The End

Image made by Fred Zelleny

Image made by Fred Zelleny

This is the last post, today the game was released in Europe, it’s time for me to stop updating the blog.

I wanted to thank Killzig, Ausir, Morbus, 4too, blinzla, brothernone, docconrad, droveri,lithal, Role Player, osiris1975, rilom, s001, Desslock, Gstaff, Mr. Happy, Mr. Teatime, Gimli, Cameron Sorden, zippydsmilee, Defonten, Amasius, Tigranes, all the people that gave me good tips for the changes of templates, the flamers on Meebo for giving me a few good laughs, all the nice people I met from around the world on Meebo, the few Bethsoft people that gave me some words of encouragement or pointed out mistakes on the blogposts.

Well thank you too, this was a fun ride. I’ll keep checking Meebo to talk with you folks, and the email account, from now on you can find me on Planet Fallout.

Have fun in the Wasteland.

Fallout 180

Excellent exercise at the Brainy Gamer:

Some ardent defenders of the Fallout series – let’s call them Fallout traditionalists – have a beef with Fallout 3 and the RPG they fear it will be: non-isometric, non-turn-based, sans dialogue trees, simplified (i.e. dumbed down) SPECIAL system, and a distinct lack of the offbeat, self-referential Fallout vibe. Such a game, say the traditionalists, may be perfectly suitable for gamers who prefer 3-D action RPGs like Oblivion. But it’s just not Fallout. So don’t call it Fallout.

My students have been playing Fallout 1 and 2 for a couple of weeks, preparing for the release of Fallout 3. They are an unexpected mix of gamers: a small handful of RPG veterans, a large majority of relatively casual gamers (mostly sports games and shooters), and a few with almost no experience playing video games at all. Quite a challenge for a teacher who expected to be met by a small legion of hardcore D&Ders with a possible cosplayer or LARPer thrown in. Fortunately, they’re all terrific guys willing to try anything I throw at them.

So when I handed them Fallout (half played the original, half the sequel) with no instructions or special preparation, they struggled. A lot.

What goes on next is really worth a read.

Fallout 3 v The Originals

With the release of Fallout 3 nearly upon us, Videogamer.com has decided to run a comparison on Fallout 3 and the original games of the series.  They’ve broken down the game over a variety of categories; combat, perspective, quest, and a few other categories.  The author basically states the obvious over four pages and comes to the same offers up the same attitude outsiders think old Fallout fans should have towards the game (neutral acceptance and get the fuck over it).  But hey, this is the internet and we like to share hits so here’s a snip:

If, however, you’re a fan who is open-minded about the idea of a non-Black Isle Fallout, you’ll find that Bethesda has done an admirable job of capturing the atmosphere of the wasteland you trawled through in the late 1990s. No, it’s not exactly the same – and it was never going to be – but from what we’ve played, we reckon that Fallout 3 will offer one of the most exciting and involving video game adventures of 2008. And, we reckon, it’s going to introduce a huge swathe of new players to the Fallout world – and that can only be a good thing.

Yeah, he used ‘reckon’ twice.  I think he’s trying to be folksy.  Read the whole article here.

Thanks to Kharn for pointing this beauty out.

I Give an Interview, World Taken By Surprise

That guy Briosafreak gave an interview to the excellent blog Alley of Infinite Angles. It’s not so bad as you might think, since he barely speaks of him, and instead brings ahead some point for discussion about the Fallout community and Fallout history. One example:

The way they followed the original is still available in the old newsgroups, but much of the FO2 data seems to have been lost forever.

The Interplay message boards during the Tactics days was a great loud party, with the AtheistsforChrisT (as in Chris Taylor) like Killzig or JC causing all sorts of trouble, Saint_Proverbius making some great posts, and the Baldurs Gate and Fallout fans always picking at each other.

The devs interacted with the fans there, and lobbying was made in the fansites. There was a bit of a lack of informal channels though, that caused many misunderstandings, a lesson I learned it should be avoided in the future.

