rss rss Like this on facebook Twitter this +1 this Steam group

Go back to the archive

News for Friday, August 31, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 17:00

Bethesda producer Gavin Carter was interviewed by ActionTrip:

AT: As we understand, the team is also keeping itself busy with balancing combat in the game. If you can, please tell us about the advantages of V.A.T.S. Do you think hardcore RPG fans will enjoy the cinematic aspect of it?

GC: A big advantage is that during VATS mode, time is paused and you’re given a wealth of information about your situation. Every targetable enemy and object is highlighted and you can pan around and get a sense for where things are coming from. For each individual target, you can see their overall health, and the condition and the likelihood of landing a shot for each body part. This is the part that I feel separates VATS from standard “real-time with pause” systems in that it gives you information to base a tactical choice on. You may find that you have a high chance to hit a mutant’s torso, but then you notice that landing one more risky shot to the arm will cripple him, severely reducing his ability to aim. Recently I’ve been replaying Oblivion and find myself hammering the VATS button unconsciously whenever I get jumped by an enemy.

The other advantage to VATS is, of course, that it’s just pure unadulterated fun. Landing a shot to a mutant’s head, watching it fly apart in slow-motion, having an eyeball go spinning past the camera - there’s just some kind of visceral satisfaction that the experience brings.
(...)
AT: Can you give our readers some idea of what kind of soundtrack you’re working on?

GC: The soundtrack really varies a lot in style depending on what situation you’re in. For exploring, the music is more of an ambient and slightly discordant nature similar to the music of Fallout 1 and 2. In battles, the music is more up-tempo and brings in more percussion and some orchestral elements. We also have music for places like dungeons (think old caves and abandoned vaults), and a special set of music for some of the more important locations in the game. We pushed our composer to experiment with a lot of different styles and instruments to keep the music interesting throughout the game.
Link: Fallout 3 interview at ActionTrip.

Thanks Briosafreak.

Posted by Silencer - at 12:07

Sethergal let us know of an important update to the New Dawn website.

We have something you've been longing to see. Today's update brings long-expected screenshots from the New Dawn demo! Go to the Gallery to take a look. We hope you will enjoy the looks and the ambiance as well as any other details presented in the screenshots, which were chosen to show various gameplay elements and to feed your thoughts, too. Remember to visit the board and drop us a line - we will gladly answer your questions.
Link: www.newdawn-game.com

Posted by Brother None - at 2:12

The always intelligent Gamers with Jobs has a piece up on Bioshock's recent copy protection controversy:

2K Games has set a new precedent by requiring the user to activate their game online before allowing them to play. Unlike a Windows Vista or XP install, you can’t pick up the phone to activate your key. Never have we seen a publisher require this extra step for a single-player only title. It’s assumed in multiplayer games like Battlefield 2 or World of Warcraft that you aren’t going to get around needing to login to a central server and verify legitimate CD key before you can play. Until now, we were also safe in assuming we could skip that step for a game that wouldn’t otherwise require a net connection at all.

This added activation step has seemingly frozen game-cracking pirates in their tracks. But before the corks cleared the Champaign bottles at 2K Games, user complaints began flooding in regarding the two activations limit. Customers who had to reinstall the game after issues or upgrades were angry at the prospect of being locked out from a game they own. While uninstalling was supposed to add one activation back, it wasn’t working. 2K has since come forward and increased the activations to five per copy, and promised a “revoke activation” tool to remove a computer’s clearance to play the game so it can be transferred to another.
(...)
This may be the first real strike against pirates in some time that actually slows them down without completely alienating paying customers. Even if they were to crack the game today, the damage has already been done. The lure of getting the game first has come and gone, leaving casual pirates who enjoy downloading games from their favorite sites left choosing between patience and spending their money. Even the most hardcore, savvy game pirates have little recourse short of buying the game or, oddly enough, modifying their Xbox 360. In an interesting switch, the Xbox 360 version of Bioshock was hacked and made available for download on major torrent sites on release day.

What’s significant here is that a console version has been cracked while the PC version remains elusive. The more examples we see of PC games slowing down piracy efforts significantly, the more likely publishers are to take a second look at the PC as a safe, viable platform to sell to. Even though adding complexity to the install and game launching process increases the chance of problems, ensuring that a majority of players paid for the privilege is probably worth the extra trouble.
Link: How 2K Games And Bioshock Took Back The West.
Link: Gamers with Jobs Bioshock Perspectives.

News for Thursday, August 30, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 19:40

RPGCodex has a "preview" of Fallout 3 up, a highly sarcastic piece which gathers quotes from journalists and devs to determine the overall way Fallout 3 seems to run, look and smell.

Link: The wonderful world of Fallout 3 on RPGCodex.

Posted by Brother None - at 19:25

Eurogamer took the opportunity to ask Pete Hines a few questions in Leipzig. As usual per Eurogamer, it's a good interview:

Eurogamer: Why exactly did you decide to take up the challenge of a Fallout game in the first place? Was there a really a burning desire to work with the franchise?

Pete Hines:
That's honestly how it happened. It was just us sitting around talking about doing something else besides the Elder Scrolls, something RPG-ish, and wondering, what could we do? We had discussions and agreed collectively - seeing as nobody's doing anything with it, if we could get Fallout, we would love to do a Fallout game, because it's both very different from Elder Scrolls and something that a bunch of us really loved as a game and thought we could do well as a franchise. We were sitting there thinking we wanted to play another Fallout game, and if nobody else was going to make one then we might as well do it ourselves. So we did; we went up to our president and our senior management and said, look, can you guys make this happen? And they knew some folks at Interplay and had conversations and worked out how to get it. We're very excited and honoured to be carrying on this franchise.
(...)
Fallout is very different. There are much fewer quests, and every quest has a number of different ways to complete it, and based on how you do that quest you can open up or lock off things, based on your choices, that will no longer be available or will only be available based on what you've done. We actually monitor your karma as you go through the game based on the choices you're making, and whether you're good, evil or sort of in the grey area, you actually have different gameplay; so for example, what characters accompany you differs based on where your karma is. You also get titles, so like Scourge of the Wasteland if you're this really evil bastard and blew up Megaton [a town near the beginning of the game which you can choose to detonate, or not], and so we'll have some stuff that will be pegged towards how you're playing the game. You'll actually have to replay the game if you want to unlock all the Achievements, you'll have to take another other path where there's other stuff to unlock. Nothing's set in stone, of course, but that's the general idea that we have; it's not going to be just one playthrough to get it all.
(...)
Eurogamer: Speaking of which, did you ever consider remaking the original?

Pete Hines:
No. There's a lot of folks that think we're borderline suicidal for attempting to make another game as it is, but going back and trying to make the first one... yeah, that would definitely be pitchforks and swarming the gates. We'll let those games sit in everyone's memory, benefit from that nostalgia, and stand on their own; I don't think they need to be redone, they're great games on their own. You know, we've taken the same approach to the Elder Scrolls stuff. People are like 'Oh, you know what? You should bring Arena back and put it on Xbox Live Arcade!', and we're like, you know what, it was what it was, great for 1994, but we're not about to go back and redo all our stuff. We prefer to move forwards.

Eurogamer: So how have the infamous Fallout fans reacted so far to what you've shown of the game?

Pete Hines:
Well, the fan community is actually rather large so it depends what segment we're talking about [laughs]. Obviously we're fans - that was, like I said, the impetus to go in and get it in the first place. You know, I think if you're really interested in playing another Fallout game in that sort of world, then hopefully you'll give it a chance, but there is a segment of our fanbase - I say 'our', I mean the Fallout fanbase - that has basically decided back in 1994 that we're doing it all wrong and that they're going to hate our game whatever we do. I mean if you have made up your mind and said 'Here's my specific list of things that my game must have', and we're not meeting your list, then you're probably not going to like the game. But you know, we're OK with it, we're used to it by now - the Elder Scrolls fanbase is a very global and very large community that has very strong opinions about what they want, so we appreciate that folks are very passionate about certain franchises, certain series. They like what they like and that's what they want. But for everybody else who doesn't fall into that category, who are willing to judge with their own eyes and figure out whether or not they like what it is we're doing, it's been really good.

Eurogamer: Why do you think that people are so obsessive about Fallout?

Pete Hines:
More than anything, it was really different. If I had to guess, I'd say that a big part of the draw was the darkness of it. It was pretty... brutal isn't the right word, but it was pretty dark in contrast to everything else out there - I mean, it had a dipswitch in the settings allowing you to turn the violence up. I think that's a big part of it, it was so much more adult and mature than everything else in terms of its content. A lot of folks are still very loyal to that, to that kind of experience, and very much want to play another one.

Eurogamer: So do you see Fallout as a continuing franchise for Bethedsa?

Pete Hines:
Absolutely. We didn't go acquire the rights just to make one game. We fully intend for this to be a success, and as long as we don't fuck it up and we make a good game, we think it will be.
I can't believe he just literally said we were going to hate Bethesda's Fallout 3, 3 years before Fallout 1 was made. That's just...wow. Additionally, Mtv's G-Hole has an interview up.

Link: Fallout 3 interview on Eurogamer.
Link: Fallout 3 interview on Mtv G-Hole.

The ending of the Eurogamer interview offers one succulent hint:
Fallout 3 isn't out until next Autumn (which feels like about seventy-three years away), but we'll apparently get something playable in the new year - although Pete informs us that this is the last we'll see of Fallout 3 for a good few months. In the meantime you can read up on the game so far in Eurogamer's preview, and perhaps hand-fashion a countdown clock to help pass the time.
Spotted on Gamebanshee. And thanks to Sigoya.

Posted by Brother None - at 6:35

We haven't been keeping up on the frontpage, but Intoxicate has been steadily posting Afterfall concept art via our gallery. Here's a few choice ones posted since early 2007:


Link: Afterfall gallery on NMA.

Posted by Brother None - at 6:29

PC Perspective has a good piece up on PC vs Console gaming. A topic worth quoting for us is this:

Another likely casualty of porting to PC was Oblivion's A.I, named Radiant AI. While Bethesda was having problems with certain Non-Player Character interactions, one can't help but wonder if the AI was lobotomized to make it play well on the Xbox 360. If you never saw Bethesda's pre-release demo videos they displayed at the 2005 E3, you can find them on YouTube. I would suggest the 5th video on which details the complexity of the Radiant AI specifically, as it shows the breadth the original version of the AI would display. If you never played the game, you can see the final implementation in many of the other videos on YouTube, from bizarre domestic violence to the death penalty for stealing bread. One of the most rabid fan bases for a PC game are having a collective convulsions in dread of what Bethesda will do to their favourite franchise. Fallout 3 is going to be released on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as well as the PC, and will use the Radiant AI system. Go check out the forums at Bethesda's Fallout 3 site, or No Mutants Allowed to see how this news is being taken. Be sure to wear sunscreen, asbestos underwear and JooJanta 200 Super Chromatic Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses.
The entire article is a good read.

