rss rss Like this on facebook Twitter this +1 this Steam group

Go back to the archive

News for Friday, November 30, 2012

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 19:11

Gamasutra has four pages worth of interview with Obsidian's Chris Avellone, including some snippets on his work on Wasteland 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, and some more extensive talk on games writing and crowdfunding.

Snippet:

Any time you make a game, obviously some people are going to like it more than others. How do you balance the concerns of all of your funders?

CA: By having an open dialogue early and throughout the process. I think people can get upset when something doesn't meet their expectations, but if you're constantly providing new information that allows them to see [where the game is at], I think that backers are pretty understanding of all the reasons that went into decisions.

And that's not normally a conversation you can ever have with players, with the traditional publisher model. I mean, for example, there's been certain design elements that other Kickstarters have had, that they've announced in their Kickstarter, where the players have just lashed back and said, "No, we don't want those things". As far as I'm concerned, that ends up being great, because you don't have to waste any resources implementing things that the player never wanted in the first place.

On the flipside, if you're communicating so much with your players, how do you stop them from being overexposed to the game? How do you avoid giving out spoilers that could diminish their experience when they play the final release?

CA: I think there's a lot of logistics that can provide information without giving spoilers. Like when Wasteland 2 is providing screenshots, showing how a game level is developed or giving an example of how the morality system would work. That's not a huge part of the game -- the actual gameplay experience. Actually showcasing how the game is made and the decisions that are going into that provides a lot of information, but it's not really spoiling anything. That's my take on it.

Posted by Brother None - at 15:29

Iron Tower Studio has released the third version of the public beta of The Age of Decadence, with the biggest change being the addition of alchemy for public testing. It can be downloaded from Atomic Gamer or RapidShare, and a torrent version is available on The Pirate Bay. A full changelog is available on the forums.

We proudly present R3 – the third release of the Age of Decadence public beta. This version offers a lot of changes, improvements, and extra content:

What’s inside?

Alchemy – create your own healing salve, berserk potions, acid and liquid fire vials that can be thrown at your enemies, black powder bombs, the "lich" potion, and neurostimulant.

Whereas crafting improves the player's combat stats only, alchemy improves stats, introduces new combat abilities, and provides new quest solutions. Basically, crafting is about focus, alchemy is about versatility.

Quest changes & New content – now you can score bonus loyalty points by selling info to Linos and telling him that Cado's planning to attack the shipment. You can loot Carrinas' body - the most requested "feature". An escape sequence was added after you kill Carrinas. The first Imperial Guards’ quest was tweaked based on the feedback we received. Plus, your grifter, loremaster, and thief will have more opportunities to ply their craft.

System Changes – different blocking mechanics, rebalanced weapons damage ranges and THC (to-hit chance) bonuses, rebalanced fast, power, and aimed attacks, rebalanced armor DR and penalties.

Interface – new dialogue interface and improved font for better readability.

If you want to see the full list of changes, click here.

Why release another version?

The main reason is to test the alchemy system, which is an important aspect of the game and can affect and change every combat encounter. We tested it internally for almost two months and made a number of changes already, but a small internal test can't compete with an open public test. Your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated and your feedback does matter.

The other reason is to test the latest system changes. They reflect the feedback we've received after the last release and make combat more enjoyable (assuming you liked it in the first place). We'll continue improving the character, combat, crafting, and alchemy systems until the game is released, so it is an ongoing process. These systems will serve as the foundation for future titles (should there be future titles) and getting them right is important to us.

We're looking forward to your feedback and hope that you'll enjoy the beta.

PS. Thank you for your patience and interest.

Posted by Brother None - at 15:19

rambooze posted a pretty awesome UDK remake of the Toxic Caves from Fallout 2 to our fan art forum.




Thanks verevoof.

News for Thursday, November 29, 2012

Posted by Tagaziel - at 14:08

As part of their ongoing In The Workshop series, Koobismo has interviewed Christopher Frederic Avellone. Almost an hour in length, the interview covers a great many subjects, from Obsidian and Mr Avellone's work, to his convention life and Kickstarter.

Among other things, Mr Avellone details how he got work at Interplay (referred to it by a pen-and-paper RPG company, who got 300$ worth of games in return), offers advice on writing for games (smart writing and logical choices made by characters are good), discusses his present and past game projects, what IPs he'd like to work with and more.

