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News for Friday, February 29, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 15:57

A short update from the people of Fallout total conversion mod Mutants Rising:

It's been a while since we posted here and the team felt it was time you knew what we were up to.

In terms of distance, we are about 40% through the mod. For the scripters out there, that's about 200 scripts completed. We weren't intending to release the mod / conversion until the whole thing is completed or it would spoil the fun!

So far, four towns have been completed and only need to be tested and thoroughly checked before we can move on to the next stage of the project.

As always, we are looking for anyone who would be interested in helping us and who would be willing to work. We still have few / no artists on the team which is severly hindering us at the moment.
Link: Nuclear Winter forums.

News for Thursday, February 28, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 22:27

This week's Inside the Vault features QA-dude-turned-programmer Mike Dulany. Did you ever play Fallout, Mike? We'll never know.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I used to old cliché “I know a guy who works there.” Though to meet “a guy” I was an active member of the IGDA ( International Game Developers Association ) and met him (and a number of other interesting people) by attending the local chapters meetings. He informed me they were hiring QA staff and I was more than happy to leave my job at the time to join the team.

Advice? I think my advice is best put forth in these easy to follow steps:

1) Be good/extremely motivated in a particular area of game development.
2) Know a guy. (Optional, but recommended)
3) ???
4) Job!
Inside the Vault - Mike Dulany.

Posted by Brother None - at 22:21

Replying to the heaps of forum feedback saying "this looks terrible" on Bethesda's official Fallout 3 forum, Todd Howard noted (by proxy):

I agree, and I don't think the cover shows him well. It all has to do with the FOV of the character when he got rendered for the cover image (it's not in-game), it makes his head look huge and his torso look skinny. I assure you in-game, the armor looks much bulkier. See the other screenshots we released. Also, this power armor is specifically not the T-51b.
And there's the confirmation that it's not T-51b, though most people had assumed as much by now.

Link: Gstaff forum post on BGSF.

News for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 19:57

The new OXM features a cover story for Fallout 3. Bethesda Blog notes:

The April issue of OXM is now making its way to subscribers in the US as we speak. The cover story features a number of new areas and also features a host of new screens from different parts of the game, including new areas, new creatures/NPCs, weapons, etc. We don’t want to give away too much info on what’s in there, except to say it has the best ending line of any Fallout 3 preview thus far, thanks to a quote from Emil.

Look for the issue to be on newsstands the week of March 10 and keep your eyes open for new content coming from those folks in the form of a podcast or something else around that date.
Thanks Gstaff for the early heads-up.

Posted by Brother None - at 15:33

A German film student has released a teaser of a small fanfilm he's making for Fallout and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (that game recently hit 1.65 million copies sold), entitled "Кяум" (I think, but it might be "Krym").

It's pretty damned good. And very S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Link: fanfilm's announcement.
Link: Direct link to teaser.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:58

Jesterka dropped by to give us the first English language screenshots of the Fallout total conversion mod Fallout: Between Good & Evil.

Link: Fallout: Between Good & Evil website.

News for Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Posted by The Vault Dweller - at 20:27

The good folks down at FMF have made an update saying the demo is nearing completion.

FMF – 2008 or Bust*
*Unless we’re not done until 2009!

It’s a new year and that means it’s time to get off our respective asses and get this baby back on course, and for the past few months that’s exactly what we’ve been doing! We felt it was high time we gave you all an update on what this project has been doing and where we plan on going from here.

Let’s start with what we know:

If we face the facts here, we already know that F3 is going to be a completely different animal. We’re not worried about how anything we do might compare or measure up to the work that the team at Bethesda is doing. Our goal is to remain true to the original 2 games and bring the fans of the franchise a new game to play in that same theme. Thus far we feel very confident we’re doing that.

Well, we’ll ask you to kindly ignore any boasts or high hopes we may have had in the past. The fact is, we’re a bunch of fans from across the globe with our own lives and paying jobs to think of first. You never know how things may change and unfortunately for us things did for awhile. But the good news is that we’ve refocused, gotten our spirit back, and we’re ready to see if we can really do it!

When we say 2008 and or bust, we’re really just trying to say that we want to be done as much as you do. We’ve come in, set some goals, got some help, and made a plan to see if we can do it. We’d like to think that a 2008 Demo release is very realistic. But as all things in the game world, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. We’ll try and keep you updated as more information becomes available.

The Finished Product:
As of right now, we’re not really ready to give out too many details of the game to the public yet. However, as the demo nears completion we’re going to start giving you some more of that information. What can I tell you for now? Well, not much (especially not much that you won’t already know about the project), but again, we’ll get you some new material soon!

Our Public Area:
As some of you may or may not know, we’ve started creating a public face for the project so that you’ll have something to interact with and find out more about the project. That starts with this news page but extends inside to our public forum. We’ll have contests running regularly from here on out to give the fans a way to interact in a meaningful way with the project and we’ll try to answer questions as soon as we can.

We also have a recruitment sub forum under the public one for guests who wish to join the team. Please see the public forum for more details on available positions.

Closing Words:
It’s an exciting time for the project and we’re thankful to all the fans of Fallout and Fallout 2 who have shown us their support over these past 6 years. We do this for you guys as much as we do it for ourselves. We hope you’ll enjoy the final product!

Cheers from around the globe,
Sebastian of the Wastes and the FMF Team
Let's all hope they accomplish much and maybe find some help.

The Vault Dweller

News for Monday, February 25, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 2:48

Honestly, it's been like...11 months since the last fan art roundup?

'bout time we did another...

