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Thread: Revitalizing a Heritage: The Writing of Fallout 3

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    Revitalizing a Heritage: The Writing of Fallout 3

    Gamasutra (who managed to get on Google's attack site list somehow) interviews Fallout 3 lead designer Emil Pagliarulo. It's a huge, 4-page interview, worth a read, but it's more general chit-chat than Fallout 3-specific.
    So that's Oblivion versus Fallout, but what about the separate challenge of writing for a sequel that is being made by none of its original creators, and that has gained something of a mythical status, even among a lot of gamers who never played the original titles?

    EP: Being completely honest, you don't. You don't try to. When you try to, you're setting yourself up to fail. You have to be confident in your own abilities and do the best you can do. We looked at Fallout 1 as our model.

    It's interesting to me. I will lurk in a lot of forums -- never post, but see -- and one of the things you hear a lot is, when we've released a couple dialogue screenshots, "Oh, those dialogue options are so short!" Well, if you look in a lot of --

    Todd Howard, executive producer: (Pokes head into interview) Emil lies!

    EP: It's all true! I swear! I created Fallout.

    But really, if you look in Fallout, there are a lot of short dialogue options. So you're right, there is a bit of a mythical quality there.

    We really looked at Fallout 1 as our model. It's all about giving players a choice and giving the player the voice they want to use. We backed away from the stuff in Fallout 2, the more campy, pop culturey stuff.

    We tried to stay away from trying to emulate anyone specifically. You know, [Fallout 2 co-designer] Chris Avellone -- fantastic writer; those are huge shoes to fill. You can't think about that too much. You'll become paralyzed.
    (...)
    Going back to your comments on the PC industry, where do you think that's going? It seems like the PC industry is trying to figure itself out right now.

    EP: It's funny. There are a lot of great PC games still being made, don't get me wrong. Now you're seeing a lot of great Eastern European games that are coming into their own. You look at something like The Witcher, which is a fantastic game. It's going to be made even better with the huge patch they're doing.

    At the end of the day, it's a numbers game. It's still the case that a decently-selling PC game sells 300,000 copies or 400,000 copies, while a decently-selling console game sells around a million copies.

    For a lot of publishers, they can't help but look at that. It's hard to take a chance on a new, high-scale PC game, unless it's [World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the] Lich King or Half-Life 3.

    PC gaming will never die. But I think there's definitely a tendency towards consoles because of that. As more smaller developers get eaten up by the larger publishers, and that's what they want... We're still committed to PC gamers, and we'll never stop doing that, but I think we're a dying breed. We'll see.

    I think a lot of that is due to scale -- a big, full-scale project like Bethesda's would be impossible to justify as a PC exclusive, but then you look at what Stardock does. They just teamed up with Gas Powered Games, another PC-oriented dev.

    EP: Yeah, it's funny you mentioning Stardock, because it was such a good feeling to look at the PAX exhibit hall map and see that Stardock has such a big booth. Good for them! I've played Stardock games, and I think they're great.

    It's a good model. That model works for them. They don't sell millions of copies of their games, and that's okay for them. They've got a little bit of a lower budget. If that's the model that works for the future, then great.

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    I should set a custom title First time out of the vault

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    Starting to think these guys are just unable to talk about other people in the industry without sounding condescending.

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    Administrator Brother None's Avatar
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    Eh?

    How was any of that condescending?

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    I guess maybe I'd have to hear the tone but aren't things like "good for them"/"good for you" basically universally patronizing? I guess that whole paragraph just sounded terribly patronizing to me.

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    Sounds like when he says "Well, they don't sell millions of copies of games." that he thinks they're better then Stardock. (Which they are NOT)

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    I should set a custom title Still Mildly Glowing

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    Well I don't think he can talk about how average, overly hyped games make more money than those that are in the good to great margin. Marketing showing its power.

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    I should set a custom title Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonustime
    I guess maybe I'd have to hear the tone but aren't things like "good for them"/"good for you" basically universally patronizing? I guess that whole paragraph just sounded terribly patronizing to me.
    Indeed. I also found it amusing that he says that the PC Platform is only good for companies like Valve and Blizzard because they're them. I'd suggest that Emil look at their business and design models if he wants to see why they're so successful. When you consistently put out quality products because you refuse to publish average products and provide continuous support for your products, it generally means that those products will do well.

