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News for Saturday, July 31, 2010

Posted by Dude101 - at 19:30

Fallout of Nevada is a Russian Fallout 2 total conversion project, which has been until fairly recently developed in secret. The project is currently 50% complete and is scheduled for release in March of 2011 - this will include an English translation. We should have our hands on a demo later in the year. The custom art and interface looks very interesting. Drobovik has kindly translated the following for us:

Main plot
The game is set in the territory of Nevada state before the first Fallout. The main character is a dweller of Vault 8 (no, it is not Richard Grey!). Your task is to find the ESK (The Exterior Surveillance Kit), created to organize security measures in future Vaults. But this quest is child's play, compared to the unexpected turn of events that will take you on this potentially dark journey. Life in the wasteland is just beginning to appear. Settlements are scarce, roads are almost non-existent, The world is engulfed in anarchy, more so than before. It will be tough for your body and or your mind to survive.

Social interaction is a major part of this game's development. There will be no absolutely evil or absolutely good characters. Most of the quests and situations will provide the player with dilemmas of ethics and moral struggle.

1. It's an absolutely new game, though just as free-roaming as the originals, but independent from the previous games in the Fallout series. Thorough psychological analysis of the characters and other social aspects of the game are the most crucial parts of this project.
2. New worldmap. Purposeful map creation. Various buildings. Tons of new scenery and graphics, carefully implemented into the game's environment.
3. New interface and gameplay features.
4. New inventory items and weapons. For example, grenades will have two ways to throw them; the ability to set traps on doors, and for "dessert" - a fully customized set of armor for your character.
5. Unarmed and melee skills will be a lot more important.
6. Most of the drugs will be rare and pricey, but the player will be able to set up their production. Some NPC's will react differently when the player is "under the influence". Food and water will be vital to survival.
7. As for your Ians and Suliks, well, you are the Lone Ranger in this game.
8. This incarnation of Fallout would have great amount of skill checks and conditions, which would bring some unexpected results to every playthrough. There will be big difference between playing with male or female characters.
9. Very high probability of radiation exposure. Radiation will be map related, with sources of it connected to the objects on the map, like cars and broken toilets')

You can find the Fallout of Nevada home page here, which has more eye candy here and here.

In other modding news, Cubik2k has released a “simple tool” which allows Fallout 1 maps edited in the Fallout 2 mapper, to be converted back into the FO1 Map format. It does not sound impressive but this will allow for easier modding of classic FO. Grab it here

News for Sunday, July 25, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 15:22

killap has updated both his awesome projects recently. They hit release versions a week ago but have now both undergone further testing and are now ready for the public at large. The patch has hit, read about it here.
Windows Installer Version (highly recommended): download
Windows Manual Version (advanced users): download
Mac Version: download

The Restoration Project has hit 2.1, now 2.1.1 for the release version. Read about it here
Windows installer (highly recommended): download
Manual install (advanced users): download


RP 2.1 Change Log:
New Critters:

• Random wild dog encounters may now contain red colored dogs.
• Red colored spore plants added to the surface map of the EPA.
• Blue colored security bots now found at the Enclave.
• Old Joe now has a custom look.

Other Changes:

• Each karma level now displays it's own unique icon in the character screen.
• Tweaked skill/combat settings for the three new npcs. They should be more balanced and better overall.
• Kitsune should now aid the player in lockpicking needs, much like Myron and Vic help with science and repair.

Bug Fixes:

In addition to numerous undocumented bug fixes, the following issues were addressed:

• Fixed issue where Brother Jason would not appear at Gecko when you escort him there.
• Corrected swapped dialogue options when buying mutant armor for Marcus.
• Added dialogue when returning the book to the Abbot, having not been given the quest yet.
• Party members use correct talking head background when in the caves.
• Dialogue screen no longer comes up when using an item from the inventory on the water pump - would cause overlapping windows.
• Monks in the basement no longer wander to a corner and stay there forever.

• Removed added Broc flowers and Xander roots from the hunting grounds. These were accidently included in the enhanced maps and were bugged.
• Rugs have been tweaked for better appearance (look more worn, older, etc) and no longer interfere with NPC interaction. This change also takes affect in any other location that uses these rugs.

Broken Hills
• Fixed crash when showing Francis the letter.
• Fixed problem where you were only able to tell Marcus about finding the tunnels, despite having discovered the bodies of the missing people.
• Marcus no longer joins your party without completing any quests for him (debug script was accidently left in place in 2.0 release).
• Chad's door now correctly displays a message when you try to blow it up, etc.

• Fixed severe lag issue in the Den. (Was the result of a scripting bug with Petey).
• Corrected issue where you were unable to teleport to the different levels of the Den Residential area and could only get there when entering from the World Map.
• Tweaked scrolling on the Residential map so that the westernmost corner of the squatter house is not off the map.
• Walking away from the second part of the gang fight now marks it as failed. However, like it was in the vanilla version of the game, walking away from the first part successfully completes the quest. You will be unable to do the second part though.
• Little Johnny is now known as Little Bobby (to reduce confusion with the little boy named Jonny in Modoc)
• Fixed a bug that prevented some dialogue with Little Bobby to not be shown.
• Vic no longer joins your party without completing any quests for him (debug script was accidently left in place).
• Corrected problem where the slavers would not run off the map and instead huddle up in one area. Was the result of changes made with the enhanced maps.

Enclave Oil Rig
• Restored Presidential keycard that was accidently removed with the enhanced map changes.