Obviously we're going to be a bit more succinct this time around than we usually are, so here's a quick run-through as we pick this feature back up...

defonten couldn't help make the news again with Brand New Reno (remember you can win this one, amongst other, as a prize):

Dominus gave us this "tribute to Van Buren".

daKaktus dragged in these two really neat Vault Boy flyers

petrovi4 brought us this piece

brut has been bringing us art from his people

And finally, Wooz has just been doing what he's always doing, which is this...

Great stuff, guys. Here's to hoping the future will bring us more regular art roundups again.

News for Sunday, February 24, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 15:47

PCXL-Fan, an avid collector of videogame magazines, registered to share with us an old preview of project GURPS in the now-defunct NG magazine. In it, they discuss Steve Jackson's GURPS and Tim Cain explains what he wants to do with it in the game. It includes a short mention of one of the original setting ideas for project GURPS (time-travelling) and a very broad application of GURPS' massive skill system to the game.

News for Saturday, February 23, 2008

Posted by Per - at 5:40

At long last, the Fallout 2 guide known as "The Nearly Ultimate Fallout 2 Guide" has been updated. Version 1.3 is a bit more accurate, polished and complete, and you can read stuff like how to get your hands on Robo Rocket Launchers or Robo Melee Weapons.

Now at 822 kB, the guide is exactly three times the length of the Fallout guide, which incidentally should be the next one up for updating (assuming I can find something to update it with). For now, we have geckos with punching weapons.

Link: The Nearly Ultimate Fallout 2 Guide
Link: NMA mirror

News for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 13:36

The Next Gen Top 100 developers for 2008, the one that had Todd Howard on #18 last year, has given Emil Pagliarulo the pretty highly prestigious honour of a top spot:

24. Emil Pagliarulo
Lead Designer, Fallout 3
Bethesda Softworks

Before coming to Bethesda, Pagliarulo hung with the greats at the sadly defunct Looking Glass Studios, lending design work to well-respected classics like Thief II: The Metal Age. Bethesda in turn has relied on him for tasks as important as the quest design of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. His success in that regard has led to him to become the head of design on the studio’s important Fallout revival. It doesn’t matter what nonsense the vocal minority spews about Fallout 3; it the project continues in its current way it could be another landmark work for Bethesda, and the game that could make Pagliarulo’s career.
Wait, what? I thought Next Generation was supposed to be one of the more strictly journalistic gaming sites. Hey, Next Gen, a little pro-tip: acting like an inflamed fanboy angry that someone is criticizing your favourite developer is not good journalism.

Let's not let Next Gen's childish petulance get in the way of the main point, though. Way to go, Emil, Thumbs up

Link: Next Gen top 100 (30-21).

No thanks to Mungrul.

News for Monday, February 18, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 21:22

Another day, another one-month-year-old site that's not even a quarter of our size gets an exclusive interview with Todd Howard. The interview is short, but the questions are fairly well put.

videogaming247: You’ve been keen to stress that Fallout 3 isn’t a shooter, that it’s an RPG in which you shoot. Firstly, why does the game’s classification matter so much, and, secondly, doesn’t the fact that the game has shooting elements means it’s going to appeal to both those interested in RPGs and those interested in FPSs?

Todd Howard: You’re probably right, in that it appeals to fans of both, and we’re OK with that. I don’t know that the game’s classification does matter much. I like to think of RPGs as the best genre-blenders, in that you can do anything in them. No type of interaction is off limits and you can have action parts, puzzle solving parts, or anything else. When you’re making a shooter, you never ask “can the player get married and have kids?” When you’re making an RPG, that type of thinking goes on all the time, so while it may look like a shooter, I think that dramatically undersells what the game does.

Obviously, the game’s pedigree is second to none, but this is a radical departure from the first two titles. What elements have you been careful to preserve as Fallout makes the jump to 3D?

The world around you and the lore of the Fallout world, it’s very important to us, and we’ve always loved it. It was that world we wanted to make come alive. In addition, I think the basic character system of Fallout, with your SPECIAL attributes and perks, is something we’ve tried hard to maintain. It’s a great system, where you have to make hard choices and those choices really define who you’re going to be and what type of game you’re going to play.
Twelve alternate endings sounds, to be frank, mental. Why so many? Do you feel the need for this product to be definitive?

That number is artificially inflated, in that what you get at the very end is based on a number of things you’ve done. Some of those tweaks to the ending are pretty small, so I think it’s better to simply say the game has multiple endings based on what you did. Some of the really big decisions that affect the end you make right at the end, but some of them deal more with your karma, and how you’ve lived your life.
Link: Todd Howard interview on videogaming247.

Posted by Brother None - at 21:18

ZeniMax, the owner of Bethesda, has opened a London office to further strengthen their publishing capabilities in Europe. Here's the press release:

ZeniMax Media Opens London Office

16th February 2008 (London, England) – ZeniMax Media Inc., the parent company of Bethesda Softworks®, today announced it has begun direct publishing operations in Europe with the establishment of its London-based subsidiary, ZeniMax Europe Ltd. ZeniMax Europe will be publishing titles throughout UK/EMEA territories under the Bethesda Softworks brand.

Bethesda Softworks has a successful history as a developer and publisher of award-winning titles, most recently with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion®, which won critical acclaim and countless Game of the Year awards. While continuing to work with strategic European distribution partners, ZeniMax Europe plans to deliver a range of compelling titles to the European market in the coming years, including the highly anticipated Fallout® 3 in Fall 2008.

“This is an important step for us as we look to expand our presence in markets outside of North America,” said Robert Altman, CEO of ZeniMax Media Inc. “We want to establish direct relationships with retailers and distributors throughout Europe and the UK as we bring exciting titles like Fallout® 3 and Rogue Warrior™ to gamers worldwide.”

