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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Blinzler Special

Bethsoft forum regular and Planet Fallout editor Blinzler brings us two articles in preparation for the release of the game, first Things You Should Know Before You Head Out:

Fallout 3 is filled with a host of creatures, most of them severely mutated, and plenty of which see humans as a welcome addition to their daily nutritional intake. Below you will find a small list and some information I could collect so far. Maybe it will help you on your travels into the wasteland.

And later he brought us People,Places,Groups:

Fallout 3 is a Sandbox game, throwing the player (character) out into a large, open world with quite a bit of freedom to explore and do as he pleases. Using everyone and their mother’s favorite comparison, it might even be better then Oblivion’s freedom, as Fallout 3 actually allows for different and more finely-tuned approaches to solving a given problem.
To give you some guidance on this path, here’s a few details we’ve glimpsed so far, put together for ease of reading.I’ve tried to keep the spoilers themselves to a minimum, but if you want to experience the game with the innocence of a Vault Dweller freshly emerging from the underground, you should in all honesty skip the read. For the rest, this is meant to serve as a quick introduction to what is to come.

And now I’ll publish here on the blog a new piece he wrote, Reviews and Nationality:

Recently, while doing my regular round of reading various Fallout 3 related forums searching for news, bit’s of trivia and just for fun, I’ve come across some posts calling the first foreign reviews (and previews a bit earlier) unfair due to their tendency of not pointing out some things they considered “lacking” or “bad”.

Which in all fairness surprised me now – me being a foreign guy myself (as in not an American citizen) I don’t see that at all.
What’s the big deal here, if a game reviewer actually takes the time and writes down the things he or she considers wrong with the game and put’s their personal judgement to it? That’s their job after all, that is what they are supposed to do.

Good work Blinzler.

CanardPC Hates Fallout 3

I think we’ve all suspected for a while that the fine folks at CanardPC are not huge fans of Fallout 3’s new direction.    They’ve recently rebelled against the BethSoft imposed review exclusivity by publishing a not-quite-a-review article summing up their feelings and criticisms on Fallout 3:

Even when you want to explore things and let alone the main quest for a while, it still tastes weird. Besides the cardboard sets, the feeling of emptiness suddenly goes away. Just like in Oblivion and Gothic 3, adventure awaits at every corner of the street. Literally, unfortunately. A two minute walk and you’re there! A design decision which probably has everything to do with the average attention span of the console gamer.

A similar theme from earlier reviews.

On the other hand, don’t expect to be able to convince anybody that originally does not like you. NPC reactions are determined by your Karma and even a professional liar won’t be able to convince someone who does not like him to become his partner. But have no fear: you can change your reputation just like you can switch clothes. You’re too good to obtain what you wish? Steal, kill generic NPCs (those with no name) and here you are: the incarnation of evil! But don’t worry: after three days, people forget about your deeds and you are forgiven.

Your karma is too low for a particular quest? Just kill bad guys and give water to hobos (it comes for free if you have your own house) and there you go: holier than saints. Where the first Fallout episodes where built around balancing your own desires and deciding what sacrifices you were ready to do in order to fulfil them, Bethesda sweeps this and allows you to switch styles at will. Nothing is important any more, everything becomes relative. Everything black. Everything white. No need for grey when redemption and condemnation are made so easy.

This is an interesting criticism.  I think we’ve all been a little concerned about the ‘gamey’ implementation of karma in Fallout 3 and the level of importance it has been given in NPC interactions.  It sounds like a system that was mostly broken in Fallout 2 is now completely broken in Fallout 3.  Progress!

Read the rest of his thoughts and comments at NMA.

PS – Many thanks to Xark for the header art.

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.

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.

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

First Review Hits

From our friends at NMA comes news that Fallout 3’s first review has been unleashed on the wild. This coming from French magazine PC JEUX:

Thus, the fear that Fallout 3 could be a post-apocalyptic Oblivion is totally gone. A few hours with the game will be enough for Fallout veterans to get their habits back and be able to walk with confidence through the game. New players will not feel totally lost either because references to the previous games are rather scarce and discrete. If most changes brought to the series are technical, the spirit is still there, sort of. Indeed, it’s a shame that this episode is so serious. It has lost, it seems, a good deal of the humour and even irony that was part of the series. Cinematographic references or completely twisted conversations with NPCs are gone. Aside from this, Fallout 3 is an excellent RPG and a good Fallout. The score is rather different but the music stays the same.