Particularly interesting are questions related to Fallout: New Vegas and Obsidian. Mr Avellone mentions that some core elements of their Fallout were dictated by the publisher, such as having a signature city (due to the success of Fallout 3, set in Washington DC) and not interfering with the eastern parts of the United States, where Bethesda games take place. Even more interesting is the part where he explains how Obsidian functions. Unlike post-Fargo Interplay, with its tendency to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate its employees, Obsidian maintains transparency, so that company members have a clear picture of the direction it is taking, its current state and can offer feedback to the Powers That Be.

Link: Karissa Barrows and Phil Barrows with Chris Avellone

News for Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 1:17

Wasteland 2's Facebook page lets us know the bulk of writing is done, and a big update is coming in January.

The bulk of the writing for Wasteland 2 is in its final stages. The next phase is about implementation and then lots more writing but based on iteration and the game play experience. Both Chris Avellone and Colin McComb are wrapping up their areas now and we will update soon on the status of the other writers. Also we will have a Wasteland 2 update in about 6 weeks showing off new graphics, game play and other snazzy stuff.
That's the big huge update incoming, but there will be smaller updates in the meantime, and we're prepping some good stuff for the forums.

Speaking of forums, producer Chris Keenan talks about replayability.
That is one hell of a true statement. One of our main goals throughout development is to get you saying "shit...what would have happened had I done it this other way". It's kind of crazy to think that of the amount of content we'll be adding over the next 12 months, most of that won't be seen by the player on a single playthrough.
And about the world map.
We will certainly be close, with some slight modifications for playability. We have a new overhead map mechanic that requires us to tweak the original distances a bit for fun factor, but for the most part, the locations are in the same areas.
And animator Josh Jertberg continues to talk on animations with fans in the animation thread.
Ok..... I have to do some work to get done this morning(Rigging/animating a Honey Badger) but I will answer more directly in a bit.

(...)

Yes! we want the characters to animate in some way during conversations too. I already have a framework in place that conveys basic emotions, sad, happy, angry, scared. It may not be super complicated but I will try my best to make the conversations have some life.

(...)

The plan now is to NOT have the camera zoom in during conversations. There are a lot of reasons for this, but our feeling is it will look better to keep the camera in its battlefield or default orientation.
Friggin' honey badgers, man!

News for Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Posted by Tagaziel - at 22:17

J.E. Sawyer isn't answering as many questions on Formspring as he used to, but when he does, well, he does:

I had wanted to develop a religious conflict in an RPG for a while, one that wasn't presented as pro-religion vs. anti-religion. I didn't want to use a proxy/fictitious religion and I didn't want to use religion as the set-up for a series of jokes. My first idea for Honest Hearts was a direct conflict between Joshua and Daniel where Joshua was more like his pre-fall self, but I didn't think the characterization would be particularly interesting and I didn't think players would struggle much with the decision of whom to support. It didn't take long for me to change the main conflict to one about Joshua and Daniel vs. an external threat, with the player's choice revolving around which leader to support. I think we often present players with a choice between two bad solutions and we ask them to decide which one is least bad. With Honest Hearts, I wanted the player to decide which solution would produce the most good.

I wanted the player's first encounter with Joshua to be very reductive. In way, I wanted the player to be initially disappointed. They hear legends of this fearsome, terrible, demonic figure and when they first see him, he's doing the equivalent of putting his pants on one leg at a time: sitting at a table maintaining a stack of guns. Even internally, some people complained about his appearance. They wanted him to be huge and monstrous or they wanted his first encounter with the player to involve him brutally gunning down White Legs. I believed that for his character to feel right in the context of the story, he needed to be a man first and the monster later. But that expressed desire on the team made me ask for the graffiti players see on the way to see Joshua: an entire cliff face dominated by the image of Joshua with tiny White Leg corpses falling down below him. In the image, he's like Goya's Saturn, dwarfing and destroying everyone around him.

