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In your edition this week.

From the Administrative Enclave

A bumper vote this week, with 4 questions to consider... From previous discussion posts a vote on a "good behaviour period" before running for appointed positions, some guidelines on temp chatmods, and the music that's played on both talk, and article pages. Vote away over the next week.

Now Open: Steam Room

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Joshua E Sawyer says...

In New Vegas, why were laser weapons semi automatic or automatic but never a sustained beam?
We tried implementing continuous beam weapons and they were catastrophically buggy. There were only two "wacky" things we tried doing for weapons, neither of which seemed like they would be difficult to implement. Continuous beams were cut relatively early. Looping reloads (for weapons like the lever-action guns) turned out to be long-term problem.
Early on, the system just manifested a few edge case bugs, so we kept squashing those bugs... but others would spring up. It was very odd, because it did not initially seem like a system that would be particularly problematic.
As a person who LOVES fallout 3 and new Vegas and has played them for hundreds of hours. Do you have any basic tips that would make playing fallout 1 and 2 much easier? Every attempt I've had at playing them has been like running into a brick wall.. 
Fallout and Fallout 2 can be much harder games than F3 and NV, especially with certain character builds. If you're making a combat-oriented character, start off with Small Guns tagged. Also, you should have as high an AG as possible. AG is useful for VATS in F3/NV, but it is incredibly important for combat AP in F1/2. Don't drop your ST too low, both for carrying weight and for using certain weapons. :A 6 should be sufficient for most of the pretty darn good weapons.
Hi Josh! Which of the games you've worked on -- completed or not -- do you feel you learned the most from? How do you feel Project Eternity is benefiting from that experience?
I think I've learned a lot from every project I've been on, but I guess F:NV was the most illuminating. It had the longest development cycle of any game I've shipped and, by far, sold the most units on the most platforms. I think that wider-than-usual net helped show how much people "got" or didn't get certain types of gameplay mechanics, narrative structures, etc.
I also had more freedom to mess with the rules on F:NV than I did on any of the D&D games I contributed to, and seeing how people responded to the minor and major shifts between F3 and F:NV was very informative.
I think the biggest thing I took away, more definitively than ever, is that how things actually work matters more than how people react to the idea of how they will work. I.e., there are really two levels of response to something in the game: the idea of what it is (often interpreted outside of the game) and the reality of what it is. The idea is often more upsetting or disconcerting to people than the reality. But the bottom line is that the reality actually has to be enjoyable in the context of the game, regardless of where the idea started or what the intent was.
When we eliminated Big Guns and spread the weapons around to other skills, there was a lot of head-shaking. After the game came out, not many people complained about or or really even seemed to care. That isn't to say that NO ONE cared -- some people cared, and still care, a lot about it. But the end result didn't generate a lot of negativity and most people responded positively to it or just didn't care.
On the other hand, the way the map was illustrated was logical and map-like but confused people because they thought it was literally at the same scale as the F3 map. In F3, the map border *is* the border of the world. In F:NV, the map border is the extreme outer extent that encapsulates the irregular border of the world. Essentially it was like forcing Colorado and Nevada to be fit into an identical square frame map that's 10" by 10". Nevada is larger than Colorado in reality, but it is always going to take up less space if pushed to the edges of a 10" by 10" map because Colorado has a rectilinear shape and Nevada doesn't. Long story short: it makes sense, but it confused a huge number of people who thought that we were wasting portions of the map. We addressed this in Honest Hearts by using an irregular border instead of a square one.
And speaking of Honest Hearts, I also learned that between the free-wheeling nature of F:NV's content implementation and the strict, low-risk implementation of Honest Hearts content, OEI content usually needs to fall somewhere in-between. A quest that is completely cut-and-dry bog-standard will usually come across that way even if it takes place in a new setting. A quest that is a tangled skein of nightmare scripting will probably ship as a broken mess of half-fulfilled dreams. So when it comes to working with designers, it's good to start with a really solid, stable core of gameplay but leave time for (and encourage) more risky secondary elements after the core has been developed.
Having content that's just "in" and works isn't enough -- both for designers and for people who are playing an Obsidian RPG. People enjoy weird and wacky stuff in quests; it just has to work properly. Our concepting, design, and review processes need to account for the basics but also ensure there's time for the cool and unusual stuff.
Would you describe your design philosophy as "psychologically manipulating players into accepting fail states instead of reloading, by shifting the consequences into the longer term"?
No. That's really narrow for an overall design philosophy. When it comes to mechanics, I believe we should design systems that work together to produce challenging gameplay content and a variety of tools players can use to overcome those challenges. If challenges can be easily circumvented by using one skeleton key tactic (whether it's reloading, a singularly overpowering item/ability, or something else), then the gameplay will get boring quickly.
I think gameplay is most enjoyable when there's a balance of frustration and triumph. Without frustration, triumph becomes cheap. Continuous frustration with minimal/infrequent triumph often feels like it isn't worth the effort. Every player has a different balance point for what they enjoy, but if the systems have easy "outs", it can make the challenges trivial.
In older games don't you think the type of system used,chaotic systems,breakable systems with a sense of humor in mechanical design(think Fallouts) were part of the charm?In a more coherent and restrictive system don't you think something is missed?
Not really. Are you suggesting that we should design an incoherent system? I don't think the sense of humor in Fallout was in the mechanical design, but in the content supporting the mechanical design. E.g. the area design and art, characters, animations, sounds, text descriptions, etc.
If you took a Fallout crit shotgun blast and removed the sound effects, hand-touched sprite "blown out torso" animation/effects, and the text description accompanying it, there really wouldn't be anything humorous about it. It would just be a hit that did a lot of damage.
Late game Fallout 2 is where the limits of the system really started to get pushed. Extended fights with Enclave troopers were typically slugfests where you and the enemies traded single-digit damage until someone (usually you) scored an armor-bypassing critical for triple-digit damage and annihilated the target.
If it weren't for the continuous satisfaction that comes with massive overkill body-melting plasma criticals (which is due to the content supporting it, not the mechanic itself), the combat would have been much less enjoyable.

