Infinite Angles

A bit off topic but I’ve been so busy with the coming release of Fallout 3 and work that I’ve stopped for too long to take a look on whatelse is happening.

So this time I’ll bring you the interview of Vince D. Weller to the excelent Alley of Infinite Angles blog:

4. What made you go for turn-based combat in Age of Decadence, and what do you have to say to those who believe that it is a relic of the past?

Real time and first-person view are as old as turn-based and isometric. Probably even older. See Diablo 3 “OMG! Why is it isometric?!” drama for more info:

“Camera is not technology,” says Wilson [Diablo 3 lead designer], clearly somewhat frustrated. “People associate the camera with isometric and say: ‘Oh, why didn’t you update the tech?’ Well, we did update the tech. The camera has nothing to do with tech, the camera is all about gameplay. Isometric gameplay is very different from FPS or over-the-shoulder third person – which is pretty much what the entire industry is moving towards. But then some of the biggest hits of the last year were Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and those were not high-tech games. Gameplay is what matters; it’s what’s always mattered to us.”

Similarly, turn-based isn’t about tech, it’s about gameplay. It can’t be a relic because games like Civilization and Heroes of Might and Magic still exist and aint going nowhere. To understand what TB offers, let’s imagine RT Civ. Imagined? Well, there you go.

Turn-based gameplay is about thinking, considering your options, and using tactical advantages. Real-time gameplay is about clicking really, really fast (hence the twitch gameplay name). The fact that when developers want to offer you a bit more depth in your RT cereal they pause it, should tell you everything you need to know.

Why AoD is turn-based? Because we like TB games and we spit on your RT crap. What? The mike is still on. Oh, shit! Now we’d have to issue a press-release stating that RT games are as good as TB games and that we are all huge RT fans. Thanks a lot!

I love his interviews, and the Alley needs more exposure, it’s one of my favorite places from those that take a serious look on gaming culture in general.

Fallout Fries

French CanardPlus Emil Zoulou is asking for questions from fans about what he saw in the Fallout 3 demo, here’s something from NMA:

Here’s some chances to scratch out some more info from the meager offerings of this E3. First, Canardplus (who you may remember from this preview) contacted us to extend the offer to try and clarify any questions we have based on what they’ve seen:

This morning, we had the opportunity to try the 360 version of Fallout 3. The cheats weren’t enabled. So ask your vicious questions and we will try to offer some honest answers.

If you know French you can ask them here, if not place them at NMA or in this blogpost and we’ll try to translate them for you.

Meanwhile he already started answering the first batch of questions, and NMA got a (very good) translation from Vaultaire with the help of Mr.Bumble and posted them in English:

Is the gore associated with violent death logical or over-the-top?
That is the problem with E3. During the Fallout 3 Demo, Bethesda wanted to emphasize the games “adult” content and pushed the gore through the roof. During the initial demo, Peter Hines did the same: using the “Bloody Mess” trait, which makes every death really bloody, really pushed the gore over the top. Shoot someone in the foot and the entire body explodes in a fountain of blood. When actually playing it is a lot less impressive, the enemies die without too much fuss. On the other hand, the inconsistencies are apparent, like when a mini-nuke just cuts off an enemies foot.

Is playing Fallout 3 with a controller a good experience? How will the interface be adapted to mouse/keyboard combination?
We are not big FPS aficionados, I had a lot of trouble controlling my character and aiming was really hard. VATS helped with this a lot, something I was not expecting. When confronted by a group of enemies, it seems like the most sensible solution. On the other hand, I was much better on the PC. The mouse/keyboard interface allowed for more accurate aiming. One can imagine that the RT aspect will resemble Quake 3 where the player strafes around his enemies; avoiding their shots while simultaneously emptying clips into them – totally negating the need for VATS. Like Oblivion, character skill along with line of sight plays a factor in determining to-hit success but the translation to FPS must be tempered with the next question:

If the PC version is exactly the same as the one tested for the Xbox 360) ; it is very likely that this is the case, will the interface be marred by this (interface, save/load, …)
Oh yes, I think that on the PC the interface will prove unwieldy. Bethesda has chosen to put all the menus inside the Pipboy affixed to your arm. If it is a question of immersion, the intention is commendable, ergonomically it’s an absolute disgrace: A stick to switch between 3 large menus (stats-item-data) the other to navigate within the window and all the sub menus. On top of that, the inventory is reduced to simple lists of names, a miniature picture of the item appears to the right for each item. Also, forget about the two quick items found at the bottom of your inventory (in the originals) as Turn-based is completely dispensed with. In this system, one is faced with equipping a single thing or weapon at a time.