• The new NPCs lockers correctly open when the NPCs are released from their hibernation and the contents are correctly added to their inventories.
• You can no longer get infinite amounts of ERSI from Mr. Chemmie
• The name of the location in the save files now correctly says EPA and the specific level you are on.
• Corrected issues with using the metal pipe on the fan and the other incorrect fans.
• Altered the appearance of the broken fan to make it more obvious as the correct choice.
• Spawn location after using the vent corrected.
• Removed giant "boss" spore plant and wanamingo. 3 spore plants and the white queen wanamingo are now in their place.
• Corrected issue with the robot control terminal, where if your skill was less than 76 but over 50, you wouldn't get a a message when trying to repair it.
• It was possible that roof tiles would "surround" the player on the green level of the EPA. This will no longer happen.
• Restored the agility serum. It was accidently removed with the enhanced maps.
• Corrected some issues with the light generator and made things clearer when you don't have the quest to repair it.
• You can now lockpick the doors to the storage shed. It is quite hard though.
• Removed some of the slime from the clogged fans so that you aren't pixel hunting as much.
• Removed the extra period from the description of the electric chair.
• Fixed issue preventing the Director of Maintenance from giving floats after you do the quest for him.
• Fixed inconsistency in messages when attempting to repair the Director of Science after already having repaired him.
• You can now run the diagnostic on the Robot control terminal more than once, in case you forget what needs to be done.
• You can now fix the robot control terminal with tools.
• The description of the ERSI canister was incomplete for some reason. This has been addressed.
• Changed the location finder computer from saying "Earth Protection Agency" to the correct description: "Environmental Protection Agency"

• Fixed various dialogue issues with the Brain to allow for more logical/clearer dialogue flow.
• Removed lag experienced at the Gecko-Enclave encounter.
• Corrected typo in Gecko-Enclave encounter conversation
• Added dialogue to Wooz in regards to the VC-Village situation.

• Fixed dialogue bug with Balthas when talking about Johnny that caused him to mimic the dialogue of whatever previous character you spoke with.
• Fixed various enhanced map issues that prevented initiating dialogue with certain characters or objects.

• Fixed issue where entering Navarro would always treat the player as having stowed away on the vertibird from the Gecko-Enclave encounter.
• Navarro is now correctly marked on your map when you go there via the Gecko-Enclave encounter.

New Reno
• T-Ray now correctly stocks batteries.
• Renesco now gives you a one time discount (like he said he would) after "bullying" your way through the second quest.
• Generic drug dealers now have end of trade dialogue.
• Fixed crash when sleeping at Cat's Paw.

New California Republic
• Corrected issue with the gate guard at Carlson's house, which prevented you from entering despite having permission.
• Reading the Ranger map no longer causes it to disappear from your inventory.
• Killing the slaver overseer no longer results in karma loss.
• Having already completed the quest to kill Bishop, it was possible to reinitiate the quest again. This is no longer the case.

Primitive Tribe
• Corrected issue with the amount of time it takes to travel from the tribe to the trader negotiation.
• Fixed various enhanced map issues that prevented initiating dialogue with certain characters or objects.
• Removed items on the ground that were added in the enhanced maps. They were unstackable and should not have been added anyway.
• Corrected crash bug when teleporting back from the trader transaction.
• It is now possible to fix the well before rescuing Sulik's sister.
• Corrected duplicate dialogue option when speaking with Krom about the village.
• Corrected typo with stimpack crate at the trader transaction.
• Corrected more issues involving fixing the well.
• Corrected issue where you could get stuck in dialogue when taking with Serin inside the cave.

• It's no longer possible to initiate dialogue with Shadow Who Walks when he's been angered.
• Added scripts to the doors at the secret entrance of the map

• It's no longer possible to get stuck when watching the mole rat fights.
• Fixed the spawn locations for Frog Morton's goons for the enhanced maps.

San Francisco
• One of the tables at the Tanker General store is no longer unreachable.
• It's no longer possible to speak with Lao Chu about your missing tribe if this hasn't happened yet.
• Fixed dialogue loop when talking with Lao Chu, as a female, about the tanker and sub.
• It was possible for Sulik to display error when asking him to consult the spirits about San Francisco.
• Corrected wall blocker issue in the Hubologist base.
• Dr. Troy now has to have made the cure before you can buy it from San Fran.

Sierra Army Depot
• Corrected issue with traps in front of the building with the howitzer being "invisible" with the new enhanced maps.

Slave Camp
• Slavers now go hostile on site if Metzger is dead.
• Corrected wall blocker issues.
• Kitsune should no longer be found both at the slaver camp and at the tribe.

Vault 15
• Removed added Vault door (from the enhanced maps) that prevented access to the inside vault.
• After convincing the doctor to leave, he should no longer be found in both the vault and the squat.

Vault City
• Greatly reduced the amount of money Connor gives the player for purchasing the weapons. It was too much money before for such a poor village.
• Car trunk was inaccessible at the Village due to the new enhanced maps.
• Repositioned Dr. Troy so that you can now initiate dialogue when you are directly behind him.
• Cleaned up the dialogue tree for Old Joe so that it is no longer possible to get options that were only intended
• Corrected typos when speaking with Connor about making a deal with Vault City.

• When encountering Kaga as a "dumb" character, you no longer get stuck in dialogue.
• Removed Alien Blaster that was added to the crashed shuttle special encounter in the enhanced maps. It is still found at its original location.
• Corrected who gives which type of the special weapon found in the RP end of game encounter.