Its approaching Apprentice time again

Fallout Skyline - Apprentice

We're looking at kicking off the Apprentice with an official announcement next month. However if you're interested in playing this year, I'm offering a sneak peek at the "Qualification Challenge". This is open to anyone and everyone, and we plan for at least 4 players who enter qualification challenge entries entering the main game.

(Note: There is no home viewer entry contest this year... This is your one shot at glory)

The Qualification Challenge - A Traders' Life

At least the best 4 entries will secure a place in the game. The winner of the challenge will also score an extra vote in any poll if they need it. These are cumulative, so if you win 5 rounds, you'll have 5 extra votes to avoid elimination (or win the game) later.

In Fallout 1, The Hub was to southern California the center of the world, with all major towns tracing their trade routes here. Whereas in Fallout 3, Rivet City offered vault dwellers a hint of Civilisation.

Your Challenge is to add a new shop to The Hub, or Rivet City.

Entries for the Hub

You may choose to place this on either the Hub Downtown, Hub entrance, or Old Town Maps (Darren Hightower doesn't want any neighbours, and people are too creeped out by the Church of the Cathedral to shop nearby).

You may assume that this is being added early in development, as such you can extend the map, add new buildings, or include links in other characters dialogues if you choose.

Alternatively you may want to repurpose one of the existing buildings or spaces, however if you choose to do this the building you choose must have no current major function in game (ie - you can't evict a caravan company or the police; however Irwin can be moved on from his ruin, and the buildings in the Hub entrance map can similarly be repurposed. If you are in doubt, ask).

You should think about what stores the Hub already has. To help guide you on this The Hub already includes the following businesses:

  • 2 Guns stores (Beth's in Downtown, Jake's' in Oldtown)
  • A general store (Mick's in Downtown)
  • A Bank (The FLC, Downtown)
  • A food vendor (Iguana bob's)
  • A Bar (The Maltese Falcon)
  • A Drug Den (Unnamed)

If you're not familiar with Fallout 1, you may want to look these places up, and look at the maps.

You are allowed to duplicate inventory/function if you choose, but you will have to distinguish your store from the existing one enough to make it stand out in its own right.

The "Store" can sell physical goods, or services (like the FLC, or the Hotel in Junktown), or be a place of entertainment (like Gizmo's).

To make the store more interesting, you should tell us about the people who run it, visit it, and any quests they're involved in.

Alternatively, the store does not have to sell anything of use to the player - it could be there selling things that non adventurer types are interested in. However if you choose to follow this option you will need to make sure there is something of interest to the player here - some sort of quest perhaps.

Entries for Rivet City

You may choose to place this on the Upper Deck Deck, the flight deck (outside/runway), or in the Marketplace (Businesses on the Mid Deck will attract noise complaints, and the Bow can't be used for obvious reasons). You can make reasonable adjustments to the Map, but given it is a ship, these will have to be limited in size and scope...

You should think about what stores Rivet City already has. To help guide you on this, Rivet City includes the following businesses:

  • A chems store (A Quick Fix)
  • A weapons store (Flak 'N Shrapnel's)
  • A restaurant (Gary's Galley)
  • A clothing Store (Potomac Attire)
  • A General store (Rivet City Supply)
  • A Bar (The Muddy Rudder)
  • A Hotel (Weatherly Hotel)
  • A Doctor (Rivet City clinic)

If you're not familiar with Fallout 3, you may want to look these places up, and look at the maps.