With real time combat, Is the concept or use of Action Points ala “Turn Based” useful or even captivating?
Like I said on the 360, the VATS system is indispensable for survival. Often, melee enemies get within range very quickly and VATS allows the player to get out of tight situations. I did not feel it was over-powerful and I was often forced to close the gap to improve my chances of hitting the target. In addition, aiming for specific body parts will appeal to the jokers amongst us: Fire at a super-mutants weapon and it will fall from his grasp. Such accurate shots are difficult to reproduce in real-time mode. In practice, we find ourselves using all our APs to fire at an enemies chest not even trying for the head. APs recharge in real-time mode but don’t affect ones ability to access the inventory. It seems to me that AP could be used for so much more than aimed shots. It is a terrible blow for the tactics of combat that existed in the franchise previously.

Adaptive difficulty Yes or No (Level Scaling)
Big question. The Bethesda lot have assured us for months that level scaling; railed against by Elder Scrolls Fan; was out. Permit me to cast strong doubt on this. See: towards the end of my half hour, whilst wandering through Washington DC, I fell upon a group of three super mutants. One was equipped with a Gatling. I was level 3 and I was only equipped with light Raider armor. For weapons, I had a baseball bat and a basic 10mm pistol and an ammo-less laser piston. I switch to VATS and aim for the Gatling mutant in the hopes of making him drop his weapon. I miss and the other two mutants head straight for me. I grab my baseball bat and alternate between VATS and real-time whilst waiting for my AP to recharge. The first mutant is downed, I loot a bat with a nail in it and kill the second mutant in much the same fashion. During this some sort of mutant spider joins the fray and attacks me. I kill it with my bat. The third super mutant fell to a combination of grenade and 10mm pistol. I’m a half hour into the game, level 3 and I manage to take down three super mutants and some unidentified thing without much trouble and find myself in possession of a Gatling fun. All is good.[…]

Once again, it is not easy to get a fair idea of what Fallout 3 will be like on release. All in all, the development team has a pile a bugs of all types to fix. It is in all cases certain that this will not shine on technical merits, with empty interiors, outdated and badly used character models, “Rigor Mortis” animations..
Disassociated from the gameplay of the preceding Fallouts, Bethesda try to impose their view of an action RPG, in the same vein as Oblivion. It is impossible for me to guarantee that this will be a good fallout game, or even a good game at all…

A must read, there’s a lot more there.

Fallout 3: The Mother Of All Interviews

Very interesting and detailed interview with Todd Howard and Emil Pagliarulo at GamesRadar/PCGamer, it’s filled with spoilers though:

PCG: Do you have a rule for a bare-minimum number of ways to solve a quest?
Todd: No, we just do whatever comes naturally. We made a list initially showing the paths, so that we weren’t doing an overabundance of stealth paths versus other skills so that there was a good matrix, but if something fit in one we did it, and if it didn’t fit…
Emil: But as the game grew, just like we ended up making the game bigger, putting more stuff in, I think the quests themselves started to expand. We realized during playthroughs, you know what, there’s no talking path through this quest, or there’s no stealth path, so we went back and added that in. There are fewer quests and fewer NPCs, but probably just as much dialogue as Oblivion, just in all the variations.
Todd: It’s like when you were doing the bomb quest, and you were asking “Can I do this this way?” And so through testing we asked the same things, like “What if I kill Lucas Sims?” And ok, you have to go to the son. That kind of stuff.
Emil: We wanted to cover as many of those bases as we could.

