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News for Friday, December 30, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 21:13

In case you don't want to wait for the Ultimate Edition, Fallout: New Vegas is now 75% off on Steam, for 4.99 USD/EUR, with each DLC at 2.49 USD/EUR. You can also get the whole Bethesda package including New Vegas, all its DLC and Fallout 3: GotY for 75 bucks.

Unrelated, here's neat pictures of Manchester after the apocalypse, by James Chadderton.

News for Thursday, December 29, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 10:25

J.E. Sawyer, project director on Fallout: New Vegas and its Honest Heart DLC, had already told us through his Formspring account that he was working on a mod for his personal playthroughs and would be releasing it for interested people, something that promptly happened today, without much fanfare. Here's the link to the mod (which requires all Fallout: New Vegas DLC to work) and some bits from the "changelog" he wrote on Formspring:

* Max level with all DLCs installed is 35.
* XP rate is halved.
* Base player health is quartered and level-gained health is reduced by 25%.
* Base Carry Weight from 150 to 50 (related perks/things have also been adjusted).
* Energy Weapon ammo weighs less than its nearest equivalent Guns ammo.
* Energy Weapon durability is in the same ballpark as Guns durability.
* Medium Armor has a small amount of DR proportional to its DT.
* Heavy Armor has even more DR proportional to its DT.
* Power Armor does not require a perk, but if you have the perk, the weight of the armor is essentially negated.
* Karma/Alignment values adjusted all over.
* H2O/FOD/SLP rates doubled, but the first threshold is moved from 200 to 400 (statuses roll over ever 150 after).
* Water and Food drop rates on NPCs is dramatically lower. It is difficult to stay out of Dehydration/Starvation by looting enemies.
* Water/Nuka-Cola/Sunset Sarsaparilla heal much less, but now all restore H2O (alcohols will as well, but at lowered values).
* Default Stimpaks are uncommon. A new variant, Stimpak, Expired is the default. It is not that great.
* The player's Workbench recipe now makes Stimpak, Homemade. It is better than Expired, worse than default Stimpaks, and has the PE penalty from Healing Powder.
* All Stimpaks have weight.
* Pre-Order items have been adjusted to be more well-balanced and not worth that much if you rush to Chet's to trade them in.
* A bunch of fixes I couldn't make during development because of load order conflicts, time, etc. E.g.: Automatic Rifle spread re-adjustment, putting the Police Pistol on the Cowboy List, Bozar on Grunt, Junk Rounds are now actual ammo variants you can make, etc.
* Some other stuff.

[...]

* fKarmaModKillingEvilActor from 100 to 5
* fKarmaModKillingVeryEvilActor from 2 to 30
* All (known) Feral Ghouls set to Neutral alignment
* Colonel Moore Alignment changed from Neutral to Evil
* Colonel Hsu Alignment changed from Neutral to Good
* Dam Centurion Alignments changed from Evil to Neutral
* Doctor Usanagi Alignment changed to Very Good
* Dixon Alignment changed from Neutral to Very Evil
* Jean-Baptiste Cutting Alignment changed from Neutral to Very Evil
* Gloria Van Graff Alignment changed from Neutral to Very Evil
* Alice McLafferty Alignment changed from Neutral to Evil
* Alice McBride Alignment changed from Neutral to Good
* Squatter Alignments changed from Neutral to Good
* The King's Alignment changed from Neutral to Good
* Contreras' Alignment changed from Neutral to Evil
* Westside Citizens and Militia Alignments changed from Neutral to Good
* Gomorrah Prostitutes Alignments changed from Neutral to Good
* 1E Junkies' Alignments changed from Neutral to Good
* Michelle and Samuel's Alignments changed from Neutral to Good

[...]

Why can't you just add your changes to the game in an official patch?

The short technical reason is ".esm inter-dependencies" and "load order errors". Sorry.

In addition to technical reasons, some of the mechanics changes make the game significantly more difficult (base health / stim changes) or at least more of a hassle (carry weight, stims having weight, H2O/SLP/FOD rate increase). I'd rather have people opt-in to those changes than make them the default in a patch.