The European operations of the Company will be headed by Sean Brennan, an industry veteran with over 20 years experience in the European markets. “We are happy to be part of the ZeniMax family,” said Sean “Building upon their great reputation and extending their direct reach throughout Europe and the UK is an exciting, new phase in the expansion of the company.”

Working alongside Brennan are Greg Baverstock, Director of Sales and Business Development, and Christina Camerota, Director of Marketing and Public Relations. With a wealth of industry experience, the team has recently settled into the Company’s new European offices which are located in the heart of London’s West end.

About ZeniMax Europe Ltd.
Headquartered in London, England, ZeniMax Europe Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of ZeniMax Media Inc. ZeniMax Europe publishes original interactive entertainment content for consoles, the PC, and handheld/wireless devices throughout UK/EMEA territories.

About Bethesda Softworks
Bethesda Softworks, a subsidiary of the ZeniMax Media Inc. family of companies, is a premier developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software and has produced numerous award-winning titles, most recently with 2006 PC and Xbox 360™ Game of the Year and RPG of the Year, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion®, and the 2002 PC and Xbox® Game of the Year and RPG of the Year, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrrowind®. Among Bethesda’s more popular franchises are The Elder Scrolls® series and Fallout®, as well as its licensed properties, such as Star Trek®. Its product line spans the sports, racing, RPG, strategy, and action genres. For more information on Bethesda Softworks’ products, visit

News for Saturday, February 16, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 19:09

chewie dropped by to tell us Zero Projekt (formerly Fallout: Zero, now a standalone FIFE-based post-apocalyptic cRPG project), is soon celebrating its 2nd birthday (congratulations guys!). They've created a screenshot gallery which offers 84 screenshots showing the progress the game's made. A pick of the litter of recent screenshots:

They invite you to come and celebrate with them:

Everybody who is interested in the project and wants to put some question to the developers or just wants to celebrate with us is invited to join our IRC on the 19th of February 2008 at 16 pm (GMT +1)

Zero-Projekt IRC-Birthdayparty
19th of February 2008
16:00 pm (GMT +1)
Channel: #zero-projekt
Link: Zero Projekt site.
Link: Zero Projekt image gallery on Zero Projekt site.

News for Friday, February 15, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 22:20

the random Gnomes' random Lair has just published an interview with Vince D. Weller, from Iron Tower Studio, responsible for the upcoming Age of Decadence. Unlike the last one, this interview is more focused on the game itself. Here’s a snipped:

3. Any idea when we should expect to play it? Will it be a download-only title?

Sometime this year. We'll offer both download-only digital copies and professionally done boxed copies with a full color manual, a map, and a jewel-case CD. We've received quite a few publishing offers, but it's too early to tell.

7. Will there be dialog? Puzzles? Moral Choices? Naked goblins?

We've spent all our money on dialogues and choices, so we had to skip puzzles and goblins completely. Even though they look kinda hot naked.

Overall, dialogues and choices are the main aspect of the game and the main attraction. We have seven different endings and only two involve mortal combat. You'll be able to talk your way in and out of trouble, make allies and enemies (there are no default good and bad guys), and handle quests in non-combat ways using dialogues and text adventure elements.
You can read the rest here.

As an endnote, I’d like to bring to your attention the latest updates in Age of Decadence’s forum, specifically a new location, The Slums and a thread dedicated to weaponry. There’s lots of other stuff too, if you’re interested.

Posted by Brother None - at 12:37

The originally Russian David Grey's Tale comic, consisting of 30 episodes of Fallout screencap-based comic goodness, has been fully translated into English...or rather, Engrish. A few episodes were translated before, but you can read the whole thing now.

Provided you can stand the few English errors, its a recommendation to hold you over until the Vault 12 comic returns. Which should, come to think of it, be today.

Posted by Brother None - at 11:28

Gameplayer Australia has a preview/interview up with notes provided by Pete Hines, who "takes us to a new Oblivion". It is based - yet again - on the same demo that was shown at E3 and GDC. For some reason, it's also chock full of literary references.

Indeed, the boys have really done their research, packing the locale with landmarks and scenery from the alternate-history Washington that you explore. “This is a different timeline from our own,” explains Hines. “Post-World War II this breaks off; buildings that existed before that split will still be there, like Capitol Hill or the Jefferson Memorial, but there’s also a lot of stuff there built after 1945. You might see a nuclear power plant or a factory just sitting in the middle of all these other buildings and go ‘that’s not supposed to be there!’” Walking out of the vault, through the mammoth circular door, past the bodies of the protesters trapped outside two centuries before, we spotted the Washington Monument in the distance, past the blasted buildings, warped terrain and giant ants…
We wander further and come across the settlement of Megaton, one of the larger piles of junk that are called towns in this world, and are allowed in by a security droid. Inside, the city’s grim and dirty, like living inside a drainpipe. We’re a bit perturbed that there’s so many people left alive in the town, especially as we can’t work out what they’re doing to survive. Where do they get their food from? “Emil Pagliarulo, the lead designer, had me read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road,” explains Hines. “If you read his take on the post-apocalyptic world, then yes, everything should be absolutely dead, and there’d be nothing left to eat except canned stuff. If you take that view, then in 200 years nobody should still be around.
The Super-mutants are humans infected by FEV – the Forced Evolutionary Virus, designed by the military to adapt humans to survive in the post-nuclear world. Sadly, as well as making them tough, near-immortal and super-strong, it also normally renders them stupid and aggressive. “Once this virus takes hold it makes you sterile,” says Hines “so the only way to continue the race of Super-mutants is to capture people and infect them.” We can’t guess where the Behemoth comes from, unless they infected an elephant, but as he’s carrying a car door as a shield and a fire hydrant on a tree as a club, and is about three stories high, we’re guessing he’s not friendly.
Thankfully, we’ve got the Fat Man with us. This is essentially an adaptation of Atomic Annie, the US army’s ludicrous nuclear artillery cannon from 1953. It’s a hand-held nuclear catapult that does amazing amounts of damage. Unlike in the final game, we’ve got plenty of ammo for it as well (in the final game, you only get one shot with it). A couple of awesome slow-mo shots from that, with subsequent mushroom clouds, and even the Behemoth falls.