PCG: So you tried to make it so that even if you take a few people out of the equation, the quest is still solvable?
Todd: As much as possible. It’s not always the case. You might kill someone and it will tell you “You can’t finish this quest anymore, this person has died.” Pretty much 99.9 percent of people in the game can be killed.
Emil: Yeah, even the quest-givers. They give you a quest, you blow their head off, that’s your decision. It’s simply more fun for the player where you might close off branches of the quest, but other branches are still open.
Todd: And the other answer to that question is that we don’t want players to have the expectation that they’ll be able to do every quest any style. Pretty much, Super-Duper Mart, there’s no way to talk your way through that. We get the question a lot, “Is there a non-violent path through the whole game?” No. I mean, you might be able to, I guess, but it’s not a goal.
Emil: I guess technically, because there’s a Stealth Boy, and because there’s a Protectron [security robot] in the back room of that Super-Duper Mart, if you could sneak in there and hack that computer, you could activate that Protectron, he’ll go and he’ll kick the s*** out of all of those raiders.
Todd: There are probably too many for him to kill every single one of them.
Emil: But enough to whittle them down so that science-boy could definitely get through there.

Another must read piece by Dan Stapleton.

Fallout Sensibilities and Mannerisms At PCZone

PCZone Will Porter

There are still Fallout 3 at E3 previews showing up, you can find a new list at NMA, instead I’ll just point out to this article at CVG/PCZone, that I’ve talked about before, now you can read it in full:

Is Fallout 3 Oblivion with guns? No, not really. While it’s true that when you enter houses and watch people go about their business it instantly smacks of the last rendition of The Elder Scrolls, it seems that the old Fallout sensibilities and mannerisms are here as foundation not lip gloss.

Character S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats (luck, perception, etc) return as the base numbers for your character, for example. These can be boosted and drained by the full host of addictive stimulants present in the first games, such as strength-harbouring Buffout, the more traditional narcotic of Jet (the factory for which was technically destroyed in the earlier games, if I’m pedantic), intelligence-boosting Mentats and rage-infusing Psycho.

On top of these lie your skills (the numbers you can raise each time you level up, making you better at bartering, small guns, medicine, repair and the like), three of which you can specialise in and gain double the advance when it’s gratz-time.

While we’re on levelling, it’s important to underline that Fallout does address one of Oblivion’s biggest foibles: the fact that as you levelled up, the entire world levelled up with you.

In the wasteland, as in the original Fallout games, the further you stray the more dangerous things get – as I discovered during my lonesome trudge into the glorious north-east and was increasingly battered by the mole rats, bloatflies and Raider bases I came across.

However, enemies that lie along the plotline will be levelled to match you so that the difficulty curve is kept to Bethesda’s heel.

Whereas Oblivion hid away many of its stats, or at least let you batter away in mindless ignorance, in Fallout Bethesda have pulled the link between player experience and player statistics closer to Black Isle’s model.

As in the original games, your skill specialisations not only give you options in conversation (my medical bent would later lead a doctor to confide a patient’s medical history to me, for example), or show themselves concretely in percentage strike-probabilities during V.A.T.S. combat, but are integral to your performance – such as when I disarmed the century-old nuclear device threatening the town of Megaton, having guzzled Mentats to make me extra brainy.

Having played the game for only five hours, and with many of the hang-ups people had with Oblivion only becoming apparent after 50, I can’t be definitive about this – but in terms of building a modern game on the systems of one that’s now 10 years old, it’s hard to think of how Fallout 3 could have been tied closer to what has gone before.

A must read.

GamerDad and PC Fallout 3

Mike Anderson from GamerDad (I’m glad Andrew is feeling better these days) went to order Fallout 3 at GameStop, and has a few ideas to share about the endeavor:

The associate at GameStop asked “Would you like to preorder Fallout 3 for the PS3 or XBOX360″? After deciding that I would not immediately kill the kid for forgetting that this is a PC franchise we’re talking about here, I said “PC version, standard not collector’s edition”. He said ‘oh’, rather surprised, but proceeded to take my money and give me the item that was the reason I pre-ordered the game about four months in advance: a DVD case containing a large poster and what looked like a 45RPM I might have bought thirty years or so ago.[…]

There is also a poster (~16 x 20) that looks much like the box at the top, but without the ‘Games for Windows’ and ESRB label, but definitely with a HUGE Bethesda logo.