Presenting the conflict with Daniel posed some challenges because Daniel is not a living legend, i.e. he is even more of a normal man than Joshua is trying to be. Additionally, Mormonism is not a pacifistic religion (and its soteriology does not depend on pacifism), so the conflict could not reasonably by framed around violence vs. non-violence even in the post-apocalyptic version followed by the New Canaanites. Daniel's concern was about larger issues than fighting or not-fighting; he was concerned that Joshua's lapsed nature would cause a whirlwind of warfare that would pull everyone far away New Canaanite traditions to the point where religion was virtually abandoned in favor of a war cult surrounding Joshua.

I had expected that most people would support Joshua, in part because of Joshua as a character but also because of the nature of gameplay in Fallout (i.e., violence is almost always a solution). I did not expect that the Survivalist's logs (written by John Gonzalez) would push so many more people toward supporting Joshua. I think it's an interesting example of players finding their own connections between the two stories and making an emotional connection that pushes them in a particular direction.
Interesting.

News for Monday, November 26, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 20:09

Wasteland 2 writer Colin McComb shares some thoughts on crowdfunding on his blog.

3. TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER: Most traditional publishers won’t touch a game of the size Kickstarters generally fund. Brian Fargo got almost $3 million for his Kickstarter. 61,000 backers. How does this compare to Black Ops 2? 11,220,000 in the first week. There’s just no comparison to that scale. There is no reason for a publisher to look at the numbers for WL2 – a non-console game – and think that they need to start considering funding similar games. This is a blip on their radar. Consider: Halo 4 had a budget of over $100 million. $3 million is practically an accounting error. It’s a few months of development time. Why would a publisher turn away from their lucrative franchises and blockbusters to develop an indie game?

4. CROWDFUNDING: That brings us to the last option: crowdfunding. While it’s certainly admirable to want to open the game’s possibilities to all backers, no matter how much or how little they contribute, it’s a simple fact of human behavior that people want to get value for what they put in. Telling someone who contributes $10,000 that they can have a downloadable copy and a special digital pet is not going to motivate them… especially if someone who contributes $20 gets exactly the same thing. Consider: if you back a project at $20, don’t you want to know that you’re getting more bang for that than a $5 backer? I don’t know how to incentivize a higher-level backer other than offering them something that is not available to the lower-contributing tiers.

Sure, it might be a little strange to see names in the game and know that they came from wealthier patrons – but is that worse than *not* knowing where design decisions came from? And more: the names in a game are hardly real design decisions. They are essentially window dressing. They are not dialogue structures. They are not combat mechanics. For the most part, they do not fundamentally alter gameplay.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:54

The guys from Fallout: Lanius sent out a new promo teaser and a few promo shots to help promote their indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in its final week. It currently stands at $12,118 with 8 days left, and stretch goals left to hit at $13K, $14K and $15K.



“FALLOUT: LANIUS” PROMO TEASER SURFACES
Only days remain in Funding Campaign

Perth, Western Australia- (November 25, 2012) To celebrate the final week of Fallout: Lanius’ successful Funding Campaign the team has released a new Promo Teaser Video and 3 new pieces of Key Art.

Having successfully raised their initial budget of $10,000 the Fallout: Lanius team now wish to succeed in raising their stretch goals. Fallout: Lanius has now only a week to go and there are still plenty of incredible Funder rewards on offer.

The team has released new Key Art designed by Graphic Designer Jeffrey Phillips (http://jeffreyphillips.com.au/). The three images reveal the first look at the incredible Legate Lanius Armour, as well as an assortment of other characters.

“We couldn’t be more appreciative of the people that have supported us” Director Wade K. Savage commented “Now, I want to see if we can make our stretch goals and really make something amazing for the Fans”.

“FALLOUT: LANIUS” is a blood soaked high concept action epic, which will explore the origin story of the primary antagonist "Legate Lanius" from the 2010 video game "Fallout: New Vegas".

STORY SUMMARY

“On the brink of ruin, the Hidebark people are about to be wiped out by the slaving organization, Caesar's Legion. However, their most ruthless warrior would prefer death to dishonour. "FALLOUT: LANIUS" will recount how a single man brings ruin to his people due to his lust for bloodshed and victory.”

News for Saturday, November 24, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 0:45

Kotaku writer Patricia Hernandez (who earlier wrote on sex in Fallout) shares a bit of her personal and gaming history in an RPS article titled Gaming Made Me: Fallout 2, writing about the influence the game had on her.

