When Morbus spend one hour and a half making a comment on this blog I thought such dedication to discuss gaming deserved an article of itself. He’s more known for being profoundly disliked by Pete Hines, and running an interesting Gaming blog known as megascore.biz.
So I’ll leave you with this piece, it should be interesting for the gaming archaeologists of the future, to better understand the different perspectives that were being discussed in the early years of the 21st Century, and gives an insight as to the reasons behind the reactions of some Fallout fans.
You’re certainly aware that games are not like movies. Unlike all the other media (not only movies, but music, books, et cetera), games introduce a new point that has to be taken seriously when we look at them: gameplay. Not only is gameplay what games are about, but it is also the reason why the term “franchise” is so important in games. I’ve had a little article on standby for some time, and I’ll probably publish it in my site, so feel free to stay tuned if you’re interested: megascore.biz. Meanwhile, I’ll explain a bit why gameplay is such an important issue in a series, and why series are different from franchises.
Game franchises, like cinema series and franchises, have to take into consideration at least one essential part of the “thing”: setting. In games, we commonly call it “gameworld”. Game series, however, have to look at other things. Not only do they normally take into consideration the plot and the characters, but they also (have to) take into consideration gameplay. Let’s look at some examples.
Inside the Need for Speed franchise, we have multiple series that may not be considered spin-offs themselves because the franchises’ spirit has widened with the time. So we have Hot Pursuit series (1 and 2), we have Underground series (1 and 2), and we even have other series of one single title each (Most Wanted and Carbon). Of course we have the main series, which we simply call Need for Speed #.
The same thing happens with Ultima franchise. We have the big main series (Ultima #) and then we have separate (spin-off) series, like Ultima Underworld and Ultima Online. It also happens with Might and Magic (if I’m not mistaken) with the (now dead) main series (Might and Magic #), with Heroes of Might and Magic series (of which I’m a somewhat avid fan), and with the Dark Messiah of Might and Magic series (and possibly others).
So we have to ask ourselves a very important question: why do they need to make different series inside a franchise, and how do they decide which game fits in which series. The answer is simple, and you probably already guessed it: gameplay. Gameplay is the factor that sets games apart from other already established media, the factor that is the reason why a game fits into a series and why another doesn’t.
To back that up, I will use a very simple and straightforward example: FIFA. FIFA, the franchise, has, of course, the main series: FIFA #. But there are spin-off separate series that are set apart because of their gameplay. I’m referring to FIFA Manager series (an FM clone). It would be unthinkable to name FIFA Manager 2007 only by FIFA 2007. Why? Because of the gameplay. This is a drastic example (so drastic that both series are inside completely different subgenres), but it gets the point through (hopefully).
Fallout (the franchise) itself has different series. We have the main series, of course, with Fallout and Fallout 2, and then we have the BOS series, with FOBOS (and the now thankfully canceled FOBOS2) and the Tactics series, with Fallout Tactics and the now canceled Fallout Tactics 2. Three series inside one single franchise. What is it that makes them be of a single franchise? Setting, of course (even if not completely taken into account). What is it that makes them be of different series? You could say it’s their names (it wouldn’t be wrong), but we’re talking seriously here, so the correct answer is, of course, gameplay. Gameplay is the reason why Fallout Tactics is not Fallout 3, because Fallout Tactics does not play like Fallout in the wholeness of the thing: it’s a tactical RPG, not a character RPG anymore. The same happens with FOBOS. What is it that makes FOBOS be of a different series? Gameplay: it’s an action/adventure game, not a character RPG.
So this is all that matters in what concerns your sentence:
If you don’t think a franchise can stand a technical transition into first person and retain the qualities of the original, you clearly haven’t played Metroid Prime.
I certainly haven’t played Metroid Prime, but still I know that franchises can stand technical transitions, and even gameplay changes, sometimes. However! However, what we are talking about here is a series, and not a franchise. Fallout 3 is named to be in the main series, and not in the Brotherhood of Steel series (where it should be). So what I really take out of your sentence is that you believe that Fallout main series can stand this kind of gameplay transitions. And I tell you: it can’t. As I said, that is like asking that The Sims 3 is a third person game without the build-your-house thing, or that StarCraft 2 is a MMORPG a la World of Warcraft.
And why? Why do I think so? Because the switch between a top-down free-camera point-and-click strategy-style character RPG and a first/third-person chase-camera click-and-kill action-style character RPG is not, I repeat, it is NOT a technical transition: it is a gameplay transition. That is why I (and many others) ask that Fallout 3 is renamed into any other name.
