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News for Monday, March 31, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 23:27

That's right, Down the Wall has an interview with Age of Decadence's lead developer Vince D. Weller and it looks like another plate of RPG theory has just been served:

DtW: How do you achieve player choice? How does that goal influence the narrative?

Vince:
I assume the first question should be read as “how do you insert a choice into a story without breaking it?”. The answer is by providing multiple solutions and story arcs, which, by the way, is more logical and interesting than set-in-stone events.

Let’s take The Witcher as an example. For storytelling reasons your character is arrested when he tries to enter the city and thrown in jail. In the jail your character is asked to kill a creature in the sewers where he meets an important NPC. That’s the drama- and twist-filled story. It works great in a book format where the reader is following adventures of the main character, but it’s too restrictive in a game where the player IS the main character.

A better design would have been to offer an alternative. Allow the witcher to enter the city via the sewers (after fighting the guards and escaping or after being warned about the ambush as a reward for developing relationship with the villagers) and then run into the above mentioned NPC who will offer you to join him to kill the creature. As you can see, it’s still the same overall story and direction, and the alternative doesn’t require new art assets and tons of development time. It reuses the same situations - the arrest, the creature in the sewers, the knight NPC, the same villagers, and the same sewers, but suddenly you get an important choice instead of a forced situation that you are unable to avoid.

That’s our design “philosophy”, for the lack of a better word. (...)

DtW: “Age of Decadence” is a huge world with multiple endings and over a hundred quests. How much of the game’s story can a player see on one run-through? How does this compare to other mediums for storytelling?

Vince:
No more than 60%. How does it compare? Well, many companies and publishers believe that most people will play a game only once, so they focus on making that single playthrough as memorable as possible, without worrying about replay value. Consider Knights of the Old Republic. First, the “OMG! I’m Revan!” surprise works only once and it tends to overshadow the replays. Second, there isn’t much to replay (unless you really love the story and want to experience exactly the same thing again). Keep in mind, we aren’t talking about the overall quality of the game here, we are talking about the replay value.

We designed the game with replayability in mind. You can replay the game 3-4 times taking different paths, discovering different things, arriving to different conclusions. Almost like playing several different games within the same story arc. Needless to say, we can’t rely on twists and surprises. Instead we focus on the player’s perspective, different ways to progress, and different storylines to follow.
Link: "Age of Decadence" Developer Says Choice Defines RPGs @ Down the Wall
Spotted at: Age of Decadence Forums

Posted by 13pm - at 11:18

Another interesting project made in Russia: Total Influence. It's an online multiplayer strategy game with turn-based combat. That's what the guys that created the game are telling about it:

Total Influence is a tactical combat game like "Fallout" and "Jagged Alliance".

"Total Influence" can be played with 2 to 4 players. When the game round starts, the players find themselves in the area covered with the war smog. Each player has 3 characters, each of them clears the smog around himself by moving. Each action costs a number of action points. When you are out of APs, it's your opponent's turn.
There's a replay clip between the turns, whish shows what's happened before. By the moment there are 24 items in the game including weapons, armor, medicines, ammo.
The map is randomly generated each time the game starts. You have 12 APs for each turn.



You might want a hotkey map:
Enter - open a chat window
Ctrl+Enter - a message to your team
Tab - switching the characters
I - open inventory screen
E - end turn
~ - console
A - change weapon
X - exchange items
S - pick up a backpack (you should stand nearby and have at least 1 AP)

Link: Download Total Influence client (4,2Mb)
Link: Total Influence Website

Thanks xu.

News for Sunday, March 30, 2008

Posted by Per - at 0:16

I know that tolerable podcasts exist. You have podcasts where people talk comprehensibly on topics they know well, or share live recordings or little-known music, using the medium to its strengths. Then you have podcasts where a boatload of people mumble, interrupt each other, make false starts, spend intervals laughing and generally act like they're chatting randomly over a beer and the idea of someone listening in ranks about 34th place in their minds, leaving you to wonder why this deserves an hour of anyone's time when you could receive the same information in five minutes glossing over a written article or series of relevant quotes from the people involved.

But maybe it's just me. PC Gamer makes podcasts and you can guess which kind it is. Between 25:00 and 30:00 they discuss Fallout 3 and the number of endings. A very cleaned-up exchange:

"Todd Howard recently said in an interview that the game at this point has about 200 different endings, at least 200 endings."

"Ooh, yes."

"That is amazing, I'm really fascinated to see how they'll do that. I wonder if it's gonna be the same thing they did in Fallout 2, where there are different endings for the different places you visited and what happened to all of those, so what they could be talking about is there could be 200 different combinations."

"No, that is too..."

"No, I think that is what he was saying, it's like iterations of endings."

"Has to be, there's no way there are 200 distinct endings."

"Yeah, not unique ones."

"It says here there are at least 9-12 original endings, then those get [extrapolated?] to 200 depending on how you play the game."

"I feel I should know more about this because this was on OXM podcast which I also produced. I really wasn't paying much attention to what he was saying at the time, so..."

(general laughter)
Arrrgh, podcasts. This is followed by an excerpt from the OXM podcast and more information taken directly from there. And even after that, they talk about "getting each and every one of those 200 endings". One of them suggests that the biggest difference between Fallout 3 and Oblivion will be that in Fallout 3 you can't play on after the endgame.

Oh, and 360 Magazine has an "explosive exclusive" on Fallout 3 in their latest issue (34), but their site doesn't give away any information whatsoever so you may just have to shell out £3 if you're curious. "From the makers of Oblivion... the greatest RPG ever made!"


Link: PC Gamer Podcast #126
Link: Order 360 Magazine

Thanks to Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog

News for Saturday, March 29, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 23:25

xulm dropped by to give us 3 artist renderings of sprites from Wasteland. And, for our international readers, a Polish-language interview on Motywdrogi and a Czech-language interview on youngstyle.cz

Posted by Morbus - at 1:59

There’s an online petition against the turning down of “Jericho”, CBS’s post-nuclear television drama:

To: Sci-Fi Channel

This petition is to the Executives of the Sci-Fi Channel. It is here to protest to the Executives that it will increase there profits by picking up Jericho and increase their ratings!

Sincerely,
The Undersigned
So, if you like Jericho and would like to see it back, go there and write your name down.

Link: Sci-Fi Channel to pick up Jericho Petition

News for Friday, March 28, 2008

Posted by Per - at 3:50

On March 21, Interplay effectively changed owners as 58 million shares were bought from the bankrupt Titus Software by a Luxembourg company called Financial Planning and Development S.A. (or FPD for short). This can be learned from a SEC filing dated March 27.

Who is behind the purchase, how much they paid, what this means for Interplay operations, and whether Herve Caen will remain CEO, are questions we don't have the answers to for now (basically because Herve says he doesn't know, despite being the bankruptcy trustee of Titus). A likely case scenario was that this was actually a way for Caen to shift the majority stock away from Titus and into a proxy. In that scenario, Herve Caen would hold control of over 60% of Interplay stock, as this move also activates Caen's option to buy 6 million Interplay stock.

Look out for more news on this shortly, Interplay should file its 10-Q before the end of March.

Link: Changes in control of registrant filing
Link: Amendment to 2006 annual report filing

Posted by Morbus - at 0:35

There’s a new Inside the Vault at Bethesda’s blog. This time, the interviewed dev is Jeff "jg93" Gardiner, the creator of Oblivion’s acclaimed Downloadable Content (including the renowned “Horse Armor”):

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m a Producer. AKA, the ‘cattle prod,’ the ‘snake-oil salesman,’ or ‘smiley-glad-hand.’ On Fallout 3, I’m in charge of keeping the designers busy. I also have a heavy background in design from previous projects, so I coordinate and help design various game systems; combat and VATS in particular, among other things. It’s a great job. Being able to shoot at things in a videogame all day, and then getting paid, isn’t something I take for granted.

What other games have you worked on?
As a Designer I worked (with Michael Kirkbride, who some of you know) on Defender. I then was promoted to Lead Design on Fantastic Four for the first movie. From there, I held the title of Design Director over various projects. Here at Bethesda, I helped produce Oblivion, and was Lead Producer on Shivering Isles, Knights of the Nine, and the rest of the DLC.
Seems like a nice chap. And for those of you wondering if he played Fallout (because it’s not asked in the interview), we know he did:
I’ve played Fallout on and off for years.
Spotted at: RPGWatch

News for Thursday, March 27, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 15:32

Fallout 1.5: Resurrection project’s website has a new update concerning its development state. It’s close, but not quite there yet:

Firstly I would like to thank those of you, who keep their fingers crossed and ask you to keep them that way. Currently we are starting scripting the last and incidentally the biggest location, which is why I have to announce that Resurrection won’t be finished this month. When we last year set the release date to the end of the year, not only that we really hoped that we will make it, but it also then appeared as a realistic date. We definitely didn’t waste our time. Last year we did an enormous amount of work, which we’ve ended, among other things, with a new design of our web page. Of course not everyone could spend as much time on the project as they would like to, and why not admit it, we didn’t properly estimate the time needed to finish certain things and to do the final tuning.