Is it worth it? Not really – I had gone under the impression that you would get a soundtrack CD and hadn’t read about the sparse sampling you actually get. The two originals are available for download from the official Fallout 3 site, and that leaves the poster that I will never hang on a wall. Then there is the whole ‘playing into GameStops evil plans’ thing. But on the other hand, I will have the game when it comes out in September.

I say kill the kid anyway 🙂

Fallout: BGE

Image Tower of Creation

I’ve already talked about Fallout: Between Good and Evil, a Fallout 2 total conversion made by the Czech modding group Tower of Creation. For those that missed it here’s what they have been up to:

Fallout: Between Good & Evil is a freely distributed modification using Fallout 2 engine.

The mod is being developed since 2005 and it aims to offer experience which Bethesda’s Fallout 3 can’t or doesn’t want to provide: prequel of events on the West Coast of US, very complex dialogues / quests and turn-based combat in 2D isometric view. Currently, more than twenty people actively prepare the game with the release date Christmas 2009. Our work should bring you back memories of Fallout, Fallout 2 PC games and will have many references to Van Buren and the Cold War.

Now my friend Jesterka sent news that they have a new update on their site, with some cool art. Must see stuff.

Canard PC Eight Pages Preview Yet Again

I still couldn’t get the CanardPc magazine but, with the reservations that I haven’t seen it by myself, others did and here are some impressions, starting with Seboss at RPGCodex:

Seboss:I have the preview right here. It’s 6 pages long so I won’t do a full transcript but I could give you guys some more excerpts if you’re interested.

[right after the ability points allocation] Daddy comes back in the room, is very pleased by your agility […] and cites an excerpt of the Apocalypse (“I am the Alpha and the Omega”), a passage of the Bible your former Mom used to like a lot, an element not so insignificant that should play an important role in the main quest.

Fade to black and you’re now at your tenth birthday, ready to get your Pipboy3000, “the indispensable companion of the modern man”. This scene introduces your first social interactions.
You’ll go then from a little flirt with a girl your age through the confrontation with a little bully desiring to strip you from your birthday cake, to a surrealist discussion with a schizophrenic Mr Handy.
And there, I feel reassured. The dialogs and the argument with the dumbfuck in the making come right into the series spirit. During your conversation with the little scum, the game offers you ten different dialog options: immediate cowardly capitulation, insult leading to a brawl, lies, […] spitting on the cake before offering it to him. The list is more than satisfying.

Seboss: The author states that many dialog options have tags like [Lie], [Charm], [Intimidation], [Science] and so one. Very Biowary.

A little later, you’ll eventually receive your first AirSoft Gun, the famous RedRyder that allows you to familiarize with the combat system, then you choose your skills on the benches of the Vault’s school.
Teenage hood will also be the occasion to solve a number of optional quests that influence the perception the other vault dwellers might have of you, as well as your karma and your personality. Undoubtedly, these first minutes make me comfortably euphoric.
[…]
While I was expecting an outright treason of the Fallout setting, more because of ineptitude than vice, I have the feeling the game is spot on. The ambiance, scenery and lighting of the Vault seem perfectly faithful to the series, with just the right dose of rust to enhance claustrophobia.
[…]
In opposition to Oblivion and Morrowind that just kicked you into the game without bonds of any sort, this time Bethesda clearly states its will to make you a part of a community, to create relationships right from the beginning. […] What is the better way to make the player feel lost in the irradiated desert and make him realize the importance of his mission than create a genuine bond to his home just before kicking me out.

Seboss: Well, kicking him out right away worked pretty well in FO1 if you ask me.