So why did Bethesda choose this setting for their next game? “I can’t speak for the original creators,” says Hines, “Tim Cain and those guys, but definitely what makes Fallout memorable is that 1950s sensibility set against this post-nuclear world. It was the Americana future they realised, that tomorrow land with robot maids and rocket cars and that sensibility that they had, that Leave It to Beaver ‘everything’s going to be okay’ outlook. In Fallout 3 people still cling to that idealistic view of how things are going to turn out, but everything’s just blown to hell. A lot of its flavour comes from this juxtaposition.”
The preview also provides a number of the screenshots CVG had earlier but has taken down, as well as these two new ones (or rather one new one):

Link: Fallout 3 preview.

Thanks Mungrul.

News for Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Posted by 13pm - at 20:11

Bethesda's team is big enough to post 'Inside the Vault' features every week. Today it is Jeff Browne, level designer, who's been interviewed. No Fallout questions 'inside the vault'.

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I am a level designer and currently working on Fallout 3. My job consists of coming up with ideas for layouts based on quest designs, designer feedback, and what I think would be fun. Then I block them out in the editor and write up a quick level design document (LDD) for each layout. In the LDD, I explain the basic flow, mood, atmosphere, and gameplay I want to have in the level. Throughout the course of the project, the level continuously changes based on feedback from leads, level designers, QA, peer reviews, etc. In the end, I hope to have a level that is interesting, fun, and memorable.

What other games have you worked on?
I joined the team near the end of Oblivion and worked on a handful of dungeons for the game, either coming up with new layouts, or making previous dungeons more fun and exciting. For DLC, I worked on the Fighter’s Stronghold, teamed up with Joel Burgess on Mehrunes Razor, and did a level (Fort Bulwork I believe) for Knights of the Nine. Then I worked on Shivering Isles and now Fallout 3.

Before Bethesda, I was the game designer and one of the level designers for Eclipse, of total conversion of Half-Life 2.

What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
I have personal favorites based mostly on nostalgia (King’s Quest VI, Everquest, CoD), but my favorite of all time is probably Planetside. I joined Planetside well after the introduction of BFRs, but I still think it’s a game that has the most exciting and tactical gameplay around. Its learning curve is a little steep, but once you get over it, a whole other world of gameplay opens up. It’s one of those games that excel on memorable moments. You get through playing a session of Planetside and you can talk with someone for a long time about the crazy experiences you had — well after you finished playing. Many games have moments, but making them memorable post-game is difficult to achieve (especially in a Multiplayer game). Games like CoD (which I enjoy) have in-game moments, but try talking to someone after playing a session of an FPS like CoD and Unreal and you’ll have a difficult time coming up with memorable moments like you would after playing Planetside. To this day I can still recall, with vivid detail, experiences I had while playing Planetside.

What games are you looking forward to?
Planetside 2 - come on, someone in the industry has got to make it!
Link: Inside the Vault - Jeff Browne

News for Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Posted by The Vault Dweller - at 19:28

Attention all fans of Fallout! The makers of Fan Made Fallout are currently holding a contest that anyone can take part in. It's as simple as thinking of a creative way to use a sample of the ever-present and always plague-bearing Rattus Rattus or what you'd commonly call the rat...

Welcome visitors,
Introducting our first foray into fan submissions and interaction!

We'd like to invite our visitors to submit your favorite ways to use a rat for use by one of our NPCs in the game. His name is Butch and he sure loves rats! He knows a million uses for them ... and frankly, that's about 5.99 million more then we want to try and come up with on our own ... that's where you come in!

We're looking for a short sentance of a way you can use a rat. For example (Put 'em in a stew, they make a great hat, a child's toy, a club, etc....) We'll choose the 5 best submissions (using a crack panel of ratologists) and put them in the game. And we'll put your name in the credits, too!

Here are the rules:

1 - Submissions should consist of no more then one short sentance of text. We're looking for creativity, not a dissertation on rats
2 - Please include the name you wish to appear in the credits, if different from your login name
3 - We'll be accepting submissions from now (February 11th) through the end of the month (February 29th). Winners will be announced sometime in March.

Other then that, you're good to go!
We look forward to reading your submissions!
Let's hope they get plenty of great submissions from all you excited fans! It would be wonderful to have your name in the credits of a fan mod for your favorite game. You know you'd like it.

The Vault Dweller

News for Friday, February 8, 2008

Posted by 13pm - at 22:57

Notes on Gamedev has put up an interview with Nathan Purkeypile, world artist on Fallout 3. Quite an interesting read:

Ever have one of those dreams where you’re decked out in post-nuclear protective gear trying to escape and then you realize you’re stuck in turn-based combat and you have to play out the whole scene in your head? Yeah, well, those of us who played too much Fallout in the dark did. Fallout’s unique 50’s pulp sci-fi style is coming back with the in-development Fallout 3. We were fortunate enough to be directed to Nate Purkeypile, World Artist at Bethesda Softworks, to get word on his personal experience with the project so far. It sounds like he’s enjoying dreaming up nuclear Wasteland grit in high-def quality.