Later, and after two cancellations of the development of Fallout 3,that were kept in secret, the fans were tired of waiting…

I still don’t trust that guy, still thanks for your patience Tigranes.

That’s all folks!

The last Vault Arcade comic is up, it ends with a whimper.  The big news though is that the BethBlog is having a contest to celebrate the end of the PA run (or maybe to celebrate the game finally coming out, could be a little of both)…

  • Send an email to bethblog@bethsoft.com. In it, let us know which of the 12 comics was your favorite.
  • All e-mails must be received by midnight (U.S. EST), Sunday, October 12th. Winners will be randomly selected and contacted shortly there after. Any foul play detected will result in automatic disqualification.
  • All participants must be 18 or older to enter and verification may be required before the winner is announced.

While you’re at it.  Tell Bethsoft you want some new wallpapers, preferably high-res versions of those DC ads linked below.

Good Fallout 2 Modding

End Screen from Fallout:BG&E

Off topic now, but I love Fallout: Between Good and Evil, the FO2 total conversion, to pass this out:

So, you know the saying – better late than never. We aren’t quite happy that the last post on this page is from May, but we were sort of too interested in the mod to post any news. Let’s hope some new images will prevent you from stoning us to death.

Screenshots

Artworks

Ingame art

There’s more there, do check it out. Great work guys

Morning Pete

Pete Hines

Pete Hines

Sidney Morning Herald talks to Pete Hines:

ALTHOUGH the studio might not be a household name, many spouses and partners around the world must curse Bethesda Softworks for robbing them of their loved ones.

As one of the world’s leading specialists in role playing games, Bethesda has been churning out engrossing adventures for more than a decade, including the magnificent Elder Scrolls chapters Morrowind and Oblivion.

But even with such a strong pedigree in producing captivating adventures, many fans of the decade-old Fallout games have been apprehensive about Bethesda’s upcoming third chapter in the series. Bethesda spokesman Pete Hines assures critics that the development team wants the new game to be as special as Fallout fans do.

“The majority of the expectation that we have to live up to is our own,” MrHines says. “This is the next game that we are doing after Oblivion, which clearly did well for us. So there’s a lot of expectations from ourselves, stepping up our game and doing a game of hopefully even better calibre.

Random Battle Loves Fallout 3

My friend Cameron Sorden went to PAX and loved what he saw of Fallout 3:

The wasteland landscape is appropriately bombed-out and desolate. I actually felt that it may have been a little too cluttered with debris, although that might have been because the areas near the starting point were just designed that way. I thought it was interesting that while it was definitely wasteland, it was clearly a northeastern wasteland. It’s not a classic desert, though water is scarce.

Interiors were appropriately drab and post-apocalyptic looking. They got that 50’s style twist down pat, which is great, and it’s interesting to see the bombed out environments up close and in 3D. While I didn’t like it at first, I think that the move from isometric to 3D was a good one for the series. As much as I liked turn-based isometric, this was very cool too.[…]

I kept asking the people I was watching to try different approaches and use V.A.T.S. in different ways just so I could see what would happen. Speaking of V.A.T.S., words don’t do it justice. It’s absolutely incredible, and you need to see it in action to really appreciate it. Trust me: Old school aiming is alive and well, and it’s glorious. Taking out specific limbs or shooting the weapon out of someone’s hand is cooler than it ever was in the original series, and the slow-motion death shots are mind-blowing. I’m amazed at how well they captured the feel of a classic Fallout death shot in a completely new way.[…]

The actual interaction with the NPCs was great. Again, I didn’t see enough of the writing to make a definitive call about tone, but I noticed that there were plenty of dialogue choices when you were talking with an NPC. It does the Oblivion zoom-in thing when you engage people in conversation, but the interface is very minimal: just a small green box with your response options. I liked it a lot.