One of the first challenges in Fallout 2 was to prove my worth to the tribe. I was supposed to do this by making my way through an ancient temple….but then I noticed that the only thing standing between me and the village was one guy.

I didn’t realize how much resentment I held against those gender roles until I became obsessed with killing this guy standing in my way in Fallout 2. He told me that no, I had no choice but to go through the temple. And what if I didn’t want to, you bastard? Why should I listen to you? What if I put this spear through your skull? So I did that instead, and to my amusement, it worked. The rest of the game fascinated me in this way, always giving me multiple ways to pursue a problem, many of them utterly clever.

I’d leave Arroyo on my own terms, and quickly found myself in the sleepy farming town of Modoc in my search for the village-saving GECK. Here I’d meet Miria, the daughter of Grisham the butcher. Imagine my astonishment when the game gives me the option to flirt with this woman. I hovered over the option for what seemed like an eternity–prior to that very moment, I had no idea a woman could desire another woman.

Even in the realm of homosexuality, my family ignored women. Men could sleep with men, and I’d very occasionally heard of those “sinners.” But lesbians? Inconceivable. Looking back now, it seems absurd that this was the case when you consider the constant anxiety driving my family to police my gender as a little girl, fearing that there might be something “wrong” with me, sexuality-wise. And yet the word lesbian was never uttered–let’s not even talk about bisexuality, which to this day, I can’t seem to explain to them. So back then I had no clear understanding of what it was that they feared, just the general knowledge that I wasn’t being a “proper lady,” whatever that meant.

Picking the paramour conversation options made me feel mischievous–partially because I knew it was wrong, as far as heterosexuality was concerned, but also because I genuinely…enjoyed it. I wasn’t supposed to be enjoying this, right? Prior to talking to Miria, I spoke to her brother, Davin. I could seduce him too, but that option seemed boring. I didn’t think much of this, then.

The flirting transgression lead to the classic fade to black and all I could think was “holy crap, did they…?” When I saw my gear sprawled on the floor, my character pretty much naked, the answer to my question became clear. But then her father bursts into the room, and accused me of dishonoring his daughter. Hah, what? But she jumped me! I’m baffled as he asks me to marry Miria to set things right–as of this writing, California, the state Fallout 2 takes place in, still hasn’t legalized gay marriage. But it was an option in a game made in 1998, amazingly. In 2012, most games still don’t include gay romance options, much less gay marriage.
Thanks Izual.

Posted by Brother None - at 0:05

The Russian Game Star offers an interview with inXile CEO Brian Fargo, talking crowdfunding and Wasteland 2.

Audience's reaction on the first published screenshot of Wasteland 2 was quite diverse. How much does this screenshot reflect what we're going to see after the game is released?

It was a calculated risk to show something so early on in the game but we made a promise to our backers to do so. I was very clear that this was pre-alpha and that we still had much to do. And more importantly the overall tone of the game is still coming about. The music, portraits and UI will all help set the look for which the backgrounds must match. It is a symbiotic process and this was just a quick snapshot of things. I think the main diversity at the shot was whether it was dark and moody enough. As the others elements come in I think you will see the tone come down but we also wanted to let users have some choice in the matter. We want to keep the open dialogue open so we can stay in the zone of what gamers expect.

It was really pleasant news for us that the designer and writer of Planescape: Torment and Fallout 2 Colin McComb is joining the team. This month you were planning to comlete the scenario on 90%. Is everything going according to plan? How do you evaluate Colin's work on your project? Do they get along well with Michael Stackpole? And how important is a good story for a tactical game?

Everything is pretty much on plan. we are going to all have an offsite in the 2nd week of November to review all of the scenarios which is within a week of when I wanted. The best part of having a diverse group of writers is that each one approaches their work differently. We then sit together and borrow the best ideas from each other and get a fresh set of eyes on each other's map. It is collaboration at its finest and everyone's ego is in check. A good story is paramount for an RPG is the most important point. The players do spend most of their time in combat so it better be interesting and make the player use their brain.

Chris Keenan said something about introducing hardcore difficulty level in Wasteland 2, similar to Diablo 2 and that the idea was well-recieved among developers. Can you tell us about this particular game mode? And why do you like the idea of making the game difficult? Isn't it a bit reactionary?