Link: PC Gaming: Why I'll Never Console Myself with Second Best.

Thanks Briosafreak.

Posted by Brother None - at 6:25

We're walking on pretty late on this, but a reminder for everyone to keep an eye on Neil Marshall's Doomsday:

Neil Marshall, the British director of the upcoming futuristic apocalypse movie Doomsday, told SCI FI Wire he was inspired by similar movies from the 1980s, such as Escape From New York, Metal Storm and The Warriors.

"It's like everything's been thrown into the mix," Marshall (The Descent) said in an interview at Comic-Con International in San Diego on July 28. "The basic story is, in present day, a virus starts, ... a new virus that nobody knows of, ... in Scotland and starts to wipe out the population of Scotland. And, as a last resort, they basically quarantine the entire country."
Neil Marshall directed the excellently amusing Dog Soldiers, and the movie stars my personal favourite actor, Bob Hoskins. Definitely double plus for me.

Link: Doomsday official site.
Link: Marshall's Doomsday Recalls '80s Films on Sci Fi Wire.

Posted by Brother None - at 6:22

Here's an interesting one:

"Am I interested in continuing to work in the world?" is a question Next Gen poses, to which Levine answers "Yes, I am." The second question, if there is a popular demand for such work, is also answered in the positive by Levine. Though in truth he need not answer at all with the game's high scores and server-breaking sales.
Link: Director discusses Bioshock launch and where we go from here on Games Radar.

News for Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 22:23

In a new issue of Inside the Vault, the Bethesda Blog interviews Bethesda lead artist Josh Jones:

What’s your job at Bethesda?

Lead Character Artist. I split my time between meetings and animation work. I also work a great deal with character rigging and other technical aspects of character art production.

(...)

Ever play the Fallout games?

No.
Link: Inside the Vault - Josh Jones.

Posted by Brother None - at 19:36

Responding to our preview and the rather sneaky way in which we attained it, Bethesda's community manager Matt Grandstaff notes:

Pete called me on Friday (or maybe it was Thursday), and he suspected that someone at NMA had met with him based on questions he got, and reading the interview, you can definitely tell they're from Fallout fans.
(...)
Nope, no conspiracy [to keep Fallout fans out]. He was simply letting me know to be on the lookout for coverage from NMA on the game. We hadn't allowed fan sites access to the game, because we are only showing the game to gaming press at this time. Given that both of the guys got press access, they got to see the game.
(...)
[You're going to add it to the preview links on the official site?] I would say there's a bit of finagling in this case, wouldn't you? This was a press event after all...one that we couldn't even accommodate all the press that wanted to see the game.
I don't see how the NMA preview is just as valid as any other one, finagling or not.

Link: thread on BGSF.

Thanks Briosafreak.

News for Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 22:48


It's about time; under the nomer of supportive media companies (Gamernode (with some extra help from AtomicGamer) and MadShrimps), No Mutant Allowed's Brother None and SuAside went to the Game Conference in Leipzig, Germany to view the demo of Fallout 3, shown by Bethesda's Pete Hines there. Silencer, applying last in the name of NMA, was not permitted entry with no reason given.

The result?

A long 2-page step-by-step walkthrough of the entire demo, a conclusion page in which our intrepid reporters discuss what to like or dislike about various elements, final conclusions and as a bonus a 12-question Q&A with Pete Hines. Read it all on the following links:

Link: Fallout 3 preview.
Link: Fallout 3 QA.

Posted by Brother None - at 21:47

A rather enthusiastic, MMOG-angle at Fallout 3:

I came in with a few reservations about where the game could be headed, and I came out with the biggest grin on my face. The best way to describe Fallout 3 can be summed up in this way:

Fallout 3 is Oblivion on steroids. With nukes.

In a step away from Oblivion and Morrowind, Bethesda decided to make Fallout 3 an XP based game. Both those games, which were in the Elder Scrolls series of titles, featured advancement based upon use of skills rather than how many times a creature was killed or a quest was completed.

With Fallout 3, Bethesda wanted the game to remain fairly close to the standard system used in the other Fallout games, but they also determined that having a level based system was an opportune way for Fallout to differentiate from the Elder Scrolls games...
Link: Fallout 3 Preview from Leipzig GC ‘07 on Ten Ton Hammer.

Spotted on Gamebanshee.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:51

Reacting to the controversy his remarks on dialogue stirred, Fallout 3 lead designer Emil Pagiarulo posted:

Wow, I didn't realize the comments I made in that 1Up interview -- you know, about dialogue -- would cause such a stir! Mostly because I didn't realize I had chosen my words so poorly. Ugh.

I was specifically answering the question about whether or not dialogue affects the endgame. It doesn't -- not directly. The endgame itself doesn't change based upon things you may or may not have said in dialogue. The endgame is affected by your actions. So that's what I meant by, "We went back and forth with the impact of dialogue on the character, and ultimately decided we didn't want to penalize or reward the player for carrying on a conversation." And yeah, that was a pretty bad choice of words, because it seems like the things you say in dialogue don't matter -- and nothing could be further from the truth.

Believe me or not, but here's the reality of dialogue in Fallout 3: it does matter. It matters more than dialogue in one of our games has ever mattered. I feel really comfortable saying that, because one of my responsibilities is editing and directing all the dialogue that gets written, and one of my personal crusades is pushing the NPC interactions to be more meaningful. We approached that level in Oblivion -- now I really feel like we've truly reached it.

So yes, you do get to roleplay through dialogue: sometimes, how you say something is just as important (and enjoyable) as what you say. Yes, you can ask different NPCs different things, in different ways. Yes, a lot of times your skills and attributes (besides just Speech) will open up new dialogue options. And yes, what you say in dialogue will matter. Act like a wiseguy, and an NPC may attack you, or refuse to deal with you. Treat an NPC with respect, and maybe he'll be more willing to talk to you.

Of course, in the true spirit of Fallout -- in which the NPCs themselves have personalities -- it really depends on who you're dealing with. NPCs, like people, have their own quirks and preferences. Take a bold approach with the right NPC, and she may like you even more. Play the weakling with the wrong guy, and you may just tick him off. So, indirectly, dialogue affects the ending of the game in the sense that it can open or close quest paths, which in turn can lead the player to perform good or bad actions, which in turn determines the player's karma rating... which does factor into the endgame. I hope that clears things up a bit.

Overall, our goal with dialogue is to craft unique, meaningful interactions with the NPCs. We want the player to feel like he or she is having a conversation with a person -- not clicking on an information kiosk. Our designers have fully embraced that philosophy, and the game's dialogue reflects that. I really do think you'll be happily surprised when you play the game.
Link: post on BethSoft forum.

Thanks GammaRay and Briosafreak.

News for Sunday, August 26, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 15:06

It took them way, way too long, but S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has finally been patched to 1.0004. It has quite a list of fixes, too many to copy here. If you've got them game, I advise you to go and grab the patch.

Thanks Kukident.

News for Friday, August 24, 2007

Posted by Sander - at 20:06

1Up has released a new interview with Fallout 3's lead designer, Emil Pagliarulo.
The interview talks about a few new things, including some more detail about schematics and item construction:


In Fallout 3, the player will come across schematics for different custom-made weapons. These might be found in different places in the world, or obtained as quest rewards. Each set of schematics lets you build a certain, pre-determined weapon, as long as you've got all the components, and most of the components are junk objects you'll find in the world.

So, one weapon might require the brake assembly from an old motorcycle, and that's where you'll find it, near a destroyed motorcycle. Or maybe you need some surgical tubing, located in an abandoned hospital. Once you have the schematics and all the components, you can create the weapon, and your Repair skill dictates its condition.

Emil also talks about karma, and mentions that dialogue decisions will not impact the ending:
EP: We went back and forth with the impact of dialogue on the character, and ultimately decided we didn't want to penalize or reward the player for carrying on a conversation. What you say and how you say it will certainly affect how NPCs react to you, and whether or not they'll give you quests, but not the ending of the game. [That] really depends on some of the big decisions you make during the course of the game, as well as your karma. And your karma changes based on your actions. So [if] you destroy Megaton [a city built around a supposedly inert atomic bomb], your karma plummets, so that will certainly affect the ending. But there are other moments too, key moments during the game, that greatly determine which ending you get.


Link: 1Up interview with Emil Pagliarulo

Thanks, Briosafreak

Posted by Sander - at 18:58

Bethesda has released high-quality versions of four screenshots that were seen in several magazines before, but not released by themselves. The screenshots can be found in our gallery.


Links: Screenshot 1, screenshot 2, screenshot 3, screenshot 4
Screenshots at Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog
Thanks, Briosafreak

Posted by Sander - at 14:16

Gamestar.de has conducted a rather in-depth interview with Pete Hines. There's a very interesting response at about 3:15 in the video:

Gamestar.de:Can the Oblivion engine, which you are using, is it actually useful for turn-based combat, could it do it?

Pete Hines: I have no idea, 'cause we...I mean, it's just not something we ever seriously considered. You know, the Elder Scrolls isn't turn-based combat...and Fallout we just never really felt like that was a viable option. So at the end of the day we just felt like, if you're gonna do it in first-person, if you want it to be as immersive as possible, what kind of combat can we do that stays true to what Fallout presented in terms of tactical choice and being able to make decisions in combat and, you know, having that be really cool and memorable, but still do it in this immersive first- and third-person sort of over-the-shoulder perspective and that's ultimately what we went with.

Link: Gamestar.de interview with Pete Hines

Thanks Bunkermensch, Briosafreak and Sister Monk

Posted by Sander - at 13:54

Bethesda's Blog is featuring another "Inside The Vault" episode. This time, they interviewed environment artist Megan Sawyer.


What’s your job at Bethesda?