Q: Fallout 3 comes out of a popular series with a unique setting. What is it like working with an existing IP that already has an art style?

A: Working with the Fallout IP is actually something that fits very well with my own personal style as an artist. For a long time I have had a fascination with ruined and abandoned structures. So being able to create an entire world filled with things like that is the best thing I could ask for. The fact that the style was pre-existing is pretty much irrelevant, because if I was left to my own devices to make art, it would look exactly like Fallout. When I was working at Retro Studios on Metroid Prime 3, my friend Joel Burgess told me over and over how I needed to come to Bethesda to work on Fallout 3 because I was “born to make this game.”

Q: Where does your inspiration come from, other than the past games?

A: My inspiration comes from a variety of places. If we are talking about just visual inspiration, then I have my own personal reference folder of abandoned places that I have been building since before I was in college. It’s full of thousands of images of every kind of place you could imagine, from hospitals and asylums to theme parks and factories, it has pretty much everything. Outside of that, I try to play every single game I consider relevant to the industry as a whole to see exactly how everyone is doing things art-wise. Even something that is seemingly unrelated to Fallout has a lot of content and techniques that are worth looking at.

Sometimes though, my inspiration has absolutely nothing to do with anything in particular and is just a result of me thinking about an area. When I first start working on an area, I like to just imagine the entire space in my head and build it all there. By the time I’m done doing this, I know almost exactly what I need to do from start to finish. This way, I don’t spend a lot of time fiddling around with things as a work in progress; I know what I want it to be from the start.

Q: Fallout 3 is expected to release cross-platform on Xbox 360 and PS3. How has this influenced your pipeline process or the tools you use? What has been different about working with Next Gen consoles?

A: The fact that Fallout 3 is a cross-platform release has basically no impact at all with how I do my art. Whatever I make on the PC will end up looking pretty much the same on the other platforms. I never even have to worry about it. I rarely even touch the 360 version myself.

Working on the Next Gen consoles though is great. At my last job at Retro Studios, I was working on the Wii. Dealing with that hardware was a constant source of frustration for me as an artist. Ultimately, sure, gameplay matters the most. However, if your job is to make art on a console all day, it is an entirely different story. With the amount of power we have on the newer generation of consoles, I am able to create what I want far easier. Instead of constantly checking to see how many polys things are, or how many textures are being used, I just have to worry about making it look great.
There's a small bit left there, so go read it.

Link: Nathan Purkeypile: World Artist at Bethesda Softworks

Posted by Brother None - at 2:15

Game OST, a Russian game soundtrack website, has tracked down and interviewed Mark Morgan. Call me surprised, because many have been looking for him for some time, including us, but never managed to get in touch with him. Oh well, go figure that the Russians would do it...

G-OST: There’re rumors that you had only a couple of weeks to create music for Planescape: Torment. Is that so? Then we’re curious about Fallout soundtrack A what was the timeframe and when did you start working on the project? Was it the very beginning or later? We know’ you’r e tired and wanna leave this all already, but we have to continue, Mr. Morgan. The same questions for Fallout 2…

Mark: Yes, on all three games I began late in the process... “Planescape” was a quick turnaround as you suggest. I did it in about 2 weeks. I don’t know why, but the game was pretty much completed before they decided who was to do the music. On “Fallout” they had another composer to begin with, but for unknown reasons, Charles Deenen called me to work on it and it too was a fast turnaround. Composing time for “Fallout 2” was also truncated. I believe the game was essentially complete by the time I became involved and they were in a hurry to get it out.
G-OST: Bethesda Softworks currently developing Fallout 3 keeps silence regarding main composer’s name. Atmosphere goes really hot around this. It’s even been rumors that Jeremy Soule is in charge, what caused hard civil commotion, but then he announced that he’s out of game. Most of people, including us (we can be fired saying this) believe that you’re ideal and only person to take over this position. Additionally, investigators found out that your profile at contains Fallout 3 reference. It’s your chance to unbosom yourself - is that true or another misinformation created to conceal your life, Mr. Morgan?

Mark: Thanks for the kind words, I would love to do that game, but I have not been asked. I’m hopeful after doing the other two “Fallout” games and other projects over the years, I could take “Fallout 3” to another level musically. As far as the www.gsamusic site, it’s obviously a misprint.
G-OST: Fallout 3 official site met the visitors with concept art and quite energetic symphonic track. It was almost shocking to hear this… ‘cause Fallout always associated with dark ambient and ethnic elements impregnation. How do you imagine Fallout 3 soundtrack? Haven’t you and Tim had an idea to make Fallout 1-2 music more symphonic?

Mark: Like I said earlier, I would take “Fallout 3” to a much more modern place, while honoring a lot of the elements of the earlier games. Maybe heavier, more ethnic, more rhythmic, it could be a hybrid with some orchestral elements. Just nothing traditional. As I recall, Tim and I never discussed anything orchestral. Now that you’ve brought this to my attention, it would be exciting to be involved with the new game.

G-OST: Fallout soundtrack is impossible to find. The same goes for Planescape: T orment. Giants: Citizen Kabuto is a little more widespread. We’re speaking of CD Audio, of course, not the .mp3 files. Have you ever thought of releasing this music officially? Y our music is a cult, you dominate people’s minds (have a look at Last FM statistics) and this idea could make you even more powerful, Mr. Morgan.

Mark: Vladislav has been asking me about this, but I can’t seem to locate many of the original tracks. The games were being written and formatted to the games in short timeframes, so I don’t know where some of the original masters went. I’m hoping they are in some of my older files, and I am definitely trying to locate them. I will let you know because I would like to make them available.
They also note this:
Recent news: Fallout Soundtrack as well as other Mark works will be published by Aural Network Industries ( label. Specially for this, all the tracks will be carefully remastered. In addition to this Mark is planning to compose his original solo album in close collaboration with Scann-Tec. Watch the news...
Link: Mark Morgan Interview on Game OST.