How can backer requests become reactionary? That is the whole basis for our communication. We are not going to jump through hoops for any random idea but if our gamers would like a feature that is easy to implement then why not? This feature was in consideration long before we announced it. This mode will add permadeath and does not allow you to save when you want. You won’t be able to reload battles because you didn’t like the outcome.

News for Friday, November 23, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 19:47

There's some post by Obsidian's J.E. Sawyer on Something Awful. One spending more time on Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts.

I think it's less about what else I would have included and what more we would have tried to do, overall. Before HH even started development, I looked at the larger team's overall schedule. The core game had an announced release date and we knew the first DLC was supposed to be out before Christmas, so that was an informal (but very important release date). However, that was only the Xbox version, and there would likely be additional work required for the PS3 and PC versions. Also, we knew there would be patching for the core game.

With the expectation that work on core F:NV (patching) and DM (PS3/PC) would extend beyond the Christmas window and the understanding that many folks on the DM team would then roll on to OWB, it was clear to me that HH was not going to get a luxurious amount of time. Everything on HH (with the exception of the opening fight, which took a little longer than expected and generally was my bad idea) was designed to be extremely straightforward and simple in execution. It's not that the team didn't have interesting ideas, I just summarily relegated anything with complexity to the back end of development. The idea was that a solid core, if plain, was still solid. If we had time to experiment around that core later, we could do so.

Surprise! More time didn't come. That might seem strange since there was a large delay between DM and HH, but HH stopped development well ahead of OWB. In the meantime, we were developing a code fix that was necessary for both HH and OWB -- but the content in HH was locked fairly early. HH has, effectively, fetch quests because as soon as we started implementing new and zany things, a mental hourglass was draining in my imagination with a laughing skeletal figure looming over it.
On how much New Vegas DLC sold.
On a related note, the perceived quality and user/press ratings of the F:NV DLCs had no discernible effect on how they sold. To the best of my knowledge, Dead Money sold the most, followed by Honest Hearts, followed by Old World Blues, followed by Lonesome Road.
There's an interesting sale going on over at Green Man Gaming. Among the titles for sale is Fallout: New Vegas for $7.50/€5.00, but be forewarned this appears to be the vanilla version without DLC. That said, our audience might also be interested in sales like Dishonored, TES V: Skyrim and Dead Island GotY at 50% off, or Jagged Alliance: Back In Action and Hard Reset (our very own Wooz worked on that game as a concept artist) at 75% off. Many titles can or must be activated on Steam. To sweeten the deal, use the voucher code GMG25-G4VDR-0ZL4Q to get an additional -25% off.

And finally, Pete Worth let us know on twitter he's penned a writeup on the architecture of the Fallout franchise on Thunderbolt.
New Reno is certainly a highlight - hapless junkies and graffiti tarnished the streets as you pass under the iconic Reno Arch warning you that shady shenanigans and outright lawlessness lie ahead. The crime-families’ bases of Salvatore’s Bar, the Shark Club and the Desperado all featured extravagant personalised entrances, emboldened with boastful neon signage - used to both entice feckless addicts and display their owner’s affluence and power to outsiders.

Fallout 3 not only takes the series’ locations to superior numbers once again, it also realises them in a fully 3D environment courtesy of the Gamebryo engine. Fallout 3’s architecture is far more prevalent than before, with a multitude of power stations, shacks, depots, diners, stores, towers, train stations and many other buildings all serving to bring the wasteland to life. A prominent example of Googie architecture found in the game is the numerous Red Rocket refueling stations. The main structure of the station comprises a Space Age-inspired metal rocket fixed onto elongated, acute-angled supports which feature protruding horizontal tailfins – coming together to create a familiar sight as you traverse the game’s topography.

News for Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 14:05

Fallout: Lanius' indiegogo crowdfunding campaign has passed its initial goal of $10,000, meaning the fanmade film project can now go full steam ahead. That doesn't mean they couldn't use more cash to expand their budget, and they've announced some stretch goals to encourage you to chip in. Only $10 for a HD download of the final product.

We are very happy to announce we have made our initial budget for Fallout: Lanius!

