive at that town, you can greet and be friendly with the sheriff. When you get the quest to potentially blow up the bomb, you can instead inform the sheriff that these dudes are trying to blow up the town. Or you can decide to blow up the town, but actually be unable to because you lack the mechanical skills to activate the bomb. Or you could just decide to blow the sheriff away when you meet him, in which case you’ll likely be attacked by his buddies when walking through the town. Or you could, after blowing him away, decide to put on his sheriff’s uniform, in which case some NPCs may attack you for killing the sheriff, but others may actually defer to you as the new sheriff. In short – meaningful options and real choices, and interesting characters to interact with – in that respect, I think Bethesda is appropriately emulating some of Fallout’s best and most distinctive features.

    I also wouldn’t read anything negative into not being able to kill kids – it’s still definitely an M-rated game – there’s graphic violence, swearing, and “adult” topics like slavery, etc. — some other stuff that Bethesda isn’t revealing yet, involving mutation, and one tracked stat was “corpses eaten”, which makes me suspect there’ll be something similar to the Vampire-path in Oblivion/Morrowind, where you can get into doing some nasty stuff. It doesn’t feel sanitized. I also like the changes to the level-scaling, the use of SPECIAL and level-based character development as opposed to the use-based skill system of the Elder Scrolls games.

    Other general impressions — while calling it “Oblivion with guns” is an oversimplication given some of the differences I’ve described above (and without also getting into the combat differences, etc.), I also think it’s a superficially apt description because it definitely looks like Oblivion, not like Fallout, because of the perspective. Sure, they’ve doled out the carrot of being able to view the game from an isometric perspective, but I’m skeptical that it’ll be in any way practical to do so. But the graphics look great – far better than I think they come across in still screenshots.

    Areas of uncertainty – the VATS system looks really cool, and is visually spectacular, but I think we need to see more of the combat to judge how it feels in practice. I really like the VATS system, but I’m not sold on combat in general – there’s also a few pieces we haven’t seen at all, like melee combat (which is definitely an important part of the game). Also, everything in the demo occurred in relatively congested areas as well, with lots of rubble around blocking views, etc. – I’d like to get a better sense for how large the world feels, and looks, by seeing more expansive vistas, etc. (obviously one of the real strengths of Oblivion).

    Other stuff I really like – the implementation of the PIP boy, and the ability to pick off radio broadcasts as you’re wandering the wasteland. The use of robots like Mr. Handy from the Fallout 1 cinematic – the nuke effects — and the overall atmosphere: the perspective gives you a better sense that you’re exploring a place that’s been blown apart and is messed up (suitably “postapocalyptic”) as opposed to a flat, top-down view. It’s actually kind of creepy — it’s one thing to see a giant castle in the background while playing Oblivion, and think that’s a cool, realistic view — it’s another to be walking around and then to look up at Washington D.C. buildings that have been fucked up, since we have a vested attachment to that setting.

    On the subject of food and water in FO3:


    I’m not certain what you mean about Tamagotchi mechanics. Water is basically a precious resource in the game, which you need to restore health (or stimpacks) — surface water is often irradiated, so if you’re going to drink it you’ll need radaway to avoid radiation effects. But it’s not an “Iolo-in-Ultima7”-style caretaking system.

    Inventory system:

    I think the inventory graphics, etc. we saw were placeholder, but it seemed pretty standard “press I to pull up inventory” style system, not Oblivion’s goofy journal tab system.

    I would be so happy to see the inventory system of Oblivion not being used!

    Comapnion AI and Companion depth:

    We didn’t see any friendly fire incidents in the combat that was demonstrated, which was basically you and some Brotherhood of Steel guys against supermutants. They seemed intelligent enough to be fanned out – I don’t know if friendly fire is possible or was disabled, but it didn’t seem to be a factor.

    Like I said, even though you won’t have a controllable party in the traditional sense, you can have allies and/or followers, to a greater degree than in Oblivion (and there were actually quite a few occasions in that game where you worked with other characters).

    more stuff on VATS:

    1. VATS action points are a limited resource, sort of like fatigue in Oblivion – I think they are still tweaking how fast it regenerates, etc.

    Pleasant surprise about pausing in game:

    2. Yes, definitely, and doing so will offer tactical advantages, since it allows your character to make a “perception” roll, which will give you additional information.

    This is pretty awesome in my book.

    Here are some comment from “Uncle Larry” of the QT3 board about VATS, I know these info has been posted here before, but just want to add more sources for ya:

    Everything I’ve heard is that despite moving (and presumably) aiming from a first-person view every shot is still dependant on an invisible die-roll for success rate of hitting. I’ve also heard that any shot taking out of the aimed VATS mode thingy automatically rolls for hitting center mass, so excluding tricky critical hits on random occations that blow half of the enemie’s head off then I’d say no.

    TBH despite my reservation I like most of what I see so far from the previews of FO3. Here’s hoping that nothing will be dumbed down come release.

  6. sigh, I expected bold face to stand out more than it did in the above text, sorry for the seeming endless wall of text ;(

  7. Oh now I see why I got a mail from Desslock, I’ll have to check the topic, thanks, I’ll post this and a lot more stuff later.

    Again thanks.

    And finnally the 100.000 hits, cool

  8. gratz! 🙂

    He also mentioned in that thread that there will be more information in the upcoming PCG magazine. I hope I will get it soon…

  9. Hmmm, now that he mentions melee combat, has anyone thought about melee combat in VATS? How is that going to work? First, will it even be there? Second, if it is, how do you determine when the player is “in range”? I guess you could go with body center, but I see some place for error there. Suppose that you are on higher ground and VATS says you are in range. Now for example you go for the legs which are actually not in range. Your character swings and misses.
    Something like that, anyway. I have no idea how these things are determined in FP games.
    Also, does entering VATS cost you AP? Because that could create some problems in melee. Again, an example would be that you enter VATS, realize you’re not in range and have wasted AP. That would be bad.

  10. lithal, Thanks for posting this info. I’m glad to hear that a reliable source feels so positive about the game demo. There has been a large amount of mixed talked about the reviews posted in the past few days. Seperating the real info from the hype is a task sometimes.
    I think what we are hearing has promise and I’ll keep an open mind until I see more game footage released.

  11. @Gimil: yeah I am also curious about melee. I am also wondering about how stealth, and npc detection will work. I’d love it if the mobs that you are fighting don’t all of a sudden know exactly where you are after you hit him/her once…
    I am pretty sure that entering VATS will not cost AP though, I mean like I quoted above, one can pause the game no matter you have AP or not.

    @gilfander: heh, the sad thing is that besides this place, the ratio of bickering to useful information is like 100:1 😦

  12. @lithal, isn’t that the truth. That’s because Brios only attracts classy folks.
    @Gimil, How did the stealth work in the old FO? I thought it was a simple ‘spoting’ issue. If I remember right all the bluffing was done in dialogue. Is my memory going after 10 years?

  13. If I remember correctly, stealth in FO1 was a “dice-roll” against your stealth skill (and possibly perception check of NPCs around you). The facing of NPCs matters too.

    At this point, I think the whole melee, and stealth thing for FO3 may still be up in the air. But I have high hopes given Emil’s background. I think we should definitely encourage the developers to make stealth and melee more interesting. Come on, brios, pull your strings! 🙂

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