About the SPECIAL system:

First satisfaction, the SPECIAL system have really been kept, no facade without substance. Every actions in the game, from the combat to bluff attempts through gambling are resolved by dice rolls against your skills and abilities. However, we can observe a whole lot of discrepancies, starting with this confession painfully extracted from the demonstrator: atypical character builds, like very low intelligence characters, won’t have as many options as in the previous games. Some dialogs are heavily influenced by your IQ, however you can forget about your project of roaming the wastelands with a complete moron barely able to string two syllables together . What’s more shocking for hardcore integrists like me, you can forget about beating the game as a cowardly pacifist weasel: most combats will be inevitable especially during travels and desert and ruins exploration.

Seboss: The wastelands are 65% the size of Cyrodiil, blah blah, the game is supposed to have a lot of landmarks like collapsed buildings, junkyards, diners, motels and baseball fields. These places are inhabited by people influenced by the nature of the location. Baseball fields should have descendants of the Baseball Furries from the movie Warriors, stuff like that.
The author hopes these places won’t feel as generic as the bandit/goblin/wraith tombs of Oblivion , but he seems confident about that.

The game will have a significant dose of level scaling for the main quest. There are three difficuly levels (as you already know), but that seems a bit cheap.

Stimpacks won’t have any side-effects anymore. There are just the regular “Cure Light” potions now.

To this point, the author was pretty confident about the quality of the game. Now there’s the negative part:

Now here’s the point where things get messy. We’re going to get onto the thorny problem of the combat. […] We’ll note that the developers repeated ad nauseam that the efficiency of your shots depend on your statistics and that the FPS skills of the player don’t have any importance, and that all shots fired in real-time mode will be automatically aimed to the torso. [Here goes a lengthy description of the VATS system]
The idea seems to stand theoretically, but in facts I’m far from convinced. Firstly, during the presentation, either he was wearing a Power Armor and holding a Gatling gun and fighting hordes of super mutants armed with heavy machine guns, bakookas and supersledges or fighting ghouls with a 9mm and wearing just a leather armor, the demonstrator was just standing there, shooting long bursts without using any kind of tactics.
Besides, aimed shots, possible even with a minigun, looked far less effective to me than just “run right next to the baddy and empty my magazine in one burst”.

Seboss: Ouch. He also says that “bullet time” death animations are just as pleasant as stuffing rusty nails in your urethra after the third one. Or something like this.

Continue reading

Canard PC Eight Pages Preview and Follow Up

French magazine CanardPC number 170 has an eight pages Fallout 3 preview that contains some interesting info, for a change, here on a summary by Mr.Bumble:

¤ Teen age gives you access to a few quests which will have an impact on how you are perceived within the Vault

¤ While travelling across the Wasteland, you can come across a few caravans, each heading to precise locations.

¤ There are three difficulty levels, as well as an “autolevelling difficulty” mode.

¤ A few new weapons : Cryolator allows you to freeze ennemies while you can hypnotize them with your Mesmetron.

¤ Also a new perk, Daddy’s Little Girl, which gives a Science bonus to female characters.

Later the author of the article went to the Canardplus forum and added his impressions about the music on the Fallout 3 demo, saying it’s “a f#&#=*&% catastrophe”, with all the “Call of Duty and Wagner” style music replacing Mark Morgan’s atmospheric tracks. He also says he is going to “piss on the composers mouth” after hearing that nonsense. Ouch.

Thank you Mr.Bumble at NMA.fr and NukaCola.

Games Radar Loves Fallout 2

I always thought that the story wasn’t the most important in the classic Fallout games, but Games Radar clearly disagrees, since they placed Fallout 2 in their best stories in videogames list:

Fallout 2 was unlike any other game before it in that aside from a few mandatory plot points, getting to the end of the game could literally be a different experience every time. Because of its open format there was a beginning, middle, and end but it was up to you to fill in the rest. Depending on how you created your character, the story could be a smooth talking con man who manipulates people to his own ends, a scientist who hacks into computers and builds robots to fight for him, or even a mentally deficient brute who’s too stupid to converse with anyone and just pounds his way through the wasteland. Such true player freedom had never been delivered like this, letting you push the story forward any way you wanted.