We couldn’t be more appreciative of your amazing support!

Now, let’s talk stretch goals – we still have 14 days left, so let’s make them count!

If we make the following amounts, things change for us big time!

$11000 – will ensure we can have more gore FX on set, and use less Post Visual FX! This also means we can include a Behind the Scenes Short on Gore for Fallout: Lanius.

$12000 – will ensure we can hire more Grip Equipment (meaning we can do more camera moves like tracking shots and cool push in’s). It also means our film will have a more ‘Epic’ look!

$13000 – means we can spend more time in Post Production on things that really matter like Sound Design and the Colour Grade. This includes us adding another Short to our Limited Edition DVD on Sound Design and Colour Timing!

$14000 – helps cover any incidentals that will rise during our Production phase. (Important things like Safety Supplies, Extra Food for our wonderful crew). A well fed and safe crew always produce a better film!

$15000 – Helps us in processing our High Res 5k Video Files with a Production Company that ensures we can get cutting (and get the film to you) soon!
Congrats to Wade Savage and the rest of the crew from NMA!

Posted by Brother None - at 9:23

Lead animator Josh Jertberg penned a design blog update for Wasteland 2, talking a little bit about animation and posting on their forums to solicit feedback.

Animation in Wasteland 2 was an unknown for me, never having worked with the Unity engine before. I did know one thing in my mind though when we started: I wanted to hand-key the animations. It’s an ambitious goal of mine and one I hope fans appreciate in the end. It’s my feeling that I can bring more personality and flexibility to the animation, as opposed to using motion capture. Plus, let’s face it; as an Animator I will be more artistically invested in my hand-keyed animations. Even with the best motion capture actors you are many times stuck using what you have recorded. The unique aspects and camera of this game do present some good opportunity and challenge for me as an Animator.

One of the struggles as an animator in games is the animation system. A good system can make or break the look of the animations. The animation is broken into so many different pieces that if you don’t have some decent way of controlling that, the entire flow of the animation can feel off. Animation systems have evolved a LOT in the past few years. Wasteland 2 is not a controller driven game and many of these systems are designed for analogue input. I needed a simpler solution and I think I’ve found one.

Browsing the Unity store for animation solutions I found exactly what I needed. I am familiar with the use of an animation tree to drive in game animation states. Sage: Anim Graph Editor is a tool that allows me to intuitively build animation trees that drive the different states of the characters. This is all accomplished without me writing a single line of script. I have no talent for that, but Sage helps me overcome my inability to write script in Unity. I have built up one heck of an animation tree for our rangers so far, and I love the level of control I have over the flow of the animation. The Rangers have a lot of “states” they can be in, so being able to manage and build those states myself is liberating.

Going forward I want to dig deeper and highlight more of this tool and my process. Hopefully this can be a starting point for deeper conversations as development progresses. This project and the opportunity given to us by our backers is unique and refreshing. Reaching out to the fans during production is not something I’ve done in the past, so this is new to me. If anyone wants to ask questions or discuss Animation and game development, I am hoping this will be the place. The more discussion I have with fans that take an interest in the animation, the better it will be. At least that’s my hope. Let’s see what happens. Thanks again for all of your support.
Thanks AtomBomb.

News for Friday, November 16, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 7:29

The Wasteland 2 Facebook page lets us know the design review went well.

We holed ourselves up with the Wasteland writers this week and marched through the design of the game in painstaking detail this week. And after having done that we are even more excited about the game we are creating. Tons of reactivity on both a large and micro level and plenty of unique gaming moments. The implementation stage can start to hit full cylinders now. Feeling good.
They also let us know the Titan Missile Base (now a museum) will be one of the real-life locations in the game.

And, regarding Planescape: Torment-designer/writer Colin McComb's work:
Ah the irony of our vegetarian writer @ColinMcComb doing the design work on the cannibal maps.
(...)
Colin is seen here busily working on his martian invasion map.


NMA and Colin exchanged tweets about this particular image:
NMAFallout: So uh...Martian invasion?

ColinMcComb: A callout to the Wasteland paragraph book - it hid that cool story for people who decided to read it all. No actual invasion Sad

News for Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 12:37

Matt Barton talked with J.E. Sawyer about Fallout: New Vegas and a bunch of other Obsidian titles he offered small contributions on, which fall outside of our scope of coverage.