One irritating thing I noticed is that there are still some oddities with NPC AI. As much as Bethsoft wants their NPCs to interact with each other in seemingly realistic ways, I just don’t think it works. I saw some NPCs walking into each other and conversation between them is still stilted and weird… not real conversations. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done with NPC interaction before it’s convincing, and Fallout 3 isn’t the game that’s going to take us there.[…]

Long story short, I can’t wait for October 28th.

Platform For Sillyness

There’s a podcast at Platform Nation featuring Todd Howard, a small transcript from NMA:

Did that ever enter your mind: how are we going to not going to alienate the hardcore Fallout fans.

Well, we had a good idea of what we wanted to do with it, so we were pretty sure we were going to get it full bore. ’cause we knew we were going to make some changes that we thought would make a more fun game, but I think you take those risks and with anything – like Fallout – that has such a big following and is such a classic I think you have to be ready to get some of that. I think a lot of those people actually, if you read through some of the language they use, the things they care about are things we care about, making choices, being able to roleplay, talking to people and I think that because of the way the game is presented – it comes across as a big first person gorefest – that it gets lost that that stuff is in the game. You kind of just tell them that hey, look, we’re big Fallout fans too, we didn’t spend 4 years of our lives and millions and millions of dollars on this game because we want to fuck it up, right, we really like it, we wanted to make this game. The things people like about Fallout – we feel – are in it.

I heard the thing, and it ranges from annoying to embarrassing in general, since the people of PN aren’t very good at this, but Todd does his best to try to give some useful answers.

Soleil Noir Goes Into Fallout 3

Image Gryonline

Image Gryonline

Patrycja “Soleil Noir” Rodzińska played Fallout 3 at GC and published her impressions at Polish gaming site Gry-Online:

No recent game caused as much controversy and emotions as Fallout 3. For 4 years the fans of the series wondered whether the makers of Oblivion will manage to make a game as good as previous parts of the famous series.

Will Todd Howard’s team manage to compete with Timothy Cain’s? The Fallout brand is an enormous force. On one hand, it’s a self-driving locomotive, but on the other hand it might end up being a trap. Fallout, thanks to its post-nuclear atmosphere and immersive plot, ended up being a cult title. And every cult leads to fear of “desecration”. Therefore Bethesda should be admired at least for their courage.

* She likes the voice acting of Silver and sheriff Simms
* Silver is an ex-prostitute and a junkie, who’s trying to forget her past with the help of chemicals. She can tell you about the town and her history. However, all dialogue options, even the ones mean to Silver, seemed to lead to only one solution – helping her in her issues with Moriarty, the saloon owner.
* She thought that if she helped Silver settle the score with Moriarty, eating the squirrel-on-a-stick from her fridge won’t be anything bad. But it was – she lost Karma.
* She likes the art style, but is not very impressed by the graphics – in low details they’re too blurred, in high details they’re too sharp, with no middle ground.
* She doesn’t like the Lady Killer perk because it’s chauvinistic. Pete says that it’s not, because there’s also Black Widow.
* They do not plan to release the editor for now.
* They will make Fallout 4 and 5, and don’t count out making a new title aside from Fallout and TES.
* Pete says that all they did in Fallout 3 was initially based on Oblivion.

Her final word is that even if Fallout 3 does not live up to the expectations of the fans of the series, it might simply end up being a good game, whose biggest flaw will be it having the “Fallout” brand.
Furthermore, Fallout 3 and its promotional activities might remind players and non-players about Fallout 1 and Fallout 2.

Kotaku Talks Fallout 3 at PAX

Picture Kotaku at PAX

Picture Kotaku at PAX

The good and the bad from the impressing Fallout 3 display at Penny Arcade Expo for Kotaku:

Hands-down the best booth on the Penny Arcade Expo show floor is Bethesda’s Fallout 3 homage.

The central booth features kiosks of playable Fallout 3, singed mannequins, and an honest to god Airstream motor home on a patch of faux grass surrounded by white picket fences.

The Bethesda folks tell me that the Airstream is an authentic, not a replica, that the company purchased and then paid someone to clean-up and retro fit. Inside the refrigerated air of the mobile home is a wealth of retro goodies touched-up with a Fallout ambiance.