News for Thursday, February 7, 2008

Posted by 13pm - at 22:06

Yes, it is time for another 'Inside the Vault' today. Meet the QA Lead guy Kevin Kauffman.

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I am the QA lead on Fallout 3 and I manage the daily activities of a few dozen testers. In addition to scheduling and, you know, actually playing the game to look for bugs, I help manage the bug database that we use to communicate issues to the dev team — on a game this big, that can be a full-time job by itself. I am also fortunate enough to work closely with the development team to determine what needs to be tested on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Early on in development, this will start as a long term test plan based off of the concepts the designers and programmers have agreed should make the final product. Later in development this will mean sitting in on implementation meetings or pistol whipping developers Jack Bauer-style to get them to talk — so that we know exactly how they want functionality “X” to work.

What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
Please give me a shout out if your favorite game of all time is also Blast Corps for the N64 (crickets). That game just had such a unique idea and was so tight for its time. The concept says it all: A trailer carrying a nuke has lost control and is rolling slowly toward suburbia (over and over again on different levels) and instead of trying to stop it, you have to obliterate everything that stands in its way. Also you can drive the A-team van. Sold!

So hard to choose just one though… Civilization 2 is pretty much the only thing I can remember about the 8th grade. I also still enjoy the classics… I highly recommend QIX to anyone that hasn’t played it in a while — try to “split the stix”. Growing up in State College, PA, we had one of the greatest arcades on the planet (R.I.P. Playland) so I plunged a lot of quarters into the Theater of Magic and Attack from Mars pinball games as well.

What games are you looking forward to?
Is it fair to say Fallout 3? See, testing a game that you think you would normally really enjoy is kind of like seeing a relative naked (Yes, I am from Central Pennsylvania, but this really isn’t coming from any deep seeded history for me). You would normally really enjoy hanging around with this person when they are all put together and presentable, but you have a hard time picturing them with clothes on because, well, there they are, all naked and related to you (see, this analogy is about you). It’s hard to look them in the eyes, and next time you see them it may take a while before you can start talking to them again. I really am looking forward to playing Fallout 3 when it is fully dressed.

Outside of this building, Spore has me thinking I may have to go out and purchase a new gaming PC.
It's not hard to figure out which question was left "Outside the Vault" again.

Link: Inside the Vault - Kevin Kauffman

News for Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 21:44

So Interplay is still around, and while their preview job offerings for artists and designers are gone (filled?), they're now looking for a technical director:

Interplay Entertainment is looking for a qualified, motivated Technical Director to join our team working on a next generation MMORPG. We are looking for a team player who can accurately anticipate the project’s needs; someone who can constructively contribute to the quality of the game as a whole and share in its vision; someone who is an accomplished manager, serving the needs of all of the Lead Programmers.
They also note this:
Though Interplay is currently working out of the Beverly Hills office [that is Herve Caen's house - NMA], development will be moving to the Orange County, California area in the near future.
Link: technical director job listing for Interplay.

News for Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 19:27

Straight from mvBarracuda.

We've done it again! We proudly present the FIFE 2008.0 release Smile

* Source package (FreeBSD, Linux, Macintosh)
* Win32 binaries

Youtube promotion trailer:
FIFE 2008.0 promo video

Theme of this release:
For the 2008.0 release we decided to pick up the island_demo concept again. Right: again. We already used this concept for the 2007.1 release but we put it on ice as we worked together with the Zero-Projekt developers on a different example game for the 2007.2 release. The cooperation didn't work out as planned for either side and so both teams stick to their own projects again now.

After the cooperation has ended we considered all possible options and finally decided to flesh out the old island_demo concept and base our future example game upon it. Although we were able to finish the initial planning work for the new island_demo game some days ago, there is almost none of the new planned content in place yet. On the other side the engine itself and the editor tool that ships with it now made _huge_ steps forward since the last release about 4 months ago. Therefore we decided to release the current status as stable release although it offers not many new aspects on the content side and the content that is in place is very likely to change with the 2008.1 release.

The milestone itself seems to be a very important step into the right direction. You can build your own maps now with the help of the editor tool. Furthermore a basic application structure is in place that should give you an idea how can create your own FIFE-based game. We'll surely adjust the structure of the island_demo client over the next months but this release is stable enough to start working on your game now.

This release is surely not the beginning of the end of the road for us, but it's the end of beginning for the FIFE development team. Enjoy it as we do Smile

Important changes since the 2007.2 release:
* New audio module with support for some more advanced audio features.
* Optimized view code to improve the performance and resolve map instance z-order issues.
* Switched back to island_demo concept; this will be the example game that ships with future FIFE releases as well.
* Ability to save maps
* Routing pathfinding (previous release only had linear pather)
* Pluggable rendering system with several new plugins included.
* New editor tool, which can be used to layout maps
* XML-format improvements: stack position, z-position, camera definitions, animation x/y offsets
* Vastly improved pychan extension; XML based GUI definitions
* Quadtree adjustments
* Ability to define own settings formats and interpret them from scripts
* Ability to attach cameras to instances (so that they are tracked while they move)
* Separate x/y scaling for cellgrids, allows more flexible geometry definitions (e.g. rectangle)
* Basic mouse map instance picking.
* Improved engine-script exception reporting
* Mouse cursors can be changed from scripts

Few non-code related changes:
* Rough task list for the whole island demo has now been created
* Vastly improved documentation with nightly updates for engine core & scripts
* Lots of new content gathered and created for island demo e.g. agent definitions, clouds graphics, music...

