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.

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Gamasutra Interviews Todd

Gamasutra has posted an interview with Todd Howard.  While light on Fallout 3 details the interview does go into some of Todd’s view on game design:

As a game director — and it’s not like this is the first time you’ve done this — how do you even approach something like this? It seems like such a fairly monumental task, on two fronts: one, it’s just the issue of making a game this big, but you guys have done that before. But then there’s also the issue of inheriting that IP. Not that you’re doing it alone, but it seems like a pretty substantial undertaking. How do you approach that?

TH: The good thing with Fallout is that…  from a workflow standpoint — I mean how we go about what we do — it’s similar to what we do with Elder Scrolls, where it’s very big, and it’s an established world — whether or not  we’ve established it, or somebody else. The Elder Scrolls [world] is so big that no one person can remember it all, so when we think up stuff, we have to go research it. Like, “What did it say in this book in Daggerfall?” It’s so much stuff. So we go through the same work with Fallout.

And frankly, it was a very nice change of pace for us. We were really excited to do the project. So, I think we’re kind of used to doing it; I don’t know that there’s something specific I could point to, and go, “Here’s how we go about it.”

The one thing we do is we lay out the world. One of the first things we do is draw the map, and come up with the people and places. And the rest of it comes out of that. I mean, in Fallout, we knew we wanted to have vaults.

I usually come up with — this is bizarre — the first thing I always come up with is the beginning of the game, and the interface. I don’t know why. Like, how does it start, and what’s the interface. There’s no reason for that; it’s just what goes on.

And we knew we wanted to start in the vault, and play through. I’ve always been interested in games that just start, and you play them; the character generation is part of the game. An early influence is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.

Check out the full interview over yonder.

This newsbit pilfered mercilessly from Kharn.

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.

Fallout 3 Review From Sweden

Swedish PCGamer reviews Fallout 3, gives a 81% score, and Dupa got us some bits and pieces in English:

I just got the October issue of  swedish PC gamer and they have a review of the PC version of fallout 3.
In short:
score: 81%
Pros:
VATS
SPECIAL
Megaton at night
Cons:
A feeling of lifeless backdrops
Lifeless/stale Characters
To much on a too small area

Its Written by Joakim Bennet, who has proclaimed love for Fallout many times over the years he has been at PC gamer sweden.

Other short stuff(not quotes):
Vats is great, realtime combat isnt. The realtime combat (damage/hits etc) doesnt seem to be in sync with whats happening on the screen.
HtH combat in 3rd person is just as bad as in oblivion
Bennet misses the world map, random encunters, the empty wastes.
AI isn’t great. Enemies running in circles and no reaction from NPC that gets hot from a long distance is quite common.
You can pick up anything that isn’t bolted to the floor.
The SPECIAL system and Perks works great

He also writes about four important points and compare them to the originals:

Continue reading

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

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?

Guardian With Hines

Raider

Interview with Pete Hines at The Guardian Games blog:

How do you keep the wasteland setting interesting- both visually and from a content perspective?

It’s one of those things we have spent a long time on. We needed more variation than we had originally. It isn’t always obvious the first time you play through either. There are a lot of nice touches such as the raiders with baseball caps who attack you on a baseball pitches. We’ve got a good mix of things to find in the world. Regarding visuals, it’s much easier to do a beautiful setting with rivers and waterfalls and trees but there is a real beauty in the destruction of things. You come over a hill and in front of you is what used to be a highway and someone has set up a settlement under the bridge for protection. It’s really interesting to see how people have tried to live on in this world. We tried to vary what you find but also give you those epic vistas.

Is there still the same freedom of gameplay as in Oblivion?

There are plenty of ways to solve most quests. You can play using stealth if you put enough points in. This makes it easier to find rare loot. Science points allow you to hack machines. You can really customise your experience. And then there’s the whole good, neutral, evil aspect. This is based on how you deal with people in the game. Definitely go to talk to Gob, the bartender in Megaton. If you take his feelings into account you get a different experience and he will talk to you differently. How you resolve conflicts generally plays a big part in affecting your karma.

How influential were the original games for you?

Part of what makes Fallout great is this juxtaposition of a positive alternate 1950’s view of life pre nuclear war with the reality after. Like you’re in an elementary school with posters that say to “duck and cover” under your desk when the bomb falls. So clearly that didn’t work! Seeing the idealistic optimistic pre-war view with the bombed out reality is really powerful.

Interesting interview this time.