There are, for instance, old Life magazines, a refrigerator packed with ice cold Nuka Colas, a wood panel framed flat screen television and a waffle iron of the future. You can tell it’s from the future by the mini radar dish protruding from the top griddle.

But there were a few problems too:

The Fallout demo was schedule to run in the Main Theater at 2:30 –the exact same time as the Harmonix: The Rockening panel ended. The demo would also run over the Warhammer Online demo by a good half hour, ending at 3:30.

I ducked out of Hamronix 45 minutes early mostly due to technical issues, but also because I wanted to head off a huge line for Fallout. My plan failed as I encountered well over 200 hundred people ahead of me. Dutifully, I waited in line, suffering through all the misery of yesterday all over again.

But 2:30 came and went and still the line didn’t move. It was nearly 2:50 by the time the big partition blocking off the Main Theater from the line-waiting room was parted, admitting the first of well over 1000 people that wanted to see this game. I was fairly hopeful because I was in the first third of the line – but when I was within 10 people of the opening, the line stopped.

After some muddled arguments and confused muttering, a meek marketing chick was sent out with little cardboard consolation prize. We were subsequently turned away. Or not even turned away since no one said “go away.” They just stood there, staring at us as we stared at them, not letting us into the demo. The passive-aggressive shun, if you will.

That’s the trouble with mega-huge game expos – there just isn’t enough room for everybody. Looks like PAX has succumbed to E3 syndrome.

You can see a small gallery of the retro and falloutish stuff in there here.

Hines on Pacifism and SPECIAL

I’ve been a bit busy in the last few days, and somehow forgot to post about Guardian games blog posting the second part of an interview with Pete Hines based on questions from fans:

Will weapons require a minimum Strength? Or only a minimum in its governing attribute? (Perception = Energy, Endurance = Big, Agility = Small).

Weapons do not check for minimum stat values, you can use any weapon you want, the skill/stat just makes you better or worse with the weapon.

How will Attributes be weighted in regards to the Skills they govern? If you want to max out your Big Guns or Speech skills, but don’t spend the SPECIAL pts bumping up Endurance and Charisma, how effective will those skills be? Would a 100% skill level in Speech be ineffective if you only had a Charisma of 4, etc?

They provide a boost or bonus to the skills they govern. I don’t think we’ll get more specific than that as far as exactly how they integrate with Skills. If you put extra points into a SPECIAL, it’ll help those Skills beyond what level they’re currently at. If you spend all your time leveling up a Skill to a very high level, it’s safe to say you’ll be very effective at using those skills outside of what the governing SPECIAL is.[…]

In Fallout 1, there were only three key locations that you needed to visit to complete the game – The Cathedral, Military Base and Necropolis (the last one being optional, actually) . These places could be done in any order, creating Fallout’s exceptional nonlinearity. Is Fallout 3’s main quest structured in similar fashion?

Hmm, parts of it are, parts of it aren’t. There are several large sections of the main quest that you can actually skip if you do things right.

Specific body parts cannot be targeted when fighting with melee weapons or in hand to hand combat. What is the reason behind this decision? Does melee/HtH fighting offer something else to compensate?

We tried many ways of doing melee with VATS, and having messed a lot with “missing” in melee, it just felt really bad. So once we changed VATS melee to “always hit”, assuming you are in range, the body part selection became a bit unbalancing, so now it’s a “whole body attack”, but you still do end up hitting a specific body part when you swing, but it’s based on what you actually contact with, as opposed to what you aim at. This avoids the “always punch in the head” problem, whereas with guns, we can balance out certain body parts with hit percentages, like the head.

Charisma influenced the speech skill, NPC’s responses and how many followers you could have. Since Fallout 3 allows only two followers, has Charisma’s role expanded to some other region?

Even though you have only one follower, having a higher Charisma definitely helps in Speech challenges and successfully using special dialog options you have when talking to folks. Also it’s very helpful in bartering with people.