Read the full release announcement at the FIFE developer blog.

Link: FIFE 2008.0 announcement on NMA

Posted by Brother None - at 18:54

One of those lists again.

3. "War. War never changes."

Even after most of the world has been turned into nuclear ash, even after the world governments have crumbled and the social infrastructure decays into anarchy, even when, after the greatest and most horrible war of all, the human race has every reason to band together in an effort to save one another from total annihilation -- they don't.

War never changes.

Fallout may be one of the most cynical, nihilistic game franchises in existence, which also makes it one of my personal favorites. Rather than half-assedly cultivating a world-weary tone through a sepia color scheme and needlessly gruff-sounding protagonists (I'm looking at you, Gears of War), the Fallout series tells the tale of some people who try to act with common decency in a world utterly lacking in it, and who are subsequently tortured and killed and exiled for their troubles. Cormac McCarthy would be proud.

In the world of Fallout you can do varying amounts of good on your quest through the Wastelands but, more often than not, your efforts can be just as easily undone by bad luck or the corruption of others. You can save the Ghouls of Necropolis from starvation, only to hear of their slaughter at the hands of Super Mutants. You can help the Brotherhood of Steel find new technology, but they'll use it to further their war-driven, quasi-fascist agenda. And no matter how much good you do in the original Fallout -- no matter how quickly you save the denizens of Vault 13 from dehydration and destroy the Super Mutant base -- you will always be cast out by a hypocritical, bureaucratic Vault Overseer who claims that your heroism will make you a bad role model for the other Vault Dwellers.

Without getting into a current sociopolitical discussion, let me just say that the themes suggested in Fallout (punishment of morality in an immoral world, the hypocrisy of authority, the petty and violent nature of humankind) can be seen quite clearly even today. Wars are driven by greed, necessity, stupidity, or fear -- and even after the cities have been burnt to cinders and the countryside irradiated, war will never change.
Destructoid went way overboard on over thinking sometimes simplistic messages here. Like Todd, they appear to think that BioShock's "Would you kindly" execution of railroading the player is "brillaint". I'd call it "hamfisted and paperthin", but I'm not them.

Link: The ten most meaningful videogame quotes of all time on Destructoid.

News for Sunday, February 3, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 1:28

Another “most anticipated video games of 2008” list includes Fallout 3, this time around from Reax Music Magazine:

Fallout, simply put, is one of the best CRPGs ever made. I remember my joy as a young teen as I ventured out into the wastes with little more than a few stimpacks and a shitty pistol to save Vault 13 from certain demise. This post-apocalyptic, darkly satirical masterpiece was my introduction to the genre, and holds a special place in my memory box labeled: Things You Did When You Should Have Been Studying. When I heard that Bethesda Software purchased the license to the long-defunct Fallout franchise, I nearly had a heart attack. After all, they built their empire on wizards and orcs in the popular fantasy series, The Elder Scrolls. I was marginally happy that the Fallout series wouldn’t end on such a sour note as the terrible Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, released in 2004 to messy critical failure. However, I remain skeptical as to whether Bethesda can revive Fallout in all its previous glory, with the change in perspective from top-down isometric to first and third-person, and a switch in setting from West to East Coast. The optimistic side of me welcomes these changes because change is an inevitable part of life, but I’m wary. Will Bethesda “get it?” My Magic 8-Ball says, “Ask again later.”
Link: Most Anticipated Video Games of 2008 @ Reax Music Magazine

Thanks anonymous.

News for Saturday, February 2, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 19:46

A little while ago, Bethesda released a developer diary describing for the first time the background events leading up to persistent Brotherhood activity in war-torn Washington D.C. Opinions on the piece were vocal and divided. Some thought it was a reasonable take showing that even Elders of the Brotherhood can undergo character growth in the face of wasteland realities; others decried it as a hamfisted retooling out of step with Fallout lore. Obviously such an argument can have no definitive resolution.

But why leave it there? We at NMA invite you to don your creative hat and present your own vision of the Brotherhood, where they are now and how they got there. Your assignment is to write your own version of this story, to tell it the way you would want it to be told, to set the Brotherhood up for the game you would want to play.

Your entry must be centred on the premise that the Brotherhood of Steel, or some group using their name and trappings, are operating on the East Coast. Who are they? What do they represent? What's their history, what state do we find them in, what's their agenda? We're looking for stories that are ambitious, well-considered, well-written, consistent and believable.

All surrounding details are mutable. You can but do not have to refer to other aspects of the setting and plot of Fallout 3 that have been revealed or hinted at, or try to guess at undisclosed plot points. You can frame your piece however you like, but don't forget about the content.

To fuel your creative efforts at fan writing, we'll be offering up a desirable fan prize. The winner will receive a poster-sized print of any one art piece by renowned fan artist Defonten: City Ruins, Cafe of Broken Dreams or Brand New Reno.

For the rest of the details, the rules and where to submit to, go to:
NMA Brotherhood of Steel Writing Contest.

Also, let me take this chance to remind everyone that stuff like the Fallout 3 preview and this only happen thanks to your generous donations. NMA is a non-profit site, we do not make money from our banners. So thank you, Mr Donating Man!

Posted by Brother None - at 7:11

Yeah, the last newspost didn't get the attention this long-running post-apocalyptic project deserves, so I thought I'd try this title.

In addition to what we said before, Ethan Taranto-Kent - Mad Nation's director - has now put the Trailer and Sneak Peek on Youtube.



