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Nukapedia News Digest - 27 April 2012

Agent c April 27, 2012 User blog:Agent c
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Welcome to the Nukapedia News Digest, brought to you by Pulowski Preservation Services - Pulowski: your last best chance for salvation.

In your digest this month:

From the Administrative Enclave

User rights changes and Votes

Tocinoman (Aka Baconman) is running for Admin, have your say by May 3.

Gothic Neko is running for chat mod, have your say by May 2.

MysteryStranger is now an admin.

Gauzz Rifle and Charcoal121 are now patrollers.

Chatmod Survey

I'm running a survey again for those of you who regularly are in chat, and have rights to moderate it to get a feel of how we're doing for mod cover. If you can leave some detail here, I'd be very appreciative.

Are skill magazines "notable loot"?

Thats the big question this week in the forum. You can find more information and can have your say here. There is a vote, and it closes April 30

Should the Gun Speculation rules be relaxed?

That's the not-quite-as-big-as-the-big question this week, and and can have your say here.

Twitter Roundup

Not a lot of big news on the wasteland arena… But here's some quotes from Twitter so you can see what the big names behind the Fallout and Wasteland games are doing and thinking:

People ask me what my goals are and I simply say to just make a great game. The rest will take care of itself.

— Brian Fargo

I used to look forward to expansion packs for games. Tons of new game play for like $20. I never had an issue with that. To get as much content in the expansion packs of yesteryear would probably cost $100 in the new DLC model today.

— Brian Fargo

Happy to see some of my fellow Interplay co-workers supporting our Kickstarter project. We had great times back then…

— Brian Fargo

Congratulations to Al Lowe for funding his project! http://t.co/unRdgaBJ

— Brian Fargo

I just backed "Fallout: Nuka Break" Season 2 on @Kickstarter http://t.co/JDPO0Qth

— Chris Avellone

Help Shadowrun return in style, Kickstarter update, only 4 more days: http://t.co/EWe9WIsX

— Chris Avellone, Nb: this is now just over 1 day left at time of posting.

@theark96 Probably a better question for Beths., I don't have anything to share. :(

— Chris Avellone, In response to a question asking if he has any news on the next Fallout

Weekend formula: [Willpower * (Diet Plan + Exercise Plan)] < [Instinct * (Diablo 3 + Order Food In)]

— Chris Avellone

The Diablo servers took an Error 37 to the knee.

— Chris Avellone, Hey, don't blame me - he said it!

i read up a bit on edible plants in the mojave and bought a book called "growing food in the high desert country".

— Josh Sawyer, In response to a comment about the edible food in NV

my greatest F:NV regret? not implementing a challenge for kills with a proton axe while implant GRX-ing called "i never axed for this".

— Josh Sawyer

every time i come into contact with an episode of big bang theory i feel like i'm in the early stages of high-dose acute radiation

— Josh Sawyer

Chris Avellone talks to the Critical Bit

Here are, err, the critical bits of MCA's interview with the Critical Bit

CB: In previous interviews, you’ve mentioned that you’ve had to add or remove content because of a publisher’s request. One example that comes to mind is the romances and cinematic presentation of Alpha Protocol. How much control does a publisher have over a game’s design? Does this vary between projects?

MCA: It varies between projects, and to be fair, sometimes it’s an internal request – the cinematic experience and romance requests, for example, were an internal debate (for the romances in particular, it was hard enough to write three, doing four was a struggle, and I really wanted to leave the Scarlet one for another game). Other times, however, publishers have requested specific implementations of mechanics (for example, the stat-based effects of your ability to shoot in AP – we felt this hadn’t worked well in other RPGs that implemented similar systems). That said, here’s the harsh truth: Publishers pay the bills. They want a game to feel and play a certain way. Our position demands a responsibility to listen, to digest, offer a critique if we feel the execution could be better, and if they still request the feature, it’s our responsibility to add this. Sometimes, raising the critique and getting an answer gives more insight into why they want the feature done and can prevent future conflicts once you have that knowledge.

It’s not doom and gloom, however, and I don’t feel we’ve had a bad experience in terms of content. Often, publishers have been confident in our ability to deliver on the RPG aspects (working with THQ and South Park, for example, has been very much this way), so I don’t feel we’ve been unfairly treated when it comes to our designs.


CB:What (if anything) is wrong with the current developer-publisher relationship? How was this relationship different back when you were working at Black Isle?


MCA:Black Isle was different because we were an internal studio part of Interplay. We had access to resources, personnel, and could directly interface with our “publisher.” This gave us more latitude to draw on resources as a result – if we needed to borrow the whole QA department for a week or two while Fallout 2 was in its final stages, we could do that. If we needed to request programming help, we could do the same.

Also, when a studio is internal, the release of a product tied to that studio and that studio’s future causes the company to care more about the end product and makes fighting for it easier because they’re directly exposed to it (and the consequences) on a daily basis and after the game has shipped.