I’m an environment artist. I work on everything from houses tolandscape textures. In Oblivion, I made the houses of Cheydinhal, sculpted the landscape around the whole city, created the bridges and cattails, and made the Dark Brotherhood entry door. I also created the landscape textures and overall feel of the Blackwood swamp region. Currently on Fallout I’ve worked on a few buildings, an area for the main quest, a lot of clutter, and am now working on landscape.

At night I fight crime!

Link: Inside The Vault - Megan Sawyer.

News for Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 17:51

BioShock is now released in the USA, for those that missed it. But it's hit a few bumps.

Kotaku reports on widescreen problems, showing that rather than having the promised anamorphic widescreen, BioShock simply crops. Ken Levine replies:

Sorry about all the conflict. IG development people (specifically Chris and Rowan who are both on vacation) were trying to take a day off today (we've been working about six months 6-7 days a week). I'm trying to see what everybody's concerns are and consult with the staff.

I know people are frustrated, but we are dealing with internet time here. It wasn't until 7 pm EST that I was able to even talk to anybody in our Australian studio, which is open today (9 AM their time).

I hear you that not everybody was thrilled with the PC launch. And I'm trying to collect information and see what the facts are. PC game development does not function in a matter of seconds or hours, especially when most of the team is on vacation. But I hear you, and we're looking into the issue. I'll only ask you have a bit of understanding as to the time scale that software development issues must occur in.
Meanwhile, the PC demo is under heavy scrutiny individually, for overall high bug density. Gamernode reports:
So far users have listed problems ranging from, but not limited to:

* Muddy textures
* Missing video sequences for plasmid upgrades
* Zero floor textures (i.e. solid black floors...creepy)
* Demo crashing during load sequences
* Failing to launch altogether

I know that pleasing the hardcore fans is a thing that most developers take very seriously, but realistically, what was the point of this? Why release a bastardized version of your game to your fans a day before the official release?
Harsh. A slightly bumpy start, let's hope it clears up soon.

It certainly won't be the reviews making the ride bumpy. Metacritic aggregates BioShock's 360 reviews at 97/100 from 30 reviews (which is still the 360's highest above Oblivion/Gears of War 94/100), with the lowest reviews being 90/100 from Gamespot and MS XBox World. On the other side, exactly 50% (15) of the reviews score it a 100/100.

ADDENDUM: additionally, Sisay pointed us to a thread where the problems of BioShock's online registration are discussed, as it apparently only allows you to activate the game twice through the internet, and on the third install it'll block you. View the thread here.

In slightly better news, Gamebanshee reports that the people of the Widescreen Gaming Forum rushed to make a widescreen gaming patch, which should help PC gamers play this game in widescreen. A decent holdover until 2K games fixes the problems.

Posted by Brother None - at 15:41

With the GCDC (Developer's Conference) well underway, Gamernode uncovers an interesting panel with Don Daglow (Stormfront Studios), Mike Capps (Epic Games) and Julian Eggebrecgt (Factor 5):

The panelists were more than kind, offering numerous words of praise. Capps responded by saying that he loves the press and that they listen to games writers because, "the press knows games and they know what's going to sell."

Moving on to the hardcore users, Capps said, "We take their complaints seriously because we need to keep those guys happy because they're the ones who are going to sell it to another one and a half million users who aren't so hardcore."

Rounding out the discussion Eggebrecht brought it back to the press and was the next to offer his praise saying, "The press isn't the enemy. If anybody thinks the press is the enemy, that's stupid. These guys are usually as passionate, if not more so, than you you yourself are so work with them."
Link: Developers: "we absolutely love the press" on Gamernode

News for Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 15:37

After a 2-week hiatus, the Falloup Online webcomic is now back to updating, with another stylistic change. Be sure to visit and comment on its current format.

Posted by Brother None - at 3:34

To compliment the release of the demo, here's a few selected (it's impossible to cover all now) reviews of BioShock. Quote from the ever-reliable GamerNode:

I was a little worried at first, because the first hour or two of the game really gave no indication that BioShock is anything other than a good looking generic shooter. Just as I was wondering what would happen if I were the first person to give BioShock a non-awesome score, things picked up, and I knew I didn't have to worry any longer, and that I was in for a hell of a ride.

Unlike a lot of games, BioShock isn't successful because of the gameplay; it works because of the narrative and atmosphere. Judging the action and combat alone, it really isn't that great of a game. Sure, the plasmids (basically genetic weaponry you equip) are a lot of fun, and some of them are entertaining to use, but there's nothing too original, and most people will just stick with the basic few plasmids and weapons needed to get through most of the game. Much like Halo and Gears, what Bioshock does right isn't necessarily what it contains, but rather how it packages it all together better than anyone else.

The mix of the 1960s idea of sci-fi with retro environments which would fit in Fallout 3 add a lot of nice touches to the overall game. In a move I absolutely love, almost all of the story is gathered via audio recordings, or what's basically radio chatter (like MGS, but without the big screen). It's hard to explain, but there's just something fun about listening to a recording about how someone went crazy and killed/maimed/tortured/abandoned/mutated X amount of people in the room you're in. The lights flicker, you hear strange sounds and quickly spin around on full alert... It's just great.

Like I said, though, the combat and general gameplay really aren't anything you're going to go apeshit over. (Assuming you play a decent number of games, that is.) Most of the action is pretty basic stuff, and even the biggest enemies in the game require little strategic planning to beat, thanks to the fact that there's absolutely no penalty at all for dying other than a short walk back to where you fell.
AtomicGamer discussed downsides:
There are a couple of downsides to BioShock, but they're pretty minimal. One is that the mini-game for "hacking", 1950s-style, gets tiresome after dozens of attempts. The developers might have done well to mix it up with different mini-games when you hack different things. The other issue is that there's no multiplayer, but at the same time I doubt the somewhat popular belief that a game is always better with multiplayer than without. BioShock might actually be less liked if it shipped with sub-par multiplayer, and while the action does seem like it'd lend itself well to online play - either through competitive or cooperative modes - we do have to remember that this is a brand new franchise, something we don't see too often, so it was more important for the creators to make a damn solid game doing what they know best. An over-extension of their talents might have turned out worse.
(...)
Some will complain that it's not open enough, that you can't travel anywhere in Rapture at once and "do anything you like". But that phrase, to "do anything you like" in the context of a video game, is always a letdown to some extent or another. This is one place where I've got to take a stand and say that if BioShock were more like that, the game would have been entirely different, not nearly as engrossing as it is, and wouldn't have had the kind of unique narrative that we are getting. You do often retrace your steps throughout any given level, but I never found that the backtracking done was in any way boring or tedious.
Link: Game Chronicles review (100/100).
Link: Yahoo! Games review (100/100).
Link: Game Talk review (100/100).
Link: AtomicGamer review (96/100).
Link: GamerNode review (95/100).
Link: ActionTrip review (92/100).
Link: GameSpot review (90/100).

Posted by Brother None - at 2:44

After a handful of false starts over the last week, the BioShock PC demo has finally been officially released. It is strongly recommended you update your drivers before installing.

Link: NVidia BioShock Drivers.
Link ATI BioShock Drivers (Click BioShock).

Link: BioShock demo on 3ddownloads.
Link: BioShock demo on FileShack.
Link: BioShock demo on Fan Gaming.
Link: BioShock demo on FilePlanet.
Link: BioShock demo on Gamer's Hell.
Link: BioShock demo on WorthPlaying.

Posted by Brother None - at 0:23

From Worthplaying:

Edge of Twilight is a third-person action adventure game developed for the PC and Xbox 360 platforms presenting a unique post-apocalyptic, steampunk fantasy world that has been split into separate realms of Day and Night. Take the role of Lex, an outcast bounty hunter who finds himself caught amidst the clash of two polar opposite civilizations, the industrial Atherns and the spiritual Literhn, the result of impetuous greed for a solitary source of energy.

Lex is the only living halfbreed in the world, rejected by society and burdened with the unique ability to venture through the two parallel realms. Ironically, that society will soon learn that his halfbreed heritage is the last chance their world has to escape complete darkness. During his journey, Lex will become part of an increasingly complex and enthralling storyline, that will blur the line between good and evil, right and wrong. A story of wildly interesting characters, over-the-top action, and deep, ornate mysteries set within a universe where anything is possible.

Features :

* An immersive post-apocalyptic world that combines both steampunk and alternative fantasy elements.
* A new brand of fast-paced cinematic combat and action that adapts depending on the character's persona and the player's reactions.
* A world divided into the realms of Day and Night; an antihero torn between two personas, each possessing its own distinct abilities.
* A unique, twisting, and captivating storyline that dynamically alters based on the player's level of involvement.
* A living, breathing world populated by an interesting and wildly different cast of characters.

Travel through the two parallel realms drawing on mystic powers and swift agility in the dark realm of eternal night; colossal machines and brutal strength in the scorched realm of eternal daylight. Uncover the dark secrets and ornate mysteries that shroud the fractured world of Hellayem.
Link: Edge of Twilight website.

Thanks slamelov.

News for Sunday, August 19, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 5:48

This is slightly unusual, but worthy of frontpage mention because we don't want to leave this unresolved:

In case you didn’t hear, there was a settlement with Interplay/Herve. Checks have already been issued for back pay / penalties / vacation pay. Some of the checks issued have been returned to sender as the forwarding address has expired. If you are on the list ( or know anyone on the list), please have them contact David Berman at dberman-interplay.com so that they can collect what is theirs.

If they do not notify Dave Berman, the check will revert back into Herve’s account.
Make a mad rush, whoever you remaining creditors are. You deserve your money back.

Thanks Briosafreak!

News for Saturday, August 18, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 20:42

Tim Willits, lead designer of Rage, and Todd Hollenshead, id CEO, talk about Rage to Shacknews, on more than one subject:

Shack: Rage arguably combines more divergent gameplay elements than any new id property since Wolfenstein. Some of the post-apocalyptic setting influences are obvious, but did you have any influences from the gameplay side there?

Tim Willits: Rage's foundation, definitely, is first person shooter, because that's what we do best. But we wanted to change what people expect from an id first person shooter. All our IPs offer something different--Doom is a dark and spooky corridor shooter, but this has larger environments, outdoor environments. In the game, I went through and wanted to do all the fun things in other games. I've always loved the settings of the post-apocalyptic worlds--Fallout, Road Warrior. I can talk about the setting later.

There's obviously the first person shooting, then there are the driving games that are more arcadey. For me, I'm not a big Ridge Racer fan. The driving isn't going to be like that, it's going to be more like MotorStorm, more like Burnout. I really want people, when they play the game, to say, "You know, it wasn't what I expected from id, but I had a great time doing it."