The Anti Hype

Few Years Ago At E3

Another editorial piece by Shamus Young, he isn’t very happy with Bethsoft:

The hype phase of an upcoming title is an excellent time to bring up all the flaws with the previous title, since that’s when the developers and publishers are most PR-conscious. After release these sorts of complaints end up in forums where they won’t reach the undecided buyer. Once the review scores are up the publisher can go back to ignoring the general public and turtle in until they’re ready to trot out the next game for E3. Bethesda has poked their head out of the turtle shell, and while everyone else is gushing over their ZOMG GRAFITHX!! I want to take this opportunity to give them a few whaps on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper and encourage them not to screw this one up.

These guys have obtained the much-beloved Fallout license. Fan support is strong. I’m even open to the heretical changes they’ve made to bring the game, kicking and screaming, into the world of realtime 3D. All I ask is that they not repeat the obvious mistakes of the past.

Spotted at NMA, you can read the rest here.

One Man, and a Crate of Puppets

Today marks the beginning of Penny Arcade Fallout Comics, as announced on the BethBlog:

Today we posted the first Penny Arcade Fallout comic that begins an original series/story that Tycho and Gabe did for us. When we first approached the guys about doing this, years ago at this point, we really wanted to do something where they just kind of ran with it. Let them come up with their own ideas, whether it was a bunch of standalone strips, or one that worked all together, or whatever. We really didn’t care whether it had anything to do with Fallout 3, or its locations or characters, we just wanted to see what would happen when Penny Arcade did Fallout.[…]

We’ll be releasing a new strip every Wednesday for the next couple of months. We hope you enjoy them!

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.

New Featured Article: BGamer’s Interview With Chris Avellone

This Interview with Obsidian Entertainment Chris Avellone first appeared in issue 120 of BGamer, a gaming magazine of reference in Portugal.

It was made by Ana C. Santos, to whom I would like to thank for the good will in allowing me to publish this.

I also would like to thank Chris for giving his yes nod to the publication, and special thanks to our friend ZiggyMeister for taking on his shoulders the task of getting all of this together.

It’s a treat for Video RPG games fans, hope you enjoy it, here’s a snip:

Fallout 2 and Planescape Torment are to this day considered cult classics. How does it feel to have people still discussing and asking you about games that you developed a decade ago?

It’s pretty gratifying. It was a labor of love for both titles above, and to still have people respond enthusiastically to both titles makes all the effort and long hours we put in worthwhile. When releasing a game, there’s always the subconscious thought that it’ll be forgotten in 2-3 months, but seeing the long-term feedback to Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment has been rewarding to the teams on both titles.[…]

You have worked in some of the best RPG ever made. What, in your opinion, are the crucial elements for a good game of this genre?

Aside from the ability to advance your character, player choice (whether in character development or quest resolution) and world and character reactivity to these player’s choices is key.

Players want to build the character they envision, and then they want to push buttons in the world and see the world give them positive (or negative) feedback that is unique to their character – it makes them feel that they are having a direct impact on their environment based on their specific choices. In addition, the more specific you can make the reactivity to the player’s character creation choices (Fallout 1 and 2 did a fantastic job of this, in my opinion), the better. The more a stealth character is given consistent rewards and feedback on their chosen skills and using those skills to solve quests, for example, the more they feel their character choices and their character’s skills truly matter.

Diablo III Vs. Fallout 3: The Sequel

Solivagant returns to the Diablo III Vs. Fallout 3 issue, this time at BlizzardGuru:

In the Fallout series, the story, the gameworld, is extremely important. In fact, several players keep stating that Bethesda is doing a good job because they’re trying to maintain the storyline, the dialog and the humour of what came before. Trying doesn’t mean succeeding.

The few tidbits and developer’s journals that Bethesda has released have all let on that they aren’t handling the material very well. The fans have all recognized several flaws, for instance, their decision to relocate a prominent faction from the series to a new area, when such a faction had little desire in expanding or relocating. Basically, it’s the same mistake Fallout Tactics had.

I’ll give them two things they got right, though: they chose an unused vault number, 101, and the teaser trailer itself felt true to the series. There was the wrecked city, the art deco statues, the old 50’s song (they even used the same band, The Inkspots). It was too bad that by the end of the trailer everybody knew that the game would be a first person shooter / rpg. It had been rendered in the game engine.

The irony in all this is that Leonard Boyarsky was one of Fallout’s original developers, leaving Interplay after Fallout 2 to form Troika with Tim Cain and Jason D. Anderson. Now, after Troika failed due to several factors, we find him on the opposite end of the spectrum, behind what is commonly reffered as an Action Roleplaying Game, in fact, THE Action RPG, Diablo, where stats determine only your proficiency in combat, where the focus is how you kill, and not who you chose to help or who you chose to destroy.

It’s great to see one of the three do so well in the business after the tragic event of Troika’s downfall, even behind a game that seemingly has nothing do to with what he had worked on before. It’s also good that he’s interested in adapting his way of work in favour of the game, keeping with the same tone, instead of pushing for changes to the gameplay previously established.