• Cassidy now has his unique helmetless pistol animations when using the NPC armor mod.
• Corrected instances where little boy appearances were used rather than the new little girl appearances for female children.
• Using newest version of appearance mod
-Fixed possible crash when using a new appearance
-Fixed issue where saving your characters setup would not save to the directory the game expects it to be.

RP 2.1.1 Change Log:
Bug Fixes:

In addition to several undocumented bug fixes, the following specific issues were addressed:

• Klint no longer thinks you already finished the Temple of Trials when you first talk with him.

Primitive Tribe:
• Replaced bugged gecko skins at primitive tribe which could potentially crash the game.

Broken Hills:
• You can no longer get another key from the prison guard (through persuasion) after already having stolen it from him.

• Corrected some errors with the NPC hibernation computer.
• Corrected error with forcefield control computer at EPA blue level.
• Fixed exploit that could allow you to get more NPCs in your party than you should be allowed to.

Random Encounters:
• Fixed map issue that caused some encounters to appear empty.

San Fran:
• Map scroll blockers no longer visible on Shi/BOS map.

• Fixed more unstackable/bugged items on several maps.
• Fixed some minor map issues introduced in the enhanced maps.
• Dogmeat is no longer silent when he attacks with his new armor.
• New critters (red dog and blue security bots) are no longer silent when they attack
• Fixed several issues with the RP installer
• Win 2k support is back

Posted by Brother None - at 12:51

G4 TV brings a writeup of a Comic-Con panel where creative director Chris Avellone, lead creative designer John Gonzalez and George Ziets (who works on Dungeon Siege) talk about, well, the process of making the game, but not telling us much insightful or new.

The next step in the process is giving the text to the rest of the writers to create dialogue and other material. The Comic-Con audience was given a bief quiz to illustrate the importance of a standardizing document when working with a group of writers. I thought you Fallout fans might enjoy testing your knowledge:

Is it:

A) stimpack
B) stimpak
c) stim pak
D) stim pack

The answer: None of the above. It's "Stimpak." Hence the importance of a game style guide.

Overall, no groundbreaking news was really dropped at this panel, but the look into the creation process for Fallout: New Vegas, and the obvious care and expertise of its makers, give me ultimate confidence that the game will be very, very good when it comes out this fall. See you in the Wasteland, people!

News for Saturday, July 24, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 19:55

GTTV's episode is now online. J.E. Sawyer explains it is a spiritual sequel to Fallout 2, the game start, and simply saying that the BoS is in New Vegas and wearing classic T-51b armor, not prominent and at war with NCR. Hell you can even finish the game without seeing them, hurray!

News for Thursday, July 22, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 17:28

Next up for BethBlog's Inside the Vault is senior concept artist Brian Menze.

Do you remember what it was like the first time you took a stab at drawing Vault Boy?

Vaguely. It was the first assignment I was given when I joined Black Isle Studios, so I was just doing what I was told to do, while trying to fit in. Though, I do remember feeling very relieved that I was asked to do something I could easily do, which took some of the stress off.

What’s your favorite Vault Boy drawing you’ve done ?

Just one? I’ve drawn roughly 200 of them now, I have a lot of favorites – betrayer, married, virgin and gecko skinning to name a few.
And yet he is most fondly remembered for this.

News for Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 20:54

BethBlog points out GameTrailers TV on Spike will take a look at the role of the Brotherhood of Steel in New Vegas. It airs Friday night 12:30 AM Friday night at an unspecified time zone. I love unspecified time zones.

Posted by Lexx - at 2:13

Fallout: New Vegas previews the graphic novel that'll be packed with the New Vegas special edition, and gives us the full cover image.

Avellone described the project to us, saying "'All Roads' showcases all the events that take place a week before Fallout: New Vegas begins through the perspectives of two characters hunting the player. We've structured this from a narrative standpoint and also from an artistic standpoint by having each perspective illustrated by a different artist (Wellinton Alves, Jean Diaz) and by using different color schemes.

"The title showcases the cast, locations in the game (including New Vegas), and provides more backstory on some of the major characters in the game. It leads right up to the opening movie of the game, and provides context for the initial set-up and the motivations for some of the major adversaries in the game."

News for Monday, July 19, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 20:01

Just a duo of previews to add. First is, who watched Chris Avellone play through a demo.

Even later into the extensive hands-off demo, we encounter another partner character, Raul the ghoul, who dwells in a small facility near the central Black Mountain location where an insane, aggressive breed of super mutants returning from previous Fallouts reside. Joining forces with Raul, we take on the band of Nightkin super mutants who have been driven mad by an over exposure to Stealth Boy technology. Using the new grenade machinegun - which spits out grenades at an incredible rate, the Nightkins and their cross-dressing, peroxide-wigged leader, Tabitha, soon fall under a torrential downpour of explosive projectiles, making Raul and the Brotherhood of Steel immensely happy as a result.

These actions also make the opposing breed of New Vegas' super mutants - a more intelligent kind that can talk and articulate - increasingly fond of us more for killing what they call the 'dumb-dumbs'. As one breed of irradiated super mutants naturally hates the other, you can play them off against one another and sit back and watch as they fight, which is something that extends to all of Fallout: New Vegas' opposing factions. You can use the reputation system to your advantage, orchestrating Machiavellian machinations behind the scenes to eradicate your enemies and stay in favour with the communities and factions that matter during your journey.
Both Fallout and BethBlog tweeted that their subsidiary Planet Fallout previewed New Vegas.
After playing the press demo at E3 for nearly an hour, I can safely say that I walked away with the full intent to pre-order the collector’s edition. Of course, I might be considered a bit of a fanboy since I work for Planet Fallout and all, but hear me out before completely dismissing my opinions.
You don't say.
They’ve also taken a few notes from the community here as weapons can be modified with different bits and pieces. Though there were none available to me during my time at the booth, the dev assured me that there were a number of them. He also noted that there would be more items that could be crafted though he didn’t say how many more.