Now, I do understand your position, and I think I understand how graphics can really blind someone why they actually get to see the game running. All this hype about graphics really pisses me off, though. You know what? Graphics don’t matter in a Fallout game. Graphics are only one of the things you need to get the game content through and have it reach the player. graphics are not the content themselves, or at least they shouldn’t be. You know why? Because of Fallout’s core design: simulation of pen and paper RPG’s… That is why Fallout was such a praised name in the past, is such a praised name now, and would hopefully be in the future (if Fallout 3 wasn’t going to change everything Fallout stands for). In a Fallout game you have to use your imagination, just like in a PNPRPG. I’m not asking that they make it 2D. It doesn’t matter for me. I’m not even asking that they don’t make every dialog has voiceovers (although I would certainly like that). What I’m asking is that they keep that specific part of fallout: players have to use their imagination.
For instance, the indirectly related text-box in the left-bottom corner of the screen is gone. Plain and simple. It is probably a reflex fact of the gameplay style (you don’t use the mouse anymore and all…), but it takes a big, big chunk out of what fallout is… I mean, that is probably the biggest issue about Fallout 3 not being a point and click game. Because we can have all the other things in a FPS, but not the descriptions for each and every single item and thing in the gameworld. Every rock, every weed, every window, every person, every item, every weapon, everything (in Fallout 2, unfortunately, many things don’t have descriptions anymore, and that really bothered me), everything has a description, you can look at it and your character (not you yourself) sees it and describes it, and he will describe it differently according to his intelligence… Say what? It’s an RPG!!!
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the player shouldn’t be able to see things in detail, that’s not the point. In a case where player is able to see things in detail, the descriptions we would get should be logical enough and not redundant that we really see how our characters sees the world (a bit like Lara talking about the things in the world in the last Tomb Raider game). That is a very important part of Fallout that we will not see in this hell spawn (it’s me talking here) Fallout 3 (which I sometimes call “FOE”, for FO3).
Those small things, those little tidbits you find and like (or not) about a game, are what really makes a great game, and the lack of those things are what breaks it. And you should know that better than me. The little things are sometimes the more important things in a game. Yes, how I like to be able to kick a slaver in the groins and send him flying for 30 feet, and then go there and smash his face with my sledge hammer while he’s still K.O.. Guess what: no more groin shots. How I love see the descriptions of items, for instance, of the “two-horned kangaroo skeleton” or of the “sleeping mattress where, even if you were to sleep by yourself, you would not sleep alone”. Guess what: no more descriptions (for that kind of objects and for combat actions at least). How I loved the little funny and individual descriptions for skills and stats and stuff. Guess what: Bethesda simplified that. The old “Coordination and the ability to move well. A high Agility is important for any active character. Modifies: Action Points, Armor Class, Sequence, and many skills.” is now the simple and insipid “Agility affects your Small Guns and Sneak skills, and the number of Action Points available for V.A.T.S.”… How I loved to play while eating or drinking something (hot milk with chocolate in the late cold nights :P ). Guess what: twitch play (even if they don’t want to reward it)! How I loved how there where no dungeon crawls in Fallout (Fallout 2 had them, much to my displeasure). Guess what: mutants everywhere, biggie baddie mutants to kill you with death! And who knows what more little things will be wiped out? Certainly (hopefully?) many will be there, but from the little things I’ve seen, it’s just dull. Joke weapons? What?! Fallout had no joke weapons (well, actually it had one, but it was logical and retro-futuristic: the Alien Blaster). It didn’t have Barbie-head-launcher-toaster style weapons, or stupid mini nuclear explosions everywhere, or portable phonebooths that protect you from radioactivity and nuclear explosions!!! What the hell?!?! I mean, the little things I’ve seen in Fallout 3 are dim, and not creatively neat as those in Fallout. Remember Rose’s Brahmin fries? I do. Remember all the fuss about one headed Brahmins in Modoc? I do. Remember the rant about the description of Cat’s Paw not changing even after it was identified? I do. Remember the in-game rant about Fallout European version not having children? I do. Remember the conversation with the enclave guy? I do. Remember the BB gun in the shack? I do. Remember Tandy? Remember Torr? Remember Harold and Bod? I do, I do, I do. Remember the in-game thing about Fallout 3 being 3D and multiplayer? I do. Remember Vault 15 having a whole load of water chips (oh, the irony!)? I do. Remember nuclear weapons, the things that destroyed the world, saving it (oh, the irony!)? I do. Twice? I do too. Remember F.E.V., the thing that supposedly was going to save humanity, almost destroying it (oh, the irony again!)? I do. Twice? I do too. Remember Elvis painting? Remember the nice glasses from Salvatore’s? Remember the radio? I do, do and do. Remember what Jet was made of? Remember *the* Deathclaw? Remember that one mutant and his girlfriend, in the Military Base? Again and again and again, I do. Hell! What do we have now? Cannon-breaking Vault-Boy bobbleheads? Nuclear grenade catapults that act like normal grenade launchers? Radiation pools that vanish after a little while? Mutants that look like uruk-hai, and not like mutants from 50’s comics anymore? What. The. Hell?!
So, not only is fallout tone and setting are being changed into something different, but so is gameplay . No, they are not technical changes, and you certainly understand that…