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News for Thursday, October 27, 2011

Posted by Tagaziel - at 19:57

In yet another installment of Fallout Archaeology, we bring you the following two interviews with the developers of Wasteland (Fallout's grandfather): Michael Stackpole and Ken St. Andre, from the ancient Questbusters journal from October 1988. The interviews are divided between two issues of the journal and have been published on the Web by the Museum of Computer Adventure Game History. Both concern their work on Wasteland, the relationship between designers and programmers as well as more general musings on translating tabletop RPGs into computer games.

The first interview is available in Volume V, #10 on pages 6-7 and contains, among other things, an interesting fact about Wasteland's development:

The Wasteland you see is actually the second design. The first one was a Red Dawn scenario, with the Russians occupying bases in the farmlands of Iowa. This was back in late 1985. We spent a month drawing farmland maps and making up Farmer characters.
The second interview, available in Volume V, #11 on pages 6-7 and 15-16, concerns general matters, but still brings interesting facts to the table:
One of the things that kept happening in Wasteland... Ken says there's a Blood Cult in Needles, and also a Church of that Blood Cult in Las Vegas. As we were retrofitting stuff in Needles, we built a link between different religious groups and things going on. Servants of the Mushroom Cloud again show up in Needles and in Vegas; the Guardians of the Old Order are certainly a force unto themselves and very strange, but when you wander around in their Citadel, you see that these guys have been collecting artifacts from the pre-war times and you find things you recognize, and through experiencing Wasteland you can believe that yeah, 100 years ago the bombs did fall and this is what's left over - it all makes strange, perverted sense. [...] [Designing the game is about] creating that mythos and keeping you in it as opposed to saying 'you're really only playing a game '. You're not thinking about the game system.
Thanks for this bit of history go to octavius, of RPG Codex.

On top of that, since it cannot be praised enough, if you ever wondered what that random square in Quartz could make happen in Needles, the Wasteland decryptor is the tool for you!

And last, but not least, here's a previously unseen partial render of the advanced power armour, recovered by the man that can, Barnz:

That is all in today's episode of Fallout Archaeology!

Posted by Brother None - at 12:01

At this point I'm not even sure this is new, but I'm fairly sure it is. After having been denied an injunction against developer Masthead, the appeal to the denied injunction against Interplay itself has now also been denied, per Joystiq. I'm pretty sure that's new, and I'm also pretty sure that's the last injunction request Bethesda can make, meaning the case should proceed normally from here on out. I hope.

United States Court of Appeals documents show that Bethesda's aim was to show "the district court abused its discretion and misapplied the law in concluding that Bethesda failed to establish a likelihood of irreparable harm." And while the property owner continued to delve into fears over Interplay's suspect financial stability (a potential source of said irreparable harm), today's outcome similarly found Bethesda's claims unconvincing.

News for Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 11:04

After talking with Chris Avellone, J.E. Sawyer, Jason Bergman and other members of the industry and not, Will Ooi turned his pointed questions to veteran designer, member of the original Fallout team and one of the founders of the unfortunately short-lived Troika Games studio Tim Cain (the interview is available both on Gamasutra and on his personal blog), while also taking the chance to shed some light on his recent decisions regarding his career. Here's on that subject:

Will Ooi: Hi Mr Cain, thank you very much for taking part in this interview series, and first of all congratulations on securing a role at Obsidian. How do you feel about this move, and what does it mean for your and Obsidian's future plans?

Tim Cain: I really enjoy working at Obsidian. I know many of the people there from our time at Interplay or Troika, and I have played all of Obsidian's games, so in many ways this new job was the smoothest transition I have ever made. Everyone there has been very friendly and welcoming, and I am excited to be back in the RPG game space.

But I should explain that I am a temporary contracted employee at Obsidian. I am considering joining another company in the spring of 2012 and have been talking with them since August, so in the meantime I am working at Obsidian on one of their games as a senior programmer. My contract extends thru March of 2012, at which time all parties (myself, Obsidian and the other company) can decide what the next step should be.


Will Ooi: Are you able to share anything about your time at Carbine Studios, and the Wildstar MMO title you were working on?

Tim Cain: I enjoyed working at Carbine, first as the Programming Director and then shifting to the Design Director role. These roles gave me the opportunity to work on an MMO's development from different perspectives, and I thought Wildstar was shaping up to be a world-class MMO. I loved the demo they presented at GamesCom in Germany in August. The game looks awesome.

As for my leaving, that had nothing to do with the quality of the game. I had joined the team in 2005 expecting a five year development cycle. After six years, it became obvious that the game would be in development for several additional years, and that was longer than I was willing to commit to the title.


WO: What are the challenges or pitfalls one faces when running their own game development studio?

TC: For me personally, the challenge was learning how to run a business and to negotiate contracts with publishers, which are skills that have nothing to do with making good games. But if you make mistakes in those areas, your games will suffer. I would recommend keeping them separate. In other words, I should have hired a biz guy. Smile
Don't forget to read the interview in its entirety, lots of good stuff in it, including Tim's opinion on New Vegas, whether he thinks there's a place in today's market for iso/turn-based games and more.

