Community Atomic FAQ part 3

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Again 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 the final replies:

QUESTS & STORY

16. Will the structure of the Main Quest be more like Oblivion, where you had to perform a series of tasks in the right order to progress, or more like the originals where most of the progress you’d do consisted in gathering information, which was not a pre-requisite in order to end the game? [Thomas Stehle]

Closer to Fallout, in that you can actually skip entire parts of the main quest in Fallout 3 if you stumble across important information on your own. We debated that, but in the end, I think that’s a positive, and has a better feel then an artificial barrier that feels too “gamey”, and it’s something I liked about Fallout 1.

17. It’s been said that the game world in Fallout 3 is smaller than that of Oblivion’s. How does it compare with the number of quests you can pursue, or the amount of things you can do? [anonymous]

On the quest side it’s a lot smaller than Oblivion, but keep in mind these quests have more in them. In regards to “things you can do”, all the freeform stuff, exploring, etc, it’s about the same. Since we have a lot of little freeform activities, like “help this NPC survive” that you run into that we don’t even define as a quest anymore, it’s just an event that takes place.

18. A developer (possibly Howard, Pagliarulo or Carter) has stated that they are trying to ensure that each quest has at least two ways to complete it. Does this mean that there are two different outcomes to each quest, or simply that there are two different ways to complete the quest with the same outcome either way? [Lingwei]

These means there are multiple ways, whether that is to the same outcome, like “get X information” or multiple outcomes. Often we just do what feels natural, so if it makes sense that the outcome would be dramatically different, we do it, if not, we don’t force it.

DIALOGUE

19. Please outline in detail and give an example of an actual or hypothetical FO3 conversation: Dialogue options, what influences them, length of PC lines and NPC replies, what is the effect on the game. [GhanBuriGhan]

I’m not going to write out an entire dialogue here, but I’ll tell you what I can, and I realize for many, this is one of the key things that made Fallout, and I assure you it is for us too. If you look at Fallout 1, our dialogue trees are larger and more in-depth. I’m incredibly proud of the job our designers are doing with them, and they know they have a lot to live up to.
First, it’s all dialogue trees, like the previous Fallouts. You always see your own voice and it’s all tree based. It’s is not topic based like Oblivion.
Second, there are “speech challenges” – these are for using your Speech skill when talking to NPCs, and they are specific things you can say with a percentage chance they will succeed. This chance is based on your Speech skill, how much the NPC likes you, and the difficulty of what you’re asking for. Asking for something small is easier then asking for something big. If you fail, the person is going to like you less.
Third, your skills determine the “extra” dialogue options you get, so depending on the character you are talking to, and your own skills, you may get an extra choice based on any number of skills, karma, or perks. These choices are always successful, unlike the speech challenges.

The length of the lines is as long as we need them to be, again pretty much like Fallout 1.

CREATURES

20. How much do you plan to stick with the Universe of the original series from the point of view of living creatures? Will you have mutated ghouls and FEV-treated supermutants portrayed as living “persons” with needs, or will there simply be “ghoul-villain” and “Supermutant-enemy” who will only engage in combat? [anonymous]

We stick to it pretty close, so the Supermutants in this game definitely have an agenda. It really depends on the creature, and many come in different flavors. I guess I can say that, yes, we do have ghouls in the game, and most are used as NPCs you talk and interact with. We use them heavily. But there are also other ghouls, the Feral Ghouls, these are more “creature” like, and are aggressive.

-Bonus Questions-

NPCS

1. Will there be NPCs that you can hire/recruit to join you in your quest? If so, how many NPCs will you be limited to at once and approx. how many joinable NPCs will be available in the game? Also, will there be more detailed behavioral settings as in Fallout 2? [Nukem354]

Yes, and like I mentioned above, they have personalities, and you can give them a host of directions for how they should help you. I’m really encouraged by how cool they are. Right now we limit you to two with you at a time, because there are also other quests where you get more people with you, and we obviously need to limit it. Total number in the whole game to hire? As of today there are only six, but we’re just focused on getting them working great and being deep characters. Wouldn’t surprise me to see that number go up.

QUESTS & STORY

2. Is there going to be any character type specific quests that other types of characters will not have at all, or will all the quests be open to any type of character? [kaos]

Depends on what you define as a quest, we mostly design situations that can be approached from a number of angles, so we have “quests” with very different paths in them depending on your character.

3. Who wrote the main story, or is it a group effort? Are you not afraid that introducing a father figure limits the freedom to imagine your avatar and imposes motivation on the player that may not be in keeping with the avatar he imagines? [GhanBuriGhan]

Emil Pagliarulo, the lead designer, does the bulk of the writing. I can’t say enough good things about his stuff, it’s fantastic. We both wanted to do a father/child thing very early on, with you growing up in the Vault. We also have three other designers working on large chunks of the main quest; Kurt Kuhlmann, Alan Nanes, and Brian Chapin. In regards to pushing a persona on the player, yes, that is a concern, and we’re pretty careful not to do that. You don’t have to be nice to your father. I think you run that risk with any character driven story, the risk that the player doesn’t actually care about the characters, or isn’t motivated to follow them. You’d be surprised how much that enters our conversations about any quest, “What’s my motivation? Why do I want to do this?” The answer sometimes is “because the game told you to”, but that’s never a good answer, so we keep pushing until it feels right.

[semi-Bioshock-spoiler]

I did love how Bioshock handled the “because the game told you to” dilemma. They twist that brilliantly halfway through the game. If you haven’t played it, do so.

MAP TRAVEL & SPECIAL ENCOUNTERS

4. What exactly will the map travel look like – will we see ‘Indiana Jones’ style dotted line travel across a stylized map or something like Oblivion fast travel and will there be a quest compass that we can turn off and how will the random/special encounters work? [Blinzler]

Sorry, but not ready to discuss that stuff yet. I will say the feedback from the Oblivion map system was really good, and I think it struck a good balance of finding locations while wandering and quickly get back to ones you’ve been to already. Regarding the quest compass, you always need an easy way to tell the player where you want them to go, so we’ll use something similar. I don’t think it’s a question of the system, it’s a question of how often/specific you want the player pointed. Sometimes we want the location to be a mystery, sometimes we don’t.

ENDING

5. How will the endings work out? Will the 9-12 different endings be like Fallout’s ending slides, or will it be a Daggerfall-esque, whoever gets the MacGuffin at the very end triggers what ending? (Frank Horrigan)

The ending is based not only on specific choices you made, some of those near the very end, but also how you acted as a whole throughout the game. So it’s permutations of a number of things, and that’s why the number of endings is still fuzzy, some of them are only slightly different than the others.

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