They’ve given the game a score of 93%, noting a good variety of quest types and also multiple resolutions for said quests while complaining about a few technical hang ups.  Maybe they should have conferred with the game’s recommended specs before reviewing…  oh wait.

The ABC Apologises

Tony Jones

Tony Jones

Saw this at xboxOZ360-gamer:

This has just came to my attention regarding an earlier article we published, and it shows that not all TV stations are the same, and are willing to go back on their reporting if it is proven to be wrong or misleading. Recently ABC ran a piece on the controversial Fallout 3 on its Q&A Discussion program (which we covered earlier). A member of the public, one Daniel Silk wrote a substantial letter of complaint to the program heads and actually got a response. And one he was hoping to get,  rather than the usual run-around many stations give those who complain about their programs:

[…]With regard to the background information on the game Fallout 3 provided by presenter Tony Jones, we acknowledge your point that the game was refused classification by the Classification Board because of the intravenous drug use, rather than the violence in the game. While Tony Jones mentioned the issue of drug use and violence in his précis of the game, he offered no specifics on why the game was actually refused classification. From our own understanding of the game of Fallout 3, the ABC believes that it is legitimate to mention the violence in the game. Mr Jones did not state that the main purpose of the game was to kill everyone. For your information Fallout 3 was used as it was a topical example of a game that had been refused classification by the Classification Board.

The ABC apologises for the information provided by presenter Tony Jones in the middle of the discussion on gaming and agrees that it may have been confusing and misleading. Mr Jones was aware that a rating system exists for games. He had been briefed on concerns that the current system is inadequate because it does not provide an R rating. But regrettably in the pressure of the program and in attempting to summarise and point to the lack of a comprehensive rating system, Mr Jones erred by stating that there was no ratings system for video games.

They actually apologised for the mistakes, that’s not common. You can read more at Kotaku.au.

Fallout 3 Kikizoed

Kikizo has some new impressions about the Fallout 3 demo:

So, what did I learn from my brief taste of Fallout 3? I suppose my most unexpected realization was that I am really, really eager to play the finished game. The overwhelming depth and fantasy setting of Bethesda’s previous big game, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, put me off that game, but the setting, story, and VATS system have won me over here. I wish that I could play Fallout as more of a shooter and less of an RPG but even still what I’ve played is exhilirating. The consistency of the gameworld is the biggest draw. The ambient soundtrack and omnipresent devastation combine to produce an unforgettable experience. I can’t wait to play the full game later this year.

Posted first at PlanetFallout.

XBox Focus Does a Silly Article

Worst article on Fallout 3 I’ve ever seen, in XBox Focus:

Fallout 3 has introduced a newer, more realistic system: rather than having one, almighty health bar for the entire body, there are different, specially designed bars for your head, torso and legs. While the words “health bars” may be synonymous with “1998” these days, the mixture that Fallout 3 is expecting to put into use can be something more realistic than anything you will ever see in, Call of Duty 4, Crysis or Bioshock (I don’t care what excuses Bioshock used to guise it’s recovery system, it was still the worst part about the game.)

The rest is equally funny, involuntarilly. Spotted at NMA.

GameStar.de Previews Fallout 3

From GameStar comes a a large article on Fallout 3, in German, here are some bits from a translation by Blintzler:

Our first step into the world of the 23rd century is on a hill. It’s warm and friendly; the wind rustles silently, mosquitos fly around our ears. All around us are the ruins of a civilization. The flat land stretches ahead and is littered with the black cubes of ruined apartment blocks and office buildings. Ripped farm houses overlook parched fields, bunches of tough yellow gras is the only visible vegation around, growing between the cracks in the road asphalt and around the burned remains of trees.[…]

Skelletal remains of power line poles run along the railroads lines. Highway bridges, once running high above the ground on pillars, now suddenly end in sheer drops. Their remains now serve as camps with burned out trucks as homes; from here, high above, they shoot down at the wild dogs and the hordes of double-headed brahmin, the mutated descendents of bovine ancestry who drinks from the radiative pools.Towards the horizon the mass of ruins starts to clump together, towards what was once a town and known as Washington, DC.[…]

