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Thread: Play.tm/Weekly Blend interview Pete Hines

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    Play.tm/Weekly Blend interview Pete Hines

    From GC, an interview with Pete Hines.
    Who are you expecting to play the game? Will it be mainly new players, or will it be players who've had experience of the series previously?

    I think it'll probably skew a lot towards newer players, just if you look at how many people bought or played Fallout before, versus what we're looking at sales-wise, the numbers don't add up, there's got to be a lot of new players. Either that or all the original Fallout players need to buy ten copies each!

    I think it'll be a mix. Even on 360, or PS3, there are a lot of people who used to be PC players in the 90s - maybe still are - but maybe they now play consoles and they're likely to play Fallout on these platforms. Rather than PC... that's their new platform of choice now.
    Weekly Blend offers a video interview.

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    This guy has a real knack for saying things that make him sound incredibly pompous. Is it intentional?

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    Hines or the interviewer?
    You can clean up the mess, but don't touch my coffin.
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    try gangreen of the dick

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    Either that or all the original Fallout players need to buy ten copies each!
    So they aim for a modest sales figure of 3-4 million copies.

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    Makes sense. Oblivion sold well over 3 million copies and you should always aim to at least equal the sales numbers of your previous title.

    Considering Fallout 3 probably cost something like 20-25 million to make (excluding licensing cost), they'll need those kind of sales numbers

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

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    How has the game you thought you were going to make when you started work four years ago changed into the game we're now playing, today?

    Its pretty close, honestly. A lot of it is that we try not to spend too long on the concept part of a development, and as much as possible getting stuff in the game. You can then play it to see how it feels. Things that sound like a good idea maybe aren't when you start playing it, things need to be done in a different way. Then there's things that you weren't sure whether they were going to work, need a tweak, then become terrific. There's a lot of that. You put your hands on it; play it. This doesn't work at all; this is great; we need to do this differently - there's a lot of that.
    This seems to explain the problem with their games, they skip the concept phase and go straight into production.

    Which other games did you look at when designing Fallout 3?

    I mean, mostly we looked at the first two Fallouts in terms of what parts of these games will we bring forward; capture and replicate. And how can we do that. But, we started in 2004, so there wasn't a tonne of similar games about. I mean, we get asked about games that are similar in style or approach. We get asked whether we were influenced by this or that, but we say "we were three years into the project when that came out", and we weren't stopping for anything at that point. Mostly, we're influenced by a lot of the stuff we've done before, books, movies... post-apocalyptic... the presentation of that tone; that vibe. But you know, we also draw a lot from our own experiences. What kind of game do we want to want to make, what kind of experience do we want to create.
    After getting hammered for saying Halo, GTA, and Call of Duty in the past, I guess he decided to dodge this question.

    Long, unsubstansive interview so I just skimmed it.

    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Eyenixon
    Hines or the interviewer?
    Hines.

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    I should set a custom title Still Mildly Glowing

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    I think it'll be a mix. Even on 360, or PS3, there are a lot of people who used to be PC players in the 90s - maybe still are - but maybe they now play consoles and they're likely to play Fallout on these platforms. Rather than PC... that's their new platform of choice now.
    ...

    The 90s were almost a decade ago now. I think it would be more accurate to say that most of the gamers who played back then don't play much if at all now. And I'm guessing they're still PCers. When you think of the key demo graphic for gamers is like late twenties and thirties, those people may have wives, kids, and more demanding jobs, I know that even as a I get a little older now I'm having less and less time for games.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-26-7
    The 90s were almost a decade ago now. I think it would be more accurate to say that most of the gamers who played back then don't play much if at all now. And I'm guessing they're still PCers. When you think of the key demo graphic for gamers is like late twenties and thirties, those people may have wives, kids, and more demanding jobs, I know that even as a I get a little older now I'm having less and less time for games.
    No.. the demographic has been skewing older and older..

    I myself was a pc gamer through the 80's and 90's.. and now play on the PC and my PS3. While older gamers might not play as much as they used to.. often they still buy quite a few games.. we can easily afford it now.


    UncannyGarlic:

    The quote about putting stuff in and seeing how it feels really isn't quite the same as you are thinking... It sounds to me that they simply have decided on an iterative development process and that doesn't shortchange the "design" of the story etc.. this is more about game mechanics mostly (though it is certainly applicable to the setting/story). They get simple running code up and then build on it and scrap features that don't work as they go.