Spotted at NMA.

Diablo III Vs. Fallout 3

By now everyone heard about the announcement of Diablo III, with good old Leon Boyarsky of Fallout fame as Lead World Designer. Comparisons between Diablo III and Fallout 3 were bound to happen, with NMA pointing to Solivagant’s blog at Destructoid with a passionate and controversial piece called How to make a proper Sequel:

And now we got D3. It looks the same as D2 and D1. Two orbs. Mouse clicking. Iconic classes. It looks gorgeous as well. Using the same isometric (sic) perspective. And from what I can see, people are lapping it up. People are loving it, me included. Why? Well I guess it’s reassuring to see a team that is made up of several different members from D2’s team (even though it’s still Blizzard) behind the steering wheel of this game, and how they managed to make the game be like what Diablo III SHOULD be like, in the hearts of fans and gamers in general.

All of this disturbs me. Why? Because I’m a fan of another franchise. One where action takes a sidestep into turn-based chaos, and dialog, options, different routes, take the center stage. A game whose setting was, and still is, unique.

You may know the series called Fallout. But what the gamewebs and the magazines and the boards are feeding you, isn’t what Fallout is. That’s a definition I’ll leave for the fans of the franchise, known throughout the net as the most rabid fans there are, “glittering gems of hatred” as one has called them.[…]

So what is it Bethesda? Do you think Blizzard doesn’t have the resources to pull of a Diablo III in full 3d mode, with a third person perspective? They tried something like that with StarCraft: Ghost, and when they realized it wasn’t working out, they abandoned that concept. Now we have StarCraft 2, completely recognizable as a true sequel to the first RTS gem, and Diablo 3 which is shaping up to be exactly what the fans were clamoring for.

Before Bethesda unleashed their screenshots and their trailer, I still held hope that they would create a new engine, and shower us with isometric turn based goodness. But I was wrong.

It would take Blizzard to show them how to do a proper sequel.

But now it’s too late.

On a different direction Fallout 3 producer Ashley Cheng is a bit disappointed about how Diablo III is being developed:

I must say I am disappointed that Blizzard has stayed on the conservative side in terms of design with their updates to Diablo and Starcraft. Diablo will be interesting since World of Warcraft has a lot of Diablo-like qualities. I have no doubt, however, that they will be incredibly fun, addictive and polished games.

Well Fallout 3 is the last in line of a series of games that have streamlined and tweaked a mold that comes from 1994, The Elder Scrolls: Arena. That’s pretty conservative too, at least in my eyes.

I think Jay Wilson sums a few important differences between Blizzard and Diablo III with Bethsoft’s game design philosophy on Fallout 3 in these comments transcribed by Joystiq:

Replayability revolves around randomness: random environments, items, encounters and — new to Diablo III — random adventures. Higher difficulty levels are also key to the series’ replayability. The epic heroes enable large scale combat, and are massively powerful classes in that they don’t just have powerful skills but also feel powerful, almost over-the-top, in their gameplay. With strong and unique archetypes, heroes have their own identities, and these hallmarks of Diablo II will be improved upon in III.

Approachability revolves around a design mantra of Blizzard’s, “if you can click a mouse you can play Diablo.” The familiar isometric gameplay is continued in III, and Jay mentioned that they didn’t consider other alternatives — “it’s Diablo. Gameplay is simple to learn, but deep, and the difficulty curve is smooth — Blizzard think they did this well in Diablo II and intend to keep it up

ZRG Online

Well this is off topic but since I love these guys I had to mention this. Zero Radius Games, the love child of Chris “anarchy” Taylor, Tom Decker and Scott Everts, is now fully back online:

Zero Radius Games is a small hobbyist game design group and web-based publisher. We’re not just rabid game players, we’re veterans of the computer game industry and games are quite literally what we do for a living. However, we need to depixelate after work and that’s where ZRG comes in.

For the last few years, we’ve been tinkering with small (and not so small) board and card games. Collectively, we have made dozens (and dozens!) of prototypes then played, tweaked and played them some more. A few we’re really happy with (and we’re working on getting them published someday) and a few that needed to be put down quietly. The rest will, eventually, make their way here for you to download and try out.

Please, look around and check out some of our free downloadable print-n-play games. If you like you see, try printing them and assembling them. They’re pretty fun to play and we would love to hear back from you if you’ve tried our games.

Check out our blog for the most recent updates and news bits.

They offer some goodies too:

The links below will take you directly to our free print-n-play games. Directions for assembling each game, when required, are included. You will most likely need a PDF viewer, like Adobe Acrobat® Reader®. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Do take a look, it’s well worth it.