Finally, the game's over. The ship has sailed. No one is working on it anymore. No testers, nothing. This mod is just me working in my free time. If I horribly botch something, you can just un-check the mod and go on your way.

Do you plan to reintroduce the armored vault 21 jumpsuit in your mod? If so, would it be by crafting or found?

Yes. It is for sale in Sarah's store at Vault 21. Both it and the Armored Vault 13 Jumpsuit now use the RepairVaultSuit list and have 200 CND. The Armored Vault 21 Jumpsuit grants 12 DT, +1 LK, and costs 2000 caps.

Will your mod add any removed/unfinished quests?

No.

News for Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 18:47

The Bethesda vs Interplay FOOL case has gone on for longer than expected, and there hasn't been much to report (we had court files pass by noting the Fallout Trilogy subcase was dropped, which was nice but not hugely newsworthy, but now you know). The Vault now reports Bethesda is filing to seal parts of the case, which could indicate a settlement in the works, which certainly wouldn't surprise anyone.

Bethesda have filed a motion to seal parts of their ongoing case. It is my understanding that this is SOP when there are serious settlement talks going on.
We don't have any more news at the moment as to what the deal may be. Interplay officially have until the 9th of January to respond to the motion. Interplay also have their long awaited earnings report that has been delayed many times now currently due on the 4th. So we're hoping for an update somewhere around those dates, or perhaps sooner if settled.

The motion was dated 23/12.

News for Sunday, December 25, 2011

Posted by Dude101 - at 13:12

Mutants Rising is a project you should all be familiar with by now. It is one of the last FO2 TCs announced (2003) in the golden days of Fallout 2 modding to survive. This is the second demo released.

As promised, the new demo of Mutants Rising is live now!

The demo comprises the complete first location of the game, with all of its quests and characters. It also includes several of the new game features we introduced, most notably the overhauled healing system. We hope the demo will give you a good taste of what the mod is going to look like in the end, and that you will like it.

To get your hands on the demo, you can either download the Smart Installer version, or the Manual Install pack:
* Smart Installer - Download the file on your hard drive and double click on it. When the Installer window appears, choose "Install" and follow the instructions on screen.

Links:
Download


* Manual Install - If the Installer doesn't work for you for some reason, or if you're already familiar with installing Fallout 2 mods, you can try the Manual Install. Download the ZIP file into your Fallout 2 installation directory and unpack it there. A new folder should appear, named "MutantsRising". Go inside it and read the readme for the remaining installation details.

Links:
Download

Patch 1.01:
Download


We're anxious to have your opinions, so make sure to check out our forums here on NMA and on our website, so you can leave comments. Should you find any bugs or have any questions, please post them in their respsctive threads on the forum too. Have a good time with Mutants Rising!

News for Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 20:17

Steam is having daily sales as they usually due in the holiday seasons. Among today's sales: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.! Specifically, Shadow of Chernobyl is €2.49 or $4.99, Call of Pripyat is €3.49 or $3.74, and Clear Sky is €2.49 or $2.49.

Posted by Brother None - at 11:12

The Game Creators Vault has a video interview with "Planetscape" Torment and Fallout developer Chris Interview. It's a general interview, but it has numerous Fallout-specific questions, opening with talking about New Vegas.



Thanks Chris/GameBanshee.

News for Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 1:55

The case over FOOL was already supposed to be over by now, having started December 12th and estimated to last two and a half days (by Interplay). Still, while we're waiting on word what the ruling actually is, a few more documents have made their way to us from the trial. This is mostly old news, but let's go over it again...