Sneak Peek


Posted by Brother None - at 1:42

From a Next Generation article:

Player freedom and the idea of immersion are issues of which Bethesda Software, the developer of Oblivion and Fallout 3, is acutely aware. “It’s obviously something that’s had a big impact on us and the way we’ve approached our games,” says Bethesda’s vice president of marketing, Pete Hines. “Let the player create the character they want and go out and make their own choices. Go where you want, do what you want. You decide how to deal with problems and what to do next.

“But in a videogame it is at least somewhat important that you do not allow the player to break the game, either intentionally or unintentionally. So I don’t know how much we can do away with the rules, but we do the best to bend and stretch them as far as possible to allow people the most freedom possible. I don’t know how far we can stretch that freedom, but I assure you we plan to find out."

Hines suggests that much of what can make videogaming a transparent, believable experience is predicated on enabling a purer and more direct kind of roleplay, eschewing immersion-breaking mechanics like turn-based combat, and dependence on stat screens. But removing the abstraction of PnP introduces new challenges: since they rely on visual representation rather than imagination, videogames have to reconcile the disparity between a player’s desired action and his avatar’s capabilities in a way that is clear and avoids frustration.

“PnP games are about being limited by what your character can do,” explains Hines. “You make choices, but what usually ends up determining your success or failure is your character and a roll of the dice. That’s a tougher thing to balance in a videogame as we try to walk the line between having the player meaningfully interact with the world around you, and having the skills and abilities of your character determine your success or failure. We’ve already talked about this a bit with Fallout 3, where we want the condition of the weapon you are using, and your character’s skill with using that weapon, to determine whether or not you can kill that creature over there – not your ability to put crosshairs on a target and pull the trigger.

“Because you’re manipulating this avatar within a videogame, there’s a layer of feedback that has to be provided to the player, visually, that you don’t have to deal with in a PnP. You attack, roll dice; if you get a good roll you hit. If not, you miss. It’s pretty cut and dry. You may curse the roll but there’s no questioning what happened, unlike in a game where you may say: ‘Wait, my sword passed right through him’, or: ‘He was right in my crosshairs, why did I miss?’ I think we did a pretty good job of it in Oblivion where the player has control over what’s happening, but ultimately your character, and his or her equipment, abilities, etc, determines whether you succeed or fail.”

Ultimately, it raises the question of how the medium best serves the purpose of roleplay. “I think technology has expanded what we can do in terms of roleplay, not limited it,” counters Hines. “It takes things that were done in abstraction and brings them to life vividly. We’ve gone from NPCs in roleplaying that stand around and provide info like talking kiosks to characters that move around the world, interact with each other, and so on. The more horsepower you have to spend on things like AI, or physics, or animations, the more believable the whole experience will be. I think most of us were looking for something in PnP that really grabbed us and pulled us in to a world we wanted to be a part of – an experience we could get lost in. I think videogames continue to make strides toward that goal.”

Bethesda’s own Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion arguably stands as the high-water mark for this blend of roleplaying and responsive visualization. Its minimization of interface and choice of firstperson view is entirely geared toward delivering information to the player intuitively, rather than by reams of statistics. Even the way you advance your character is a natural extension of playing a role. “It rewards you for using your skills, rather than giving out experience points,” says Hines. “So we like for the player to simply get better at doing whatever it is they do. We don’t need to beat them over the head with stats.”
The rest of this lovely article at Next Generation is full of this typical "we must move cRPGs away from thinky bits and pesky numbers and towards more graphical immersions!" Typical Gas Powered Games nonsense.

Link: Adventureland on Next Gen (page 3).

Spotted on RPGWatch.

News for Friday, February 1, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 20:58

Kieron Gillen's excellent blog Rock Paper Shotgun has an interview up with the excellent Vince D. Weller, project lead of Age of Decadence.

RPS: What’s the problems with the modern RPG? How does Age of Decadence deal with it?

Vince: The problem is simple. Nobody is interested in making dialogue-heavy, turn-based RPGs loaded with meaningful choices and multiple paths. A game like Diablo will always sell more than a game like Planescape: Torment, and games like Torment are much harder to make. So, no publisher is interested in making games like Torment that may or may not sell enough to break even when you can make guaranteed hits like Diablo or Oblivion.

That creates a niche - a market too small for big companies to care about, but big enough for indie developers to play at. Since we can’t match the multi-million budget visuals, we go back to the roots – we focus on gameplay.


RPS: Okay - the thing which caused that mass-pile in the previous RPS thread was the turn based combat, specifically how it looked. I think there’s a problem in that it becomes more noticeably odd the more graphics effort a developer makes. The videos you’ve been released demonstrating the combat have that sense of distance due to sitting back and watching the attacks bounce between character to character - but if you treat them as immobile pieces (like, say, in a hex based game) it doesn’t phase the gamer. Is this a fair analysis? Or am I full of it? If so, why?

Vince: Have you played Silent Storm? Temple of Elemental Evil? Both games featured excellent turn-based combat and great graphics. Detailed 3D models and animations didn’t create any “odd” feelings but made gameplay more enjoyable, as one would expect.

Your comment implies that you’re looking at TB from the “it doesn’t look real” point of view and that’s where you’re mistaken. RPG combat systems, turn-based or real-time, is no more realistic than hit points (do you really think that someone could recover from a two-handed axe blow and continue fighting like nothing happened?), carrying enough junk to fill a warehouse, spells memorization, rechargeable mana, etc. Frozen in time characters patiently taking blows and waiting for their turns are no more odd or weird than RT’s single characters fighting thousands of enemies and destroying entire armies. These mechanics aren’t about realism, they are about fun.
Link: Against RPG Decadence: Vince D. Weller Interview on RPS.