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Thread: Blogging Fallout 3

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    Administrator Brother None's Avatar
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    Blogging Fallout 3

    Blogs be blogs and we're not covering all of them, but a few blog pieces caught my eye for the interesting angle they're taking. First, Christopher J Oatis writes on what Fallout 3 can learn from Wasteland.
    Wasteland., much like its children Fallout 1 and 2, was very much about the players’ decision making process. Every situation had several ways to navigate though, and the way the day would end depended on the type of people the player wanted his characters to be. Whose side they should take in the power struggle for Las Vegas? Should they trade the Bloodstaff to the strange cultist or just kill them all and take their key to sewers. Maybe, the gamer even wants to get revenge on those young kids who are laughing at his characters for falling on the slippery rocks in the river. Let’s slaughter their whole settlement, or maybe we’ll just walk away. One of the most infamous sequences involved the party locating an old howitzer and with some exploring you can find shells to fire haphazardly into the downtown shopping strip with cruelly hilarious results. There was a great deal of freedom for a game of that time.

    Fallout 3's trailer already has players thinking about whether or not they will be agreeing to detonate a town that lives around a dormant atom bomb. It seems Fallout 3 promises a similar type freedom is in all their media about the game, and the developers seem most intent on the idea that gamers will enjoy spending hours in the wasteland, playing around with the combat system, enjoying the environment in ways that has nothing to do with furthering the storyline. Perhaps, they will.
    The Alley of Infinite Angles started doing an article series a while back (not 100% if it's still ongoing but I assume it is). He started by looking at the odd discourse surrounding Fallout 3.
    Another interesting point is the myths about old and new that pervades the industry with astonishing effectiveness. Looking back at the development of Bethesda's Fallout 3 over the last few years, it's amazing how many of the reasonings, arguments and mantras regarding design decisions are made on the behalf of a "moving on with the times" logic - by developers, by journalists, and by consumers. Firstly, if it's new, it's going to be, in general, better than older stuff. It'll be stronger, faster, badder. Na na na na na. Individual technologies, techniques or games can crash and burn, misguided steps off the rails of progress: but in general, something is new for a reason. So first-person-view is inherently superior to third-person isometric (never mind that both views are, in fact, 'old'). 3D is inherently superior to 2D (even if it was clumsy and looked much worse for the first few years). So on and so forth. Temporary fads and stylistic decisions are being conflated into this great big discourse of progress, which incestuously justifies everything. Of course the 'Great New Big Thing' syndrome is a problem all over our society, but film, for example, appears to have reasonable niches for film noir and whatnot, without being pelted with tomatoes every time they insist newer is not always better. Isn't it about time the games culture grew up to this as well?

    An even more interesting (read: frightening) development is how the history of games becomes obscured as well. The recent debates over first person vs. third person isometric perspectives in Fallout 3 and Diablo III have highlighted how many, many people believe that the isometric viewpoint is a relic of inferior technology in the 1990's, and first person view is the future... when first person view is at least as old as its maligned counterpart. Hell, you've got a column called The 'Forgotten' PC Games introducing games from 2002. The dedicated gamer knows his/her history well, and it's all there in the internet, sure... but there is a massive population out there who plays and buys games, and won't. People who believe, for example, G4TV's unfortunate gaff which credited current Bethesda man Todd Howard with masterminding the Elder Scrolls and the Fallout serieses (he created neither).
    Next he looks at that nebulous concept, The Silent Majority.
    In fact, although the silent majority is notoriously difficult to quantify and understand properly, its shadow appears everywhere. Developers constantly mention this amorphous spectre to justify their decisions, arguing that not everyone - in fact, a sizable proportion of the world - may disagree with the entire sum of those who do talk about video games. Journalists tend to agree, and even fans themselves acknowledge that this giant godzilla, with its bulging purse, will step on their puny internet arguments and march on, doing more to drive the industry and culture than their advances on the Internet ever will.

    Usually, the analysis stops there. I mean, how can you talk about something you never see or hear? It's hard to know what will drive a silent majority to, as they very probably will, buy Fallout 3. Do they know about its predecessors, released in the late 1990's, and the controversies surrounding the new title? Do they realise the game is produced by Bethesda, and make connections to Bethesda's previous games? Will what the industry believes to be 'crowd-pleasers', such as spectacular, gratuitous violence (exploding nuclear cars in chain reactions, YEAH *queue metal riff*) bait this demographic just like that? Their digital footprint is virtually nonexistent. We don't know if a million people who buy the game will be disappointed, and a little more jaded, put the game on the shelf: we don't know what parts of the game they will especially enjoy, and make them keep playing. The strong focus on the Internet as a source of communication and networking in the industry means that even compared to other media industries (where this is hardly perfect either), the silent majority is less understood than ever.
    Recommended reading, all three of them.

  2. #2
    I should set a custom title Mildly Dipped

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    Very interesting reading. I pretty much agree with all the points you quoted. I might take the tame to read the full articles later on.

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

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    Good articles and I hope that Sun-ha Hong continues his/her serries of articles on Alley of Infinite Angles as they were excellent with interesting links spread throughout.

    "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 First time out of the vault

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    Good articles and I hope that Sun-ha Hong continues his/her serries of articles on Alley of Infinite Angles as they were excellent with interesting links spread throughout.
    I love that you can't tell my gender from my name. But that's what you get for being Korean.

    The Fallout articles are going to continue, I just got burned last time from spending an hour looking for that bloody Sinfest comic.

    On the Chris Oats post - sort of interesting in a slightly depressing way that all the examples he (and games media in general) gives of freedom is, well, blowing people up. "You don't have to talk to them and do quests, you can just BLOW THEM UP!" Yeah... that's cool, I've massacred NCR in FO2 before as well, but it's quite interesting how those seem to be the examples floating around when 'player freedom' comes up.

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    I should set a custom title Look, Ma! Two Heads!

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    Some very interesting stuff in there. I'm glad you linked to it, BN
    For never has anything more scientific been said than these four simple words: "I do not know".

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

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    I thought that it was a male name, it's just that I've made enough gender mistakes that I err on the side of caution these days.

    "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

  7. #7
    eaten by a grue. Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!
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    Isn't it about time the games culture grew up to this as well?
    I'd be content with a games culture that merely stopped regressing toward Dane Cook's level.

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    I should set a custom title Vault Fossil

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    The Alley of Infinite Angles articles are interesting. Particularly the one about Fallout 3 discourse. I'm taking a course in text linguistics and discourse analysis where we also talk about Foucault's work, of course. Who knows, I might even do an analysis of a text from this very forum as one of my assignments.

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    Administrator Brother None's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fedaykin
    I'm taking a course in text linguistics and discourse analysis where we also talk about Foucault's work, of course.
    Yip, that's what I was referring to as well.

    Foucault would have a field day with internet debates. That old nut.

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