First are exhibits 36 and 38, which are the evidence Interplay submitted to prove they fulfilled the financing requirement of $30 million USD. 36 is a production agreement between the Interactive Game Group and Interplay for the production of an unnamed game whose costs "do not exceed $15.0 million and are not less than $0.5 million". 38 is the development agreement with Masthead for the production of "Project: V13" on the PC platforms, the tasks of Masthead including programming, art and design, with Interplay handling the concept art, the majority of design and producing for project oversight, audio broken up into music/voice over (Interplay) and sound effects (Masthead) and cinematics into storyboarding/post-production (Interplay) and modeling/rendering/animation/special effects (Masthead). It also offers details on the royalties but cites no numbers on Interplay's claim that Masthead's side of the bargain "represents" $20 million for the minimum financing agreement.

The outline of Bethesda's claims once again goes on about Interplay not having the right to use any Fallout copyright material except the name Fallout, and I think it bizarre that they keep pushing this angle. That said, Bethesda also claims Interplay did not fulfill one of the requirement of the Asset Purchase Agreement, which would be a breach of contract if true, specifically that Interplay did not deliver "all tangible embodiments" of the purchased IP.

Interplay breached Section 2.5 by failing to deliver to Bethesda all tangible embodiments of the Fallout copyrighted works. As will be shown at trial, evidence establishing Interplay’s breach of contract includes, but is not limited to, purported design documents produced by Interplay in this case.
No comment there since I have no details on the claim. More interesting, Bethesda offers a stack of evidence that Interplay did not fulfill the minimum financing requirement, and rebuts Interplay's claim on I2g's financing as Frederic Chesnais (owner, founder and sole employee of I2G) has testified that "there is no binding agreement between Interplay and I2G to provide financing to Interplay for the Fallout MMOG" and also that I2G "considered providing no more than five or six million dollars of financing to Interplay for the Fallout MMOG". As for Masthead's side of the deal, Bethesda points out the court ruled that Interplay "was precluded from offering any Masthead employees as witnesses at trial" or "call any Interplay witnesses to testify about any of the work purportedly done by Masthead". The reason being:
THE COURT: . . . you [Interplay] are not calling any Masthead folks because you have not given the names in discovery, you did not do it timely in response to interrogatories that were sufficiently br[oad] to have required the identity of anybody at Masthead who has knowledge of or participated in the full scale development.

(...)

MR. GERSH: Your Honor, that is the Masthead. I am talking about the Interplay people prior to April of 2009.

THE COURT: You can talk about what they did themselves not what anybody at Masthead did.
Taking the above into account, there is pretty much no chance Interplay will win this case on the merits of having fulfilled the contract stipulations laid out by the license back agreement.

That said, Interplay's claims are taking another angle entirely. It is using Bethesda's rather ridiculous Fallout in name only claim to expound that there was no "meeting of minds" on the terms of the parties' agreement, which by Delaware law would make the contract nul and void (Bethesda states this lacks merit because the written and signed contract is in itself conclusive evidence of mutual assent).

Specifically:
Specific language intrinsic to the TLA objectively supports Interplay's reasonable interpretation. Yet BSW contends the same language shows that it intended something entirely different: that Interplay's Fallout MMOG should be just a word on a box.

(...)

Delaware law provides that the TLA is void and unenforceable if the Court cannot objectively determine what rights were conveyed under the TLA. If the TLA is void, the APA also is void and should be rescinded because the TLA is a material term of the APA. If the TLA itself is too indefinite to bind the parties, the APA suffers from the same infirmities because it incorporates the TLA as a material term, as if it were set forth in full within the APA. The TLA, because it is invalid, also constitutes an unfulfilled condition precedent to Interplay's sale of the intellectual property.
Interplay points out section 3.4 of the TLA clearly indicates Interplay is given the right to use Fallout-related concepts by the specification that such concepts may not be carried over to a non-Fallout MMO. However, all this hinges on - as the file states - the TLA being invalid "if the Court cannot determine what Interplay was licensed to do." I see no reason for the Court not to simply throw out Bethesda's Fallout-in-name-only claim, and the claim is the only real basis of Interplay's defense here.

Also as a side-note, Bethesda has "dropped as affirmative claims the packaging arguments and the marketing arguments concerning the earlier Fallout games", as in the argument concerning the Fallout Trilogy, though it is not immediately clear if Interplay will still use them as arguments of bad faith.