As far as the more open world, it's nonlinear but still story-driven. It has adventure elements, but I hate to say adventure because then people think of Monkey Island, and it's not an RPG. I wish there was some word in between RPG and adventure, where you have an inventory. You'll be able to drive around the wasteland and get out wherever you want. If you see a cave, you can explore it. You might meet a band of mutants. Now, when you're in an actual circuit of a race, we make it so you can't get out--but you could, technically, get out. We don't change the technology.

It just gives us a chance to make a game that has all the fun things we like to play. So far, it's been a heck of a lot of fun. We have these things called Rage Cups. They're like milestones. We have these competitions--Time Rage Cup, First Person Rage Cup, combat stuff. We have a day where everybody competes, and whoever wins gets the Rage Cup until the next milestone.

(...)

Shack: You mentioned you could talk about the setting a bit.

Tim Willits: Oh, yeah. That's important to mention. It's set in a post-apocalyptic world. I know there are many games like that, but the reason we picked that was this: it grounds the game in kind of a modern setting, slightly in the future, and it helps players identify with what's going on, but it gives us the freedom to add some of the fantasy elements. You know how we like the fantasy elements. When those fantasy elements appear, they're larger than life, whereas in Doom it's pretty much all fantasy.

Then I've always loved that Road Warrior stuff, because the lines between good and evil, right and wrong get skewed as people try to rebuild society. It gives us a fun setting. It's funny, there are a number of games coming out in the near future with nuclear war, or Earth is striked by a comet. We were joking at work, "Man, Earth gets beat up in the next few years." [laughs] But it does give freedom to be a little more creative.

(...)

Shack: People who have followed PC gaming for a long time are often familiar with stories of early id design documents incorporating all sorts of gameplay elements that ended up being pared away in favor of the core, intense FPS stuff that id is known for. Are there any connections or parallels between those efforts and Rage?

Tim Willits: You know, Romero did some crazy interviews long ago about the game design documents. I mean, I've been with the company for a long time, as you know, and there's always stuff--as any developer would tell you--in the initial game design. If you shoot for the stratosphere, you still end up really high. Nobody ever--and if they tell you they do, they're lying--nobody ever gets every feature they planned in.

It really hasn't been that out of control for us. I think historically, if you're referring to the Romero days, that might have been him being, uh...you know what I mean? [laughs]
Link: ShackNews interview.
Link: Rage screenshots.
Link: Rage video footage.

Spotted on DaC.

Posted by Brother None - at 16:50

The Beta-01 of the Fallout mod for Hearts of Iron 2 (originally announced in April 2006) is out:

The mod is well on track to becoming a very polished and complete science fiction conversion for HOI2DD:A. In fact, even though this release is a Beta, it is very playable and already has a huge amount of custom content.

Key Features
- A complete new, sci-fi setting based on the Fallout role playing computer games.
- Complete new tech tree. Much of it with new graphics.
- Completely new interface. This includes all tech screens, load screens, main interface, new terrain and battle graphics, and custom skins for many nations. (Remaining nations will have custom skins added in Beta-02).
- Lots of fun event chains and random events.
- Four new races: Humans, Ghouls, Mutants, Robots, each with its own advantages, techs, units and disadvantages.
- Every nation is customised and playable.
- Completely new units and brigades with unique stats and graphics: land, sea and air.
- New graphics for all Land and Sea units. (Air units will have new graphics in Beta-02).
- New economic and province control model suiting the Post Apocalyptic background.
- Player welcome events explaining the game background, and further player welcome events for each playable nation.
- Custom AI. (This will be further refined in future releases.)
- Plenty of humorous pop culture references in the same light hearted spirit as the original games.
- New in-game sounds (used without permission, I am waiting for a reply to my PM to the creator).
Link: HoI 2 Fallout mod.
Link: HoI 2 Fallout mod forum.

Posted by Brother None - at 13:07

We continue our streak of Russian previews of Fallout 3. This one, the "Страна Игр" of august 2007, talks about the fandom, the special status of Fallout among Russian gamers and gamemakers, the limitations of old technology for the originals, describes the demo, and:

But without the Brotherhood the matter can not be resolved. Along the way to the point of rendezvous with the customer of nuclear terror, the hero falls into the epicentre of his followers with an army of mutants. It could not possibly be narrower here: you're either with the Brotherhood, or into the grave. The final struggle for you is a duel with the gigantic monster, to which there is only one way. We find in our hands a strange device next to the corpse of a soldier, we consider, that is - not RPG, but indeed it is a real nuclear catapult.

(...)

We did not restrain ourselves and posed the question to the producer, that for us supplements the violence: "What about the murder of children, the usage of drugs and the ability to make sex for money?" Todd Howard understandingly nodded his head and answered: "Alas, we can allow ourselves none of this. We do not wish to repeat the history with Manhunt 2, cruelty, blood - this yes, this is all plotted into the framework of a Mature rating. Everything else is not. To kill mutants and adult people is possible, but not children. Of course, we also have stimulators, which temporarily raise characteristics, but we do not intend to relate the history of harm and benefits of addiction (...)".

(...)

In the game it is possible to tune your Pip-Boy to the frequency of the radio station of the Enclave, which has long ago been destroyed by the hero the previous part. How is that possible? "We won't say," answer the developers. Will there be a dog in the game? A "good idea!" Is the dog a robot? "Remarkable idea. Emil, write that down!" Possibly, in a year of such negotiations with the press Fallout 3 will turn unrecognisably? That we will see on E3 2008.
Link: Gameland website

News for Friday, August 17, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 17:27

Our old friend Will Porter's preview of Fallout 3 is finally online:

I'm talking about the little things. Within the Vault 101 itself even ventilation shafts, previously a smattering of pixels high that said 'rattle rattle rattle' when you fiddled them, give an almost uncanny sensation of déjà vu.

The same is true top-side as you enter the town of Megaton and a wary local sheriff warns you not to misbehave (as they always would back in the day before you did misbehave); or stand outside the Washington DC HQ of Galaxy News and see the globe that previously spun in intro scenes of previous Fallouts rendered as a glorious 3D statue. Much time has passed, but the whole damn thing just reeks of Fallout. Whoever thought there could be quite so many shades of brown?

(...)

"That is one big gun!" half-shouts the idiot German journalist who's been sitting next to me as he desperately tries to impress our hosts. I shake my head. He'll never get a medal for being special, not like me.

"That is NOT a gun," affirms Todd Howard from his control platform, as I cross my legs, purse my lips and sashay my lower back and shoulders in the fool's direction. It's actually a gigantic metal key, hanging from the rafters - as any fule kno. It's just waiting for you to hack into the computer system to see it plunge into that beautiful cog door and let in some fresh air to the accompanied screams of Vault dwellers: "He's opening the door! Someone call the Overseer!"

Then it's a brief clamber over long-dropped placards reading, 'Let us in you fuckers!', and a brief ascent into daylight. Now, if we were playing the original games at this point there'd be a half-hour battle with 25 angry rats - so even the most fervent of interweb FO3 naysayers will have to admit that an element of progress has been made...

(...)

Any caveats so far? Well, I'm a huge Fallout fan. You don't really get much bigger. (Well, you do but I guess I'm the smiling face of an unhappy bunch - one far less susceptible to throwing furniture at the walls or squatting atop my swivel chair, holding my knees, hopping up and down and hooting balefully at the internet.) I was just slightly concerned by the emphasis on spectacle and high-intensity action on show at my sneak-peek's climax - namely picking up a Fatboy missile launcher and firing miniature nukes at a goliath super-mutant behemoth.

Now, I'm just as aroused at the thought of running through a wrecked Washington DC with the famed Brotherhood of Steel as the next man - but for me, Fallout should be more subtle, almost like a cinematic Western in its approach. Games developers often throw in as much eye candy as humanly possible into their early presentations because they assume games journalists are stupid and only respond to the loudest and most blatant stimuli. And I honestly hope that this is the case here and that, as it was in the earlier games, the absolutely stupid big guns only come out in the end-game.
Link: PC Zone Fallout 3 preview.

Spotted on RPGWatch.

Posted by Brother None - at 16:41

Couldn't resists, as Bioshock is still breaking all the records (all XBox 360 reviews):

Taken as a whole, as an experience that's richly and utterly complete, and one that engages the player in a constant dialogue, BioShock is virtually unassailable. And that makes you feel good. - 1up

There is art here, despite what many would say isn't possible with games, from Roger Ebert to game designers like Hideo Kojima...BioShock stands as a monolithic example of the convergence of entertaining gameplay and an irresistibly sinister, engrossing storyline that encompasses a host of multifaceted characters. This is an essential gaming experience. - IGN

Bioshock leaves you to figure things out for yourself. It's a gruelling game of resource management, and as the ammunition dries up, you end up having to improvise. And more often than not, Bioshock will reward you heavily for thinking outside the box. - TeamXbox.
Link: 1up review (100/100).
Link: Gamespy review (100/100).
Link: Gamepro review (100/100).
Link: Console Gameworld review (99/100).
Link: IGN review (97/100).
Link: Team Xbox review (95/100).
Link: Xbox World 360 Magazine UK review (94/100).

Metacritic aggregates at 98/100 right now, which is the XBox 360 record with some margin over Gears of War and Oblivion (both 94/100). We'll see how it holds up.

In other words, 2K Boston updated the Bioshock site to "version 3.0", the final iteration, with a heap of new videos. They also put up the final Q&A with Ken Levine for this game.

Posted by Brother None - at 16:06

Fallout 3 has been confirmed at RPGVault to be at the GC in Leipzig, Germany (Europe's E3). Pete Hines:

I'll be going to Leipzig to show off the Fallout 3 demo to press folks in Europe that didn't get to come and see it at E3. Our setup is pretty much the same as there - small theater, couple demos a day, etc.

I hope to take some time to walk around during the show, but giving a really long demo four or five times a day for three days, with people asking lots of questions in between sessions, tends to get really tiring after a while. I went to Leipzig last year to show off Oblivion PS3 to some folks, and really didn't get to see much of anything, so I'm hoping for a bit more walking around time than before.
Bill Roper will also be there for Hellgate. Expect a lot of non-English reviews after the Game Conference, we will try to cover and translate it at NMA via our international sites, as best we can.