Here's the interview, with the caveat that if you followed his Formspring and the various interviews he's given, you probably know all this stuff already:

Posted by Brother None - at 8:29

Lots of stuff from Facebook and twitter on Wasteland 2. First, speaking at a panel at IGDA LA, CEO Brian Fargo and writers Nathan Long and Colin McComb (subbing in for Chris Avellone) will discuss "Narrative Design in Wasteland 2". It's in two days, with free admission, so stop in and let us know what they've discussed.

Second, inXile is looking for volunteers to put together a Veterans Advisory Panel to advise on the Desert Rangers organization, particularly to "discuss our thoughts on the history of the Desert Rangers, their vocabulary, and their communication techniques."

Game credit that is. inXile is looking for small group of combat veterans to join our Veterans Advisory Panel. This group will help us to vet some of our military lingo and help us get it right. While our game is set 115 years after the apocalypse, the Desert Rangers are still a military group that have their roots in the US Army. While the Desert Rangers are not exactly as organized or as formal as the US Military, we still want to make sure that the language we use is based on a solid foundation of reality and we need your experience to help us get there.

Those selected to be on our Veterans Advisory Panel will be given access to a private forum where we will share some design documents and scripts and discuss our thoughts on the history of the Desert Rangers, their vocabulary, and their communication techniques. For participating in the VAP, members will all receive in game credit as well as a boxed copy of the final game. More importantly, members of the VAP will all be immortalized in Wasteland 2 by appearing in the game as one of the legendary Desert Rangers. That’s right, we will name a Desert Ranger after you!

Anyone interested please send a brief description of their service to VAP@inxile.net
Last but not least, Brian Fargo has been tweeting some images to show design progress, particularly a shot of a partial of the printed out design docs of Wasteland 2 and a photo of Chris Avellone discussing one of his maps.


Things are progressing well, as Fargo lets us know on Twitter:
I'll be holed up all week with the Wasteland 2 writers making a detailed pass at the final design/writing. On schedule... (...) Reactive.. Reactive... Reactive. That is the mantra we have and are focused on with the Wasteland 2 design. Of course proactive first.. but the world being reactive to your actions.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:44

This is probably too long ago for most anyone to remember, but 6 years DMJ Aurini AKA Atomic Cowboy posted a short story to these forums entitled As I Walk These Broken Roads, also hosted as a PDF.

He has since divorced the story of its Fallout ties, and has released the first volume in what should be a series of book of this now fully original post-apocalyptic tale, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

Out of the irradiated wastes comes a soldier. On the far edge of the trade routes, in a small farming community, there lives a mechanic. Two men from a previous era, surviving through steel and cunning in a world of degenerated philosophy; a world where the old tech is treated with savage, animistic worship.

A storm is coming. When civilization is scattered and broken, what is a man supposed to do?

How is a man supposed to live?
The first seven chapters are available online, which should give you a good idea if you're interested in the full thing. And there's a Facebook page, too.

News for Saturday, November 10, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 13:38

GOG.com is running a one-week promotional sale on Interplay titles, including Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics, at 50%. This seems like an underwhelming sale after the Interplay package, but it's also the last chance you get to nab individual titles before an upcoming price hike.

GOG.com has been in talks with our good friends at Interplay, and we’re pleased to be able to say that we have good news! Not only are we adding four classic games from their catalog to GOG.com in the near future, but we’re also going to give you another chance to save big on the games we already have for the next week!

Every silver lining has a cloud, though, and the reason that we’re putting the games on sale again is because we’re raising the prices on some of the Interplay games on the 16th of November as part of our new deal with Interplay. As such, games such as Fallout, MDK, Redneck Rampage and others may never be as cheap on GOG.com as they will be this next week. If you’ve been hesitating to pull the trigger on any classic Interplay games, now’s your last chance to buy and save big!
I don't think I've ever seen a price increase on a digital platform before, let alone a price hike for several titles. Not sure what Interplay or GOG.com are thinking, here.

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 10:59

The latest write-up for Kotaku's Return to New Vegas focuses on sex in the game, or rather, the treatment of gender, relationships and general sexual themes in the title.