So when will Resurrection be finished? During the hectic period when the new web page was starting we a bit naively moved the release date only to the first quarter of the year. Although not in the first couple of months, the Czech version will definitely be released before the end of the year. Considering the past experience we’ll rather not specify the release date any further, so that we have a sufficient margin, and so this time we can hope be sure that we can make it. Whether the English version will be done this year, I can’t promise with clear conscience, but we’ll do everything we can to make it happen. Either way we’ll keep you informed about the progress of our work.
Link: Fallout 1.5: Resurrection

Thanks Ratman for the heads up.

News for Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 22:55

Early this month Pocket Fallout’s website was updated with quite a few new things, namely new look and a Game section, as well as a “donate” button.

Fallout for Pocket PC is a freeware close-coded game engine for Windows Mobile 2002, 2003SE, 5.0 with open map and script editors, allowing anyone to create SPECIAL-based Fallout-like RPG for PDA (even a complete port of desktop F1&2).

"Fallout: Back to U.S.S.R." is a game project, based on the FPPC engine, telling us a story about what happened on the other side of the world on post-nuclear Russia territory. Without vaults mutation rates and peoples destiny is much more severe here. You will play one of the apocalypse survivor and find your role in the plot of an organisation calling themselves - neocommunists. Will you decide to stop the raising plague of a new society based on Lenin and Stalin testaments or join the ranks of those who is building a new "bright future" on the ashes of nuclear war? Destiny is yours, comrade!"
Link: Pocket Fallout

Thanks Bytez.

News for Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 6:08

Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog brings us a longer transcript of the recent OXM podcast.

OXM: Have the number of endings been finalized…..how’s that coming along?

Todd Howard: Being that we are Bethesda…everything gets a bit big. So as of last week we’re over 200 endings. That is not an exaggeration, but it deserves some description. 200 endings…that’s a lot. So originally when we started, we had various iterations of the ending. The ending is kind of cinematic, that’s dynamic based on the things you’ve done.

When we started, it was kind of fuzzy, it was like “well there’s like 9 maybe 12″ and we started adding things to it. So if you had done this or not this, you’d get this other tweak to the ending. And we kept doing that. And you know even just two weeks ago someone had this idea, “Oh we should add this idea to the ending” (sorry I’m not going to spoil what that is). And I said, “oh that’s a genius idea, we have to do that.” But then it became, “oh, but there’s four versions of that.” So i was like, “okay there’s like four different versions of that part,” and that multiplies by, at the time we were at about 60 endings…so now there’s four versions of that, so now there are around 240 versions.”

The games on paper when we get started…they’re alot smaller, and then as we go they get bigger…we can’t stop ourselves. We’re have tons of people with good ideas here, and if they’re good and fit the tone, we’re going to try to jam as much into the game as possible. Fallout is probably twice the size of what we originally had on paper…it’s pretty big, so that’s what’s happened with the endings.

So some of that stuff is the big things of what you do very late in the game, some of those are things like your karma — how you’ve lived your life from the beginning of the game — you get certain scenes based on your karma. But we kind of like the ending as much as like the game itself at the beginning is you tailoring your character and then you play throughout this game, and unlike Elder Scrolls, where it’s a game where you can keep playing, Fallout 3 has a definite ending. So we wanted to go to efforts to make sure that the actual ending you get when you finish and get the ending, and make that ending reflect and make it individual to the user’s experience. We’ve definitely gone a little overboard.
This appears to be confusing some people and to be honest, Todd's being very vague. But he appears to be talking about Fallout 1/2-style permutations (the "ending slides"), in which case 200 really isn't all that much. Per explains:
Fo1 has 19 different endings, with 360 possible permutations. Fo2 has 47 endings with 1,105,920 permutations. If 200 is the number of permutations for Fo3, they are seriously behind. That would correspond to maybe 10-20 endings. But I'm assuming they'd have to be talking about permutations since you should know when designing a game whether you'll have ~12 or ~200 endings. You don't accidentally hop from 12 to 200 endings late in the development process and send in an order for 188 additional voiceovers from Ron Perlman (because he will KILL YOU). With permutations it would be thinkable, at least.
AI programmer Jay Woodward appears to be in agreement here, as we calculate that 255 permutations only requires 8 different yes-no variables (2^8-1).

News for Monday, March 24, 2008

Posted by Per - at 2:30

There's a new Inside the Vault feature starring Shannon Bailey who's an internal tool programmer. That sounds kind of raunchy?

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m a programmer in the systems group, which means that I mostly work on the ways things get into the game. Specifically, I do a lot of work on the editor and the art exporter, and I help maintain our build process.

What other games have you worked on?
The only game I’ve worked on besides Fallout was Midway’s Gravity Games Bike title (though I started in their tools department, writing plug-ins and doing r&d).

I spent some time afterwards studying and working in cognitive neuroscience, ultimately in a lab that studied the effects of playing video games on the brain. But unless you count pushing a button to indicate the familiarity of a stimulus as gaming, Fallout 3 is the only other title I’ve worked on, and the first RPG.
Shannon was instrumental in releasing a mod tool for Star Trek: Legacy, so when we need those Fallout 3 editors he may be the person to bug. Also, he has played Fallout! They didn't ask, but he volunteered the information.

Link: Inside the Vault - Shannon Bailey

News for Sunday, March 23, 2008

Posted by Per - at 20:38

The FalloutNow! team wishes the community a happy Easter and to prove it, they have infected the Easter Bunny with FEV! Or something. In the words of Lexx:

Because of eastern and lots of bunnys and rabbits and so on, we - the FalloutNow! Team - have decided to create a small modification with easter theme. This is now approx 5 days ago and we are really proud to present you now our small Fallout 2 modification. Because of a lack of time, the mod is only a small one with one quest to solve. Someone has stolen the easter eggs from the easter bunny! Who could be the thief? And who can be the manipulator? Find it out!


But: At the moment, this mod is only available in german. If somebody is interested in translating the mod into english or other languages, please contact me.
Link: Download Fallout 2: FalloutNow! Osterspezial (1.54 MB)
Link: NMA mod thread

Thanks to Lexx and the rest of the crew.

News for Saturday, March 22, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 4:07

Crispy Gamer has an editorial up on nostalgia and how it can be better to let go. It's noticeable for using some of the most amusing argumentation ever:

Somehow, lost within all of this concern was a simple fact to which I should have paid more attention: Oblivion, though not without its flaws, is the single best game that I have played in nearly four years. It's better than BioShock, better than Mass Effect, better than the Half-Life 2 episodes and certainly better than fun-but-less-inspired titles like Gears of War. It is, in fact, the best game I've played since the original Half-Life 2, which was in turn the best game I'd played since Deus Ex (released in 2000, and still my favorite game of all time). You may not put Oblivion on quite so high a pedestal, and that's an individual choice I won't begrudge you, but almost any rational gamer will admit that it's a fine example of the craft.
Heh. But it gets better, right here when he admits he's not even seen it in action but loves it.
I believe Fallout 3 is going to rock. I'm telling you this not because a developer asked me to, or because a publisher paid me to. I can't name a single member of the development team, nor do I have any further information than what is publicly available. I've never seen the game in action, and I know next to nothing about the plot. I work in the gaming industry, yes, but in this instance I am simply a gamer, analyzing what I know and what information is available to make a conclusion. I've spent time thinking about it, looking back on the experience of playing the first two titles (let's avoid talking about Fallout Tactics or Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, shall we?) and analyzing what I know about the people working on this latest installment, and I've come to my conclusion.
Oh wow. I hope this article is actually a subtle joke, because thinking it is some kind of insightful view to jump to positive conclusions (based on the trailer and the facts that he loves Oblivion) rather than worry about the franchise you love is really, really short-sighted.

We've seen these straw men from posters before, but I never through the gaming media would resort to them. Honestly, guys, if you start thinking "but Oblivion rocked!" and "it's better to smile than to be sad" are good arguments, you need to rethink your editorial.

Crispy Gamer, in case you never heard of them, are famous for asking penetrating questions of developers like "Your games rock, how do you make your games so awesome?" and "How come no one else can make games as awesome as yours?"