Link: RPGVault Developers at Games Conference 2007 - Part 1.

Spotted on RPGWatch.

Posted by Brother None - at 16:01

Emil Pagiarulo:

There are some people who say that making an 18-rated game, and especially making a Fallout one, should be about sleeping with the hooker, then waking up with the venereal disease. A lot of that stuff personally, to me, veers into being a 12-year old dungeon master.

Some of it feels right and some of it feels wrong. We're appealing to an adult audience and it's a tough call. I mean, once you have groin shots you're approaching a level of silliness that, if you're not careful, can pervade the whole game.
Link: Fallout 3 Trying To Avoid Silliness on Kotaku.

Spotted on Fallout 3 APNB.

Posted by Silencer - at 4:15

The Wasted team announced some changes to their project - transitioning from AISL to Squirrel script language as well as completing a dialogue editor, and have posted some screenies:




So far there's no GUI, but you can walk freely across the map, search and loot.

Link: www.wasted.pl

Spotted at www.postapocalyptic.net

Posted by Silencer - at 1:31

Karel dropped us a hint that a small location doc has been released for Fallout: Between Good and Evil. It briefly goes over some of the locations, among them Boulder City, The Cinders, Geckon Falls, Chewelah, and Backwoods, where I reckon life is about to change. Also, the website has some new artwork.

Link: BGE Location Doc @ our downloads

News for Thursday, August 16, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 23:06

This issue of Inside the Vault brings us Brendan Anthony, Bethesda's handyman-type fix-all programmer:

Ever play the Fallout games?

I knew this day would come! No, the truth is I haven’t played them. It’s not quite as important that programmers play the previous games as it is that artists and designers do so, but I’ll tell you what, I hereby resolve to play Fallout 1. And I won’t even cheat on this resolution like I did with my New Year’s promise to stop killing hobos.

What is your favorite type of game to play?

Thief, Deus Ex, and System Shock 2- the so called “immersive -sim” canon. For my money, these games do so many things right where so many others go wrong that it’s hard for me to play games these days without making negative comparisons to this lineage.

There are a lot of factors that make a game fun for me: Player freedom and agency, mature writing and art design, and clean integrated design patterns are all personal touchstones. But one factor that can differentiate the great from the merely good is a clear vision backed up by strong direction. I’d much rather play a focused, polished game that sticks to a small number of ideas than a game that has features thrown in seemingly just because other games have them, or (God forbid) as filler material. Shadow of The Colossus rocked!

I was always a huge fan of the Elder Scrolls series, clearly, but my favorite game of all time would have to be The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I have a Hyrule/Trifoce tattoo on my arm to commemorate the way the first Zelda consumed my childhood imagination. Plus, Link to the Past: so much better than Ocarina of Time! Yeah, I went there!
Link: Inside the Vault - Brendan Anthony

Posted by Brother None - at 18:49

We won't cover BioShock's grades intensely because it looks to be another lovefest a la Oblivion or Black & White, but for our reader's orientation, here's a grab from the barrel, from Games Radar:

The choice that really is emotionally affecting comes before this. Do you kill the Big Daddy? You’re usually desperate for Adam, but these gentle giants are the only things in the game that mean you no harm. Once you’ve watched them hammer a few Splicers, you develop a real fondness for the big guys, and their death is far more disturbing than the mysterious vanishing act a harvested Little Sister pulls. Their tiny charge patters barefoot over to the enormous dead hulk, wailing and sobbing. “Mr Bubbles!” she cries, “Please get up! Please!”

BioShock’s main plot isn’t about the Little Sisters, but it does have a sequence that gave us a Schindler’s List pang of guilt for killing them all (we needed the Adam). And Schindler’s List isn’t a cultural touchstone that comes up a lot when talking about games. There’s a richness to BioShock’s fiction, a conflicted complexity to its characters, and a humanity in its themes that we’re wholly unaccustomed to in gaming.

But it is uniquely a game: its most powerful moments play directly on the conceits of gaming itself. Where others try to contort film scripts around interactive shooters, BioShock uses violence as a bloody foundation for its real stories. While the relentless onslaught of the murderously insane continually rams home the horrific nature of what Rapture has become, two other threads tell the story of its past and future.
(...)
This is the really bewildering thing about it: it succeeds so stunningly on three different fronts. Not esoteric ones, either, these are the big challenges developers have been struggling to master for decades: narrative, emergence, a sense of place. If another game did just one of these as well as BioShock, it would immediately qualify as a classic. When a game comes along that does all three, we can only be baffled and thankful.
Link: PC Gamer review (10/10) (also available here, where the score is 9.5/10).
Link: GameInformer review (10/10).
Link: Eurogamer review (10/10).
Link: Official XBox Magazine (10/10).

Thanks Vaultkeeper and RPGWatch.

Posted by Brother None - at 14:15

And we continue:

When the third part of the cult post-apocalyptic RPG was announced, lovers of the first two Fallouts literally covered our unhappy office with angry letters and forum petitions. They feared primitive quests, monotonous dialogues, black and white gameworld and such standard fanatics-stuff. Honoured Fallout Boys: stuff it. You have not seen what we've seen.
It continuous to describe the start of the game, in which he notes talents (innate fist fighter? Charismatic seducer? Lucky fellow?). It notes you can not become jack-of-all-trades, like in Oblivion, and can specialize only in energy weapons or in heavy or in HtH combat. It describes part of the game we've seen (combat, Megaton).
In the next room you find the computer, which can be hacked, if you have the hacker skill. You break in - and you wake to life the robot guard, who will battle with the mutants instead of you. Moving by servomotors it slider along the ancient route, which was once intended for the protection of underground trains. Seeing the super-mutants - it carries on its head a label noting "to preserve order" of the long since quiet metro. "The bloodier, the funnier," giggles Todd, and we must agree. It more ridiculous, certainly, the contrast of the insinuation of the voice of the robot and of its multi-barrelled gun.

For the spirit of Fallout in the third part we can rest easy. As for the setting, combat and characters...Maybe the future is grim, post-apocalyptic desert, but nevertheless, we await it with great anticipation.
Link: ru.NMA newspost.
Link: PC Gamer RU website.

Posted by Brother None - at 0:12

After years of toil, Mutants Rising is at the point where they're releasing a demo of their major Fallout conversion mod:

Smart Installer
The smart installer will install the mod for you along with the FO2 patcher and a separate config file for MR, this will allow you to play Mutants Rising without effecting your existing FO2 install (though the installer will automatically remove the patch000.dat file). The FO2 patcher only supports the US and UK versions of Fallout so I don't know what will happen for the rest of you.

Data Folder
The is nothing but the raw data folder. If the Smart Installer does not work then just extract this into your Fallout2 folder like any other mod.

Err also you might want to excuse the dodgy voice overs for the movies, I haven't got around to redoing them with Demostrikes recordings so they are currently my placeholder recordings
Link: brand new Mutants Rising forum on NMA.
Link: Mutants Rising demo quick installer NMA mirror.

News for Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 21:30

A while ago a number of NMA forum users decided to give a go to building a True Sequel to the Fallout games on the FIFE engine, out of disappointment with Bethesda (as mentioned at InsideGamer). They've been making steady progress. Bunkermensch informs us:

We are currently building a techdemo and some dev tools, which will be done in near future.
With finishing that milestone, the actual work on the game could begin.

Part of this milestone is a first techdemo which includes a Vault Dweller running through a wood.

So we can use some people who have knowledge about Fallout , who are 2D/3D artists or can write stories or just want to contribute ideas. Java specialists are welcome too.

We could need a new Vault Dweller, be creative and contribute concept art and develop it to animation-sprites. You would directly contribute to the techdemo and thus to the later game. Furthermore we could use environmental sprites, like trees, walls and similar.

We also need a storyline done by Fallout geeks. Work out ideas for a Fallout Sequel, that can be fun really!
Link: True Sequel site.

Posted by Brother None - at 20:59

Shortly after Game Informer revealed this month's cover story is Gearbox's upcoming Borderlands, Shacknews reveals details of the game:

It appears a road warrior influence is in the air; just days after id Software announced Rage, Brothers in Arms developer Gearbox Software has revealed Borderlands, which a Game Informer cover story describes as "Diablo meets Mad Max."

Borderlands, in development for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, is a science fiction RPG/FPS hybrid, with support for up to four cooperative players online. Vehicles are likely to be significantly involved. Few further details are currently available, with Game Informer promoting a Borderlands cover story in its September issue and an official announcement likely coming soon.

Update: Gearbox president Randy Pitchford has emailed Shacknews with confirmation of the game announcement. "We are really excited to finally reveal the game since it's been in top-secret production at Gearbox for so long and because of the unbelievable things the team has accomplished with the game play engineering that will push the genre so far forward," he wrote. "Perhaps I'll stop by the Shacknews forums later today and post a few things and maybe answer a few questions..."
It is unclear if the setting is strictly post-apocalyptic. If it is, what a wave of PA games we're getting soon.

Link: Gearbox's Four-Player Co-Op Sci-Fi Shooter on Shacknews.
Link: Game Informer cover.

Thanks Mungrul and slamelov.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:27

This popped up on flickr:

This set includes a scan of a brochure from the Kelsey-Hayes Company, Detroit, MI for their pre-fabricated fallout shelters, circa 1963.

The remaining photos are scans of a Life Magazine feature called "Fallout Shelters" from a September 1961 issue. The scanner was not large enough to accommodate the full-sized pages, so I scanned them in parts and arranged them in order as best as possible.
Link: Duck and Cover! on Flickr.

Thanks Ausir.

Posted by Brother None - at 3:14

Russian magazine Игромания (Game mania) has a preview of Fallout 3 up. It's worth it for this paragraph alone:

There is even the opinion that Fallout is a cult - this is especially a Russian phenomenon, the game allegedly passed fairly weakly in the West and not as if it were for anyone a revelation.
I bow to Russia's power. Moving forwards, it notes Fallout 3 seems to be different than the previous games in topical quests and emphasis on mainquest, and the author notes he feels Bethesda is making a mistake trying to please everyone, with both 1st person and 3rd person. He notes such topics as supermutants and the BoS on the east coast are being discussed actively, ending with:
Bethesda, credit where credit's due, takes its responsibilities. Every developer on the planet would like to make Fallout 3, but the brand is, perhaps, in good and caring hands. It seems, it will be possible to sleep well at night.
Our Russian newsie liberty rogue notes the article is well-written, and that it refers to NMA, DaC and the Vault (but not the official sites).