One interesting quibble I had arose from my attempt to free Nelson from the clutches of the Legion. After cleansing the town, I cut down some NCR captives they’d been keeping around. Due to this, they were hostile to me. So even though I’d freed them from their bonds, they immediately attempted to bash my face in.

At this point, Boone, my former NCR pal, decided that they had to pay. One by one, their heads exploded. Afterwards, Boone interrupted me and made me promise to not kill any more of his NCR brethren. As I chuckled to myself, I assured him that I would do no such thing.

News for Saturday, July 17, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 18:25

I think the THQ Online Store is only available to the US and a handful of other countries, but if it works for you, head on over for their sales, which offer quite a few titles for dead cheap, including Metro 2033 for $12.50 and STALKER for $5.00, amongst other attractive deals (Dawn of War I and II, Saints Row II, Titan Quest). You should be able to activate the titles on Steam after purchase, if you so prefer.

Thanks GameBanshee.

Posted by Brother None - at 17:51

All five of Fallout 3's DLC's are now available on Steam. The price is 9.99 USD/EUR, which is sort of ridiculous as you can get the Game of the Year edition, which includes all five plus the full game, on Steam for 49.99, and it is probably available cheaper via retail if you take a moment to look (like here or here).

News for Friday, July 16, 2010

Posted by The Vault Dweller - at 19:55

Today the Bethesda Blog is hosting a sneak peek of the cover art for the Fallout:New Vegas graphic novel along with the announcement of the artists.

The Collector’s Edition of Fallout: New Vegas will come packed with all kinds of excellent extras — not the least of which is “All Roads,” a hardcover graphic novel written by New Vegas creative director Chris Avellone that acts as a prequel to the game.

Today we’re announcing that comic icon Geof Darrow — best known for contributing art to Hard Boiled, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot and The Matrix films — has put his considerable talents to work on a cover for “All Roads,” with Peter Doherty providing colors. The graphic novel also features art by Jean Diaz (Incorruptible) and Wellinton Alves (Marvel’s Shadowland: Blood on the Streets, Nova).

In fact if you are a dedicated enough fan and were planning to visit Comic-con you can get a signed lithograph.

You can check out a small slice of Darrow and Doherty’s large-scale, dual-page piece above. For a closer look at the bigger picture, you’ll need to head down to Comic-Con, where Darrow and Avellone will be handing out signed “All Roads” lithographs at the Dark Horse Comics booth. Here are all the relevant details:

Both Geof Darrow and Chris Avellone will be signing special lithographs featuring the full cover art at the Dark Horse booth (Booth #2615) at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday, July 24 from 5:00pm to 6:00pm.

Thanks to Ausir of The Vault for the report.

Posted by Brother None - at 15:21

Some random news on New Vegas. William Mapother has done voice work for Fallout: New Vegas, as per his blog. He's best known as Ethan from Lost, and doesn't really have any voice acting experience. (thanks for the tip to incognito and Ausir)

The Bethesda Blog provides a FAQ on the pre-order editions.

Outside of purchasing the game from multiple outlets, is there a way to get multiple pre-order incentives? And how will I receive the extra content for the game?

We have no announced plans to sell these packs separately. You should plan on pre-ordering from the retailer that sells your favorite pack. When you pick up the game upon its release, you’ll receive the pre-order incentive.

It should be noted that the Collector’s Editions will be available on a limited basis. While we will be offering them at various retailers, once they’re out of stock, they will no longer be available to pre-order.

Will other territories be getting the Collector’s Edition and similar pre-order offers?

As already indicated, digital pre-order packs and the Fallout: New Vegas Collector’s Edition are planned for release in other territories. As we have more information to share on this (soon!), we’ll be sure to let you know.

If you’ve pre-ordered from a store in another territory that will be offering digital pre-order packs, you’ll receive whatever pack that store is offering.
And finally, the blog also points out IGN puts Fallout: New Vegas atop its most anticipated list.

News for Monday, July 12, 2010

Posted by Nark - at 6:24

More Matt Chat with Tim Cain:


A bit of talk about Fallout 3, Arcanum, ToEE and some stuff about the MMO he's working on, it's also the final part.

News for Sunday, July 11, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 15:03

A few tweets related to but not saying anything about New Vegas really. J.E. Sawyer.

how many game end states must a man (or woman) script before he (or she) can be called a fallout designer?

god dammit why did i write all this shit
Chris Avellone.
is in New Vegas companion heaven.
Course, J.E. Sawyer is still going strong on his Formspring.
Do you feel that it's forgivable for a RPG to be worse at a gameplay element than another game more dedicated to it because it's a RPG and does other things? The question partially applies to other genres as well such as FPS's with poor vehicle combat.

It can be marginally worse, certainly. It just shouldn't feel bad. It can also be "worse" in breadth but just as good in depth, which I think is also perfectly reasonable.