You're going to have to excuse me if I have a hard time taking them seriously.

Link: Editorial: Letting Go of Fallout on Crispy Gamer.

Thanks CG-Prophet.

Posted by Brother None - at 0:53

The latest issue of OXM also brought forth a podcast, interviewing Todd Howard. Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog's Briosafreak gave us a list of the surprisingly large amount of new info from the podcast.

Over 200 endings, since last week. The 12 endings was surpassed long ago.

The game is twice bigger than what they thought in the beginning. Still "not as big as Oblivion", but bigger than they started with.

Always just one human companion, and another NPC like Dogmeat. Dogmeat can be given assignments done with his radiant AI.

Dogmeat can die, but they are working on his health and how you maintain him. If you're reckless, he'll die, otherwise he'll normally survive.

[They make the comparison between this dog and Fable 2's dog.]

Brotherhood of Steel doing their own thing, finished on the game, on the verge of extinction, you'll interact with them a lot more after a determined point in the game.

The game is finished, but needs a lot of polishing, they are doing many playthroughs, they keep adding stuff, sometimes it takes 100 hours to play, just the main quest is 20 hours.

Absolutely tracking at fall (2008).

"Fans sending death threats" says one of the OXM guys. "How do you handle Rabid Right Wing kind of fans".

Todd says that what bothers him is to give as much information as possible to the hardcore Fallout fans and newer Bethesda fans so they know what the game is and isn't. They still haven't released much information, he's used to lots of criticism from fans of the Elder Scrolls or from Fallout fans, tries to understand what's behind the colorful language, what the fans mean with their criticism, and to see if they (Bethesda) agree or disagree with those viewpoints.

He acknowledged that some of the new screenshots got positive reactions too, some fans are beginning to understand their take on the wasteland, visually.

Todd notes "Usually I'm concerned with making sure they understand what the game is and what the game isn't. I always worry that somebody reads about it and they get excited, whether they're old Fallout fans or a newer fans of ours. My concern is usually I want them to know as much as they can so that when they go to buy the game they know what they're getting. (...) The people who bought Oblivion and then said "I didn't like it, this isn't what I thought I was getting", that's usually what concerns me more (...)
We have a lot more respect for them [Fallout fans] than anybody thinks in terms of they're very very passionate and we wouldn't have it in any other way.
I think you have to look at those comments and they're usually not raging to rage, although that happens sometimes."

Todd not going to change the game, when people say they don't like the presentation, but on aesthetics and how things were interpreted by them, they go "hey is there something we're missing or didn't take into consideration" and deal with it.
Link: OXM podcast 107 (interview starts in the 35th minute).

News for Friday, March 21, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 21:24

I think this is more or less worth a "NYOOOOOOOO".

The epic saga of Vault 12 already raced to an end in way too short a time, 24 comics as a whole. xulm notes:

I definitely like to think of it as of a first part of a story (and looks like I've already stated that before). I guess I've said that I'm going to do some mastering just after finishing it, too - of course not immediately, I really really really need some serious break. And it's better to look at it from some distance as well.

About the slicer dicer piece (and two other ones) - they were intended to fill the void between 18th and 19th page, I even begun writing a forum thread on it, uploaded the slicer dicer to the gallery and suddenly... I decided to keep them shut a little longer and show them after the finale page, not sooner.

And thanks guys, it's good to hear that all that comic was not a pointless effort nor wasted time after all


Link: Vault 12 thread on NMA.

Posted by Morbus - at 13:00

Armageddon Empires, a turn-based strategy title from Cryptic Coment, received a free expansion pack yesterday. Here’s part of the official announcement:

Close Air Support is something that indies are in a great position to do and it’s a real competitive advantage despite the small scale of the operations. In this new age of 900 lb. consoles, being able to evolve and expand a game slowly also plays to the PC’s strengths as a platform. Armageddon Empires is still the same core concept that it was back on release day in July 2007 but it’s a much better game now 8 months later. Cults of the Wastelands came about because of a convergence of factors. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a marketing ploy. Just like in Sea Lab 2021 when Sparks gives Stimutacs away for free that’s what I am doing with my demo. The promise of not only seeing Marduk when you buy the full version but Marduk and the Cults should be enough to push any fence sitters right over the edge and maybe even create some new addicts as well.

Beyond simple greed, there were some other factors involved as well. I originally had an idea of releasing free promo cards every couple of months. This had to be cut like so much else. I tinkered around with adding the capability to the existing architecture but when it became clear that it wasn’t going to be trivial I shelved it. I’m a collector myself who struggles with collection addiction. I’ve had some real victories going cold turkey off MMO’s, collectible this and trading that. But the endless possibilities of another expansion block are captivating and seducing. Even if that promo is a lame card/mini it’s still satisfying to add it to the collection. Does the man with the most toys at the end win? I don’t know but I liked the idea of adding something more to AE.

I also wanted to thank customers who had taken a chance and supported me. AE is a modest success because people take the time to talk about it to other people. Word of mouth is what has put me in a position to contemplate and start working on a second strategy game. Even the wonderful press coverage I have received is due in large part to reviewers and opinion makers talking about the game at their secret meetings in the Reviewer’s Guild. It has to be because my PR efforts have been pretty half-a**ed. In my defense, it’s not an easy task and I expected progress to be slow and measured so I’m not complaining. But the bottom line is that I want to send a message to supporters of Cryptic Comet that I appreciate the vote of confidence and you can expect good things like Cults of the Wastelands from me in the future.

Thanks!

Vic
Download: Cults of the Wasteland

Spotted at Rock, Paper Shotgun

News for Thursday, March 20, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 2:08

Well, it was a busy month for many of us and we got a pile of submissions, but after lots of reading and a short period of fisticuffs over which one was the best, we're ready to present the results.

Running away with first prize and his very own poster print of Defonten art is Tucker. He had a lot of competition to fight off, and we'd like to congratulate him on his win.

Closely behind Tucker are the two stories by Kirby Go and Aaron Moyer, both of whom just missed the grand prize but are still worthy of publishing here.

We'd like to thank everyone who competed. A lot of you clearly struggled with our word limit which, in hindsight, was probably tuned down a bit too low. Regardless, and also despite some of our ESL readers struggling with their English, it was interesting to see what a flurry of ideas and alternatives boomed in from the community. While I wouldn't advise Bethesda to put one of these pieces up instead of Emil's, there sure isn't any shortage of ideas here.

We invite all our contest submitters to head over to this forum and submit their entry for all to read. We'd also like to thank our jury of Ausir, Murdoch, Per, welsh and Brother None for their jurying work.

News for Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Posted by The Vault Dweller - at 22:35

The well-known magazine Game Informer has recently printed an article concerning Fallout 3 producer Emil Pagliarulo's opinion on story. A quote:

When I was a kid growing up in South Boston, the trashcans in our backyard were dragged to the curb for pickup, every week, by a homeless man named Vinnie Trashki. Yeah, I know. "Trashki." Bitter irony or cruel nickname?

...creating fiction for a video game poses one very distinct challenge - you've got to accept that the whole of your writing - characters, narrative, everything - is simply not as important as the gameplay...
You can read more at the Fallout 3 Blog.

Sincerely,
The Vault Dweller

News for Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Posted by Dude101 - at 21:47

Some new screens and concepts are up on the Fallout Online website, one of which is of a "fix boy", which seems to suggest weapons etc need repairing.


Fallout Online website.

News for Monday, March 17, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 22:35

Today Vince D. Weller brought us a little something about Age of Decadence, this time through RPG Watch. You probably know about the "Let's play" thread in the official forums. For the most part, it's a huge mess and there are lots of discussions going on, lots of screenshots and lots of game information. Now Vince sums it all up (the first part actually) in a detailed article:

(...) while you're welcome to visit our forums and participate in the Let's play AoD thread, it's a 50-page long beast filled with arguments, counter-arguments, argument-busters, and tactical nuclear arguments, so if you are only interested in the screens and some commentaries, this article, the first in a short series, is for you.
Link: Let's Play AoD! @ RPG Watch

Spotted at: RPG Codex.

News for Saturday, March 15, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 12:40

Once again Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog lets us know about Emil. This time he’s spoken in the forums to clarify a few things...

Hey all!

Sorry for the confusion. Let me clarify that a bit.

I meant, in general, the game is fully playable in third person. You can run around, adventure, get into combat ("run and gun") etc. all in third person, and the camera was designed to accommodate that kind of gameplay, unlike the third-person camera in Oblivion, which was more of a "vanity mode."