News for Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 18:27

Making her intention explicit with the title of the editorial, Nicole Kline from WarpZoned reminds us why it's dumb to state that Borderlands and Fallout 3 are the same game and why wasteland settings can still be very different. Here's a snip on the latter:

There is NOTHING AT ALL similar about these settings. Borderlands is a science fiction game set on an alien planet called Pandora, which is an attraction for treasure hunters looking for the fabled Vault. Itís chock full of colorful locals, alien monsters, and a plethora of loot. Sure, itís a ďwasteland,Ē and itís got a lot of stuff made out of trash, but itís an alien planet that is primarily populated by crazy people. Fallout 3 is an alternate history science fiction setting, in which nuclear war destroyed the Earth back in the 1950s, meaning everything is nostalgic and 50s style. The beginning of the game takes place in a Vault in which survivors have lived for generations, but your character escapes and wanders the surface. The surface is a ďwasteland,Ē yes, and again, it has a lot of stuff made out of trash, but thatís because itís all the people on the surface have left. The similarities in how it looks really stop there.

News for Friday, October 21, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 19:40

As Computer and Videogames reports Fallout: New Vegas won in the 'Best RPG' category at the 2011 Golden Joystick awards, winning on titles such as The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and Dragon Age II.

Congratulations to the teams at Obsidian and Bethesda then.

News for Thursday, October 20, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 21:53

In an interesting case of fanfic creators meeting their "heroes", Zack Finrock and Vince Talenti of Nuka Break's fame got interviewed by The Game Creators Vault together with Fallout 1's Tim Cain and Fallout 2/New Vegas' Chris Avellone, both from Obsidian Entertainment. Without further ado, here's the video interview:

Thanks C2B for the second part's link.

News for Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 18:33

In case some parts of Lonesome Road's story are not that clear to you, Chris Avellone has elaborated on the mysterious package that basically kick-started the events behind Lonesome Road on his blog on the Obsidian Entertainment forums.

NCR sacks Navarro in the West, recovers a bunch of tech they don't understand, as history has proven.

They do, however, recognize the symbols (American flag, silo stencils, etc.) and recognize it might be tied to the same symbols and markings the NCR found at the Divide.

NCR hires a Courier to take the item there. They don't for a second think that anything bad will happen as a result, and neither does the player.

Player delivers package, leaves.

The package is a detonator that contains missile launch codes that just needs to get within range and start chatting with launch computers.

News for Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 16:24

Posting this news not long after work on Fallout: New Vegas has been wrapped up feels fairly weird, but going by his Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, ex-Interplay, Troika and Carbine Studios designer and programmer Tim Cain, which most you probably know for being producer and lead programmer on the first, seminal Fallout title, has joined Obsidian Entertainment as a senior programmer.

Assuming things between Obsidian and him work out, and relationships between Obsidian and Bethesda aren't sore, maybe this means he'll get to work on the franchise again one day? One can hope.

Thanks OakTable and PoetAndMadman (on the Obsidian Entertainment forums).

News for Monday, October 10, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 22:48

Assuming all our readers still remember indie post-apocalyptic horror game Afterfall: Insanity (if not, it's an indie post-apocalyptic horror game), there have been several bits of news on Afterfall reaching our attention lately, so in order: first, Parkiet and Polygamia report (in Polish) that the indie studio has been reaching some very predictable bumps in their overly ambitious project. CEO Thomas Majka notes they have been "too optimistic". A major shareholder withdrew his financing as the company tries to raise more capital to supplement its 15 million PLN (3,3 million EUR) budget.

Then a trailer hit!

And then, to indicate they've gone completely off the deep end, they've got a unique offer: pre-order the game for $1 dollar, and if 10 million people in total do so, you'll get the full game. If not, all the money will go to charity and you'll just have to buy the game. The stunt might at least get them some attention but is laughable, our host Atomic Gamer editorializes on it and really sums up the entire Afterfall: Insanity development cycle on in one sentence:
I think that these guys are onto something, but this all-or-nothing approach is misguided and overly ambitious, especially coming from an indie studio that isn't really known at all.
You can see the ongoing counter on their website, as of this posting it is at 12109. The game is set to release November 15th, which'll be in the middle of a flurry of AAA titles.

News for Sunday, October 9, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 19:19

To help readers make an informed purchase, RPGamer's Sam Marchello, Glenn Wilson and Michael Cunningham have put together a round-up for Fallout: New Vegas' DLC, offering two different takes for each one of them. SCIENCE!-tastic Old World Blues comes on top:

Featuring an eccentric entourage of broken immortal scientists, the zany humor and unrelenting madness of Old World Blues have more in common with other games in Obsidian Entertainment's legacy than anything that fits in the Fallout world. The DLC opens with a lengthy, brain-bending discussion that casually leaps between warped perceptions and demented impossibilities. This introduction to the unfacts of Old World Blues is tough to follow, distracting slightly from the comedy when you're trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Unfortunately, the first scene and individual follow-up conversations with each scientist make up nearly all of the dialogue in the DLC, and considering how much weirdness is packed into the setting, the lack of balance between doses of story and combat is disappointing. The next ten to fifteen hours is spent exploring the crater that was the Big MT. Quests send you to a plethora of diverse locations in the small region, and although some drop you into more creative, funny situations or introduce you to new mentally-addled NPCs, many of the quests are either bland item fetches or solved purely in conversation. The Big MT is packed with immediately respawning foes, so even a small amount of backtracking adds significant combat time to the DLC. The story unshockingly concludes with the player getting to judge the scientists who trapped and experimented on him, although it's a shame that the ending sequence is short on the group dialogue that made the DLC unique at the start. Worth playing for the creative script and setting rather than the plot choices and constant combat, Old World Blues is an excellent one act play. By the end, it grants so many experience points and a permanent hub that's so awesome, it makes the main story of New Vegas easy and works best as an end of game or second playthrough DLC. - Glenn Wilson

Glenn's Verdict: Buy for Obsidian's creative writing at its best.

Of all the Fallout: New Vegas DLC, nothing even comes close to the wackiness that is Old World Blues. Featuring an eccentric cast of characters, players are forced into making a unique choice that is unlike anything they've ever experienced before: they have to make up their minds, about their brains. The poor Courier has been completely lobotomized by a group of scientists and is forced to become a guinea pig in a science experiment gone awry. Like what Glenn commented upon earlier, Old World Blues' strength comes from its writing. It's hilarious, odd, and it's hard to know how to react to some of the situations that occur within the story, particularly the killer toaster with a deep desire to destroy the world. Clever and smart, the writing shines and makes it rewarding to traverse through the Big MT. The overall pacing of the DLC is somewhat out of sync, as there's a plethora of quests to take on, but traversing through the Big MT becomes problematic when hordes of lobotomized "friends" come out to play. The balance between story and combat is lacking, and backtracking and respawned enemies do add to the playtime. The amount of story feels so little compared to the amount of combat that occurs in this DLC, but with the number of areas and ample content to explore, there's lots to do, and the story alone makes this easily worth a recommendation. - Sam Marchello

Sam's Verdict: Quirky and hilarious, Old World Blues has bar none the best writing of the four DLC packs.

News for Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 0:43

The Bethesda blog lets us know selected items from its Xbox LIVE store are on a 50% discount, including all Fallout 3 DLC and Dead Money and Honest Hearts for New Vegas.

News for Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 16:40

Our coverage of this title has been on and off, but I'm guessing a lot of users would be interested to learn id's anticipated post-apocalyptic FPS Rage has been released in North America on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, with the European release on the 7th.

Reviews have been mixed, which is getting to be a tradition for Bethesda-published titles. CVGp gives it an 8.9, OXM an 8, Strategy Informer a 6.5, Joystiq a 3/5, RipTen a 9.5, our host Atomic Gamer a 9.

PC buyers should be especially beware, as this release has some graphic issues and in an absolutely mind-bogglingly bizarre design decision for a PC FPS, has no graphic options to speak of. That's just insulting. Definitely read Rock Paper Shotgun on the game.

Share your impressions in the newscomments or here.

News for Monday, October 3, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 12:04

Obsidian's linear story-heavy post-apocalyptic road keeps garnering mixed reviews, failing to end the DLC story arc on a high note, at least critically.

The Adrenaline Vault, 4/5 with a "buy it" recommendation.

If your love of New Vegas comes from variety, dialogue, and multiple interrelated quests, Lonesome Road might not be right title for you. Itís completion doesnít offer all that much by way of loot and add-ons, aside from one or two neat new weapons and items. Of course, your maximum level cap is raised, and thatís always a good little bonus. I will also say that the final resolution didnít seem as epic as it should have been, given the focused build-up to the eventual showdown and confrontation.

Lonesome Road, despite a few flaws and let-downs, falls on the positive side of the fence. Itís almost an answer to those who raised issues with the styles of the previous DLC installments. For offering something different, once again I give it a thumbs up and recommend it, as so long as you understand the type of game youíre getting when you buy it.
RPGFan, scoreless.
Despite being short and linear, Lonesome Road delivers a solid experience for diehard Fallout fans and casual fans alike. The narrative spurs you on to continue walking the Divide in search of answers about who you were before the events of New Vegas and who your choices will eventually force you to become.
True PC Gaming, scoreless.
Lonesome Road lasted this reviewer about six hours and most of it was a chore to play through. With that being said, itís not quite worth the $10. But you know what is? The other DLCs. The pervading dullness of Lonesome Road is made only more obvious when compared to the life and energy that is found in Obsidianís other DLC chapters. However, itís not all bad. It had some good momentsómost of which involved some truly desperate, white-knuckle combat against the high-level Tunnelers and Deathclaws. But for the most part, Lonesome Roadís evident dullness does more to red-flag it as the weakest link in New Vegasí DLC chain than showcase it as a worthy purchase. One last word of advice: Lonesome Road is intended for players leveled 25 or higher.
Video Game Nostalgia, scoreless.
Lonesome Road is a fitting closing to The Couriers story, even if the story doesnít allow for more exploration then a Fallout title usually presents. Still, itís a must have for Fallout fans.
GameTrailers, 5.7/10, noting that the DLC 'simply doesn't play very well to the main game's strengths".