You are allowed to duplicate inventory/function if you choose, but you will have to distinguish your store from the existing one enough to make it stand out in its own right.

The "Store" can sell physical goods, or services, or be a place of entertainment.

To make the store more interesting, you should tell us about the people who run it, visit it, and any quests they're involved in.

Alternatively, the store does not have to sell anything of use to the player - it could be there selling things that non adventurer types are interested in. However if you choose to follow this option you will need to make sure there is something of interest to the player here - some sort of quest perhaps.

How do I get in

  • You have to be a registered user, this isn't negotiable I'm afraid. But hey, registration is free!
  • The qualification game doesn't officially start until next month. This is just to get you thinking. Stay tuned for a further announcement.
  • Each challenge will run for about a month... This is more time than last year, but we expect you to use it wisely.
  • If you have any questions, head to my talk page.

Generation: Next

With rumours of the next wave of consoles coming to light, I'm intending on taking a little time in the news to briefly mention any major headlines that comes out about them... Its like the next Fallout game will be available for one, if not both of these, so I figure what the hey.. These stories might end up effecting your purchasing choice.

XBox Infinity at E3?

Some leaks from the labs in Redmond this week... And they suggest that We'll be looking at the next Xbox at E3. No less than Microserf Major Nelson (I'm reliably informed he's not the character from I dream of Jeanie) has hinted towards this...

Other rumours about suggest that the system will be called Xbox infinity (based on a few domain names Microsoft has purchased), up to 8Gb of RAM and feature 2 CPUs - one for gaming, and one for Multimedia.

Second hand games to be blocked from PS4?

Usually when news outlets hype up a patent filing, its got something to do with Apple... So a big shock this week when Sony made the news with what seems to be a plan from blocking second hand games from being sold for their next console.

For those of you who only know the word "patent" from the phrase "patent pending" and have no idea what it means... Basically if you invent something new, you can apply for a "patent". In the patent you have to explain how your idea works, full disclosure. In return for you telling the world + dog how your idea works, you get a monopoly on the idea for a length of time - a few decades, more than enough to make a ton of dough.

The idea being that everyone benefits this way - you get rich cos no one is allowed to steal your idea for a while, and society gains from knowing how your invention works so better inventions can be made from knowing how yours works. (In reality, there's a lot of lawyers who gain out of accusations of patent infringement).

Although rumours of internet-based systems to block 2nd hand games rose last year... the system proposed in the patent this time means even keeping your console offline won't do any good.

From what I can understand, the plan is to put a RFID chip on the discs themselves, and encrypt the contents of the disc. You put the Disc on your console, and the console and chip start talking to each other. On first use, the console puts some sort of tag in the RFID (say maybe your PS online ID or Console serial number). On subsequent uses the stored tag is checked... if they match, the RFID tag sends over the decryption keys...

Now, before we go off panicking threatening to send nasty emails to the head of Sony, remember that lots of patents get issued and never end up in a product... so it doesn't mean its definitely going to be a part of anything... Micheal Pachter, a analyst at Wedbush said to Cnet:

Sony would be materially hurt if its console blocked used games and competitor consoles from Microsoft and Nintendo did not," Pachter wrote. "The Wii U is already on the market with no used game prohibition, and we believe that Microsoft would take advantage of Sony's prospective decision to block used games by marketing that its own next generation did NOT block used games

As much as the likes of Bobby Kotick feel "robbed" when you sell your games, I think Pachter's right on the money here... Either all companies would have to move to a system like this at the same time, or none will. That said, the investment types are taking this serious enough that Gamestop's shares are down 6%.

If you're interested in the techie stuff Ars Technica covers that pretty well here.



Mutants Rising is a fan mod for Fallout 2 that has been in development for, well, for about as long as I can remember. As always however, its looking great. Here's their special new years release showing an area they're currently working on - Wendover.

Mutants Rising Wendover Trailer01:32

Mutants Rising Wendover Trailer

Relic of the War that Wasn't


Here at the Relic desk, we know there's only one way to make a Nuke better.

And thats to make it even more Nuclear!

Our relic this week is a rather ambitious plan to build a low flying Intercontinental multi-wearheadded missile... That itself is nuclear powered. It goes by the rather humble name of "Project Pluto".

This news video (tracking some missing nuclear waste from the project) has a nice summary at the start.

Air and Space Magazine detailed the project in more detail. I know this is a missile system designed to kill millions, but you got to admit, its very pretty looking.

Your next Nukapedia News Digest

Will be on Saturday again. Its my Birthday Monday, so don't forget to say Hi. Agent c (talk) 01:03, January 6, 2013 (UTC)