You can zoom the camera back pretty far in third-person, but there comes a point where it becomes less and less effective the farther back you pull the camera, just because you're so damn small and it's hard to gauge where the crosshair is at that point. So yeah, you can use third-person for combat, but the game wasn't really designed to be played with the camera pulled ALL the way back, isometric style. That's more for fun, and to survey the scene. It's really no different than any game that lets you zoom a third-person camera back.

A couple other points of clarification:

-- When you enter dialogue, the camera zooms into first-person.
-- When you enter V.A.T.S. the camera zooms into first-person.

If you were in third-person when you went into one of those mode, you're back in third-person when you come out.

News for Friday, March 14, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 20:20

I'm posting this...

Senior Programmer
Tired of coding the same stuff day in and day out? Do varied tasks and independent work sound appealing? If so, we have the job for you.
Interplay is looking for a talented and experienced programmer to manage and maintain assets of Interplay’s extensive library of games. The ideal candidate will have a broad programming background, with the ability to work fluidly in existing codebases. Flexibility over a variety of tasks and platforms is a must. This position will be self directed and requires maturity and responsibility.
Not out of too much interest, but because for the Interplay-watchers out there, the "office" address is still Beverly Hills 90210, Herve's house. So despite speculation to the contrary, Interplay has not made the planned move to the OC yet (why am I listing teen show names as places of residence, here?).

Link: Gamasutra job listing - senior programmer.

News for Thursday, March 13, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 22:05

Another Slavic-named (Polish, in this case) Bethesda employee in Adam Adamowicz. Hey, Mr Adamowicz, did you ever play Fa...*muffled*

What other games have you worked on?

Actually published? Working backwards: Shivering Isles, Goblin Commander, NightCaster I & II. The first game I worked on was Hired Guns for Psygnosis, when they were still around. I, we, all literally worked 70 to 90 hour weeks trying to get it in a box. Two and a half years later, Psygnosis went belly up, and we all had our nervous breakdowns. In the meantime our efforts got us noticed and bought by other companies, so at least we were essentially staying afloat. Financially there was always bankruptcy hovering around the corner, like a clammy fart.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

Other ones that never made it, Lost Continents, Fugue, Cthulhu Now, Fistful of Zombies…they all had some great ideas I refuse to let die…

What is the best part about working as an artist? The worst part?

Best part, I get to draw all day and wrack my brains trying to come up with more weirdness. Worst? Being stumped for an idea makes me crazy, and crazier when I’ve created something I think is derivative of all the stuff that’s out there. That’s when I start pacing the parking lot muttering to myself, and gesturing like a beach crab. And actually, this happens all of the time. Seriously, it’s part of the fun, and why caffeine was invented.
Link: Inside the Vault - Adam Adamowicz.

Posted by Brother None - at 22:03

George Miller, Mad Max director and owner of the Mad Max IP, has announced he's working on Mad Max: the game with God of War II director Cory Barlog. It'll be an action-adventure game inspired on the Mad Max: Fury Road film that Miller had to cancel. Guns, vehicles and the like are all in.

On the balance between action and drama in videogames:

Games are a way more nascent medium than cinema. We're watching games evolve as we speak, very dramatically. The balance is going to tip the other way. I go back to the notion of immersion of the audience. Games, being highly interactive, are very immersive with the audience, but there needs to be some experience that the player takes from that. And it's a very fertile medium to work in if you're looking towards how you can inform a character. So what I'm saying is, just as movies are moving towards games, games are going to be moving towards movies, where that balance is going to be less--that sort of balance towards action over character, and any character or story is basically in support of the action sequences.

On why he's resisted previous entreaties to work on a "Mad Max" game:

For many, many, many years--for as many years as I can remember, we've been asked to make games of the "Mad Max" story. I mean, we've been approached by every major game company or developer virtually, asking "Can we do a 'Mad Max' game?" And to me, it always felt like what I used to call empty calorie action. Where you just--the thing that you were alluding to before, which is just action for its own sake without anything underneath it.
Link: Exclusive: Writer-Director George Miller Announces 'Mad Max' As First Game From Creative Alliance With God of War II Director Cory Barlog on Level Up. See also their in-depth Q&A, part I and part II.

Thanks Lexx and Wasteland Stories.

News for Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 20:48

In a Bethesda forum post, AI programmer Jay “RadHamster” Woodward explains why he thinks VATS and RTwP are really not the same:

One key distinction between VATS and RTwP is that VATS provides a tactical view, complete with chance-to-hit percentages, much like the aimed shot display from the original Fallout, presented in the actual game view as a HUD overlay. This isn’t just eye candy; the percentages are exactly reflecting what’s going to happen “behind the scenes.” That’s quite unlike any RTwP system I’m familiar with.

An even more fundamental distinction between VATS and a real-time-with-pause system is what happens when you leave the “pause” mode and the action resume.

In a RTwP system, when the action starts again, you’re simply back to real-time.

In VATS, when the action starts again, you’re not back to real-time. Rather, you’re in a mode where your character acts quickly, while the rest of the world is heavily slowed down. Again, the results of your actions are purely statistics-driven, based on the percentage chances that were presented in the tactical view. And again, that’s different from any RTwP system that I’m aware of.

Obviously VATS is different than taking a turn. But I can tell you, in my own entirely subjective and personal experience, that when I enter VATS, queue up some shots, and fire, it does indeed feel very much like I have chosen to “take a turn” at that moment, in the sense that the world stops and what I choose to do happens more-or-less “immediately” and in a purely stat-based fashion.

Do note that I’m not saying anything new about VATS here; I’m just contrasting the major points of distinction with RTwP. As Brio pointed out earlier, all of this detail and more can be found in the official fan interview; I recommend checking it out.
Hit comments if you want to see why I, having seen the demo, disagree.

Link: forum post on BGSF.

Spotted on Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog.

Posted by Brother None - at 20:30

Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog offers a summary of Emil Pagliarulo's continued Q&A session with Fallout fans on the official Bethesda forum. A few of the most interesting of these:

I think I would have preferred to see you address the point I raised in my original post about producing something unique rather than what the rest of the industry is creating.

Emil: You’ll really have to play the game to judge its uniqueness. Sure, we’re using an existing IP, but as someone who plays just about everything, I’d consider Fallout 3 pretty damned unique (if nothing else!). It’s a first/third-person RPG, but it’s got a different vibe than Oblivion, by a long shot, and a lot of other gameplay elements/sensibilities I don’t really think I’ve seen in other games. Okay, I’m biased. But I still feel that’s very true.

Wouldn’t you, as an artist, rather create something completely different to what the rest of the industry is creating?
Now you can come back and claim that this really is something that you’re doing with Fallout 3, but if you did, I think you’d be lying to yourself as well as us.


Emil: Well, I very much feel that Fallout 3 is different from what the rest of the industry is doing, whether we’re using an existing IP or not. That was one of the prime reasons I wanted to work on the project. Is a game “just a shooter” because it has guns in first person? Or is a game “definitely an RPG” because it has character dialogue and choice? Those are just two examples– I think, in Fallout 3, there’s a mixing of genres there that’s pretty rare in a lot of other games.

Now, if you’re asking if, as a creative person, I’d prefer to create a completely new IP from scratch, the answer is — it depends. If I had what I thought was a great idea, and were given the opportunity to create a new IP, would I want to do that? Sure. But if I were offered the Batman or Blade Runner licenses and asked if I could a make a game based on those IPs, I would kill for that chance as well. It depends on the strength of the IP, and what I thought I could bring to it. The latter is exactly what happened with Fallout 3.

There are still plenty of opportunities to be very unique within existing IPs, and I very much enjoy doing that. That’s basically what happened with the Dark Brotherhood stuff in Oblivion. The IP was there, the lore was there… I took it, was inspired by it, but in the end I sort of did my own thing (for better or worse). And I loved every second of it.
Emil, I think you missed the point of the question there, buddy. I'm pretty sure he's asking why you're changing Fallout 3 into the popular commercial model, not why you're using an existing IP. Gender-blending does not originality make.
While I enjoyed it [Dark Brotherhood Questline for Oblivion], I found it was not really revolutionary, and as with almost all of the quest lines in Oblivion, it was completely linear.

Emil: True, it was linear, but that was by design. Quests with multiple paths were never planned for Oblivion… with the amount of content we had, we simply didn’t have the time or resources to design them that way. So they had a different, more straightforward structure, and we were totally fine with that.

In Fallout, we have fewer quests, and they tend to have a level of complexity far beyond those in Oblivion. Multiple paths, multiple choices, etc. In the Dark Brotherhood, even if you learned who the traitor was, you couldn’t really affect the outcome. In Fallout 3, a quest like that would certainly have allowed the player more options.

Very different games.