Can you tag Medicine, Repair and Barter, and focusing on those skills, still be able to complete the game?

Sure. We recently had someone play through the game and finish it while only killing one thing very early in the game…a Radroach. I’m not saying I recommend everyone run out and try to play the game as a pacifist, but if you want to give it a try, it has been done.

If you want to know more about the inyards of the game, or want to understand a bit more about the changes in this game when compared to the classic fallout RPGs than this interview is mandatory reading.

Spotted at NMA.

Bit-Tech Returns To The Future Of Fallout 3

Interview with Pete Hines, with a bit more info than usual, at Bit-Tech:

We got a chance to go see Fallout 3 in action recently, and obviously we couldn’t turn it down. Though the event itself was the usual blur of excitement and curiously small burgers on cocktail sticks, we bemusedly came to the next day to find that not only had we done a hands-on preview of Fallout 3, but we’d also done an interview with Bethesda’s Pete Hines.

How had this come about? Had we managed to make it through the interview without making utter tits of ourselves or fainting like 18th century bodiced ladyfolk?

The only way to find out was to listen to the interview, which we’ve helpfully transcribed for you below – covering all manner of Fallout 3 topics from downloadable content and launch platforms, to quest design and voice actor recruitment…[…]

BT: And what sort of reaction have you been getting from the really hardcore fans?

Pete: Um, I don’t think that reaction has changed much since 2004. Y’know, I think that gets overblown a bit too much. Those guys get very excited and very passionate about Fallout, but what really defines a hardcore fan? It’s up to everyone to make up their own mind.

Everyone can decide for themselves, but if it’s not the game that you like then I’d suspect that you’re not going to play it, so…[…]

BT: What about the differences in how people play? Do you see differences there between seasoned gamers and newcomers?

Pete: Uh, yeah actually. The people who are more hardcore, they tend to pick up the core elements a bit quicker and then they usually start delving right into the stats a lot more. They start with the numbers and powergaming.

The casual guys though, they just play. They grab a gun and shoot stuff. It becomes a story driven shooter for them and they find big guns, put points in big guns and just do the whole big-gun, energy-weapon thing. It’s about roleplaying though, so there’s nothing that says some aren’t supposed to play like that.

If you’re into the stealth and the dialogue and so on though then you totally can, but we see that the people who do that tend to be the hardcore gamers. They tend to look for which perks line up perfectly with their play style.

BT: Is that why you’ve moved the game to a first person perspective? To make it more accessible to players?

Pete: Uh, no, I think we moved it because we thought that would make the best game. Like, what we’re able to do from a first and third person point of view that we can’t do from an isometric view is put the player in the world so that you aren’t always looking down and detached from the world. You’re really experiencing all this destruction around you.

First person just gives you a much bigger sense of space. When you leave the vault for the first time and you have that really cool effect where you come outside for the first time and you’re blinded by the light. The whole world is slowly revealed to you. It’s hard to give the player that same level of ‘this is all free for you to play in’ from the isometric point of view.

It’s about immersion, so honestly it’s about keeping true to the franchise. Just look at the first Fallout – that was pushing the graphics for its day. It did full lip syncing and animated faces. It did everything! It didn’t just do one thing. If it was just great dialogue then it’d be Zork. It had violence, graphics, dialogue and everything else on top.[…]

BT: Do you have a firm release date?

Pete: Yes, I have one. No, I can’t tell you. We’re still this autumn, but we can’t comment further. But it will be the same for all platforms.

Spotted at NMA.

Ausirian Days

From the BethesdaBlog:

Just wanted to give a shout out to the folks over at The Vault — a wiki page dedicated to all things Fallout. In the past week, the site hit a new milestone — 3,350 articles (and counting).

If you haven’t visited the wiki, you can learn quite a bit about the Fallout series. Wanna know about ALL the vaults? Head here. How about the timeline for the games? They’ve got that too. The site is definitely a useful resource — even folks here at the office have used it.

This reminds me to ask Ausir again to send his replies to the Community Corner interview. Please?