Welcome to the Nukapedia News Digest, brought to you by Josh Sawyer….
In your edition this week:
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From the rumour mill
I know you've all been clamouring for Fallout news. Well, maybe there's something happening...
Firstly, you'll all remember the rumour from Reddit claiming Bethesda were spotted in Boston. Well from the website that came up with that comes the following:
- I won't name any names. But I have inside information from a friend who works for Obsidian. He said that Bethesda has contracted them for the next installment of Fallout. Not only that, but they have been given free reign over the entire game. Meaning they decide on the game mechanics, story, etc.
- This friend of mine also let slip that Fallout 4 will be set in more than one state, and will use a node map similar to that seen in Fallout 1 & 2 to travel between points of interest.
- Why so many changes from the current formula? Apparently, Bethesda Game Studios wants to focus more on The Elder Scrolls series of games and thinks Fallout is better off in Obsidian's hands whom they believe to be better suited to provide the best Fallout experience possible for fans of both the originals and newer titles.
- Fallout 4 is not currently in development and isn't expected to be until Obsidian is finished with their current title, "Project Eternity" and any DLC/patches.
So, the moral of the story seems to be, don't believe what someone who you don't know tells you without any evidence. This rumour is almost certainly as much baloney as the other reddit rumour - especially when it talks about Eternity being "in Development" - at the time this rumour was posted, Eternity didn't even have a fixed budget as the kickstarter was still open.
So, moving right along, Is there going to be a Fallout 4? We can't say for certain there will be, but I don't see any reasonable company abandoning a popular title thats had recent good sales. I have however had this screenshot apparently from a Skyrim Beta sent to me….
Notice the VATS references. Now this isn't a silver bullet that says Fallout 4 is in Secret development, or that it will definitely use the creation engine - quite the opposite, it equally could just be a bit like an appendix held over from Fallout 3/NV. However I think both the creation engine and F4 being in development are likely - Bethesda spent a lot of cash on engine development, and it only makes sense to try and use it multiple times to cover the costs; plus you don't tend to have employees sit around doing nothing if you can help it.
That brings us to a developing story. Those of you who have followed for a while might remember the head scratching that followed the opening of the Zenimax Online studio, until an eternity later we discovered their project was The Elder Scrolls: Online.
For those of you new to corporate intrigue, Zenimax Media Inc. is the overall company that owns Bethesda, Id, Arkaine and Zenimax Online amongst others. They're a private company meaning you can't buy shares in it unless you know a guy that knows a guy.
In any case, its time to start headscratching again. Zenimax have formed another studio, this time in Austin, Texas (alongside sister company Arkaine) called "BattleCry Studios". Its remit "to develop premier, engaging gameplay experiences for a connected world", whatever that means.
But, here's the big kicker. Its headed by Rich Vogel, formerly of Bioware and Sony Online Entertainment. He's been responsible for, amongst other things, Ultima Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Wars Online Galaxies.
If you're in the job market, they are indeed hiring, for, amongst other things, a senior server programmer, a senior client programmer and a monetization designer (if you haven't worked on a "AAA" game, the job postings suggest you shouldn't bother). Other job descriptions look fo rbackgrounds in FPSes and RPG. It seems from this Rich hasn't joined up to take his career in a radically new direction; at the risk of perhaps speculating a bit too hard this reeks of MMO, and a free to play one at that. Careers here, and with Z-O's customer service operation can be found at Zenimax's Careers site].
But is it Fallout Online that he's been hired for? The Bethesda v Interplay Court case is now long dead, assuring the MMO rights are in Zenimax's hands. Launching and succeeding in the MMO space is tough - just look how many have failed before; doing it without an established brand is tougher. Sadly, the fresh batch of ninjas I trained to infiltrate Bethesda's Rockvile HQ were again taken down, leaving us all in the dark.
News from the Wastes
Brian Fargo blogs about Moral Dilemmas in Wasteland 2:
- I recently gave an example of a very small cause and effect scenario involving a drowning boy and it created some confusion on whether that was an example of a moral dilemma. The tough morality decisions are ones in which the outcome is not a black and white scenario. So in our drowning boy example, unless you are playing like a sociopath (which we’re ok with) a person is likely to save the boy unless there was personal risk involved. This is more about the ripples of cause and effect the events in the game can cause then a real example of a true moral dilemma. To that end, I thought it appropriate to share one of the many scenarios which does comprise of a set of choices that are not black and white and also highlights the multiple choices the players will have:
- The Kidnapped Wife
- The rangers come across a man whose wife has been kidnapped by raiders. He asks them to help him get her back, but these raiders bear the Mark of Titan, marking them protected by the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud. If the rangers attack the raiders, they will anger the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud and possibly jeopardize their main mission on the map, but if they don’t rescue the woman, she will be enslaved and endure a fate worse than death. Adding to the dilemma is that without the rangers’ help; her husband is going to get himself killed trying to save her on his own.
- The easiest and most loathsome way to deal with the dilemma is to ignore the man and leave the woman to her fate. It’s also easy to go in guns blasting, but that will piss off the Servants and turn the map hostile, putting the Rangers overall mission in jeopardy. It is much more difficult and time consuming to find a middle path, trying to steal her away without the raiders knowing, trying to buy her from them, or stealth killing them all without the servants catching on.