Doesn’t the fact that you’re making a sequel to someone else’s intellectual property obligate you to maintain continuity with the design goals and principles (pen and paper RPGs) of the series you’ve taken upon yourselves to do.

Emil: I think we have a responsibility to make a good game, true to the source material, and I think we’re doing that.

Do I feel we need to maintain continuity with the design goals and principles (pen and paper RPGs) of the series? It depends on how you define those design goals and principles. Do we feel like we have to do exactly what the creators of Fallout 1 and 2 did? Clearly not. I don’t think it’s at all my responsibility to make a game that was just like the previous ones. I think it’s my responsibility to make the best game I can, one that’s true to the Fallout universe, spirit and style of gameplay (though this last bit is the most subjective of all).

How is the pen and paper basis of Fallout manifested in the gameplay of Fallout3?

Emil: Pen and paper gameplay is all about freedom of expression and choice, the way I see it. Those values are obviously evident in Fallout and Fallout 2. So that was one of our big design goals going in… give the player choices. Give the player the freedom to go where they want, and do what they want.

But you also have to be careful, because playing a video/computer game is much different than playing a paper and pencil game. Your DM or game master is there to prevent you from “breaking” the game and ruining the experience. So that’s our job as well — we have to handle stuff to prevent you from completely breaking your game. Games are an imperfect technology. Something can always go wrong. So you provide the player with a lot of freedom… but within a framework. You can give the player the freedom to, say, kill someone who gave them a quest… so long as that doesn’t put the player in a weird state where other quests break, etc. That’s just sloppy, so we have to take the time to cover those bases. But in an open-world game, there are only so many bases you can realistically handle. So it’s a judgment call.
Now that's odd. I might be misreading here, but is Emil actually arguing that the gameplay, which is basically the same in both Fallout 1 and 2 and the philosophy of which is well documented is "the most subjective"? Compared to a setting/atmosphere that is approached completely differently in both titles and in which even the most basic setting points are points of contention? 'scuse me, Mr Pagliarulo, that looks to me to be a rather illogical viewpoint to take.

Keep up the fan interaction, though!

Link: Another return of Emil on Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog.

Posted by Morbus - at 12:06

In a moving display of love for the fans, Todd Howard clarifies some aspects about Fallout 3. Again.

GamePro: To Oblivion players, what will Fallout 3 feel like? It's obvious (to us at least) that combat mechanics and design play a much larger role in Fallout 3 than Oblivion.

Todd Howard:
The overall game flow feels like Oblivion, in that you make your own character and then explore a huge open world and do whatever you want. The basic gameplay of Fallout 3 is similar, which is one of the reasons we really wanted to do Fallout in the first place. I'd say the amount of action is similar to Oblivion, not more, not less. (...)
If you want to keep reading (not much else to read though), be sure to check the full GamePro.com’s interview.

Thanks Mr Lizard.

News for Monday, March 10, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 2:33

From chewie:

With our last news about the birthday of the project, we showed you some of our progress by releasing screenshots. This time we can offer a Showreel about the development of the last weeks which shows some ingame scenes.

We hope to give you a deeper look into Zero and - that could be important for modders - what FIFE is already capable of.

We can't mention that often enough: FIFE is under heavy development and new features are nearly added every day. So we encourage everybody who wants to create an own cRPG (or other type of game) to have a look into FIFE and join the modding community of this engine.

You can grab the video here: Zero Showreel (~40 MB, avi)

Of course this stuff is still WIP - but we'd like to hear your feedback






Link



Link: Zero Projekt thread on NMA.

Posted by Brother None - at 0:33

An interesting picture appears on the Interplay website:


From top clockwise: EarthWorm Jim, Drow from Dark Alliance, concept art of Fallout Online, Coil from MDK.

Not other info on there, aside from the site keywords: video games vintage fallout descent earthworm jim console PC playstation xbox rpg classic interplay black isle studios mmorpg.

There'll be a new 10-Q up in about two weeks (supposedly), we'll learn more then.

Link: Interplay website.

Thanks wasteland stories.

News for Friday, March 7, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 6:23

With a lot of thanks to the former Wassenaarder bloody hypocrite, here are some excerpts. For the complete article, grab the OXM as it hits the stands this Monday.

"When we started this, we would go to great lengths to explains the differences from Oblivion," explains Fallout 3's executive producer, Todd Howard. "If you're talking to an enthusiast, there are so many differences, and we feel it's under-selling the game to say it's Oblivion with guns. But when we started talking to more consumer-oriented magazines, we'd have, like, two seconds...and we'd say, 'it's like post-apocalyptic Oblivion with guns.' And they're like, 'Awesome!' To Joe Public, it's mainly first-peron, wide-open game and you get to do what you want. The game it's closest to is Oblivion. So now when someone asks, 'Is it Oblivion with guns?' my main answer is, 'in all the best ways.'"
The truth is, the list of comparable titles is pretty short. As Lead Designer Emil Pagliarulo puts it, "How many massively single-player role-playing games are there?"
(...)
"I think it's more in the Tarantino fashion, which is to have some fun with it," says Howard. "It keeps it almost surreal. All these posters and the music are winking, but when the guys die, it's over-the-top. It's rendered really nicely, so on some level, it's believable - but it's ridiculous. That's the point."
"It would be a lot less fun without that level of gore," adds Pagliarulo. "It's part of the visceral experience. You laugh your ass off when you see a mutant's leg get blown off. It never gets old - it hasn't yet."
(...)
And that's the final piece of gear you'll need to pack before your vacation at the end of the world: a wicked sense of humor. "It's so depressing that you have to see the humor in it," says Pagliarulo. "If not, you'll lose your mind or slit your wrists. Part of your brain refuses to admit it will ever happen, so you have to look at it and laugh. The dark humor of talking to an old lady who's really nice to you, and then blow her head off, put her head on a counter, and pretend to talk to her...there's a certain charm to that."
(...)
"We're still messing with how your companions heal, but you can give him stimpacks if he's hurt," says Howard. "We're not sure how much of that [companion maintenance] is interesting. But we think Dogmeat is going to be pretty popular - 'I'm going to do the Mad Max thing and wander the wasteland with my dog.'"
Images removed by request of Official Xbox Magazine


Other tidbits of info include:
- 10mm SMG is back
- "Feral" ghouls are in and zombie-esque
- There are mercenaries of the "Talon Corporation"
- You can aim for weapons in VATS

Thanks again, bloody hypocrite.

News for Thursday, March 6, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 17:46

While we're waiting for someone we know to get his hands on OXM and type out some info, xXShankstahXx put up a massive summary of all info from OXM on the official Bethesda forum.

--Basic Points-- (They played a January 31st model of the game on Feb. 1) 6 pages - 12 in-game pictures (Not including the front-page picture shown twice in magazine)

-Beginning of game-
*You start out as a baby where the "Gene Projector" tells your basics in appearance as your father is "inspecting" you. (Choose whether you're Male/Female). So the Projector projects what you will look like in later years (I think 19), and the doctor is revealed as your dad (And as already stated, he will look somewhat like an older you).
-The dad will wear a surgical mask initially so you can't tell his looks till after your decide your appearance with the Gene Projector.
-As already stated, this is in Vault 101
-In this scene, it says you can press A to cry (360 version obviously)

*You start out the game a year later where you can press A to... say "Dada" (with the A button). You get a book called "You're SPECIAL!", where you chose your characters main stats (Choose from Stength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. I think this has already been gone over). It says choose wisely on stats as, "upgrade oppurtunities will be rare."
-You can also walk, open the playpen gates, jump on the bed. (Obviously a tutorial. I mean like who jumps on a bed /tripledot)

*The game then goes towards your tenth birthday party (Jumping on beds and parties?!? Vault 101 is a post-modern Frat House). Here it states, "you'll learn social interaction with the party guests." You'll also receive the Pip-Boy 3000 wrist computer (health and inventory interface in game), a BB gun with "combat training at the shooting range".

*At age 16 you'll take GOAT (Generalized Occupational Aptitude Test); here you'll determine your future as it's a personality test with situations. (I guess like the intro of Morrowind? interesting)
-An example is given stating, "if you're hypothetically called on to eliminate rad roaches from the cellar, would you smash them with a pipe or shoot them with a gun?".
-Later states that 3 skills will get a boost. "the three you're going to focus on that get a big boost at the start. Every time you level up, you get points to spend on improving any of your skills, so that's what is increasing as the game goes along." (Pete Hines)

*At age 19, the game start's official on your quest in Washington, D.C. circa 2277. As stated before, your person feels pressure by the Vault Overseer deciding to go find Pa.