News for Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 19:47

It appears like Fallout: New Vegas has managed to snatch another award, with its Science!-themed DLC Old World Blues winning in the "Best DLC" category at the Inside Gaming Awards, in which it was pitted against candidates such as Street Fighter IV - Arcade Edition, Portal 2: Peer Review and Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam.



Congratulations to the team!

Posted by Brother None - at 19:28

You probably already heard about Naughty Dog's PS3-exclusive The Last of Us, but in case you didn't, we should at least mention it as another upcoming post-apocalyptic game. A short description from the developer:

"Abandoned cities reclaimed by nature. A population decimated by a modern plague. Survivors are killing each other for food, weapons; whatever they can get their hands on.

Joel, a brutal survivor, and Ellie, a brave young teenage girl who is wise beyond her years, must work together if they hope to survive their journey across the US."

View screenshots here.

Posted by Brother None - at 19:23

Duck and Cover offers the results of the motion in limine hearing. Their summary:

1. The burden of proof is on Interplay to prove 3 things.
A. it has a trademark and copyright license
B. it was in full scale development
C. It had secured funding of 30 million.
2. Interplay is not precluded from presenting parole evidence.
3. Interplay is not precluded from presenting evidence showing minimum financing and full scale production.
4. Affirmative defense of mistake will not work for Interplay.
5. Bethesdas witness can be at the trial, but can only testify as to what an mmo is and what it entails...he cannot comment on what Interplay has done.
6. Trial will be at 9:30 A.M. on Dec 12
7. Interplay thinks it will take 2 to 2 1/2 days for the entire trial.
Additionally, they spotted a screenshot on the website of developer Masthead.

News for Monday, December 12, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 22:23

Industry Gamers interviewed Obsidian's creative director Chris Avellone, whose latest work has been most of the Fallout: New Vegas downloadable content, with questions on subjects such as his duties, advances in RPGs and the gaming industry at large. Here's a snip:

IG: What's the most important advances in RPG design in the last few years?

CA: That's tough. I'll say the "advances" have been more for player convenience, sometimes good, sometimes bad, in my opinion. Journals, quest compasses that point directly to the goal and show you the route, auto-maps, etc. are helpful; at the same time, I think it undermines the thrill of victory and discovery and a lot of what makes an RPG an RPG (exploration, notably). In terms of non-interface elements, I feel the idea of morally gray choices and more focus on actions and consequences has been great for RPGs across the board. Lastly, fully voice-acted characters has been something to adapt to since Knights of the Old Republic 1, and the amount of localization, recording and audio work that requires is substantial, but I feel it's a net positive for the player.

[...]


IG: What do you enjoy most these days about the game industry, and what annoys you the most?

CA: I enjoy the fact that role-playing game mechanics are bleeding into other genres, and the "genres" aren't as clear-cut anymore – developers are seeing the worth in customization, leveling, dialogue, choice and reactivity and other elements that would normally be considered RPG mechanics and introducing them into multiple titles. As for challenges in our line of work - I do get concerned sometimes that for the majority of my job, it's difficult to iterate on voice acting once it's recorded and localized, so there's some stress there in fixing bugs or fixing level flow when you absolutely have to get it right the first time. Still, there are ways of planning ahead to prevent the larger obstacles (recording generic lines, making sure journal and quest objectives are never voiced text, etc.), so it's not a big deal. You just adapt and move on.

News for Friday, December 9, 2011

Posted by Tagaziel - at 19:16

According to UkraNews, GSC Gameworld, the creators of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, are closing down, as per the decision of GSC Gameworld CEO Sergei Grigorovich. This quite probably means this will be the end of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series.

This information coincides with an apparent leak of high quality concept art and screenshots from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 into the web. NMA, as usual, prepared a gallery for your viewing.