While the game’s main story involves your battle against the Enclave and other corrupt institutions, the history behind them and the wasteland at large are hidden all throughout the world, in abandoned computers and in the minds of survivors. This makes the story as deep, or as vague, as you want it to be. The way the Fallout 2 lets you discover the story on your own adds to its mystery, drawing the player into the game.

Ultimately Fallout 2’s story is the best ever because of its realism, freedom, and fantastic writing. While many games now have open worlds and plots, Fallout 2 manages to do both yet still maintain its doom-filled ambiance. All the side quests and plot tangents feel like they’re still part of a whole, and not just tacked on to bump up the play time. When the bombs finally drop and the world is reduced to nothing but ash and marauding mutants don’t be surprised if it looks a lot like Fallout 2.

Sunday Misc.

ngghoul.jpg

Before Fallout was Fallout it was something a bit different, Project GURPS. NMA now has a twelve years old article from the now defunct NG magazine showing how that project was being devised and developed, with a lot of great info for Fallout fans and gamers interested in gaming history. A must read! Great find PCXL-Fan.

—X—

Fallout Vault BG, one of the main spots for Bulgarian Fallout fans to hang out, changed the domain name, be sure to put it on your bookmarks. Thanks diabolic.

—X—

Here you can find Vault Boy featured on a Dutch… customer survey. Really.

Top Ten List At 1Up

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On the Top 10 Most wanted Games list from 1Up you can find Fallout 3:

What is it? The sequel to one of the most innovative and highly regarded RPG franchises on the PC. With a decade having elapsed since the last real Fallout game (Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel are dead to us), it’s also a pretty dramatic re-imagining of the Fallout formula.

Why should I care? Fallout and Fallout 2 were so exceptional that they still enjoy a large, enthusiastic fan base today. But Fallout 3’s technological lineage is just as solid, since it’s using a modified version of the Oblivion engine.

What’s the prognosis? We’re looking forward to exploring a ruined Washington, D.C., and blasting away at mutants in gory detail. We’re also curious how the game will manage to balance its action and RPG elements; Bethesda is aiming for a stat-based system that can also work for run-n-gun players. That could prove to be a delicate balance.

Spotted at RPGWatch.

Screen Savers and RPGs

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Even if Next Gen gaming is rampant, old school RPGs still have their space. Rock Paper Shotgun has a terrific interview with Vince D. Weller (nice pseudonym), indie developer of the Fallout inspired old school RPG Age of Decadence:

RPS: Okay – Influences then. What influenced your thinking about the game – and I mean, in specifics rather than generalities. In what ways did other games open your eyes, make you realise this is what games could be and why were they wonderful?Vince: Fallout – a masterpiece that redefined role-playing and set a new standard.
Planescape – reading in a game has NEVER been so much fun, and according to Avellone, never will be.
Darklands – it’s easier to list what you couldn’t do in that game than what you could do. It saddens me that a game of that caliber won’t be made again, but hey, who needs gameplay when you can look at shiny next-generation graphics? m i rite?
XCOM – The king of turn-based gameplay. If you haven’t played it, stop reading this crap and go play it right now.
And finally, Prelude to Darkness, a brilliant indie game that nobody played:

Prelude to Darkness featured an original, very detailed setting, great TB combat system, multi-solution quests, branching main quest, and many innovative design elements. That was the game that inspired me the most. It has shown me that indie projects can easily compete with and even beat “commercial” games in the gameplay and design departments.

RPS: Of the list, Fallout was the one I was sure of. Not just because of the game’s mechanics, but because what the setting brings to mind is the post-apocalypse model applied to the fantasy/medieval RPG. That is, a society that is collapsing, and has been for some time – and the player is thrown into it. Is that the impression you were aiming at? Why was this interesting to you?