    Still, he did touch on why Stardock does well, they budget their games appropriately.

    On that topic of Valve and Half-Life, did you play Half-Life: Episode Two?

    EP: I have, yeah.

    I thought its writing was a step forward in terms of breadth of characters for the series but was perhaps understandably overshadowed by Portal. Any thoughts as a writer?

    EP: I think it might something to do simply with the delivery method, the fact that it is an episode. Episodic content has proven to be great, but it just didn't get the press.
    No, episodic content is a boil on the ass of gaming that overprices content significantly. Whether or not you like the Episodes of Half-Life 2, you can't honestly say that five hours of gameplay is worth the $10-20 they sell it for, especially when the amount of new content that they had to create was minimal for a game. He then goes on to talk about Shivering Isles but I'm pretty sure that it offers more gameplay than any of the Half-Life 2 episodes (like 20ish I though...) so the two don't really lump together well. Then again, the Half-Life 2 episodes are significantly higher quality...

    EDIT:
    Quote Originally Posted by Brother None
    Gamasutra (who managed to get on Google's attack site list somehow) interviews Fallout 3 lead designer Emil Pagliarulo. It's a huge, 4-page interview, worth a read, but it's more general chit-chat than Fallout 3-specific.
    So that's Oblivion versus Fallout, but what about the separate challenge of writing for a sequel that is being made by none of its original creators, and that has gained something of a mythical status, even among a lot of gamers who never played the original titles?

    EP: Being completely honest, you don't. You don't try to. When you try to, you're setting yourself up to fail. You have to be confident in your own abilities and do the best you can do. We looked at Fallout 1 as our model.
    ...
    This is the second time that we see this line and this time it's from Emil instead of Pete (or was it Todd?). Saying that you don't even try to achieve or, even better, surpass the quality and style of writing in past games seems like setting the bar incredibly low to me. Their goal seems simply to be to achieve a higher quality than they did with Oblivion, thus setting the bar slightly above their worst product in that regard.

    "Pessimism is, in brief, playing the sure game. You cannot lose at it; you may gain. It is the only view of life in which you can never be disappointed. Having reckoned what to do in the worst possible circumstances, when better arise, as they may, life becomes child's play."
    ~Thomas Hardy

    "Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows."
    ~David T. Wolf

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    I disagree about Valve's HL2 episodes. I paid 40 dollars for The Orange Box when it came out and I got EP 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. Not only that but I even got "gift" copies of HL2 and EP1 to give to friends. Not bad for 40 bucks.

    I'm still playing Team Fortress 2 daily. Orange Box wasn't a rip off, it was the best value in gaming history.
    I'd rather make a smaller dedicated fan base ecstatic than worry too much about the larger audience. --Brian Fargo, one of the good guys.

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    The Orange Box is good value for money. The episodes aren't. If you buy the episodes as soon as they are released it is really expensive.

    I also bought the Orange Box, but when Episode 3 comes out I will either have to pay full price for it (which I find too high) or I have to way a few months until a good deal surfaces.

    I'd rather have seen them work on a new Half Life and give me Episode 1, 2 and 3 at the same time.

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    I originally loved the ideas of Episodes, having each six/eight months a new piece of Half Life 2 to play and progress the story.

    Well that turned out to be a pretty big lie.
    What if Valve had used those two to three years instead to make a full expansion pack before starting work on Half Life 3 or any other project they wish to work on.

    Not saying that Team Fortress 2 or Portal is bad, but they could release them loose like they did now several months after the Orange Box.

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    I should set a custom title Still Mildly Glowing

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Mantis
    If you buy the episodes as soon as they are released it is really expensive.
    Most games/films/items/i-pods/cars/ect are a little pricey on release, so don't buy them on release.

    There are many films/indie games/ect that only give a few hours or so entertainment for the same price, the quality should be the judge of value, not just "must have X hours of fun".

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    I should set a custom title Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebud
    I disagree about Valve's HL2 episodes. I paid 40 dollars for The Orange Box when it came out and I got EP 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. Not only that but I even got "gift" copies of HL2 and EP1 to give to friends. Not bad for 40 bucks.