News for Monday, December 5, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 22:33

Should you have played a game from Bethesda this generation you'll probably be familiar with slowdowns related to the increasing size of save-game files, a problem which wasn't fixed even in the recently published Skyrim. Since the problem was present in New Vegas too, project director J.E. Sawyer from Obsidian took some time to answer to some questions about it on his Formspring account, and explained why the bug couldn't be fixed in a patch:

Question from one of lesser knowledge... Is there a save game size that you would call "normal" for F:NV? Mine is 14mb, and i'm having intense lag in multiple sections of the Mojave/ all DLC lands. Just curious if that is/could be an issue!

That can easily be a big problem, especially if you're on the PS3. The longer you play a character, the more bit differences on objects (characters, pencils on tables, containers, etc.) get saved off and carried around in memory. I think we've seen save games that are pushing 19 megs, which can be really crippling in some areas.

...

If it's an issue why hasn't it been resolved? The pace at which game sellers basically dish an alpha or beta game to the marketplace is sickening. New V stopped being "beta" in mid-2011. I know as a dev my workplace wasn't AAA dishing but we had integrity.

Since you're a developer, you should understand the implication of what I wrote. It's an engine-level issue with how the save game data is stored off as bit flag differences compared to the placed instances in the main .esm + DLC .esms. As the game modifies any placed instance of an object, those changes are stored off into what is essentially another .esm. When you load the save game, you're loading all of those differences into resident memory.

It's not like someone wrote a function and put a decimal point in the wrong place or declared something as a float when it should have been an int. We're talking about how the engine fundamentally saves off and references data at run time. Restructuring how that works would require a large time commitment. Obsidian also only had that engine for a total of 18 months prior to F:NV being released, which is a relatively short time to understand all of the details of how the technology works.

...

Hey Josh, different user, but same kind of 'lesser knowledge' bloke. What's a bit difference and how does it determine a save file?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bit_field

It's a compact way to store data. The bit differences in this case are just flags set up to mark what data has changed (i.e., are different) from what's in the core .esm.

Let's say that I, as a designer, set up a creature in an area. I set all of the character's statistics and gear and save it in the master FalloutNV.esm file that gets loaded into the game. You, the player, run through the area and shoot that dude. You loot him of his gear and put a shovel in his inventory because you are wacky.

The game needs a way to mark that his a) position B) health c) inventory d) some other stuff has changed on him. It does that by marking what fields have changed (by setting individual bits) and then indexing the individual (changed) values for reference later.

When you load the save game, it loads up all of the bit fields marking changes in your save game. When the individual objects load, it applies the indexed changes to those objects. That way, when you come back to the area you left two nights ago, the character is still sprawled out where you left him, naked, with a shovel in his inventory.

Individual bits of data are tiny, but there are thousands upon thousands of objects in F:NV, each one containing numerous data fields that could potentially be changed in your save game. Over time, it adds up.

...

Is the inflating save file just an issue for the PS3 (I've seen lots of lag/crash complaints from PS3 users) or does it happen on all platforms? I'm just wondering if other platforms handle it better than the PS3.

As with Fallout 3 and Skyrim, the problems are most pronounced on the PS3 because the PS3 has a divided memory pool.

...

(Same fellow you just answered) So....basically, every time I manipulate an object, it fluctuates the save file up or down? I've noticed files can get rather huge, is there no way this could have been greatly diminished in a game as big as New Vegas?

It almost always goes up. Some areas will reset contents after three (game) days, but a lot of stuff lingers. Additionally, we also have to deal with "persistent references". These are objects that are immediately loaded with the game because we need to be able to reference them anywhere/everywhere in the world -- even if the player is nowhere near the object. Characters are the most common example. All of the companions need to be able to move around the world even when they are not in your current area, so they are all persistent references.

All object data (excluding art assets like .nifs and audio assets [VO]) for persistent references is loaded at all times, so that's more-or-less a permanent chunk of resident memory. The number of persistent references invariably goes up with each DLC, so as the number of DLCs increases, the system has less and less memory available. Of course, the player's save game file only gets bigger and bigger, since he or she is going through more or more areas manipulating an increasingly large number of objects.

This is why some of our later patches actually removed content from the core game (e.g. Primm). Even though we had balanced the memory footprint for the core game, DLC content was pushing down the available resources.