Let's say a game wanted to have most of the stealth elements of Thief. It has the AI, the light, the sound (including audio occlusion), but it doesn't have extinguishable lights, water arrows, rope arrows, moss arrows, or any of that jazz. If the AI, light, sound, etc. are well executed, the goodies that are missing really aren't that big of a deal -- in my opinion, anyway.

I thought a bit more on our discussion. I think I argued more on what *is* considered an RPG while you argued what you think *should* be an RPG. Then, I'm interested in why you consider an interactive narrative in an RPG. Thanks =)

I think what tabletop RPGs (D&D, specifically) introduced that was revolutionary was the ability to make your own character. This does included "statty" stuff, but was building upon/expanding rules from Chainmail, a war game.

Tabletop RPGs allow you to make a character, define his/her personality, and express it during game play in whatever way you see fit. DMs adapt and change the story based on the outcome of the player's actions.

Through the 80s and early 90s, all CRPGs could do/did do was simulate the war game and character advancement aspects of their tabletop counterparts. Ultima games started to experiment with player choice and morality around Ultima IV. I may be forgetting some important precursor, but I believe the original Fallout was the first RPG that allowed the player a "judgment-free" way to play the game as anything ranging from a saint to a horrible monster -- with appropriate reactions to that behavior. I believe this was the point where RPGs started to emulate the underlying character / personality mechanics of RPGs in addition to the stat / advancement / combat mechanics.

Moving out of the 90s and into the 00s, western RPGs focused increasingly on player personality, interactions with companions / NPCs, and ways in which the player can alter the outcome of the story based on those interactions and choices. Concurrently, other "non-RPG" games (e.g. Castlevania) started leaning more heavily on traditionally "RPG" character stat / advancement mechanics. By 2010, character stats / advancement are far from exclusive to the RPG genre, but companies like BioWare, Black Isle, Obsidian, Troika, and Bethesda, have put an enormous amount of focus on making games where character choices have a directly supported / scripted effect on the story (in contrast to something that is more abstracted / systemic like The Sims or GTA).

Don't get me wrong; I like character statistics and advancement. I think they should be part of all sorts of games, and I appreciate it whenever I can get it. But when it comes to the sort of games I help make that are going to be called "RPG", it's important to me that we always do our best to actively support the player's ability to the sort of character they want to make -- with a heavy focus on personality reactivity.

How do you feel about NPCs straight out lying to the player?

I think it's totally fine, though it is nice to allow the player to see through it if they a) run through the story in a way that allows them to see through the falsehood immediately or b) have a special perk/statistic that allows them to catch the person in the lie.

Do you think that it's possible for a return to old-skool, 3D isometric RPG games like the classic BIS games with the advent of mobile gaming like on the iPhone or the DS/PSP?

I'd like to think so, though I'd guess the only handheld platform that has significant overlap with fans of those games is the mobile phone.

That is, I'm sure you could make a lot of those sort of games on handheld platforms, but I'm not sure that the audience is there.

Hi. How do you perceive difficulty in RPGs? Is it just a matter of fights, hard levelling up? Or is it mainly a matter of complexity of relations between NPCs, hard moral decisions, logic puzzles and other non-violent aspects?

I think difficulty and agony are two separate things (or should be) in games. Combat and "contested" game play should be oriented around challenge, of which difficulty is an important element. The focus is on figuring a way through a problem. This can be a puzzle, logical or otherwise, through which there are a finite amount of designed paths, or it can be something like combat, with a theoretically infinite number of strategic and tactical approaches.

When it comes to making moral decisions, ethical decisions, or character decisions with NPCs, I believe the focus should be on agony in the classical sense. The struggle is to make the choice, not to succeed or fail. If you're guessing blindly, success and failure aren't particularly interesting. In many cases, it's boring or infuriating.

The reason why stories like Antigone and the Oresteia are interesting (to some) is because their characters are trapped between two equally good (and bad) choices. Orestes makes the choice to avenge his father's death by murdering his mother, but in doing so is pursued by the Furies for his filial betrayal.

I don't know if you can answer this, but still, why Obsidian, a relatively little developer, with a not-so-relatively troubled history, continues to focus on two teams with two games at a time instead of doing the (natural imho) choice of simply focusing

Publishers pay us to staff with a given number of employees. That number is typically a lot less than the full developer roster at Obsidian. Additionally, tying yourself to a single project means that you are effectively at the mercy of that single project. Milestone payments, publisher relationships, etc. all rise and fall with the fate of that game. Publishers also know this, and can leverage that vulnerability to the detriment of the developer.

By working on multiple games with different publishers, milestone payments are staggered, there is more flexibility in moving employees around, and the individual publishers have less leverage over the company's daily operations/fate.

A lot of games have dialogue trees where to return to talk about another topic, you say "I want to talk/ask you about something else". Why do that? No one talks like that. When people want to talk about something else, they just bring the topic up.

Short version: it's an organizational convention.

It is much easier, structurally, to do this than it is to a) load up every node with all possible questions or b) guess at what the player might want to talk about in any given node.

Dialogue trees are fundamentally oriented around two types of data: nodes (or topics) and replies. Beneath any given node, the designer will typically place replies that are relevant to what's being discussed. These are sub-topics or branches of that topic. At the root level are the major topics. To help the player navigate (by preventing an enormous list of potential topics), designers will typically allow the player to go two or three node layers deep with two to four options per node layer.

If the player wants to talk about something else (especially if it is completely off-topic from what's currently being discussed), the player will include an option like, "Let's talk about something else." This will move to a main question/master question node with the root topics. The player can then delve down into those basic topics and branch off.