    This might sound inferior to doing all the design upfront. However, as a software engineer that used to feel the same way, I can tell you it's actually the opposite. There are very important foundation decisions (the skeleton of the system if you will) that have to be made before you get started, but if you can start small and keep fleshing out the systems together, it is much better than doing a huge amount of design and then fully building all the pieces and trying to integrate them at the later part of the development cycle. Often false design assumptions you made earlier are not evident until you see the parts of the system working together. Fleshing out the system together iteratively helps flush out dramatic design errors early while there it still time to fix them.

    It's really very similar to outlining a story arc and then filling in the details.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-26-7
    The 90s were almost a decade ago now. I think it would be more accurate to say that most of the gamers who played back then don't play much if at all now. And I'm guessing they're still PCers. When you think of the key demo graphic for gamers is like late twenties and thirties, those people may have wives, kids, and more demanding jobs, I know that even as a I get a little older now I'm having less and less time for games.
    That's me you just described.
    I've been PC RPGaming since the days of Bard's Tale. I've seen and played a lot of shitty games on a lot of platforms in my day. Now I'm occupied with job/kids/house I really have no choice but to play that top 1% of games or nothing at all. I don't have the time or patience to waste on anything less than excellence, it's as simple as that. If nothing meets that criteria, then I dust off Panzer General 2 or PS:T or Thief or System Shock 2 for another go.

    Hines actually shows some candor here.
    Make a Fallout game like Fallout? Bah! Too smart for it's own good I say, look at the commercial success we've had pandering to the LCD with TES.

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    As an old fan of the series, they can forget about getting me to buy 1 copy of this, let alone 10.
    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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    Wow.. the comments earlier got me thinking about the demographics of game players and what not.. I looked at the ESA's latest "Essential Facts" industry statistics that they release every year.
    http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2008.pdf

    I guess it has been a while since I have looked at the industry.. but there is no doubt about why they would focus on the console market.. the disparity has really changed since the last time I looked at these types of figures.

    231.5 Million Console Games Sold in 2007
    36.4 Million PC Games Sold in 2007
    (Keep in mind this includes things like Sims 2 which took 4 of the top 10 spots for the year)

    Looking at the dollar amounts at play the disparity is even greater.
    8.64 Billion in Sales 2007 - Console Games
    .91 Billion in Sales 2007 - PC Games

    Compare that to the information for the industry in 2004
    6.2 Billion in Sales 2004 - Console Games
    1.1 Billion in Sales 2004 - Computer Games
    (Ironicly Sims also takes 4 of the top 10 spots for that year too)

    To be fair I also noticed on the recent video game sales half of those looked like Guitar Hero.

    I understand that this is only the US market and is only a section of the world market, but when you are spending so much on development of a new game which high costs in the tens of millions and it's no wonder they are going multi-platform. I hadn't realised that the PC game market had atrophied so much.

    I know part of that is the lack of new good pc games, and possibly the underreporting of small/online retailers/developers, but it is easy to see why they choose the path they did.

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    I should set a custom title Still Mildly Glowing

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    Well first we all know that online downloads are not taken into account in those figures for the pc's and secondly you have to divide all those console numbers by 3. I would suspect that in actuality they would be much closer together.

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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 Xenophile
    UncannyGarlic:

    The quote about putting stuff in and seeing how it feels really isn't quite the same as you are thinking... It sounds to me that they simply have decided on an iterative development process and that doesn't shortchange the "design" of the story etc.. this is more about game mechanics mostly (though it is certainly applicable to the setting/story). They get simple running code up and then build on it and scrap features that don't work as they go.

    This might sound inferior to doing all the design upfront. However, as a software engineer that used to feel the same way, I can tell you it's actually the opposite. There are very important foundation decisions (the skeleton of the system if you will) that have to be made before you get started, but if you can start small and keep fleshing out the systems together, it is much better than doing a huge amount of design and then fully building all the pieces and trying to integrate them at the later part of the development cycle. Often false design assumptions you made earlier are not evident until you see the parts of the system working together. Fleshing out the system together iteratively helps flush out dramatic design errors early while there it still time to fix them.

    It's really very similar to outlining a story arc and then filling in the details.
    A concept is outlining a story arc (the what), a design is the arc with all of the details filled out (the how). It's quite possible that Bethesda's design team is very poor at working conceptually (it isn't an easy thing for many to do) and that's why they all but skip it but in my experience with mechanical design, skipping the concept phase generally produces a subpar product since you failed to consider all of the options. Granted it sounds like they skip most of the design phase as well but considering that they don't start projects from the ground up it's understandable that it'd be quicker.