Vince: Yes, I’m a Fallout fan. *waves at Bethesda* As for the other questions, yes, that is the impression we were aiming at. Why is it interesting to us? It adds another layer to the story and overall atmosphere. It makes a setting more alive as the past in post-apocalyptic games is more than a dry background. It gains shape and become an ever-present ghost of what once was. Besides, when societies collapse, it strips people from artificial restrictions of civilization and reverts them to their natural state, which is always fun to explore.[…]

Vince: I’m a big fan of the “honest and blunt” approach. An internet reader has a right to visit a game site and read “Did Oblivion really suck or what?” or “Molyneux has gotta be on drugs!”, don’t you think? Instead every journalist pretends that Oblivion was a 10/10 brilliant masterpiece, that Molyneux isn’t a lying old kook, and that Dungeon Siege wasn’t a screensaver. Then Chris Taylor says that he’s making Space Siege even simpler and everyone nods in agreement: Right on, man! It’s about time someone makes a game for the amputees. BRA-VO!And no, I don’t really care who’d think what and how my comments would affect sales. I’m making this game on a bold assumption that there are some people out there who are interested in complex games that aren’t made for retards. Btw, did I mention that I was the editor of RPG Codex for 4 years? Perhaps you’ve read my Oblivion review and other critically acclaimed articles/interviews? Now you probably understand where I’m coming from a bit better.

Check the comments at RPS and Kotaku, very interesting reading.

Fallout 3: Ask Again later

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NMA reports that there’s another “most anticipated video games of 2008” list that includes Fallout 3, this time around from Reax Music Magazine:

Fallout, simply put, is one of the best CRPGs ever made. I remember my joy as a young teen as I ventured out into the wastes with little more than a few stimpacks and a shitty pistol to save Vault 13 from certain demise. This post-apocalyptic, darkly satirical masterpiece was my introduction to the genre, and holds a special place in my memory box labeled: Things You Did When You Should Have Been Studying. When I heard that Bethesda Software purchased the license to the long-defunct Fallout franchise, I nearly had a heart attack. After all, they built their empire on wizards and orcs in the popular fantasy series, The Elder Scrolls.

I was marginally happy that the Fallout series wouldn’t end on such a sour note as the terrible Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, released in 2004 to messy critical failure. However, I remain skeptical as to whether Bethesda can revive Fallout in all its previous glory, with the change in perspective from top-down isometric to first and third-person, and a switch in setting from West to East Coast. The optimistic side of me welcomes these changes because change is an inevitable part of life, but I’m wary. Will Bethesda “get it?” My Magic 8-Ball says, “Ask again later.”

Monday Is a Good Day

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A few things that I saw on the weekend, first for the Brazilian Fallout fans (and Portuguese speaking world) news that Vault13, the Brazilian fansite now has a pretty detailed page about Fallout 3. Thanks for the heads up istrupador.

Also if you are interested in discussing the classic Fallout games mechanics head on to Twenty Sided, where Shamus has a very interesting article on the Fallout Character System. Thanks Jason Mical.

Fallout 3 To The eXtreme

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It’s all over for the VoodooExtreme Most Wanted 2008 PC Game poll, here are the results:

Starcraft II – 2490

11.82%

Fallout 3 – 2214

10.51%

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning – 1502

7.13%

Spore – 1464

6.95%

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky – 1279

6.07%

Left 4 Dead – 1231

5.84%

Age of Conan – 1031

4.90%

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King – 923

4.38%

You can see the rest of the list here.

Let’s Talk Fallout

Fanmade Trailer by Roboverall

Another three questions by KTTDestroyer for Bethsoft developers, again made on the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 Forum:

1. What is (or was) your favorite recruitable NPC in past Fallout games, which was the less favorite and what do you think made them your favorite (or not)?

2. (Excluding perks) Did it happened that on one or more occasions you were discussing something from this board in terms of bending your view towards it or simply including it? If yes, what topic area from forum was discussed or discussed mostly (like moral, art/graphics, lore stuff, gameplay and so). If not, are you planning to do so in future? (damn long question it become, excuse me)

3. What do you think of groin and eye shots in Fallout past games and what purpose it had (in your opinion) in those games? Do you remember a certain situation for you using those?

Here are a few answers:

Ricardo “socrates200x” Gonzalez:

1. Robo-Dog! It’s ( He’s? ) all the coolness of Dogmeat but inside a friggin’ robot!

2. As a coder, I have a very specific field of influence for changes in the game. Possible holes in the BoS backstory? Changes in world architecture? Not my bag. Now, if you want discuss the use of static const member variables over pre-processor defines, then we can talk turkey!