-Other stuff-

*Mentions several guns: Chinese Assault Rifle, 10mm sub-machinegun, flamethrower, and the Fat Man ("shoulder-mounted launcher of miniature nuclear bombs, which detonate with a small but horrific mushroom cloud").

*A picture using the VATS system is shown on a Super Mutant Behemoth. Percentage signs and bars shown on head, arms, upper legs (lower legs cut out), abdomens/chest, and upper chest/throat). The magazine states that it's all of the above regions with the two chest ones just being one, so one is likely the general health. Not sure.

*Picture of a mutants leg getting blown off. The inspiration for their death sequences is stated as Burnout with their crash mode. They say, "Just replace the greasy car parts with greasy body parts."
-Pagliarulo comments, "It would be a lot less fun without that level of gore... It's part of the visceral experience. You laugh your ass off when you see a mutant's leg get blown off. It never gets old -- It hasn't yet."


*Says each VATS shot uses action points, which replenish when you're not shooting.

*Says that weapons last so long before they break (No more repair hammers). Worn pieces can be combined though to build new weapons. The rate of fire slows and accuracy is lost while the gun wears. Also says two guns can be combined to make a better that also will be vulerable to wear and tear.

*Mention of a greater use of party members is displayed (then Oblivion). "companionship will be infrequent", one says.
-They mention an example of a dog called Dogmeat at the Scrapyard who'll attack enemies and forage for food.
-They mentioned that they're not sure how animals can heal themselves, but stated you can give them stimpacks if hurt.

*There's also a Pip-Boy's radio - "One-man radio plays on Galaxy Free Radio as well as popular hits from the 1940s offer a cheeky, cheery backdrop to the devastation."

-You were probably waiting for the pictures link only to find crappy descriptions section-
Pic 1 - A picture of a Feral Ghoul. Partially torn pants, skinny to the bone body, and loose eye. Looks like same detail amount from the zombies in Oblivion, but a lot different appearance.
Pic 2 - A picture of the Pip-Boy. On the bottom has the 3 basic section buttons (stats, items, data). It seems like it has the same sub-sections feature from Oblivion where in the stats section it displays status, SPECIAL, skills, perks, and general. The screen with a green background is in the Stats/Status section stating the HP, AP, XP, a guy named Albert - Level 5, 6 different body parts each with bars (head and left leg crippled, so says crippled instead). Behind the bars is that main blonde creepy guy. Apparently a dotted line on the crippled face/leg while rest is whole lined (crying face included). Also says CND, RAD, and EFF on side of screen.
Pic 3 - Picture of Vault 101. Likely your 10th birthday with the party hats. Mostly gray, metal architecture with red chairs.
Pic 4 - Picture of the book called you're SPECIAL!. It's on page 4 stating, "C is for Charisma, it's why people think I'm great! I make my friends all laugh and smile, and never want to hate!" (I feel like an idiot after typing that. Moving on.)
Pic 5 - Picture of Super Mutant Behemoth. Reminds me of that super buff guy from 300, but skin is copper looking with metallic parts attached. Using a firehydron(sp?) as a weapon. Some of the interface shown. Enemies health on the bottom center of screen which looks like the line with bars when you're changing radio stations on an older radio (I bet this only makes sense to me). Bottom right is the AP meter and bottom left is the HP. Below HP bar is some weird dots on a line (maybe the compass). Below bottom right are something that says CHD with a bar and split off on the other side is simply a 1/6 (grenades amount?)
Pic 6 - Picture of a man blowing the leg off of some mutant. A lot more blood then in Oblivion shown, but not anything unrealistic like GoW. Sub-machine gun used and the person shooting has no face protection.
Pic 7 - A talking screen with someone outside the Vault. The man has a gun on his back, bald, with some facial hair. Has this armor that seems like connected piece of iron or some other metal, but is varied to the extent that it may be scraps latched together by leather. The dialogue options are, "You could come with me. I could use a hand." and, "Finding a crew might be tough. Good luck though." (Guess he's a raider)
Pic 8 - Picture of a well armored person using what seems like a mini-gun.
Pic 9 - Over the shoulder picture of player running towards Dogmeat. Gun shown on back.
Pic 10 - A distant view of Ramshackle, which states, "was built from the parts of a downed airliner."
Pic 11 - A picture of the player shooting the Behemoth in an over the shoulder view. The number 101 is shown on the back of the players shirt.
Pic 12 - Picture of the character and Dogmeat in the middle of a rural, ghost town.
Link: Forum thread on BGSF.

Spotted on Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog.

News for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 23:55

The legendary Scott "Hey Tim maybe we should use a post-apocalyptic setting for Project GURPS" Campbell has all of a sudden surfaced, starting a new studio.

The company is led by former EA technical art director Jay Kootarappallil whose former work spans titles including Ratchet & Clank and Medal of Honor. Former Fallout lead concept and game designer R. Scott Campbell co-founded the company and serves as its creative director.

In a release, the company said it intends to focus on original IP, but is also open to working with outside publishers on "interesting titles needing development." It also promises WhiteMoon Dreams titles "will be different through refreshing gameplay, new directions in the visual medium and content that engages the player's mind and hearts rather than just their hands."

Said Kootarappallil, "Our games are our dreams! We want to be in the worlds we're building, dealing with the situations we're creating, and being the characters that we're lovingly crafting. The moon (in our own personal way) signifies our love for the art of game-making. We love making games, we love the people who make them, and we especially love the people who play them!"
Link: Fallout, Medal of Honor Devs Form WhiteMoon Dreams.
WhiteMoon Dreams website.

Posted by Brother None - at 19:33

Another Inside the Vault with the well-be-bearded-if-not-grizzly Dane Olds, a man who has played Fallout but certainly won't be asked about here. News at 11.

What is the best part about working as an artist? The worst part?
The best part about being an artist for me is seeing my artwork in a game. I love figuring out how objects work, I love the creative process, and I love seeing an idea turn into a piece of art, but at the end of the day seeing my hard work on screen makes everything worth the effort. The worst part about being an artist for me is seeing your work cut from a game. As an artist your work will get cut at some point. Even though it’s for the greater good, to see something you’ve toiled over for hours go into the trash can is always difficult.
Link: Inside the Vault - Dane Olds.

Posted by Brother None - at 19:24

Three different sites picked up the bit on response to fans from Emil Pagliarulo in the Next Gen interview and ran with it. I thought it was interesting in that none of them seem all that impressed and their reactions are very varied. The other two got their news from ps3.qj.net:

So Bethesda's focusing on making a game that they want to play. He later said that because of the Fallout 3's momentum, and now that its release is on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC is inevitable, they really couldn't worry anymore about what fans are complaining about.

As holders of one of the most anticipated franchises in gaming history, Bethesda Game Studios had a lot going for them when they first announced Fallout 3 was in development. That quickly died, however, when they revealed more specific details of the game and were accused of butchering the franchise's legacy.

But still the studio took the bad rap and now are poised to complete the less RPG, more FPS Fallout 3, ignoring fan outcries altogether. This wouldn't be the first time Bethesda's pulled that trick on thousands of players when the studio performed a similar handstand during the bickering over The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

"You have to make the game that you’re making and know that it’s a good one and continue with that," he said. But seeing as there's a lot of outspoken gamers still bitter at Fallout 3, we might see another Unreal Tournament 3 misfire in the making. Stay tuned for more developments.
Evil Avatar:
Actually I am in the same opinion as many other roaring Fallout fans out there. Thinking that they actually butchering the Fallout franchise a little.

But, and that's a big, BUT. I know I will love and enjoy the game, but it will not be the same fallout game I was hoping for. Kinda like Fallout Tactics.
Destructoid:
Bethesda has ignored the screams of Fallout fans in the production of a game that resembles an FPS more than an RPG. The roleplaying elements will be there, but it can't be argued that the game is going to be a very different beast from the one that players were expecting. Bethesda, however, has recognized a need to be ruthless and explained exactly why it's not listening to the outraged war cry of a thousand angry gamers.
(...)
At the end of the day, Bethesda is responsible for a sequel that was always going to make people unhappy, no matter how well made the game may or may not be. It's simply impossible to give everybody exactly what they want and the studio clearly knows this. Sometimes what fans want is what's best for themselves, not the franchise, and sometimes it's just not worth trying to cater to everybody, because once you start attempting to satisfy everyone, you end up pleasing none. Like Emil said, you just have to make what you're making. Let the fans answer with their wallets, and the fallout for Fallout be as it may.
Thanks Mungrul.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:44

gry.o2.pl has an interview up with EvoWare's Sławomir Szynkowski about the state of the game New Dawn (in both English and Polish).