News for Saturday, July 10, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 15:28

GamesRadar brings us the fulltext of one of their affiliate magazine's previews, PC Zone UK. Like PC Gamer, this isn't the E3 hands-on demo we've read up on ad nauseam, but a new hands-on demo, and PC Zone UK takes a very expansive look at it.

So, we warp to Novac. That sounds hopeful. ‘Novac’ sounds like it’s named after a sense of hope, technology, and aspiration. A spirit of can-do rebuilding and unity. As we walk up the barren hill to get there, the real reason for the name becomes clear: it’s less of a town, more of a motel where the No Vacancy sign has been vandalized. When we see the sniper sitting in a dinosaur’s mouth, it suddenly becomes a little less welcoming. Even if the dinosaur is called Dinky.

Novac is guarded by two men who take turns sitting in the mouth of the 20ft high wooden dinosaur. Dinky faces the Vegas Strip, and although this motel is free of faction allegiances, we can pick out more points of interest in our surroundings. Camp Forlorn Hope nestles against a hill to the east. A bit west there’s Camp Nelson, operated by Caesar’s Legion and their boss, Dead Sea. Then there’s the mostly defunct power plant, Helios One.
Nevertheless, our position as an outsider makes the paranoid Boone trust us. We make a deal. We’ll find out who did it and take him or her in front of the dinosaur during Boone’s shift. We’ll wear his beret – that’s the code for him to shoot. As you’d expect from Fallout, this could go a number of ways. Boone’s put us in a position of trust, and trust is there to be abused. We could invite anyone we want dead out there, put on the hat, and they’ll get sniped to bits.

That’s assuming we have the verbal skills to convince Boone afterward it was the right person. We decide to take the noblest route and find out who really did it. This involves talking to everyone. It’s not our ball-shaped friend in the gift shop. And it doesn’t appear to be Boone’s patrolling partner, although he confesses to disliking Boone’s wife. We log onto his terminal to make sure, but it contains nothing but a story-building email: nothing incriminating.
Karma still exists alongside a new faction system, so your choices may affect you in more ways you’re used to. Secondly, we have to help out the doctor. He’s a bit brusque but we soon win him over with our conversational skills. This is another feature: we don’t charm him using a generic Speech skill, we convince him we’re the man for the job using our Medical skill.

It makes sense: all the charisma in the world won’t help you chat knowledgeably to a doctor if you don’t know what an appendix is. And more importantly, it makes sense in terms of role-playing skills. The explosives expert might not let you near his bomb unless you can demonstrate knowledge of what does and doesn’t blow up.

So, while the good doctor goes for a walk around, we tend to his patients. There’s comedy here – one guy’s amputation goes slightly too well with the amputation of an unexpected limb – but we imagine things could be even funnier if we weren’t such a damn good doctor. We’d like to have left behind a room full of mutilated guys and some apologies on Post-It notes.
We’re also encouraged to try out the new melee attacks. Up-close combat wasn’t terribly compelling in vanilla Fallout 3, but most of the intimate weapons now have a unique option in the VATS system – you can aim it at a certain limb, as usual, or choose that weapon’s special attack. The 9 iron has “Fore!” which lets you take a powerful, slow swing at your enemy – and it’s perfect for taking out the enemy’s dogs.

So, will you be able to win the affections of both factions? It doesn’t look like it. We’ve gone from tolerated to hated with Caesar’s Legion in just a few minutes and a handful of kills. Grow a pair and choose a side. It looks like you’d be wise to choose a side and stick to it or be hated by both teams.

Posted by Brother None - at 15:22

With a late October release date, New Vegas should be wrapping up many bits of its development cycle, and it seems it is. Bethesda's Jason Bergman tweets.

In NYC for the last bit of FNV VO recording. My favorite place on earth. Alas, I'm only here for one day, so no time to see friends.
And that's a wrap! Holy crap this game has a lot of freaking dialogue!
See also DaC.

News for Friday, July 9, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 23:23

Always nice when an RPG-specific site takes a look, even if there doesn't seem to be much to add to previous preview. From GameBanshee.

Killing the Caesar's Legion soldiers brought me some definite satisfaction, but it quickly knocked my reputation with the faction down to "shunned" and, soon after, "hated". When there was nothing left but severed heads and dismembered eyeballs, I had the opportunity to search the bodies and various tents that made up the camp. What I found most interesting was not the ammunition and other loot that could be had, but the notes that I found and added to my Pip-Boy. Some notes were letters written to loved ones, while others were journal entries that NCR members had been writing just before being surrounded and subsequently killed by the Caesar's Legion. Avellone explained that the notes in Fallout: New Vegas are intended mostly for flavor, though there will obviously be some that yield useful information (such as codes to locked doors). As a fan of little lore-inducing elements like this, it was a welcome sight.
After the demonstration had finished up, I took the liberty to ask a few questions before my "official" interview with Chris took place. Unfortunately, questions about perks, reputation titles, and DLC were off-limits, but Avellone did explain that the team felt it was important that a player could see three points of interest off in the distance (Helios One, Dinky the Dinosaur, Lucky 38, and other notable structures) when spinning around 360 degrees at any time out in the desert. They also made a point of creating a use for every skill within the first couple of hours of the game so that players didn't feel like they had sunk all of their points into a skill that wouldn't be used until much later. And if you were hoping to score some Gamerpoints with Fallout: New Vegas like you did with Fallout 3, you're out of luck. Since New Vegas utilizes Steamworks instead of Games For Windows Live for its DRM scheme, we won't be logging into our Live accounts.