3. I took mostly eye shots since they appeared to crit more and, if I was lucky ( and I was ), I got a nice head explody. Groin shots didn’t seem to do as much damage for me. Aside from those numerical benefits, I didn’t really have a preference regarding aimed shots. Except for the ovipositor shots. I’m all about taking me some ovipositor shots.

Dan Ross:

1. I think the Dogmeat answer might be a little cliche, but I loved watching him tear apart raiders and I honestly felt bad when he got killed the first time. Not enough to roll back to an old save and try again…

2. Not really my department, so no.

3. I don’t use aimed shots much; I am a fan of the Fast Shot trait. Even without it I still prefer to get an extra shot off because I like 10 Agility characters so much! If I had to reload or something and I did take an aimed shot instead of moving, it was usually at the head. Unless eyes had the same % as head of course.

Fred “fizzbang” Zeleny:

1) That’d have to be a tie for Dogmeat and Sulik, for a couple of shared reasons:

a) They both had a lot of memorable personality – either through amusing dialogue for Sulik or for my attachment to Dogmeat as pretty much a doomed companion (since it’s all but impossible to keep him alive forever). I’ll probably go to my grave remembering them fondly.

b) They both join you pretty early in their respective games, meaning they’re with you through those really formative first few levels.

c) They both use melee attacks, so they’re not constantly screwing up and shooting me to death. That got on my nerves a lot – once in a while is fine and a nice touch, but killing me because of it? Not cool.

2) A lot of the concerns raised on this forum (and other parts of the web) are already shared by many of us – and sometimes, it can be quite reassuring to point to thread X or post Y and say, “See, I’m not the only one who thinks that!” A little reassurance can make the long hours much easier.

As I’ve said since the ancient days of the single-digit Meet The Devs threads, my main concerns are the quality of our writing and the freedom given to the player – the original Fallout set the gold standard for those, and it’s a lot to live up to. And, obviously, I’m not alone in thinking that.

3) Honestly, once I got my character’s preferred combat skill up high enough, I never attacked anyone in anything other than the eyes. Occasionally I played around with a groin shot here and there, but combat is so lethal and so slow in them that I just went to end fights as quickly as possible. That way I could get back to the dialogue and exploration that much faster.

And just one more question, this time by xellee:

What do you think about “shooting you in the back” (some) companions had a habit of doing?

Ben “Specialty Bread” Carnow replies:

Well as I understand it (could be wrong, going from memory) the party members were a somewhat tacked on feature (in FO1 anyway). So I think to some degree the habit of shooting you in the back could be attributed to under-developed AI. However the fact that your companions would often reduce you to a bloody husk served to make the combat extra-unforgiving and honestly made them sort of endearing. I would always curse for a half a second before laughing like an idiot as (what was left of) my character slumped to the ground. I guess that is really an issue of the wonderful death animations covering for the AI deficiencies though. I wish more games would invest in interesting death effects, I find that in other genres too (fps mostly) that dying in amusing ways takes the sting out of death and makes me eager to get back to the game instead of frustrated. The AI burst-firing you in the spine was a little bit more frustrating in FO2 where you could (for most characters) tell them not to burst-fire, and then they would proceed to do it anyway, possibly with additional zeal. But oh Marcus, I just can’t stay mad at you.

((((((Here are some extra parenthesis for you in case you didn’t get enough in the body of my post.))))))

There’s more, I had to edit things a bit, so go and take a look for yourselves.

IGN PC and 2008

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Seems the Most Wanted Games of 2008 season still hasn’t finished. IGN PC places Fallout 3 on their list:

Overview: Bethesda’s RPG take on the Fallout 3 world might not follow the same format as the previous Fallout games, but it’s as true to the spirit and character of the Fallout world as possible. As players venture through the apocalyptic world of Fallout, they’ll encounter all manner of interesting moral choices and intense combat encounters with mutants, giant ants, and all the other residents of this twisted, barren world.

Spotted at VoodooExtreme.