Link: Игромания site.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:56

In Interplay's latest 10-Q filing, it is noted that Interplay has had a good quarter, due entirely to the sale of the Fallout license, for which Interplay has been paid 4,000,000 USD, and is yet to receive 1,750,000 USD in Q4 2007. And not due to any sales, which are down 34% and 94% for PC Games and console games respectively, producing a total revenue of 62,000 USD. In this situation, with a total of $4.8 milion dollar in liabilities (of which Herve Caen describes "less than $3 million" as debt ($2.9 million according to the SEC filing). The 10-Q notes Interplay is still under litigations for outstanding debts to Bioware and an artist named Michael Sigel for "unauthorized use of image"), Interplay is "will only be sufficient to fund our anticipated expenditures through the end of the third quarter of 2008."

Still the future is rosy:

Said Interplay chairman and CEO Herve Caen, "I am pleased with the progress the company has made, particularly with our debt load, which has improved from $59 million in December 2001 to less than $3 million today. With that difficult period behind us, we are focused on securing funding for development of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) based on the popular Fallout franchise. Along with our strategy of leveraging our existing portfolio of intellectual gaming properties, Fallout Online will play a key role in the future of Interplay."
Link: Interplay 10-Q filing.
Link: Interplay Shows Windfall Q2 Profits On Fallout IP Sale on Gamastura.

Thanks Briosafreak.

News for Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 18:21

From Bethesda's blog:

So we’ve let the journalists do the talking through their articles, but now we’d like to field some of your questions. That’s right, Todd and Co. are going to be willing to talk about more than Batman and their favorite color. If you’ve got something you’re dying to know about Fallout 3, take your suggestion to the forums here. If you want to send them directly to us via the blog, that’s fine too.
Link: Get Your Questions Ready! on BethBlog

Posted by Brother None - at 17:58

From Cult of Rapture:

Way back when I was creating the BioShock Limited Edition, I took a poll for what you guys wanted to see in the box. And while we managed to put your top 3 choices in – the Making of DVD, Sountrack CD, and Big Daddy Figurine, we just couldn’t manage a BioShock artbook.

But with a game as beautiful as BioShock, that just didn’t sit right with me. Because everyone should be able to experience the beauty of BioShock, see the concept art and visualize the evolution of building such a revolutionary game.

So, with the help of the BioShock team and an amazing art designer, I put together a BioShock artbook for everyone to download. Here it is, in all its glory, in two PDF versions: a smaller, ebook download, and a more hi-resolution version that you can take to your local printshop and bind.

The one thing I’d recommend is skipping over Ken’s foreword until after you’ve played the game, as it holds some spoilers you might want to keep secret your first playthrough is complete.
Link: Download Bioshock: Breaking The Mold.

Spotted on RPGWatch.

Posted by Per - at 14:22

Ladonna of RPG Codex has transcribed a Fallout 3 preview/interview from the September issue of Australian magazine PC PowerPlay. There is a lot we recognize from other newsbits lately - they're really making it feel like a Fallout game, Fallout's notable technical achievement was lip-syncing, Fallout is violence. They go into some detail about the new combat system:

Because Fallout 3 has made the jump to 3D, combat now has the opportunity to be far more action oriented. In fact, elements of the combat will be much as you find them in any shooter: just point the gun and press the fire button.

Naturally this causes alarm to Fallout diehards, since the original games had turn-based tactical combat systems. The good news is that Fallout 3 does too, and it's called VATS -- the VaulTec Assisted Targeting System.

It's needed because the real-time combat is affected heavily by the player's own stats. You can whip out the old shotgun and hew away, but if your stats aren't up to the task, likely as not you'll miss a challenging opponent.
There is a suggestion that Action Points recharge very slowly, even out of combat, as it is said you may not want to use them on weak creatures even with a lack of other targets, as you might run into something tougher later on.
VATS sounds great, but here's the question. If the engine is capable of real-time combat, why not just make Fallout 3 a shooter? Why implement VATS at all? Similarly, why not just stick to a turn-based combat system like the originals, if Bethesda is so careful to maintain the spirit of the first game?

"Basically this is the most fun way to play," Howard says simply. "It makes your character choices more meaningful and it strikes a balance between twitch gameplay and the slow pace of a turn-based system."

...

According to Bethesda, the core storyline will last roughly 20 hours (And will end the game) although side quests should flesh that out to around 40. Some actions, like blowing up a city, will eliminate quest lines while opening others, and Bethesda is promising between nine and 12 different endings to reflect your deeds throughout the game.
Also included are transcriptions of the article's sidebars, for which you'll have to scroll down a bit.

Linky: Transcription post at the Codex

Posted by Brother None - at 1:17

PC Gamer Russia and Best Computer Games have previewed Fallout 3. The Russian site Fallout Archives transcribed the entire BCG article. 13pm provides us with snippets:

Combat - that's where you can use bottle caps. They can be used in a very special way. Follow me: take a lunchbox, add some explosives and some bottle caps on top. A handmade bomb with additional damage elements is done.
<...>
Besides explosive lunchboxes there're many things that are also frightening: portable catapult firing mini-nukes. Or another weapon - some kind of a toaster firing everything...
<...>
Kalashnikov guns and chinese guns won't be forgotten. Supermutants mostly will be equipped with the latter.
<...>
(about gameplay time) Yeah, we heard it right - twenty hours instead of two hundred. So this is, strictly saying, a couple of evenings. Couple of battles. Where's the roleplaying here?
<...>
Tough desicion-making is a very unusual thing for those who are fond of Elder Scrolls series (and for the developers of the series as well, probably).
<...>
No, you shouldn't be worried about the game. Even the perspective to recieve 'Oblivion with guns' is not so frightening as some purists may think. But I think 'Elder Scrolls: Fallout' is not what they are doing: developers understand what we love the series for <...> They know the right direction to move and incline to return us the good old Fallout.
Link: BCG on Fallout Archives.
Link: cover of BCG. Note the art used is fanart by Defonten, not Bethesda.

Thanks 13pm and Angry Russian User.

News for Friday, August 10, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 17:28

Apart from referring to VATS as turn-based:

If you asked me what the ultimate RPG looked like, I'd probably put two requirements at the top of my list: a world like Oblivion, and the character system of Fallout.

Welcome to Fallout 3.

After what seemed like years of secrecy, Bethesda finally treated us to a look at Fallout 3 at E3 2007. And speaking as a long time fan of the series, I am psyched.

(...)

There aren't quite as many quests as there are in Oblivion, but Bethesda says you will have lots to do. You can talk to the residents you encounter with a multiple choice menu system, similar to classic Fallout (not like Oblivion's). There are also lots of little activities and brief Fedex-style missions that don't register as formal sidequests, but you can pursue them if you want. When you do a get formal sidequest, the game no longer interrupts you. Remember how a window explaining the quest would pop in Oblivion? Now, the title of the quest fades up and out on the screen without pausing the game.
Link: Electric Playground Fallout 3 preview.

Spotted on the official Fallout 3 site.

News for Thursday, August 9, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 21:00

Lich has transformed his bemusing Fallout 2 comic Dangerous Quest! in a parody-mod of the same name:

This mod contains:
-50 scripts
-almost 40 NPC and many quests (one big quest)
-3 changed maps in Arroyo
-1 changed map of Klamath
-empty worldmap (available to play only two modified towns)
Now updated to v1.6, it'll no doubt be filled with Lich's always amusing take on the English language.

Link: Dangerous Quest! mod.

Posted by Brother None - at 19:17

Probably winning a price for the most unhyped going gold in the past 10 years, Bioshock seems to have gone gold in hiding:

BioShock has already gone gold. How have you celebrated this milestone in the past, and how did you celebrate this milestone for BioShock?

We just had a team party in Boston, and then we have a event on the launch night on August 20th, which we’re inviting lots of people to, including members of the BioShock fan community. I'm actually looking forward to that, because launches are usually such abstract things. You wake up launch morning and it’s like, "Hey, our game has, umm, shipped to retail!" It’s not exactly like headlining at Madison Square Garden.
Street dates are (I assume still) August 21 for NA and August 24 for Europe.

Link: Level Up interview with Ken Levine.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:04

According to Hellgate Guru, the Collector's Edition of HG:L will contains:

  • Special Packaging and Art Design
  • Hellgate: London Game 2 DVDs
  • Bonus Disc containing:
    - “Making of Hellgate: London”
    - Official Game Soundtrack
  • Hellgate: London Map Poster
  • 106 page Dark Horse Graphic Novel
  • Unique in-game pet – Mantawraith
Mantawraith is the next zebragiraffe.

News for Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Posted by Tannhauser - at 20:03

The Bethesda Blog has a new Inside the Vault feature, this time focusing on Grant Struthers, an artist.

What is it like working there?
Dark.

No, seriously, we are completely underground and we have no windows. We all look like cave salamanders. As for the company itself, Bethesda is composed of an excellent team with a terrible habit of building insanely huge games. Everyone works very hard and very well together, but we also tend to get spread quite thin, so it is sometime difficult to keep track of who is doing what. Regardless, everyone is always open and available. Anyone can go directly to anyone else (even Todd) and get the answers they need when they need them. Idea sharing is also encouraged. Just about anyone in the company can bring something to the table and have it at least considered. I think this kind of openness is one of the things I like most about working here.

We are also our own publisher, so while we still occasionally have insane deadlines, they are self inflicted, which makes them better… sort of.
Link: Inside the Vault: Grant Struthers

Posted by Brother None - at 2:36

Desslock has finally returned to his "5 points Fallout 3 has to get right" that he originally stated in late 2006. The grades, plus snips, with the big disclaimer that he grades whether or not they appear in the game, not how well done they are (because he doesn't know yet):

1) Get the combat system right.
(...)
I still have reservations about the combat system. Bethesda wasn't ready to demonstrate melee combat, an important part of a game stocked with sledgehammer-toting super-mutants: hopefully, combat that doesn't use VATS won't just feel like Oblivion's sword battles. You can lob mini-tactical nukes at enemies, which could generate a lot of destructive fun, but hopefully, they'll be sufficiently rare and only used at long range, or battles will devolve into absurd parodies. Still, I'm cautiously optimistic.
Grade: B-

2) Don't use Oblivion's difficulty scaling
(...)
Grade: A-

3) Keep it dark and violent
There's a Blood Mess perk and plenty o' graphic violence, along with slavers and suggestions of other adult-themed content, but there won't be any killable children or the ability to demote your wife into whoredom. Given current legal attitudes toward games, I think we're getting as much as we could reasonably expect here, but I still feel the world will come across as less grim and more sanitized than I'd like in a Fallout game.
Violence grade: A+; Dark/Adult content: C-

4) Ensure we can create unique characters
(...)
Grade: B

5) Create your own vision
(...)
Grade: B+
He adds in an image subscript:
Smacking rats in the groin may have been a somewhat nonsensical quirk in the original Fallout games, but it was a fun nonsensical quirk. Screw realism - it was one of the distinctive features of Fallout that I'll miss.
Thanks Stag.