In Megaton and other settlements we meet survivors, among them the disfigured ghouls. Everything we see – we can reach.That’s the beauty of the impressive view. But it has an ugly side, too, and it’s name is: Xbox 360 technology. Now console graphics doesn’t automatically mean it’s a bad thing, far from the truth – some games are more beautiful on the Xbox then they are on the PC. But the Microsoft Box has the disadvantage that most games forego AA to make the game run more smoothly – as does FO3.  Because the PC Version builds up 1:1 on the console version, this means: visible stair effects especially on distant objects and mesh-structures (such as high voltage power poles). In addition – textures, especially close-up, are foggy and unsharp.

Thanks Incognito and Blinzler.

And I hope you had a happy Birthday Incognito.

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

Message in a Todd Bottle

Howard during his Mars hollidays

Howard during his Mars hollidays

For only the third time in four years Bethsoft Executive Producer and Fallout 3 Lead Todd Howard leaves a message on the Bethesda Games forum:

See, I read the forums too.

Thanks to everyone here that has supported us and our games over the years. I really enjoyed meeting so many of you at PAX, and I know Pete, Emil, Istvan, and Matt did as well. It was, by far, our favorite convention ever. We really do have the best fans in the world, and we take both the praise and criticism the way it’s intended – to help us make better games.

Maybe someday we’ll be popular enough to have a “Bethfest!” and you can meet the whole team of over 100 people that work on these games. I assure you, they’re some of the most dedicated and amazing people you’d ever meet.

In other news this blog will return for the regular news service next Wednesday or Thursday. I’ll still be available on Meebo or mail.

When Emil Speaks An Angel Gets Some Wings and a Beard

Emil Pagliarulo

Emil Pagliarulo

And Emil Pagliarulo decided to reply to an impromptu interview on the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum:

Can you target cars in VATS to explode?

Emil: No, you can’t. We actually experimented with that for a while, but found that the “battlefield” got so littered with “explodable” objects that you ended up having too many targets to cycle through, or the the camera would autozoom onto a car instead of the target you wanted, etc. So, like a lot of things, we started off that way, played the game and realized it didn’t work, and changed it.

Does stealing cost less -karma then murder?

Emil: Yes, definitely. I find that’s how I maintain my “Neutral” karma level with my current character (crazy Raider-looking girl named Fahrenheit) — I’ll generally be nice to people (which earns good karma), and then rip them off blind (which earns bad karma). If I were to go around murdering people, I’d jump pretty quickly down to “Evil.”

Can an evil character make a redeeming decision and become good and vice versa? (and it makes sense)

Emil:Yes! That became one of our big goals, actually — redemption. There are ways a completely good character can turn evil, but that’s easy — just go on a killing spree. But there are also ways for a completely evil character to turn good. You can complete quests in an obviously “good” way, donate money to a church, give purified water to a better, etc. etc. So yeah, we definitely support that.

I had one character who was totally evil. I blew up Megaton, went on a killing spree… and then Dogmeat taught me how to love. Role-playing FTW!

Every time Emil speaks on the forum there is much rejoicing in the Elves community and the Brotherhood groupies. Ausir isn’t very pleased with the last answer though. Thanks Incognito for the heads up.

Hines and Trade Shows

Fallout fans at PAX2008/Photo Zacbond

Fallout fans at PAX2008/Photo Zacbond

Talking to Videogaming247:

Bethesda’s Peter Hines has admitted that showing RPGs like Fallout 3 at tradeshows like E3 and Games Convention can be a frustrating business.

“Sometimes, yeah,” he told VG247, when asked if showing such a large game to people in such a short space of time was problematic.[…]

Fallout 3 did come under some fire after E3, where journalists were allowed to play the game for 30 minutes.

“You play the game and you see what you think,” Hines said previously on the matter.

“At E3 we let people play the game for a half hour, and if in a half hour you can make up your mind one way or the other, OK. I don’t really get into judging the rightness or wrongness of it. I just give people a chance to play it and they draw their own conclusions.”