Klecha (Gry.o2.pl): Why did you cancel it? You did promise to release the demo.

Sławomir Szynkowski (Undead Society/EvoWare): There have been a lot of factors contributing to this decision. Firstly, it's the game engine. As time went by it became clear that the engine was not going to cope with such a huge project without ridiculously high system specifications. We just couldn't give up on some design elements, including graphics quality, because we believed it would hurt the game.

Secondly, we've had no secure financial support. We reached a point from which it was impossible to go on, unless we had some serious external financial aid. Even though we were optimistic, it became obvious that it is very hard to find support for such a game as ours, which in addition, is not competing with modern high-end RPG games.

We could either finish this kind of crippled game and disappoint our fans and ourselves, or suspend the whole thing, which we eventually did.

Klecha (Gry.o2.pl): Is there any future for New Dawn or have you thrown everything out of the window?

Sławomir Szynkowski (Undead Society/EvoWare): I would like to assure all the fans who might have felt disenchanted with our decision that we fully realize the great potential of the game and we are not shelving it. We will get back to New Dawn as soon as we are secured financially. Until then, we are going to develop our company and work on another project. We believe this break will only help the New Dawn.

Abandoning the demo has a lot to do with our plans to get back to the full version of the game since making the demo using the current engine would definitely be a wrong step. We don't want to produce something that would be substandard in comparison to the full game and that may influence its reception.
Link: interview on gry.o2.pl.

Thanks Jabu and iridium_ionizer.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:38

A short update for Ground Zero mostly to remind everyone this post-apocalyptic mod for Doom III is still alive:

We've been very neglectful of our moddb profile throughout 2007, but we'd like everyone to know that this project is still very much alive. Many of our team members have moved on to positions in the commercial world, but a few of us are maintaining progress on Ground Zero with the little free time we have. Please know how much we appreciate the supportive comments from all of you; we would not keep going without them!
Link: Ground Zero Terrain and vegetation tech.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:36

Gameplayer Australia has a "state of the RPG" feature with several quotes from Todd Howard, and a kind of odd opinion from themselves on what Fallout 3 is all about.

Todd Howard, executive producer of the proudly Western Fallout 3 at Bethesda, puts it more simply. “We stay away from all the big cut-scene/story-telling stuff, to be honest,” he says. “We’re more fans of the ‘make your own story’ idea.”
(...)
Todd Howard feels the same. “Player expectations move with the technology,” he says. “Gamers are sophisticated enough to know what the all the new hardware can do and they certainly aren’t going to let something off just because it’s an RPG.”
(...)
Howard emphasises the importance of getting off to a good start: “You always want the first few hours of the game to be nice to any player, “ he says . “No matter how good they are at games, they haven’t played this particular one yet, so you need to ease whoever it is into it.”

Here at least, the RPG has an advantage: it’s fundamentally designed to train you up from nothing, as Howard points out. “It’s often easy in an RPG to keep layering on the complexity with new abilities. It actually makes the game more fun and addictive then if you gave all that stuff out at the beginning.”

After that, it’s all about the grind – specifically, disguising it so you don’t notice that it’s there. Howard again: “Mostly it’s about plenty of player progression and making repetitive actions, such as combat, interesting. If the basic monster-killing is fun and exciting, I will do it over and over for hours on end – especially if it unlocks new abilities.”
(...)
The final RPG that’s got us excited is the upcoming Fallout 3, which should be out by the end of this year. The fact that this is a sequel to an ageing franchise that hasn’t had an entry in ten years shouldn’t matter – this is Bethesda’s next project, and if Oblivion’s anything to go by, it’ll be a cracker. Expect jet-black humour and people juice everywhere – the combat system will allow you to pause the action at any particular time and target specific body parts.

Howard fully expects Fallout 3 to push RPGs forward by “mixing genres and providing plenty of unique interactions” for the gamer. This could be a potential game of the year. And let’s not forget that there are also Elveon, Age of Conan, Too Human and Cry On waiting on the sidelines.
Link: State of the RPG on Gameplayer Australia.

Spotted on Blue's News.

News for Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 20:16

Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog has some speculation on the Fallout 3 release date. With the footnote that these are all unconfirmed rumours, Bethesda has no official release date beyond Fall 2008 and even if they did it'd be liable to change. Still:

The speculation about the release of Fallout 3 continues to spark many discussions, a few days ago Killzig posted his take right here on this blog:
    xbox.com still lists the release date as September 08. Amazon says Sept 28th. EBGames says shipping on 9/9.

    they better get the hype train rolling at E3.
We can add Next Gen to those dates:
    Fallout 3
    Bethesda
    PC, Xbox360, PS3
    US: Sep 09, 2008
    The latest sequel to the post-apocalyptic RPG series will star Liam Neeson in a voice-acting role.
This date matches the one sent to retailers by Sony, that was shown by coyo7e on the Something Awfull forum. Click on the picture above to check the full list.
Link: Fallout 3 Release Date Speculation (with links to outside sources) at Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog.

Posted by Brother None - at 15:47

Fallout 3 lead designer Emil Pagliarulo posted a few replies to a number of the complaints that quickly surfaced after his Next Generation interview. It started after people were discussing his one and only short visit to NMA (during which, I remind people, he got nothing but courteous replies, even if I did force a Lindsay Lohan avatar on him). To which he replied, and what follows is a kind of impromptu fan Q&A in which some questions that have been around forever get answered:

Wow. Certainly lots of interesting opinions here -- which, of course, is what being a Fallout fan is all about.

ttsec -- Honestly, naivety had nothing to do with it. I knew quite well how some of the hardcore fallout fans would ultimately view Bethesda's take on Fallout 3. And, as lead designer, I knew I would be the subject of much of that criticism. It comes with the territory. I wouldn't have accepted this position if I weren't prepared to deal with that.

And you're right, I did think "Oooh Fallout! I liked Fallout. It'd be fun to make a Fallout 3. Let's mingle with the fans!" I still think that, every day I walk into the office, and it's the reason I'm responding to this forum right now. I love interacting with the fans, and I love being a part of the community. That said, I also refuse to be villified or accept that I -- or any other member of the Fallout team -- is somehow doing something wrong simply because we're making the game we want to make. Sorry, that's just now how I roll.

I do admit that I, personally, have done a pretty crappy job of interacting with the fans on a regular basis. The reason is actually pretty simple -- being lead designer of Fallout 3 keeps a guy crazy busy. I also have a family, and 4 kids, so in the end something's got to give... and the thing has been me interacting with the fans. But reasons are only reasons to the person giving them -- to everyone else they're excuses. So, I'm really going to try to get better at that.

Anyway, if you're wondering if we're actually reading the forums, seeing what you guys are discussing... I think you've got your answer.

So maybe you can explain if "we're making the game we want to make" why did you have to use someone else's IP and then not retain the basis for the series gameplay?

Caligula -- I mean, that's really pretty simple. We love Fallout, and had talked about acquiring the license, and dreamed about creating a Fallout game "Bethesda-style" -- immersive 3rd/1st person. You know, we don't make the type of games we do simply because they're the type of game the studio makes -- we make them because we love them. We love feeling like we're a part of a world. For us, making Fallout 3 was a chance for us to become a part of that world.

Then why no "Have you played Fallout?" question on the Bethesda blog after the first couple of people answered no and we all roasted them for it?

Lingwei -- Do I know for sure that every designer has played Fallout? Well, I haven't stood over them with a whip and a can of mace and forced them to play, but yeah, they've all played Fallout to some degree. Are they all ardant fans? No... some of them love the game, some of them like the game, some are anywhere in between. Some weren't very familiar with Fallout before we started Fallout 3, but they're damn familiar now. Some of them were (and are) walking Fallout encyclopedias.

It's a pretty well-balanced team, and the designers all have their specialties. Actually, it's a great team, and one that makes my job that much easier.

You love the games, but don't want another...
You love the original games, but hated the foundation that made them great. Therefore, ypu intend to "oblivionize it" as much as possible in order to please the Halo fans.


All I can do is give you an honest answer, Caligula. I can't make you like it.

As for shades of gray, and the Brotherhood of Steel depicted in my team diary -- Very fair point, and yeah, I think those shades of gray are incredibly important. There are quite a few quests in Fallout where the truth isn't quite what it seems, and it's up to the player to determine what is right and what is wrong; and that's certainly a there that pervades the entire game.

That's not to say there can't be characters who strive for something more noble. Elder Lyons wanted to help the people of the Capital Wasteland. Was he right? He certainly thought so. Did those around him agree? Not all of 'em.

