Community Atomic FAQ part 2

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Let’s continue with the Official Fan Interview series . For those that live under a rock or went to a long vacation I’ll leave the Q&A here for you to comment, it really deserves some long discussions, this time we have questions five to fifteen.

NPCS

5. Will party members be deep and interesting characters, with their own unique personalities and desires? Maybe even secret agendas? Or will they just be henchmen who do your bidding? [Calgone]

There are a very limited number of followers you can get, I would never call them “party members” because I think that leads to a different expectation. Yes, they have pretty strong and defined personalities. I’m always leery of the follower thing, because if I’m not in direct control of someone who’s supposed to be helping me, they often seem to do something stupid. That being said, I’m pretty happy with how far we’ve come with them, and the amount of things you can tell them to do.

SPECIAL

6. What skills will be in the game? And why the lower than usual stats in the Pip Boy screenshots? [Ausir]

Sorry, we’re not talking about what all the skills are yet, that will be later. In regards to the SPECIAL stats, that just happened to be the player’s data we set for the demo, and until you asked, I didn’t even notice they didn’t add up to 35, which they should. When you create your character, you get a total of 35 points, we go with the assumption you can make every stat a 5 if you want, so 5 is the “average”.

7. Are all the old traits and perks returning? Are certain perks adapted for the new combat system and how so? [anonymous]

Sorry, another area we aren’t talking about yet, but I can say yes, many old ones are returning and some new ones that work with new game systems; combat and VATS being obvious ones. I’m happy with how many old favorites have been translated, and the new ones fit in seamlessly, that is, it’s hard for me to tell the old ones from the new ones in flavor.

8. The stealing (and getting caught) system? Does it differ from Oblivions system? [kaos]

It differs a lot, in that there is no “jail”, or specific crime system with money on your head. It’s actually a lot easier for us to handle in Fallout, where it’s ok to have violence break out when you do something people don’t like and then calm down later. Also, instead of a “global” thing like Oblivion, it’s on a faction level in Fallout, which also makes it work much better. And we use factions for any type of group, so the town of Megaton has its own faction.

INTERFACE

9. Will you have the written descriptions of items or just the visual? Granted, the visuals work just fine for me, but I loved the descriptions from the earlier Fallouts about how nasty the bed looks or whatever. Will there be something like our beloved text box anywhere in the main HUD? [anonymous]

We just show the object name, like “nasty bed”, but in general, I think if we’re relying on text to describe how something looks, sounds, etc, then we screwed up not having that come across naturally with what the player is seeing. It annoys me whenever we have to resort to describing something like that, even in Oblivion, with, say a journal describing how I feel or what I am seeing…it should just happen naturally.

FACTION

10. What sort of factions & faction action/interaction/conflict/reputation can we expect? [MrHappy1991]

Going off the crime question above, we use “faction” pretty heavily, and it’s at the heart of many of our systems now, from crime to combat. So each faction knows how they feel about you and the other factions. It guides them in how they handle group combat, how they react to crimes, and how they handle the player in general.

A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)

11. What is being done to improve the AI as seen in Oblivion – wall staring, oblivious to people being killed around them, guards knowing when a character does something unlawful half a map away etc.? [anonymous]

First we’ve rewritten all the pathfinding systems, which eliminates the majority of the “NPC acts stupid” problems. We’ve also centralized the “crime” stuff into the factions, so in general, they behave better, or at least in ways that make more sense – either joining in or running away. We’ve spent a lot of time on combat AI, which is almost all-new as well, in that we are going into a game with guns and groups of enemies trying to find cover, angles of fire, and such.

MATURE CONTENT

12. Will we see anything similar to the sexual encounters possible in both of the earlier Fallout games? The first 2 games had all of that but they kept their ratings by fading out (as did Fable). There was one quest in F2 where you could lose a bet and end up as a supermutant’s toy for the night (you got to keep the ball gag as a gift). Can we expect that kind of adult content? [anonymous]

Actual player goes off and has sex? Not right now, but if a situation called for it, I wouldn’t flinch at adding it with the fade-out. We did that in Daggerfall using the fade out. We actually did paintings for the scene and it never made it in Daggerfall, but I still have the paintings. In regards to adding a supermutant rendezvous with a ball gag, the marketing department has been asking for this to put on the box, but we just haven’t found the time.

13. Will Fallout 3 maintain the same amount of drug content as the earlier games or will we see more or less? [thenightgaunt]

It’s about the same as the previous games, there are various drugs, and each as its own positive effects and side-effects if you get addicted to them.

CHOICES & CONSEQUENCES

14. You have talked a lot about choices and consequences in the quest design. Are you aiming for immediate feedback, or long term (and possibly unforeseeable) consequences? In addition to moral choices, will different characters be able to tackle tasks using their different skill sets? [GhanBuriG]

It’s a bit of both, overall I think the player needs something immediate, or they don’t know if they actually accomplished anything, or felt what they just did had any meaning whatsoever. The longer term stuff is great to surprise the player with, whether it’s positive or negative, but if it’s a surprise, you need to be careful, because that can be frustrating, so you give the player another route, or simply treat the consequence as a flavor thing, and not a game-changing thing.

In regards to using different skills, most definitely, yes. We’re really pushing on that, and I think that’s the crux of the game – what skills you use, so each quest or goal of the player’s can be accomplished in different ways using different skills. Even in dialogue we’re using a lot of different skills, depending on who you’re talking to So if you’re talking to a scientist, your Science skill may give you an extra dialogue option.

15. In Fallout 1 and 2, it was entirely possible to say the wrong thing or make a mistake and have no way of fixing it. Unless you used a walkthrough, every player experienced the game differently. Will Fallout 3 be like this? Or will it be more like Oblivion where you could do almost everything in the game with one character and one play through? [El_Smacko]

It’s pretty much like Fallout 1 and 2 there, and not like Oblivion; each person’s game should be different, and you can’t do it all. In terms of dialogue, we are careful to make sure you know the route you’re taking if it’s a big game thing, like blowing up the town of Megaton, and avoid the “make a mistake” part you mentioned.

You can read the first part here, or everything here.

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