Posted by Silencer - at 2:12

Electronic Arts announced the release of Hellgate London for October 31st in the U.S., and two days later for Europe. This means that you will be able to explore the tunnels and surface of a destroyed city in an action RPG with strong FPS influences - still this fall.

Link: Hellgate London

Spotted at Poltergeist

News for Monday, August 6, 2007

Posted by Silencer - at 23:13

We've installed a number of new language packs to our forum; Those are, in alphabetical order, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portugese, Romanian, Russian and Swedish . Hopefully this will make some of you a bit more comfortable. Set your preferred language in your User Profiles.

Of course, this is for your convenience only; The main language of No Mutants Allowed will still be English, other languages are only permitted in the specific News Comments fora (Polish, German and French)

So, dobrodošlica, god morgen, goedemorgen, hyvää huomenta, bonjour, guten Morgen, jó reggelt, godmorn, dzien dobry, bom dia, bunã dimineata, добрый день, god morgon. The choice of those is based on our number of readers from the respective countries, so if your language is missing - let me know, tell your friends and relatives to come here, and send us a link to your phpbb language pack ;)

Posted by Tannhauser - at 19:19

The latest episode of the Official XBox Magazine podcast features a lengthy interview with Fallout 3 executive producer Todd Howard. The Fallout section of the interview, while not revealing all that much new information, lasts between 21:27 and 37:00. The host starts off on this helpful note:

Fallout, whether you liked Oblivion or not, odds are you will probably like Fallout for the same or different reasons, depending on your perspective.
A transcript of where Todd Howard speaks on similarities between Oblivion and Fallout 3:
But its still a game where you walk around, you go to towns and talk to people, and you're getting quests and deciding which way you want to go with them. Lots of combat out in the wasteland, lots of combat down in Washington DC; other kind of holes and destroyed buildings that act as dungeons, for lack of a better word. And, you-know, a lot of free-form exploration, those kinds of things. There are, in the basic game, if you were to lay it out feature-set wise, there are a lot of similarities [to Oblivion] in the kinds of things you do as a player.
Various topics raised are the cult status of Fallout (which Todd Howard denies, asserting Fallout was always a mainstream game), Zenimax's acquisition of the license, core design goals, humor, and differences/similarities between Fallout 3 and Oblivion; but there is little new information revealed.

Link: KOXM Episode 75.

Spotted on the Bethesda Blog.

News for Saturday, August 4, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 5:54

I almost missed it, but for the 4th year in a row, the Radiate Society is running the annual Fallout trivia contest. Head over and prove your Fallout know-how, if ye dare.

Link: TRS 2007 Fallout trivia contest.

Posted by Tannhauser - at 5:11

id Software has announced that they are developing a new post-apocalyptic game, Rage, utilizing the id Tech 5 engine unveiled by Carmack a few months ago.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The creator of classic computer game "Doom," id Software, unveiled on Friday its eagerly anticipated next game, "Rage," in which players fight an oppressive government in a post-apocalyptic world.
[. . .]
"It's a bit of a classic story and you are the outsider who comes in and tries to turn the tide in favor of good," id Chief Executive Todd Hollenshead said in an interview.

"Rage" is being built with all-new graphics technology designed by id co-founder John Carmack, who showed off the game at id's annual "QuakeCon" event in Dallas, Texas.
[. . .]
"Rage" will represent somewhat of a stylistic break by letting players roam expansive outdoor areas.

"In addition to the shooting elements and killing bad guys with cool guns -- everyone knows we can do that well -- we wanted to show off some stuff that would surprise people," Hollenshead said.
In addition, Joystiq hosts a short trailer, and mentions that the game "will feature a strong driving element through expansive outdoor environments." Don't expect NMA to report on Rage very often, if at all, as there is no indication of even minimal RPG elements.

Links:
"Doom" creator unveils its new video game, "Rage" at Reuters.
id Software dubs new game 'Rage' at Joystiq, includes a short trailer.
John Carmack demonstrates ID Tech 5 at WWDC 2007 on YouTube.

Thanks to Stag.

News for Friday, August 3, 2007

Posted by Per - at 14:19

Gaming news site Play(TM) has put up an interview with Fallout 3 lead designer Emil Pagliarulo, where he says things such as these:

You know, I think there's somewhat of a misconception concerning the original Fallout, and the type of gameplay it offered. Fallout wasn't a turn-based strategy game... it wasn't a turn-based RPG for that matter. It was real-time RPG with turn-based combat.
And so falls squarely outside the big genre of turn-based-all-the-freaking-time RPGs, yup.
So capturing the spirit of Fallout really has nothing to do with where you put your camera. It has nothing to do with your engine. It has everything to do with the way you approach the setting, the characters, the ironic humor, that sort of thing.

You can definitely play the game without ever going into V.A.T.S., and if you do, the combat is pretty similar to other first/third-person RPGs, like Deus Ex, or stat-based action games like No One Lives Forever. It's definitely not a straight first-person shooter; your character's skills are going to determine your effectiveness in combat, even outside of V.A.T.S.

We're pretty adamant about making sure the game runs with or without DX10, though, so players don't have to upgrade to Vista.

For the first time, we're allowing Fallout players to fully enter into the universe they love so much.
Before we were just sort of peeking in? He also sticks to the story of Radiant AI having NPCs become "semi-sentient", so who knows? Maybe it's true. To get all the details I suggest you click the

Linky: Emil Pagliarulo interview at Play(TM)

Thanks to Luke (the other Luke)

Posted by Tannhauser - at 3:33

GameSpot has released a post-E3 interview with Fallout 3 executive producer Todd Howard.

GameSpot: What platform was the demo running on? What's the primary development platform? Will there be any major differences among the three versions of the game?

Todd Howard: We showed it on the 360, which is the platform we do a lot of the initial work on, as it's very developer friendly and contained…unlike a PC, where even in the office it can be hard to get the same results on everyone's system. That's one area the 360 really excels--awesome development tools. In the end, all three versions (PC, 360, PS3) should look the same.

GS: The Fallout community can be pretty vocal about its favorite game. What's the feedback been based on what you've shown of the game thus far? Have you managed to make some converts?

TH: Most haven't seen it yet, so I don't know if they'd be converted by screenshots or a teaser. Perhaps, but I doubt it. My general impression is they've hated the idea of us doing anything at all with it since 2004, so there's not much you can do about that except make the best game you can that is true to the series and yourself. To any fan that's actually seen the game, like many of the press guys, the feedback's been great…far better than any game we've ever shown. And it's pretty nerve-racking because you work for years on something and then pop your head up like "ta da!" with your fingers crossed. All the E3 awards certainly make you feel good because you really have no idea how you compare at the actual show. But to be called "best in show" so many times…and with hundreds of great games at E3, it definitely gives the whole team something to be proud of…to know we're heading in a direction a lot of people like.
Of course, it was entirely Bethesda's decision not to show the demo to any representative from the fan-base. This also is a turn-around in Todd Howard's statements concerning the fan community.

Link: Fallout 3 Q&A - E3 Thoughts and More at GameSpot.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:13

Thanks to Pop from the Obsidian forum, who saved the contents of Sawyer's old PnP wiki, his Simple Fallout PnP system wiki-pages are now back up at the Vault's excellent Fallout PnP site.

Link: Simple Fallout PnP

Posted by Brother None - at 0:55

The Romanian Level previewed Fallout 3. It contains no new information, but Feeltherads translated a few key paragraphs for us:

Finally, let's get back to what really interests you. Will Fallout 3 be the isometric wonder you all wish for? If you belong to those that consider the iso-metric perspective and the turn-based combat system to be the defining elements of the Fallout series, I'd suggest you stop reading now. Fallout 3 won't be isometric and the combat won't be turn-based. In Fallout 3, Bethesda opted for a first-person perspective, but for those who can't live without the holy isometric one, Bethesda also promises to add a 3rd person camera. With a bit of patience and skill and a bit of help from the zoom function, we can only hope the problem of the isometric perspective we'll be at least half-solved.

Another "psychological block" you'll have to pass is the fact that Fallout 3 will also visit the consoles. Console owners will be ecstatic, but the conservatory types will, as usual, wrinkle their noses. Their theory states that a console is not able to support such a complex game like Fallout, and a console owner can't swallow such a game. Nothing more false. On consoles we have Final Fantasy, Jade Empire, KOTOR and the coming Mass Effect, so I wouldn't be too worried. There is still the issue of porting, though. Here the things seem better. They are working at the same time for the PC, PS3 and XBOX360 versions, so the problem of porting is gone. The PC version will be made especially for the PC, so probably the specific problems of porting (like the huge Oblivion fonts) will be gone.
(...)
Todd Howards declared in an interview that "violence done well is fucking hilarious". Partially I agree with him. If ten years ago we were happy like little children when seeing minuscule pieces flying from a 2-3 centimeters sprite, imagine what you'll feel when blowing-up heads and playing pool with eyeballs, all in 3D. However, the general impression I had from Howard's commentary on Fallout 3's violence is that there's too much focus on slaughter in a game that's part of a series that can be completed without firing a single bullet. The man had too much enthusiasm when talking about blood and limbs flying, and the Fatman, the hand-held catapult spewing mini-nukes, is a proof that things might go a biiiiiit too far. Like any normal person, I sometimes like to blow-up someone's head with a sniper rifle or break another one's hand with a wrench, but still I don't want Fallout to become Manhunt. To each its own...
(...)
Children? They're there. Will we be able to punish them with a minigun for not doing their homework? I'm afraid not. The developers gracefully evaded the questions about child-killing asked by a more insistent journalist. They answered with a question "...do you really want to be able to kill children?". In an official setting (where each and everyone is an undercover psychiatrist), you can only scream from the top of your lungs "Yes, I do!", so the discussion became a little uncomfortable and moved to safer waters. Like with what little cannons you can't kill the poor children with.
(...)
So, let's put everything together. Bethesda got their claws on Fallout 3, Interplay held the rights to a possible Fallout MMO and everybody was happy. Except the hardcore fans, who, a year and a half before even the first artwork to be available, quickly drew the conclusion that Fallout 3 will be "Oblivion with guns". I'll refrain from further comments, but if we are to apply the same reasoning, it would mean Half-Life is just "Doom with a storyline" or that Baldur's Gate is a simple Diablo with more words... I say we wait will the autumn of 2008 (I'm a bit skeptical about this one, but if they say so...) and only then start throwing rocks or flowers. I have a feeling Bethesda will have a nice surprise for us. Until then...let's dream."
"Final Fantasy, Jade Empire, KOTOR and the coming Mass Effect" had the depth of PC RPGs like PS:T or Fallout? Must've missed that.

