200 Years is a Long Time

From Strategy Informer/Bethesda Softworks

From Strategy Informer/Bethesda Softworks

On the Bethesda Fallout 3 Forum Celeon 999 asks why the world of Fallout 3 looks like it does, with wooden houses still standing 200 years after the war and with society having progressed very little, and if that affects the credibility of the game world. Jay “RadHamster” Woodward replies:

An etymologist could take this opportunity to point out that “not credible” was, of course, the original meaning of the word “incredible.

A semiotician could add that in fiction, things often are as they could not be, because they are as they must be.

Dan Ross goes a bit further, and gives us a more detailed response:

This is something I’ve thought about personally as well. One thing you have to keep in mind is that you are looking at an alternate future with an emphasis on Science! rather than the normal sciences we are accustomed to. AI supercomputers use vacuum tubes, radiation doesn’t have a half-life, Gamma rays create The Hulk instead of cancer and things are just built differently; made to last. “They don’t make ’em like they used to” came about because things built back when resources were cheap were really well-made. Now imagine that being carried out into the future where everything was well-made.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while 200 years is a long time, but it’s not so long when you compare it to the “age” they are in. 200 years ago from our time things were a lot different, but there was an economic and social support structure in place that allowed things to advance as quickly as they did. Imagine if all the industries that existed were simply not there and the population numbered merely in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of millions?

People don’t have time to develop new technology or clear rubble when finding uncontaminated food and water takes up 75% of their waking day. There are no supermarkets, independent farms get raided (so why grow anything?) and any settlements that sprout up are just as likely to be torn apart by the inhabitants as outside forces. It’s very similar to the “Dark Ages” where things remained the same for a very long time and people lived by tradition simply because it was the only guaranteed way to make a living in a harsh world.

Now add in all the nasty Wasteland creatures, ghouls and mutants… factions all fighting amongst themselves for resources (War never changes, I hear.) and you have an especially harsh world. 200 years of that? I wouldn’t expect much change in so short a time when just living is enough to keep anyone occupied full-time.

First heard of this at NMA.


8 thoughts on “200 Years is a Long Time

  1. The Science! aspect is understandable, but it clearly missed the point – even with a world as crazy as that of Fallout, things are not perpetual. Communities wither and die, species mutate, factions grow – but buildings stay the same?

    Science! could be reasonable enough to explain Fallout 3 in the context of a sequel that took place, say, 20 years in the future. But 200? Hello? Vaults were sturdy and built to last, sure – wood was not. Hence why people moved to the vaults instead of remaining in wooden buildings. If wooden buildings are immune to rot in 200 years, then there’s something the developers aren’t paying attention. It’s not about realism, it’s about not paying attention to the very rules and lore of the setting.

    There’s really something to be said about immersion there, and it’s not an optimistic one.

  2. Sci Fi Mythos

    Has anyone thrown out the concept that any sci fi construct,
    that includes a
    “”Garden Of Eden Creation Kit””
    as the focus of an initial Grail Quest,
    might have some pseudo science hand waving that would cover the ‘decay’ issue?

    Can’t expect a b-soft dev to know the FO’s well enough to throw that McGuffin out when “rationalizing”.
    Can we.
    Trying too hard, when an answer was at hand.
    Another nex gen genius?
    Will-fully, no proud, to be ignorant of the past, of the FO’s?

    “”Garden Of Eden Creation Kit”” a start and

    just spin out a ‘whole’ glorious vaporous sci fi construct.

    Ironic potential of consumer goods — houses — and robots out lasting the doomed civilization that constructed such.
    Survive even a nuclear near miss,
    and a resulting suppression of intrusive vegetation,
    and quicker infesting molds and fungi ..

    Preserved by radiation!

    Irony explored by some famous sci fi short story, … forget who wrote it.


  3. Fallout 2 is responsible for this. NCR, Vault City, New Reno… all of them took leaps forward that added a lot of inconsistency to the setting. I agree with BN that the game would be better off being set concurrent to the events of Fallout 1.

  4. Remembrance Reappraisal

    Greetin’s Killzig!
    The importance of consistency of vision, ‘continuity’ in movie terms,
    you and BN make a powerful point.
    FO 2 was eclectic.
    Loss of focus.
    Good grab bag for Beth irrational exuberance.

    As to intellectual prowess …

    My not remembering the sci fi short story is clue enough
    that I could have added a smiley or two,
    when riffing on the quoted Beth forum post.

    So here 🙂 🙂

    Beth dev used concept of “”Science!”” so on the FO 2 trail … 😉


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