...

"divided memory pool"?

The Xbox 360 has a unified memory pool: 512 megs of RAM usable as system memory or graphics memory. The PS3 has a divided memory pool: 256 megs for system, 256 for graphics. It's the same total amount of memory, but not as flexible for a developer to make use of.

...

But why did the patch remove content from the PC? Most PCs nowadays have 2-4GB of RAM, plus 500MB-1GB of GPU memory. So I doubt the DLCs negatively impacted most PCs to justify content removal...

If we had generated .esms per-platform, that would have been a crazy nightmare for a lot of reasons. A slightly less risky approach could have been to script the removal of assets using the IsPC/IsXbox/IsPS3 functions, but that also introduces its own host of potential problems, especially if objects are attempting to reference something as the script removes it.

We ran into a small but non-trivial number of crashes in F:NV involving persistent references attempting to interact with an object as the player transitions out of his or her current area. E.g. Chief Hanlon attempts to sit in a chair. The player leaves the area, the chair Hanlon wants to sit in is unloaded, and the game crashes.

...

Hypothetically, if I were to play through FNV without opening any non-necessary containers (e.g. never opening an ammo case) or touching any non-necessary objects (e.g. never moving a pencil) would the game be more stable?

By some margin, yes, but randomized loot I believe is generated on the area's first load, which also applies to the equipment in many characters' (e.g. Fiends') inventories.
Thanks GameBanshee.

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 21:19

For those of you who are looking forward for some more classic Fallout modding, the team of Mutants Rising has been progressing steadily with their mod, and announced on their website that they'll have a new demo available for Christmas. In the words of the team:

Dear Fallout fans,

It has been some time since you last heard from us. Rest assured that we have been working hard on the project and have made significant headway. If you followed the progress bars, you'll notice that they have been updated today, increasing by at least 8 percentage points in each category (with the tiny exception of mapping). To showcase some of this progress and to reward you for your patient wait on this mod, we will be offering you a Christmas gift:



The new demo will showcase the town of Elko, i.e. the first location of the game. You might ask why we would release the same stuff we released over 4 years ago. The main reason is that Mutants Rising has evolved greatly since then and the only "stuff" that remained from the original Elko are the general lines of the story. We could say that Elko 2007 was a draft, while Elko 2011 is the fully implemented, frozen location of the final product, with cutscenes, fully voiced and animated talking heads as well as blackjack and hookers (in fact, forget the blackjack and the hookers).

The demo also presents an opportunity to reveal some of the new game features we have implemented. First and foremost, we completely overhauled First Aid and Doctor skills. Each time your character receives a critical hit, you suffer a bleeding wound. For each such wound, you lose 1 Hit Point every 10 seconds. In order to heal these wounds, you can either use drugs, or apply your First Aid skill. Using First Aid also increases your Healing Rate. It does NOT restore your lost Hit Points though. The Doctor skill on the other hand, is still used as a means to heal crippling injuries, but it also enables you to restore Hit Points. The effects of both skills depend on your skill level - the higher the skill, the greater the bonuses. Moreover, the HP bonus from using Doctor is increased by your Healing Rate, so it's convenient to apply First Aid before using the Doctor skill. This was our attempt at making both abilities more useful, and preliminary tests showed that it does add a challenge and forces you to boost these skills or spend a fortune on drugs. Another prominent modification was done to the character traits. We have replaced many useless traits from the original with new ones, and modified or tweaked the remaining ones, increasing the number of valid choices. There are also many other tweaks such as decreased ammo counts, decreased Carry Weight, etc.

The demo will be available on 25th December this year. Stay tuned!
In other news Fallout 1.5: Resurrection has come out of hibernation early to announce its impending completion. For those of you unfamiliar with this mod, it is a FO2 TC that has been in the works for some time now. Website.

While we are waiting for these mods to be released, be sure to check out ArekBalcerzak’s demo of Desert Duty here and Lich’s full V1.0 release of 13V.