    I agree that they should start getting to work on the skeleton of the system as soon as possible to get it up and running and deal with all of the major problems as soon as possible (as these might effect other areas) but you still need a concept and at least a rough design to build that system. Just jumping into the construction phase usually ends up making the project taking longer than it needs to. Keep in mind that the bare bones of the game was working properly before they even started though, they started with the Oblivion framework on the Gamebryo engine so they had significantly less to deal with there.

    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishMuffin
    Well first we all know that online downloads are not taken into account in those figures for the pc's and secondly you have to divide all those console numbers by 3. I would suspect that in actuality they would be much closer together.
    Indeed; in fact I wouldn't be surprised if PC profits were the highest due to MMOs.

    "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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    Yeah, just look at Steam!

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    He really reminds me of that god-awful CEO of Sony Entertainment (whatshisname).

    I distinctively dislike people who make assumptions or - even worse - tell me what I do or like.

    'platform of choice' my ass. I'd bet there's preciously few old school PC gamers who have consoles as their platform of choice now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishMuffin
    Well first we all know that online downloads are not taken into account in those figures for the pc's and secondly you have to divide all those console numbers by 3. I would suspect that in actuality they would be much closer together.
    unfortunately downloading really seems like it's killing PC gaming slowly. it's not only the downloaders fault though, it's the stupid damn marketing. same problem as in the music industry. they're losing sales because of downloads but instead of making it more fulfilling to buy games/cd's they're increasing prices and giving us more and more mainstreamed products.

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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 aenemic
    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishMuffin
    Well first we all know that online downloads are not taken into account in those figures for the pc's and secondly you have to divide all those console numbers by 3. I would suspect that in actuality they would be much closer together.
    unfortunately downloading really seems like it's killing PC gaming slowly. it's not only the downloaders fault though, it's the stupid damn marketing. same problem as in the music industry. they're losing sales because of downloads but instead of making it more fulfilling to buy games/cd's they're increasing prices and giving us more and more mainstreamed products.
    He was talking about legal downloads that you pay for, not piracy. Still, until you can prove that piracy actually damages sales you're just speculating. Besides which, the growth that the industry has experienced is fairly good evidence that it is not.

    "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 should set a custom title Vault Fossil
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    Quote Originally Posted by UncannyGarlic
    Quote Originally Posted by aenemic
    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishMuffin
    Well first we all know that online downloads are not taken into account in those figures for the pc's and secondly you have to divide all those console numbers by 3. I would suspect that in actuality they would be much closer together.
    unfortunately downloading really seems like it's killing PC gaming slowly. it's not only the downloaders fault though, it's the stupid damn marketing. same problem as in the music industry. they're losing sales because of downloads but instead of making it more fulfilling to buy games/cd's they're increasing prices and giving us more and more mainstreamed products.
    He was talking about legal downloads that you pay for, not piracy. Still, until you can prove that piracy actually damages sales you're just speculating. Besides which, the growth that the industry has experienced is fairly good evidence that it is not.
    yeah I know he was talking about that, and I thought I'd bring up piracy.

    how much proof do you need that piracy is damaging sales? unless everyone who downloads a game also buys it then it's a given.

    but then we have the next part of the problem, also the reason why the market doesn't go totally down the shitter: the dumbing down of rpg's that we bring up all the time, that 75% of the rpg's released are mmorpg's, games like Sims 2 etc. more people buy pc games now than before, but look at what kind of games those are.

    and the result of that is that a lot of people don't feel like buying games because they don't get the quality they want. so they download instead.

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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 aenemic
    unfortunately downloading really seems like it's killing PC gaming slowly. it's not only the downloaders fault though, it's the stupid damn marketing. same problem as in the music industry. they're losing sales because of downloads but instead of making it more fulfilling to buy games/cd's they're increasing prices and giving us more and more mainstreamed products.
    Hyperbole. That shit belongs on blogs, seriously.

    PC Gaming is stronger than ever. All of those "PCS R DYING GUISE" articles completely ignore all digital distribution and MMO sales. Did you know Blizzard made $1.2 billion (Yes, with a b) in 2007? That's one company in a sea of hundreds.

    Yeah, PC gaming is totally dying . Quick, let's all sell our gaming rigs and buy consoles! Lots and lots of consoles!!!

    *edit*

    On topic: I wonder why interviewers never call those two (hines/howard) on it when they're talking out of their asses. Do they just refuse to grant interviews to real fans of the franchise? (Dumb question, of course they do).

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