News for Thursday, August 2, 2007

Posted by Silencer - at 23:06

Well, you might have already been to the new official Fallout 3 website, complete with screenshots (nothing new for now), concept arts (nothing new for now), fact sheets (nothing new for now) and detailed information on the Awards Fallout 3 had garnered to date.

Upon the various goodies there is also a Todd Howard's Diary, which I encourage you to read. One bit that caught my eye was the document Todd references - about what Fallout was to be, originally.

Obviously we had the old games to look at, and Fallout 1 became our main model and inspiration. I always preferred the tone of it, and it's the one we focused our time on dissecting. We also went through all the original source material, as well as the "Fallout Bible," put together by Chris Avellone, whose work is always fantastic. But one of my favorite sources, when we received everything (yes, everything) from Interplay, is the original "Fallout Vision Statement", back when it was called "Fallout: A GURPS Post Nuclear Adventure." This is the document detailing what Fallout was to be, and is a 14-point bulleted list. Here they are, in order, with direct quotes (enjoy – I know I did):

1. Mega levels of violence. "When people die, they don't just die – they get cut in half, they melt into a pile of goo, explode like a blood sausage, or several different ways – depending on the weapon you use."
2. There is often no right solution. "Like it or not, the player will not be able to make everyone live happily ever after. "
3. There will always be multiple solutions. "No one style of play will be perfect."

The others are: "The players actions affect the world.", "There is a sense of urgency," "It's open ended," "The player will have a goal," "The player has control of his actions," "Simple Interface," "Speech will be lip-synched with the animation," "A wide variety of weapons and actions," "Detailed character creation rules," "just enough GURPS material to make the GURPSers happy. The game comes first." That one is actually crossed out in the document, as they dropped GURPS, and lastly:

14. "The Team is Motivated" "We want to do this. We care about this game and we will make it cool."

Ten years later and I don't know that I would change a word of what we want to do today. Especially that last one. We have an incredibly passionate and amazing group here; I've been privileged to work with many of them for over a decade. Hopefully in another 10 years people will look back and say, "Nope, they didn't screw it up." Hopefully.
Ten years is a long time, how about you look at the following one to make sure you make the most of it? ;)

Link: Todd Howard's Dev Diary #1 @ Official Site

Posted by Brother None - at 21:50

The official Fallout site is showing the "Please stand by" image again. Either they're tired of hosting the teaser, or something new is coming.

Thanks Ausir.

Posted by Tannhauser - at 20:44

On the official Fallout 3 forums, a thread about dialogue in RPGs had Fred "fizzbang" Zeleny contributing his thoughts. A quest designer for Fallout 3, Fred's comments may be of interest:

For the record, these are just my thoughts on RPG dialogue in general, and can't be taken to reflect on the final dialogue in FO3.

But as far as I'm concerned, the most interesting gameplay of the original Fallouts was making choices in quests and dialogue. So obviously, it's a topic near and dear to my heart.

On dialogue being short and concise:
Being clear in the information conveyed is very important, but that doesn't require that every line be clipped short. Some personalities ramble, some get easily distracted, and so forth - they'll talk longer than, say, harried workers or soldiers in a fight. And, as always, it's important to follow the rule of "Show, don't tell", and sometimes that requires a little more talking than just saying, "I'm a guard and I don't trust you."

Sometimes it can also be a balancing act between a writer trying to convey a lot of information and trying to keep the player from being stuck in a long monologue. We all enjoy reading, but when you're in a long dialogue and don't have any options for a long time, even the best of us can get irritated - just like being in a conversation and not being able to get a word in edgeways.

On stating the obvious for dramatic effect:
It's hard to avoid stating the obvious while also making sure a player knows what's going on, especially when it isn't incredibly obvious. Using your example above, if parts of the station are blowing up, people shouldn't bother telling you about it; they're better off running for their life! But if it's just a lot of klaxons going off for some unknown reason, it's not unreasonable for someone to let the player know ("Why aren't you running? Don't you know the place is about to blow?").

Of course, a bit of wit and style while writing those dialogues can make all the difference. If it's entertaining and in-character, some otherwise irritating dialogue can be forgiven ("Great. First, I stub my toe on that door, then I lose my data to a power shortage, and now we're all about to die a horrible death in a ball of fiery doom. I swear, today is not my day.")

On giving NPCs personality through dialogue and mannerisms:
I'm a very character-based writer. I focus on making the characters first and then see where their personalities and dilemmas play out in a larger plot outline. I could ask for no greater success than people favorably remembering my characters years or decades down the road. So, yeah, making interesting NPC characters is important to me.

And, of course, the more time you're spending with a character, the more detailed their personality has to be to keep the player's interest. A bit character can be drawn with pretty broad strokes (while still avoiding cliches!), but if it's a character you're dealing with throughout the game, they'd better have some very memorable details, unexpected nuance, and a compelling personality.

On choices and the illusion of choices in dialogue:
Choices are vitally important in and RPG, I agree, both in dialogue and outside of it. Without the ability to make choices about your character and their role in the world/game/quest/etc, then it'd hardly be a role-playing game, would it?

But in terms of "ignored choices"... Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but I really dislike meaningless choices in games - even if the only effect of a choice is to see a different line of dialogue. And you'd be surprised how much some people hate being put on a quest even when they refuse it. But obviously, characters shouldn't always just go along with whatever the player says.

On diplomatic solutions:
I don't think they're archaic. In fact, I wish there were more diplomatic options in games today. Then again, I keep playing bards in tabletop RPGs, so I guess my predilection for diplomacy is well-documented by now.

Of course, a quick word shouldn't be a solution to every problem - just as there shouldn't be any single skill or weapon that's a solution to every problem. But it should be as viable and as rewarding as any other playstyle.
Only part of his post appears here, check the linked thread for the full response. Thanks to Cataphract for creating such an interesting thread.

Link: "Designing rules: Dialog and Storytelling, Who's in charge of the writting by the way?" on the Bethesda Game Studios Forums.

Posted by Brother None - at 0:28

From their press release:

ZeniMax Media Inc., parent company of Bethesda Softworks, announced today the creation of ZeniMax Online Studios. The division will be headed by Matt Firor, a well-known expert in the field of online gaming, and will focus on the Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO) market segment.

Firor was one of the founders of Mythic Entertainment, where he worked for over 10 years on MMO titles. At Mythic he was the producer of the worldwide #1 smash hit Dark Age of Camelot, a MMORPG considered one of the most influential online games of all time. When he left Mythic in 2006, Firor was responsible for all development projects at the company. For the past year, he has been a consultant in the online gaming industry, advising leading publishers interested in entering the online market.
Link: ZeniMax online website
Link: interview with Matt Firor

News for Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 19:15

The Game Critics Awards are in. Bethesda was nominated for best of the show, best RPG and best PC game. It lost in all three, to Rock Band, Mass Effect and Crysis, respectively.

Link: Game Critics Awards results.

Thanks Killzig.

Posted by Brother None - at 17:08

THQ has released a video showing action gameplay in the upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky (dubbed "prologue S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky" in the video, the "prequel of the most atmospheric game of 2007").

Link: video mirrors on officials website.

Posted by Brother None - at 16:43

Timeslip, a Morrowind/Oblivion modder, took a look at the Fallout engine and decided to do some pretty fascinating tweaking:

The first thing it changes is gameplay speed. Running from one side of new reno to the other for the hundredth time gets a bit boring, so you can set up some keyboard keys to modify the speed to anywhere between 0.5x and 10x normal. It affects running speed and combat, but not the world map, sound, movies or talking heads.

The second thing is that there's no option to play fallout in a window, so I added a windowed mode. It messes up if you scroll the window around, but it makes alt-tabbing, working with two monitors and taking screenshots a lot easier.

Lastly, scrolling through the inventory gets a bit cumbersome if you have lots of stuff in it, so I tweaked it to let you use the mouse scroll wheel as well as the normal controls.

I've only tested it with the copy of fallout2.exe that comes with megamod 2, but it should work with a normal v1.02 US version too.
----
This one adds the option to make the middle mouse button do something useful, frame skipping in windowed mode and a way to force DirectInput into background mode.
He has also been cool enough to release the tweak's source code for our modders to use. The tweak will be included in the next killap patch.

Link: Timeslip Fallout engine tweaks.
Link: Timeslip Fallout 2 engine tweaks.
Link: Timeslip Fallout 2 engine tweaks source.
Link: some fallout 2 engine tweaks thread on BGSF.

Posted by Brother None - at 16:38

DaC is starting a strip series (by Dogmeatlives) which, from the look of the first strip, looks like a fairly neat idea.

Link: Terrorizing Phil. "The first in a hopefully long series. Enjoy..."

Posted by Brother None - at 16:31

The new Inside the Vault on BethBlog features Christopher Krietz, who did QA on Oblivion, is currently lead QA on Oblivion GotY and will move on to testing Fallout 3 afterwards:

Have you played any of the Fallout games?
My introduction to the series started with Wasteland on the C64 — at the time I was fairly young and didn’t think much about it as I was playing a lot of the other great RPGs at the time too (Ultima 4-5, Bards Tale, Might and Magic 2, the SSI Gold Box D&D games), but I’ve since revisited it and have greatly enjoyed it. Admittedly, I’ve not spent as much time playing Fallout 1 and 2… I played quite a bit of 1 but never completed it, and never got ahold of 2. I think the whole world of the franchise is great. I find the setting fascinating.
Link: Inside the Vault - Christopher Krietz.