Posted by Per - at 1:59

PC Gamer's latest New Vegas hands-on tells of a game that "looks like a fuller, funner Fallout" where "new quests crop up with happy regularity". And there are the main factions:

It’s here that New Vegas’ new currencies become important. The game’s two confirmed factions – the slave-taking Caesar’s Legion and the New California Rangers – have their own money in addition to Fallout 3’s bottlecaps.

We’ve seen these factions before: both are interwoven into Fallout mythology. Caesar’s Legion like to dress in leather skirts and sport fetching centurion-style brushes on their helmets. I’d advise against admiring their sartorial choice though: they’re a slaving faction, and friendly dalliances with their leaders will undoubtedly make your reputation plumb new depths.
Yes who can even wait to meet up with the Caesar's Legion of old. The preview also describes a Novac quest that you can check out if you have no fear of spoilers.

News for Thursday, July 8, 2010

Posted by Brother None - at 17:36

Native forum dweller equilerex has been working on a fan-made short Fallout movie, a little teaser/trailer for the fan-made mod Mutants Rising (though the relation isn't immediately apparent). And here it is, the voice is a bit indecipherable but otherwise it's pretty cool:

Follow the journey of the short's creation on the forum thread on NMA or the work-progress webpage.

Posted by Per - at 3:16

Sol Invictus has written an article for Hellmode blog on the topic of pushing the big brown CRPG envelope.

I am not saying Deus Ex and Morrowind are not good games. I am saying that it is simply difficult to call them revolutionary. They are RPGs hampered by the lack of any meaningful choices. Featuring a system of choices and repercussions, Dragon Age is a forward leap in terms of player agency, but it still lacks narrative freedom.

Fallout is only linear in the sense that the sun will always rise in the east, and set in the west. In the same sense, the player will always have to retrieve the Water Chip to save Vault 13, and The Master’s supermutant army will always threaten to overrun the wastes.

But what happens during the day, between the time when the Vault Dweller walks out into the wastes and returns home thereafter is completely up to the player. The player’s footprint has a visible impact in the wasteland sand. In the protagonist’s shoes, your choices are only ever limited by objective reasons within the narrative, which are never arbitrary.
The cause is just, but the article mostly reminisces about specific options offered in Fallout, memories which are not all accurate - and why no mention of Arcanum?

Posted by Per - at 2:59

The people of Irrational Games (of Bioshock fame) talked to Todd Howard in his role as a prominent person in the video games industry who is "well known for his sense of humor and his drive to make great games", and Fallout 3 is of course mentioned a lot. They share this with us in the form of a sound recording, but The Vault has taken notes. For instance:

Todd Howard: Because it is a game the player needs these moments where they feel proud of themselves, like 'look what I did!" You don't want to stop their forward momentum. The little things we do, and it's easier in an RPG, [is] where you give them some sort of device that is very powerful, like in Fallout we give you the Fat Man very early - this nuclear bomb catapult, it's incredibly powerful - and in most games you would be like, well, we're not going to give you this incredibly powerful thing really early. But we give you... whatever it is, four or five shells for the thing, so you get to try it a few times, be like 'this is awesome' and then most people, if you're really stuck in the game on some hard combat, you could use the thing, but most people don't. They finish the game with a lot of the Fat Man shells. They didn't use them all because they didn't want to puss out. Like, 'I can do it, I don't need to use this.' But they kind of, in the back of their mind, know they have it as an out, like 'uh, this is too hard, I'll use one of my shells here.' So little things like that can make a big difference, and players often are kind of self policing in 'well I have this thing I can use, but I do or don't want to use it because I don't know what's coming around the next corner.'

Ken Levine: If I recall, my experience was that I thought I should save these things, but I think having them is empowering for people because they feel like, 'look, if I get really ****ed there's something I can do about it', even if they do get kind of screwed and they are dying a lot, they kind of feel like its their fault, rather than the game's fault, which is better because they feel that they could do something about it.
Next time I finish Baldur's Gate II with lots and lots of stupid potions to spare, I'll think of them as little empowering nuclear rocket launchers.

Thanks to Oaktable.

News for Monday, July 5, 2010

Posted by Per - at 3:17

Tim Cain keeps talking about Fallout on Matt Barton's Matt Chat.


Seems there will definitely be a part 3. Thanks to Reconite.

News for Sunday, July 4, 2010

Posted by Per - at 18:04

Australian PC PowerPlay magazine posted a preview of New Vegas, putting a fedora and a tommy-gun on their cover Vault Boy. It's a paper thing so I'm just going to let The Vault blogger Nytewolf deliver the sweet bullet point notes.

  • New Wild Wasteland trait, which unlocks wackier variants of existing content.
  • From a design and technical point of view, it made sense not to continue the story of the Lone Wanderer.
  • New Vegas is a fortress.
  • Sidequests may be more rewarding than the main quest.
  • Critical path is only 20% of the main game.
  • Epic moments, like Liberty Primes trip through DC, will litter the critical path.
  • Unique dialog for low intelligence characters.
  • Survival skill, for cooking at a campfire.
  • Certain drinks will dehydrate you in hardcore mode.
  • Some areas may have vegetation.
  • Converting a mod to work with the new tool kit will require some work, but is relatively simple.
  • This is the Fallout game that Chris Avellone and Josh Sawyer wanted to make.
Critical path is 20% of the main game? So is the main game like 20% of the full game? Big game! Or small critical path. Or I'm getting something wrong, which would be the first time ever.