Question: Dungeonkeeper was a 2d sprite game with a 3d backdrop; but it let you play FPP as well.
DK2 was full 3d, but kept the original vantage, and kept the FPP mode.
[both modes were called for in both games at different times, and the FPP combat worked well with the Isometric]

Was this approach ever considered for Fallout 3? Clearly the engine can support Isometric 'like' game play. So why abandon outright, what could have been blended together if intended?


Gizmo -- Honestly, no, we never really considered making the game like that. And man, I loved me some Dungeon Keeper! But we really saw the game as third/first-person. Me, I prefer first-person by a longshot. It's my preferred perspective for any game. I'm a sucker for immersion, and for me, first-person is the way to achieve that; it just so happens I work with a bunch of people who largely feel the same way, and want to make the same kinds of games.

Was it a surprise that migrating fans would expect the game to feature similar mechanics?

No, no surprise at all. We fully expected that. We knew from step one that some fans would accept what we were doing, some fans wouldn't. But in the end, it was our job to come up with the vision of the project, and that's what we did.

I mean seriously if someone bought Oblivion or Morrowind and changed it to TB ISO you guys would be a little "volitile" too. You know not all fallout fans are rabid deathclaws...

You know, that's the thing... that's the really tough thing. I CAN understand why some Fallout fans would be bitter. I CAN understand why some Fallout fans would feel like someone took their world and flipped it upside down (or, erm, pulled their camera in...). You know, I try to think of one of my favorite, "old school" games. Let's use Sid Meier's Covert Action as an example. If I found out someone had acquired that license and was turning it into, I dunno... an XBox Live Arcade puzzle game... I'd be pretty miffed too. So I totally get why some fans would be put off by what we're doing.

At the same time, we're not making an Xbox Live puzzle game. We're making an RPG, and I think a damned good one, and I think a lot of people are going to be really psyched to finally be able to enter into the Fallout universe in a more immersive manner.

Is it feasible to implement a script that would run when zoomed way out, that enables a mouse cursor, and "auto-centers" the player attack on the entity clicked (by ID#), just the aiming, the rest as normal. Could this make that mode viable in combat?

You know, it's hard to say right now... but I will say how surprised even I was when I saw how far back the camera could be pulled. And, when and if we do release the Fallout construction tools, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if something like this were possible. I mean, just look at what Oblivion fans have been able to do with Oblivion -- it's freaking crazy.

Do you beleive that aftermarket mods are going to be one of the strengths of Fallout 3, like Oblivion (I'm assuming) or the Neverwinter Nights games?

Whenever tools are released, that certainly seems to be the case -- whether for Oblivion, NWN, or even Quake for that matter. Give players the tools, and they're use em to incredible effectiveness.

[I didn't like your version of the BoS, here's some better ideas]

You outline one possible fiction; I've outlined another. Really just two takes on the same situation. I will say that what readers got in the team diary was the very black and white, simple version. In order to get the other sides of the story, you'll need to talk to people in the game.

Last September I sent a tracked PM outlining an idea for fullblown TB combat without an engine overhaul. Did you receive it?

Gizmo PM -- I read all my PMs, certainly, and that one does come to mind specifically. The thing is, anything is possible. We could have made any game we wanted; we could have made Fallout 3 any way we wanted. But we went the way we did because we felt like it was the best perspective/best gameplay for the Fallout 3 we wanted to make.

system shock became a legend though. that won't happen with bioshock, i think.

See, I don't know if I entirely agree with that statement. System Shock 2 is a legend amongst certain old school PC gamers, sure, but there are plenty of people who've never even played it. There are plenty of gamers -- sure call it a new generation, whatever -- that played played Bioshock and will be saying the same thing about that game 10 years from now. And I'm biased -- I love Shock 2. I was at Looking Glass during the its development.

Then why not just come up with "THEIR OWN" post-apoc FPS ( w/pause ) game ?

That's a really fair question, and one that's obviously come up a lot. The answer for us is pretty simple -- no other post-apocalyptic world would have been nearly as awesome as Fallout. No Vault Boy, no S.P.E.C.I.A.L., no futuristic 1950s vibe. We specifically wanted to make Fallout 3 for all those reasons and more; if the license weren't important to us, we could have made a post-apocalyptic game a long time ago.

Do you think that turn-based, isometric RPGs are outdated or inferior and a thing of the past that should not be in furture games?


Oh, hell no. Just because that's not what Fallout 3 is, and not the type of game I prefer to make, doesn't mean I don't love a good turn-based, isometric RPG. I played the hell out of Silent Storm (not an RPG per se, but similar enough), and I'm a big fan of Jeff Vogel's games. I love good games, regardless of genre or perspective, honestly.

That said, if you look a video and computer game trends in general, console games have become a lot more popular -- and are a lot more profitable -- and that has certainly affected game publishers' willingness to finance those types of games. Look at the NPD numbers of the best selling PC games of 2007 vs. the best selling console games. We're talking a difference of, in some cases, a million+ copies. Thankfully, console developers are learning how to make these types of games for consoles, learning how to overcome the obvious interface issues. Hell, the Penny Arcade Adventures game for Xbox Live Arcade is, for all intents and purposes, exactly the type of game you're talking about. Personally, I can't wait to get my hands on that.

Ever play Myth [1 or 2]?

Oh man, I played the death out of both Myth and Myth 2. In fact, back in the day when I was editor at AVault, I had to grudgingly let Jordan Thomas (who is now a developer himself -- he did the Cradle quest in Thief: Deadly Shadows, and worked on Bioshock) do the review, because I wanted to do it so badly. Man, I even played Green Berets, the Vietnam game that used the Myth engine. Ah, good times...

If Mr. Perlman need come back for touchup work... Would you consider asking him to record the last two lines of the F1 junktown ending, and put it on the F3 CD? Modders could fix the intended Fallout quests (to a point), so that it ends with Gimzo causing the town to thrive.

Ha! I can definitely understand why you'd want that, but it's pretty unlikely. Hellboy's a busy man.
Wow. That's a lot of hard questions to answer. Kudos to mr Pagiarulo for doing so.

Link: It starts with this post on the Bethesda forums.

Thanks to Lingwei, who I think is starwars, for the pm on the Bethesda forums that I thankfully got fulltext in my email (please don't pm my account on the Bethesda forums, it is too banned to be of any use).

News for Monday, March 3, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 22:17

We got a flurry of submission at the end, some of you sure got it out just in time.

We thank everyone for their submissions, even those who apparently didn't read the rules and go way over or under the word limit (shame on you).

The contest is now closed. We will begin judging and hopefully have the results in soon.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:05

Next Gen has an interview up with its own #24 hottest developer of 2008, Emil Pagliarulo:

Not everyone’s happy, though. Particularly the hardcore Fallout fans who lament the “consolization” of a franchise that originated on PC. They expect Bethesda to “dumb down” the game for the masses on multiple levels, whether it be through gameplay or even story.

Writing for a franchise that has such an outspoken core fanbase puts writers in a precarious position: how much do you listen to that core fanbase, and how much do you ignore them?

“…That’s always the toughest question,” says Pagliarulo. “You listen to the fans and respect their ideas, but once you start designing a game that they want to make specifically, then you can get yourself into trouble. One of the things that I love about Bethesda, and that we all love about working here, is we’re all pretty hardcore gamers and we know what we want, we know what’s fun, we know what we like and so we design for each other. We’re our own best audience.

“So with Fallout in particular, we’re comfortable that the game is coming out this year—we can finally say that. The game is coming out this year, fall 2008. Knowing where we are in the project and all the work that is finished and all the work we still have to do, I think we’re all so wrapped up in the game that we’re creating, that there just comes a point where you just can’t worry what the hardcore fanbase is going to scream at you about on the forums, you know? You have to make the game that you’re making and know that it’s a good one and continue with that.”
(...)

“[Story] definitely does matter,” Pagliarulo says emphatically. “Look at some of the writing in Mass Effect or BioShock—games that are recognized as being story-heavy and having good stories. Look at Overlord, with that evil comedic wit.

“…It sometimes seems like a good idea to attract a big name writer or an established writer in either the comic book field or some other medium [to work on your game], but the fact is, writing for a videogame is a very specific beast. You have to understand how to compliment the gameplay with your fiction, and the best writer in the world, if he doesn’t understand videogames, can’t make that happen.

“So I think with games like BioShock, we can have really great writing and great gameplay to compliment each other. I think hopefully we’ll be seeing more of that as people understand the medium more and understand how to create for it. I think that’s the only way the writing is really going to get to a level it needs to be at.”
Link: Fallout 3's Lead Unlocks Vault 101 on Next Generation.

Thanks Jesterka, Briosafreak and my RSS news feed.