Here's a snip:

Character-building-wise, you're free to take up the confirmed bachelor or cherchez la femme perks. These allow you to pursue aggressive same-sex special options in dialogue and combat—the results of which make these perks a fan favorite.

Once out in the world, you meet a number of people who are gay, bisexual or more on the 'sexually liberated' side. JE Sawyer, lead gameplay designer of New Vegas, once went on record regarding the inclusion of such characters, "Represent marginalized groups when sensible. Diversity helps broaden the appeal of our media, can add interesting dimensions to thematic exploration, and in some cases may even generate themes that would otherwise go unexplored." Sawyer wrote this on his blog following the ruckus game websites made about Arcade Gannon—one of the recruitable companions, a doctor that you find aiding the Followers of the Apocalypse. A doctor who happens to be gay.

The argument was that Arcade was a great gay character because of how downplayed the "gay aspect" of his personality is. When depictions of gay characters in media likes to err toward the exaggerated, it becomes easy to commend Obsidian for how Arcade handles himself in the game. At best, you have just a few lines that give a nod about his sexuality, and they're not particularly explicit.

But as Sawyer wrote on this blog, it's difficult to nail characters like Arcade. You can't make everyone happy. Some people criticized the idea that the only good gay was one that wasn't in your face about it. Perhaps the best we can do is to make sure these characters are written by people who identify with the backgrounds depicted—because beyond that, what the hell are a bunch of straight people doing arguing about how to write a gay character? Or, more applicably to everyone, how can we possibly postulate the idea of a "correct" way to depict a gay person? Like they're all the same or something? Uh, no.

News for Thursday, November 8, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 0:21

Ars Technica offers an interview with Thwacke's Sebastian Alvarado about their role in the development of Wasteland 2.

To help shape Wasteland 2's radiation-soaked, er, wasteland, the team at Thwacke reviewed research on everything from Hiroshima to the nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll to determine how survivors and the environment would be affected. For example, Alvarado points out that nuclear blasts often create trinitite, a shiny green glass formed when sand gets super-heated incredibly quickly. Thwacke passes that background on to InXile and lets them decide how or whether to use it in the game.

One of the best examples of how Wasteland 2 will be intertwining real world science and imaginative fantasy probably comes through in enemy design. Alvarado recalls that the InXile team needed some believable enemies for a waterlogged area that had been ruined by a natural disaster. "We wanted to explore what kind of animals would survive in water and out of water, what animals do we know that live in a tidal zone and that could survive, things like that," he said.

The scientists found the humble hermit crab was a likely candidate for post-nuclear survival, thanks to its ability to absorb radiation in its shell and then discard it during a molting cycle. That's the academically valid, scientific part. But since this is still a video game, they wanted to make sure it was a little "off the wall" as Alvarado put it.

"We used radiation as a very simple gaming mechanism to argue that it makes animals super large, because everyone knows radiation makes things super-large... we'll just take that one as a granted," he said, laughing. "So let's let these hermit crabs get [so big] they can't find housing in their conventional shell and they'll actually seek housing in a bus or a telephone booth or something like that."

"So the whole idea is that they'll hide in parts of the environment and they'd actually have this stealth ability, in the fact that they wouldn't actually be seen by the player," Alvarado continued. "It kind of works with a bit of biology, it works a bit with what Wasteland is after ... it fits into this world that Wasteland has with bizarre and fun off-the-wall type humor and everything."

News for Friday, November 2, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 6:33

Wasteland 2 producer Chris Keenan has some comments on the official Wasteland 2 forums on intelligence and skills.

We're still working on the details of how skill points are gained in relation to Intelligence, but do feel that the original was limiting in relation to the Intelligence attribute gating what skills you can get. There needs to be some trade off, but I'm not sure it should be so restrictive based on how you roll your character before you get into the world.
He also confirms a user's remark that the game will have a comprehensive system of quicksaving/quickloading.
Correct. Permadeath will work in a similar way to X-Com. If one of your PC's die in combat, they're gone. We are keeping the same UNC -> Death status effects. It's such a cool system that I haven't seen used as much as I think it should be. At death, they're gone though.

You'll be able to save under most circumstances. Some instances, like when you're in a dialog make it hard due to our conversation system but generally you can save when you want.