Lastly, this is much bigger than folks realize, but one thing I miss about Black Isle is the fact we could ask our QA team to move onto the same floor as us, and even have internal testers assigned to people’s offices if the tester was largely responsible for testing a certain area or mechanic that the developer was implementing. I can’t tell you how fast shit gets fixed when you have that kind of turnaround. It’s something external publishers can’t often do, however, and worse, your publisher may be out of state, so even the idea of supplying QA to work on-site is far too expensive for them to consider (to be fair, on NWN2, we were allowed to hire the QA ourselves and keep them on site, and LucasArts really came through by sending seniors to us and also hiring a local temp QA agency to supply more help).

CB:What piece of content that you contributed to was hardest to see cut from a project?

MCA:Ulysses in Fallout: New Vegas, seeing all of Van Buren canceled after 3+ yrs of design work, and losing the EPA in Fallout 2. Who knows, maybe I can use the EPA in Wasteland 2. [Note: "EPA" refers to the Environmental Protection Agency, an area that was planned for Fallout 2.]

Seeing some pitches get flushed is also a sad experience, since you invest a bit of your soul into each one.

CB:Over the course of your career, you’ve gone from a designer at Interplay to the Creative Director and Co-Owner of Obsidian. Is it difficult to balance being a creative and also handling the business development challenges of your current position?

MCA:Being an owner requires that you grow some extra eyeballs to keep track of other projects at the studio. On any given day, you may be asked to speak about the status of your project to the whole company, attend and critique a checkpoint on combat design progress on another project, be in charge of hiring someone and escorting them through the interview process, finish a written interview, give advice to fans who want to get into game development, followed by a call with a potential publisher, then sit down and iterate on 20+ pages of world design that’s due at the end of the day… …then, hypothetically, you may have to head to inXile to have a meeting with Brian Fargo and the crew for design elements for Wasteland 2. It all makes for a busy day, but considering that “work” is basically my hobby, I’m not complaining.

CB:What specifically about the Wasteland IP makes you excited to work on the sequel?

MCA:There’s a lot of things:

  • First, Wasteland is one of my top 10 games of all time.
  • Second, Wasteland is in my top 10 because it did some amazing things that RPGs today have yet to do. I got to venture inside an android’s brain, fight with my intelligence skill, help a railroad nomad predict the future with Snake Squeezin’s, and unmatched until recently, fight a giant robotic scorpion with my fists.
  • Third, no publishers. Obsidian and inXile worked out a quick, simple deal, it took little to no time, and now I’m talking directly with inXile and getting ramped up on the design. It’s. So. Easy.
  • Fourth, I’m able to do a turn-based, text RPG. I never get to do those anymore. I love those games. I’d love to do more. Wasteland 2 is that opportunity.
  • Lastly, the fact that people want us to work on a sequel and are proving it on Kickstarter. Guess some dead genres aren’t dead after all – and I hope Shadowrun gets the same support that we and Double Fine have received from the community.

CB:You’ve had the chance to work with some big IPs. Star Wars, D&D, and Alien spring to mind. What are some other IP’s you would love to work with?

MCA:Wasteland’s already happened. The Wire, Archer, Doctor Who, Torchwood, and an IP of our own. Deus Ex or Ultima would be rad. Doing an X-Com RPG or a high school RPG would also be cool.

Project Spotlight

A project done in a day? Yes, it can be done. Okay, so it wasn't a big one, but Friday Afternoon Wiki time the Van Buren Quotation Blitz kicked off running through the dialogue files for Fallout's lost treasure and adding quotes to pages where we can find them. Thanks to DragonBorn96, The7thCourier and For NCR for helping me hammer through those.

I'm on the lookout for other possible "Blitz Projects", ideally ones that can be used to encourage lesser editors to give it a go. Gimme a shout if you have any ideas for these.

Wrap

Relic of the war that wasn't

Flag of North Korea
Sometimes, its easy to think of the Cold war as something from the past… The Wall is down, the Soviet union is gone, whats left right?

the funny things about the cold war is that it wasn't as cold as you might think - it got heated and into full blown warfare at times… and its by no means over.

In 1953 an armistice (that's a fancy word for cease fire) was signed between the United States of America, and the Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea ending what they call "Fatherland Liberation War". Ever since, although the guns may have gone silent, with no actual peace treaty the war technically continues.

Pyongyang Metro
Despite this, several thousand people each year choose to visit North Korea as tourists, taking what some call the "ultimate package holiday" with rigid timetables and set itineraries, seeing such sights as the worlds largest Flagpole, the worlds largest stadium, the Pyongyang metro/bomb shelter (Featured on the right - I might try to make this a relic in its own right), and lay wreaths at a great big statute of the eternal leader.

If you're interested to see what life is like inside beyond the DMZ there's a nice video here of some of the sights you can expect to see should you choose to visit this weeks' Relic. Sadly as it isn't on YouTube I can't seem to embed it direct. Alternatively there is more on North Korea on Wikipedia.

Your Next Nukapedia News Digest

Will be on your new stands next Friday. Have a good weekend everybody. Agent c 12:47, April 27, 2012 (UTC)

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