- This example illustrates two things that are of major importance to us in the development of Wasteland 2. First, having moral dilemmas that are more than just good versus evil, and second, having multiple solution options to any scenario. Setting up scenarios that tug on your emotions of right and wrong is what makes for the experience we are trying to deliver. We also want to allow people to play the game the way they want. If they choose the evil path, then we need to let that happen. You might feel a little guilty when you hear about the havoc you are causing to innocent people but we don’t make the game impossible due to your play style. It is all about the player having a choice of and having multiple ways to solve any problem.
You'll remember last week VG247 teased us with an interview they had with Brian Fargo Well here's the full thing. Choice cuts as always below.
VG: Do you have a final plan for the scale of the overhead map?
BF: The world is certainly much larger than we had originally anticipated. Our first design was set up when we were hoping to get $1,000,000 to make the game, but we ended up clearing more than $3 million.There are currently over 15 main areas that the player can visit along with many smaller maps that they can explore. All of this content is highly re-playable as well. I feel very comfortable saying that no two people will experience the same story on a play-through. It is a very ambitious design from a cause and effect point of view.
VG: How ingrained is the world? Will players need a deep understanding of the original Wasteland to get what’s going on?
BF: Wasteland 2 takes place 15 years after the original did, but players will still run into some familiar faces from the first game. One of our goals in development was to include some kickbacks to the original Wasteland, because we know that much of the Wasteland 2 community didn’t play the first one but love old school post-apocalyptic RPGs.
VG: What interested me most about your combat mechanic is that the deep rules at play fall in line with old-school RPGs, while you’ve also attempted to keep battles quick. That’s not an easy format to achieve.
BF: We love the strategy of turn-based games but sometimes, they can be monotonous in combat. We’ve played and studied many of the popular turn-based games from the last 20 years including Fallout Tactics, Temple of Elemental Evil, X-com, Final Fantasy Tactics, Jagged Alliance, and many others.
One example of some “fat” we’re attempting to trim is the wait time you have during the enemy turn. If multiple enemies are in the rotation to act before a players character is, they will all move and attack together. We also hate being forced into a fight with enemies that you can mop the floor with.
Slowing down the experience for an incredibly easy combat encounter doesn’t really add anything to the game. You’ll be able to resolve that combat encounter quickly without it dragging the game down.
Mr Sawyer Speaks
Most of Josh's comments seem to be on Eternity… But the odd Fallout comment bubbles up.
- When I first played FO:NV and came to Nipton, I successfully killed Vulpes and his entourage with a bunch of hand grenades. After I did that I got a slew of failed quest messages that seemed to tell me I was missing out. Could you have avoided that?
- Avoided what? I guess we could have not told you that you were missing out, but I don't think that benefits the player in any way. Either you're made aware of it or you aren't. Not knowing what you just locked yourself out of isn't going to inform your decision making. If we tell you, you realize that blowing away people you come across can lock you out of content.
- When writing a given dialogue, does one writer handle both sides of a conversation, or do writing responsibilities for individual characters go to different people to provide different perspectives/maintain a coherent voice for the character?
- Normally, a character is only written by a single author to maintain consistency. In cases where the character is interjecting into another writer's dialogue (or is presumed to be likely to do so) the writer will leave a tag in the "stub" dialogue for the character's writer so he or she can come back to write the actual prose.
Just a final wrap on Project: Eternity. With the Kickstarter now closed, 3.9 million USD has been raised directly though Kickstarter, with funds though Paypal now exceeding 100k, meaning the Eternity budget is now over 4.1 Million. Its looking like Obsidian are going to be able to make a great game.
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Relic of the War that wasn't
Your hair is black, your eyes are too
I'd swap my honey cart for you.
Seoul City Sue, Seoul City Sue,
No one smells of Kimchie,
Like my sweet Seoul City Sue.”— 317th Fighter Interception Squadron Songbook
Todays relic is the daughter of a Methodist Missionary, born in the great state of Arkansas and a graduate of the Scarritt College for Christian workers in Tennessee, and was selected to do missionary work in Korea. Since the 1950's however she's left many a person wondering how did a good girl go so wrong, and some other wondering just who's side she was on anyway...
She may have been born "Anna Wallis Suh", but during the Korean war she was known better as "Seoul City Sue", known for reading out over the airwaves the names of dead US servicemen whilst jangling dog tags, and broadcasting other anti-capitalist propaganda, Seoul City Sue is so linked to the Korean War that the TV Series M*A*S*H included an occasional radio broadcaster that emulated her style.
Suh began her association with Korea in the 1930's, where she was a missionary for the Southern Methodist Confrence and taught in a methodist school. After a Japaneese crackdown on missionaries (Korea was occupied by Japan at the time), she left for Shanghai where she met her later husband, got married, and through this lost her US citizenship.
After World War 2, she returned to Korea to teach at the US Diplomatic Mission School in Seoul, and was in Seoul when it was invaded and occupied by North Korea, 3 days into the conflict. She soon after began broadcasting for Radio Seoul. In addition to reading the names of the dead, she'd taunt soldiers and sailors who had just arrived (often calling the ships or units out by name), or would comment on the limited civil rights African Americans had in their homeland.
After the liberation of Seoul, Sue moved to Radio Pyongyang to continue her broadcasts, as well as to indoctrinate UN POWs. After the war, Sue continued to assist with English Language propaganda for the North, being in charge of KCNA's English publications through the early 60's.
However, as they say those who live by the sword, die by the sword. In 1969 she was shot as a traitor - accused being a double agent for the South. Maybe, just maybe, she was a good girl after all?