Thanks to Ausir.

News for Saturday, July 3, 2010

Posted by Per - at 15:53

GameBanshee snatched some answers from Obsidian people at the Bethesda booth at E3. Chris Avellone:

GB: We’ll obviously be picking our character’s skill tags, and I’ve read that they will have more of an effect on the game than just a skill boost. Can you elaborate on that?

Chris: As with the GOAT test in F3, you'll get a Q&A with Doc Mitchell in Goodsprings at the beginning of the game, and your answers will "suggest" tag skills to take. Like the GOAT test, you don't need to take the suggested skills, you can still choose whatever you want. And you can also re-choose your Tag Skills once you leave Goodsprings if you don't like your choices.

However, we made a conscious effort that (1) every weapon skill had a low level version so you didn't have to wait a long time to get energy weapons, which was a mistake we'd made in previous Fallouts, (2) you can do a lot more with skills you wouldn't expect, notably in conversations. In my opinion, some of the best conversation options you get in the game are Barter ones, when you start using economic arguments to solve quests or convince people of the wisdom of your choices. You should see an almost immediate use for all your skills in Goodsprings and onwards, it was a design mandate.
Feargus Urquhart:
GB: Did you ever try to convince them that you should do an isometric turn-based Fallout after Fallout 3?

Feargus: [laughter]
There's also some talk about Alpha Protocol and Icewind Dale and stuff.

While we're at it, PC Gamer posted a little presentation of traits, and noted a new one has been revealed.
Because I asked real nice, they’ve now revealed a third: Kamikaze. It’s a trait familiar to those of us who played the first games, and like the Kamikaze trait in Fallout 1 and 2, it suits players with an aggressive fighting style—you get 10 extra action points, but your Damage Threshold is reduced by two.
Thanks to Ausir.

Posted by 13pm - at 12:12

Ausir, the Vault keeper provides us with some more interesting Fallout Online bits.

Firstly, there are new concept art pictures posted at Fallout Online forum and websites of Jeff Clendenning and Natiq Aghaev:

Secondly, there are some interesting posts by Chris Taylor at the official Fallout Online forum. On PvP:
Some thoughts:

* There will be lots of PvP, but that won't be the only activity.
* There will be restrictions. Our vision of PvP requires player consent.
* PvP can occur pretty much anywhere in the world, but not all players can partake in PvP. This goes beyond the /duel command; there is a whole different system in play here. It's not the old EQ-style PVP switch. It's something new. We're just not ready to give details at this time.
* If you heavily commit to PvP, you will be rewarded. It will be risky, but the rewards are designed to make it worthwhile. If you'd like to dabble in PvP, you will still be rewarded and won't risk as much. We hope to entice more people to be involved in PvP, without making it a requirement.
On player death and penalty for it:
There will be a penalty for "defeat". We plan on making it painful enough that you want to avoid it happening, but not so painful that you log out and immediately throw your keyboard and monitor out the window. Somewhere in between would be nice.

Repeated defeats will be more and more ***************. [EDIT: Oh, snap, the Big Idea filter caught that one, sorry.)
And he also posted a poll on character bonuses:
This poll question involves the character creation phase of the game.

You would create your character in the normal way. But along with everything you do, you’d get one (or maybe more) hidden bonuses. The bonus would be something similar to a Perk, but maybe not that big and/or not even something on the Perk’s list.

This will NOT affect your character creation at all. You would still build it to your specifications.
This bonus may not manifest itself early on. There would be ways to discover what it was, if you couldn’t tell from occurrences in play.
The idea is to insure your character is special and different from any other character out there. (As well as have a secret or two to discover.)

Discuss why you would or would not like it in the thread. Also, if you like it, what kinds of things you’d like to see?

Posted by 13pm - at 11:46

Interplay has started sending off Fallout Online newsletter to those who has signed up. And this is actually a letter with concept art attached:

Chris Taylor says about the newsletter:
The first newsletter is on its way out. The emails are going out in alphabetical order and it will take a little while to email everyone. Check your spam filter if you don't see anything in the next three days or so. (Yes, it will take three days to get all the emails out.)

Also, Interplay website has a press release on this:
Interplay Entertainment announces the first newsletter from the official FALLOUT® ONLINE registration site.

Mutants and non-mutants who registered at the FALLOUT® ONLINE site are starting to receive tales from the wastelands. Interested players who sign up are on the fast-track for beta-testing and get the added bonus of a free subscription to the pre-release electronic newsletter. (No additional flora will be harmed by the production of this newsletter.) Subscribers may end their participation at any time, again without cost or additional fees. We are just that kind and giving.

Interplay's FALLOUT® ONLINE is a massively multiplayer RPG set in the award-winning and best-selling FALLOUT® universe. Player characters roam the desert wastes, the radiation-blasted mountain tops, and the mutated forests of the post-apocalyptic world. A land where decisions have consequences and there are multiple solutions to every challenge. Players can decide to participate in the rebuilding of this broken land, seek the adrenaline pumping pleasure of conquest and destruction, or just go launch anvils and ride the merry-go-round.

The registration site is available at Register today. Registered players are winners.¹
¹ In a very metaphysical way. Registration does not, by itself, actually win anything. It may also earn a meager amount of our respect and affection, but results may vary.

Also, the footer note at the Fallout Online website has been added again with " used by Interplay under license from Bethesda Softworks LLC" part.

Thanks PainlessDocM, adambott and Ausir for informing us.