    I'm still playing Team Fortress 2 daily. Orange Box wasn't a rip off, it was the best value in gaming history.
    Ahh but orange box is a collection of two full games pluss the episodes of HL2. The price is excellent but as Mad Mantis pointed out, it's buying the episodes idividually that's a problem (and what I was talking about).

    "Pessimism is, in brief, playing the sure game. You cannot lose at it; you may gain. It is the only view of life in which you can never be disappointed. Having reckoned what to do in the worst possible circumstances, when better arise, as they may, life becomes child's play."
    ~Thomas Hardy

    "Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows."
    ~David T. Wolf

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    I bought portal a few months ago on sale for 30 bucks when the australian dollar was 95 american cents everyone always complains about prices but the squeeze happens people just pull there belts a bit tighter and continue with life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UncannyGarlic
    Quote Originally Posted by Brother None
    Gamasutra (who managed to get on Google's attack site list somehow) interviews Fallout 3 lead designer Emil Pagliarulo. It's a huge, 4-page interview, worth a read, but it's more general chit-chat than Fallout 3-specific.
    So that's Oblivion versus Fallout, but what about the separate challenge of writing for a sequel that is being made by none of its original creators, and that has gained something of a mythical status, even among a lot of gamers who never played the original titles?

    EP: Being completely honest, you don't. You don't try to. When you try to, you're setting yourself up to fail. You have to be confident in your own abilities and do the best you can do. We looked at Fallout 1 as our model.
    ...
    This is the second time that we see this line and this time it's from Emil instead of Pete (or was it Todd?). Saying that you don't even try to achieve or, even better, surpass the quality and style of writing in past games seems like setting the bar incredibly low to me. Their goal seems simply to be to achieve a higher quality than they did with Oblivion, thus setting the bar slightly above their worst product in that regard.
    I don't read it that way. First, nothing is said about quality, you added the 'surpass the quality' bit in yourself. What Emil said was that by trying to copy the originals, you do yourself and the original IP a great disservice.

    Think of it like the long string of James Bond actors. The best actors were the ones that looked at the previous films and books to determine his overall character, and put their own personality on top of it. The worst actors were the ones that tried to copy a previous actor's style.

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    Orange Box is the best fucking value I have seen in any game. I got plenty of game time out of it and Portal blew my fucking mind away. Just the replay value alone in Portal is amazing. I do agree with the Episodic content by itself being a bit expensive,but when I play a game made by Valve I see a huge fucking difference in quality than any other game on the market.
    They may take forever to make their games,but at least they don't pump out boring ass sequels every other year *cough* Grand Theft Auto *cough*. Anyway I am anxiously awaiting Fallout 3 and if it really sucks balls the way every one says it will I will sacrifice it to God by burning it alongside my old copy of POS.


    Quote Originally Posted by Roshambo
    Congratulations for being a moron, again. Please try to think next time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TorontRayne
    Anyway I am anxiously awaiting Fallout 3 and if it really sucks balls the way every one says it will I will sacrifice it to God by burning it alongside my old copy of POS.
    If only that actually put a -1 on their sales figures, that would be great. But they don't actually care what you do with it as long as they have your money and your +1 to their sales figures. They'll still think they did a super duper good job and made the 'most awesomest falloutz evar'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ookami
    They'll still think they did a super duper good job and made the 'most awesomest falloutz evar'.
    Good, because FO3 looks amazing

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    Quote Originally Posted by ookami
    Quote Originally Posted by TorontRayne
    Anyway I am anxiously awaiting Fallout 3 and if it really sucks balls the way every one says it will I will sacrifice it to God by burning it alongside my old copy of POS.
    If only that actually put a -1 on their sales figures, that would be great. But they don't actually care what you do with it as long as they have your money and your +1 to their sales figures. They'll still think they did a super duper good job and made the 'most awesomest falloutz evar'.
    True. But everything else in the world is fucked up, so it just adds onto the list. I like to eat shit. It makes my day.


    Quote Originally Posted by Roshambo
    Congratulations for being a moron, again. Please try to think next time.

  19. #19
    I should set a custom title It Wandered In From the Wastes

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    Quote Originally Posted by TorontRayne
    True. But everything else in the world is fucked up, so it just adds onto the list. I like to eat shit. It makes my day.
    Oh, don't get me wrong. I do appreciate the sentiment there. I just wish it would do more good than harm. But I wish a lot of things.

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